The Flower Fields at Carlsbad, CA

Last weekend, the husband and I decided on a whim, to drive down to SoCal to pay a visit to the Flower Fields in Carlsbad before they close out for the season. It was a nice drive because we barely hit any traffic and the weather was warm and inviting. (We did a detour in Los Angeles but more on that later). We gave our friends a one day notice and just hoped they were free. Thankfully they all were!

We stayed one night at our friends home in Oceanside and another night at the Carlsbad by the Sea Hotel, which was conveniently located right across the Flower Fields (IG story to be shared shortly).

I purchased our tickets for the Flower Fields on April 29 for a May 1st visit. Surprisingly, there were many tickets available throughout the day, however, I decided for the last entry (5PM-5:30PM) so that we can enjoy our Sunday meeting, have a nice lunch, and have time to check in at the hotel and relax before heading to the Flower Fields. It sounded like a nice plan in my head, but little did I know, we would have an unpleasant experience later that afternoon.

Here is the hard lesson I learned: On their website it has 9am-6pm listed on their home page and no other disclaimer about adhering to strict operational hours. However, on the purchase ticket link, you can purchase tickets for the last entry from 5:00PM-5:30PM for the same price of $22. Which means, those who purchase the last entry only received one hour or 30 minutes of exploration time. I couldn’t help but feel gypped when, 15 minutes before closing, majority of the employees were telling all the paying visitors to exit the fields. We left feeling very frustrated.

Anyhow, the next day, I had to speak out for others and myself…that the Flower Fields should not charge the same price for the last entry and that they should, at the very least, not have tickets from 5:00PM-5:30PM if the fields close at 6PM. They understood my frustration and were very accommodating.

Because of this experience, I share with you this new knowledge:

  1. Do NOT purchase the 5:00PM-5:30PM tickets. (The 30 min window from the ticket means you can arrive between 5PM-5:30PM.)
  2. Do purchase tickets that allow at least 1.5 to 2 hours of exploration time. If you come with kids, allow for more time to enjoy the kiddie activities like the Sweet Pea Maze, collecting stamps at each location, having snacks, and the Wagon Ride (Additional $6/per adult and $3/per child).
  3. Tickets are $22/per adult, $20/per senior 60+ or military, and $10/per child (3-10 years old).
  4. If you do not wish for your feet to get dirty and dusty, wear closed toe shoes that are comfortable to walk in.
  5. The Flower Fields typically close on Mother’s Day weekend but this season has been extended to May 15, 2022. Tickets are also half off now! ($11/per adult, $10 per senior 60+ or military, and $5/per child).

Overall, it was a solid experience! A field of more than 50 acres of ranunculus, gladiolas, and even sunflowers…leaving me with a delightful memory and a lasting feast for my eyes.

Roadtrip Essentials

One of my most favorite things to do, since I moved stateside, are roadtrips! Recently, we embarked on a 10 hour drive from northern California to North Bend, Oregon. We started our journey at 6:30AM, made five stops along the way, and arrived at our destination just a few minutes before 6PM. The MVP (Most Valuable Passenger) has got to be the driver! In our case, it was the hubby who took on the challenge and agreed to do the entire drive himself. He was a champ throughout because I was expecting him to pass me the keys at least once, but he took his responsibility seriously and embraced it. Granted, his dad was with us, for the first time ever, and maybe this compelled him to be the pilot at all times. Whatever the reason, I was glad he did it and he did a great job at it. While he was driving, I thought it would be nice to put together a list of essentials for our next road trip…so here it is!

  • SNACKS AND WATER. Eventually, you’d get thirsty or its Who-Knows-How-Many miles until the next store, restaurant, or fast food joint…and you are Starving and Hangry…snacks and water or other beverages will be a lifesaver!
  • A GREAT PLAYLIST. What’s a road trip without rockin out?
  • DRAMAMINE. Windy roads make me so dizzy and nauseous that dramamine is a close companion of mine during road trips.
  • A WARM BLANKET. Something to keep you wrapped up and cozy for those cat naps.
  • FIRST AID KIT. You hope to never use it. 🙂
  • MAP or G.P.S. Has anyone embarked on a roadtrip without a map, G.P.S., or their phone with Waze? Sadly, I’d never make it to my destination without my phone,
  • PHONE CHARGER. Using Maps or other apps on the phone will drain your battery fast, so be sure to have a car charger set up and ready to plug your phone in before its completely dead.

Also, because it Covid-times, I always carry hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes, disposable masks in my bag or glove compartment. What are your roadtrip essentials? And why?

2021 update (wow…it’s almost 2022!)

Hi friends! It’s me again. How have you been?

(I found this drafted in my box and would be a shame not to share!)

Anyways, wasn’t 2020 a crazy ride? It seemed like it would’ve been a slow year, but what a blur that year was. Now, we are passed the 1/2 way mark of 2021. Despite the obvious downer of events that happened last year, there was some good that came out of it. Wait, if you are wondering if I just said good, Yes! you read that right.

