Posts in Lifestyle
Media Noche SF
 
 
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Media Noche

3465 19th St, San Francisco, CA

 

 

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What we ordered: 

El Cubano ($12.50) - roasted mojo pork shoulder, smoked ham, swiss, house pickles, mustard

Media Noche ($11.50) - Miami party sandwich; el cubano on sweet brioche

Mariquitas ($5.50) - crispy plaintain chips with famous green sauce 

Midnight Mimosa ($10) 

A few weeks ago, I typed "most Instagrammable places in San Francisco" into my Google search bar. Media Noche was one of them. I was drawn to the simple menu, effortlessly playful decor, colors, and the warm atmosphere.

Joe ordered the El Cubano while I ordered the Media Noche but we eventually traded our second halves. I liked the understated taste of the El Cubano and he preferred the stronger, meatier taste of the Media Noche and the sweet touch of the brioche. We both liked the plantain chips and I especially liked the tart green sauce that came with it. I'm going to make it a little mission of mine to find out how to replicate it! 

If you're in the San Francisco area and looking for some lovely Cuban sandwiches, a great atmosphere, and some very pretty Instagram photos to go along with it, try Media Noche. 

 
 
Pride Month in San Francisco
 
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Married in San Francisco
 
 

Waking up at six in the morning and nervously applying my own makeup. Forgetting my bouquet at the salon and panicking in the Uber. A short but incredibly sweet ceremony in a beautiful marble city hall, surrounded by our loved ones. An intimate reception at a restaurant by the bay with champagne, ribs, and happy tears. An afternoon of prancing along the beach and by the Golden Gate Bridge while still dressed in our wedding outfits. Hopping in an Uber after a whirlwind of a day and holding hands as we head home as husband and wife. 

It was a magical day. 

 

 
Our Honeymoon
 
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Day 1: Waikiki Beach + Fort Derussy Beach park

It wouldn't be a proper trip to Hawaii if it didn't involve a trip to the beach so we decided it would be the first thing on our list of things to see and do. We were staying at the Wyndham on Olahana St. and heading to Fort Derussy Beach Park was a nice walk. We rented a beach chair, picked a spot, and made ourselves comfortable. Joe braved the chilly water and took a dip while I read my new book and enjoyed watching all the different people on the beach. 

At one point, I wanted Joe to take a few photos of me in my new bathing suit but I didn't have the courage yet to take off my cover-up. There was a beautiful, curvy lady in a sexy one-piece suit with two friends who cheered her on as she posed on the beach for photos. She was so confident and seemed so comfortable in her own skin so I decided to do the same. Joe happily took my photos and the curvy lady smiled at me and cheered me on. It made my day! 

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Before heading to the beach, we had breakfast at Goofy Cafe and Dine. It's a bit of a hidden gem along Ala Moana Boulevard and was recommended to us by the concierge at our hotel. Joe ordered the Eggs Benedict that came with taro muffins and a salad. I ordered the Hawaiian classic omelette with brown rice and salad. We loved it! It was light but filling and everything tasted very fresh. 

 

Day 2: Luau! 

Another must-do that we wanted to cross off our list was a luau so we booked our tickets to the Chief's Luau at Wet N Wild Hawaii. It included a quick bus ride with an enthusiastic and entertaining guide, tasting of Lomi lomi salmon and poi, Mai Tais, beautiful handmade crafts for sale, and some talented people opening coconuts, singing, and teaching guests to weave. 

After about half an hour or mingling and sipping on Mai Tais, we took our seats and got ready for the buffet. It included taro rolls, purple Okinawan sweet potatoes, vegetarian chow mein, Kalua pork, poi, and sauteed Asian-style fish among other things. After dinner came the dance performances, song numbers, and lovely tribute to newly weds and couples celebrating anniversaries. 

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Day 3: Cromwell's Beach + Iolani Palace

On our last full day in Honolulu, we decided to check out a beach that on our friends recommended, Cromwell Beach. It's a short drive from downtown Honolulu and hidden away within a quiet residential area. Our Uber driver dropped us off at a dead end facing the sea and we walked down. The beach was quiet with only a few others there to sunbathe and enjoy a quick dip. If you need a beautiful, quiet place to write, read a novel, or just sunbathe in peace, this is the beach for you! 

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If there's one thing we enjoyed thoroughly in Hawaii, it's the food! From malasadas and poke bowls to fresh sashimi and Kalua pork, we tried to eat as much of the local food as we could. I particularly loved how Spam musubis could be found everywhere and huge platters of sashimi were only $30.

