Thursday, April 14, 2016

January 2016: Snowboarding South Lake Tahoe

Hey look! Another overdue post! First off, if you don't care to read the rest, here's a 15 second Instagram video I whipped up!


Max and his friends wanted to do at least one snowboard trip this year, so we had this planned months ahead and scheduled it for the end of January. Most of his friends live in San Diego and we live up north, and we like to make big plans to travel to meet each other.

 Over the years, I've noticed (haven't we all!) that the snow season in Tahoe gets pushed back further and further due to global warming, and even with our trip taking place from January 27-30th, I was still nervous about the conditions.

Driving up the windy hills, "WHY IS IT RAINING?!?!"

Ok...some patches of old snow...can see most of the green trees on the bueno.

We stayed at the Marriott Timber Lodge. It's my family's default hotel when we snowboard (SLT) South Lake Tahoe, and it provides plenty of distractions for family members that don't partake in snow sports. It's definitely pricey and Max and I normally don't pay full price for this place or spend this much on any hotel room on any vacation. However, his friends have never been to SLT and they were flying in from San Diego, so we wanted to show them the very best that SLT could offer. This hotel was a must.

Why You Should Stay at the Marriott Timber Lodge***
1.) It's a luxurious cabin style resort with amenities such as huge heated pools, multiple jacuzzis, a gym, a kids club, and hosted activities throughout the day. 
2.) After snowboarding all day, soaking up in a hot tub, with a beer, at night, while it's snowing, is a requirement.
3.) Dozens of unique restaurants that are walking distance
4.) Most of these restaurants have great craft beer selections or cocktails
5.) The general apr├ęs ski atmosphere/nightlife
6.) Family-friendly distractions like shopping, art stores, ice-skating rink, a movie theater
7.) It's right by the Nevada border and you can walk to the casinos over the state line
8.) From the lobby, it's about 15 steps to the gondola!

***This is not a sponsored post. I just LOVE this hotel

Hotel room necessities. There were 5 of us and we got a 1-bedroom suite which had a king-sized bed and a queen-sized memory foam pull out couch. It worked for us! If you come into town unprepared (like we did), there is a convenient Bevmo that you can stop at before getting into town. It's about 10 minutes out before the hotel, and you don't have to go out of your way at all. There's also a Raley's walking distance from the hotel.

We arrived around noon and were expecting to snowboard at least a half day. However, the snow was visibly old and slushy. It wasn't even that cold out! Heavenly has this convenient map by the gondola that lights up green and red to indicate the operating ski lifts. There were a lot of red lights. 

We walked to the lake. It was definitely colder by the water, but also very wet and slushy.

We went to bed anxious about the next day's conditions, and we woke up to this!!! Yay for fresh snow! However, due to the snow storm, more than half of the mountain lost power! Our conveniently located hotel room no longer mattered; the gondola had no power as well. Instead, we had to walk around one building and take the free shuttle bus up to the mountain.

We excitedly woke up really early to ensure we were first on the mountain. Only 4 lifts were running due to the power outages, but there was no turning back for us!

After about 3 runs, I realized my old goggles were fogging up like mad. Max offered his pair to me, and then we snowboarded back down to the shop so he could buy a new pair. By 9:30-10am, the lift ticket lines were worse than Disneyland! This picture doesn't capture the winding parts of the line. Everyone came to the mountain on this day to enjoy the first big storm of the new year.

I would give the snow conditions about a B-. Nothing got groomed over night and there were way too many icy moguls.

However, Heavenly can't be beat when it comes to these views. 

Goodbye SLT!

Overall, really fun trip. Heavenly is a convenient 2 hour drive from Max's house in Roseville, CA, or about a 2-3 hour drive up from the Sacramento airport.

Feel free to ask me any questions!!!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Halloween 2015 in Portland

Yea, I'm so lame. I had the best time in Portland with my friends for Halloween and I can't believe I didn't blog about it! I'm trying to play catch-up now, so please bear with me!

