Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Autumn Tag

Fall (or Autumn, whatever you prefer) is probably my favorite season! Boots, scarves, beanies, leggings, coats, warm seasonal drinks, pumpkin!, coziness, ahhhhh. Just listing those fall favorites put me in a sudden daydream of happiness.

When I saw +Maj Valencia 's post TAG: The Autumn Tag, I had a big smile on my face. Although the weather in Los Angeles hasn't quite jumped on the Fall train just yet, her post reminded me that FALL is HERE!

I love love love Fall and just had to do the tag myself. 

Here goes it:

1.  Ok we're talking coffees - what's your favorite seasonal drink from Starbucks or another coffee shop?
Usually the PSL (pumpkin spiced latte), but I get it "altered" because if you order a straight PSL, it's very sweet. I don't like sweet coffee too much. I'll get a grande latte with one pump pumpkin spice syrup. It's less sweet AND you get charged the price of a latte instead of a specialty drink (which is more expensive than a latte). Hey, hey coffee addict working the system!! ;) Sometimes, sometimes, baristas charge you for that one pump. BOO.

2.  Accessories - what do you opt for, scarf, boots, gloves?
All of the above! I have Raynaud's Phenomenon in addition to Lupus. Raynaud's is also an autoimmune condition in which I have irregular blood circulation. This means I get abnormally cold. So if you're cold, I'm freezing! And when I'm really cold, it feels like the cold is "eating" my body (sorry, TMI). It's awful. Anyways, if I had to choose one accessory, I would say boots. There is something about boots that make me feel confident, empowered and sexxxay! (Is it just me?! LOL)

Photo credit: Macy's catalog 2013
Franco Sarto Boots Cymbols
A present for me last year! Can't wait to bust them out again :D

3. Music - what's your favorite music to listen to during Autumn?
Whatever's mainstream? :) LOL. Didn't know there was Autumn music! Hmmm..I would say "Rosie and Me" station on Pandora. I love every song that comes up. It's mellow and cozy just like Autumn.

4.  Perfume - what's your favorite scent for this time of year?
I wear Bath and Body's Sheer Freesia Body Spray all year long. I am looking to  "grow up" and venture off to perfume but I think perfume smells way too strong with one sniff. I'm still searching for the perfume that is just right! Suggestions for a sensitive nose?

5.  Candles - what scents will you be burning this season?
Anything PUMPKIN!

6. What do you love most about Autumn?
The return of the PUMPKIN. I love pumpkins. Too obvious? I love the coziness of Fall as well as fashion of Fall which is pretty cozy. And I made a full circle. 

7. Favorite make-up look?
This Fall, I'm been into the vampy look! I'm not quite rocking the dark dark lip just yet. Baby steps! I recently purchased NYX's matte lip cream in Copenhagen and Wet n Wild's Sugar Plum Fairy.  I think those two are a good start. I almost always wear winged liner and heavy mascara (if not at work) all year round. That's just my signature and go to look. My lip color is the only thing that really changes.

8. What are you looking forward to most in Autumn?
Besides the fashion and the seasonal treats, I am excited about coming together with friends and family for little pot lucks and get-togethers. Life gets busy for all of us, but somehow, in Fall, we find time to really sit down, chat, and enjoy some good food! And you guessed it...we also have pumpkin parties.

I tag all of YOU! And specifically +Chaunalea Tricia , +thriveonnovelty (although it's spring for you), and +Kreyola Journey 


Friday, October 24, 2014

Hello, Gainesville!

Last week, I went on a mini vacation to Florida!

It was very short. Too short. I flew in on a Wednesday night and left Sunday morning. It was definitely not a enough time to explore. Despite the time crunch, I was able to get a good sense of the community that I was in. 

I spent most of my time in Gainesville, a small college town. It was definitely a cultural shock coming from the big bustling city of Los Angeles. Gainesville is very low key, rural-looking in some parts, and has a communal small town feel.

Native residents had southern accents. It was pretty cool! As a medical social worker in Los Angeles, I've come across many many different peoples and cultures. My patients from the south have been some of my most favorite: humble, communal, spiritual, and kind. It was really exciting for me to be on their home turf. 

The weekend I came was homecoming weekend at the University of Florida, Gainesville. I was an honorary Gator (UF) for the weekend, able to partake in homecoming activities such as the law school tailgate and Gator Growl (concert). 

Check out some pictures below (WARNING: Some pictures may be "boring"/random but each is a memory for me):

Winn Dixie: a supermarket chain with the nicest employees! My first taste of the southern charm!

So random! But I had to take a picture!