Must trys:

  • Malasadas from Leonard's Bakery. Get the original and cinnamon ones! 10/10 
  • Kyung's Seafood. It's a bit of a hole in the wall kind of restaurant but the poke and sashimi platters are so good and so affordable. We went there twice!
  • Eggs N Things. It's a popular restaurant that has an all-day breakfast menu. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not fond of pancakes but Eggs N Things changed that with their fluffy pancakes with macadami bits, shaved coconut, and dried pineapple.
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When we settled all the arrangements for our honeymoon, I did a Google search for all things we need to see and do while in Honolulu. Iolani Palace was on almost every list so we made sure to make that stop! The Palace Grounds are lovely and great for a little picnic on a warm day. The palace itself has been perfectly restored. Unfortunately, we were not able to tour the inside because we arrived as the tours were ending but we enjoy walking around and exploring the different historic sites. 

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Wedding Diary: My Bridal Appointment

Everyone makes a big deal of the wedding dress. It's supposedly the most important dress I'll ever wear and finding the perfect dress should be one of the pivotal moments of my life. There's quite a bit of pressure to find the dress that brings tears to my eyes, gets my heart racing, and leaves butterflies in my stomach...all while sticking to a budget. The goal is to look jaw-dropping, to look like a vision in white. That's not quite how my dress hunt played out. 

We walked into David's Bridal half an hour earlier than our scheduled appointment which gave us time to walk around and browse. Against everyone's protestations, I brought my fiance along to my bridal appointment and yes, he was the only male in the shop. I happily spent that half hour trying to give Joe a crash course on wedding gowns from the difference between ivory and champagne to the the different kinds of dress silhouettes. He, of course, nodded along and let me ramble. 

When our consultant was ready, we jumped right in and I gave her my criteria and budget: simple, classic, under $500, and midi-length. She wasted no time taking showing us some options. Since I had time to browse and had a good idea of what I wanted, within 10 minutes, we narrowed it down to four final dresses to try on. It was very straightforward. 

As you can imagine, Joe wasn't quite as excited as I was but he was incredibly helpful. He actually picked out the first dress I tried! He was also very practical. While the look and silhouette mattered to him, his biggest concern was if I was comfortable, if I could walk and sit, and if the dress made me feel beautiful. 

I suppose I expected the whole experience to be like an episode of 'Say Yes to the Dress' with tears and a consultant who is like a fairy godmother, determined to find your perfect fairy tale dress. Don't get me wrong - it was a great shopping experience but it wasn't quite what movies and shows make it out to be. My consultant was juggling my appointment with another bride so she was running around the shop, spending a few minutes at a time with each of us. When she was with me, she would look me up and down, ask me how I felt, and recommend some shoes, a veil, or a belt then run off. There was no time for gushing or retelling the story of how I met my fiance. We had 1.5 hours to try on dresses and there was no time 

 

 

 

Essentials: 

  • No makeup - You're going to be spending an hour and a half trying on beautiful, WHITE dresses and even with the most careful maneuvering, it's quite easy to accidentally get makeup somewhere. Try to avoid wearing makeup that can rub off onto the fabric like foundation and lipstick. 
  • Strapless bra - I made the mistake of wearing a regular strapped bra to my appointment and I ended up trying on mostly strapless gowns. Thankfully, my consultant was nice enough to let me use a bra they had on hand but I do wish I had worn my own. 
  • Shoes - When I tried on my first dress, I was wearing black flats. The dress seemed just okay. When I slipped on a pair of white peep toe heels, it immediately pulled everything together! Shoes make a world of a difference especially for dresses that don't cover the feet. 
  • Shapewear - Shapewear can do some great things for your body and how a dress looks on you. It also smooths out your silhouette and makes it easier to slip dresses on and off. It's best to wear the shapewear you plan on wearing on your big day. 
 

Tips: 

  • Do your research - There are a surprising number of things to consider when shopping for a wedding dress. Color, silhouette, neckline, sleeves, fabric, etc. I didn't realize there were that many shades of white or so many variations of tulle! Of course, you don't have to know all the terminology but having a pretty good general idea helps especially when communicating with your consultant. 

  • Be upfront about your budget - When I walked into David's Bridal, I already had a set budget that I was determined to stick with. I made that very clear to my consultant, who was very accommodating. We didn't waste any time trying dresses that were out of my budget and within that hour and a half, I had found my dress and a beautiful veil to go with it! Also keep in mind that your budget should also include other accessories or add-ons like a veil, shoes, alterations, and shipping fees. 