1.) Getting to PDX

Me and two of my friends flew from San Jose to Portland. We got a great deal on Southwest for (I think) $59 each way! One of my friends also introduced us to the Lounge Buddy app, so we got a credit for $25 and immediately used it at the Lounge at SJ Airport. Access to the lounge got us unlimited drinks and some (crappy) snacks like popcorn, chips, crackers, etc. 

2.) Getting from PDX to Downtown.

Once we landed, we took the MAX train to get to Downtown. It was $2.50 per person and it took about an hour to get to our destination. Normally, it's about 45 minutes without delays. Yes, it is ridiculously cheap and there are lots of stops all over the city. However, if you're with friends and anxious to start night drinking, take Lyft.

3.) Halloween!

We didn't take more pictures because it rained most of the day, but we took a leisurely stroll around town. Went to Blue Star Donuts, Stumptown Coffee (grab your drink and hang out in the Ace Hotel lounge next door), Nong's Kao Mun Gai for lunch, and then Lyfted over to our friend's apartment in the Northwest District to relax. We strolled down NW 23rd Ave to see some of the unique shops before heading back to our hotel to get dressed.

I would say I kind of forced all our friends to get dressed up and it was so much fun!

DIY Kill Bill Group Costume

The Bride: I bought the tracksuit from Ebay 
here, covered the stripes with black trim tape which I purchased from Joann's (I used glue to attach), tailored the jacket to make it more slim, and used a mixture of red paint and food coloring to splatter the blood. I wore black shorts and tank underneath since it was kind of see-through. I got the shoes from Onitsuka Tiger.

O-ren Ishii: I found a kimono pattern off of Pinterest and sewed it using the best white fabric that I could buy from Joann's at $1 a yard. Suwanna wore a light sweater and leggings underneath.

Gogo Yubari: Dee wore all own white blouse, plaid skirt, blue blazer, white calf-high socks, and loafers. I got a piece of red satin scrap fabric to make a bow for her collar. I made her weapon out of an Christmas ornament and decorated it with the trimmings of my sister's old H&M purse. I cut out all the metal studs and used the chain to hot glue and attach it to the ornament. Then I sprayed everything silver. I can't believe I don't have a DIY picture!

Elle Driver: First off, both Patti and I got the same wigs from Amazon, except I trimmed mine to match The Bride's shoulder length hair. Patti got her coat from The Outnet (white version no longer in stock). She wore her own white button down, black trousers, and white kitten heels.

Hattori Hanzo: Peter bought a Japanese chef jacket from here. I sewed him a little apron, made a headband out of scrap fabric, and bought a mustache from Party City. He purchased a toy knife from the Halloween store.

Crazy 88's: Wit, Bing, and Ruel wore their own black suits. I bought the eye masks from Party City.

Some katanas were purchased from Daiso for $1.50, the others were from Party City for about $2. I painted them to look more tarnished and realistic.

IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!!! We went to TILT for their Halloween Costume contest and actually got 2nd place to a couple that dressed up as Jack and Sally. They got $500, but they were really nice. The 8 of us won 2nd place and got $50 haha. In our hearts, we still won. 

4.) Random City Things in No Particular Order Anymore

More Stumptown Coffee

Important: Go to Little Bird for their Happy Hour. It's probably the best happy hour menu I have ever experience anywhere in my entire life. 

Glorious sunshine!

Karaoke at Voice Box

Another amazing Happy Hour at Imperial.

That's it! This was far too long! Bye!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Why Ethical Fashion? / Stuff I Want: Tentree

The major reason why I've had such a strained relationship with my career aspirations in the fashion industry is due to ethical manufacturing. Despite its faults in other areas, I was blessed to experience working for American Apparel, a company that does apparel manufacturing the right way. American Apparel's factory workers earn a sustainable income (better wages than Customer Service but that's a whole 'nother story), comfortable working conditions, legally mandated breaks, bonus pay opportunities, etc. It was lovely being able to take pride in speaking to customers and not having to lie to them about what "Made in USA" meant for the company: we didn't rely on slave/child labor, we didn't rely on cheating employees out of fair wages, we didn't contribute to global warming with thousands of miles of shipping to and from factories.

