Monday, June 20

My Top Four Dream Travel Destinations

As I was growing up, I always felt like such a traveler. My family visited China every summer, so I felt incredibly exotic. I could speak another language and I've been somewhere that took a 10 hour plane ride. But as I grew older, I realized I hadn't really traveled at all. Sure, I've been across an ocean and to another continent, but it was only that one country. And only one city. 

While my peers not only traveled but lived all across the world, I quickly fell behind on my traveling. Truth is, I don't have the guts to rough it. Nor do I want to. I'd love to do luxury travel, but I barely have the money to travel at all. Anyways, here's a list of places that I'd love to visit: 

1. New Zealand & Australia 

Hobbits, scenery, culture and animals! To me, this is such an exotic part of the world. I don't even really know what I'd do here, but I know, for sure that there's tons of things to see. I'd love to try the cuisine, visit the cities and the desert!

2. Russia 

I've always wanted to visit Russia. It's an unusual mix of European and Asian. I've always loved Russian history and would love to go see all the landmarks that I learned about in school. The Russian culture is so rich. 

3. Italy 

I've been to Italy once but there are so many cities that we left out of my trip. I'd love to visit and explore Rome, Venice and the Vatican.

4. Greece

Recently, I've seen some bloggers and vloggers hit up Greece. The scenery looks so picturesque! You already know that I'm a huge fan of culture and history, so Greece is an obvious choice for me! Between Athens and Santorini, there's so much learning and relaxing to do. 

Where do you want to go on your next vacation?

Monday, May 23

How to Find a Job Post Graduation

Too often, students do well in school and forget why they are there in the first place--to find a job. Graduation dawns all too fast and these students are left in limbo, often moving back home since they don't have anything prepared. In order to graduate with a job, keep these tips in mind. 

 1. Know what you want to do.  I know. I know. This is no easy charge. But starting your job search in your last year of university is far, far too late. You should be looking at internships the moment you enter college. Granted, these internships may not be able to support you, but try to make whatever position you take during school relate to your field. I know it's great to enjoy a summer off, but a summer off between when you graduate and when you start working is MUCH more relaxing. 

 2. Actually apply for jobs. I've also heard of students who have graduated complain that they don't get many callbacks, even though they've been applying for jobs all week. How many did they apply for? 5. At a certain point, you should really just be churning these applications out! A better goal is 15... per day. Remember, we not only want one job, but options to pick between. 

 3. Get a Plan B - that doesn't involve more school. There are a lot of people who pursue more school because they are good at it. It's great to do something that you love, but I think we need to keep a payday at the end of the tunnel in mind. It's not that jobs in academia aren't available, but whenever I've seen it, it's been rare. Don't go to get more school because that's what you've always done. Sometimes, we may need to take a position that's not ideal... to wait for something more appropriate to come along. If anything, you may discover a new passion or realize that your original idea is exactly the path you're meant to be on.e 

 After doing all this... you still may not get an offer. Everyone's situation is different. Not everyone wants to settle for the first job they find. Some people need to move to find gainful employment. Others are underemployed. I've seen it too, where bright, intelligent and hardworking students can't find jobs for reasons unexplained. Rest assured. Keep trying; it's not just you.

Monday, April 25

On Traveling Alone

Recently, I listed to a podcast that that focused on women travelling alone. Specifically, it discussed female travelers throughout history, the stigma of a woman travelling alone and the unique challenges that women face abroad. While discussing these topics, the hosts shared their own journeys of self discovery when travelling alone... 

That's when I realized how rare it was to travel alone. I had not given much thought to my trip to Scotland, but after listening to them, I feel proud that I was able to go to a different country and navigate from one city to another... that I was able to find my friend's houses without getting lost. I did go to an English speaking country and I did meet up with friends while I was there but I am going to take this moment to be proud of my accomplishments.

If you ever have the opportunity to walk along modern marvels or contemplate in a foreign place, I highly recommend you do it!

To where did you last travel alone? 

