Palms Springs Photo Diary

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Palm Springs Photo Diary

I was going through my old photos, and realised I still have so much content from last year for this blog! So, without further ado, my blogpost catch up starts now with Palm Springs!

Having been to Coachella in 2016 and Joshua Tree earlier in 2017, I felt it was only right that I finally visit the true oasis in the Californian desert… Palm Springs. Only a 2 hour drive from San Diego, we headed to PS for a little getaway. My goal for that weekend was to see all the popular hotels, like the Saguaro, Ace Hotel, and Arrive Hotel. As well as the popular tourist stops, such as That Pink Door, Moorten Botanical Garden, and the Cabazon Dinosaurs! This little city is super trendy, so it’s no wonder that celebrities and us “normal people” alike flock to this desert oasis.

I want to return to Palm Springs many times again in the future, but perhaps not in the middle of summer. We went at the beginning of July! I seriously don’t know how my family lived in Las Vegas for 18 years. However, I will take the dry heat of the desert over humid heat ANY DAY. I honestly hate sweating when I’m literally doing nothing but sitting. It’s just not right.

My favorite part of PS is all the mid-century modern homes. The highlight was visiting That Pink Door – it has it’s very own Instagram and hashtag!!! It is the epitome of the style; and there is just such a charm to it.

Palm Springs, I will be back!



Acai Bowls and Aesthetics | The Grounds Bean Bar

The Grounds Bean Bar is every blogger’s dream with great coffee, delicious food, and the trendiest hibiscus wallpaper. Not to mention, the Grounds boasts the best colour scheme since rust, sky blue, and tan; and that is monochrome, pink, and emerald green. Oh, how I appreciate aesthetics! With a prime location in Mission Bay, the Grounds Bean Bar is the perfect place to catch up with good friends over sweet treats – which is exactly what I did a few weekends ago on a sunny Saturday.

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The Grounds Bean Bar

If you can’t already tell, I am OBSESSED with cute cafés. Ask me to plan a day date, and I guarantee that we’ll make it out to somewhere like this. I spent a good couple of hours on Instagram the night before looking for a new café, and thanks to my friend Summer, the Grounds Bean Bar shot to the top of my list! I just had to check it out myself, so that’s what Sammi and I did!

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Can we just take a second to appreciate this bar situation?? The tile is my favorite.

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Acai Bowls and Aesthetics 

Any of my OG followers will remember when I was on the hunt for the best açai bowl in San Diego. Well, I think we have a new champion with the Grounds because it did not skimp out on the berries or the açai. It also had chia pudding at the bottom, and the fresh mint was a nice touch.

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We didn’t try the coffee this visit, but if it’s as good as the açai bowl, then I will be back to try it. These past couple of days I’ve actually been craving coffee, and I NEVER crave coffee. It has been a long month.

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Any other café recommendations in San Diego or southern California? Please share with me in the comments below!



Goodbye 2017

Another year of change, travel, and aesthetics – a.k.a my favourite things. What a year it’s been! Looking back, I’d define 2017 as a year of growth. I’ve officially entered the 9-5 life, and boy, has it been quite the transition. And while I did stray away from blogging towards the latter half of the year, I will say that it is hard to stay away. Writing is my outlet and I will always come back to this blog. Let’s get this recap started, shall we?

#BestNineof2017

9 to 5 

By far, the biggest change of 2017 was starting my full-time job as Social Media Manager at Pura Vida Bracelets. My first official “big girl” job, and I am so incredibly grateful. For those just starting out, you know that it is pretty rare to already be in your career. It’s all about working up to where you want to be. To think that this time last year I was stressing about finding a job. But thank goodness someone took a chance on and gave an internship to a college graduate. Ingrid, if you’re reading this, I owe you so much. Thank you for everything, honestly.

