It would’ve been the best-kept secret

June has arrived…This would’ve been the month that we brought a new human home. To understand what I mean, I probably need to take you back a few months ago. 

On October 12, 2019, Winfred and I walked into a Walgreens after the Love Builds Up Circuit Assembly in Fremont, CA. I hadn’t gotten my period yet and my body was feeling off. My doctor advised me to take a home pregnancy test and so I did. All three tests read “Positive” or “Pregnant.” We were utterly shocked and beyond belief. 

That evening was our Pioneer Appreciation dinner and our newfound knowledge was looming over our heads but we still couldn’t believe it ourselves and so we didn’t share the news with anyone. The following day, I had a scheduled blood test appointment and I asked the Lab Technician if she can draw additional blood, if needed, to test for my pregnancy. She agreed after consulting with her Supervisor, but she also made me message my doctor right away to send a request for the test.

A few days later, my doctor wrote and told me “Congratulations! You are pregnant. Please take prenatal vitamins as soon as possible, iron supplements since your hemoglobin is low, a prescription was sent to your pharmacy for thyroid medicine, and please schedule an appointment with an OBGYN right away.” 

That message was the starting point of this new reality hitting us all too quickly. We had never anticipated being parents, and at first, we were a bit saddened about how our lives would change drastically but eventually, we became overwhelmingly excited and thrilled about it. Winfred went into daddy mode straight away, and I into mommy mode. I threw out all my acne medication and facial products that contained salicylic acid, I avoided sushi and fish that had high mercury content, and I slept so much! I remember my body always feeling so tired. During my lunch hour, I would go to my car and sleep. I had preferred it over eating and yet, I still packed on the pounds.

Fast forward four weeks later, (which meant I was already eight weeks pregnant) and I had my first OB appointment. This would also be my first ultrasound. Prior to the appointment, I felt better. Less tired and I was really taking good care of myself. I had no inkling of a miscarriage happening. When we heard no heartbeat and when we saw my doctor’s face look a little sad, we just knew we lost the baby. It was one of the saddest feelings ever. A feeling that lingers and stays with you.

If the miscarriage had not happened, I would be 39 weeks right now. He or she would’ve been the size of pumpkin in my belly. And, I could have kept this all under wraps because, at 12 weeks, I went to Guam to take care of my mom. I stayed there for three months.  When I came back to California, within a week, a stay home order was placed for the state of California. Weekly meetings were being streamed online and everyone was preparing to work from home if they hadn’t already. Then zoom meetings started and the stay home order was extended. I have not seen some people for over six months. Imagine the shock and awe on their faces if the next time they did see me was with a newborn in my arms. That would’ve been a pretty impressive best-kept secret! But, the reality is, I won’t have a newborn in my arms, but at the least, I’ll have a memory of what could have been. And, having that memory is enough for me to cling to and to go about my day.

My Part 1 Color Factory Experience

Let me just start by saying this:  In order to have a Color Factory experience, you must first sign up for their newsletter. The newsletter will alert you to any upcoming ticket sales and when to purchase the tickets. This will allow you to mark your calendars and set a reminder (that is what I did.) Please note, this is a very important step! If you miss the date (let alone the hour) these tickets go on sale…you can just kiss that experience of yours good-bye.

An hour before the ticket sales, I consulted with my friends to choose our dates. I recommend having a few dates in mind because, more than likely, your first choice will be sold out! I didn’t really have a plan on who would be going with me, but I just sent out a mass text and waited to see who would reply amongst my friends. A few of them did…and I ended up going with Sarah. THANKS Sarah! (Please note: at least one name has to match the tickets purchased and they do check ID’s twice.)

Knt+t+WySAG6VBpYc1vNEw.jpg

IMG_4215

I had my credit card and computer ready…and I was pumped! Five minutes prior to ticket sales start time, I had the site up and just continually refreshed. Once I was in…I waited until I was next in the queue. Once I was up, I went directly to the dates I had in mind, but all the weekends were taken. Also, the most you can purchase is for four people. But, even with that option, you’re better off looking for tickets that can accommodate at least two people. I was able to secure a spot on January 19, a Friday, at 12 noon.

