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.

 

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

Continue reading

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.

 

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

 

DSCN0884.JPG

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.

 

 

 

Guam to California. Lesson #1: Freeways

I decided to have a special feature on the blog every first Thursday of the month. This feature will be called Guam to California. I will be sharing personal experiences and lessons I’ve learned since leaving the rock (Guam.)

This month’s lesson is about freeways.

Prior to moving to California, I drove on two major roads from age 16-24. Those two roads were Marine Drive and Route 16. I always thought that the speed limit was 55mph but discovered recently that it was only 45mph. Oops! That is the fastest speed on island, legally. Majority of the roads on island have speed limits of 35mph or 15mph in residential areas.

So, when I moved to California I was excited to drive at the normal rate I was already going…(65mph +) and to be able to do that without feeling guilty.

The confusing part was finding out if I was going North, South, East, or West.

For two years, I was dependent on my GPS because of that. I only stopped using my GPS because it got stolen…but looking back, i’m kinda glad that happened because I was then forced to learn the roads and remember them.

I have a few funny stories about driving here in California. One day, I was heading to a meeting, and called my uncle because it was my very first time driving without him or anyone else, I wasn’t sure if I had to take 5 north or 5 south. He wasn’t answering and the exits were coming up quickly and so I just decided, on a whim, to take 5 south. So as I was exiting, he called back and he told me 5 north. So fortunately for me, I was still on the on-ramp, and I just continued on to the off-ramp and took the northbound freeway.  I made a complete circle. I felt like an idiot after that. Lol.

Another evening, I was driving back home and one of my girlfriends called me, to make sure I made it home safely. But, because I was still on the road, my GPS was giving me directions to exit and she heard the GPS speaking…she started laughing because I have been living in that studio for almost a year but still needed a GPS to give me directions to get home. Yup, that was me!

Another thing about freeways, are CARPOOL or HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes! They are amazing! Some carpool lanes require only two passengers, others a minimum of three. Carpool lanes are meant to encourage people to carpool so that there are less cars on the freeway and/or to buy/lease a low or zero emission vehicle. According to ca.gov:  “As of April 8, 2015, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has issued the 63,255 Green Clean Air Vehicle decals. The maximum number of decals available is 70,000.” 

I say carpool lanes are amazing because you get by through traffic much quicker than the other lanes on most days. However, most carpool lanes are in effect only during certain hours, so before or after those hours, anyone can use those lanes.

So, as you can see…I’ve garnered more roads, highways, and mileage (and some tickets..ahem!) under my belt compared to when I was 24. And because of that, I feel that driving on Guam is WAY too EASY.

Hope you got a kick out of reading about my experiences on freeways. Happy and Safe Driving!