I’m the type of person that decorates the house when it comes to Halloween. My husband, on the other hand, thinks that’s crazy. But that’s how it’s always been in my family. Our lawn was littered with Halloween decor for those trick or treaters. It’s so fun to get into the holiday.
Now that I have my own place, it’s no different. I love to decorate. But I don’t love those high-demand prices. Pro-tip, wait until the day after Halloween to get some of your decor. I always score some great items for 50% off, though I have to wait until the following year to use it. Nonetheless, it’s such a great deal and decor doesn’t have an expiration date. It’ll last.
But my favorite thing to do? Get creative and come up with some of your own decor ideas. For my Halloween ideas, cardboard is my primary tool. MG and I buy a lot of things online so we usually save the boxes. Simply use any cardboard box laying around for a project like this. Most importantly, use your imagination!
Can you guess what I’m going to make from the outline below?
Another hint for you:
Final product – cutlery and a zombie barricade, all made from cardboard. I want to add some blood to the knives, but I was recently home alone while MG was on a work trip. I didn’t want to freak myself out!
Close up of the zombie barricade – simply draw some lines onto pieces of cardboard and tape them over a window. For the hands, I cut outlines on white poster board and then spray painted them black.
I also added some arms reaching through the banister of our stairs. They still creep me out a bit when I walk up the stairs. However, when I walk down, I feel like everyone is trying to give me high-fives!
Paper and using your creativity, that’s all it took. What do you think? What are some other fun ideas you can come up with using cardboard and/or poster?
Happy Halloweek! Come back for a fun costume idea!
Every year my friends and I go to the pumpkin patch, and I’ll host a carving party (see last year’s post here). It’s fun that we get to start these traditions now and one day when we have kids, we can pass these types of celebrations down to them. The next couple of years will be interesting since our friends and even us, we’ll be starting families. When we have kids, these type of things will only better!
This year we went back to Pastorino Farm again (we always have such a great time there).
This time around, we extended our patch outing to our fellowship group. The more the merrier! We started the Hayward Fellowship Group in January with about 6 people. We’ve grown to 15 people, which means more than double in size! God’s done some amazing things with our group, and I hope that He continues to teach us and surprise us.
Don’t laugh… the best part about this place – definitely the petting zoo! Perhaps my inner 5 year old kid comes out at the patch!
Look at this happy goat.
More importantly, look at this fricken adorable Llama! I wish I could take it home, but I’m afraid MG would kick me out of the house (tehehe).
We actually carved on a separate day because everyone else had plans after the patch. Nonetheless, an awesome carving party again!
I bought a funky shaped pumpkin to carve this year. I bought it without an idea of what I wanted to carve, only that it spoke to me, “Take meee home!” So I followed its instructions and came up with this.
And no pumpkin carving party is complete without roasting seeds. This is my special Garlic Butter Roasted Pumpkin Seed recipe.
Wash and dry your seeds. Add two tablespoons of melted butter, sprinkle garlic salt, mince 3 garlic cloves, and mix well. Then roast them for 60 minutes at 300°, turning the seeds over every 15 minutes for an even roast. So crunchy and delicious! And very addicting!
Halloween gets me so happy and ready for the Fall. Once October is over, I feel like everyone starts to get into the spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas (only the best time of the year, if I do say so myself).
What are some of your Halloween traditions? Promise me you’ll come back to see my DIY costume, Halloween decor, and our Halloween party later this week.
Hong Kong was the last leg of our trip to Asia. We spent 2 full days and 3 nights here, primarily because our flight had a layover in Hong Kong before coming back to San Francisco. So we stopped for a bit.
To be honest, Hong Kong is never a place that is in the top of my travel list. Perhaps I’ve been too many times (3-4 times now in my lifetime). I go because my parents grew up here. I go because I can find Cantonese comfort food around every corner. I go because it brings me back to my roots. Hong Kong is just never that memorable to me… until now.
MG still has family members in HK. They took us around to some delicious restaurants and showed us places that were good for shopping. This part of the trip was mainly for visiting family/friends over meals and lots of shopping.
