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I’m Back!

28 Sep

Greetings! It’s certainly been awhile!

It looks like my last post was Jan 2 and now it’s Sept 28 so that will make a whopping 2 posts for the year. Clearly I’m very dedicated to this blogging stuff. Anyways, I’m hoping to get better at that since there have been lots of new exciting changes going on in my life right now. Here’s the quick run down.

I went to Hong Kong which was amazing. The food was so good and the shopping was even better. Lots of cool cultural sites to see as well. I miss the efficiency of their MTR already.

I got a new job in the summer! I’ve been there 4 mo. now so I’m not as new (but really everything still feels new). This job feels like a new adventure and promotion all in one so I feel very happy career-wise right now.

Another fun thing, I got to see 2 new US cities: New York and Chicago. Both had amazing architecture and great food.

The summer weather has been AMAZING! I’ve felt really lucky to spend so much time in the sunshine. Even in late Sept, it’s still warm enough to wear shorts. So awesome.

Two new trips are in the works 🙂

I’ve also been trying to exercise more, read more, and save more money. I’ll try to post book reviews soon! The exercise portion of this goal needs some serious work before a real update.

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What I Learned on My Japan Vacation :)

4 Jun

ImageI’m back from Japan! Actually I got back a couple weeks ago, but I’m back in the blogging spirit.

My recent trip to Japan was simply amazing and further reinforces my view that if you want to go somewhere and can afford it, just do it! In years past I was always nervous about going back to Japan due to cost, possible language barriers, and worries about getting around. Turns out I was wrong on all counts! It was particularly special getting to take my husband to Japan and show him some of my favorite things from my first trip some 10+ years ago. Some things I learned on this trip:

  • Japan isn’t as expensive as people make it out to be. Food in particular was very reasonable, even in the heart of Tokyo. We only spent maybe $3-$6 each on meals generally. One of our ‘expensive’ meals was $9. It’s not 5 star dining, but it was always delicious and gave the chance to eat a lot of delicious Japanese food. Udon, ramen, and gyudon spots were generally our favorites.
  • Some things are expensive….like Starbucks (400+ yen). Why not enjoy a 144 yen 7-11 coffee instead? Coffee also tastes sweeter in Japan.
  • The train and subway system is not as daunting as it seems. All the signage is in English which helps, but not all announcements are made in English so you still need to pay attention. The subway line which we were closest to (Marunouchi) was a great starting point for exploration. If you’re at a hotel that has wifi, bring an iPad or other hand device to map out which lines to take for where you want to go. This was extremely helpful and saved a lot of planning time.
  • Don’t buy the spendy JR Rail pass unless you’re going to use it (like going to Kyoto from Tokyo). We didn’t buy one and mostly walked places or spent $1.60-$2.20 each time for the subway or train. We still spent way less than the rail pass would have cost.
  • Tokyo is huge! You probably already know this but if you really want to explore Tokyo give yourself a few days. It’s much more similar to a state than a city. Every area is different and has its own special attractions. Shinjuku, Ueno, and Akihabara were our favorite areas.
  • If you like shopping, save room in your luggage or pack extra luggage. We found so many great things and great deals we ended up having to buy bags to pack home all the gifts and souvenirs. If you like Hello Kitty, video games, anime, electronics, or Japanese things in general your head might explode from the vast amount of stuff to buy. The elaborately boxed candies and sweets are particularly nice to get as gifts and will take up space.
  • One of the easiest ways to get from Narita Airport to downtown Tokyo is the Airport Limousine Bus (don’t let the name fool you, it’s just a bus). It’s $30 per person, but definitely worth the 90 min trip. No dealing with luggage at the train station! The extra bonus? They accept credit cards!!!
  • Bring cash if you can get a good exchange rate or use the 7-11 ATM machines (I’ll save the full awesomeness of Japanese 7-11s for another post). Credit cards are accepted at very few places. Japan runs almost exclusively on cash so be prepared!
  • Lastly, if you have time learn some Japanese, it will help a lot. Not everyone in Tokyo speaks English (contrary to what friends/ websites/ etc.. will tell you). I am 100% sure you will use it! If you can memorize hiragana/katakana that’s even better! One of my favorite parts of Japan was getting to use the Japanese I learned in college. I feel even more inspired to keep up with it.

I hope these ‘learnings’ can help anyone who is interested in visiting Japan. I’ll be sure to add other Japan posts in the coming weeks!

Busy Times!

14 Apr

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It has been some time since my last post, but I’m back! Things I’ve been up to:

Short trip to Arizona to visit my parents: It’s nice to be in the sun, but as always I remember why Washington is clearly the best state to live in. We went to the Pima County Air Museum and the Desert Museum which were both a lot of fun. I saw owls and falcons!

Birthday: It was in Arizona, but I also had birthday celebrations in Washington with more family. I turned 28! Check later for blog posts on some of my special gifts I got!

Weddings: There was one this weekend in Seattle and I have one next weekend in Alaska. I finally got a chance to wear my Neiman Marcus for Target cape by Prabal Gurung (pictured above). I also wore a Prabal Gurung for Target dress, matchy matchy!

