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Life, Lifestyle

Gift Guide for the Homebody

December 6, 2017

gift guide for the homebody

I cannot believe Christmas is in less than 20 days! I’m so happy that I’m all done with my Christmas shopping. There were some amazing Cyber Monday deals this year, so I purchased everything online! I have created holiday gift guides for him and her the past two years. This year I am going to do something slightly different. I tend to hibernate during the winter, so I thought it’d be fun to come up with a gift guide for the homebody like myself. I would also love to hear your product recommendations!

Planner // I just purchased a 2018 planner and I cannot wait to start writing things down. Of course I probably won’t get around to doing most of the things I dream up, but as long as I have a plan, I will get around to at least half of them!

UGG Slippers // My feet are always cold, so I live in these slippers all winter long. I love the soft sheepskin and have bought several pairs over the years. Here is a version for men.

Barefoot Robe // Of course I have to recommend my favorite robe! These are the most luxurious robe I’ve ever worn. They are incredibly soft and feel like you have a cozy blanket wrapped around you all day.

Eye Mask // I purchased this eye mask from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale a couple years back. It is made with copper which is supposed to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. I packed this for our family vacation to Alaska last summer and it did an amazing job of staying on all night and blocking out all the light.

Candles // If you’re going to stay in, then scented candles are a must. I love Nest candles because the smell lingers throughout the entire apartment. Even though Nest is quite expensive, the candles will last a long time. The last one I had lasted for about 6 months!

Electric Kettle // This is on my Christmas wish list! On weekends I’m often boiling a pot of hot water on a sauce pan to make tea, drip coffee, or hot chocolate. Having an electric kettle would be so much faster and you can set the temperature based on the type of drink you’re making.

Crockpot // I love spending weekends baking and cooking. People say slow cookers are perfect for busy work days, but who even has time to prep in the morning?? I never use the slow cooker on week days. This All Clad slow cooker is one of my favorite items in the kitchen. I prep everything in the late morning, and then I can go about my day doing other lazy things around the apartment before dinner is ready.

Humidifier // A humidifier is great in the winter because it helps prevent dry skin and the spread of airborne viruses, but it also helps relieve cold/allergy symptoms. A much cheaper option is from Crane, though it is meant for just a small room.

Face Mask // My Sunday nights are reserved for face masks. I am loving this charcoal mask that will shrink pores, firm skin and strip away dead skin. When I need extra hydration, I will put on a sheet mask.

Hulu and Netflix // We recently canceled cable! No more Chopped or Real Housewives for me… Instead, I will be binge watching shows on Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime.

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Life, Lifestyle

30 Things I’d Tell My Younger Self

October 25, 2017

 

I turned 30 today! For a while, it seemed like this day would never come. My first thoughts this morning were: “I’m old! Time for some anti-aging creams.” and “I need to get my life in order!” I spent the day reflecting on my 20’s and realized there are so many great lessons, accomplishments, and memories from my 20’s. Even though I’ve been 30 years old for less than a day, I already feel wiser and ready to tackle the challenges ahead! Here are 30 things I’d tell my younger self, and also want to continue reminding myself going forward:

  1. Be curious, try new things.
  2. Make time for the important relationships in your life.
  3. Take time daily to unplug from technology.
  4. Do NOT over-tweeze or wax those eyebrows!
  5. School is important, but you don’t need to get straight A’s. Go have some fun!
  6. Be a good role model to those around you.
  7. Listen more.
  8. Get rid of toxic / negative people in your life.
  9. Tell the people you love “I love you” often.
  10. Forgive those who hurt you.
  11. TRY waking up earlier.
  12. Stand up for others, even when it’s hard.
  13. Eat healthier, spend the time to meal prep.
  14. Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
  15. The guy who makes you cry is not right for you. And don’t worry, your heart will heal.
  16. Travel as much as you can. Go see the world.
  17. Reflect on your mistakes and learn from it.
  18. Be proud of your body.
  19. Don’t let anyone else’s perception influence your choices.
  20. There is never the “right” time to do anything. Just go do it!
  21. Ask for help when you need it.
  22. Be selfish with your time–don’t overcommit.
  23. Celebrate the small victories in life.
  24. Always put money into savings, no matter how small.
  25. You are your own worst critic–no one can see your imperfections the way you can.
  26. Don’t do things just to please others.
  27. Be patient and persistent.
  28. It’s not only OKAY to say no, but it’s a must sometimes, so get comfortable with it.
  29. Dream are not out of reach, so dream big.
  30. Life is great. Not always, but things always get better.
Lifestyle, Travel

Grand Alaska

August 31, 2017

Matanuska GlacierMatanuska Glacier

This post is long overdue. I meant to post about my Alaska trip a lot sooner, but I lost access to all of my edited photos and I had to motivate myself to re-edit. I spent a week in Alaska with my husband’s family and we had an amazing time! It was my first time visiting Alaska and my sister-in-law did most of the planning, so I was pleasantly surprised. Even though I knew Alaska is the largest state, I was still shocked by the size of it! Not only does it require a lot of time to explore Alaska, but it can also be difficult getting to parts of the state. We started in Anchorage, made our way up to Denali/Healy, then back down to Palmer and Seward. I imagined Alaska to be beautiful and scenic (from watching the movie The Proposal), but seeing it in person was astounding. It reminded me of driving through South New Zealand–everywhere we went was breathtaking. One of the highlights of the trip was salmon fishing in Seward. It was my first time fishing and I caught two salmons. We were able to freeze and bring the salmons home to San Francisco and have been trying out various recipes.

