Nightmare Flights

Have you ever experienced a flight or airline/airport crew gone wrong? And it went wrong not because of your own doing. Well, a while back on my NOLA post, I mentioned the nightmare of a flight we had on our way to New Orleans. I didn’t elaborate then…so this is my follow up post on what I’ve learned and what I would recommend in the future.

  • For starters, I recommend flying direct to your destination. (Flying back home on a connecting flight is not so bad…after all, I’d rather start a vacation quickly and end it slowly.) There’s nothing worse than starting your trip on the wrong foot. That flight we booked to New Orleans had a connecting flight in Salt Lake City, Utah. However, because the grounds crew or the airline crew didn’t want to shut the airplane door, we waited on the tarmac for more than an hour. Then, the door was finally shut, we pulled back a little, but as unusual as this was…we pulled back to the gate and stayed there for another 45 minutes! At this point, I was already getting anxious and upset simultaneously. I had a feeling we were going to miss our connecting flight and NOT make it to our dinner reservation that evening. Thankfully, our story had a semi sweet ending…We did miss our connecting flight, however, I was able to push back the dinner reservation and  we made it to GW Fins.
  • Check the reviews on flights and airlines. Do their planes typically have mechanical problems? Are they known for always being delayed? What’s their reputation as an airline as a whole? Certain airlines have received a great deal of bad press lately, however, some rightfully so.
  • Choose the lesser of the two evils. How much money do you want to save by booking a connecting flight? Are you using mileage and don’t have much options in choosing which airline to fly with? Is it really a big deal if you miss your dinner reservation? These are things to consider.
  • Lastly, file a complaint. I am one to say that I dislike complainers (especially petty complainers), however, when NONE of the events that transpired were due to your inexperience and/or ignorance on your part AND you paid a fare (pun intended) price, then you ought to speak up. Some airlines are generous in compensating their clients for their mistakes, others are not. You win some, you lose some. But, you can’t win any if you don’t speak a plenty.

How about you? What did you learn from your nightmare flights and what can you recommend to me?

 

Guam to California. Lesson #3: Bánh mì

Have you ever had a Bánh mì? What is it, you might ask? Well, I never had one until I moved to California. Basically, it’s a sandwich, but not just any sandwich. Let me explain…Its a Vietnamese sandwich made with a baguette and NO cheese. (Side noteThe baguette was introduced by the French during the colonial period in Vietnam.) Inside comes many other ingredients such as: Vietnamese ham, grilled pork, grilled chicken, steamed or roasted pork belly, tofu, fried egg, pâté, cucumbers, pickled carrots, cilantro, and mayo.

The varieties are many. And, there’s usually something for everyone. There are restaurant chains that offer Bánh mì, such as Lee’s Sandwiches, but I prefer the mom and pop shops. They are affordable, filling, and a great meal! If you haven’t tried one yet, I definitely recommend that you do.

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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!

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A weekend in a Yurt

A few weeks ago, we enjoyed a short trip to Napa Valley and stayed in one of the large yurts in Bothe Napa Valley State Park.

Per Wikipedia: a yurt is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. The structure comprises an angled assembly or latticework of pieces of wood or bamboo for walls, a door frame, ribs (poles, rafters), and a wheel (crown, compression ring) possibly steam-bent. 

I don’t believe our yurt was covered in skins or felt, but rather in canvas. The lattice work was indeed a part of it, however, I don’t recall seeing a wheel.

The Yurt was large enough to fit six people with one full size bed and four cots. At night, it would get really chilly and dark (no electricity!) in the yurt, and during the day it’ll feel hot like a sauna. The sun will hit directly on your face around 6am forcing you to wake from your slumber; it was nature’s nice way of providing you an alarm clock.

We came to love our lil home for the past two days we were there. The only down side to it is that there are no keys given for each yurt. You can lock your door from inside the room before you sleep, but we couldn’t lock it from the outside to protect our personal belongings. So, I suggest not bringing anything of high value and leaving only minimal things in your yurt while everyone goes hiking, swimming,  or wine tasting.

If I happen to be in the Napa area in the future, I would definitely like to stay in a yurt again.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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!

Getting Rid of Things Pt.1: Garage Sale

On today’s blog post, I wanted to share one way I was able to minimize some of my clothing, shoes, and accessories. This is thru a garage sale. My friend Cynthia lives in a prime location, meaning visible to many passerby’s and cars. She had been wanting to host a garage sale for many months now… and we finally decided on a date.

Prior to the date, we were slowly putting things away in boxes and doing research on how to have a successful garage sale. Granted, this was our first garage sale EVER. I wanted to share some of the tips we learned thru research and from the experience we had.

Tip 1: Advertise your upcoming garage sale on Facebook, Craigslist, etc.

Tip 2: Organize your inventory. For example, have dresses hanging in one rack, mens shirts in another, accessories all in one table, and so on. This makes it easier for the shopper to browse and to know where things are at.

Tip 3: Clothing racks are very useful, however, if you use hangers…make sure they are the cheap kinds (for example: wire hangers from the dry cleaners) because some of the customers WILL walk away with your hangers.