I’ve already grown so much as an employee, am reaching my work goals, and it is only the beginning. All politics and work drama aside, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. And plus, it doesn’t hurt that I get to work with amazing girl bosses who know how to celebrate – just look at those cakes! ;)

Girl Gang

Far and wide, 2017 was the Year of the Woman. You would have to be living under a rock to not know that. When the new U.S. president was sworn into office at the beginning of the year, it was a really scary and uncertain time for minorities. However, it is in these times of darkness that you must remember to see the light. To be the light. I was repeatedly reminded of that throughout the year and have never felt more proud to be female. Empowered women empower women; and it is these group of girls (that was brought together by PV) who really inspired and pushed me in 2017.

Travels

This year I was lucky enough to do more traveling, which has become an annual goal. The highlight trip being our South Pacific Adventure of Tahiti, New Zealand, and Australia. Destinations that some people can only dream about, but we made reality in 2017. Thanks for staying married this whole time, Mom and Dad!

I even was able to do more domestic travel to the cities/towns of Palm Springs, Solvang, and Portland. Honestly, it’s crazy to me that I’ve been to more European countries than U.S. states. And while I wouldn’t change that for the world, it still seems a little silly to me. I was telling a friend that I’ve been to London, Paris and Rome; but not yet New York City. And his only response to me was “You’ve never been to Manhattan?!” Well, here’s to making big things happen in 2018 and finally visiting NYC. I wrote it down, it has to happen now :P

Goodbye 2017

2017 is also the year I officially made it 24 revolutions around the sun. Another year down, and I have a really good feeling about this next one. 2018, I’m ready for ya!



Land Down Under | Sydney, Australia

G’day Sydney! To end our epic tour of the South Pacific, my sister and I spent a few days in the Australian capital. Now when I was 15, I had the pleasure of visiting the island continent as a People to People Student Ambassador. At that time, a group of 30 students and myself toured the east coast of Australia – beginning in Cairns and ending in Sydney. That was my first and only time in the beautiful country, so I was pretty excited to experience it a second time as a 23 year old.

Welcome to the Land Down Under.

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Sydney, Australia

With only a few days in Australia, it was important for us to see and do the musts. These “musts” included the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Bondi Beach. It was also my goal to eat all the vegan food we could during our short stay in Sydney. You’d be surprised at how many vegan bloggers are on Instagram! The best vegan food I had in Sydney is by far the Funky Chunky pie from Funky Pies. We waited 30 minutes for a fresh batch of them, and it was the best decision of our whole trip.

Janelle and I would make it our mission to pack each day with sight-seeing, good food, and lots of walking. We booked an AirBnB that was located near the Darling Harbour, so it was a great starting point to explore the city each day. Our AirBnB was literally connected by a bridge to Darling Harbour!! There was also a bus stop just a mere 2 minute walk away.

Now keep in mind that Sydney is a city with a population of 5 million people. So, there were so many people everywhere we went. Quite the change coming from New Zealand, and even more so with Tahiti. It means that the city itself is huge. This made getting around kind of difficult, however have wheels, will travel. Or in our case, have FEET, will travel. We did brave the Sydney public transport though. I’m quite the master of city transport. It’s like my only talent lol.

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The Land Down Under

I could easily picture myself living in Sydney. I tell everyone that it is a perfect mix of London and New York, but also the best parts of my home of San Diego. Oh, and I can’t forget that Australian accent!

It’s so insane to me that I’ve been to the Southern Hemisphere twice already. I never would have thought in a million years that I’d even visit once, but here I am at 23 years old saying it’s good to be back in the Land Down Under. And I’ve already promised to come back to see my host family in Toowoomba ;) I’m so fortunate to be able to see the world and for this love of travel.

What a great way to end our tour of the South Pacific.



Hobbits and Kiwis | New Zealand

New Zealand, a country that I’ve always heard so many great things about and a place I never thought I’d see myself. Or at least, not as an American 23-year-old. A land whose natural beauty rivals that of fantasies; and for that exact reason, film crews flock to New Zealand (and rightfully so). A country where there is no shortage of sheep, Hobbit holes, and super friendly locals.

New Zealand, you are marvelous.