So, as you can see, securing tickets was a whole big task on its own. You’ll have to plan ahead and follow through. Some ask, is it worth my $35? In my opinion, I say absolutely, YES! I don’t even remember the last time I was in a ball pit…actually, I do. It was probably when I was 8 years old and my parents took me to the McDonald’s in Harmon, Guam. The McDonald’s was still new at that time…and I remembered how fun it was! Now, as a grown person with responsibilities, I crave that freeness I once had as a kid. So, if I have to pay $35 to be a kid again (in an adult body,) and take all the crazy non-sense pictures for my IG…i’d do it! As an extra perk, you do get a few snacks along the way: macarons, charcoal lemonade, and a small soft serve in the end…so, tell me…WOULD YOU GO TO the COLOR FACTORY?

I also did an insta-story the whole time so if you’d like to see Part 2 of my Color Factory experience, please check out my IG account. The whole experience and all the rooms we entered were captured on my Instagram Highlight Stories. Please follow my Instagram @islanderinheels.

 

 

Viva Las Vegas

Las Vegas, a place where you can travel the world, yet remain on a strip. This past September (which was perfect weather), I accompanied my parents, and their friends, for a four day getaway.

We did NOT rent a car, but we did take advantage of the shuttle services, monorails, lyft or uber (whichever wasn’t surging at the moment…,) and the occasional taxi cabs.

We stayed at the Rio, which wasn’t as I remembered it to be, but it did OK. Every morning, we took advantage of the overpriced coffee at the Starbucks downstairs because there was no free coffee in the room (also, they charge you $0.75 for iced tap water!) The Rio isn’t on the strip…but isn’t too far away either. At that time, Rio provided a free shuttle every 30 minutes that drops you off to the strip. However, we didn’t have the time or the patience to wait each time…so we would either grab a cab or a lyft.

What parts of the world can you reach from the strip? Well, lets start at the U.S. You can go to NYC, and see the Brooklyn Bridge, have a bite of their famous burgers in Shake Shack, ride their roller coaster, and then head over to Europe. You can get a piece of these European cities: Paris, Venice, and Rome. Then head to Africa by going to the Luxor and feeling like you’re in Egypt. By the time you’ve ventured through at least three of these countries, you’ll feel exhausted and would want to retire to the comfort and coolness of your hotel room.

If you desire to venture off the strip, there is the Hoover Dam, that is about 50 minutes away. Hoover Dam has been featured in many movies such as San Andreas, Transformers, and Fools Rush In with Salma Hayek and Matthew Perry. Definitely worth checking if you’re tired of the same scene.

Another advantage to Vegas is, it’s also not too far off from the West Rim portion of the Grand Canyon. The West Rim belongs to the Hualapai (WALL-uh-pie) tribe, and isn’t part of the national park. That being said, the West Rim is still a beautiful and unique experience. We were able to see Eagle Rock and get on the Skywalk. It was truly a Magnificent experience! (I can share more about the details of the West Rim on a separate blog post.)

Overall, Vegas is a great thrill! You don’t have to be into gambling or casinos to enjoy the place…because no matter what you like, you’ll find something for yourself in Vegas!

Processed with VSCO with s2 presetfullsizeoutput_6604fullsizeoutput_6580IMG_3123IMG_1311IMG_31639Q100573323_M_191IMG_3178IMG_3197Processed with VSCO with e1 presetIMG_3252

 

Sweet Treats from NYC

Part II of my list of food places to try in New York are sweet treats. Whether it be doughnuts, cookies, or rice pudding…here are my faves:

  • Momofuku Milk Bar. Who thought someone can be so happy with cereal and soft serve? Its like comfort food on another level. And, don’t even get me started on their crack pie…
  • Doughnut Plant. I’ve always been a fan of tres leches and theirs is a must try! A few others to add to your box: Peanut butter and banana cream, vanilla bean, red velvet, crème brûlé, Peanut butter and blackberry jam…heck, just try everything!
  • Rice to Riches. If you grew up with a Filipino mom, you know what chocolate rice is. Rice to Riches is just that… but better! There are other things added to the rice other than chocolate. They have rum raisin, french toast, mascarpone, banana coconut, and the list goes on and on… Sample a few to taste what you like because it is filling and not so cheap. Then reward your belly with some yummy goodness!

