Saturday, September 23, 2017

Straya Work Trip Recap

So I started this post 12 long days ago - 12 long days full of working 15 to 16 hours back to back, in which I lost track of the days, culminating in pulling an all-nighter on the last night before signing the largest deal in Australia of the year (!!), and then hopping on a morning flight back to Hong Kong as the deal was announced and news reports started blaring.  This trip to Sydney was the longest continued business trip I have ever taken (I extended my hotel reservation three times) and the painful part was that, as we were trawling through endless drafts and negotiation sessions, we really had no visibility of "the end."

At the beginning of this trip, I was still optimistic and full of energy.  When one of the partners of our local firm told me that she had pulled an all-nighter back in the day when she was pregnant with her first baby, I had privately thought, "Dear God, please don't let that happen to me!" and so of course, it had.

I was 27.5 weeks pregnant when I left, I'm back and now 29.5 weeks today.  I really don't know where my September has gone!

 I took the Sunday night flight down on September 11 and arrived to Sydney's gorgeous blue skies, low to no humidity, and sunshine filled days.  Unlike last time, I had an hour between checking into the hotel and then gathering for meetings.  I used this time to shower, then immediately headed down Pitt St. in the Central Business District to finally see the Rocks, the Quay and the Sydney Bridge during daylight.  It actually wasn't anything that special, but it felt nice to walk around and see and capture some postcard snapshots of this city.  I had a feeling I wasn't going to have a chance to do much more than this once the meetings started kicking off, and I was right.

View from my hotel room this time:
 Martin Place.  I was in Sydney for their gay pride parade and the marathon, neither of which I saw or heard.
 The museum of art:
 The modern museum of art right next door:
 Here I am with 28 week belly, profile of the Sydney opera house in the background!
 and then the Sydney bridge
 A few more shots along the way before I trudged back to my meetings...
From them on, it was just a non-stop blur of meetings and drafting sessions.  An entire team of lawyers basically set up shop in the local counsels' offices, and never left.  Every morning emails started pouring in at around 7 or 8 am, and things didn't usually pause until well into the night.  There were three sets of counsel on our side, two sets of counsel on the other side, investment banks for each side, and a whole slew of business/commercial and strategic teams from each side.  It was incredibly intense, and to further exacerbate matters, my team was tiny - just three people, with a mid-level associate who was only able to help for a portion of the days.  We were woefully understaffed.

There was no rest on the weekend, either, as we trooped into the offices on Saturday and Sunday at a disgustingly early 7:30 am to rush to review and turn drafts before a 1 pm meeting.  I honestly would be hard pressed to tell you exactly what I did, where I went, who I spoke to, or what I ate, on any of those days.  In fact, at one point, I started confusing what happened on my last trip to Australia with this one.  The whole thing had a bit of a nightmarish monotony to it.  While treading through it, it was just a matter of pushing through it all, so I think I was just blocking out all other thoughts as a matter of adrenaline and sheer survival.  Now, upon reflection, it all feels pretty ghastly.

It's a huge deal though.  It's probably the first time that I had, for certain moments, the command of a room of at least 15 people, including the heads of strategy and investment at some of the largest institutions in the world.  I would venture to guess that I was the youngest person in the room, or at least generously outweighed by an average of a decade for the majority of the time.  Often I was the only minority.  I was one of a handful of women at any time (4 or 5 on the opposite side, the only one on my side) during the negotiation sessions.  I was definitely the only one 7 months pregnant!!  So those statistics are pretty intimidating, and daunting, and as Michael was pointing out to me, a pretty incredible feat on my part.

Interestingly, all but one of the females on this entire deal was a lawyer, and I have pretty consistently found this to be the case on my deals.  I was sitting in on one business planning meeting where I startled to realize that in a room of nearly 14 people I was the only woman and the only minority.  I was also one of only two lawyers in that meeting.  We still have so far to go.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Weekend Errands, Jazz Night and Some More Shopping

This weekend, I mostly did mundane life stuff - did a bit of grocery shopping, researched and selected a desktop for Michael (he is so old school) that has all of the ports and hubs that he needs for his home office, helped my parents book their flights to Sapporo (a side trip when they come to visit Hong Kong in December), discussed my sister's plans for when she and her fiancee (yes, that happened recently!) come to Hong Kong (also in December - our family will be gathering in Asia this year to celebrate Christmas and see the baby, fun!), and, on a whim, purchased a bunch of little succulents and cactus and have lined them up on my kitchen window:
I also purchased a little fern that I plopped into a white pot:
And finally, I did loads of laundry, packed for Australia, researched visa processes for domestic helpers, and continued to follow up with, and interview, potential new helpers.  It's an exciting life I lead, isn't it?