Here’s my list and why:

  • Zoom was introduced. I’ve never heard of Zoom before, but I have definitely heard of Skype. Apparently, Zoom can hold a larger group of people and boasts several other features that was unavailable through Skype. I appreciate Zoom because you can be with a group of people in another country and still enjoy their company in different time zones. A few things that I have already done on zoom are: Weddings, Funerals, a Gender Reveal Party, a Baby Shower, Escape Rooms, Family Nights, Anniversary Parties, Trainings, and of course Meetings!
  • Face Masks prevented the common colds and flu. Typically, once a year Winfred and I will get really sick with a cold but because we pretty much wore a mask 95% of the time we were out, we didn’t get hit with it.
  • Work from home became possible. I’ve always dreamed of a job that allowed me to work from home, however, all the job fields I’ve ever entered required me to be on location at ALL working times. For example, as a Transfer Guide, I physically had to be at the airport or at the hotel to pick up the tourists and drop them to their respective drop off locations with my assigned driver. As a Teller, I had to physically be at the bank and help customer’s with their transactions through my window. Fortunately for me, I was able to leave the tourism and banking industries and enter public service. However, this agency has never had any teleworking schedule until the pandemic was declared and the world stopped for a minute and every company, agency, and non essential business had to shut down OR have all employees work from home. Thankfully, I was able to work from home.
  • Virtual Training. I was able to complete a six months virtual training program in the comfort of my own home. It was the first time, that this training was ever done virtually. We were literal guinea pigs! It definitely had its challenges, but I could not have been more than thankful to be able to complete it successfully.

As for 2021, at first it seemed like there was no difference from 2020. However, once the vaccine became available, it definitely felt like things were finally easing up. I was so happy to finally meet up with friends! You never truly appreciate the impact it has on your sanity of the things you may have taken for granted, such as being around good company, being able to hug people outside of your household, getting a mani-pedi, or just getting out of the house to do a hike…ALL of these felt so good inside and out. What was, and is, your silver lining to this whole pandemic era?

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BJyOajFjD3a/?taken-by=islanderinheels

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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.

 

33 things I’ve learned in my 33 years

  1. Having the right attitude is EVERYTHING.
  2. Money definitely does NOT buy happiness.
  3. Contentment is > Possessions.
  4. Traveling opens up your mind to many other things.
  5. Traveling teaches you appreciation.
  6. Spontaneity becomes harder as you get older.
  7. Nothing always goes as planned.
  8. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  9. Anything can happen.
  10. What used to be called the pound sign is now called the hashtag.
  11. Language continues to grow and change…for instance, check out #12 and #13
  12. FOMO means Fear of Missing Out.
  13. YOLO means You Only Live Once.
  14. Comfort = Danger
  15. Its not easy to save money. How did my dad ever survive on a single income raising a family of seven?
  16. Money does not grow in trees.
  17. Its harder to lose weight as you get older. No carbs for a month doesn’t work anymore. And comes #18…
  18. Its harder to find the time to exercise. Going to the gym used to be a way to socialize and meet guys. Now your guy is on the sofa drinking a beer and watching “deadliest catch.”
  19. Forever 21 is no longer my go-to store. My husband was not-so-right when he said that a woman should stop shopping at Forever 21 when she turned 22. I stopped shopping there when I hit my 30’s. Everything there just seems too short, too cropped, or too distressed for a 30 year old. However, it’s still a great place to snag some affordable accessories.
  20. I have a new found appreciation for solitude. Its nice to escape from the noise and be alone with your own thoughts.
  21. People continue to grow and change. I thought I was the same person that left my tiny island of Guam almost ten years ago. My cousins proved me wrong.
  22. Change is not always bad. Take for example #23…
  23. Phones change too. These are the phones I’ve had in my lifetime so far: rotary phone, touch-tone phone, cordless phone, nokia cellphone with replaceable cases, motorola razr, samsung flip phone (2 different kinds…a blue and a pink one), iphone 3, and now an iphone 5.
  24. You don’t have to suffer in high heels. Flats are cute and comfortable. I use to own, if any, one pair of sneakers or flats. I would wear platform sneakers, platform slippers, and high stiletto heels. I would never be caught in my flats…that has all changed! But, even with that…
  25. Manolo and Christian sure know how to target their women.
  26. E-commerce is powerful. Hel-looo Mercari and Poshmark!
  27. Social media is booming! Know how to keep the balance and when to just say NO. There’s facebook, instagram, snapchat, etc.
  28. You can learn how to cook, sew, and put on makeup not by going to a traditional school but through YouTube.
  29. Skincare is so important. Cleanse, Treat, Moisturize, and Protect. I thank my 20 year old self now for having a regimen and seeking professional help when my acne went out of control. Being 33 and passing as a twenty-something is great. Can’t wait to be 40 and looking 30. Or 50 and looking 40…you get the picture.
  30. Marriage is work.  I don’t know why so many people were hating on Ben Affleck when he said that in his acceptance speech for best picture. He said, “it is work..but its the best kind of work.”  Which leads me to #31..
  31. Marry your best friend. When you have similar values, beliefs, and personalities that mesh together…it makes “work” fun and endearing.
  32. When it comes to friends…its not the number of friends that matter, but the quality of those friendships. Can we tell them our innermost thoughts and feelings without being judged or reprimanded? Do they forgive us for our mistakes? Do they bring out the best in us? Are they there during our lowest and highest moments? They are true friends. Keep ’em! But also…#33.
  33. To have true friends, I must also be one. Listen more, talk less. Forgive and Forget. Always encourage and never discourage.

