Okay, okay, I won’t just type Moana and Lilo and Stitch lyrics during this entire blog post. But I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t singing “How Far I’ll Go” on repeat during my entire trip.
I recently traveled to Hawaii for the very first time (!!!!) with my college friends, and it was the such an incredible experience. I had never been on a tropical vacation before, and Hawaii completely exceeded my expectations. The sights, sounds, and smells took my breath away every minute of every day, and I was dreaming of going back before I even left.
We traveled to Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu in the beginning of May, and I am unbelievably grateful for the experience to take a trip with some of my greatest friends. Here are some pictures of our travels. Chris and I are still working on editing some videos of the trip, and I have to admit that some of the best memories are documented on video instead of photo. I also went on this trip with four other people, but for some reason all of the images of us as a group are documented in our videos, too. Just know that this trip was magical all because of the wonderful company. Either way, I hope you enjoy this peek into our vacation!
It has been almost one year since graduation, and that is absolutely mind-boggling to me.
Here’s what has happened since my undergrad days came to a close:
I got my first full-time job in the Bay Area, where my awesome boyfriend was born and raised.
I began my freelance writing career after I met an amazing writer and mentor through a happenstance LinkedIn request.
I traveled…a lot! We went to Walt Disney World, Taiwan, and Hawaii, and I’ve made many trips to my hometown in between.
And after many restless nights, morning meltdowns, and seemingly overwhelming situations, I finally felt secure in my life and choices. And that is really cool.
The truth is, graduating college really wasn’t glamorous for me (cue the Fergie song getting stuck in your head…you’re welcome;). I have felt VERY lost more often than I’d like to. I miss school, I miss my friends, I miss my family and my hometown, and I miss the feeling of limbo that college brings.
College for me was this awesome in-between life stage where I lived in this imaginary world of exam prep and thesis writing, where I could see my friends whenever I wanted, and I could eat as much junk food as I wanted and never feel bad about it. I felt safe in college. I felt at home. And when all of that ended, I felt so lost for a really long time.
But this past year has taught me way more than I ever thought I needed to learn. Life isn’t always going to work out exactly how we plan it to…and in my case, I had no idea how I wanted this year to go. It has taken a lot of adjusting and even more “soul searching” (yup, that’s right, I’ve searched for my soul, it happens), and I am not even sure if I am 100% sure that I am making the right decisions all of the time.
But what keeps me going on this journey of life is having goals and ambitions bigger than my daily routine. I’m finally figuring out the kinds of grad programs I want to apply to. I am finally writing more and more and trying to get into the industry that I’ve always wanted to be in (thanks, Rory Gilmore, you’ve really stuck with me). And I am finally realizing that it’s okay to not have everything figured out. Heck, it’s okay to have NOTHING figured out. And even though I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, I am still changing my mind almost every day.
That one good song from the Cars movie is true: life is a highway. It’s wild and fast at some times but bumper-to-bumper traffic at others. And often, I miss my exit. Often, I’m at risk for getting a speeding ticket or I want to just keep driving with nowhere to go. And I may not know exactly where my highway is taking me…
Chris and I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Taiwan again together this past April, and the trip was (as expected) wonderful.
We are in the process of editing some footage of the trip to upload to our YouTube channel, but I wanted to include some photos here in this post so you can see a bit of what we did. Most of the trip is documented on video, but here’s a glimpse into our Taipei life this past April.
We visited the Northeast coast of Taiwan, ate a few green onion pancakes (my absolute fave food ever….no lie), went to 7-11 at least once a day, and marveled at the sight of Taipei 101 every morning when we left our little Airbnb. It was another unforgettable trip seeing the country that means so much to my boyfriend’s family, and after visiting for a second time, I am more than confident that we’ll make it back to Taiwan again and again.
In the beginning of February, I went on a weekend staycation with a couple of my college friends who were visiting from SoCal. This weekend in San Francisco was an absolute dream, and I’ve been itching to document it on the blog.
