about: post grad lifestyle blogger who cannot commit to a blog if her life depended on it

past blogs: food - travel

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September 4, 2014


With just a couple days until my vacation, I am finally sharing some of my travel tips that I have acquired while planning and preparing for Greece. There is a plethora of information for today's modern traveler and these are my favorites.

Economy class is basically a guarantee that you will be uncomfortable for the majority of your trip. With this knowledge, why oh why would you let fate (aka the airline) pick where you will be stuck for who knows how many hours?! Many airlines allow you to check in online a couple hours before the flight and change your seat. Seatguru is a great website with comments and suggestions from real people about hits and misses regarding seating. Think of it as Yelp for airlines.

I don't know about you, but after a couple of long-haul international trips, I just can't stomach airline food anymore. Even the smell makes me nauseous. A great solution is to bring your own stuff! You control how cleanly, healthy, and tasty it will be. Some ideas include cheese/crackers, dried/fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, spring rolls, etc.

I have found some amazing websites about anything and everything related to travel. I created a separate bookmark folder on my browser just for these pages. For example, while googling how to pass the time during a layover, I found out that Charles de Gaulle in Paris was a confusing airport to navigate and required at least two hours to get from point A to B. My top two finds are NomadicMatt and SoniasTravels. Matt travels full time and does it in the most budget conscious ways. Sonia makes videos full of personality and great tips.

This one is a no brainer, but sometimes procrastination gets the best of us. Do a practice pack and then get rid of any items that you aren't 100% confident are necessary. PACK LIGHT because honestly, half of those outfits will go untouched. Can you believe I had nightmares about not having enough time to pack? LOL In your carry-on, remember to pack an extra outfit in case your luggage is lost. The weather app is also your friend. Check, double check, and triple check what the weather will be like at your destination and pack accordingly. I remember bringing only shorts and tanks for my summer program in Berlin....and then it rained 90% of the time. Learn from my mistake!

This tip is more relevant for travel to Europe because being under 25 is considered "youth" and a lot of things are generally cheaper. For example, I snagged my round trip plane ticket to Greece during late peak season for ....(drumroll please)......$1005! This was thanks to Studentuniverse. They have the lowest fares because they only cater to students and youths.
I understand that being this young usually means $$$ is the biggest obstacle. When budgeting, I found this excellent Excel template for business trips that I use to calculate my expenses (you just need to customize based on your trip). My budget was approximately $2000 per person which includes round trip airfare, lodgings for 8 nights, transportation while island hopping, food, etc. Not impossible to manage right?

In colleges, I acquired quite a collection of miniature things (aka freebies). These are proving to be quite helpful for my upcoming trip. If you don't already have them, I warn you to STAY CLEAR OF TARGET'S TRAVEL SIZE SPOT. You will end up buying a whole mess of $1 stuff that you have convinced yourself are necessary but are actually a ridiculous waste of money. Let's compare the St Ives travel vs full size face wash. You can either pay $1 for a 1oz or $4 for the full 6 oz. It's a no brainer! I suggest that you purchase those travel containers (Daiso has them for only $1.50) and siphon some of your full size product into them. Problem solved, wallet saved!

When looking for accommodations, my goal was to skip the hotels and go straight for the hostels. Europe has an abundance of hostels that can be just as nice at a cheaper price. And then ... I discovered Airbnb.com. The benefits include paying per night instead of per night/per person, the feeling of being at home, and a friendly and knowledgeable host/local.

I can't even count how many times I procrastinated buying souvenirs and resorted to picking up inauthentic knick knacks at the airport to gift friends and family. The only things you get from procrastinating are unwanted stress and unhappy recipients.

Comfortable shoes: Blisters and soreness definitely ruin any trip. Invest in a good quality shoe and remember to break them in beforehand.
Wet/baby wipes: So many uses from refreshing your hands and face, bathroom duty, and sanitizing.

This is a bit #firstworldproblem but honestly, I have been stressing way too much about this vacation. I just want everything to be perfect. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and appreciate this amazing journey you are lucky to be on.

