Friday, August 15, 2014

[travels] Spain Summer Travel 2014 -- Female Packing List

14 Days during August in Spain: Malaga, Marbella, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Ibiza

 I'm banking on warm weather between 73-85 degrees throughout the duration of our trip.  This makes things a lot easier because summer clothing takes up less room, which means I can pack more.  Everything packed into a carry-on suitcase and a backpack.... I'm getting good at this, aren't I?  I also made sure I had a lock on my suitcase and my backpack to deter anyone who might want to peek at my belongings.



  • Tan and white wedged sandals
  • Flip flops
  • Grey platform wedges
  • White loafers


  • 4 Shorts (black, tan, white, white lace)
  • 2 Skinny jeans (blue and grey)
  • Maxi skirt (poppy red)
  • Capris (white)
  • 3 Pajama bottoms

  • 3 Dresses (2 clubbing and 1 purple daytime)
  • 2 Sleeping shirts
  • 3 Light sweaters
  • 7 Blouses / Button Ups
  • 3 Camisoles
  • 5 Tank tops
  • 1 black blazer

  • Cross body purse (brown)
  • Wristlet
  • 2 swimsuits
  • 4 necklaces (2 silver, 2 gold)
  • 1 watch
  • Mixed metal bracelets

Usual Suspects
  • Makeup
  • Medicine
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Shampoo
  • Undergarments
  • Sunblock

It feels good to be packed and ready to go.... and it feels even better to be crossing off another adventure on my bucket list!  Stay tuned for updates in each city of the trip: Malaga, Marbella, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Ibiza.

Heading to Japan this winter?  See my packing list and itinerary.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[diy] Cake Topper Bunting Flags

Baby Zoe's baby shower is a month away, and I have decided on a theme... "Flora and Fauna", with hints of gold of course!  The color scheme will be soft greens and pastels. The texture scheme will be natural woods with some glitter glam. This cake topper bunting incorporates mint green, polka dot pastel yellow, brown glitter, and natural twine.    The best part?  I had all the supplies on hand!  

  • Letter Stickers
  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Skewers
  • Twine
  • Hot Glue Gun

1.  Eyeball a triangle size that will work with your sticker letter.  Cut one triangle out and let it be your template.  You will need two triangles per flag.

2.  Stick the letters on the flag and match up the corresponding sides.  I chose to use matching paper on both sides of the flag, but it could have been cute to switch it around too.

3.    Position the twine in the upper portion of the flag, leaving enough room for glue or tape to seal along the top.  Use double-sided tape (that's what I did) or glue the flag pieces along the middle of the twine.

4.  Adhere the back sides of the flag with your corresponding triangle piece.  Good!  Now the flags are evenly spaced and won't be prone to flipping.

5.  Dab small dots of glue onto the skewer and wrap the twine around it.  After wrapping the twine to my desired length, I sealed it with another dab of glue, and then tied a knot.  Cut off remaining string... or leave it!  I've seen people tie little bows too.

Not only will Zoe's cake be will also be adorable.  I'm thinking about making a few other small flags for the other desserts.  What other kind of cake toppers are you thinking of making?

Friday, August 8, 2014

[travels] Travel App Must-Haves

This week I've been solidifying travel plans and prepping for our big trip to Spain!  With only 7 days left before departure, it is always a good idea to review your electronic device plan... what are you you are going to use it...and what apps are you going to need? Here is my personal round up of free iphone applications that I have used or will be using during my travels abroad. 


  • What'sapp - For texting and sending videos.  Widely used by most people all over the world, group text capability, reliable
  • Facebook Messenger - For texting and making friends.  Helpful for people that don't use Whatsapp, need to download separate messaging application
  • Viber - For making live voice calls, they have a texting option too, but I don't use it.
  • Google Hangout - For video chat and texting people in your Google circle.


  • Google Translate - Translates text in most languages.  Oh thank goodness...I know zero Spanish.
  • Trover - an amazing resource of real photos uploaded by real people.  Can 'favorite' or 'list' destination spots and source their locations as you travel. Make your travel dreams a reality!
  • Wikipedia - Self guide your vacation by skimming through wikipedia and wikitravel pages.  It can be a lot easier than sifting through many different webpages.
  • Yelp - To figure out what to eat!  Yelp's still spreading it's yelpiness all over the world, so it may or may not be relevant in your travel area.  It is usually more comprehensive in major cities.
  • Google Maps - The only map system (besides Waze for traffic solutions) I will ever use.  Apple maps is not synonymous with Google maps, and is not up to date.  Trust me, I got lost in Japan in the neighborhoods of Osaka for over an hour to prove this point. 
  • TripAdvisor - This is a great way to see user-rated destination picks ranked from best to worst.  Such a valuable trove of information if you are short on time and need to be picky!