Tip 4: Talk ahead of time with your friend, or whoever is selling with you in the garage sale, on price points. Are they selling to get back what they spent? Or are they selling just to get rid of items? The answer to these questions will help on how to price items. I was just selling to get rid of items, so I was pricing dresses and skirts at $2 or $3/piece.

Tip 5: Mark your items with price tags or have a sign on the table or rack with the prices of the items. Cynthia had bought stickers with prices on them..and we stuck these stickers on each item.

Tip 6: Have change with you. At least, $15 in one dollar bills.

Tip 7: Have a small pouch on you at all times. Keep your cash there with a small calculator. My friend Mau, on our second garage sale, brought  waist aprons that we can tie on and keep change and other little items within our reach. That was super helpful!

Tip 8: Hydrate and take breaks. Standing and talking to people all morning is hard work. Don’t forget to drink lots of water, eat, and sit down for a few minutes.

Tip 9: Wear a hat! On our second garage sale…I got burnt! I bought a hat from one of the item’s my friend was selling but my arms, chest, and legs got burnt. With that you should also wear sunblock. You definitely need the sun protection, especially during the hot summer months.

Tip 10: Don’t be afraid to sell those oddball items! The things we thought would least likely be bought, were the first ones to sell. For example, my Yelp Life gloves that had cut-off finger tips, which I got for free at a Yelp event…those sold for a dollar! One dolla…Make me holla!!!

I hope you find these tips helpful and may we continue to minimize our belongings.

 

A Foodie’s Dream Come True…Dallas & Austin, TX

Back in December, my friend Rachel, my husband, and I took a quick trip to Texas. This was the first time for all of us to visit the Lone Star State. We were there specifically for a wedding…but…simultaneously, we ate our way thru Dallas and Austin.

To get a taste of Southern Food we visited Ellen’s Southern Kitchen. The mac and cheese along with their fried okra was the highlight of that place.

Next, to get our liquor and grub on…we visited Meddlesome Moth. Excellent service, superior tasting food, and booze everywhere.

A visit to Texas wouldn’t be complete without having Tex-Mex. That is: Texan influenced Mexican food. For that, our local friends took us to Torchy’s. After having it, I realized I have a special spot for authentic Mexican food.

Now, let me tell you this…Texas, or possibly just Austin…has an infatuation with licking. We visited two very different establishments with “lick” in its name. One of them was Salt Lick BBQ. A visit to Texas also wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t have some of their BBQ. Salt Lick has many claims to fame, including a feature on the show Man vs. Food, however, the locals also like their food. We had to go there! And it truly did not disappoint.

The other establishment was called Lick Honest Ice Cream. They have such unique and classic flavors…something to please everyone’s tastebuds.

And now that I think about it though…they had every reason to include “lick” in their names. Its exactly what you would do with your fingers or lips after having anything on their menu.

As you can see…we ate our way (figuratively speaking) thru Dallas and Austin in three days. We definitely went through a cleanse afterwards.

However, if you do visit Dallas or Austin…definitely try one of the places mentioned above. You won’t regret it entirely. Happy Nom Nom!

 

 

Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitchelevator speech or elevator statement is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a process, product, service, organization, or event and its value proposition.[1]

The name ‘elevator pitch’ reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes and is widely credited to Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso (while he was editor for Vanity Fair) for its origin.[2][3] The term itself comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the conversation will either continue after the elevator ride, or end in exchange of business cards or a scheduled meeting.” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elevator_pitch)

 

I’ve heard of this long before..but never-ever thought of formulating one. And, as I contemplate about it, an elevator pitch is useful for everyday life. For instance, in a group setting…where random people are just talking about themselves and what they’ve accomplished…where you’d like to leave a mark or somewhat a memorable impression of yourself…its good to have a well-prepared, compelling, yet brief commentary. Something that will linger in their minds…and leave a pleasant memory of you and the words you just spoke.

Or When you get that chance encounter with that guy or gal you’ve been crushing on…what do you say?

Or when you meet that famous person…do you just shriek and ask, “can I take a picture?” or would you rather have something to say that has more meaning? I would choose the latter.

Here are some pitches I’ve conjured up:

If I somehow ran into Casey Neistat (one famous dude and entrepreneur), I would say: “Hi! I’m Sharon. Good to see you in person than thru a screen. My first vid of yours is ‘Free Business Class Upgrade, everytime.’ But since you’ve been vlogging daily you have definitely increased my vocabulary. I learn new words from you regularly…most recently the word ‘amiable.’ Tell Candice she rocks and hugs to Owen and Francine.”

If I were in a forum and I had to introduce myself…it would sound something like this: “Hi! I’m Sharon and i’ve done many scary things in my life.. like jumping out of a plane or traversing a foreign country on my own…but, somehow, this moment right here…talking to all of you, is also quite scary. However, the importance is to conquer that fear…just do it and don’t think too much about it …and ride it like a bull.”

What’s your elevator pitch? I’d like to know.