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.

 

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?

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.

 

Our Puppy, a Cane Corso

When my husband and I hit our two-year mark we decided that we were ready for a dog. I knew this would not be an easy feat, but Winfred was dead set on it. He had been putting himself to sleep with doggy videos on YouTube and doing a ton of research on different kinds of breeds. He finally settled on the Cane Corso, also known as the Italian Mastiff. I must admit, I was VERY hesitant about getting a big dog. I previously had a Pomeranian, and I felt that she was an adequate sized dog. However, there was no changing my husband’s mind.

The day came when Winfred finally picked up Brutus. Winfred had a dental appointment in the afternoon, and because he traveled almost four hours, he was running late. So, he brought Brutus with him, and I met Brutus at the parking lot of our dental office for the very first time.

His big blue eyes gazed at me and he made puppy noises that were just so adorable. I instantly fell in love. He was eight weeks old and 15 pounds. Not quite heavy yet, but he was the same weight, or more, than my adult sized Pomeranian.

Because his breed is dominant, my husband worked hard on showing him who the boss really is. But, at the same time, we shower him with lots of love and kisses. He started off by sleeping in the living room in his crate, but had separation anxiety because he wasn’t in the same room with us. Eventually, my husband gave in to letting him on the bed when he left for work at 6am. That habit stuck. Now, Brutus prefers to be in the bed with us. Granted, he can be left at kennels and with the grandparents… and does just fine. But when we are around, he wants to be with Winfred and I, snoozing by our feet.

He is now three years old and 120 pounds of pure love! On my next blog post, I’ll share tips of how we trained him and how we provide him with exercise and fun.

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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.