New Zealand

After a whirlwind of a week in literal paradise, my sister and I hopped on a plane to Auckland, New Zealand. We flew over the International Date Line on this flight, and doing so “lost” a day (RIP June 5, 2017 – I never really knew you) when we landed in the capital city. We were greeted by much colder temps and rain, as we realized we were no longer in Bora Bora anymore.

After a quick airport shuttle ride into the heart of the city, we settled into our AirBnB by taking a little power nap. By that time, it was already getting late and we were in dire need of food. On the shuttle ride in, we saw a Nandos, so we had to for sure hit that up. We actually fell in love with it when we were in London, and because there isn’t one near where we live in the States, we ate here twice.

During this first evening in the city, we also learned how to cross the street diagonally. It’s what the Auckland locals do, and I wouldn’t be opposed to adopting this practice here in the States… It saves so much time!

Hobbiton 

Our second day in New Zealand started off on a bus down to Rotorua, with a stop at Hobbiton. Now I have never seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies, definitely didn’t read the books, and only watched the second film in the Hobbit series.. However, I am a fan of fantasy (I’m talking Game of Thrones and Harry Potter, woo!) and can appreciate a movie set.

The amount of detail that went into these Hobbit holes is unreal. Each Hobbit hole is decorated to represent the different residents of the Shire. Everyone knows Bag End, the home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. However, there’s also the Baker, the Beekeeper, the Inventor, the TOWN DRUNK (lol.) And knowing their occupation, you can easily identify their respective homes – the Baker has pastries and bread in their windows!

I really enjoyed touring the film set despite not really knowing the film/s. Though, I think I would have appreciated it more if I was a LOTR fan. (I did end up watching the first Hobbit film on the flight back to the States). We ended the tour with ginger beers at the Green Dragon!

Rotorua

Janelle and I only spent about 12 hours in Rotorua; half of which was spent asleep as it was only an overnight stay. Rotorua – the city that smells like rotten eggs, due to the sulphur in their world-renown natural hot springs. It was FREEZING (for southern Californian standards) but we rallied and spent our evening literally soaking in a hot spring pool at the Polynesian Spa. The hot water felt so good on our sore muscles, and the natural minerals did wonders for our skin.. Or at least, that’s what we had hoped!

Although there is so much more to the little town than the hot springs, it was all we managed to see and do during our short overnight stay. When I go back to New Zealand, Rotorua is on my list to visit again!

 

Auckland – The City of Sails

Back in Auckland for the last couple of days, Janelle and I froze our buns off, but enjoyed the city life for all that it’s worth. I could definitely imagine myself in Auckland; it definitely gave me San Francisco vibes. Although, if you know me, London is the goal and forever the standard I hold all cities to (just kidding, but not really).

On one of our last days in the city, we took a harbor cruise and got the greatest views of the Auckland skyline. We spent some time on those benches just watching the sailboats go by. Did you know that Auckland’s nickname is “City of Sails”? Over 135,000 yachts and sailboats are registered in Auckland. With a population of 1.4 million, that’s a good amount of boats to people!

Although it was a short stay, it was as the Kiwis say, “Sweet as!”



My Tahitian Photo Diary – Part Three

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My Tahitian Photo Diary – Part Three

So it may have taken the whole summer, but the last installment of this photo diary is finally here! Here is my Tahitian Photo Diary – Part Three !

I think it’s pretty safe to say that my week in Bora Bora was a week in literal paradise. The temperature never dipped below 73 degrees, the turquoise waters were always clear, and I could always count on an Ia orana from every resort employee. Oh how I miss hearing that greeting! (I also really miss the French pastries. Like really bad.)

In addition to the great hospitality and postcard scenery, the highlight of our trip was the Shark and Ray Feeding. I think what really made it, aside from the sharks and rays themselves, were our tour guides (Crazy Uncle, specifically). He’s the one that actually took those crazy underwater GoPro shots! And he was also the one who would ask me if I was ready to get back on the boat after each pit stop. I was always the last one to come out of the water, sue me :)

There are not enough words to describe the feeling of being amongst these beautiful and majestic creatures. Being in their domain, we were visitors to their home. I’ve never experienced anything like it, and I get chills just thinking about it. We swam with black tip sharks, lemon sharks, sting rays, TWO manta rays, and an octopus during that half day excursion. And believe it or not, I still have the tan lines from that day!

