Back in March I went on an 8 day trek in Nepal through Langtang Valley. In 2015 Nepal was hit with a 7.8 earthquake. Many parts of the country was left in ruins and nearly 9,000 people died. My good friend told me about this trek relief that his friend started for Langtang Valley, a remote area in Nepal that was not receiving the funds and resources to help rebuild the villages. The purpose of this trek relief was to raise money and lend a helping hand to the people of Langtang Valley. If you reached your fundraising goal, you could join in on a a trek and volunteer if you'd like. The thought of trekking through the Himalayas and being able to give back to those in need sounded like an experience of a lifetime. I couldn't pass up this opportunity so back in March the fiance and I packed our bags and went on an 8 day trek along with 15 others and a group of porters and guides to show us the way.
Each day we trekked about 8 miles while gaining altitude. In the end we trekked a total of 70 miles and reached 13,000 ft in elevation. It was definitely the most strenuous activity I've ever done, which challenged me physically and mentally. We trekked through sun, hail, snow, rain, and rock slides. The most difficult condition was trekking through snow in wet soggy shoes and telling myself that I just had to keep putting one foot in front of another. Every few minutes I would look up and see nothing around us except for snow covered mountains and endless blue sky. I couldn't believe where I was and the breathe taking view was enough to keep me going.
I'm a neat freak and slightly OCD when it comes to being clean. The living conditions were definitely a challenge for me. We stayed in wooden lodges/tea houses that sometimes didn't have electricity and no insulation. Most lodges didn't have a shower. It pushed me far outside my comfort zone. Let's just say, if there's ever no bathrooms around, popping a squat is no big deal and a piece of cake now =X
Even though my knee was hurting by the last day, this was the most amazing experience ever. I was surrounded by so many amazing souls who were all so supportive and encouraging. I pushed my body and mind past limits that I never thought I could. This journey has opened up my eyes and heart in so many ways. It was the most humbling and fulfilling adventure I've ever been on. I left Nepal feeling so inspired and appreciative for what I have.
If you're interested, check out Trek Relief's website for info on how you can join this same trek or one of their other trips.
We helped this 70 year old man and his wife (standing above) rebuild their home that was destroyed in the earthquake
A Nepalese wedding that we attended. The bride and groom are sitting in the center of the table on the right while people present gifts to them.
Looks simple, but soo good. Every meal was amazing.
We happen to be there during the Holi Festival!
A memorial built for those who lost their lives in Langtang Valley
Breaking down what's left of this school so that we could rebuild it
I got engaged 5 months ago. Can't believe how fast time has flown by. The only wedding planning I've done so far is set a venue. It was the HARDEST decision. I'm also very indecisive so that probably added to the difficulty of it. I think it will be the toughest decision out of everything else we'll need to plan. (Hah.. I might regret saying this) It's just nerve wrecking when you think about how much money you have to put on the deposit, which you DON'T GET BACK if you change your mind. What if after you've made the deposit your head starts to spin and you start getting anxiety over whether or not you really made the right decision and if it's really the venue for you and maybe you should've waited and chosen another one!! Yes, this happened to me. So, I thought I'd share my wedding planning process to help others who might also suffer from major indecisiveness.
Is music allowed outdoors? What time does it have to end?
This was a really important question to me because I didn't want the wedding to end too early. I wanted to have time after all the important stuff was done to enjoy the party. There was one venue that allowed the reception outdoors, but music wasn't, which was a no go for me.
Are animals/pets allowed?
If you have a pet that you want in your wedding, be sure the venue allows it. Some venues don't allow pets at the reception, but they'll allow it at the ceremony. I want my dog to be in the ceremony so this was a must have for me.
Are food trucks/carts allowed?
Even if a venue allows food trucks, depending on the space the food truck might not be able to get close enough to the reception area. Another option would be a food cart. They're smaller and could possibly cost less.
Is dancing allowed outdoors?
A venue might allow music outdoors, but they might require dancing to be inside after the reception. This was a big deal for me because I wanted dancing to be outdoors where the reception was. I was in a wedding where the dancing had to be moved inside and it felt a little disconnected.
What does the bridal suite look like? Is there enough light?
If you plan on getting ready in the bridal suite, you should definitely see if you like the bridal suite. Is it big enough for you and the amount of people that will be getting ready in there? Is the lighting good enough for hair and makeup? If not, you might want to consider getting ready elsewhere. Be sure to also ask if there's a room for the groom.
What is the maximum guest count?
This is probably the most important question and should be the first question. It will help you cross off venues before you spend the time to go and visit.
Can you bring your own caterer or do you have to use the venue's preferred caterer?
If you have a caterer in mind that you want to use, this is a good question to ask. Or if you're someone who doesn't care too much about catering, then using the venue's caterer could be easier on you. Some venues will actually offer a discount if you use a caterer on their preferred list.
Can you bring your own alcohol or does it have to be purchased through the venue?