On Saturday night, we also went to a friend's house for an evening of drinks, food, and jazz.  She hired a musician and put together a whole shebang of a party.  I neglected to get any pictures of the food, which was too bad, because it was an amazing spread of hot and cold appetizers (including guacamole and chips, fried potato wedges with dip, sliders, bruschetta) followed by platters of fresh fruit and brownies and assorted cakes, and they had an assortment of drinks, including champagne, wine, beer.  We had a great time.

In other baby shopping related news, we just received the cute Skip Hop Silver play gym (I confess I picked it purely for its soft color aesthetics) and this carseat canopy, and are waiting for the Fisher Price tub.  My parents are going to bring me the Baby bjorn mesh bouncer in gray with this toy attached, and also this little sleep sack from Woolino which my friend recommended.  We were also gifted an adorable Jellycat monkey soother, which is SO soft.

I am also taking advantage of my trip to Sydney to buy some of Australia Target's organic baby clothes, which seem much nicer and cuter than the available selection they have elsewhere, and all still at very reasonable prices.  Another friend ordered this camera for me from Taobao, which we plan to use like a baby monitor:
I personally wanted a baby monitor that would not hook up to my phone, because I distrust the whole cloud/internet connection thing.  But clearly I lost the fight because we are now getting an all-invasive, 360 degree viewfinder, walkie-talkie style, interactive video monitor, and from Taobao, nonetheless.  We might as well have just installed a bug directly into our home for anyone to tap in and watch and listen!  Yes, call me paranoid, but I completely distrust any electronics from China.

Thank you to everyone who has been giving me extremely helpful and insightful tips on what to buy!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Dinner at Neighborhood

Happy weekend!  This Friday night, we went to check out Neighborhood, a restaurant nestled off of an alleyway/park behind Hollywood Road.  It's a European fusion restaurant, but with mostly a French sensibility.  Overall, the food was tasty and innovative, but I felt like the portions were really pricey for the small portion sizes.

Potato and octopus salad.
 Padron peppers with mustard sauce.
 Amazing, truffle chicken wings, just delicious.
 Mushrooms and snails, an interesting combo.  This was an earthy and juicy dish and so lovely.
 The warm vegetables served in an "Alain Ducasse" style, topped with truffle flakes.
 A really tasty flank steak - I had to be "that" person who sent it back to the kitchen and asked if they could cook it to a medium, but even then it was capital d Delicious.
This was the grouse that we had to pre-order because it takes a really long time to cook and prepare.  To be honest, I have no idea why it would take so long to cook, as the grouse was served so rare (like the interior was a deep, dark purple).  I tentatively sucked on one of the tiny legs and one of the tiny wings, which were more fully cooked, but I've decided that grouse isn't to my liking.  The meat felt oddly bitter and a bit stringy.
 We also got a white bait stew, which was topped with shaved garlic and had little chopped chili peppers in it.
 And finally, to round out the dinner, we got a tripe gratin, which was... tripe-y.  Michael had a little bite at my insistence and I'm pretty sure he tried not to gag, hah!  The rest of the table ate it with gusto.

Man Hing Lane
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2617 0891

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Australia, Round II, and Other Stuff

Well, it's been kind of weird at work these few days. 

I've had spurts of busy with lots of drama, along the lines of, "the deal is dying!" to "the deal is dead!" to "the deal is back!" with a flurry of phone calls and a few emails and presentations to draft *on demand* (and as awful as it is, I have to say - there is no discipline like drafting on demand, because there is simply no time to procrastinate; it just has to get done) but then I've also had quite a bit of down time, such that I made it to the gym four out of four days, browsed online for water filters that attach directly to the kitchen sink, researched computer docks, shopped art prints, and have been blogging, woo hoo!

So basically, the point of all of this is that within a span of 24 hours my deal went from dying to dead to revived to a confirmed trip.  Let's hope my trip to Sydney is a bit better this time, shall we?  This time, I am dragging Michael with me because it's such a long trip and I will likely be there a whole week and it simply has to segue into a babymoon!  And I'm not giving him a choice about it!  So there. 

