August 30, 2013

Anniversary Celebrations

As some of you already know, J and I celebrated our 2-year wedding anniversary on Tuesday.

We celebrated our anniversary over a few days. Because that's how I like to do things. Here's what we did:

Last Friday, J picked me up from work and we went to Centennial Park in west Nashville. Over the summer, they have the Nashville Shakespeare Festival every weekend and we watched a live performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." People brought their picnic blankets, chairs and there were even benches and chairs provided. It was really great and we really enjoyed the play.

Then on Saturday, we decided to get out and enjoy some mother nature. We headed to Randor Lake, a great place for hiking just about 20 minutes from downtown Nashville. There are different trails you can do that are are either easy or difficult. The trails are well marked and well maintained. And the trails, for the most part, are shaded. It was beautiful and I know we'll be going back again soon.

Then in the evening we decided to go out on the town. No pictures of that, because we all know how crappy bar pictures can be.

On Sunday, we went to Dave & Buster's, letting our inner children out. It was fun-- I mostly enjoy the basketball shooting game, skeeball, and the one where you have to try and stop the light at the 'grand prize'. J likes the trivia one (if he has others to play against) and the one where you put in tokens to try and scoot other tokens off the edge. We did pretty well- we almost had 1,000 tickets. We turned them in for a freezer mug and candy.

Then on the night of our actual anniversary (Tuesday), we went out to dinner to a sushi place called Samurai that's close to my work. If J gives me the task of finding a place to eat, it's 97% of the time either sushi or Thai food. Samurai had high ratings, so we decided to check it out-- and it was good! We got a big plate with different sushi and rolls and seaweed salad. In all honesty, I could have killed that whole big plate by myself-- my sushi obsession is no joke! It was a delicious meal and we were completely satisfied afterwards.

It was a great anniversary and I am so lucky to have this man as my life partner and best friend. I could not ask for more.

Thank you all for the love, including my readers for the sweet comments,. So thoughtful and they're really appreciated. xo
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August 29, 2013

After the Flood: An Update

It's been three weeks since we were flooded out of our house. And after three weeks- we are still houseless, living out of motels. The house was unfit to live in (and we didn't want to live back in that house anyways!) and since we don't have family or friends here, we had to resort to the good 'ol weekly rate motels.

After this, I don't want to ever stay in motel for at least another 20 years...

The Saturday after the flood, we applied to some apartments that are really close to my work. The lady said we might be able to move in the following Monday. Yeah, that didn't happen. My husband went by last week, and they said we got into a townhome- BUT, we had to wait another 2 weeks before we could move in.

J went in again and they finally told us we could move in next Tuesday. Yay! FINALLY. But in the meantime we are still in a motel, my car (which we were able to get fixed, but put a huge dent in our wallet) full of our stuff.

Despite this huge setback, mostly financially, it's been a very humbling experience. And a really big lesson.

Most of belongings were affected. But luckily, my husband and I don't have much, it was just mostly our clothes and shoes-- which was fixed with a 3-hour trip to the laundromat. My car got fixed. My husband lost his guitar to the flood, but that's replaceable. At the end of the day, we were only stressing over material things. Sure, it really sucks. But what's important is that we're still alive. And that's worth more than any amount of clothes, guitars and cars. My husband has really helped me in trying to get over this whole situation, comforting me when I get too bummed out and/or stressed out about this all, and I do the same for him. Just being in his arms, hearing his gentle, comforting words makes everything better.

This has been a huge lesson to us-- that material things are worth nothing. Life is what's of utmost importance and the people in it that make it worth living.

I want to thank my family and friends for their support and concern. I also want to thank you guys who read my blog and left really touching comments. I really appreciate all the love. It makes my heart and soul happy.

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August 27, 2013

Celebrating 730 Days of Marriage

Wow-- I just can't believe it-- J & I are celebrating our 2-year wedding anniversary today. It seems like yesterday we were celebrating our 1-year anniversary. Where does the time go?! Seriously...