If you can bring your own alcohol, that's a big plus. Buying your own alcohol saves you a lot of money. If you have to purchase through the venue, I would suggest negotiating. For example, some of the bar packages I looked at had alcohol that I know none of our guest would drink so I asked if I could substitute it out or lower the price if I exclude those.
I don't wear a lot of makeup on a daily, but I do get excited to try new products. Here's five products that I'm currently using and really like.
1. Glossier Milk Jelly Cleanser - I have a hard time sticking to one facial cleanser. I like trying new ones too much to just stick to one. I'm currently using this one and I'm really liking it. It has rosewater, which gives it a nice smell.
2. Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer - I originally bought this concealer as a highlighter in the custard color and it's been working really well for me. I recently stopped using any kind of foundation or BB cream on a daily. Instead, I use my beauty blender to put this on under my eyes and under my nose to cover any red spots. Less time spent getting ready in the morning means more sleep!
3. Hourglass N28 Primer Serum - This serum goes on smooth and doesn't leave your skin feeling oily. I tend to have dry skin on my forehead, which is sometimes more noticeable after applying foundation. With the help of this serum though, it hydrates and evens out my skin before applying makeup.
4. Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate - Initially I was skeptical of how oil serums wouldn't leave my face oily. The only reason I tried this was because it came in an anti-aging gift set that I bought the bf. I tried it and was amazed at how it didn't leave my face feeling oily. I put it on at night and it makes my face feel smoother.
5. Grande Lash - During the past few months I've been adding extensions to my eyelashes, which have been amazing. These extensions have saved me about ten minutes during my morning routine. It gives my eyes that extra pop where I don't have to wear eye liner on a daily anymore. One downside is that it does thin out my lashes so this serum has been helping my lashes stay healthy and grow out longer.
Thanksgiving is tomorrow! Besides bringing a few of the traditional dishes to dinner, I'm also in charge of making the place cards. Last year I used rosemary and it was simple with a nice smell so I figured I'd go with another rosemary idea. Thanks to Spoon Fork Bacon for the rosemary wreath idea! I couldn't find any extra long rosemary at the farmer's market so I just bought regular rosemary from Whole Foods and tied two sprigs together so that the wreath could be a decent size. They came out really cute! Warning: your fingers will smell strongly of rosemary after.
If you want to try something more simple and easy, here's what I made last year that's also from Spoon Fork Bacon.
It might be fall right now, but it definitely doesn't feel like it in OC. The weather has been in the high 80s this past week and reaching 90 in some areas. That doesn't mean we can't start preparing for fall though! I'm really picky when it comes to sweaters so I have a hard time finding ones that I really like. Maybe that's why I always feel like I don't have enough winter clothes. That and because winters in socal are pretty much nonexistent. Here's 6 sweaters for the fall.
Madewell: I love how this sweater feels.
BP: I actually bought this sweater last month. It's thick and really soft feeling.
Madewell: It's on sale!
J.Crew: You can never have too much stripes! It's on sale too!
I recently went to Seattle for a joint bachelor/bachelorette party. It was actually my first time in Seattle. My parents took us to Portland and Vancouver as a kid and I guess we skipped over Seattle. I'm even surprised I've never been. I always hear how rainy the weather is in Seattle, but we must've lucked out cause the weather was beautiful! Sunny and cool, which was a nice change from the sweltering heat we were having in socal.
The bf and I arrived a day before everyone else so that we could hike and explore outside of Seattle. We hiked to Rattlesnake Ledge, which had such an amazing view! (Pro Tip: don't assume it's an easy peasy hike and wear Converses. I learned the hard way) We also went to Snoqualmie Falls, which was probably the quickest visit to a waterfall ever. "Cool! Waterfall! Ok, lets go." Don't get me wrong. I like these things, but after waking up at 5am to catch our flight and driving an hour to go hike 4 miles in wrong shoes, all I wanted to do was check into our Airbnb and let my poor feet rest. That's also why I have no pictures of the falls.
If you're planning to take a trip to Seattle and want an idea of what to eat and do, here's my little travel guide.
Rattlesnake Ledge: The hike isn't that hard, but there is a bit of an incline. It's 4 miles round trip and so worth it!
Totokaelo: This store has a great selection of clothing and beautiful home decor pieces. It reminds me of the stores in NYC. Right around the corner is also Molly Moon's Ice Cream!
The London Plane: This place was just adorable! It's a cafe, grocery/bakery, and flower shop all in one! My kinda store! We stopped in for a snack and only tried their cheese board, which was delicious!
Other places to eat at that are not pictured
The Pink Door: I love a place that has live music during dinner. It's so entertaining and fun. Be sure to make reservations though. For even more fun, they have a dinner and trapeze show on Sundays and Mondays and a cabaret and burlesque show on Saturdays.