BTW it was extremely difficult to finish these tips because I was simultaneously watching the #fatalefinale of Pretty Little Liars. Any fans? I'm in shock....



August 17, 2014

Thrifty Haul: Massive "imsorryisuckatblogging" Haul

Hey friends!
Here's a little apology for neglecting this little ol' blog of mine. Since the items were bought between July and August, they might still be available online or in-store if you're interested in acquiring these goodies for yourself.  I must admit I definitely had Greece in mind when shopping from what to wear on the plane to night on the town makeup looks. I'm glad I get to share my favorite pastime (bargain shopping) with you all.

Forever 21 
I didn't LOVE this striped dress, but it is a great basic with the cutest halter top neckline.

My favorite find of the entire haul are these pleated trousers (aka harem pants) from F21. $10 and the MOST COMFORTABLE THING EVER. I call them the "sisterhood of the traveling harem pants" because everyone I have seen with them on look amazing NO LIE.

+a couple of basic tees


Ever since Cathy bought a floppy wool hat from Brandy Melville for her Vegas trip, I knew I had to have one. In true thrifty spirit, I picked up this one from ebay at 1/4 of the price. Unfortunately, I haven't received it yet so I am unable to speak about the quality. My hopes are high!

buy floppy hat

American Eagle
Every one of my hauls need a little AE. A coworker sent me this awesome Wrapp coupon for $10 off so I snatched up two lace bralettes. Perfect for layering under basic tees or when regular bras feel too constricting. Originally $20 each...on sale for $15...subtract $10 off total...=$10 EACH!
$10 each in dark blue and purple

Here's something a little different..a non-clothing haul!

After endless hours of youtube research, I finally decided to update my makeup bag. I had to get some of the raved about NYX lipstick butters. Razzle looks like a Barbie pink but fades quite nicely on your lips. Pops is the most perfect "my lips but better" color. The $3.50 off $10 coupon made it an even better deal. I also picked up the Benefit classics in travel size both for testing and light carrying. 
cheek me out-$13
nyx lip butter-$4.24 each
TJ Maxx
This place has everything! I was on my way to buy new luggage (I had my eye on a purple Samsonite), but decided to hold off. I did get these adorable leafy print bags that would be great to store makeup and other toiletries on my travels (and they match too!). 
$7 and $10
Mr. Kate
Inspired by one of my favorite bloggers (the Londoner), I got Beautymarks from a cute little online jewelry store called Mr. Kate. For only $12, these upgraded temp tattoos will make you look like a bohemian babe in no time. I'm thinking about putting a feather or arrow on my collarbone or back of the neck, tres chic!
$12-comes in gold, silver, or black

A recent target trip scored myself some cheap sunscreen (quite important for the summer) and my holy grail shaving cream (it smells like a fruity dream).
$4 and $2.50
Saving the most expensive and recent (fresh off the shelf this morning!) for last... my new ipad mini! Many stores have been lowering the prices on these bad boys so be on the lookout my thrifty friends. I have now completed my Apple trifecta..Macbook-Ipad-Iphone hehe
$200 (originally $300)
Hope this satiated your consumerism a little.


August 3, 2014

Barely Cooking: Healthy tacos

Happy August friends! Though summer is quickly passing by, there are plenty more carefree moments to share with loved ones (especially around the dinner table). I present to you a quick and healthy dish that you must definitely invite everyone to enjoy.

Menu for salmon tacos

1. Salmon: After cutting into long chunks and seasoning with olive oil+garlic salt+pepper, I pan fried them on medium with the lid until the skin looked nice and crispy.

2. Cilantro lime crema: Mix one container of plain Greek yogurt with a bunch of chopped cilantro, lime, salt+pepper. Season accordingly until sourness is slight. It may not taste good on its own but with the salmon... delicious! 

3. I also bought corn tortilla and the "cowboy caviar" salsa from Trader Joe's. Set out some extra lime andchopped cilantro and you're ready for an awesome meal (no utensils needed!).