Sabrina is my first and best college friend from UCSB. We met on the first night living in the dorms, and we’ve been friends ever since. Our friend and past roommate Wanying flew up to SF with Sabrina, and the three of us stayed in a humble hotel right near Union Square and Chinatown. We had so much fun reconnecting and sightseeing together!
I went my entire childhood without visiting San Francisco, so when I finally got to see the city for the first time when I was 19, I fell head over heels in love. From its breathtaking waterfronts to amazing food to historic sites, this city is something else. And since visiting for the first time, I have barely made a dent in my SF “bucket list.” There is so much to do and explore, and the girls and I could hardly do everything in just one weekend. But our little adventurous selves kept busy and still found some time to relax and take everything in.
We visited Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier 39. This was only my second time visiting these SF landmarks, but this area holds a special place in my heart. David, Chris, and I visited here during my first ever trip to SF, so I was so excited to make new memories here with my girlfriends, too!
We went to Le Marais Cafe & Bakery, my favorite breakfast place in all of the Bay. I absolutely love their food, and my friends did, too!
We loved visiting the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park! It was a first for all three of us, and it was totally worth the $9 admission. The garden is peaceful and stunning, and it is just lovely to walk around on a sunny day. I can’t wait to come back and visit more areas of Golden Gate Park!
We ate some delicious green tea cheesecake and mochi…SO sweet, but a lovely little snack before lunch.
And the Palace of Fine Arts is beautiful! Such a sweet stop along the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.
I hope you enjoyed catching a glimpse of our weekend in SF! We did so much and I took so many pictures, but there were also many moments of relaxation, laughter, and love, when I felt so immersed in our time that I forgot to document it. But I suppose that’s what memories are for 🙂
One year ago, when we were originally planning our first WDW vacation, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that Magic Kingdom is similar to Disneyland in California, Epcot is a world-traveler’s dream, and Hollywood Studios may not have much going on at the moment, with all the closures and construction. But Animal Kingdom? That park seemed like a wildcard.
For a while, I assumed that Animal Kingdom would be a lot like a giant zoo. Though I’d never been, San Diego’s Wild Animal Park seemed to be a pretty close comparison. I knew there would be a ton of animals, but that was pretty much it. As I did more and more research, however, I learned more and more about the park, and I began to have this sneaky feeling that it would end up being my favorite.
And I was right.
Animal Kingdom is, in my opinion, the most beautiful park in all of Walt Disney World. From its sprawling landscapes to its lush foliage to the impeccable theming, there’s no denying that the scenes of this park can take your breath away. Every inch of the place contains beauty and magic. Even the often-rejected Dinoland U.S.A. is an eyesore but still adorable in its own kitschy way.
One of my absolute favorite moments during our first impression of Animal Kingdom was the Kilimanjaro Safaris. It was so awesome to be able to learn about how the animal caretakers and conservationists at Disney care for the animals. I love hearing fun facts and trivia, so our driver’s narration during the safari made the experience even more enjoyable.
And don’t even get me started on Pandora! Pandora: The World of Avatar is DAK’s newest land, and it doesn’t disappoint. This remarkable area definitely lives up to the hype, and even those who aren’t fans of Avatar (the only Avatar I love is an airbender 😉 can enjoy this place.
The unique interplanetary sounds, breathtaking waterfalls, weird plants, and AMAZING rides (namely Flight of Passage—so pumped we Fastpassed this one) make this land one of my absolute favorites in the whole WDW resort. I truly felt immersed in another world.
Even the Tree of Life, the iconic image of DAK, has its own hidden beauties throughout its trunk and surrounding garden area. If you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of the hundreds of animal carvings upon the tree and its roots.
These stylistic murals make DAK even more special and immersive.
We even saw a silver-back gorilla while hiking through Gorilla Falls! It’s unbelievable how close you can get to the animals in this place. Chris and I were dumbfounded.
DAK also has our favorite ride in the whole resort: Expedition Everest. We went on it twice, but that wasn’t nearly enough.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into our experience at Animal Kingdom! It is by far my favorite WDW park. I love the sights, sounds, and smells of it all, and I can’t wait to go back in 2019.