  • Focus on how the dress makes you feel - I knew I had found my dress when I walked out of the dressing room, saw my reflection, and couldn't stop smiling. I felt like a goddamn queen! I used to shop with the goal being to find items that slimmed me down or flattened my tummy instead of items that made me feel good. That mentality has changed in the past few years and it shined through when looking for my wedding dress. 
  • Be honest - The consultants can't help you find the perfect dress if you keep trying to be polite instead of giving them honest feedback. If it doesn't fit, say something. If you don't like the silhouette or the color, say something. They didn't design the dress so don't worry about hurting their feelings. 
  • Buy for the body you have now - I've read so many stories and articles about brides who try crash diets and questionable detoxes in order to look 'perfect' on their big day. Someone even told me to enjoy the burger I was having because as my wedding day approached, I would be eating nothing but lettuce. My response? The dress should adjust to me, not the other way around. And I already look perfect! 
  • Don't try too many dresses - The last thing you want to be when shopping for your dress is frustrated and overwhelmed, something that can easily happen when you try on one too many dresses. Take your time to go through the racks, let your consultant pick a few out for you, and try on around 4-5 dresses. 

 

On Moving To A New City

"Welcome home

That's what my fiance said to me at the San Francisco International Airport as he pulled me into a bear hug. We had been waiting years to finally book my one-way ticket to San Francisco and as we hopped onto the BART and made our way to the apartment, it felt surreal. For the next few days, I kept waiting for the usual sadness I feel when I have to say goodbye but it never came and I've been walking on air ever since. 

I loved Chicago. I lived there for a few years and it left an impression.The skyline, the drastic weather, the cultural richness, the architecture, the museums, the diversity. It's all incredibly beautiful, bursting with such personality. But something clicked when I arrived in San Francisco and it only took a few days of exploring to decide that this was somewhere I could live and thrive. The casual vibe, the views, the people, the sweater weather, how walkable it is. The fact that Joe is here definitely helped. It felt like home

This Christmas was my first Christmas in San Francisco and to my delight, my sister came to visit to keep my company for the holidays. We spent Christmas day by the Golden Gate Bridge and taking in some of the sights of San Francisco. As we stood on the beach, breathing in the cool, crisp air, I thought about everything that has happened this year and how thankful I am. This year was challenging, nerve-wracking, emotional, draining, and absolutely amazing. I've changed so much. I've done so many things that I never would have done before, that I never had the courage to do before. Quitting a job that I didn't particularly enjoy, uprooting myself and moving back home, taking a makeup class, moving to San Francisco, getting a job I truly enjoy. This was the year I decided that I am never going to settle for less than what I deserve. This was the year I took the biggest leaps of my life. I've never been happier. 

 

#MeToo

I don’t remember the first time I was sexually harassed. At the time, I probably didn’t even know that’s what it was. I don't remember if I brushed it off as a boy being a boy or just another unsolicited comment about my body. I don't remember if I cried about it for a minute or two then went about my business as per usual. What I do remember from each encounter is feeling uncomfortable, like I wanted to crawl out of my skin and disappear. I remember feeling guilty like I was the one at fault for daring to wear a v-neck or show some cleavage. I remember going over the situations in my head, trying to pinpoint what I did wrong, what I could have done to avoid it. I remember feeling angry and disgusted and ashamed. 

After seeing the flood of stories and experiences on the #MeToo Twitter tag, I created a simple post on Facebook that said "#MeToo". That was all. It my silent protest, my silent stand with the movement. At the time, I didn't feel ready to share my own stories. Part of me felt like my stories weren't bad enough to be shared. Another part of me didn't want to be pressured to share my stories, to feel like owed anyone my stories. I wanted to share them on my own terms. It took me about a week to start writing this post and another week to finally finish it. 

I wrote this post because I've spent so many years staying silent and not speaking up and if my stories can help even a single person, it will be worth it. I wrote this story because seeing the flood of stories across social media was incredibly disheartening and depressing but also unsurprising and that is terrifying. I wrote this post because most of the women I know have experienced some form of sexual harassment and that breaks my heart. I wrote this post because I realized that I was mainly afraid of being seen as some outspoken, dramatic feminist. I wrote this post because I realized that I am an outspoken, dramatic feminist and a proud one at that. I wrote this post because girls and women have been taught to hide, to reduce ourselves so we don't inconvenience others and I'm done hiding. 