July 20, 2014

Barely Cooking: Dinner by Trader Joe's

Trust me when I say that I am no cook. I dabbled in it a bit during college but mostly out of necessity; therefore, I never got the hang of flavors or techniques or whatnot. Once in a blue moon, I do get a burst of inspiration and whip up a little something something.

Barely Cooking will follow my culinary adventures (or lack thereof) by sharing my easy peazy lemon squeazy "recipes" for the lazy postgrad. Let's start off with a dinner I prepared with the help of my little brats cousins and Trader Joe's. Note: Everything was baked in the oven except the pasta.

Bacon wrapped asparagus
Literally asparagus wrapped in bacon....how can you go wrong?! I used turkey bacon to reduce some guilt. Asparagus was coated in olive oil and black pepper beforehand.

Pesto pasta
Your favorite pasta shape preferably of the whole wheat variety (I used a veggie flavored one this time)+a jar of basil pesto(unlike red sauce, requires no heating up)+shaved parmesan

Roasted vegetables
This is my all time favorite dish-simple yet nutritious. You can use any medley of veggies you like and combination of seasoning/herbs. The key is definitely a good extra virgin olive oil. Today I had broccoli, bell peppers, and carrots with the simple addition of black pepper and a random veggie seasoning found in the cupboard.

Salmon stuffed with cous cous and dill
Pre-made by TJ, bake in oven until skin flakes when touched by a utensil. I give this product ~4/5 stars depending on how accustomed you are to the taste of dill.

For dessert we tried TJ's frozen macarons which comes in an assortment of flavors from pistachio to apricot. It was pretty dang good! A light but noticeable flavor and moderate chewiness deserving of 4/5 stars.

Cost: ~$35 with plenty of pesto pasta and roasted veggies leftover
Servings: 3 asian girls

I didn't follow any set measurement or cooking times. Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts and have fun with it!


July 6, 2014

Weekend Wrap Ups: Staycation

These two weekends reminded me that I can enjoy a relaxing getaway right in my own backyard and physical activity isn't so horrendous.

June 28-29: SUN DIEGO

Felt amazing to be back and even better to be reunited with BT and his family. The drive to SD was mostly uninterrupted with gorgeous views of the sea.

On Saturday, BT and I began the day by ditching the gas guzzler and walking to the barbershop for his haircut. We continued our exercise by using a free 3 day pass to check out the 24 hour fitness at UTC with his friends. This was my first time at a real gym outside of school and although it was a bit intimidating at first, it was entertaining trying out different equipment and chatting with the group. I definitely felt the soreness for days. We cancelled out our workout at night by heading to John Tran's "100th trip to Phil's BBQ" celebration. It was held at the events center (no wait, no line!) with catering and a bar. Although I personally don't like Phil's BBQ, it was a great night catching up with my fellow PAW members and reminiscing all the times we joined John at this establishment. Afterwards, we burned some calories playing laser tag (pink team REPRESENT). I got 9th place out of 30!

Sunday meant fulfilling my dream of a QUADRUPLE DATE. Anton+Dorothy, Andrew+San, Tracy+Jason, and BT+I had a delicious brunch at Karl Strauss with endless mimosas and beer tasting (my favorite part). I love any time I get to spend with my cousins. Afterwards, I headed to the fair with BT's family including his adorable little cousins. Lots of walking and spending money whoo!
#MURICA and its half naked people

July 4-5: #MURICA
Thank you America for my 3 day weekend! I was whisked away to a beach house where the only parking and traffic I needed to worry about was in regards to my bike. Independence day was first spent sleeping in and reading Allegiant (third installment of Divergent). We then headed to the beach where silly pictures and walks along the shore were taken. The greatest part about July 4th is that a portion of PCH is closed down so pedestrians and bikers can cruise down the street and secure a nice spot for fireworks viewing. The 30 minute spectacular was as gorgeous as it is every year (let freedom ring ya'll!).