I wanted to share some of my favorite beauty products as of late. For the past 7 months, or so—since graduating college, moving to NorCal, and just generally changing—I have noticed a difference in the look and feel of my skin. I have had some breakouts and clogged pores, and for a while nothing seemed to be working! But switching up my skincare products has really changed the appearance and feel of my skin. I’m so happy about it!
I have also included a couple of makeup favorites of mine, both of which I have been using to achieve a glowy look. My skin has looked quite dull, and these items makeup bits totally help alleviate that.
IT Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination: I’ve been using this face powder so much lately! It applies like a dream, has build-able coverage, and doesn’t look too matte on my face. I love how it gives my complexion a slightly glow-y finish without looking shiny—it is perfect for these winter months, when my skin can look so dull! I love applying it with a light hand using my Ecotools sheer powder brush. This brush is great because it allows me to apply my makeup lightly, so it doesn’t end up caking on my face or accentuating any dry patches I may have.
Laura Gellar Easy Illuminating Stick: This has been my go-to highlight for a year now, and it it absolutely stunning. I originally purchased it when I was first experimenting with cream and liquid highlight and contour products, and I fell in love with it! It is so easy to use and is totally blend-able and build-able. This Gilded Honey shade is the cream form of their bestselling powder highlight, and even though it is a golden shade, it does not look too dark on my fair skin. Definitely check this one out if you want a natural yet noticeable cream highlight!
CosRX Moisturizer: I started getting into Korean skincare last summer when I knew I needed to make a change in my skincare routine. This moisturizer is one of the products that has definitely stuck with me! It is very moisturizing but not too thick, and I love the feeling my skin has in the morning after I apply this overnight. My skin really really likes this stuff! If you have dry or combination skin and want a moisturizer that is not greasy, can double as an under eye moisturizer, and wears well under makeup, then this will be your best friend! Bonus: it can double as a moisturizing mask. How cool is that?!
Mario Badescu Acne Products: A common theme of this post is finding products that my skin loves. And Mario Badescu skincare products totally take the cake! While I have used the drying lotion in the past and loved it as a spot treatment, this winter I was looking for products that would really help with my pores and blackheads. The buffering lotion and silver powder have definitely made a difference in my skin. The buffering lotion is great for nightly use (or as needed), and I can tell that it has cleared up my under-the-skin clogged pores before they get out of hand. And I love using the silver powder as a mask.
Let me know what products you’ve been using, and if you have any recommendations! 🙂
Chris and I were driving home from work last week and as always, the topic of Disney came up in conversation. Chris mentioned that he was wondering the cost of a Disney vacation compared to any other vacation, and we started talking about what a trip to Europe, for example, would cost compared to what we paid to go to Disney World (and what we project we’ll be paying for another upcoming trip to another Disney destination;)).
Here’s the deal: Disney is expensive. There’s no doubt about it. From the hotels to the food to the park tickets, everything adds up very quickly, and you can easily feel shocked by the price tags. It’s almost inevitable to gasp every time you see the total estimated cost for a Disney trip.
But when Chris and I spoke about the cost comparison of Disney trips and others, a very important point was made: with Disney, you are getting a lot out of what you pay for. Sure, the park tickets are undoubtedly expensive. But when you enter the park gates every day, you know that every activity has already been paid for.
Chances are, if you’re planning a European vacation, you are going to participate in tours, go on excursions, visit museums, watch shows, etc. And each of these things will likely cost you money and a separate ticket…see where I’m getting at?
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. So here are some definitive reasons why we love and value Disney vacations.
Nearly all of your heart’s desires are included in your park tickets
As I mentioned above, when vacationing around the world, you’re most likely going to want to participate in excursions, visit museums, tour monuments and capitols…and, well, these things cost money.
And while Disney park tickets are quite expensive, they include so much more than unlimited rides. From fireworks displays and castle shows to water pageants and parades, almost everything you could ever want to do or see in a Disney park is included in your park ticket. The California and Florida parks offer so much to park guests, so be sure to take advantage of both the rides and everything else when you visit! Whether you’re visiting for one day or one week, there is a ton to see and do.
