Vacay in Oahu

MG and I recently went on a trip to Oahu Hawaii. It was our first trip together as a couple since our honeymoon (almost 3 years ago!) so a trip to ourselves was overdue.

I was lucky enough to have my parents take me when I was in high school but it had been a while. MG has always lived in the Bay Area and had never been to Hawaii. First let me start out by saying that he’s not a “beach” guy. I KNOW… How is that so?!? His dream vacation has to do with snow and skiing in the Swiss Alps, and I’m definitely a sand and ocean type of girl. My explanation is that he’s only grown up around beaches in the Bay Area, and it’s always so cold here that you can’t get into the water. I accepted this challenge to make him love beaches, especially after a trip to Hawaii, where ocean waters are warm and sand is soft.

I’m happy to say that he’s slowly converting. There’s a small part in his heart to love beaches now. One day, I’ll let him have his snow vacay. One day…

We stayed at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, right across from the beach. It’s so convenient to get around because you’re in the heart of downtown Waikiki. Additionally, the hotel is extremely accommodating to their guests. They have lunch box where you can pack breakfast to go for the beach, and they also rent out beach towels, chairs, and mats. I highly recommend staying here!

Look at our amazing view

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Instead of walking through day by day, I’m going to simply list out our favorite sight seeing places and favorite places to eat. Hopefully this list will come in handy if you ever plan a trip to Oahu!

Favorite Things To Do:

5. Beach Hopping

All day, every day. Just go from beach to beach and explore the various beaches. The water and sea life is different. Also the sand varies from place to place. If you’re not the strongest swimming, I would suggest Waikiki because there walls to break the waves. For those that are stronger swimmers, definitely go to North Beach because it’s less packed with people and currents are strong.

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4. Polynesian Cultural Center Luau 

We obviously had to check out some dinner/show since it was MG’s first time. We came across one that was recommended by friends at the Polynesian Cultural Center. It’s kinda like a theme park, where you can visit villages that make up Hawaii. In the evening, there’s a buffet and then a show. We got lucky and booked tickets on the night of the World Champion Fire Knife Competition, which happens only once a year. Now that’s something you don’t see every day!

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3. Pearl Harbor Museum, along with Bowfin, Missouri, and Aviation Museum

Wow. There’s a solemn feel to this place, but in a good way. The exhibits were informative, and there are many first hand videos on the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked. You learn to appreciate America’s involvement in the war, and truly respect those that were courageous enough to fight for our country.

The Arizona is a sight to see. This specific exhibit is free, but you can’t also pay a fee to go to the other museums – Bowfin submarine, USS Missouri, and the aviation museum. I must say, all exhibits were well worth the money! We spent most of our day here.

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2. Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay

Go pick up snorkeling gear before you come here or else you have to rent it for $20. And YES, you definitely need gear. Because there is an abundance of sea life in these waters. Hanauma Bay is a state park with small entrance fee, but it’s totally worth it because you’ll see many little marine creatures, all kinds, sizes, and colors! Stick your face into the water, and I guarantee that you’ll immediately see marine life.

I wish I had a Go-Pro…

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1. Snorkeling with sea turtles at Laniakea Beach

This was our absolute favorite part of the trip. Turtles like to rest on this beach, and there’s always a volunteer that ropes off the area where turtles lay on the sand. It’s a law that you cannot touch the turtles, hence why there’s someone to keep watch.

But there’s an opportunity to get closer. Grab your snorkel gear and get into the water. We were so lucky that during our time here, we saw at least 8 turtles just swimming near us. They weren’t afraid of anyone swimming and some swam less than a foot away. It’s almost scary to be so close because these creatures are huge (some older turtles can grow to be 6ft in length). Most of the time you’ll be swimming, assuming there’s a boulder, but you realize it’s getting closer and closer. Yup, just a sea turtle! It’s an experience of a lifetime.