Monday, April 11

Overdue Reading Update - Book Reviews

It's time again for an update on what I've been reading! I don't read as much nowadays, but I feel like I demand a high quality from what I do read. My highly recommend read from the past few months is the Scarlet Pimpernel! 

via tumblr

The Sherlockian 
by Graham Moore 

 It might be a little strange, but the majority of books I read now are Sherlock Holmes related. In my latest venture was the Sherlockian by Graham Moore. It's definitely a weird book that employs a strategy of dual story telling. One arch focuses on Arthur Conanc Doyle solving the murder of a young woman in the 1800s. The second arch is set in the present day and focuses on a murder that happens at a Holmes Convention. While the book didn't have amazing writing, it was definitely a page turner. I thought I didn't like the book at first, but when I finished, I hoped there would have been a sequel. Read this if you're into fast-paced mysteries. 

The Scarlet Pimpernel 
by Baroness Emma Orczy 

This book was recommended to me by an individual who knew that I loved reading mysteries. But just because I enjoy mysteries doesn't necessary mean I enjoy every mystery... Nevertheless, I started the book and for the first few months I had it, I got through 3 or 4 pages in the preface. Then, one weekend, when I had time, I picked it up and finished it in a day. This is one of those books that I would recommend to anyone and everyone in a heartbeat. The romance and mystery in this book was right up my alley. I grew a little annoyed with the main character, but soon, I loved everyone in the book. I really want this to be turned into a movie with Chris Pratt as the male lead. If you like Austen style romance, Les Miserables, or mysteries, read this immediately. 

Good Omens
by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

This is a very popular book, but I just wasn't feeling it. There are sections of this book that are incredibly quotable and funny, but strung together as a story, it just didn't interest me. I loved the last book I read by Neil Gaiman, so, I'm scared to think that it might be Terry Pratchett I don't enjoy. This book is about an angel, a demon and the 11 year old Anti-Christ who cancels Armageddon. 

What else have you read lately? I would love to hear your recommdations. 

Monday, March 28

OVERHYPED?! - Revlon Lip Butter in Sorbet Review

This series is about those products that you've heard so much about. But, if for some reason, you've wondered if they're overhyped, there's this review for you. Right now we're probably all looking for the next bright spring lipstick, something nice and moisturizing and in a pretty coral or pink color. Well, then your search will probably take you to the Revlon Lip Butters, which came out a few seasons ago. Here's my review... are they OVERHYPED?! Find out below:

The texture? Definitely creamy. But what about all the other qualities?

Despite being creamy and moisturizing, if you have dry lips, you'll still have to exfoliate them well before applying this lipstick. As you can see above, the color is sheer. But worry not as it is also quickly buildable. The lipstick slides over your lips leaving a subtle glossy effect behind. Despite the bright shade of this lipstick, it's actually a relatively natural color on the lips. It only settles a bit into my fine lines. The lipstick doesn't moisturize my lips any, but at the same time, it doesn't dry my lips out either. 

The transferability is low on this lipstick, which I'm SO thankful for after other products have left my coffee cups with gross red smudges. While it doesn't transfer, it's also not incredibly long lasting. One would have reapply every few hours. The lipstick wears off pretty evenly, another trait I'm a huge fan of. Overall, I'd say while this is a good lipstick... it's still overhyped. 

Monday, March 21

Summer 2014 - Scotland Recap 3

Continuing on a previous post series, my last post about Scotland-- 2 years ago at this point! I had a fantastic time, so be sure to catch my first and second post in the series here!

Saturday, July 21 - Exploring the Highlands at Blair Atholl

On Saturday, we had a "Highlands" day. I had wanted to go to Loch Ness (for Nessie related reasons) but the trip there was prohibitively long. We ended up choosing a different location that was a lot closer. After a yummy breakfast of chocolate croissants, pancakes and Haggis, we set off. 

Blair Atholl was about 2 hours north by train and breathtakingly gorgeous. It reminded me of Austria. First on our list in Blair Atholl was to find some food. 

The Mill was recommended as the place to go and how right Yelp was! The Mill felt in all honesty like a Hobbit Hole. It was small, dark and warm. Most of the furniture was wood and it was very welcoming. We ordered paninis with chutney (yum). My friend got a scone with butter as a side. I have never loved scones because since I usually think they are dry, but I grew to love them in Scotland. Lastly, we split a chocolate cake with the most extraordinary ganache, made up of extremely simple ingredients. 

From there, we took a detour, got lost and then went to visit the Blair Atholl Castle. 

Castles in Scotland are all so different. There's what you may steroeotypically think of as a castle, then there's Blair Atholl, which to me, looks Mediterranean. While pictures were not allowed inside the castle, it was a mixture of old oil paintings, 19th century dining rooms, huge displays of artillery on the walls, and antlers. Probably hundreds of pairs or antlers on the wall. 