Many brands don't have the luxury of following these practices. Since I've left American Apparel, I've made a conscious effort to support brands that operate ethically. That means no more Forever 21 and other fast fashion brands. In doing so, I've kept my closet quite small and curated, I buy less "trendy" clothing that ends up getting donated a few months later, and I spend less money on clothing in the long run. I put in a lot of work to research companies to ensure that I am making quality purchases that support companies that do not take advantage of the environment or the people that work for them.

Tentree is one of those brands. While I haven't purchased anything from them yet (unemployed), I'm keeping them on my radar for when I'm financially ready. According to their website, they plant TEN trees for every item purchased! In fact, they sometimes plant more than ten trees to ensure that ten would actually survive!

This map breaks down where all their 7 million (and counting) trees have been planted! And here is where you can read more about their company background, their ethical manufacturing practices, and their social impact. I love transparency when it comes to apparel brands.

Their collection is quite small and basic, but here are some of my favorites.

Hamilton henley, $44

Tobin board shorts, $60

Brighton French Terry joggers, $55

Colwood TENCEL (a manmade, sustainable, fabric that is super soft and drapey) joggers, $55

I hope that with this post, I can convince just a few more people to make more conscious choices when it comes to shopping for clothes! I will definitely feature more brands that I've had my eye on, and if you have any, please feel free to comment and let me know!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Our Incredibly Depressing Silicon Valley Apartment Search

I have not been here in a while, and I apologize!!!

My Life Since My Last Update
The last semester of school was pretty terrible. I didn't work out the ENTIRE semester. I worked my part-time job, slaved over my classes, questioned my existence, and drank a lot to ease the pain. In the end, I managed to scrape by with two B's in my science classes. I'm not happy with it, but it's what I deserved and such is life.

I took a month off to recuperate and to remind myself that I WANT to be in school. I recently found work in Sunnyvale, CA that will provide me with a wealth of knowledge for my future career as a nurse, and I look forward to something a little nerve-racking and challenging. Scaring yourself every so often is good for your progress! I'm eventually getting into studying for the TEAS and will be applying to nursing programs shortly. I've been slacking and I'm still working on reminding myself that I actually WANT to go to nursing school.

Max has also started work in Mountain View and it's a dream come true. I'm so unbelievably happy for him! He's learning so much and his environment is positive and encouraging for his future career plans as well. Things are pretty good for us!

Except for one thing...we're both living at home with my parents. As you may know, rent prices in the Bay Area are ridiculous. Living with my parents has been alright, especially since Max's schedule dictates that he leave for work before anyone else in the house wakes up and when he gets home, it's basically time for him to go to bed. Since I have been unemployed for the past month, he has never had to be home with my family without my presence. So yes, it has been working, but it's not ideal. It'd be nice to have our own place, so we decided we'd check out apartments in Sunnyvale to get a feel for the market. It's close to both of our jobs and cheaper than neighboring Mountain View. I thought I'd share our experience apartment-hunting in Sunnyvale because it was rather comical and sort-of depressing. 

What To Know About Silicon Valley Housing
-it sucks
-average cost for a studio is in the $2000 range
-about $1800-$1900 will get you the very, very basic comforts
-it really sucks

Option 1: The small, cozy studio for $1500

Via: Craigslist
Pros: Clean carpet, quiet neighborhood, one spot behind the unit for Max's nice car, and a decent amount of street parking for my not-as-nice car. Big closet with mirrors and shelving. Small patio that we would probably rarely use. No laundry on site.
Cons: Ok, so the top two see the kitchen? If you turned around, you faced the living space and that was it. I'm not huge into feng shui, but there was no place that you could put a bed without it being completely visible from the door. There was also no counter space. How to cook?! There were no businesses that were walking distance. The place was just really small. Smaller than my bedroom in my parents house. 

