Posts in Lifestyle
Hello, 2019!
 

It’s a new year once again and with it comes hope, excitement, reflection, and, of course, resolutions. Almost everyone has already done there obligatory yearly recaps or favorite memories on their Instagram stories and now we’ve moved on to listing goals for the new year.

I’ve had more or less the same resolutions every year since I was in college. Lose weight, eat healthier, learn a new skill, read more books, make new friends, save money, and travel. I start the year determined and end the year pressured to quantify my achievements and compare them to those of my peers.

This year, I’ve decided to make promises to myself that I can keep, promises that are for myself and my growth and not the approval of others.

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  • Read more books - When I was younger, I used to read books as much as I watch Youtube videos. I could sit in my room for hours with my face buried in a book. As I got older, the magic of books seems to have faded for me and I am determined to find it again. My father gifted me with a Kindle this Christmas and I’ve already started reading Becoming by Michelle Obama.

  • Dress more boldly - Last year, I played things very safe when it came to my style. I gained weight and felt detached from my body so I covered myself up in oversized tops, mom jeans, and fluffy jackets. This year, I want to show more skin, wear more fun hats and bright jewelry, wear more comfortable shoes, and experiment with my style.

  • Travel to a new country/city - 2018 was filled with lots of traveling for Joe and I. We flew to Chicago, Hawaii, Seattle, and Las Vegas on little adventures. In 2019, I already have plans to visit the Philippines then hopefully, Disneyworld and many more!

  • Create and follow a proper skincare routine - My current skincare routine includes just 4 main steps: cleanser (when I’m not lazy), toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen. I’ve occasionally added a sheet mask, clay mask, or exfoliating cleanser here and there but it generally stays the same: the bare minimum. This year, I would like to create a skincare routine tailored for my oily skin that can actually address my skin issues.

  • Grow my hair out and keep it healthy - Going blonde was a huge highlight of last year. I had been wanting to go full blonde for years and finally took the plunge. While I love the blonde and how it complements my skin, it has left my hair fried and requires A LOT of work to maintain (monthly touch-ups, toning, treatments, etc.) so I’ve decided to let my roots grow out and get my hair back in fighting form.

  • Practice speaking Spanish - In college, I took several Spanish classes and could read, write, and speak Spanish fairly well. But as they say if you don’t use it, you lose it. I haven’t practiced Spanish in years and I’d love to become more fluent. I’ve already started by order my burritos and tacos in Spanish at the taco truck near work.

  • Pay off my credit cards - I received my first credit card four years ago when I first moved to Chicago. Initially, I was very cautious about using it but eventually, I began to use it and see how useful it was in emergency situations. I now have 3 credit cards and my goals is to pay them off slowly but surely and avoid using them unless absolutely necessary.

  • Drink more water - I’m not entirely sure why but I’ve always struggled to drink the proper amount of water each day. If there is a juice or soda available, I’ll take it over water and I know that needs to change for a number of reasons.

Here’s to being better in 2019!

What are your goals for this year?

Neon Museum
 
Las Vegas looks the way you’d imagine heaven must look at night.
— Chuck Palanhiuk
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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.