I would highly recommend visiting Alaska. We look forward to going back someday. Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip!

mount healyHike to Mount Healy. Yes, we hiked all the way to the top!

mount healy

mount healy

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Beauty, Makeup, Skincare, Travel

Summer Travel Makeup and Skincare Essentials

June 30, 2017

Summer Travel Makeup and Skincare Essentials

We are leaving on vacation today and I wanted to do a quick post on summer travel makeup and skincare essentials. I like to pack light when I travel, but there are definitely essentials especially during the hot summer months. Here are some of my must-haves.

SPF Protection

SPF protection is needed on face, lips, and body, and should be reapplied every couple of hours. It’s easy to reapply on the body and lips, but people find it inconvenient to reapply on the face especially if they are wearing makeup. The easiest way is to apply a SPF spray such as the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Spray, which won’t move around previously applied makeup, or Colorscience Loose Mineral Sunscreen, which can be applied on top of makeup and will keep the face matte and protected.

My favorite routine is wearing a tinted moisturizer with SPF such as the Coola Mineral Sunscreen Matte Tint SPF 30 and applying Colorscience Loose Mineral Sunscreen throughout the day. I always protect my lips since lips burn very easily. I love the Coola Mineral Liplux SPF 30 and Fresh Sugar Lip Sunscreen SPF 15.

Exfoliating Treatment

I often break out when I travel and one of the reasons is because I stop my regular skincare routine. I can’t pack all of my skincare products, but one important step to never skip is exfoliating. The skin is constantly growing new skin while the old skin pile on the surface, leaving the skin dull and clogged. You can either pack an exfoliating cleanser such as the Tatcha Polished Rice Enzyme Cleanser that you can use daily, or pack an exfoliator such as the Exfolikate to use twice a week.

Mattifying Primer

My face is often a greasy mess in the summer, so a mattifying primer is crucial. This minimizes the oil buildup throughout the day and I often don’t need to use oil absorbing sheets during the day when I have a great primer on.

Face Palette

I am all about palettes when I travel. The perfect travel palette includes blush, bronzer and highlighter. My two favorites are the Becca Chrissy Teigen Glow Face Palette and the Tom Ford Soleil Palette. I can also use these as eyeshadow colors for simple eye looks.

Dry Shampoo

Shampooing too frequently dry out hair and cause breakage. Unless you’re traveling to a humid place or/and exercising daily, there is no need to shampoo daily. I usually just wet my hair and clean it with conditioner, or will apply dry shampoo. Dry shampoo absorbs the oil and grease in your hair to give it a cleaner appearance and will also add volume. A long time favorite is the Living Proof Dry Shampoo–it removes odor, absorbs oil, and gives my hair the most amazing volume.

What’s in my travel bag

I try not to pack full size products when I travel because the total liquid volume has to be under 3.4oz and I also hoard travel size products. These are the products I packed for my week long trip to Alaska.

Skincare

Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm // Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cleanser // Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum // Coola Mineral Sunscreen Matte Tint SPF 30 //  Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation // Pixi Glow Tonic To Go Exfoliating Toner Pads // Coola Luxlips Firecracker SPF 30 // L’Occitane Hand Cream Delightful Rose // Drybar Dry Shampoo

Makeup

Innisfree No Sebum Primer // Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation // Maybelline Instant Age Remind // Tarte Smooth Operator Powder // BECCA Chrissy Teigen Palette // Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color Rosegold // Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer // MAC Mascara Extreme Dimension 3D Black // Bite Beauty Matte Creme Lip Crayon Peche // Urban Decay Makeup Setting Spray

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Lifestyle, Travel

Short Trip to Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur

April 15, 2017

carmel beach

Six years ago, my husband and I went on our first date and a few months later, we traveled to San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, and Los Angeles. We have special memories from those places, and since we live in San Francisco now, we recently traveled to Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur for a short getaway to celebrate. We also brought our puppy, Minne, with us! Here are some highlights and photos from the trip.

Monterey

We stayed at the Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay because it’s right by the bay and it’s very dog friendly. When we arrived, they had food and water bowls, a dog bed, and treats ready for us. The Jazz Festival was that weekend, so there was music playing at the hotel and everywhere we walked to.

Our first night we had dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf since that was close to the hotel. The restaurant even has a dog menu so we ordered some grilled chicken served on a frisbee for Minne. She was over the moon!