Those will forever be my favorite memories. And throughout the whole day, Noho and Crazy Uncle would break out the ukulele and sing us songs. They even sang “We Know the Way” from Moana.. We were 100% living the movie. Moana takes bits from all the various Polynesian cultures, but I definitely saw a lot of it in Tahiti. I mean, look at that sailboat!

I feel incredibly blessed to have visited French Polynesia. It is unreal that I am able to say that I’ve been to a lot of people’s dream vacation destination at the ripe ol’ age of 23. I feel extremely fortunate, and I seriously owe it all to my parents. Thanks Mom and Dad, for showing me Tahiti and all its beauty.

And finally, MERCI BEAUCOUP French Polynesia! You are an absolute dream.

Here are Part One and Part Two!



My Tahitian Photo Diary – Part Two

My Tahitian Photo Diary: Part Two

Et voila, part Two of my Tahitian Photo Diary !!!

Every morning we’d start our day having a buffet breakfast. I’ve lost my sweet tooth, but even I had to pay some visits to the crêpe bar! Also, pro-tip for anyone visiting Bora Bora: Take FULL ADVANTAGE of the buffet breakfast!! Eat as much as your tummy can handle because Tahiti is very, very expensive. And if you’re feeling extra frugal, make yourself a sandwich to wrap up and save for later! But bottom line is this: eat a big breakfast so you can skip lunch to somewhat offset the likely-to-be pricey dinner you’ll be having later that night. You’ll be thanking yourself later!

For the second half of our Bora Bora vacation, my family and I had the privilege to stay in the world-famous overwater bungalows. My sister and I were originally supposed to stay in a regular bungalow, but the AMAZING resort staff insisted that the family not be split apart. So, we were given two neighboring bungalows right at the end! Seriously still pinching myself.

While these bungalows were much smaller than our Beach Villa, there was still something so cute and cozy about them. Yes, these are intended for honeymooners. And yes, I’d be so down to return one day with my future husband. The fact that you can just jump off the bungalow and be in the turquoise waters is a selling point in itself! These bungalows are also equipped with glass bottoms so you can see all the fish and sea life swimming beneath you. My dad was certain he saw a barracuda one morning.

When you’re in Bora Bora, you are literally living in a postcard. If only for the week you’re there. It’s no wonder that the resort employees and locals are so happy to take care of all the guests. Shoot, I would be if I had these views every day! And if I got to wear a fresh flower crown all the time, too. I think I seriously could wear a flower crown every day.

See Part Three here! Check out Part One here.



My Tahitian Photo Diary – Part One

Tahiti Photo Diary: Part One

Part One of my extremely delayed Tahiti Photo Diary post, but better late than never I always say.

My family and I vacationed in the French Polynesia right at the beginning of summer… It’s now August. Between then and now, life/work/time got in the way, as well as the feeling of being uninspired. Keeping a blog is hard, and I commend anyone and everyone who writes one. You are amazing.

A little insight behind this first set of Tahiti photos: for the first half of our week long trip, my family and I stayed in a beach bungalow. Complete with an infinity pool, hammock and lagoon view, it was the perfect introduction to our Tahitian vacation. My parents also celebrated their 25th Wedding Anniversary at this time, which meant fresh floral crowns to celebrate with! We also ventured over to the main island town of Vaitape, where we really got to be with the locals. Fresh fruit smoothies and baguettes – I was in literal heaven! Bless French Polynesia.

However, I’d say that the highlight of this first half of the week was seeing a Turtle Release. Le Meridien Bora Bora is the only resort that has an on-site turtle rehabilitation center. And we just so happened to be there during the release of Dixon! Turtle releases happen about once a month there, and they hold a whole ceremony for each turtle they release. It’s quite a once-in-a-lifetime experience, with ukulele music, prayer and the actual release! I still get goosebumps just thinking about it. Hoping Dixon is somewhere in that big ocean out there enjoying his newfound freedom!