I've visited a French castles and German castles, this Scottish one was humble by comparison. What I did like about it was the mixture of ancient history dating back to the 1700s... and photos from just a few years ago. I learned that the Duke who owned the castle was actually living in South Africa. As an American, the idea of aristocrats seems like an ancient and foreign idea--so it was refreshing to see that system in a modern context. 
We walked around the castle for a few hours, and of course, there was that 2 hour train ride. By the time we got back, it was already 8:30. However, the skies were deceivingly light and instead of heading home we decided to have some Italian in St. Andrews. After a long day of walking, the food was amazing and well appreciated. Slightly gratuitous pasta porn:

Sunday, July 21 - First Day in Edinburgh

All the walking made us pretty tired but when I got up on Sunday I had to pack all my bags and head back towards Edinburgh. I had become acquainted with the trains on Saturday, so Sunday's trip wasn't special to me. We had breakfast first thing in the morning, or course. This was a full Scottish breakfast. Beans, eggs, toast, haggis, sausage and that European bacon!

I enjoyed travelling via rail along the coastal high way to McTaggert's Cafe. Or rather, the city of Aberdour. But what I really remember was the cafe. After the flour mill on the day before, I had expected McTaggert's to be like that bar from Lord of the Rings, but it was surprisingly modern. 

But back to Edinburgh. After setting our stuff down in the train station, we went to the Chocolate Tree. This specialty chocolate restaurant sounded amazing, but I didn't realize how far it was. By the time we walked across the city, I had no idea where I was and I was incredibly grumpy. At the same time, I loved the walking tour of the city I got. The architechture was breathtaking. The family homes looked aged and refined, and yet comfortable enough for modern living. Their windowsills were decorated with beds of flowers and gorgeous curtains. We passed by a park where people were playing golf or having a picnic. 

The Chocolate Tree was delicious. We had hot chocolate with a scoop of chocolate ice cream in it. I probably would never order this at home, but there's just something about being on vacation. No rules. 

We ended the day by walking around Grass Market. I really wish that there was a place near me like Grass Market. It's an long street, filled with bars, pubs and restaurants. But there is still a decently open walking area in the middle. Right over it lies the Edinburgh Castle, which I guess is really why I don't see anything like that day to day. Nothing in the US is quite that old. We even ended up passing by the Elephant House, where die hard fans will know as the birthplace of Harry Potter. 

Monday, June 23rd - Last Day in Scotland

My last day was spent entirely in Edinburgh. I think I was most excited for this trip. St. Andrews was a University town, Anstruther was a quiet fishing village, and Edinburgh was a city. And I loved the city. I'm glad that this trip helped me discover that I'm a city girl, through and though. First order of business was to climb Arthur's Seat. I don't think I ever really learned what Arthur's Seat was, but it was always visible in the background as a flat mountain of sorts. Some kind of stronghold for the city perhaps? Either way, I was promised gorgeous views at the top so I started. My friend was tricky. A forty minute hike turned into an hour and a half, but the experience was honestly awesome. I am not a fan of hiking, but if I lived in Edinburgh, I'd be hiking that thing every weekend. 

After we came down the mountain, it was time for lunch. I had yelped a place adjacent to Arthur's Seat and we went there for something lovely and simple. Sugarhouse Sandwiches had delightful...sandwiches! 

Then, on the way to get back into the city center, we passed by two fudge shops and purchased a good deal of fudge... because we need that much fudge to carry. 

I was really tired the rest of the day but we trekked across the city anyways to the Edinburgh castle where I attempted to receive a free ticket by pretending to be a member of a Chinese tour group. We walked by Camera Obscura, an illusion museum of sorts, but didn't go in. I got a few pictures of Edinburgh as we walked across it. 

The last part of our day was spent people watching. I wanted to make sure that my bus would actually take me where I wanted to go, so we tried to verify the bus stop... while doing so, we were distracted by some bagpipers in front of a hotel. Now, I know that bagpipes are a very Scottish thing but holy crap, if they're playing close to you, they are LOUD.

From the city, I flew to the airport and started on a long trek home. Overall, I look back on this trip super fondly. I got to spend a week exploring a few cities in a brand new country with a very good friend. 