We ate at Chinese cafes for breakfast. You all get smashed into one small table, order food and tea, and quickly eat and move along. These places are the best for late night meals too!
On one of the nights, we walked through the city and took the Peak tram up to see the view.
If you’ve been following the news, there have been protests in Hong Kong for full democracy. We were not in any areas with immediate danger, but the area near the tram was occupied by protestors. We went on a little adventure to go see how the situation was – fortunately for us, it was calm and peaceful where we walked. I became the butt of the joke, and everyone said I was going to get us arrested for taking pictures of the protest.
They made stairs to walk over the barricades! So smart!
This was the scene at 11pm on a weeknight.
And one thing now crossed off my bucket list – eating Chinese mitten crab, aka hairy crab. As a little girl, I’ve always heard about these little delicacies, but it’s only edible in Asia. It’s basically a small crab filled with sweet, sweet roe. It’s prime season in October in Hong Kong, so when we decided to come here, I knew this was my must-do. And my in-laws satisfied my need (they are so good to me!).
^^^ Look at all that orangey goodness!
And the absolutely best part about this trip? MG spoiled me with a new two-toned rosegold watch. I’m not allowed another gift for 2 years, but this lump sum gift was well worth it. Thanks love!
Have you been to Hong Kong before? If so, what are your favorite things to do?
I don’t have another overseas trip planned anytime soon, but I want to go somewhere else! The travel bug has bitten me. Where should I go next? Any recs?
Tokyo was the highlight of my trip – it’s the big city! Packed with people, shops, and food – that’s my kinda place!
With over 13MM people living here, there’s always people everywhere. Shops open late in the morning at 11am and do not close until late into the night. I took charge as tour guide in Tokyo because there were many must-see items on my to-do list.
We took the bullet train from Hokkaido to Tokyo. Once we dropped off our luggage and checked into the hotel room, we set off to find food and shops. We headed over to the Shibuya district to do some night time shopping and dinner.
Shibuya Crossing is one of the busiest crosswalks in the world. All lights turn red and pedestrians flow into the street. It’s almost chaos!
We had dinner at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant nearby the crossing, which was the coolest restaurant we’ve been to! Basically you sit down, order your nigiri sushi on a tablet, and they shoot out plates of sushi to where you sit. To feed 7 adults here was only $60. Can’t beat that!
After dinner, we shopped a bit at Shibuya 109, a large mall with over 100 boutique shops with the latest trends (basically one huge Urban Outfitters). And on the way home, I had to take a picture with the Hachiko statue. This faithful dog greeted his owner after work, everyday at the subway station. The owner died at work but the dog continually went to the station to greet his owner everyday for 9 years after his death. I can’t get myself to watch the story of Hachiko but it warms my heart.
The next day was an epic one!
We woke up, got breakfast, and headed over to (it’s my dream come true), a cat cafe!!! More well known cat cafes in Japan have 30-50 cats, and you can enjoy a light snack. There’s a small entrance fee to get in, but once you do, it’s basically heaven.
^^^ This one is located in the Shinjuku district. It’s two stories, and you can sit and play with cats for an hour. After an hour, you pay for each additional 15 minutes.
Japanese people love their cats! We saw some cats going for $10k at a pet shop. Lots of Scottish Folds, and I even learned about a new breed called a Munchkin cat. Muchkin cats are characterized by little short legs. Think corgi but for a cat!
Don’t laugh but I want to say that this was one of the highlights of the trip!
We did a bit of shopping at Harajuku. This is where you’ll find people dressed up in cosplay and some extreme fashion styles!
Then we looked for beauty supplies – isn’t this a crazy shop?
And we went to Akihabara to look at gadgets. It’s an entire district filled with all kinds of technology – you can literally find anything tech-related here.
To top off the night, we went to a Yakini restaurant (DIY BBQ). Little did we know, we would come across wagyu beef. We ate ourselves silly with 4 plates of Wagyu, 2 plates of pork, 1 plate of lamb. It was by far the best meal during our entire trip.
^^^^ Just look at that marbling!