  • Blogger - So you can post your blog updates while you travel, of course!
  • Uber - Car service available in  major cities all over the world.  Avoid awkward situations and questionable charges by accepting and paying for your fare upfront.  I've already checked and it's available in Barcelona, so we may be using it!
  • Google Drive - I use Google Drive religiously to make lists, itineraries, notes, and to access my travel docket completing with all booking and reservation information.  It's nice to know you get it when you need to, right on your phone.
  • - Extremely helpful to make bookings on the fly if you really want to tap into your wanderlust spirit... I made a booking for an amazing hostel in the Gion District in Kyoto 2 days before I arrived.  This is great if you are travelling alone or with one other person.  Staying in a hostel is much cheaper and is also a great way to meet other travelers!
  • AirBnb - Helpful to reference booking information and contact the people you are renting from.  Haven't made a mobile booking yet, but will update this if I do.  Airbnb is a site that facilitates private lodging accommodations at great prices.  We've booked several airbnb apartments for our Spain trip and it's saved us tons of money. 

Let's talk about Mobile HotSpots...
This is my travel-must.  Without wi-fi I am bogged down by sheer confusion, travel books, or my terrible sense of direction.  With wi-fi, I can travel confidently because I have a communication safety net and can figure out "what's next" while I'm out adventuring!

Most countries offer several reputable mobile hotspot rental companies (I cross check their validity by reading other blogs or TripAdvisor).  These days, coverage is decent with 3G-- which may not be as fast as you are used to, but still agile enough to give you what you need.  Most hotspots are also tether-friendly for other devices (keep in mind the more devices means the slower the speed), will deliver the device to your hotel / hostel / apartment, and will also have an option to mail back the device with a prepaid envelope.  How easy is that?

For my Japan trip in 2013, I rented my hotspot from Japan-wireless.
For this 2014 Spain trip, I'm renting from WifiVox

If you plan on using your phone often, make sure you pack a charge stick so you don't run out of juice :)  What are your must-have apps for travel?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

[travels] Malaga and Marbella Spain

Our taxi dropped us off near a canal and we walked 10 minutes or so into the heart of the city, where our hostel was located. Talk about Sunday Funday! People were teeming the streets drinking Malaga's signature Cartojal wine, dancing, and cheering loudly. We managed to squeeze past with our suitcases and knew that this trip was going to be great. 

The beautiful Malaga cathedral was just a few minutes away and the image of the sun setting on this construction was breath taking. 

Gelato options here have been on point.... Including a Facebook flavored gelato that I vow to try during this trip. 

Exploring Malaga is so easy. There are just so many tiny alley ways to go down, tapas eateries to pique your interest, and giant flowers in the hair of beautiful people! Best of all? A ton of historic sites and a juxtaposition of old and new everywhere you go. 

I stumbled upon a lovely farmers market and stopped in to marvel at the assortment of meat, fresh seafood, vibrant vegetables. This beautiful painted glass mural took up the entire top portion of the building.

We are now in Marbella enjoying Mediterranean Sea to the fullest and getting our Spanish glow in motion. 

Until next time! Stay tuned for more on Marbella in the next few days. 

[eats] Best Soups in Palo Alto to Get You Over Your Cold

I've been sick for the past few days, so my apologies on not getting a post out sooner!!  Since we are on the subject...  I thought it'd be great to talk about my go-to comfort foods located right in Palo Alto.

Every time, and I swear, EVERY TIME I was ever sick as a child, my dad would bring me chowder and sourdough bread from the Fish Market.  The fish market makes one amazing white chowder filled to the brim with potatoes and seafood.  The best part is, you can walk right up and order chowder and bread to-go and it'll be ready in minutes!  I love breaking up my sourdough bread in the chowder and eating the sopped bits by the spoonful.  Nothing beats the feeling of a warm belly.

A little bit of spice never hurt anyone, right? I can never turn down a bowl of seafood tofu soup or ramen soup from the So Dong Gong Tofu House.  The seafood tofu soup comes with shrimp, clam, and a healthy helping of oysters made to perfection at your request of spice level.  I suppose I'd only stay away from seafood if I were struggling through the stomach flu...but for any other kind of sickness, I'm all in!!  Not feeling so adventurous today?  I'd go with the ramen noodle tofu soup or even the dumpling tofu soup.  One taste of their zippy broth and you'll be back in good health.