Oh how I really wish I had a Go-Pro…

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Now for you foodies! Here’s a list of our must-eats (in no particular order)!

Helena’s Hawaiian Food – A local mom and pop for Hawaiian comfort food. Short ribs are yummmmm

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Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck – Garlicky goodness. It’s a food truck located on the North Shore, famous for their shrimp scampi (perfectly cooked!)

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Matsumoto Shaved Ice – Lots of flavors to choose from and top it off with ice cream!

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Rainbow Drive-In – It’s a triple D (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives) hot spot. Think greasy comfort Hawaiian food. Loco moco heaven!

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Hi Steak – Don’t laugh, but this place is located in a cafeteria and the steak is amazing… Get the garlic butter!

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Ramen Nakamura – two words, oxtail ramen. It’s a small shop with very few tables but worth the wait. This place seems quite authentic in taste and environment. I’m not Japanese but there’s a lot of them in here enjoying the food, so you can’t go wrong with that!

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Musubi Cafe Iyasume – Get yummy snacks here. Lots of different kinds of musubi (bacon, avocado, eggs, and combinations galore!). It’s fun to look at all the different spam gadgets here.

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Ono Seafood – OMG poke! The fish is so tender and soft; no stringy pieces in the meat. It’s more of a take-out restaurant, with a few patio seats outside.

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Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts – Mochi ice cream with all sorts of flavors!

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Sushi Izakaya Gaku – The seafood is extremely fresh and so sweet. Sit at the sushi bar and ask the chef what’s fresh for the day. He’ll give recommendations. Definitely get the Negihama (yellowtail) tartar! But look at that amazing sashimi!

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Marukame Udon – This was our all time favorite meal. I had my doubts because udon is just noodles. But WOW! These are hand pulled udon noodles with a bar of all you can choose sides. Go down the aisle and add in your ingredients, like a tempura soft serve egg. Whaa?!? Yup.

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Just some other things worth mentioning:

Pali Lookout – It’s a windward cliff off the mountain with a scenic view, known for it’s strong winds.

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Dole Plantation because dole whips and pineapple gummy bears.

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DSC02959^^^ Look at the cute little pineapple!

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I wish I could go back to sunny skies, clean beaches and clear waters, large sea turtles, and delicious local foods. I just love the feeling of laying out on the sand without a care in the world. MG is already asking if we can go back! Does this mean Hawaii has won his heart over?

Have you ever been to Oahu? What are some of your musts?

When’s the next vacation?
Jay

  

Dubai Trip!

Hai.

I’ve been taking a little break from blogging. Between work and personal life, I haven’t had much time to update. But I’m back!

Lately I’ve been really counting my blessings. I’m so grateful for the things I have in life – my family, my job, and instances where I can take an overseas vacation. My mom came up with the idea of going to Dubai, and I couldn’t say no. We packed our bags, and went to Dubai for 5 full days, with 2 days of traveling.

To simply describe Dubai – extravagance (at least in the modern areas of Dubai). Everything is grand, large, and beautiful. This city is continually being built as construction was everywhere. In 5 years, this city will be a different kind of beast.

If you’re thinking about going – definitely check it out. You don’t need more than a week in Dubai for tourist attractions. To be totally honest, I don’t necessarily think that Dubai should be a trip on it’s own, but it would be a fun pitstop if you’re on your way to Europe or Asia.

Here are some of the things we did on our trip. Feel free to use this list for your own vacation!

  • Shopping! The Mall of Emirates and Dubai Mall are some of the world’s largest shopping malls
  • Ski Dubai (this was my favorite activity)
  • Burj Khalifa – Tallest building in the world
  • Visited the public beach near the Burj al Arab
  • Walked the Souks (this is the marketplace) for gold, spices, and tourist goods
  • Private boat tour
  • Camel riding!
  • Cruised in the sand dunes
  • Visited the Jumeirah Mosque
  • Went to the Palm Islands to walk around the Atlantis hotel
  • Hired a private driver to take us to Abu Dhabi to see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Incase I didn’t sell it enough, here are pictures to prove that this trip was amazing!