Your vacation can have that all-inclusive feel you’ve always wanted
With the Disney Dining Plan, you can pay for your meal costs up front and eliminate the stress of meal costs before your trip even starts.
Side note: Disney is very flexible when it comes to paying off your trip—all you have to do is pay a deposit when booking your vacation and pay off your entire vacation by the month before your trip (although policies on this may vary depending on which Disney destination you are vacationing to).
Disney World offers three Dining Plan options: the Quick Service Dining Plan (which includes two quick service meals and two snacks per day), the Disney Dining Plan (which includes one quick service meal, one table service meal, and two snacks per day), and the Deluxe Dining Plan (which includes one quick service meal, two table service meals, and two snacks per day). These plans can be a great option for those who want to pay for their entire trip before even setting foot on Walt Disney World Property.
Plus, Disney World often releases free dining promotions for those staying in a Disney resort, so be on the lookout for when those are released! Christopher and I, for example, took advantage of this free dining promotion by accepting the Quick Service Dining Plan for free and paying the difference of upgrading to the Disney Dining plan. We only paid a total of approximately $125 per person for an entire week of dining!
Disney isn’t just for kids
Disney is something that many people don’t fully understand unless they love Disney. And when you’re an adult couple without any kids, finding people who understand why you would vacation to kid paradise is pretty rare.
But Disney isn’t just a vacation destination for kids and families. Disney parks and resorts are some of the most romantic and thrilling places to be! There were several instances on our WDW vacation last fall that were so romantic and lovely. The entire vacation was purely blissful and magical. While we are definitely kids at heart, I think a lot of the magic came from the little romantic moments during our trip, from holding hands while watching a beautiful fireworks display to dining by a window in Cinderella Castle overlooking Fantasyland.
Disney has some of the most fantastic restaurants and ambiance imaginable, amazing food festivals, and entertainment that people of all ages can enjoy. I even believe that I love Disney parks even more as an adult than I ever did as a child!
Thanks so much for reading! If you love Disney vacations or if you have a destination that is your favorite place to travel to, let me know in the comments! 🙂
Disney is one of my favorite things, so it’s a no-brainer that I love to incorporate Disney style in my everyday life. Here are a few of my favorite items that help me keep the magic alive—even when I am not in the parks!
Alex & Ani Cinderella Bracelet
I’m starting off with my favorite souvenir from my recent trip to Walt Disney World: my Alex & Ani bracelet. Before the trip, I had never owned an Alex & Ani before, and I knew that this would be the perfect place to purchase my first one. And what better princess to honor than Cinderella, the symbol of the Magic Kingdom?!
Seeing Cinderella Castle for the first time was one of the most special moments in my life, and eating at Cinderella’s Royal Table was an absolute dream. So Chris and I knew upon seeing this bracelet at World of Disney that it would be the only choice for me.
I love wearing my A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes bracelet on its own or with other gold jewelry. It’s the perfect touch of Disney for everyday wear, and the jingling sound of the charm reminds me of charm bracelets I would often wear as a child. This bracelet is so special because it is a symbol of our first trip to WDW and a reminder to never stop dreaming.
Typo Mickey Mouse Club Tote
What an awesome (and CUTE) tote bag! I purchased this from Typo—am I the last one to realize that they have awesome Disney merch?! I love this because it isn’t outrageously Disney. The gold text on the black canvas is tasteful and trendy, and the subtle references to Mickey and Disney are only noticed upon close-up inspection.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Disney bag, but I also love to incorporate Disney into my outfits in subtle ways. This bag is perfect for toting around my work laptop or study supplies, and it’s an awesome carry on for my frequent flights.
Oh Yeah Apparel Main Street Academy Sweatshirt
Oh Yeah Apparel is definitely one of my favorite small shops. I have loved them for well over a year, and I love their original Disney clothing items. Christopher purchased this Main Street Academy sweatshirt for me earlier this year, and I have loved it ever since.