Saturday was spent in the very American past time of shopping! We headed to the beautiful The Grove in LA where I snagged a pair of high waisted cutoffs for $13. There were a plethora of tourists which made the area very colorful. When we got home, it was time for more bike riding by the beach. I could definitely get used to this. The night ended with a fantastical movie called Maleficient.



June 22, 2014

Weekend WrapUp: Cousins, Parents, Friends

Hey friends, 

Back again after a short hiatus with a WWU! I skipped last weekend because it seemed that the mundaneness of the work week had seeped into my precious time off. One exciting thing that happened involved replacing my car starter....SIGH...this is my life.

Angela's face is on purpose LOL

Friday: After work, Anton and I headed over to visit the little cousins and treated them out to Ritter's Steam Kettle Cooking. Yelp describes it as "Cajun/Creole, Seafood, Soul food", and it has been ranked four stars. My overall consensus: OVERHYPED like most OC establishments. Dishes included lots of butter and cream while lacking in vegetables and nutritional value (tldr: what diet?) The important thing was that the kids enjoyed it. Before choosing a restaurant, chaos ensued between us 4 hungry yet indecisive individuals. Anton suggested a really neat strategy that I will definitely employ for the future. Everyone suggests various places and types of food to eat. Each person gets one veto. The choices are put in a hat and everyone must quit complaining and accept whatever is eventually picked. 

Saturday: Work for a bit. Finally got around to paying my parents a visit and rewarded with my mother's homemade pho!

My gorgeous friends! With even better looking meat (:
Sunday: Reunion with my favorite gals, Angie and Germaine. And of course we do what we do best...EAT. The Korean BBQ (Moodaepo in Rowland Heights) place that we went to definitely exceeded my expectations-friendly, modern, clean, and reasonably priced. We even got to watch kpop videos and the World Cup (USA vs Portugal) simultaneously! The impressively clean and lovely smelling restroom had mouthwash (genius!). Besides eating good food with amazing friends, I finally gave my poor Toyota a car wash and picked up some savory breads for this week's breakfast. An overall productive day. Huzzah! When I got home, I attempted the DYI kimono at last. Great first try though a bit ghetto because I fail at sewing. 
$10.80 f21 scarf turned ghetto kimono


June 11, 2014

Thrifty Haul: Summertime Gladness

My favorite type of videos to watch on Youtube have naturally been fashion/beauty/food hauls. There's something thrilling about finding a shopping soul sister or lusting after pieces that would burn a hole through your wallet. I dub my version "thrifty" because I almost always buy items at a discount. My motto when shopping is based off the the TJ Maxx/Marshalls slogan, "never pay full price for fabulous". 
(Note: Prices after markdown noted in caption) 

Papers and Peonies:
The flagship store was closing down, and the entire stock was marked 50% off. It was pretty picked over once my bestie Cathy and I got there, but I managed to nab a black skater skirt and tribal scarf.
$4.50 scarf+$8 skirt
Yankee Candle:
Cathy and I headed to Irvine Spectrum to pick up some last minute necessities for her weekend trip to Vegas. The sales were pretty dismal but we did score some car fresheners for less than $2! (retail price $5.49) And it wasn't a weird or seasonal smell either.

American Eagle Outfitters/Aerie
I have been loving AE lately making purchases at least once a month. It is my go-to store because 1) fits my girly yet simple style and 2) SALES ON SALES. They have come a long way from the preppy polos with obnoxious eagle emblem (which I coveted in my younger naive years). I purchased two bikini sets in preparation for my upcoming Greece trip. I really like that the top is lightly lined and comes in "bra" sizes. The bottoms I picked had a slight high waisted fit. 
$37 (left)+$22 (right)
Although the huge summer sale was just commencing, nothing much caught my eye. I did score this dirt cheap men's XS tee which I plan on converting into a muscle tee. This light cotton dress has the cutest ditsy floral pattern. With my $6 Wrapp coupon, it was a great purchase. 

Despite the fatigue from a full day of work, shopping on a weekday is pretty nice: no crowds and fully stocked merchandise. I snapped some pictures from my recent trip to South Coast Plaza (edited on my iPhone, no need for VSCO!)