It still baffles me that I had the chance to visit Bora Bora. Incredibly lucky to have opportunities like this, and another huge MERCI BEAUCOUP to my parents for bringing us along!

Check out Part Deux here and Part Three here  :)



You, Me, Matcha | Holy Matcha

Holy Matcha – the most aesthetically pleasing café in North Park and an Instagrammer/blogger’s dream. It’s about time that the San Diego area got on the Matcha trend, and I’m so happy that there’s now a local spot dedicated to it. And in one of my favorite neighborhoods, nonetheless!

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Before we get into the actual drinks and food, can we first take a moment to talk about this ombré rose wall?!?! It is such a beauty! At Holy Matcha’s grand opening (which was about a month from the time I’m writing this blogpost), they had another rose wall that I was just dying to see for myself. I wasn’t able to make it during their first weeks in business, and as the wall is made of fresh roses, it wasn’t able to either.

But it somehow worked out that it’d make another appearance for Easter, and during the week I had plans to visit for work play. You can best believe that we had to take many photos of/with the rose wall!

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Now back to the Matcha! My friend, Lauren, and I each ordered a donut and drink. Lauren got the Matcha lemonade and Strawberry donut, while I went with the hot Matcha latte and Matcha donut. The lemonade was alright, but the latte was amazing. Order it with two teaspoons of agave!

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So I’m a Matcha fan, but it’s definitely an acquired taste. If you were to visit Yelp for this place, you’d see a lot of mixed reviews. Matcha can be quite bitter, but with the right amount of sweetness, it’s wonderful.

What I think the greatest thing about this place is that Holy Matcha is 100% vegan-friendly. The milk used in the lattes is Califia Farms almond milk (with soy milk as the alternative). The donuts are vegan, and gluten free – and were surprisingly good. Although, I do wish they were cheaper. Everything on the menu is quite pricey, but that’s a given for hipster cafés.

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Every inch of Holy Matcha is Instagrammable, which I can really appreciate. From the marble tables and velvet pink booths to the palm leaves wallpaper and gold accents, it’s the café of my dreams!

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I definitely recommend just going for the aesthetics, but if you’re a fan of green tea, it’s a good place to get your Matcha on. Big shoutout to Geraldine, the owner, for opening up this café!

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And did I mention how much I love this wall??

Bracelets: Pura Vida Bracelets



Desert Bloom | Anza-Borrego Springs

The heavy rains in southern California produced what news stations are referring to as a super bloom. You can best believe that I had to get in on some of this wild flower action. Desert Bloom is what we’re calling it, and Anza-Borrego Springs was the place to be these first few weeks of spring.

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Desert Bloom

My go-to adventure buddies are my mom and sister as they’re always down to go on these “crazy” escapades with me. So, we hopped in the car before sunrise to make the 2-hour car journey to the desert. I almost forgot how hot the desert can get. To be fair, I also almost forgot that I grew up in Las Vegas. But that’s another story. By the time we reached our destination, it was 10AM and already 80 degrees!

After a quick bite to eat and chat with the state park volunteers, we drove to the wildflowers and were treated to quite the sight. And I’m not just talking about the yellow and purple flowers… We weren’t the only visitors that weekend, thousands of caterpillars were admiring the fields as well! There aren’t any photos here because it gives me the heebie jeebies just looking at them. But trust me when I say that there were a lot, and they were EVERYWHERE!!!!

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Anza-Borrego Springs

After visiting Joshua Tree for the first time a week before, I was actually happy to be surrounded by cacti again. I personally found the cacti to be more photogenic than the wildflowers, and was most excited to see these tall, spiny things! I’ve become such a sucker for desert vibes, or maybe it’s just because it reminds me so much of Coachella. (Kinda bummed to not be attending this year, but happy that I’ve already experienced it for myself!!)

While we didn’t enjoy the heat, I can say that being surrounded by nature was a sweet treat. I think it’s really good to visit national parks. And more importantly, to respect them!

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