Even though the owners of Oh Yeah Apparel are WDW locals, this sweatshirt is a fantastic reference to Disneyland, the first Disney park ever! I always feel as though I am paying homage to Walt and Disneyland, my favorite childhood park (and still my favorite place!). Plus, it’s SO cozy, and it fits me like a glove, so I never feel that I’m swimming in a on of fabric when I wear it.
ShopDisney Minnie Mouse Long Sleeve
You can never go wrong with the queen herself! Well over a year ago, I bought Chris a Mickey Mouse long sleeve shirt, and since then we were looking for a matching Minnie one for me. We found this cozy number in 2016 while walking around World of Disney after an awesome September day at California Adventure, and we both knew after seeing it that it was meant to be.
This shirt is so fun to style because of its boat neck. I can wear it off the shoulder and layer it with so many other pieces. It’s cozy and loose enough to sleep in, but it’s in good enough condition to still wear out day to day. I love it!
Thanks for reading! If you have something you’re passionate about, don’t be afraid to show it through your clothing and accessories. Wearing these Disney pieces brings a smile to my face every day. 🙂
It has been too long since I have taken the time to write a life update on the blog, so I wanted to take the time today to sit down and write my thoughts.
1. Grace in 2018 — While I am not one for new year resolutions, I do love the idea of living by a single word or phrase for a period of time in order to better oneself. In fall 2016 my word was gratitude, and I made an effort to write the things I am grateful for every single day, using this blog as a platform. While this was meant to be a 365-day project, I fell short, but I continued to reflect and make an effort to be grateful every day, and I think I succeeded.
I went through a period of time in 2017 when I wasn’t thinking of a particular word to inspire my thoughts or actions (with the emotional rollercoaster of graduating college and moving to a new city). But I wasn’t even thinking of a new word for 2018—it just came to me a few days ago, and it felt right.
Grace. For this season of my life (be it a year or 6 months) I plan to be more gracious toward others. I find that one of my weaknesses is I tend to be very quick to react to things. I tend to be quick to judge a situation or quick to write off someone as being rude. But I want to continue to remind myself to treat others with more grace, more kindness, more love. Because while I cannot control how others treat me, I can control my thoughts and actions toward others. And if that isn’t a magical feeling, I don’t know what is!
2. 6 Months Since Moving — It has officially been just over 6 months since moving from my little beach town to a city in the Bay Area. My oh my, what an adjustment it has been. From learning how to live with my boyfriend’s family to working a full-time job to starting to pay off my student loans, life has presented itself with some definite stressers.
But it has also shown me so much love and laughter. Chris and I still have our study parties even after graduating, as he works on med school app things and I study for the GRE (again, I know, haha). We are trying (and not succeeding so well) to not go out for milk tea every week, but no matter what we’re having fun. I’m getting to know my coworkers more, and I have even started freelance writing for an awesome woman I met totally by chance. I have been battling homesickness by visiting Ventura as often as I can. And I have been loving living here.
3. Our Travel Plans — Chris and I have finally decided on our travel plans for the year! We’ll be returning to Taiwan, visiting Hawaii with our Friends, and going to France and Disneyland Paris in the fall (this trip is what I am most excited for, because Disney, of course!!). WE ARE SO EXCITED!
Taiwan will be amazing because we’ll be spending so much more time in the capitol. Hawaii will be our biggest trip we have ever taken with our friends. And DLP will be our Disney trip of the year—and our first international Disney park, AND my first time in Europe!
There is so much to come this year. And these travel plans are getting me through the boredom of studying and the monotony that working can be. It’s been a weird adjustment away from school and into the full-time workforce! If you have any advice, send it my way.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I’d love for you to comment something about yourself and something you’d like me to write about! I want to really form a community on here this year. Let’s do this!
Disneyland—the Happiest Place on Earth—has always held a special place in our hearts.
I grew up going to the California Disney parks, and Disney was a huge part of my childhood—but that’s another story. It wasn’t until Chris and I began dating when I realized the magic that Disney can and does have on adults. Sure, Disneyland was absolutely magical when I was a kid. But when Chris and I started going to Disney together, that magic transformed for me, and I realized just how special the parks truly are.