^ Grillmaster MG ^
The next day was the big typhoon. Lots of news publications said it was going to the best worst typhoon based on the last 14 years, but fortunately for us, it died down and it was only a half day of rain. We kept it safe by shopping at the malls near our hotel. That stormy and rainy night meant that I needed a warm bowl of ramen for dinner.
We found a place nearby, where locals line up for food. My in-laws (they really are the best) said they were fine with standing in the rainstorm for ramen, and so we did!
The waiters pass you menus in line and take your order while you’re standing. Once you get into this tiny shop (basically can hold only 20 people), they place your food in front of you, and you slurp your noodles quickly. Japanese people eat so fast! As we’re eating, two groups have already gotten up and left. I would say that we ate fast, but clearly not as quickly as the locals. So much pressure to eat quickly!
But OMG… this was the best ramen I’ve ever had. Period.
Aren’t you craving a big bowl of noodles now?
The food in Tokyo is amazing. Any little shop that you find will have quality food. If you love shopping, this is also the place to be! There are so many shops and so many different fashion styles. People-watching, alone, is a great reason to come to this city.
Have you been to Tokyo before? If so, what did you do? If not, what is your must-see?
I’m back from my trip to Asia! I love traveling but those long flights are pretty killer… Our total travel time to get to Sapporo was 23 hours, ouch. It’s worth it to see how cultures are different in different countries.
Over the next three days, I’m going to be posting about my trip. We started out in Sapporo and slowly made our way south via a tour bus. Then we took a bullet train to Tokyo and ended in Hong Kong before coming home. Today will be all about Hokkaido.
Hokkaido is in northern Japan, with Sapporo as its capital. It gets cold, with snow in the winters, and this prefecture is also known for produce and meat. It’s where a lot of good seafood comes from! This is going to be a major photo dump – here we go!
^^^ Otaru is a beautiful little town. It really reminded me of Europe. Isn’t this a cute family pic?
Japan has some awesome handmade trinkets – specifically this tourist town was known for glass and music boxes
We shopped at many outdoor and underground malls
We went to a ski jump museum on the tour.
Look at this amazing view! Looks so scary though – Don’t think I’ll be trying ski jumping ever…
We also went to see the Ainu people, an indigenous people of Japan. We learned about their culture and way of life. They are bear hunters and also have Shiba Inu dogs to help them hunt.
We also went to a Hot Springs area while the sun was setting to end the day. Such a beautiful view.
Hokkaido is known for their hot springs and public baths. And incase you’re wondering, yes, you have to go naked! Basically you have to shower there for a good 15 minutes or longer before you can soak into the public baths. They are typically gender separated, and all you get to cover up is a little face towel. The baths are filled with mineral water, at the hottest temperature of 43ºC which translates to 109.4ºF. So hot!!! You literally soak in for a few minutes and then immediately go into a cold water bath. All this helps with your circulation and increases blood flow so it’s beneficial for your body. Awkward at first, but it gets easier!
The next day we ventured to Lake Toya, a volcanic lake in Hokkaido.
And then we got on a boat!
Look at this amazing view!
Later that evening, we went to the top of Hakodate to watch the sun set and the city come to life.
We went to Towada-Hachimantai National Park to see the Fall colors. We missed the changing of the leaves to red by one week but we got to see a few Fall leaves.
We also took a little hike – Hokkaido is so green
^^^ Waterfall selfie
And now Lake Tazawa. Legend has it that a princess desired eternal beauty. A god told her to drink from these waters but she drank so much of the water that the Goddess Kannon cursed her and turned her into a water dragon. Then a prince caught a large fish from these waters and developed an unquenchable thirst. He continually drank the water and was also turned into a dragon. Eventually these dragons fell in love and their passionate love prevents the lake from freezing during the winter months. Also, the princess gets jealous of couples that takes pictures at this lake, which ends relationships…
We took the chance anyway!
Those were some of the main places that we visited. Here are some fun shots from the Hokkaido portion of the trip.
The sewer tops at the fish market were so cute! Lots of great seafood comes from Hokkaido – scallops, cuttlefish, crab, fish.