***Just so you know, this ended up being the most desirable and realistic option for us at the end of the day.

Option 2: The Ideal Studio That Was Too Expensive, $1950

Via: Remington Apartments, spotted as we walked by to another apartment building.
Pros: In the bottom left photo, you can see how the wall is a little bit pushed back. That was the perfect spot for a bed. It was out of sight from the door, and the foot of the bed would lead to the bathroom. Kind of like a pretend bedroom nook within the studio. A non-remodeled unit was $1850 and the remodeled unit was $1950. The $1850 got you cleaned and repainted laminate and wood cabinets which was acceptable, just not pretty. For $1950 you got granite countertops, wood floors, new appliances, and new shelving for the bathroom and kitchen. Good lighting, new carpet, big closets, good parking, secure building, and more space to breathe.
Cons: Way out of our price range. 

Option 3: Studio So Nasty A Marine Refused To Enter, $1495

Via: Twin Pines Manor Craigslist

Pros: It was the cheapest place we could find
Cons: Everything. Here's some background: My mom escaped through the jungles of war-torn Laos to begin a life in America. My father was sponsored and adopted by an Army vet in order to live a new life in America. The photos don't show the yellowish tinge of everything and the general dilapidation. As we walked down the street to find the manager, we saw the balconies were falling apart and some had tarp to cover the piles of junk that residents had hoarded outside their apartments. A tenant on the ground floor created a play area for their child in the dirt adjacent by clearing the brush and vines surrounding their balcony. My parents would probably be ashamed of me if I left their hard-earned home to choose to live here. Max is a former marine. I don't think I've ever seen anything that disgusts him. But, as we entered the lobby, he was welcomed with a swarm of flies to the face. He said we should go. Max and I were always willing to live in a crappy place if it meant having more money for activities, but this was $1495 for a grungy STUDIO.

Option 4: American Psycho Motel With The Scary Property Manager, $1550

Pros: Decent space, clean and sort of renovated kitchen and bathroom. New carpet, good closet with storage system. The shower had a rainfall shower-head installed.
Cons: Across the street from the noisy 101 freeway and home of a registered sex offender. Motel-style single level building. No trees or wall/fence barrier from the outside world. The resident manager that looked like Mr. Filch (Harry Potter) or Walder Frey (Game of Thrones). He reeked of cigarettes and was very hesitant to hobble down the street to show us the unit. There was a new FRS parked in front of a unit so we figured Max's car would be fine, but if Max wasn't in town, I don't think my person would be fine all by my lonesome.


So yea, that was our first experience apartment hunting in Silicon Valley. Since neither of us work for Google, Amazon, Apple, Oracle, Microsoft, etc., the opportunity for a self-sufficient, comfortable life doesn't seem like it exists here. Luckily, Max and I are blessed to have my parents' home, and we can laugh about the whole ordeal. We'll try again later.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Agoura Hills (Rustic/Woodsy/LA Area) Wedding!

Wedding season is finally over! It's bittersweet. I LOVE weddings, but having three events compacted into two weekends resulted in me barely paying attention in school due to the excitement. 

I'm also somewhat proud of myself for refusing to buy any new clothes, although that was a result of circumstance: I went to two malls and couldn't find ANYTHING affordable and appropriate. Hello Forever 21 and H&M....I guess their target markets just want to wear t-shirts and everything else "Normcore".

I cut out of my Friday class (NO REGRETS!) and my bff Suwanna–woooo she has a blog now!!!!–started our 5.5 hour road trip to Calabasas.

We checked into the charming and affordable The Anza Hotel, changed clothes, and explored the nearby areas by foot for some food.

We grabbed lunch and cocktails at Pedaler's Fork, a hip restaurant with a coffee shop and bike shop.

After lunch, I mailed another care package to my boyfriend and we got $30 mani/pedis at Calabasas Nails Spa. I was very pleased with the fact that our hotel was walking distance to bars, restaurants, drug stores, groceries, etc.

 In the evening, we took Lyft to Ladyface Ale Companie to finally meet up with some friends before the wedding day.

 Ladyface is located in Agoura in an unsuspecting area behind an Ihop and Islands. They have AMAZING beers. Not sure why anyone would ever be in that area, but if you are, I highly recommend.