I hope you get to try at least one of these three places, and let me know what you think. I have other places I want to try that I have not ticked off…such as, Levain Bakery, Cookie Dō, and others. Always gotta have a reason to come back to NYC.

New York Food List

Prior to the trip, I had this list of food places I wanted to try. I got through most of it…and wanted to share it with you:

  • Russ & Daughter’s – A great New York bagel experience. I had a Plain bagel with Lox and Scallion Cream Cheese. Yum!
  • Julianna’s Pizza – Granted, I was pretty full already from my burger at Shake Shack…I just had to try a slice of their Buffalo Mozzarella pizza. It was delicious!
  • Shake Shack – To be completely honest, I had reservations about this place. I mean, California has some pretty legit burger joints that I’ve already tried…But, disappoint it did not! I truly enjoyed every bite of my Smokeshack burger.
  • Sabbia, formerly Baita, in Eataly’s rooftop. A little overrated for the food, but the experience was wonderful. Beautiful rooftop and great drinks!
  • Katz Deli – one and done! Meaning, one visit for me is sufficient enough…the food was meh! And the lines are crazy! To top that off, you must keep your eyes peeled for a table to be vacated, and once you find one, hope no one else grabs it before you.
  • Smorgasburg – A great place to try a variety of different foods. Eat your heart out…literally!
  • Yuji Ramen- A new take on ramen. Its all seafood base. Unique yet surprisingly good. Also, a tiny hole in the wall place, so be prepared to be in close proximity with strangers.
  • Chelsea’s Market – A wonderful place to people watch, listen to live music, shop, and eat great tacos! Yup, I had tacos and quesadillas at Los Taco’s #1 and boy were they delicious! I had the carne asada taco and the adobada especial…I highly recommend trying them!
  • Pies & Thighs – A good option for some southern food. A nice plate of chicken and waffles to make you feel that nice southern comfort; and don’t forget that smoked pork collards.

After going through this food list, I want to do an 8 mile hike or longer. Happy Noshing!

4 Nights in NOLA

New Orleans, Louisiana…I have loved you from the start! From the many other places I wanted to visit in the States, New Orleans ranked high on the list. So as not to use up much vacation time, I opted to visit during Thanksgiving Weekend. Thankfully, I was able to find a moderately priced package deal that had airline tickets and hotel for two.

On this blog post, I wanted to share our itinerary and possibly give you some ideas for when you visit NOLA.

We flew in on Tuesday evening after a nightmare of a flight (saving that story for another time…) In time, to catch a dinner reservation at GW Fins. Definitely, had a great experience from start to finish. Food was delectable and service was stellar. Also, our hotel was nearby, so we just walked to and fro. Great way to also catch some action on Bourbon St.

The next day we took the Riverfront Line Streetcar (red one) to the Riverwalk Outlet. The reason for me to even pay this place a visit was to catch sight of the cruise ship and to sit and admire the Mississippi River. There is a Cafè Du Monde there, however, we opted to go to the stand alone 24 hour operation on 800 Decatur St. And yes, I will go there at 12 midnight to indulge in a warm beignet and a cafè au lait. Another noteworthy thing to do is to take the St. Charles Line Streetcar (green one) from Carondelet to the very end of the line. It’ll take you through mansions, the Loyola and Tulane Universities, and Audubon Gardens. On the way back, we hopped off near Magazine St and did some shopping.

On our third day, we did a Swamp Tour with Cajun Encounters that we booked through our concierge. A small bus picked us up at our hotel lobby and drove us to Slidell where we began our adventure. We saw alligators, wild boar, raccoons, snakes, owls, egrets, and more. Definitely a great way to experience the Louisiana bayou!

New Orleans is home to Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino so my visit wouldn’t be complete if I did not devote any time to listening to some good live jazz and soulful music on Frenchmen St. And, I can attest to it that Jazz music is so much better live! I might add too, if you’re anything like me, you’d spend more time on Frenchmen St than on Bourbon St. Just sayin…

I’ll be back NOLA…for your poboys, beignets, and live music! This isn’t the last of me.

 

 

 

 

A dog loving place-Santa Barbara, CA

This post is long overdue…regarding that one weekend in Santa Barbara, California.