For anyone with soup indecision, Fambini's Terrace Cafe is the way to go.  They are only open Monday - Friday and cater strictly to the lunch crowd.  So actually, this is perfect if you stay home with a cold!  They make a variety of soups, sandwiches, and other delectable eats to set you back on your feet.  My go-to sick order would be a slice of their homemade lasagna and a cup of their daily soup.

As for me?  I'm feeling much better these days with my dose of soup and bread.  Whether you are sick or not, these soups are absolutely amazing.  What's your favorite Palo Alto soup spot?

Friday, August 1, 2014

[diy] Embossing Tent Cards

Wedding tent cards are so much fun because they are a very DIY wedding-friendly project.  You can use this opportunity to let your creativity flair and add to your wedding theme. Did I also mention that it's oh-so fun to point out "I MADE THIS!"  when you get seated for dinner?  This is the perfect weeknight project for the ambitious or relaxed bride. My sister (the  ambitiously-relaxed bride) cruised through the Paper Source store and picked out all of the supplies needed for the project. 


1)  Use a ruler and pencil to make light marks for consistent stamp positioning.  We made light marks half an inch down from the very top of the tent card and lined the top of our stamp to the mark.

2)  Generously cover the stamped area in embossing powder.  Don't be shy!

3)  Gently tilt the powder off the card and use your clean brush to clean up random powder spots.

4)  Use the heat tool to seal the embossing powder on to the tent card.  Let it hang out for a minute or two before you handle it!

5)  While you're waiting, use this time to cut the designer paper and ribbon into LONG strips.  You'll want the paper and ribbon to wrap all the way around to the other side of the paper.

6)  The paper is so delicate and thin, so use the utmost care when handling it.  A glue stick worked perfectly to adhere the paper.  

7) Fold the excess paper around the back sides to provide visual continuity to the whole look.  A little dab of glue to seal it all together will do!  

8)  Stretch the ribbon tightly around the card and adhere with a few spots of hot glue on the back.  Making a hot glue dab on the front will make the ribbon look don't do it.

Enjoy your classy little creation!  For more embossing projects, see my post about an Invitation Card Hack + Embossing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

[eats] Ramen Egg Recipe and Hiyashi Chuka

Here's a great summer night dinner option and an even better way to make sense of the hodge podge of ingredients you may have in the refrigerator.

Hiyashi Chuka

A merry medley of vegetables and noodles... fit to please anyone and oh-so customizable to your taste.  I used Nami's recipe from Just One Cookbook and it turned out marvelously.  I followed her dressing recipe and made a few small changes to my topping choices.  This is a great way to get your noodle fix during the summer because its easy, calls for fresh ingredients, and best of all....COLD!

My toppings:

  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Canadian Bacon (Ham)
  • Green Onions
  • Egg Omelet
  • Soft boiled Ramen Egg
  • Frozen ramen noodles

What I Wish I Could've Added:

  • Shredded Nori
  • Greens...I wonder if arugula would work well?  I do love the peppery nature of it.
  • Chashu
  • Menma (bamboo shoots)
  • Kimchi -- I adore the cold ramen at Sha La La, and they put kimchi in it.

And now I'd like to digress just a tad to discuss soft boiled eggs.  There's something magical about gooey yolks and the taste is vastly different than a cooked yolk.  In this case, eating your soft ramen egg with a few dashes of dressing will send you into another dimension.  You must want to know how to make this egg... I won't stand in the way of your intergalactic mind travel, so here it is:

Ramen Egg Recipe (soft boiled egg)

  1. Gently use a pushpin to poke a hole on the bottom of the egg (the 'bottom' is the wider, less pointy end).
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil on high heat.
  3. Carefully lower your egg(s) into the boiling water using a slotted spoon / ladle.
  4. Start a timer for 5 minutes and 45 seconds.  I'm not kidding, the 45 seconds is crucial to perfection.
  5. Lower the cooking temperature to medium high heat, so water is still gently boiling.
  6. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.
  7. When the timer chimes, use your slotted spoon / ladle to take out the eggs and put them into the ice bath for 3 minutes.
  8. Carefully change the ice bath water (it is now probably lukewarm) with fresh cold water -- add more ice if you can.
  9. Ideally you'd like to wait 15-20 minutes for the egg to fully cool down before peeling.
  10. Peel the egg with extra TLC! It will be much softer than a normal hard boiled egg.
  11. Cut in half if you wish, or you can simply leave the entire egg on your plate and bite into it yourself :)
Want to take it to the next level? Kenji from SeriousEats has a bomb recipe for a ramen egg marinade-- Ajitsuke Tamago.