First off, this was the view from our apartment on the 43rd floor. Every morning we would wake up to the Burj Khalifa. Isn’t that awesome? We stayed in Downtown Dubai, right across from the Dubai mall. Is it recommended to stay here? Absolutely. It’s the center of town.

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Inside the Dubai mall, you’ll find an ice rink, an indoor theme park (it’s an arcade and there are also rides!), and an aquarium. Right outside, there is a fountain show that occurs daily, every 30 minutes in the evening.

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In the Mall of Emirates, you’ll find Ski Dubai! I’m not a snow activity type of person; I don’t know how to ski/snowboard. But I know basics for skiing, and Ski Dubai was perfect for me! It’s basically 1 slope which bends in the middle, and it has 2 levels of steepness. For about $50 USD, you can ski/board for 2 hours and the cost includes equipment and gear. We knew about this indoor ski arena but never thought to go, until we found out the cost. We can’t even ski in Tahoe for that amount! The snow is beautiful and perfectly groomed. It’s cold but consistent. And really fun to look up to see ceiling and lights. What a great experience!

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My second favorite activity was the Burj Khalifa. The elevators will take you up to the 124 floor in 90 seconds. MG, my dad, and I all decided to go to the very top (because when are we ever going to do this again?); the very top is 148 and employees provide refreshments and snacks. We went in the evening, saw the day-view, saw the sunset, and then was able to capture the night-view as well.

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MG and I also took an afternoon to enjoy the beach. The waters are crystal clear, and the sand is made with a million seashells scattered across the sand. One word, gorgeous.

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One of the mornings, we visited the local mosque to experience the culture. We also walked the marketplace to do some local shopping too. Spices, fabrics, and gold oh my! Lots and lots of gold…

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After walking around all day, we were tired and found a private boat to take us around for an hour so we could relax. For about $6 a person, this was totally worth it. However, you can easily get across the water on water taxis for $0.36 a person!

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Some of the desert things that we did – camel riding. This was a lot of fun! I can now say I’ve been on an elephant in Bali, and now a camel in Dubai! We also rode a Land Cruiser and went off-roading in the desert. What’s amazing is the background. The view is miles and miles of desert. My parents really enjoyed this part of the trip.

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On the very last full day of our trip, we were able to hire a private driver to take us to Abu Dhabi for a day trip (only $45 per person). It’s about a 1.5 hour long drive between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The most awe-inspiring part of the trip was the Mosque. It’s so grand and every detail is beautiful.

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^^^ And yes, we had to wear hijabs into the Mosque and dress appropriately to enter (women had to cover up their shoulders and dress to cover up to their ankles/men must wear shorts below the knee).

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^^^ This is the world’s second largest chandelier, made with Swarovski crystals.

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^^^ See how there’s a man’s forehead next to my mom? The security was coming over to let us know to stand further apart. Displays of affection are frowned upon in a religious environment. Whoops!

And then the city line near the water in Abu Dhabi is breathtaking! I love water, and can’t ever get my toes quick enough into the sand.

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Just some funny tidbits:

You know how in the US, you take a road trip and you see cows alongside the road? Here you see camels! Haha! Can you spot them?

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This was also my first time smoking with my dad. Everyone does shisha there!

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If you have to ask me about a downside of Dubai, I would say the food. There is no local food there. Dubai is a city of mixed nationalities. They flourish on having a bit of culture from everywhere. In that aspect, we were only able to eat Indian, Lebanese, and Syrian food. All very delicious, but I was hoping for something more “local.”