Remember when I said that produce is a big thing in Hokkaido? Look at the size of this apple!
Some of the hotels we stayed in were Wester style (your typical hotel), but there were a few that were Tatami style. It’s a traditional Japanese-style room with straw-like mats and no shoes allowed.
While you go out for dinner, employees come and make the beds for you:
^^^^ Traditional Japanese meal in our kimonos
We wore kimonos every night to dinner – look how cute my little Mingus is!
This is what a traditional meal would look like – all prepped for you. Coolest thing? Look at that ice dome that holds my sashimi!!!
We also ate at a lot of buffets for breakfast and for dinner.
Look at my breakfast tray! Ahem husband… I expect this caliber of breakfast every morning!
Then there are these adorable pancakes that you can pick from during dinner. How could you eat such artwork?
We found a little shop that made fresh mochi – one of MG’s favorite desserts so we had to buy one. You pick a skewer and then add your own paste (miso or black sesame, or red bean). Just for fun, if you choose a skewer with a red tip, you get another free stick! Of course MG gets lucky. He had two servings of these things! You should have seen how happy he was when he found out he won.
The roasted mochi from the temple was my favorite dessert!
We also went to a traditional Japanese tea house where they served green tea and a sweet cake.
And one of our last snacks… grilled cow tongue. My in-laws are the cutest!
Hokkaido is a rural area of Japan, definitely not a city-life feel. Lots of greenery, lots of farms, and not much to do after 8pm. It was such a fun experience to see differences in lifestyle and learn about the Japanese culture.
Have you been to Hokkaido before? What did you do? Is this on your bucket list?
Come back for Tokyo tomorrow!
We took a tour by Signet Tours through Hokkaido
The thing I’m looking forward to the most – sashimi and sushi. I can’t wait to eat myself silly! I’m also ecstatic about shopping in Japan. I packed light but brought a huge suitcase to fit all my potential purchases (that’s the way to do it!).
Follow me on Instagram (user jayscup) if you want to see pictures while I’m on vacation. I will not be posting on my blog until I return so if you want to see what I’m up to or what I’m eating, follow me on IG!
Remember when I did the packing light list for the summer? I got some great feedback from you all, so here’s my Fall edition! It’s a great list for 2 weeks, weather ranging from 45 -65 °F. Such a range calls for lots of layers!
I’m obsessed with Madewell jeans as of lately (swooooon at the fit and quality). I’m also very fond of ankle boots right now! Just a tip, a girl should always have a chunky necklace to dress up any outfit. Now here’s my 2 week packing list:
Don’t forget your undies, socks, sleepwear, toiletries, chargers, technology, and flight entertainment (tablets, books, snacks, pillow). These differ for every person so pack what you must!
When packing keep in mind a few key rules:
1. Pack neutrals – They are classic and never go out of style. Plus, they match with everything!
2. Each piece of clothing should be able to stand on its own or match with something else. Chambray is best for this! I can wear it as a button-up shirt, a cover-up with a tshirt underneath, a sweater over with the collar out, or as a shirt underneath my vest. That’s 4 outfits with 1 shirt!
3. It’s not the time for a fashion show. I get it! You got these cute printed pants that match with your chic sandals. But let’s be honest here. That’s one outfit… Show that off when you get back home. Packing light means packing smart!
Now if only I could pack these guys since they are already in the suitcase voluntarily anyway…
What do you think? Am I missing anything? Are you going anywhere for vacation during the cooler months? If so, where?
Eep! We’re leaving on Friday for Japan! It’s coming up so fast!
This year has been quite an eventful one so far – first we spent 3 weeks in the summer in Europe, and now we’re off to Japan for 2 weeks. I’m so blessed to be able to travel with loved ones and make memories along the way.
This week, MG and I have been prepping for our trip.
We got our shots on Monday (the travel nurse recommended Typhoid and Flu shots for the both of us). Ouch! Typhoid really hurts. We looked so silly coming out of the clinic with bandaids on each arm. Too bad at this age, you don’t get candy…
FYI – if you travel overseas, get the typhoid shot 2 weeks prior to your trip. That’s when the vaccination actually kicks in. At least we’ll be covered the last half of our trip!