I leave on Saturday night.  Fingers crossed.

So, onto other stuff that are all just a mishmash of random thoughts that don't really fit together.

I just got my status upgraded on Cathay Pacific, and I'm really bummed that I got the upgrade just in time for me to be on maternity leave and not go anywhere.

I saw the largest snail EVER while hoofing it up to the Asia Society to pick up my Contemporary Art Show tickets today.  In my usual impatience and inability to allocate my time properly, I was speed walking up a very steep incline, and I think maybe soon I am not really going to be able to do that safely.  Basically, I was the opposite of this guy in terms of movement:
I saw him coming and going and he had not progressed very far in the time that I was gone.  Snails seem so gross to me, but then I remember that I gladly eat them in butter and garlic.  They seem more innocuous when they're small, though - I don't think I'd be as comfortable digging into this one if it were served up.
Speaking of, I think I'll go to the Contemporary Art Show at the Conrad hotel this year.  I haven't been in a while, and it might be fun to see if there's anything affordable (likely not) that I would want to hang in my office or at home.  Our apartment came furnished with all these stock prints that are beautifully matted and framed but are of patterns and images that I just really don't like.  We've lived here for nearly two years and I've never fussed about them, but lately they're really bothering me.  Is this a sign that I'm nesting?!

And speaking of food, last night, I went to dinner at Table, a restaurant on Bonham Strand in Sheung Wan, with two girl friends.  It was so much fun!  We totally talked (only a little) about our other halves and commiserated with each other not only about them and their irritating habits (eye roll) but all kinds of just general life stuff.  I laughed so hard!  I came home all hyped up and euphoric and Michael was extra grumpy that I was in such a good mood, which only made me grin harder.  Hehehe. 

The service at Table was a little awkward (nice, but really over-eager and unevenly paced), and the portions were small (not surprising) but I thought the dishes were pretty innovative, or at least interesting.  It's a seafood focused restaurant but their vegetable dishes were delicious.  They served us an amuse bouche of fried cheese and some grilled flatbread with bruschetta.

We ordered a starter of Korean marinated crab (it looked so SO good but I am being a good mommy-to-be and did not eat it because it's raw and also fermented in wine):
And a delicious crab cake with a gooey, molten crab roe center (how did they do that?!) which was served piping hot, but eaten so quickly I neglected to take a picture.

We got the Hokkaido sea urchin with plankton risotto - now I can say I've tried plankton!  It was very good, but definitely not a dish for the faint of heart because plankton has a very (very) strong seaweed flavor, and sea urchin, of course, is of a slippery texture and an umami flavor that many find unpalatable.  I personally love all of this stuff so I was very happy with the dish.

We also ordered a homemade tagliolini with red prawn.  The prawn was so tasty, but I wish they had given us more than one!
I didn't manage to get pictures of the vegetables, but the stir fried jasmine flowers and the mushrooms were really wonderful - full of flavor, simply prepared, and very tasty.

I'm currently watching and really enjoying the lighthearted romp that is Jane the Virgin, a telenovela styled TV show that is funny, a little ridiculous, but also well written and acted.   I very much appreciate a show that understands its genre and storytelling arc.  Another one that I watched and really liked (when I had access via Amazon Prime) was Catastrophe.  While also funny, it's not aiming for the slightly slapstick, but rather just very real life drama that happens to be humorous and not take itself too seriously.

I'm also re-reading "The Handmaid's Tale", which is a book that in retrospect I read when I was wayyyy too young, before I start watching the TV show.  I've got a few books on my to-read list, but I've found myself kind of veering toward a few classics as of late.  Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse" is one that I may re-visit.

Lately, I've been podcasting on my way to and from work, and my staples have been The Daily, Radiolab, Death Sex and Money (I love her voice and interview style - I think she asks good questions), This American Life (but when will it ever drop from my rotation, although sometimes they have some really blegh ones), Reply All (except their Yes Yes No episodes, which - I don't care!!!) and Longest Shortest Time (I find her a little annoying sometimes, but it's been a nice podcast to listen to as I enter my third trimester and hear about other parents' experiences).  Michael thinks I'm crazy and weird (and maybe I am) for listening to my podcasts at 1.4x speed, but really it's more efficient!  I get through so many more podcasts this way.  I saw this tip when I was searching for new podcasts and now I swear by it.