I've never laid out my stories like this and crying my way through it and remembering those painful moments was somewhat cathartic. I ranted and rambled and yelled and nearly burst into tears as my fiance listened. I spent one late night conversation explaining how men can really start helping out, how just being a good guy and "not like other guys" isn't helping unless you actually call out the bad guys and the messed up system, how much women go through, how sexual harassment/assault isn't just a one-off occurrence for most women, how we've been trained to expect this kind of behavior and prepare for it, and how fucked up that is. So I won't be silent anymore. I will rage and rant about it til my last breath, til something changes. 

 

 

These are my stories. 


 

  • I was walking down the street and a man apparently thought I was too provocatively dressed and he spat at me. I was wearing a fitted skirt with opaque tights and a long sleeved v-neck sweater. It made me feel dirty and I ended up walking back home and changing. 
  • In college, some of my friends has a tendency to draw attention to my breasts. Some would greet my breasts before greeting me by saying "Hey Val's boobs! Oh, Val! You're there too!" Some even gave them names. Everyone seemed to get the joke and find it amusing. We had friends that openly grabbed each other's breasts when they saw each other and they didn't make a big deal out of it so I didn't fuss and laughed it off. Honestly, it made me very uncomfortable. 
  • A man approached me while I was on the phone with fiance. He tried to get my attention with compliments and small talk. I tried to politely explain that I was on the phone and not at all interest.  When he wouldn't stop, I tried to use my fiance as an excuse, hoping that would make him stop. I firmly said that I was on the phone with my fiance and he came up to the microphone of my earphones and said "Yo bro, let me holla at your girl". I eventually tried to ignore him and walk away. He followed for a bit before finally giving up. 
  • When I told my dad, uncles, and other family members about my encounter with the aggressive and insistent man who wouldn't stop badgering me, they mildly scolded me for not being more assertive or for not saying "no" more forcefully so the guy would take a hint. They explained that "guys here are very forward and you need to learn to say 'fuck off'". They don't know what it's like to be afraid that a man will react violently to rejection. They don't know what it's like to keep saying "no" only to have the man follow you a block or two. They don't know what it's like to say "no" and then be called a frigid bitch and all kinds of other names. They don't know
  • A former colleague thought it was okay to send me sexually suggestive texts. When I reacted and expressed that I thought it was inappropriate, he simply laughed, said I was overreacting, and tried to justify his actions by saying that he had a girlfriend and he was just messing around. 
  • In 6th grade, I loved soccer and desperately wanted to be on the school team. There wasn't a girl's team so I joined the boys team. It wasn't an easy transition. In the years that followed, I was constantly taunted for having large breasts. My male team mates would ask me uncomfortable questions and one would even bring up how gross and dark my nipples must be since I'm black. By my senior year of high school, I was set on getting a breast reduction when I got a job and saved enough money. 
  • After a few drinks, a former colleague cozied up to me, getting far too close and very touchy. He started whispering inappropriate things to me and I decided to take the elevator and make my way home. He followed and spent the next 15-20 minutes trying to get me to stay and cozy up to him. When my Uber arrived, I climbed in and started to cry. Bless that Uber driver who offered to buy me a snack and was incredibly kind. 
  • A man asked to take a photo of me while I was taking a walk and when I politely but firmly refused, he got upset and said "you're not that hot anyway, bitch". 
  • When I was in grade school, I attended a mass and the priest decided to use his homily to talk about a rape case that was drawing a lot of attention in our small town. To my surprise, he blamed the rape victim (a woman) and began lecturing churchgoers about teaching young women to dress more modestly and carry themselves with more dignity so as not to 'tempt' the men into committing sins. One of his lines basically reasoned that if a woman exposes herself and dresses indecently, what else can she expect? What truly enraged me what that most of the churchgoers were nodding in agreement, some clapping at the end of his sermon. 
  • A former coworker would call me "darling", "sweetheart", or "dear" and while I understand that he may have felt that it was harmless because we were close, it made me feel small and a somewhat put down. He would never call a male coworker any of those names and it felt condescending, like I was being reduced to some silly little lady at work that you didn't pay any mind to and was simply there to serve. 
  • A man at a club thought it was a okay to grope me and when I turned to confront him, he laughed and disappeared into the crowd. A few minutes later, a man pulled me from behind and tried to dance with me. I kept trying to pull away but he followed and continued to badger me. When my friends saw, I tried to get them to help me out of the situation but they left me to it thinking it was good for me to "loosen up" and dance with someone. I finally got away by giving him a fake number, insisting I had to use the restroom, and avoiding him the rest of the night. 
  • An older man at the bus station kept asking to take me out for coffee despite me saying no multiple times. He only stopped when my bus arrived and I rushed on. 
  • In college, someone I considered a friend "stole" a kiss while we were supposed to be studying for an exam. I insisted he leave and confronted him the next day after I managed to calm down. He tried to justify it by telling me had a long distance girlfriend whom he was missing and I reminded him of her. They later broke up and I was jokingly called a homewrecker by my friends for months. I don't think they realized how much it hurt me. 