So here it is: my blog post with my best advice for your first-ever trip to the Disneyland Resort. The best part about DLR is that there is always something new to see—especially for a first-timer! So grab a cup of coffee and read on as I share my tips for your first visit to Disneyland.
If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland, you already know that it is the Happiest Place on Earth. The parks are magically filled with hundreds of beautiful sights, smells, and sensations, and there is no way that you could possibly see everything in only one day.
Relax! That’s how it’s supposed to be. If the magic of Disneyland could be summed up in 12 hours, there’s no way people would visit as often as they do. So enjoy yourself! Don’t rush it. Breathe in the churro-scented air, gaze up at the windows on Main Street, U.S.A., chat with the cast members as you stand in every ride queue, and realize where you are. Grab a “First Visit!” button from City Hall and smile!
Have a General Idea of What You Want to Do
You do not by any means need to plan out your entire day(s). I remember when Chris and I were planning our WDW trip, everyone said that you need an itinerary for every day: fast passes, dining reservations, parade times, and fireworks seating all had to practically be memorized!
Disneyland isn’t like that. With around 70% of attendees being Annual Passholders or locals, there’s no way the parks could require us to have each day planned out every time we visit.
However, it is a good idea to have a general idea of what you want to do. Want to eat at a specific restaurant, like Carnation Cafe on Main Street or Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square? You should make a reservation 2-8 weeks ahead of time, just to be sure. But when it comes to what to ride or watch, just have an idea of which lands you want to conquer and go through your day accordingly. Grab your fast passes for Space Mountain and Indiana Jones when they’re available, utilize the single rider lines if you want to, and know what time the parade will come through.
Having a general plan for your day will help you worry less so you can have way more fun! But don’t forget that this is your time to escape reality, so take advantage of strolling through the park in the evening and people watching on a bench in the afternoon.
Don’t Miss the Hidden Gems
There are so many hidden gems throughout the Disneyland Resort, and don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for them!
There are hidden Mickeys everywhere, names of notable Disney Imagineers and Legends on the windows on the second story of Main Street buildings, and fun Easter Eggs (references to things in the Disney universe) throughout rides and attractions. So grab a caramel apple, take a seat somewhere, and look and listen. You never know what you’ll see or hear!
Some experiences we love include
Watching the neon lights turn on one-by-one in Cars Land while listening to “Life Could Be a Dream.”
Sitting on the corner of Main Street and counting how many “family reunion” t-shirt groups we can see
Strolling through New Orleans Square and gazing longingly at the entrance to Club 33
Buying a caramel apple at the Candy Palace and eating it while watching a nighttime parade
Ride Dumbo at night to take in all of the Fantasyland lights from a new perspective
Grab a gingerbread cookie and hot cocoa from the Grand Californian during Christmastime
Decide When You Want to Visit
Are you planning a trip for the middle of summer, or are you visiting during the holiday season? Are you a Halloween or Christmas fan? Do you want to go for Mickey’s birthday or Disneyland’s anniversary? Is Easter or Spring Break your scene?
Take a look at the average weather for Anaheim during the time you’re planning to visit. Chris and I have gone in the middle of summer during Disneyland’s July heat, and we’ve visited in the winter on rainy days. It all depends on what you want to see while you’re there (and when you can fit the trip into your schedule).
For a first-time trip, I suggest getting a two day, one-park-per-day ticket. If you can swing it, go for three days with the park hopper option. But ultimately, do what is in your budget and best for you.
And that’s it! That is my advice for any Disneyland newbie. And just for fun, here are a few things I always love to eat, ride, and do 🙂
Try a Monte Cristo sandwich at least once.
Ride Space Mountain at least TWICE.
Be surprised at the boulder every time you ride Indiana Jones (it always gets me!!)
Thank and compliment cast members who are simply sweet or go the extra mile.
Tell every dressed-up little girl she is a beautiful princess!
Meet characters (and show them you’re excited!): bow at the Queen of Hearts, address Dr. Facilier properly, and tell Tinker Bell you know the water fairies where you’re from.