What else, what else.  I have my glucose blood test coming up, which I'm now trying to reschedule due to this impending trip to Sydney, and which I'm kind of dreading.  I hate drinking syrupy sweet concoctions.  Why can't they just let me binge on the sugar of my choice (like bags and bags of sugary processed  gummies, sour straws, strawberry laces) and test my glucose that way?  Like I was saying to my friend Emily, at least that way we would derive some pleasure out of it.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Game Night, Braised Oxtails, Wolfgang's, and Other Random Things

Last weekend, we went to a really fun game night where our friends introduced us to a new board game, called Codenames.  It's a bit hard to describe but actually quite easy to play.  Basically, it's a word association guessing game played by two teams, where each team has one person designated the "spymaster," whose job is ultimately to get his or her team members to guess as many of their words on a 5 x 5 board as possible, as quickly as possible, and without accidentally guessing the other team's words.  Because the words are all very similar, and because the spymaster can only say one word, it's up to the rest of the team to try to figure out exactly which words the spymaster is hoping they choose!  We played the raunchy adult version, which was super fun, except then everyone realized that my friend and I didn't really know what a "pornhub" was.  Clearly we were  overthinking it, but oh well.  At least lots of laughter ensued.

Our friends who were hosting have a three month old little girl, and Michael and I both got to hold her (Michael handled her like an old pro, tossing her around like a malleable little sack of flour, while I squirmed and gasped and tried not to have a heart attack about how to carry her), and she was SO adorable.  She was wide awake and alert and smiled and cooed at me multiple times.  I was surprised at how heavy and robust she felt - I feel like I am going to have killer guns as a new mom.

We enjoyed a tasty dinner of braised oxtail while at their place, which inspired me to try to make my own dish.  Mine, however, was a complete and utter failure (though while I was cooking it, it looked very inspiring and delicious) - and I don't know if I just bought the wrong kind of oxtail (is there a right kind?) or just botched up the recipe (admittedly I am not good at following recipes).  The oxtail ended up being pretty much inedible (so sinewy and tough and also rather gamey) but then we ended up with a pretty hearty beef broth based onion/tomato/parsnip/carrot/potato stew.

Michael and I also had the chance to try out the new Wolfgang's that opened on Duddell Street in Central when we went on a double date with another couple, sampling their shrimp cocktail, chopped salad, filet mignon, salmon and a porterhouse for two (which the husbands shared, in a very romantic gesture, awww).  We also went all in on dessert, ordering a massive ice cream sundae and large slices of key lime pie and pecan pie, paired with generous scoops of vanilla ice cream. 

Now that I have a little breather at work (though not for long, as I may be headed down to Australia again soon), I've turned my focus and energy to crossing off all those pesky little items on my to-do list that never get done when I'm busy.  I fixed two broken necklaces (yay!) and feel so accomplished because all it took was busting out a few jewelry pliers and re-fastening a few loose washers.  I haven't worn these necklaces in months and months and I'm happy they're finally back in my rotation.

 My little tool kit:
I've been craving Chinese desserts lately, which I justify due to their "healthy" components, such as bean curd, black sesame, red bean, almonds and walnuts (all of which contain protein, am I right?).  I had a bowl of the loveliest, silkiest bean curd with black sesame at Dream Tofa Central the other day.

Thanks to this handy dandy guide, I also, after owning my orchid for well over a year now (give or take) finally figured out that I have a moth orchid, or the phalaenopsis, and not the cane orchid, or the dendrobium (or maybe I knew that but had just forgotten).  Orchids can be tricky and so knowing exactly what type of plant you have makes a big difference in terms of the sunlight and watering and fertilizing care.  That said, I am at a loss as to how to get my orchid to sprout a measly flower cane.  It seems that I might have to move it back to my apartment, as it requires moderate (but not direct) sunlight, a contrast in daytime and nighttime temperatures, and low to no drafts.  My office is generally a pretty comfortable place, but it cannot provide these conditions.

I think I've decided on the Cybex Aton Q infant car seat.  We purchased a Babyzen Yoyo+ stroller, which is compatible with the Maxi Cosi, the Nuna Pipa, the Cybex Aton, and a few others.  My friend thoughtfully gave me some very useful tips about the importance of selecting a car seat with a European belt path, which eliminated the Maxi Cosi, and given that Nuna Pipa is not sold in Hong Kong (or anywhere that I can find it) and most places don't ship car seats internationally, the Cybex it is!  Plus, the Cybex safety ratings are really impressive.  Plus plus, the aesthetics are so sleek.  It's designed to look like a (very aerodynamic) seashell.