We truly enjoyed this spontaneous weekend trip because we realized how dog-loving Santa Barbara was. We drove down on a Saturday and spent the remainder of the day at Arroyo Burro Beach. We are keen of that beach…and let me tell you why! First, there’s a section for dogs to be off leash (East of Slough,) and another section for dogs on leash. Second, there’s a self service pet wash station by the parking lot, as you exit. It was so convenient and affordable for us to have a great time with our dog, and bring him back to the hotel not smelling like a wet, filthy rag.

Our hotel, Kimpton Canary Hotel, was extraordinary! Great service through and through. They allow pets, especially one like ours, who weighed in at 120lbs. They made each one of us feel welcome, including Brutus. The hotel also houses a great restaurant, Finch and Fork, to have your special date night at. The hotel also boasts a beautiful rooftop pool that overlooks parts of Santa Barbara. Great area to lounge and have a few drinks.

The hotel is also conveniently located near many shops and other restaurants. The hotel lends you their bikes or you can walk. We walked since we had Brutus with us, and there were many places that offered outdoor seating. One such place was Tupelo Junction Cafe. Although the seating outside was limited, the hostess was very friendly and accommodating to let us know when the table would be available. We didn’t have to wait very long.

Overall, Santa Barbara is definitely one of those places that we would love to visit again and again because of their dog-loving ways. Its a place I can see us bringing Brutus to time and time again, without having to worry if he will be accepted because of his size or his breed. Its also one of those places that keep you interested because its not stodgy. Santa Barbara will always have something to offer… for just about anyone.

Happy Decade!

Last month, I officially lived a whole ten years off the little rock I once called home. This little rock was the island of Guam. I remember vividly my aspirations of being able to live somewhere far away, on my own, and achieving my goals. I didn’t think I was going to be away this long…yet, it went by so quickly!

I graduated and earned my bachelor’s. I married a good man. I actually like my job and enjoy going to work every day. I can honestly say that I’ve achieved my goals.

The first year was admittedly the toughest. I had no friends. I didn’t know how to take care of my skin. I broke out so bad because I didn’t know how much I needed to moisturize during the dry and cold winter months. I didn’t like my job, but I did it anyways. I had no idea how to dress in cold weather, so I always looked awkward and would either be too cold or too hot.

Over the years, I met people who filled the void that I once felt as a newcomer. I made close and lasting friendships. I sought the help of a dermatologist to help me get my skin back to the way it was. And, I started browsing Japanese fashion magazines and watching Youtube for Winter Fashion ideas…that really helped! It made me realize that my cowboy boots had to go as they were not winter fashion friendly, as I thought they were (Imagine…I  wore those to field service and meetings!)

As a former newcomer, these are things that helped me plant roots in a new place:

Make new friends. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and talk to people. Spend time with those whom you gravitate to the most and have common interest with.  Invest time and feelings. If you do so, you will make friendships that will prove its strength through good and bad times.

Try a new job. I always worked in Hospitality when I was in Guam and never thought I’d go into a different industry. When I moved to California, I went straight into Banking. Later, I realized it wasn’t what I was looking for and found a decent job in a whole different industry.

Explore your city. I found all my local favorites in the area. My favorite Persian restaurant, my favorite Crepe place, my favorite Nail Salon, etc. Also, check out the local hiking trails and any outdoor activities your area offers. You’ll be sure to have a good time!

What are things that you did to make you feel more at home in a new place?

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQmyye9DC-8/?taken-by=islanderinheels

Training Tips that Worked for Us

Update: I drafted this post a few weeks back and just this past weekend Brutus was attacked by a Pit Bull while he was about to go on his walk. The Pit Bull broke free from his home and came at Brutus while my husband and him were about to go for their morning walk in the in-law’s neighborhood. We are observing Brutus and he is scheduled to see his vet this Friday.

Tip #1: Be consistent.

This is key for potty training and any type of training in general. When he was a pup, we had made sure that he always went outside right after a meal, before we went to bed, and right when we woke up. He knew that this was the routine and, although he had a few accidents, he quickly learned to potty outside. Also, we taught him to “ring the bell.” We made sure that before we opened the door for him to go outside and potty, he had to ring the bell. This, in turn, taught him that to get our attention to bring him outside…he had to ring the bell. And, it still works until now. He no longer has his bell, but paws the door stopper or anything near the door, to get our attention.