Future Travel: Alaska next weekend and Japan in a couple weeks.

Goals: Continue planning for Japan and studying Japanese. We have plane tickets, hotel booked, a voucher for the Miyazaki Museum, my high school and college Japanese language skills, and then a bunch of my ‘ideas’. Should be great, right?!

Happy 2013!

1 Jan

It’s now the year 2013. Whoa!

2012 was a pretty good year for me all around. I think I made my same resolutions for 2012 as always: save more money, exercise more, cook more, travel etc… Funny enough, I actually followed through on some. Here are my 2012 highlights:

  • Joined a gym. Prior to joining a gym I didn’t really exercise other than walking to places I needed to go to….like the computer or Tupperware full of cookies. Pretty sure I must be healthier in 2012 vs. 2011 even though I have little evidence of this.
  • Visited some new countries! I finally got to go to Malaysia and Singapore. Definitely the highlight of 2012 and the first time I had been out of North America since 2001.
  • I now own my car. No more car payments and it feels so good!
  • Bought 4 new house/office plants and they are still all alive! I like having non-dead plants.
  • Cooked more homemade meals more often. Now dinner doesn’t have to be a frozen Costco meal!
  • Spent less money on takeout coffee. This was mainly achieved thanks to my new re-usable Starbucks cup (cost: $1). I just put office coffee in it and pretend it’s takeout coffee.

What will 2013 bring?

 

Christmas 2012!

27 Dec
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The most perfect gifts!

Christmas 2012 was a good one (as usual). There was a lot of good food, fun moments with family, and thoughtful gifts of course! The picture above is all the wonderful gifts from my in-laws, they sum me up SO perfectly. Beauty products, a PS3 game (Persona fighting game!!), a gorgeous dream necklace, and stats related books; it was a most excellent Christmas 🙂 I already painted my nails, but I especially can’t wait to play my new game and learn more R tricks.

Chinese New Year and the Bravern

21 Jan

The Year of the Dragon is upon us. Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

Our local fancy shopping area, the Bravern, was handing out red envelopes with discounts to various stores and was having a lion dance, so of course we had to check it out! What was in our envelopes you ask??

Happy Chinese New Year!

My red envelope: $10 off any $20 purchase at Wild Ginger, yum! We lunched here and saw the lion dance up close which was so much fun.

Husbands’s red envelope: 20% off at David Lawrence, an amazing store that has D Squared, Herve Leger, Moschino, and more. Part of me wanted the only ‘affordable’ thing: a $45 Moschino Cheap & Chic clear bubble umbrella, but I refrained. Purchasing something for the mere reason of having a coupon is generally never a good choice.

Of course after all the festivities we had to check out the shopping. I was pleasantly surprised about some extreme sales happening as in extremely amazing! Neiman Marcus was having the ‘last call’ sale where a lot of nice items were 65%+ off. They had some nice bags left, but the clothing and shoes were really picked over. If you didn’t want size 11 sparkle Burberry Rainboots or size 5.5 Manolo Blahnik kitten heels… you were out of luck. Highly depressing for someone with size 7 feet because the prices were legitimately good. I did pick up a great book though, ‘True Prep’ for $8 (which is cheaper than Amazon). Neiman Marcus and books, who knew?!

I saved the best part of my post for last. I found a gorgeous Karen Millen dress that I can wear to weddings, special dinners, really anywhere 🙂 It was 70%+ off for the amazing deal of $84. You can barely get a dress from Banana Republic for that price these so I am quite excited. When I tried it on with some store provided stilettos for a moment I felt like I was at the Oscars, ah true dress ❤ I’ll post some pics of me in the dress once that special moment of taking it out on the town arrives, but for now:

PS: At Karen Millen the sales associates are called Stylists. Tre Chic!

Happy New Year, it’s 2012!

2 Jan

Happy New Year’s everyone! Last year my husband and I did New Year’s big, staying at a luxury hotel downtown, eating sushi, watching fireworks, shopping, and consuming lots of champagne. This year we drank leftover port and enjoyed the fireworks from the couch 🙂 It was actually really nice having a low key New Year’s.

And of course I’ve already starting thinking of goals for 2012…

I want to be more organized and donate more items to charity. I’ve already fully redone my home office set up and parts of the kitchen. I’m feeling good on this goal so far.

Read more, learn more etc. etc. I read a lot during 2011 because I rediscovered this crazy thing called a library. The fact that I can get library books on my kindle also makes it easy to indulge in reading. As far as learning, R and SQL are at the top of my list. I have a good foundation of both, especially SQL, but want to take these skills to the next level.

Saving more money. Starbucks stock is up because of me, I just know it.

Lastly, and likely the most difficult is getting fitter! I don’t exercise much at all. Walking, that’s all I do. I’ve never had a problem maintaining my weight; however, I’ve gotten a lot softer since my high school/ college gym going glory days. I wants abs again.

For all of us that have goals, good luck in 2012!

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