Monday, March 7

2015 in Review

This Year in Review is a little late, but I mean, what else is new?

After seeing so many other bloggers share happy, sad, and eventful years, I wanted to look back on my own. To my surprise, the fact that I didn't blog for the first 7 months made me forget what I did... I wanted to separate my post into months and talk about my most memorable events from each month... Perhaps I'll have to do monthly recaps now, just in case an entire year passes me by and I forget what I experienced. 

January - New Orleans 

In January, I went on a work trip to New Orleans. While this was not my first time there, I feel like I got to explore the city a little bit more and had some good food. When looking back, I realized this was one of my experiences that I didn't really value. I should have been more present and taken the chance to feel out the city, rather than focusing on work. I'm not quite sure how to do that in the moment. Any tips? 

February - Worked A Lot 

I actually posted about this in early March, but I was very busy with work at the beginning of the year. While it was hard for me to not make every month about work in this recap, I think this is a fair one. I personally and professionally grew a lot this month with additional responsibilities at work and I rocked it. It's a proud moment in my career. 

March - An Absolute Blur

I looked through my photos, my facebook, my twitter and thought real hard... but I have no recollection of what happened this March. ...Let's not have that happen again. 

April - Colorado with Friends

Growing up in Arizona, I went to a Chinese school and met a lot of friends that way. Fast forward 10 years later, we've gone all across the globe, but SOMEHOW, made a weekend trip to Boulder, Colorado fit into all of our schedules. This is a truly incredible feat as not all of us live in the US or even the West Coast, and we are all busy with demanding work or school schedules. I kept in better contact with some friends, but it was great to see how everyone grew up... and how we haven't. We joked that if we did another such reunion in our mid thirties, most of us would be married with children. How quickly time passes. 

May - Phoenix Comic-Con 

I've attended this event for the last few years (2013, 2012). Some years, I planned for it, Other years, I volunteered. This year, I went on a whim and still had a ton of fun 

June - Visited NYC

I went with a friend from college to NYC for a week. This was a fun trip and on top of that, a great bonding moment with my friend. We got on each other's nerves a little bit, but overall, it was an awesome trip. Of course, I haven't gotten my act together making a post, but it's sure to come! 

July - Moved to Seattle 

After living in Phoenix, Arizona for over 13 years, (half my life!) I moved. I moved with my partner, which was a huge step in the relationship, but one that made me feel safe at the same time. This month was filled with a lot of packing, coordinating with moving companies, talking with coworkers about the new job situation and general fretting about. Moving has had its drawbacks, but at the end of the day, relocating my life is a huge personal achievement for me, since I loathe change of any kind. 

August - Flying High in the Sky 

I really wanted to get out and do a few things in Seattle, and I love nothing more than when someone else (usually my partner) finds an event. In this case, we went to a Chinese garden and flew kites up on a hill. This was such a fun experience as we spent the day outside working on making the kite go higher and higher. Running around in circles trying to get the kite up made me feel like such a kid. It's reckless abandon that you don't get to experience very much anymore.  

September - Played Tourist

Seattle started cooling down in September, so I quickly had to get my stuff together. There were so many places that I didn't end up exploring because it August was so hectic and I was living out of a hotel. So in quick sequence, I explored the Experience Music Project (EMP), a local museum and went on a hike. I've been on several other hikes (read: walks in the park) since then and have loved it all. If you're interested in seeing me on the go, follow me on snapchat at seven-percent

October - Reunited with my Co-Workers in Florida 

A few months after moving away, I got the chance to reconnect with some of my friends and co-wokers at a promotion event. It was awesome to see a few familiar faces and reminisce.

November - First Football Game 

Two things you must know: one is a fact about me and the other is a fact of life. First, the fact about me: I don't really understand sports. I don't like it and I don't follow it. Second, the fact about life -- Seattlites are obsessed with the Seahawks. This was how I ended up at my first football event ever! And my first sporting event outside of baseball. It was exhilirating to see the Seahawks play... I might be getting it...

December - Visited Home 

December was my first time home after moving away. It was a strange bittersweet feeling. I knew that many of my friends had already moved away for college and were used to this type of homecoming but for me, I felt like I didn't accomplish what I moved away to do (which was...?). At the same time, it was strange seeing some of my friends there. When we got together, it seemed like nothing changed.