As part of the Labor Day Sales, I went a little crazy at Motherhood Maternity (30% off the whole site) and purchased a flowered shirred dress in pink, a button down dress in olive, a robeblack pants, a black skirt, pj pants and a few other essentials.

My next projects are to pot a bowl of succulents (see inspiration here, here, here and here), find new dining chairs (likely through taobao), and plan our babymoon. 

I am currently wondering, given the rapidly diminishing amount of time left in which I am permitted to fly, whether it should be (1) tacked onto my next trip to Australia, (2) a quick weekend getaway to Taiwan, (3) a long weekend getaway to Japan, (4) tacked onto my next potential work trip to the US, perhaps as a layover in Italy? (I know, I don't want to talk about it, the thought of flying in my third trimester gives me the heebie jeebies), or (5) a staycation.  Let's face it, I've flown a lot this year already.  Maybe the most relaxing thing would be just to stay put?!  The other limiting factor in all of this is that I don't want to go anywhere where there is Zika or a risk of Zika.  The peace of mind and the lack of having to do testing outweighs my desire to lie on a beautiful beach in Phuket or Bali (as much as I want to). 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

September! Rain and Puttering Around the Apartment

It's not a public holiday or long weekend in Hong Kong, but we are enjoying the incessant rain (third typhoon in two weeks) and marveling at how it's already September.  Time just seems to march on more and more quickly each year.

With Harvey wreaking havoc in Houston, Hong Kong awash in typhoons, and massive floods displacing millions of people in Southeast Asia, it's hard not to face the grim reality of global warming and the effects that it has had on our planet.

Since my trip to Sydney, I took the opportunity last week to relax a little bit (so grateful for the down time) and enjoy being in Hong Kong - just doing the really boring, ordinary stuff like shopping for fruits and vegetables (my appetite for blueberries, cherries, peaches, and oranges lately has been insatiable), going to yoga and spinning classes (I am surprised at how much I've really started to enjoy the bike, although I am also not pushing myself as hard on the workouts now), and shopping for baby stuff.

We've been doing a few home improvements/projects lately, namely, the home office, the nursery, the helper's room, and the dining room chairs.

Home Office:

Michael is putting together a home office, and between the old 42" TV monitor (which had just been gathering dust and is now providing a very, how shall we say, immersive work experience) and the 24" Dell computer monitor, as well as the desk that he has built, the whole project is really taking shape.  We are waiting for a carpet and a chair (which was a whole ordeal to source) to arrive, at which point it may be time for a blog reveal.

Michael fell in love with this chair, but unfortunately, while it's made in China, it does not easily ship to Hong Kong.  We looked at a bunch of sites in the U.S., including Target, Wayfair, and Birch Lane, and tried to figure out how to get it over here.  It's very discouraging when the shipping cost exceeds the cost of the chair.  The chair retails for $266-$387 depending on where you source it.  Shipping alone would have been $220-477.  Just laughable!  Through some miraculous google sleuthing, he managed to find the manufacturer and the telephone number of the factory that makes the chair.  So among my other tasks this week, I was also randomly calling up a factory in Huzhou and cheerily inquiring about buying a sample chair at wholesale prices.  Just so you know, the whole sale price was 300-600 RMB, or about US$50-90.  (That's a nice mark up that the furniture manufacturer is getting!)  Given the logistical headaches, we have still decided to obtain the chair by retail means, but it's a perfect example of how frustrating it can be to buy things here. 


Possibly inspired by his re-haul of the home office, I am definitely also feeling the urge to set up a cute nursery, and find myself browsing interior decorating websites and blogs.

The cribs on my short list are all part of the MDB family: the Baby Mod Marley, the Babyletto Scoot, and the Babyletto Hudson are so far my favorites.  I've heard very good things about the Ikea cribs as well.  Of these, I like the look of the Sniglar and the Gulliver the best.  For a baby mattress, I have been eyeing the Colgate Eco Classica.  And as for crib sheets and such, oh the adorable choices seem endless!  For more inspiration, here are my favorites of the adorable nurseries that I've been checking out (and envying their space)!  I think I will probably try to DIY the baby mobile.
1 // 2 // 3

Helper's Room:

We are also in the throes of interviewing and meeting with helpers, so that we can hire one to work with us full time.  That also means that we have to get our helper's room ready, including equipping it with a bed, shelves, light, etc.  It's totally aggravating because the bed in our current guest bedroom (which we would like to take out in our conversion to the nursery) baaaarely doesn't fit into the helper's room (gah!) missing the mark by about 5 inches.  Michael will have to put some shelves up and maybe build a custom-sized bed frame in there as well.