Lake Alice: Lays in the middle of the UF campus! It is home to alligators, fish and turtles. So sad I didn't get to see an alligator :(

You can't really tell, but I'm holding a Cuban coffee cortadito

The most interesting turtle I've ever seen! Spotted in Lake Alice

Saw Ludacris perform at Gator Growl. Also saw Foster the People

Alligator Rice Bowl: I know! But it was so good! It tasted like a hybrid of popcorn chicken and popcorn shrimp

Key lime pie: I searched all over for Key West key lime pie. I couldn't find any in Gainesville so I settled for this, a key lime tart. It was okay =/

Watermelon as a side?! "Only in the south" says a Gainesville resident

The Florida Aquarium in Tampa


Instead of getting a parking entry ticket, I got a poker chip! Never have seen this before!

Bayshore Blvd in Tampa

The sun is setting on the Bayshore Blvd. So so beautiful. These pictures don't do the Bayshore Blvd any justice. It was breathtaking in person. The homes along Bayshore Blvd were also breathtaking.

It's been real, Gainesville. This city girl really enjoyed the small town vibe that you gave. You totally captured my heart <3

I hope to see you again one day....


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fall Treats: Oh My Pumpkin!

Tis the season for PUMPKINS! Just like most of the world, I am wholeheartedly excited with the seasonal appearance of pumpkins. My family, my friends, and even my coworkers know how much I love pumpkin! They always make my day when they see me and bring me a pumpkin goodie telling me, "I saw this and thought of you." AWWWWWWWW. I am loved! or either very loud about my pumpkin obsession....HMMM ;)

To kick off the beginning of Fall and Fall yummies, one of my best friends and I had a mini pumpkin kitchen party!

Here's what came of it:

Pumpkin oatmeal cookies with pecans and dark chocolate chips
Homemade pumpkin spiced lattes

I take no credit for the recipes. I found both via the web:

Pumpkin oatmeal cookies
I actually stumbled across this recipe by chance on Instagram. I "clicked" on #pumpkin and the first picture was of pumpkin oatmeal cookies. I had to ask for the recipe. And the woman so graciously shared it with me. The online world can be a kind, kind place :)

Pumpkin spiced lattes
It was delicious and not so sweet like the PSLs that you buy at coffee joints. I prefer my coffees not sweet so it was perfect! Of course, you can add more sugar if you like that extra sweetness.
The only thing I would need for the future is a mesh cloth or cheese cloth to strain the milk after everything was mixed. That's the only tool I didn't have. 

Future menu includes:
Pumpkin ravioli 
Pumpkin martinis
Pumpkin poptarts

Stay tuned! 


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Blame It On The Lupus: Hair Loss

Hair loss.

Just those two words by themselves do not have any positive connotations.

Hair loss.

A symptom of lupus.

Hair loss.

Something I experienced when I was first diagnosed with lupus in 2010.

Hair loss. 

One of the most traumatizing experiences I have ever gone through.

Hair loss.

An ever more reminder that I have lupus and an even bigger reminder that my lupus is active.

This was my hair May 2010, two months before I was diagnosed with lupus. My hair was thick. It was crazy thick. Whenever I got my hair done, my stylists would tell me, "you have such thick hair." Drying my hair took forever because there was just so much of it.

July 2010 was when I was diagnosed with lupus. As you would imagine, my life changed. My body changed. My emotional well-being changed.

One of the most prized possessions of women is hair. Some may call it vain, but it is what it is.

Hair is many things to different women. Hair is feminine. Hair is beauty. Hair is sex appeal. Hair is an avenue for self-expression.

I lost all of that when most of my hair fell out progressively (but rapidly) after my diagnosis. It fell out in clumps in the shower. It fell out in bunches when I wasn't in the shower. Imagine my head of hair in the picture above diminished so much that you could see my scalp in multiple sections. I had bald spots.

As a female, a 24 year old female (at the time) who felt like I was on top of the world, in my prime, hair loss was one of the most traumatic experiences to crush my world.

I tried to wear headbands to disguise some visible scalp areas. I sat in the back of class so no one could stare at my head. I cut my hair short and short as they said short hair conceals thinning hair. I rarely left my home. If I did, it was to go to school, to my internship and to the home of my boyfriend  at the time.

I cried every day, every single day.

I tried to keep a happy face for everyone, especially my mom who took my diagnosis worse than I did. I broke down this one day that I remember it so clearly. It brings tears to my eyes 4 years later. I was watching TV on the living room couch. My mom came behind me and said, "your hair. We can go buy a wig. Let's go buy a wig." And then she started crying. With a brave face, I said "no. It's okay." She insisted, I refused. She left and I ran to my room bawling.