Tip #2: Be firm and let him know who is boss.

This doesn’t mean you have to be a tyrant. But, when he’s bad, You have to give a firm,”NO!” Don’t be giggling or laughing or smiling…because they will definitely think you’re playing with them, and not giving them a command.

Tip# 3: Praise him when he’s good.

Reward good behavior. Don’t emphasize so much on the bad behavior but know that when he makes you happy and proud…say the words, “Good Boy/Girl!” or even a gentle pet on his head or a treat.

Tip #4: Have play time.

This is part of being consistent, but when your dog knows he gets to have play time, he doesn’t get too crazy. For instance, he won’t run away from you or try to escape the house because he knows there’s no better place than being home with great masters.

These are the tips that worked for us…there are great dog trainers out there, haven’t tried any of them yet, but the way I see it…most of the dog’s behavior is a result of how the owner handles them. How much time we spend with them, how much love we show them, and the interaction we provide for them.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BOAoWVFgkTr/?taken-by=islanderinheels

 

Getting Rid of Things Pt.2: Poshmark & Mercari

Besides the traditional (…and sometimes heart-breaking) garage sale, there is also a more modern take on selling your pre-loved items. Enter Poshmark and Mercari! These are apps and websites that allow you to sell and buy items from your phone or computer. Since, i’ve listed more items on Poshmark and sold items there, that app will be the premise of this blog.

At times, I did feel a little heartbroken when I sold a top that I bought for more than $30 for just $2 at our garage sales, and because of this, I opened a Poshmark account. I could list a top, dress, skirt, bag, wallet, and shoes for however much  i’d like to get in return. The buyer, on the other hand, could negotiate or “make an offer” for a lesser price and it would be up to me to decide whether to accept or decline the offer. Some buyers would also just pay for the listed price and skip the whole negotiation process.

Since I opened my Poshmark account, I’ve sold five items and made over $60. Some of the items were listed for really cheap though. For example, I had an authentic Coach wallet which I owned for more than ten years and sold it for $9. I then looked around and saw that many people were selling the same item for much more. That part can be a little sad and hurt your heart a little. However, if your goal is to simply downsize and get rid of items…and make a little money while you’re at it…then you’ll be fine. (I was fine.) Also, I did notice that those sellers still had those items, meaning: buyers didn’t want to pay that price for the wallet. Sometimes, it’s really hard to choose a price and whether to accept an offer. In a way, you are running the risk of losing a sale or making a sale but getting jipped along the way.

Below are tips on how to sell items and how to price the items:

Selling

Tip #1: Take good photos! I used my friend’s fence as a backdrop and used regular sunlight as my lighting. The pictures looked so amazing!

Tip #2: If you must..model the item! Wear the shoe, put on the dress, or pin back your hair to show those pretty earrings.

Tip #4: Join the parties. Share your items on these parties, and share the love by sharing other people’s items too. They will return the favor.  Remember, the more shares, the more views people will get of your item.

Tip #5: Be as descriptive as possible. Take measurements, name-drop the brand, and tell a story if you have to.

Tip #6: If a person inquires about an item, reply back as quickly as possible. Some people lose interest right away, and if you don’t reply back within 48 hours, more than likely, they’ve lost interest.

Tip #7: Ship items right away and put some pizzaz in it. This helps when the buyer rates you. They will leave 5-star ratings that will help prospective buyers trust you.

Pricing

Tip #8: How much is the item worth to you now? If not much, I would list it for a price that I know buyers won’t be able to resist.

Tip #9: If you want to compete with the market, look up the item on Amazon or Ebay and see how much it’s listed for. You can then adjust your price accordingly.

Tip #10: Don’t expect to get your $250 back for an item that has already been used. Meaning: if you bought it for $250, and used it a few times, and try to sell it for $250…you will not get many likes on the item. Buyers would probably pay that price if it was New-With-Tags (NWT.) So, price accordingly and remember that buyers are people like you who are looking for good deals.

Happy Poshing!