 

 

 

 

A Broke Girl's Guide to Self-Care
Self-care isn’t just facials & pedis. It’s holding yourself accountable for the spaces you occupy and the people you surround yourself with. Self-care is prioritizing your growth over everything and to do so you can’t continue spending time in toxic environments around toxic people. Self-care often requires you to adjust habits, end relationships, and change ‘friends’. Choose yourself and never apologize for your evolution
— Ebonee Davis (twitter)

For quite some time, I've equated self-care with shopping trips, makeup tutorials, Sunday brunches, and binge watching my favorite Netflix shows. And while those are valid self-care practices, I've learned that self-care is more than the "treating yo self" ethos. It's more than a reward. Self-care involves being safe and secure in yourself. It's about self-awareness and prioritizing your physical and emotional health over anything else. 

I've treated self-care as some kind of reward and after a while, I forgot what it really meant to take care of myself and really get myself the help I needed. Listed below are a few things I've learned over the years on my journey to learn to love and care for myself. 


Disconnect

The news nowadays can get horrific, the negative comments and political mess can be disheartening, and sometimes the state of the world makes me want to crawl into bed and cry. Unlike before, we receive all this news and negativity as its happening, with updates coming in every few seconds through every social media app and every device. Shooting in Vegas, California fires, North Korea's threats of nuclear war, ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, Trump's Twitter tirades, Duterte's war on drug. They just keep coming and it's overwhelming. 

Remind yourself that we aren't made to process so much suffering all at once and you're allowed to give yourself time away from all that pain and negativity. Turn off your phone for an hour. Close your laptop and grab a book. Turn off the TV and talk a walk. Remind yourself that there is good and beauty in the world. 

 

Acknowledge & Process What You're Feeling

At my previous job, I was terrified of making even the smallest mistake. When I did, I worked through it, stressed myself out even more, rushed and fumbled my way to the end then spent far too much time beating myself up for being a failure. I didn't give myself time to breathe and process what I was feeling. I jumped straight to the conclusion that I was a failure and my default response was to be apologetic. 

When you're feeling stress, anxious, rundown, or stretched far too thin, take a moment to breathe and process what you're feeling and why. 

 

Schedule a date with yourself and don't cancel

We prioritize things that we consider important. You shouldn't be an exception. Make time and learn to prioritize yourself. I used to to make so many plans and promises for myself. New years resolutions, promises to not fall back into unhealthy cycles or behavior, and commitments to the gym or a new hobby. It's funny how easy it was for me to break promises to myself while I beat myself up for breaking any promises I made to others. 

Schedule a date with yourself. Take yourself out to that movie you've been wanting to see but have no one to go with. Eat at that Italian restaurant you've been wanting to try but feel awkward going to alone. Try that yoga class that you've had your eye on. Learn to enjoy your own company. Take a few minutes, an hour, a day, or even a few days to yourself, to take care of yourself. The world will still be there when you get back. 

 

A little at a time

Last year, my self-care routine involved spending a day or two every month to shop, walk around, visit the museum, and spend a day all to myself. I now realize that it would have been better if I made it a daily habit, if I set aside 10-15 minutes to focus and do something for myself. Self-care should be a habit, something built into your life and as routine as brushing your teeth. 

Take baby steps instead of large leaps. 

 

Cut out the toxic people in your life

Some of the best decisions I ever made for my emotional health were cutting toxic people out of my life. In college, I struggled with toxic friends who made me feel small and drained me emotionally. I would call my mother in tears, I lost some weight, and my grades began to slip. It took a while but I finally decided to cut them off and focus on myself, my growth, and my true friends. Everything changed and thankfully, all for the better. 

Never apologize for cutting toxic people out of your life and prioritizing your health and happiness. 

 

Don't lie to yourself

Know when you're not fine and when you need help. Be honest with yourself. Take a look at yourself and ask if your behavior, your lifestyle, and your relationships are good for you and are pushing you to be better or if they're self-destructive and unhealthy.