Here comes the typical sentiments of an anniversary: J has been my best friend, support system, my rock for years now. He loves me so much and he makes sure to show me every. single. day. He treats me like a queen, even when I feel like I don't deserve it. I am definitely blessed to be married to such an incredible human being. These two past years of wedded bliss have been just that- bliss. I can't wait for the eternity to come.

In celebration of our anniversary, I wanted to share 16 highlights during Year 2 of our marriage:

one// moving to Borongan, Philippines. two// going to Boracay. three// J's garden project. four//starting Cali Girl Sweet Treats.

five// taming a few wild, jungle dogs. six//caving at Talubagnan. seven//Banaue&Sagada trip. eight// Kuala Lumpur.

nine//coming back to the States. ten//spending time with my fam. eleven//doing a treacherous 30-mile, 3-day hike. twelve//camping with friends. 

thirteen//Our Roadtrip Across America. fourteen//moving to Nashville. fifteen//hanging out with the fam for 4th of July. sixteen//being flooded out of our house.

Marriage is always a work in progress, whether it's been 50 years or 2. This year has had some really amazing times, but some pretty tough ones, too. But those tough ones help us grow closer. I love J with every millimeter of my being-- really though. Year 3 will be a good one-- so will the very many years to come.

Love you, J.
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August 25, 2013

Sunday Social: Sometimes I sit & wish I was a kid again

1. What do you miss most about being a kid?
     Being carefree and always having fun!

2. Did you have a nickname growing up? What was it?
    Winnie Cooper (because I looked like her) and/or LeLe (still my nickname)

3. What was your favorite thing to do at recess?
    Beat up the boys! I was a bit of a tomboy.

4. What did you want to be when you grew up?
     A teacher. Then when I was in like 3rd grade, I wanted to be a rapper. No joke.

5. Did you participate in any school activities?
    Not really. Just softball & volleyball when I was a little older.

6. What is the funniest thing you did as a kid that your parents still remind you about?
    Whenever I had a "crush" on a boy, I would hit them-- a lot. They have video of me slapping a boy in the butt (a family friend) repeatedly as he is talking to the camera. Thankfully I stopped that habit shortly after I tuned like 4 years old, but my parents will still bring it up once in a while.

Sunday Social

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August 21, 2013

Travel-Themed Rooms

I love Pinterest. Not a surprise, because really, who doesn't?? I've come across some really cute travel-themed rooms via pins-- living rooms, bedrooms, nurseries, etc. etc. And I can't wait to own a home and/or hostel so I can travel my home all up! I wanted to share some of the cute stuff I've come across. They've really given me a lot of inspiration! You can click on the photo to be taken to the pin.

Cute stuff, right? There's so much you can do to keep a room travel-themed. I have so many ideas in my head, I can't wait until I can put them into action! 
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August 17, 2013

The Boy Behind the Blog II

It's time for another round of The Boy Behind the Blog! (To read my husband's answers to last month's questions, you can click here.)

This time, I didn't have to do too much pleading with him to answer these questions. I just got a "not again..." type of talk and also a "I'm going to have to do this EVERY month?!" Eh, he'll get used to it.

His answers to these questions for this month are... well... entertaining? They definitely made me laugh out loud.

1. What would you do with $1,000,000?
I would retire immediately, put the million dollars into a CD with my bank at an APY of around 1.8%, move to the Philippines, and live comfortably on the $18,000/year I would earn in interest.  That is, until I turn like, 40.  Then I would ball out, become addicted to heroin, buy a couple dolphins maybe, and go out in a blaze of glory.

2. What is your dream job?
To make music and get paid for it.

3. Who is your celebrity crush?
Erykah Badu.   Ooo.

4. What is your favorite sports team?
I'm pretty open-minded, and I like to see any good competition between two good teams in a sport I can understand (like, WTF is cricket?), but the only team I can get excited about watching on a regular basis is FC Barcelona.