Since you don’t get candy anymore after shots, we treated ourselves at Target.
We bought a bunch of munchies for our long plane ride. Those Outshine bars were obviously for a late night snack! My favorite snacks – Cheetos!
We even got haircuts for our trip! I was getting so sick of my long hair. No oomph anymore, and I just continually put it into a ponytail, blegh. So here’s to change! Short and sweet!
I have to curl it in the morning now, but I’m liking the new texture! Also for those of your wondering, my skin is slowly healing. I still have acne, but it’s not as bad as before. Now I’m in the stage of whitening the dark spots. Any advice?
Of course a load of jeans also go into the washer, as we are finalizing the packing list. Always turn your jeans inside out when they go into the washer. Then hang dry all your jeans so that they do not shrink. Welcome to the jean sale…
And the best part of prepping – MG did not want to bring his large laptop while traveling. Our iPad is first gen, and our secondary tablet does not have an attachable keyboard. So his biggest desire was a Microsoft Surface.
He made his desire known at 4pm on Tuesday. After picking up our dry-cleaning at 6:30pm, we headed over to a Microsoft store and dropped some money. Now MG has a new toy! When he first asked me and I said yes, he was shocked. He didn’t expect me to say yes to such a large purchase. But why not? Let’s be spontaneous today!
It’s so pwetty! It’s going to be a great tool for when I need to design graphics. I can’t believe you can open Microsoft Office and all the Adobe Creative Suites with the Surface. It’s a computer but in tablet form; amazing. I’m a Mac user myself (I’m using one to type this post), but Microsoft is really stepping it up!
Come back for my packing list on my next post. I have some fun items that I recently purchase for our Japan trip!
Without work (cause my contract ended mid-September) and with MG out all the time traveling for work, I have more time for myself. Once I do the chores around the house, — cleaning the kitchen, dishes, vacuuming, and laundry — I have some time to spend on myself. Lately, I’ve been into nail art. Choo-choo welcome aboard the train, Jay… late to the game amirite?
I always thought nail art just takes too much time to create and then it chips. I still think that way, but it’s more about spending time on myself. In that sense, my mind about nail art has changed. It’s almost kinda fun!
You know how everyone has a color of choice for their wardrobe? Mine is without a doubt, navy. I’m obsessed. Honestly, the best neutral IMO (in my opinion). Of course, that translates into my nails too.
I just bought After School Boy Blazer by Essie. It’s a dark navy, almost black but not quite. Love it! Love it for the Fall/Winter season (c’mon colder weather, I’m eagerly waiting for your arrival).
Third step: I used Deborah Lippman’s Stardust for the metallic silver (which apparently is no longer being sold). Similar metallic here by Essie. I painted the tips by eyeballing how thin I wanted the line to be. Basically half the paint brush was painting my skin, but I just cleaned it up with remover later. If you have an unsteady hand, try using Hole Punch Reinforcements as a guide.
Fourth: Top coat/quick dry. I want to emphasize quick dry. Don’t you hate when you go to bed and your sheets get imprinted into your nails?!? That happens to me so often, so this quick dry is my savior. The Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat is the best I have come across. Get it!
You can maybe, perhaps, say that I’m kind of, sort of, obsessed with nail polish. But what girl isn’t? I wish I had every color!!!
What are some of your favorite colors for this Fall season?
Remember that Progressive Dinner Activity I mentioned in my previous post (if not, here it is)? It’s a fun activity for a group of people 10+.
I’m in a fellowship group for my church. There are at least 5 groups in the East Bay, some with catered to families with kids. Occasionally, we’ll meet with other groups to get to know them a bit better, but it’s always hard to find an activity that we all enjoy (usually our activity will consist of food). This past Friday, we hosted something called a Progressive Dinner.
Here is how it works – You have homes host an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. The host will cook the meals (preferably prior so they can join in on the fun), and the other groups will travel from home to home for each course. 3 Locations for 3 different courses, and everyone gets to travel to visit homes and enjoy food.