Beecher's Handmade Cheese: I LOVE CHEESE. I like to think I'm a pretty healthy eater but I could never be vegan and give up CHEESE. Just. Too. Good. All kinds! Check out the mac n cheese here if you're into cheesy goodness.
Pike Place Chowder: If you're unsure of which chowder to try, I recommend getting the sampler where you get to choose 4. I can't even say which one's my favorite cause they're all good!
Piroshky Piroshky: I hear a lot of ppl rave about this place and in my opinion, it was alright. I had the smoked salmon pate and the beef and cheese. I definitely prefer the beef and cheese. Eat it while it's fresh and hot!
Ba Bar: This place serves Vietnamese street food, which was pretty good. They don't take reservations but our group of 21 was seated within 10 minutes. Their cocktails were also really good.
Storyville Coffee: I love looking for local coffee shops to try when I travel and this place makes a good cup of jo. The Pike's Place location was fairly big with several couches and tables to hang out at.
Hope this helps and feel free to share any must try places in Seattle :)
My mom's 60th birthday recently passed and we celebrated by throwing her a surprise brunch at Orchard City Kitchen. I have to say, the staff was extremely nice and helpful. Alcohol was not part of our pre selected menu, but they gave us mimosas while setting up, which was nice of them. Everything came together nicely. I was in charge of the dessert table. We ordered the cake and desserts from Caketerest, which were so good!
For the decor, I made the happy birthday banner with card stock and bought letter stickers. I'm all about trying to DIY rather than pay a lot for it. I bought some card stock paper and printed out the dessert labels and cut a slit in some corks as holders. The cake topper banner was a first. I used canvas and letter stickers and was soo worried it wouldn't hold up on the cake but it did! The 60 was cut out from gold glitter card stock. Making decor yourself saves money, but some things are worth buying to save yourself from sitting on your floor, tracing and cutting for hours. The gold banner was bought from Paper Source and so glad I bought it.
I'll be posting a DIY for a similar banner soon and I'm actually considering selling the cake topper. Just need to think of a Etsy store name.
Last weekend I celebrated turning 29. *Insert crying face* My birthday usually lands on Labor Day weekend, which is always nice. It gives me an extra day to recover from the festivities. Although this year did not involve anything crazy. Does that make me old? I wanted to keep it mellow, rather than celebrate the fact that I'm a year closer to 30. *Insert bawling face* As you can tell, I'm still learning to embrace my age. I do have to say though, this year I did not cry and still no hangovers! HA! Take that, age!
Anyways, I celebrated with the bf and my parents. I haven't celebrated with my parents in a few years so it was nice to have them down here. The bf planned a surprise, which turned out to be a day of wine tasting and horseback riding during sunset in Temecula. I've never gone horseback riding so I was super excited! The closest I've come to horseback riding was riding ponies in a circle at my Mom's company picnic, or as our tour guide called it, a 'live carousel'.
California sunsets never get old
(Cheesy title, but I couldn't help it) For our 6th anniversary this year we decided to keep it local. I've been seeing Ojai on several blogs and Instagram so we decided to head there for a night. The drive is about two hours from OC with no traffic. We took so many different freeways that I've never even heard of just to avoid the traffic on 101 (no surprise there). The original plan was to go hiking, but with the weather being in the 90s, we decided to do a bike tour instead with The MOB Shop. We biked pass some orange groves and an olive oil farm. After we checked into our Airbnb, we had dinner at Osteria Monte Grappa and grabbed drinks at Chief's Peak. We also checked out other spots the next day which you'll see in the photos below.
I have to say, Ojai was much cuter than I expected. Before the trip I was a bit worried since I read that it's known as 'an off the grid hippie town' but it turned out to be such a simple yet charming town. It's small, but it has the cutest home decor stores and almost every eatery I went to used local organic ingredients! I definitely plan on visiting again.
Biking pass all the oranges!
Bart's Book is such a nice outdoor book store to hang out at.
Knead Bakery has good a good breakfast sandwich!
Tipple & Ramble was too cute to not stop by and have some wine and cheese while shopping through their adorable store.
Stopped by Farmer and the Cook to cool down with an acai bowl.
deKor & Co. I really wanted to sit on that swing, but I saw a little boy try and he fell sooo I decided against it but how awesome would it be to have that in your house?!
Last but not least, check out the farmers market on Sunday!
I haven't been to Balboa Island since college and the bf has never been so we ventured out there a few weekends ago. The weather was perfect for it! We ate at Picante Martin's, which had really good tacos. We of course had to get a frozen banana. It's a must at Balboa Island. There's also a candy store for those with a sweet tooth! It's a pretty small place but I always enjoy walking along the beach and playing the game of 'which beach house would you want if you lived here'. Some of these beach houses are so classic and cute, while others are so modern and chic. If you're playing Pokemon Go, this is definitely a hot spot. While walking along the beach, I saw people of all ages playing. It's still so crazy to me how big this game is.