5. What was your AOL/AIM screen name back in the day?
Same as my email.  But that's private.

We share the same celebrity crush & favorite sports team. That's why we get along so well. ;)

Mal Smiles

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August 16, 2013

Liebster Award {part deux}

The lovely Kari over at This, too has given me my 3rd Liebster Award! Woopwoop!

I really do like this award. The last time I got it back in March, I got it twice all within a couple of days of each other (check out the post here).

(If you want to know about this award, you can see Kari's post or my old one!)

Eleven Random Facts About Me:
1. I've never read/watched any Harry Potter books/movies. And don't ever intend to.
2. I've never watched any of the Twilight movies. I also never intend to do that either.
3. I would be content with having to eat sushi and only sushi for the rest of my life.
4. I love watching football (soccer) and I LOVE FC Barcelona!
5. I have a lot of white hairs on my head and they're multiplying-- & I'm in my late 20's.
6. I don't pull out any of my white hairs because I believe they're good luck.
7. I crave a big stack of pancakes quite often. But rarely do I ever fulfill that craving.
8. I hate when people complain about their first world problems.
9. When I shop for clothes, I mostly just head straight to the clearance racks.
10. I'm a really frugal person. Really frugal. Ok, also known as cheap.
11. My favorite invention is the airplane.

Questions to answer from Kari:
1. What is your biggest pet peeve?
      Improper English usage, especially in written discourse. I'm a pretty big English nerd (I did get a degree in English Language). I am more lenient on second language speakers. I'm not saying I'm perfect- I'm actually far from it- but there are several things people do that just really irk me. Oh, also number 8 on my list of random facts above.

2.  If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you bring?
     My husband, gallons of sunblock/insect repellent, & Britta Filter with thousands of filter replacements.

3.  Who's your favorite band?
      Hmmm... this is tough. I haven't really discovered a band recently that I can say is my favorite since Incubus.

4.  If you had six months left to live, what would you do with the time you had left?
     Travel the world with all my family.

5.  What is the biggest lesson you've learned in the past year?
     That material possessions are not important. At all. What's more important is life and the people that are there by your side. This was a hard lesson learned from the flood we suffered from last week. (Read about what happened here).

6.  If you could go back and redo anything, what would it be?
     I would have started my travels at a way younger age.

7.  What is your favorite book?
     One Hundred Years of Solitude.

8.  Did you have a childhood nickname?  What was it?
     Lele (pronounced 'laylay'). People still call me that. People also called me Winnie Cooper (from The Wonder Years) because I looked like her, with bangs and everything.

9.  Ice cream or custard?
     Ice cream, for sure.

10. Beach or mountains?
      Beach, for sure.

11. Tell about a time you laughed so hard you almost peed your pants.
      I've had so many times like that, but they're like "you had to be there" type of times. I know this is a total cop out, but I'm lazy right now, lol.

My Questions for the Next Players:
1. What do you do to make yourself feel better after going through a hard/tough/sad situation?
2. What are three songs you absolutely love & would listen to over & over again?
3. What is your idea of THEE ultimate vacation?
4. If money & jobs weren't a factor, what one place in the world would you live?
5. If you had to watch one television show for the rest of your life, what would it be?
6. What is something you can do really well?
7. Where in the world would you NOT want to live? Why?
8. What is a craft/hobby/interest you wish you were good at?
9. If you could have dinner with any 4 people, living or dead, who would they be?
10. What is the best food you have ever tasted?
11. What do you do with “me” time?

