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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

Life, Lifestyle, Travel

2017 Bay Area Bucket List – Top 10 List

January 28, 2017

2017 bay area bucket list

Minnesota is awful in the winter, so I had to leave. Instead of creating New Year’s resolutions this year, I created a bucket list specifically for the Bay Area to encourage me to go out and explore during our first year of living in the Bay Area. Here is my top 10 list!

Places
  • Half Moon Bay – Great hiking spots and seafood restaurants
  • Yosemite National Park – May and June are great months to visit to see the waterfalls
  • Lake Tahoe – Combines mountain and beach activities in the summer
  • Big Sur Coast – Absolutely stunning; my husband once said the cattle in Big Sur must be the happiest in the world
  • Napa and Sonoma
Activities
  • S’mores and bonfires year round on my brother’s rooftop
  • Hop on the swing on Billy Goat Hill – Instagram worthy picture
  • Paddle boarding in Marin
  • Listen to music in Golden Gate Park
  • Outdoor brunch

If you have any suggestions for places to visit within driving distance of San Francisco, please leave a note below!

Life, Lifestyle, Misc

2016 Highlights

January 6, 2017

2016 was an eventful year! I am sure it will be one of the most memorable years of my life because of all the life changes. I record and color code everything on my calendar–meetings, classes, errands, date nights, travels, errands/chores, etc. It took a couple hours but I enjoyed going through all of my calendar entries and photos from 2016. Here are some of my top highlights!

2016 Highlights:
  • Ditch the Heels hit a couple of milestones: one year anniversary, 100+ blog posts, and collaborations with brands such as MAC Cosmetics, Rocksbox, Kaplan MD, dermae, and sara happ. My brand is slowly evolving as I grow and transition into a different phase of my life, and I hope to redefine the brand in 2017.
  • I traveled to several places: Puna Cana, Taiwan, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Philadelphia, Minnesota, and California several times. One of my favorite trips was traveling to Taiwan with two of my best friends. We went there for a class project but had some free time to explore Taiwan, such as the hot springs and Taroko National Park. Another favorite trip was to the Grand Canyon over Thanksgiving break. The Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful places on earth and left me speechless.
  • I graduated from the Kellogg School of Management with my MBA! I cannot believe how fast the 2 year journey came to an end. It started in Peru with 24 strangers who quickly became my close friends. I learned from amazing professors and classmates. I cried and laughed and argued. I found new hobbies and interests. I made lifelong friendships.
  • I found a job in San Francisco. My previous work experiences had been in traditional CPG marketing, but I took the leap and transitioned to tech marketing. It has turned out to be the best decision and I love the work, people, and company.
  • I moved from Evanston to San Francisco and my husband moved from Minneapolis to San Francisco, ending our two-year long distance marriage. It was one of the happiest days of my life and I hope we will never have to live apart again. We are currently living in Nob Hill and have a great view of the city from our apartment (middle photo above). We are spoiled by our 10-15 minute walk to work.
  • We are loving the Bay Area and have had the opportunity to explore. Even though we are new here, San Francisco is starting to feel like home because of the friends and family who live here. I am thrilled to be living so close to my brother Jason and his dog @baltosf.

I already know 2017 will be a big year for us as well! I hope you’ve all had a great start to the new year!

Lifestyle, Travel

Short Trip to the Grand Canyon

November 30, 2016

img_0761Jacket: The North Face // Pants: Lululemon // ShoesNike // Headband: Echo // Gloves: Club Monaco (similar) // Sunglasses: Versace

My husband and I went to the Grand Canyon over Thanksgiving Break this year. It was a great place to visit for a short trip! The temperature was in the mid 50’s, which was perfect for hiking. We hiked about 7 miles around the rim and the view was breathtaking! Pictures really doesn’t do it justice! It was the first time in my life when I felt the world is a huge place and that feeling was overwhelming (now I understand why people cry when they first see the Grand Canyon). Of course I already know this is a big world, but it’s hard to feel that when I’m often within feet of someone else and can easily call anyone thousands of miles away. When I looked out at the view, I felt like such a tiny person. I’m in awe of how the Grand Canyon was formed over millions of years and I’m so happy these beautiful wonders still exist in this world! We will definitely go back again!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Break. Only 3 weeks left of work and 4 weeks until Christmas! Are you flying anywhere fun for the holidays? We will be flying back to Minnesota–it’ll be our first time back since our move to California so I am excited to catch up with everyone.

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Life, Lifestyle

3 Failures I Learned From

October 3, 2016

img_3858Scarf: Burberry  // Leg Warmer: Grace & Lace

I recently started a new chapter of my life and it has been wonderful so far. I am excited about life because I am happy with my job and relationships. However, life is full of challenges and rollercoasters so I have been reflecting on my past failures. My personal failures have helped me grow, mature, adapt, appreciate, and learn. Here are three failures I have learned from:

Finances

Four years ago, I worked for an e-commerce startup. The company struggled with fundraising, ran out of money and couldn’t make payroll. I was in my early 20’s and this was unexpected. I relied on the paychecks and had not saved up for a rainy day. Luckily, the startup secured funding 5 weeks later and we all received our backpay. I learned that no matter how hard working and ambitious you are, there are always external factors that could impact your financial well-being so it’s important to save up! Thankfully, this lesson of financial planning and managing financial risks was one that I learned very young.

Career

I spent my last year of business school looking for a job. The job search was an extremely painful, eye opening, and humbling experience. I knew what industries, function, and companies I want to work for, but it was difficult getting offers. I learned a lot about myself and was surprised that I have so much perseverance. After graduation, I moved to San Francisco without a job but quickly received job interviews and offers. Being in the target city really helped since I was able to meet hiring managers in person and employers knew I would be able to start immediately. In the end I accepted an offer with a great company, and I now know I had to go through all the painful rejections to finally get to this point. My advice to job seekers is to know what you want, set realistic goals and targets (your experience should match the job requirements), and to not give up! The easier route is to accept an offer with a company you’re not excited about or to stay at a job where you’re not growing/advancing, but you’ll just be unhappy and unsatisfied.

Relationships

I’ve had many failed relationships over the years, whether it’s just letting the relationship grow distant over time or falling out over disputes.  Maintaining strong relationships with family and friends is the hardest, but also the most important. I still struggle with this every day, but I have learned that if someone is important, then treasure this person and never walk away.