On another occasion, I remember my brother was brushing his teeth. I was combing my hair. And I turned around so he can see the back of my head. I asked, "can you see my bald spots?" He took a gulp and with a crack in his voice he said  "yes." My brother and I don't "talk" about serious stuff. But he knew. He knew how much it hurt. He hurt with me. He hurt just to tell me.

I don't have too many pictures of myself from 2010 - 2012 just because I avoided them. I felt so ugly. I had the steroids "moon face" due to meds. My hair was falling out. I was a not cute hot mess. I felt like (excuse my French) shit. 

Spring 2012 was when my hair started to grow back. I was taking a biotin supplement which I think helped speed up the process. I've tried shampoos and this spray that did not work. For nearly 2.5 years, I kept my hair short to conceal. By spring 2013, my hair was thicker and growing faster. Most, but not all, of my hair grew back. I was happy with it. 

By 2014, I felt beautiful again. 

This is me in May 2014. This was the first time I felt genuinely pretty in years. 

Fast forward to September 2014. I notice my hair falling out more and more. I know it is normal for hair to fall out daily. What was falling and how rapid was not normal. 

Mini clumps were falling out in the shower. I constantly felt tickles on my arm due to loose hairs falling onto them. 

I woke up one day with many hair strands on my pillow (it wasn't as traumatic as in 2010, but still very much so). I got my hair cut right above my breasts within 2 hours of waking up. 

It's happening again I thought to myself.

I cried. I panicked. My hairdresser noticed my  random small bald spots. I told her to comb lightly. And she did. Mini clumps of hair would drag out with the comb.

She saw my face. "You'll be okay," she said. "If you got through it before, I don't see why you can't get through it again."

These are mini claw clips. I used to need 4 to keep my hair up in a secure bun.

Now, I only need 1 or 2 if my hair is feeling very poofy. It's a sad reality. It makes me sad when I tie my hair up to see gaps at the side of my head. It's so weird that my hair dries a gazillion times faster because it's a lot thinner. It's so weird that I when I hold my hair, I notice a grave difference in what it was months ago and even years ago.

My most dreaded moments of the week: washing my hair in the shower and seeing the hair at the drain. 

I know it's not the end of the world if my hair falls out. But it opens up a whole new can of worms: of flashbacks, insecurities, worrying about my health. 

In all honesty, hair falling out now freaks me out. I'm getting older. Hair doesn't always grow back as you get older. Hair falls out. Two odds against me. Granted, I'm in late 20s, still young, but still getting older. 

I'm not really sure how to end this blog post.

I really feel like I just spit out a whole bunch of words.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading...and you're a trooper :)


Monday, October 6, 2014

Nails of the Week: Baby Shower Nails

Ever since I turned 25 three year ago, I've been on a nonstop whirlwind of engagement parties, weddings, baby showers, and baby birthday parties!

The baby trend continues as I attended one of my most dearest friend's baby shower last Saturday. Her and her high school sweetheart husband (everyone all together now: awwwwwwwww) are expecting their very first baby in November!

November seems way too far away! I am just so excited to add another little munchkin to my circle :) I can't wait!

And since this was an event to be celebrated, I, of course, had to have nails to fit the occasion!

Since I've been on the this Cabaret  kick recently (I saw the play again last Friday!!!....I know...obsessed), I decided to paint my nails a "Sally Bowles" green. 

On one ring finger, I had polka dots. And on the other ring finger, I have my go-to baby foot.

Now, I know this isn't the most flattering picture of Sally Bowles/Liza Minnelli (it's a screen shot from the movie), but this picture shows the green that inspired my nail look.

As Sally would say, "divine decadence."


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hello Fall, Hello Pumpkin!

Fall technically started about two weeks ago, but in Los Angeles, summer is still lingering! Right when the weather was cooling down two weeks ago, Los Angeles was hit with a heatwave just last week. It's really dry, really hot and really gross. I'm over it!

However, the hot weather cannot stop the influx of pumpkins: pumpkin coffees, cheesecakes, cakes, bread, cookies, candles, everything!

And the hot weather definitely cannot stop the new annual tradition of going to the pumpkin patch with my most littlest main squeeze, my nephew. He turned two just two days after these photos were taken. My little man is growing up too fast :(

This blog post is more so for me. It's an inside look of my heart and what makes me happy. 

Apparently, watching Mickey Mouse was more entertaining than picture-taking with aunty

My most favorite picture of the night :)
His new thing is to be an airplane.
We have a similar picture like this from earlier this year. He was so tiny then.
Oh how time flies.

All pictures taken at the Halloween Harvest Festival at Pierce College. If you live in the LA area, you should totally check it out. Admission is free on weekdays ;)