Blogs I nominate for the Liebster Award:
Lisa @ Meanderings, Adventures, & Crafty Inspirations
LovelyWife and PetiteMom
Melanie @ The Morning Glory Blog

Also, anyone else who wants to participate- I nominate you, too! =)

Thanks again, Kari, for the nomination!
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August 14, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Our Song

11. Our Song
(To read numbers 1 - 10, click here)

J & I are really big Erykah Badu fans. She is my favorite. So while we were trying to pick a song for our first dance, I knew it had to be one by her. We chose Erykah Bady ft. Stephen Marley "In Love With You." We first heard this song while we were hanging out in a hostel on our first trip to Costa Rica and instantly fell in love with it.

This is a video (not an official one) of the song:

Here are the prompts if you'd like to participate in Wedding Wednesday: it all began: how you met, first date, first kiss, how long did you date? first picture together.....etc.
2.when you knew he was the one: self explanatory.. but how and when didyou know?
3.proposal: how it happened, how long were you engaged for? was it atotal surprise? pictures of that... etc.
4.the ring: tell us about it! did you pick it out? did he? pictures!tell us about his ring too!
5.engagement/bridal pictures: let's see em!
6.the colors: show some of the flower and colors you used
7. the dress: was it what you always imagined? did you have it made for you? white or ivory?
8. the little accessories: you know, veil? shoes? jewelry? what did your bridesmaids wear?
9. the reception: where was it at? show us some pictures! what day did you get married?
10. the cake/food: i love food. so tell me about what you had at your wedding!
11. your song and/or the first song you danced to at your wedding: share a music video or lyrics if you can!
12. favorite part of the day and least favorite part of the day: can be anything.
13. honeymoon: where did you go? was it good? ;) haha...jk.
14. thoughts on marriage: what is the easiest/hardest part? if you could change anything, what would it be?
15. first place that you lived together: pics if you have them!
16. kids: do you have any yet? if not, when do you plan on it? how many do you want? any tips on good/bad birth control?
17. most recent picture of you and your significant other and what you love most about them :) and any other thoughts.
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August 13, 2013

Tuesday Tunes | Mestizo Magic

My friend Lisa over at Meanderings, Adventures & Crafty Inspirations came up with this wonderful idea of Tuesday Tunes. Basically, it's a way to find new music, and I'm always down for that! On Tuesdays, you share a song from an artist you've 'discovered' and want to share with everyone. I think this a great idea as I'm always looking for new music and wanting to share my musical interests!

For my very first Tuesday Tunes, I'd like to share a favorite song of mine from a local artist / my husband (ha!) who goes by the stage name Mestizo Magic. This song is called Commercial Break. It's an older song of his, but I really like it. And the video was really fun to make. We got all our friends together and shot it in an alley. I hope you guys like it, too. Let me know what you think!

Commercial Break by Mestizo Magic from yutakawasaki on Vimeo.

Mestizo Magic does all kinds of music from pop, R&B, hiphop, acoustic, and country. You can listen to more of his songs on Reverbnation (where most of his country songs are), Soundcloud here and here (pretty much all genres of his songs), like him on Facebook, and find him at his official website.

Please feel free to join us for Tuesday Tunes, or comment below telling me about an artist you like-- I love learning about new music!
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August 09, 2013

Flash Floods Ain't Nothin' to Mess With.

I now know from experience.

Thunder was going off very early yesterday morning. I tossed and turned, too lazy to get up and close our window, which was open to get some fresh air in the midst of the Nashville humidity while we slept.

A couple of hours and a lot more thundering later, Jason finally gets up to close the window. Then I hear him say "Oh crap..." then *squish squish*... he turns on the light, and he is stepping in a puddle of water. We look around, and the entire floor of our room is starting to fill with water.

Adrenaline instantly hits us. We start grabbing stuff and throwing it in backpacks. We wake up our roomate. We go into the living room and water is RUSHING through a crack in our front door. Our house was filling with water and fast. We knew we only had a minute to get out.

We knew the back would be impossible to go through to get out because the 'small' creek that's right in our backyard was now a raging river. The front door wouldn't budge open. So we all stuffed through a front window.