There are things that definitely get better with age: cheese, wine, and the Mature ME!

Guam to California. Lesson #2: What is Hmong?

 

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Ka (in traditional Hmong outfit) and her husband, Anthony, on their Wedding Day (Oct 17, 2009.)

My first encounter with this word was when I was standing in line at my local bank in Florin Rd, cashing my very first paycheck since moving to Sacramento, California. The guy behind me gave me a sly smile and asked me if I was Hmong. Hmong? I had no clue what he meant and said, “No.”

My second encounter with the word was during training at my then new job. We were given scenarios and the word Hmong was written on the booklet. Again…I had no clue what it meant, but from the context, I gathered that it was an ethnicity or a nationality.

So I went home to my aunt and uncle’s house…and I asked them, “what is Hmong?” And they just flat out laughed at me. Some help they were. They were very unclear on describing it to me, but basically said they are short people, like myself , that moved to Sacramento from Vietnam and other places, because they didn’t have their own country.

Thankfully, a year or so later, I met Ka, who is Hmong. She worked at the same building as I did. We became fast friends and she enlightened me with her culture and her language. I asked her a few questions a few months ago, for this blog post, and these are her replies:

S: What is Hmong?

K: Hmong are a people without a country. After the Secret War ended, hundreds of thousands were accepted as refugees to America, France and Australia, just to name a few countries.

She then quoted a website called: ethonologue.org that states millions are still living in Southern China.

S: How would you describe the culture?

K: It’s a culture that cherishes family and heritage. They are a people who resist assimilation and yet are pleasant, amicable and humble.

S: Where did your ancestors come from?

K: Originally from China.

S: How would you describe the language?

K: Hmong is a macro language and have many micro languages under it. These micro languages are designated by color usually because of the color of their clothing. Hmong is a mono-syllabic language. (So interesting…isn’t it?!-Sharon)

S: How would you compare an ancient Hmong to a modern day Hmong?

K: The Hmong in America seem to have influence over the world wide Hmong populous. Through entertainment, internet and social media they connect to the rest of the Hmong around the globe and are changing the way those ones think and see the world around them. Most of those changes seem to be for the worse and not the better. Many are getting divorced, having extramarital affairs and children out of wedlock. Things which, just a few years ago, would have been unheard of. There are some parts of the world where the Hmong have not been ‘contaminated’ with this modern age, and they live quiet and humble lives; probably like the ancient Hmong.

 

I had the pleasure of attending a Hmong meeting once before…and was very lost. However, I did appreciate the enthusiasm that many learners put into the learning the language. At that time, they were studying the My book of bible stories for their Congregation Bible Study. They were limited in the books they can use since not a lot of the publications were translated in Hmong. Also, their songbook had less pages compared to our regular song book. Now, they have the Remote Translation Office for Hmong in South Sacramento, and Ka is currently one of the translators there.

How glad I am to come to know a new culture, a new person, and a new language… that shows Jehovah definitely does not discriminate nor hold back any of His blessings.

 

 

 

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.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers are a great way to get rid of leftovers or things that have been hanging out in your fridge. Like that day old rice, unfinished jar of spaghetti sauce, or sausage that everyone forgot about.

https://instagram.com/p/2VHrADGVeA/

What you will need for this recipe:

  • 4 large Peppers (Red, Green, Yellow, and/or Orange)
  • 1 lb Ground Meat (Beef, Chicken, or Turkey)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped sausage (any kind that you may have lying around in your fridge) for extra flavor and texture
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 3/4 cups of diced Onions
  • 1 to 2 cups of mixed veggies
  • 2 cups of cooked, day old rice
  • 1/2 a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • a drizzle of Worcestershire sauce

This is what you do next:

  • Saute garlic and onions in a large skillet.
  • Brown meat in same skillet with a few tablespoons of oil.
  • Add chopped sausage and cook thoroughly.
  • Add mixed veggies and cook until tender.
  • Add Rice and break up clumps.
  • Pour your favorite spaghetti sauce in skillet.
  • Add Salt and Pepper to taste along with a drizzle of Worcestershire sauce. Allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Meanwhile,

  • Rinse and chop the top off the bell peppers.
  • Clean and remove seeds from the inside.
  • Stuff peppers with the rice mixture.
  • Pop in oven that has been preheated at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until bell peppers are tender.

Enjoy!

Optional: Sprinkle some parmesan or mozzarella cheese on top of peppers.