Our dinner was a bit more complicated since we had over 30+ people. Our variation was the 3 homes hosted all three courses, while the travelers would go from home to home. Different groups of people so that we could get to know everyone a bit better.
My group got fancy – we made menus for the table so that people could see what courses we were making. We also gave little goodie bags to everyone who came over (yup, overachievers!).
Our appetizer – Fresh crab cakes on a toasted Hawaiian bun with a dressed arugula salad
^^^ Mounds and mounds of crab cakes!
Main course – Miso salmon on a bed of wasabi infused mashed potatoes and a side of seasoned green beans
^^^ Look at that glaze!
Dessert – Cast iron s’mores (so easy and so fun)
^^^ Mmm… Mmm… Mmm… Those crispy tops!
Then we gave out these cutie little goodie bags
These treats were simple to put together – 1 graham cracker broken in half, half a Hershey’s bar, and 2 marshmallows, put together in a sandwich bag, and tied with twine and a tag. Want to recreate this? Just download and print my tag here!
What do you think about this activity? Is this something you can do? What are some other fun activities that big groups can partake in? Please give me some ideas because we need some fresh thinking!
The past 5 days have been so much fun! I’ve been going out a bunch, with friends and family.
Starting on Wednesday, look at this delicious roasted chicken! If you want to recreate it, check out my recipe here. With the leftover chicken, I usually make chicken salad for sandwiches. It’s a great recipe!
Moving onto Thursday, my in-laws picked me up at 10am, and I spent the entire day with them, until 9pm. Most people would find this frightening, but I’m fortunate enough to have lovable in-laws. I’m not even lying to you. We went out for Dim Sum in a very well-known restaurant called Koi Palace (a must if you are ever in SF). Afterward we headed over to Westfield to shop in Union Square!
Here I spent a nifty amount on some clothes at Madewell. I’ve been eyeing a pair of jeans, and I figured it’s finally time to spend some money on some quality products. I’m at that age where it’s about quality over quantity, and it’s important to invest in key wardrobe staples. I’m happy to say that at 26, most of my “college clothes” aka tanks, low-rise jeans, and t-shirts have been donated or sold. I’ve started buying grown up clothes, but I still I get moments of weakness at XXI (don’t you?). Got these Madewell Skinny Skinny Jeans and also the Perfect Chambray Shirt in a light wash (the one and only one left at Madewell located in Colorado; I’ll get it via mail this week). So excited for these pieces and can’t wait to show them off in Japan in 2 weeks!
After shopping we went over to dinner at Shanghai House again (I went here in my previous post). Twice in a month. I’m such a lucky girl! And of course, Purple Kow again! I introduced this to the in-laws, and they enjoyed it!
On Friday, I hosted a progressive dinner for Bible Study groups all around the East Bay for our church. I’ll share more about this in a separate post. Basically, different groups of people come for different courses of dinner (appetizer, main course, and dessert). It’s a really great activity! Anyway more in my next post.
Saturday was a girl’s day! 3 girls and a mall means lots of shopping (yup, again). One of my friends, Jess, was willing to get some new clothes to change up her wardrobe, so I was on a mission to get her some new clothes. We made her try on a bunch of different things to get a sense of her style, and she ended up getting some items. I love helping people shop! I seriously find joy in it! To reward my hard work, I bought myself a sweater from Zara and a t-shirt from Brandy Melville. Yay! I’m going to be stylish in Japan! After shopping we got some groceries and made dinner at home. The rest of the night was filled with makeovers – testing out make-up and doing facials. So fun!
^^^ This picture actually creeps me out quite a bit!
Just a few random things – Olive and Lily (MG’s sister’s cats) are still staying with me. There’s not a dull moment having three cats playing in the house.
Lily is a people kitty. She doesn’t play with the other cats. When she tries, it ends with hissing and fluffy tails.
We joke that Olive is Chubs’ girlfriend. They wrestle and run around the entire house like it’s a playground.
And here’s my Chubalee, wanting to play fetch with that little fuzzy white toy. Oh and he’s standing next to my new booties I ordered for Japan. Aren’t these uber cute?