Dining Room Chairs:

Our apartment came mostly furnished, and that includes our dining room chairs.  However, these things are absolute **** and are falling apart.  We have five chairs, one of which has completely broken, and all of which are peeling.  I contacted our landlord's management company to ask how they wanted to handle the situation.  I got back the very helpful response, "In principle we agree to replace the chairs at your own cost."  What does that mean?!  I think we will likely end up tossing all of these and buying our own chairs.

We still love our apartment, but it hasn't been without its challenges to accommodate a newborn.  For example, when we first moved in, we didn't really give much thought to the fact that the building didn't have a car spot (or any parking).  But now that feels like something nice to have (although parking and gas in this city are, understandably, astronomical).  Michael has been eyeing lots of car sites and will likely go on a car scouting trip with a friend soon.  We also have to consider if there is a nearby building with a spot that we could rent.  Thus far, he seems partial to the Mercedes and the Range Rovers.  I honestly don't really care what kind of car we get, though I would prefer it not to be a gas guzzler...

Monday, August 28, 2017

Some Pictures From Sydney and an Office Refresh

I kind of dreaded writing this post because it would showcase just how terribly pathetic and depressing my trip to Sydney was... I truly did not leave the hotel or the conference room on any day until well after the sun had set, and I did not traverse more than four blocks in any given direction from my hotel room, the bank's conference rooms, and the local counsel's offices during any of my four working days in the city. 

There was one bad stretch when I didn't leave my hotel for over 24 hours, and had ordered room service (dinner, breakfast, dinner) three times in a row, while I worked on drafts. 

But the deadline was met (funny how that happens) and drafts were turned and calls after calls were made and joined and finished... just in time for me to get back on a plane on Saturday afternoon.  I never made it to any of the famous sights and sounds of Sydney - the beautiful Botanic Gardens, the Opera House (in the daylight), the museum... or just even a good ole' ubiquitous coffee shop!

My parents wanted to know why I didn't just stay the weekend - and it was hard to explain, but without Michael, and having worked flat out for five days straight, and knowing that another typhoon was blowing through Hong Kong and picturing the hours of delays that that would cause to my homeward journey...I just didn't really feel up to it.  If I weren't pregnant, if sleeping on red-eye flights weren't so painful, and if I weren't *so* sick of my hotel room, then the ordinary me would absolutely have jumped at the chance to stroll Sydney's shops, have a cuppa (or three) and do all kinds of beautiful strolls and hikes.  Instead, I jumped in a car, left all that sunshine and beauty behind, and raced to the airport to take a 9.5 hour flight that had me landing at Hong Kong at nearly 10 pm at night.  I landed to gusting winds and rain as the T3 (typhoon signal 3) had just been hoisted.  Hong Kong has been wet and gray ever since.

I kid you not, these are the only things that I saw on my trip:

 In the thirty minutes of "free time" that I had between submitting our final documents and the airport car pickup, I went to David Jones and purchased a few baby wondersuits from the famous Australian brand Bond's.  I couldn't stop marveling at how cute and tiny everything newborn is!

  Then, I enjoyed this view from the Sydney airport lounge.  Sigh.  Work trips suck.

To showcase how exciting my life is at the moment... I got a stand up workstation at work!  It's fitted for my (rather massive 32") computer screen and keyboard, and I like that it forces me to stand a little bit.  I'm at my desk so much that sitting for 10-12 hours at a time has to be a health hazard.
I've also gotten a new bookshelf to help me manage my slippery stacks/piles of paper everywhere.  (At some point I should really get around to filing some stuff.)  I've managed through woefully negligent care to keep my orchid plants alive, but they do not seem to ever want to flower ever again. 

 Inspired by this refresh of my office, I am thinking about bringing in some picture frames and maybe a few new prints or paintings, to warm up the space.  I've also been thinking about some more green plants, maybe a bowl of succulents, or else a spider plant or a snake plant?