We tried to push my car further up the driveway. It was getting covered in water fast. It was still pouring rain. I didn't even have shoes on. Water was rushing up past my knees. I didn't even care. We got the cars as far as we could. I ran across the street to a small apartment complex for some shelter. Luckily, a neighbor came by in his truck and was able to pull our cars out of the driveway and we parked them on safe land.

After getting a few minutes to collect our thoughts and the little energy we had left, we made some plans on what to do next. We got a couple of things sorted out. And now, we're homeless, for the time being. We're in a motel. We don't know if my car is going to work.

But you know what-- we are alive. My husband and I are together. That's worth more than anything in the world.

My thoughts on this whole situation will be reserved for another post when I have more energy.

In the meantime, here are a couple more photos of what used to be our house:

Thank you to all our family and friends for their concern, love and help. Please just keep on sending us good vibes and prayers. We appreciate it. My cell phone was also a victim of the flood, so sorry to those who were trying to contact me. But J's cell still works, just f.y.i.

I guess the adventure really doesn't ever stop with us.
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August 08, 2013

Palau, Micronesia

This time 3 years ago, I was in Palau visiting Jason for almost a month while he was there for the Peace Corps. Basically, Palau is paradise (like really- pristine beaches, no natural disasters happen there, not really a lot of poisonous or dangerous animals...) and it's definitely one of my favorite places I've ever been. We eventually want to go back some day.

I dug through my archives on my old blog to find this post I did on my trip there. This was written 3 years ago, but I thought it was a pretty well-detailed account of my trip to Palau. Hope you enjoy & that it makes you want to visit there, too!
Palau: The Details
(from Sept. 5, 2010)
Palau /pəˈlaʊ/, officially the Republic of Palau (Palauan: Beluu er a Belau), is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, some 500 miles (800 km) east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles (3,200 km) south of Tokyo.

This time last year, I never thought I would get to travel to the South Pacific, let alone a place called Palau. I mean, what's Palau? Jason became a volunteer in the Peace Corps around this time last year. When he told me where he was going, I had to look it up. When I saw the pictures, I was amazed by how beautiful it looked. And I thought to myself "Wow, it'd be so awesome to go there." But not one ounce of me really thought about it further than that. I was just happy for Jason and knew he'd have an awesome time.

We kept in touch through letters, e-mail and the rare phone call. The more he told me about Palau, the more I wanted to go. But still, I never took those desires seriously. Mostly because I had already checked out airplane tickets (just out of curiosity!) and they were WAY out of my price range at the time.

Finally, some time in April when I was trying to figure out my travel plans for the summer, Jason and I discussed that it would be a good idea to go to Palau (after some discussions, arguments, etc.). And so I booked my flight.

My flight was to leave Tuesday July 20th around 6pm from LAX. And I was to get to Palau on Thursday July 22nd around 10 pm. In total, it would be about a 35.5 hour flight (with layovers). I was not stoked about that part, to say the least.

When I boarded the plane in LAX, it hadn't hit me that I was actually doing this. I was just mostly anxious to get the whole process over with & be in Palau already and see Jason. When I land in Honolulu, I have a 9 hour layover there. Yes, 9 hours. I didn't want to pay for a hotel room for just a couple of hours, so I decide to just sleep in the airport. I must say, it was the most uncomfortable sleep I ever had. And the airport is open, so it's hot & humid. And there were some mosquitoes around, so I have to cover myself, which made me even hotter & more uncomfortable. ( I couldn't sleep inside because they kicked me out). But on a more positive note, my flight was at 7am. I had never wanted 7am to come sooner ever in my life.

From Honolulu we flew to Guam. But on the way there, we had 5 stopovers. We stopped at 5 different little islands. And when I mean little, I mean little. Some were Marshall Islands, some were other Micronesian Islands. Here is a video of us landing on one of the islands:

It looked like we were going to land on the water & the landing strip looked really short (on every one of the islands). But the aerial views were just breathtaking:

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