The wharf area is very touristy, but we had a chance to walk around Monterey and the town is very beautiful and clean!

Monterey Fisherman's Wharf

Carmel

What a lovely city! The first time we visited Carmel, we went to Pebble Beach and drove part of the 17-mile drive. This time, we went to Carmel Beach and Garland Ranch Regional Park. Carmel Beach is an off-leash beach, so it was really fun going there with Minne. There are also a bunch of cute shops near the beach. We had dinner at Basil Carmel and had some of the best food we’ve ever tasted!! My husband had the 5 hour braised beef cheeks and I had the goat with lobster. The olallieberries cobbler was also delicious!

Garland Ranch Regional Park is a great park for leisure hiking. The first day we went there, we went on an easy 1.5 mile hike. Our puppy loved it (you can see how happy she was in this video). We were able to work on long distance recall and not worry about her running off into traffic or getting into trouble. We loved the hike so much that we went back the next day and went on a harder hike, and had just as much fun.

Garland Ranch Regional Park

Big Sur

Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge has been badly damaged due to winter storms and it will take up to a year to complete construction on a replacement. There are closures on Highway 1 but we wanted to drive down to see as much of it as we could. During the drive, we stopped at Garrapata State Park for a hike and enjoyed the beautiful view of the beach.

Garrapata State Park

Garrapata State Park

Now that we have a dog, we have been going to dog-friendly places because we prefer her with us than leaving her at home. This was our first time traveling with her and it was very easy because she doesn’t get car sick and so many places allow dogs. Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur are so beautiful, and not too far from San Francisco, so we will definitely be making this trip more often in the future.

Life, Lifestyle

Puppy Announcement – First Two Weeks of Having a Puppy

February 20, 2017

I am now a pup mom! My husband and I brought home an Alaskan Klee Kai puppy and we are so in love! Her name is Minne, named after our home state of Minnesota. She is growing fast and it has been so fun observing and contributing to her development. I can’t believe it has only been two weeks because it feels so much longer. Here is what I learned the first two weeks of having a puppy:

Books cannot prepare you for the real thing.

Whenever I do something, I always put a lot of time, thought and effort into it. It was both exciting and scary knowing we will be responsible for another living being. If we are lucky, Minne will be with us for the next 15-20 years, but that is also a lot of responsibility and commitment. When we decided to get a puppy, I read a few books, talked to friends/family who have dogs, and talked to dog trainers. A lot of the information were consistent (crate training, potty training, socialization, food safety) but not all of them have matched with our experiences.

  • Potty training: we are very lucky that our breeder trained our puppy to go potty in a litter box. She told us to use Yesterday’s News, which is made from recycled newspaper and is non-toxic. Even though Minne is litter box trained, we always try to take her outside so she won’t think it’s okay to potty inside. We are supposed to take her out first thing in the morning, after every nap, after every intense play, after eating/drinking, and before bedtime. So that is like 6-10 times a day! In the beginning we took her out every 2 hours and would wait outside for 10-20 minutes but she wouldn’t go. Now we know she doesn’t have to go out that often, even though all the books told us she would have to.
  • Keeping an eye on her: the biggest surprise is how much we have to watch her because she could be chewing on furniture/shoes and eating random things. When she is awake and active, she is usually up to no good! I took a couple days off in the beginning to help her adjust and crate train, and it was mentally exhausting! I was not prepared for this but I am adjusting. No more 8-step skincare routine unless Minne is occupied in the crate or my husband is watching her!
The days of sleeping in are over.

In the beginning, we took Minne out every 2 hours during the day and once at night since her metabolism slows down when sleeping. The first few nights we took her out once in the middle of the night (2-4am) and then again early in the morning. She would make a noise if she needs to go out. Now we don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night anymore, but still have to get up between 6-7am to let her out.

Minne’s energy level is highest in the morning, so that means after we take her out in the morning, she wants to play so we cannot go back to sleep. I usually play with her for a little bit and then get ready for work while she is eating breakfast. I miss sleeping in and getting my 8-9 hours of sleep!

Minne has a more social life than most people.

Puppies need to get 3 sets of the DHPP vaccination and they usually don’t get the last shot until 14-16 weeks of age. They are not supposed to be taken outside because of the risk of parvovirus. The challenge is that the prime time to socialize puppies is before they turn 12 weeks old. Since we cannot take Minne to the dog park or even walk her around the neighborhood in a big city like SF where the risks are higher, we have to take her to puppy socials and puppy day school, which are safe environments for her. This has taken up a lot of our time but it’s the best way for her to socialize. Last week when I went to pick her up from puppy day school, I noticed a guy carrying three crates and asked him if all of them are his puppies. He told me he runs a taxi service for pets! It’s crazy all the services that are available to people living in a big city.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of Minne. You can see more on her Instagram account @minne.akk

alaskan klee kai puppy

alaskan klee kai puppy

alaskan klee kai puppy

alaskan klee kai puppy sleeping