But my all time favorite thing about this trip – experiencing the difference in culture. Most of the city is of Muslim culture; prayer calls happen 5 times a day, and you can hear the reminder to pray throughout the city. Women are conservative, while men are more prominent. Men can have up to 4 wives, and for every wife you receive an apartment and 50,000 Dirhams. With government supporting their locals, we didn’t come across any crime or homelessness. It was a major culture shock! These kinds of things always prove to me that other countries in fact do live differently, and it’s always nice to be placed into a new environment and learn.

I’ve been so lucky to travel to many countries this year; First our Europe to trip, to Rome, Florence, and Venice, then Barcelona, Dublin, Paris, and London. Then we went to Asia to visit Hokkaido, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. And now the UAE. I am ever so grateful to have the life I live now.

Count your blessings every day. What are you thankful for today?

Bai!
Jay

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Packing Light: Fall Edition

We’re leaving tonight! I can’t believe the day is finally here. Japan, here we come!

I couldn’t have asked for a better year for traveling. First Europe in the summer (Rome, Florence, Venice, Barcelona, Dublin, Paris, and London), and now Asia during the Fall. This time around, we’re going to Hokkaido, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.

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:

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Jcrew jacket // H&M biker jacker // Jcrew puffer vest // Madewell perfect chambray ex-boyfriend shirt in ferrous wash // UO cuddle up sweater // Zara sweater // Zara cotton t-shirt // Target long sleeve // Target vintage v-neck // H&M camisole // Target tank // Madewell skinny skinny jeans in Madewell rinse // Madewell skinny skinny jeans: rip and repair edition // Piperlime Pim + Larkin ribbed knit mini dress // H&M patterned dress // Asos chelsea ankle boots // Piperlime Sam Edelman petty boots // Nordstrom Halogen Kayla flat // Target paisley scarf // UO open knit scarf // Jcrew Factory scalloped necklace // Jcrew Factory tote bag // Tilly’s fleece lined tights // F21 Beanie // Target Totes floral umbrella // Target metallic clutch

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…

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What do you think? Am I missing anything? Are you going anywhere for vacation during the cooler months? If so, where?

See you when I come back and follow me on IG!
Jay

  

Happy One Year!

Birthday
Tassel garland DIY here

It’s been one year since my very first post. I can’t believe I kept up with posting on this blog for a full year, posting 3 times a week, scheduling posts to go live at midnight. I first started this blog when I was still a housewife, beginning to find new hobbies. This was one of them, and this one actually stuck. Sometimes posting was a pain. I would remember that I needed to write a new post around 11:45pm with only 25 minutes to go live. Those were some of the nights I had to stay up late in order have posts for readers the following day. It was more about my own self-discipline and trying to keep myself on a tight schedule. I knew if I was too lenient, I would continue to let myself slip. But I stuck with it! I’m really proud.

Today deserves a celebration. Happy one year to my little blog!

In lieu of today, I’m featuring some of my proudest posts. I love to look back and see what kinds of projects I’ve completed, recipes I’ve created, and reminisce at trips that I took. I hope you enjoy this walk down memory lane!

My favorite DIY projects:

1. The $10 Dresser Revamp (By far my favorite project so far)

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2. The Ultimate Wire Holder (so useful)

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3. The Reupholstered Bench (seriously, talk about drab to fab!)

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Here are my favorite recipes. These are staples at home!

1. The Legendary Steak (people rave about MG’s famous steak. I kid you not!)

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2. Yummy Fruit Tart Recipe (This recipe has been pinned over 500+ times!)

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3. Light & Creamy Pasta Recipe (I just made this dish the other day; it never gets old)

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And then there’s the many, many different trips I took this past year. Each and every one of them were so memorable. If you’re going to any of these places, check out my posts for ideas of what to do and eat!

After our trip to Europe, the travel bug bit me! MG and I just booked a trip to Japan and Hong Kong in October. We can’t wait to travel abroad again!

Thank you to all of you who read my blog. The support and love you’ve given me continues to spur my creativity. Keep coming back for more!!!

With all my heart,
Jay