The next morning, we walked over to Blu Jam Cafe for breakfast. We got there at 7:50am and I was astounded that so many people showed up for opening at 8am! Crunchy French Toast was a dream but Suwanna is still convinced that Gillwood's of St. Helena has better eggs benedict.

We spent a good 5 hours being lazy in our hotel room and getting ready before taking a Lyft to the wedding location. The wedding was located at Oak Canyon Ranch and it was PERFECT! The weather this weekend was in the 100's, but the giant trees provided an abundance of shade. The ranch also replaced their lawns with fake grass, which is not only sustainable, but also more comfortable for the ladies in heels. It was nice to not have to worry about mud and bugs.

The groom's sister made the giant dreamcatcher. It fit the natural, rustic, vintage vibes of the theme.

There were very few decorations required since the location was so naturally beautiful.

The ceremony was intimate. With a guest list of 90 people, I knew about 80% of the guests! A small guest list also allowed the bride and groom to pass their rings around the audience for well-wishes while the officiant spoke. It was so personal and unique.

 OKAY. This reception was seriously PERFECT! Chandeliers were hung from the branches of this giant oak tree that arched over the dining area. We jokingly called it the "Tree of Life". The farm-style tables were simply decorated with burlap runners and small branches of eucalyptus. The cloth napkins were made from old cotton curtains from their loft, dyed lavender, and tied with a single sprig of lavender. The tables were scattered in a cluster under the tree and I'm convinced everyone had a great view of the head table. In the evening, it was so cool to see the entire ranch enveloped in quiet and darkness except for our reception area.

Other fun tidbits: the groomsmen and other male friends serenaded the bride with a drunken/rowdy rendition of "Kiss By A Rose". During the retrieval of the garter, the bride hid a Smirnoff Ice between her legs and "iced" the groom. It was hilarious and magnificently clever!

I loved this intimate wedding and had THEEE BEST time in LA! Congratulations SG&SG!

***P.S., I was so depressed when I got back!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Traveling Solo: Day 3 & 4 in Philly

After my $15 (1 hour delayed) Megabus  ride to Philly, my cousin and her boyfriend picked me up and immediately took me on an adventure! First, they took me to Le Bok Fin.

 We parked on the street and entered an abandoned old school building. Makeshift desks and a lone receptionist sign us in and point us down our single pathway to the elevator. Once we arrived on the 8th floor, the doors opened up to this:

Le Bok Fin is one of many AMAZING pop-up beer gardens scattered around Philly. The city knows how to capitalize on their summer season. I feel like California forgets how great we have it in terms of weather and we don't do things like this to celebrate. 

The views were absolutely breathtaking and the weather was calm and beautiful. I never wanted to leave! They have a great beer and wine selection with a fancy, yet accessible French-inspired menu!

Le Bok Fin is open from Thursday to Sunday and closes on September 13. 

 After our beers, a steak sandwich at Pat's was required. We weren't too hungry, so one sandwich split 3-ways was the perfect snack.

The next morning, my cousin took me to Eastern State Penitentiary, which was once the home of Al Capone. Built before the commercialization of electricity, the architecture incorporated sky lights to illuminate the building. Definitely worth a visit! They do haunted Halloween walk-throughs and they also host weddings here!

My cousin had to do some work, so she dropped me off and I did some more walking on my own. I wandered down the oldest residential street in the country (I want to live here), and visited the basics: Liberty Hall, City Hall, etc. At this point my knees were KILLING me, so I spent some time at another beer garden :)

For my last meal, my cousin and her boyfriend took me to Fette Sau Philly for some bbq! I wasn't even hungry due to the heat but oh my goodness this place was perfection! They also have a Happy Hour with $5 Old Fashioneds and Manhattans which cannot be missed! (I missed it, so I ponied up $12)

I had a wonderful time in Philly. It's an inspiring city with so much culture, history, art, and community involvement. It helps that my cousin is so heavily involved with the community, but one can only dream about something like this existing in the Bay Area!