Daily Life

Gardens and Dirt!

by Chansoda on May 30, 2015

I build, we dig, she plants.

We wanted a garden and was it a lot of work building and filling this thing! We went with cedar planks for the garden bed and used 2×4 studs as posts. A kind neighbor saw me working hard on the construction so he dropped off some of his old fencing, which I was able to cut up to build fencing frames that will keep the deer and other animals out. After it was built, we did the math and realized we needed about A LOT of dirt to fill the thing. That can get expensive with delivery. So, at first we attempted to save money by filling our friend’s truck with dirt from the community compost pile… by hand shoveling… which means we first had to hand shovel the dirt in to the truck, then off the truck in to our bed… The truck broke down after the first run so we didn’t get very far… then we decided that was enough for the day.

As luck would have it, the next morning another neighbor stopped by and asked if we still needed dirt. A mistake delivery just happened to work out in our favor. Don’t turn away FREE DIRT! They dropped off a huge pile of topsoil into our drive way (of course it starts raining…pouring rain… but free dirt is the silver lining). Eventually, we filled the bed with the heavy wet dirt and got the plants in to their new home. A lot of work, but mission accomplished.

I’m not sure what Karla planted, but I know I can’t wait to see it grow.










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ChansodaGardens and Dirt!

Memorial Day Weekend

by Chansoda on May 26, 2015

Three photoshoots, a graduation in NYC, a graduation party, a birthday party, a visit to Lasdon Park and Arboretum (for my super tree loving gf) and the start of our gardening project. Memorial Day weekend was a busy one… and bittersweet. The start of summer, good times and barbecues, the busyness of the weekend, life is so full, all juxtaposed with the anniversary of my father’s passing, marking five years.

I really enjoyed the weekend.

I went in to NYC and saw my longtime friend get her master’s degree and spent the day enjoying in that celebration. We strolled around in her old neighborhood in the upper west side, which is also where Karla worked for a time period in the city. It was nice to reminisce with her and that area of NYC.

I saw a former student of mine, all graduated from college get engaged at her graduation party, I couldn’t be happier for this young woman, nor more proud.

At the birthday party, I was hired by a friend to capture the memories. I was honored to be able to document that for her. The party had a lot of people I grew up with, all of us from similar backgrounds of being first generations here. It was a beautiful day and lots of fun.

I had a photoshoot with a one year old and her parents, how incredibly adorable and happy they are to be starting their family.

I had another photoshoot with one of my long time best friend and her graduating high school senior son… all adult-like and grown-up he is, brought tears to my eyes.

I spent a morning strolling the beautiful grounds of an arboretum with my wonderful partner and really take in the natural peaceful surrounding of it all. I loved the quiet walk, the sun shining, and the beautiful trees. It was nice that we took some time to be in nature away from people. I just felt very fortunate to be able to share these moments with some one I love and adore so much.

On Memorial day, I started on the build of our garden project. Then we marinated some meats and had a nice barbecue over at Nancy and Skip’s. Sat outside in their yard,  played soccer with Holly, then finished the evening with some more cocktails and a movie.

Over the weekend, we would also stop in for visits at my moms, which is the hardest part. Missing my dad is a norm that I learn to live with, there will always be that emptiness, but, you eventually learn to make peace with it because that is a part of life. However, the loneliness and heartache I see it cause my mom, I completely empathize… that’s the part that hurts the most. I see life move on for everyone, for myself… but for her, it’s still a lost as everything moves on around her.


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ChansodaMemorial Day Weekend

Spring Weekends

by Chansoda on May 4, 2015

May is here. A lot happens when the weather gets nicer! People are out and about enjoying the sunshine. More major spring cleaning going on. Holly, stares you down and acts despondent because she wants non stop play in the sunshine and you just have too much to do.

I love this nice weather and it definitely keeps the weekend full. Friday we headed in to NYC for a friend’s wedding. Congrats Stephanie and Tom! Then Saturday morning, bright and early Karla volunteered for Home Front where as I decided to sleep in a bit and hang out with Holly. There were plenty of projects at our place. Our screened in porch is looking really shabby so she put me in charge of that while she took care of the landscaping. That was a lot of work but we made progress.

We also had Peyton’s birthday party to go to this weekend, the little guy is turning 6 so I was around to capture a few shots. Last year, his birthday photo made it in to the Smithsonian APA gallery. It was a fun time with friends, food, and many adorable little kids.

Sunday morning we got up to join our friend Jeannine for a 4 mile run, and by run I mean I jog/walk with all intention of running. Ha! Waaay behind Karla and Jeannine. Definitely need to practice running and get back in to shape, we signed up for a half marathon in the fall!



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ChansodaSpring Weekends

Project: Dining Room Chairs

by Chansoda on February 16, 2015

Karla and I did a lot of sanding and staining this weekend. Valentine’s Day weekend was a labor of love in refurbishing some cool chairs we found on craigslist. Love how they turned out! Dining room table is no longer lonely and the prints are so much fun! Bought the table from West Elm a couple years ago, and could never commit to the chairs to go with them, also wanted them on a budget and these fit the bill!

$180 for 6 chairs, 2 with arms, 4 without.

$25 for the Ikea fabric.

$30 at Lowes for the stain, brush and extra sandpaper.

And the result is awesome.


The Before. Still a very cool chair.

The Process. Reupholstering and staining.

The Process. Reupholstering and staining.

The After. We decided to go with two different prints.

The After. We decided to go with two different prints.


And we have a finished dining room set.


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ChansodaProject: Dining Room Chairs

Camera Pencil Sharpener

by Chansoda on January 24, 2015

Coolest. Pencil. Sharpener. Ever.

Thanking my gf for surprising me with this.

and it actually sharpens really well. Cool looking and functional. Love it.

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ChansodaCamera Pencil Sharpener

Cold Winters are Back.

by Chansoda on January 7, 2015

Hello January. We are in the heart of winter, nice thing is, the fireplace! We love using our really cool fireplace. It’s so cozy. But it’s damn freezing here. Our house was built as a summer home in a small lake community, so, insulation in this main living area is not great. Eventually, that problem will be addressed. Until then, sit next to the warm fire, curled up like Holly is.


This was actually Feb 2014, It really hasn’t been that snowy here so far this winter.


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ChansodaCold Winters are Back.

Citizen Chan

by Chansoda on November 20, 2014

Silly glasses, yes, but how patriotic I am. Very happy to finally become a citizen of this country. A country that my family took refuge in after the war drove them out of theirs. This country has given me the opportunity to pursue this idea of the american dream, and I am proud and thankful to have been raised here as a cambodian-american.  It was very touching that some friends decided to crash the ceremony in celebration of me taking my oath as a new citizen.

I came to this country as a toddler straight from the refugee camps in Thailand. Being raised here my whole life, why did it take me so many years to get to this step? In part, these kinds of processes are things I don’t like to do (so it ended in the procrastinate pile). When I turned 18, my dad told me to go apply for my citizenship, but at 18 and paying my own way through college, plus working full-time, getting my citizenship was not a priority. At that age it was expensive to me, you also needed to take time to follow through on the processes of fingerprinting, interview, etc. No one gave me a straightforward road map on “How to become a citizen” (though since then, more resources have become available online). When I was 21, I once went up to the immigration office at the state capital my friend to get this stuff moving. We both didn’t know what we were doing, the office was not open, I had to hurry back to get to work, and it just seemed daunting. So I figured since I’m a permanent resident here, why do I need to take that next step especially since time and cost was a deterrent for me. So I just put it on hold for a really long time.

I realized that as a permanent resident, you’re still denied a lot of rights and deportation can happen. That’s a scary thought, not like I’m actively breaking the law, but being caught in minor situations can have very harmful consequences. You also don’t have the right to vote. I work in this country and pay my taxes, and I’m still denied that right to vote. Travel is a lot harder too. Try getting Cambodia to issue you a passport, near impossible. So the only way to get to travel is to get a Travel Document from the U.S., still a process, still a hefty fee, and it only lasts you two years. Plus, you need to make sure your green card is up to date, which is also another fee. And, America is my country, this is the country I grew up and live in. Not being able to say that I rightfully belong here because I never took the steps to citizenship also sucks.

So, many years, and many fees paid later, I finally took my oath. It was more emotional than I thought it would be, and a relief to say yes, I am truly an American.

I took the oath in the New Haven Superior Court, in one of their oldest courthouses, such a gorgeous room. We later celebrated lunch at Geronimo Restaurant nearby, with our American flags and all.







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ChansodaCitizen Chan

The Blaze

by Chansoda on November 7, 2014

We made it out to see the Great Jack O Lantern Blaze with my brother Chet and his girlfriend Melinda. It was a fun time, event was filled with people, so foot traffic can get a bit slow and congested. Still so cool to see the creativity involved in creating these scenes. Highly recommend it! Makes me want to carve some pumpkins!



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ChansodaThe Blaze