September has been jam packed with work responsibilities and fun. To be honest, I’m kind of exhausted, but I still wanted to leave you with the best of September!
Thrift (Mariners Church Community Thrift): Located in Irvine, CA this charity shop has limited hours of operation but their deals and quality of goods is very high. Everythign was $5 unless it was in the designer boutique section. Read my full review here.
Star Wars Themed Bar (Scum & Villainy Cantina): Scum & Villainy Cantina in Hollywood, CA has been on my bucket-list for a while and I finally had an occasion to visit while in Star Wars apparel (while not required, seemed appropriate). I really liked the decor and whole vibe of the bar. It’s a chill place to hang with your Star Wars friends and is a very welcoming place.
Special Occasion Hairstyle (Guys & Dolls HB): I’m very frugal, when it comes to pampering myself, but I decided to have a professional do my hair for a retro inspired look especially since my hair doesn’t hold curls easily. I made an appointment with Guys & Dolls HB in Huntington Beach, CA for my upcoming Oogie Boogie Bash and I loved how she made me look. Read about my full experience here. I’d been putting long hours at work, and for $75 (plus 20% tip), I think this having a pro give me the glam treatment was worth it!
Some of you know that I do a forty-day fast each year for Lent. I usually pick eating out as my sacrifice, but this year I wanted to try something different. I decided to give up meat and poultry (which started back on Feb 17th), but I will still eat eggs and seafood. So for this and next month many of my food picks may be vegetarian/pescatarian. But don’t fret, I will never compromise my reviews for the quality of taste and I had some pretty amazing finds to share (both food, art, and fashion). So without further adieu, lets see the Top February picks!
Number Cake (Sweets from Liz): Sweets from Liz (IG) is a home baker in North Orange County who creates custom sweets. I ordered a number of different items including her Micky and Minnie Cocoa bombs, and chocolate covered strawberries, but her Number Cake ($20) was definitely my favorite. The presentation was spot on and everyone in my family loved eating it. The cake was light and the berries were very fresh. I cannot wait for another opportunity to order it! Also, if you live in Orange County she delivers for $3! You can read all about why I was celebrating 8 years here.
Thrifting (Pick of the Litter): I’m quite picky about my thrift shops and “Pick of the Litter” was definitely top dog on my recent thrift adventures. Not only do proceeds benefit the humane society, but I really liked the assortment of curated items they had and the prices were very reasonable. I bought a hair of dress slacks for $2.50 and a gold formal gown for $5. See my full review here.
Fortune Cookies (Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory): I’ve never really liked fortune cookies since they often tasted stale, but these at Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory were freshly made and gave me a completely new outlook on what they were suppose to taste like. They offer a variety of flavors including Sesame, Green Tea, Strawberry, Chocolate, and their original flavor. I loaded up on a bunch of bags (roughly $6ish depending on flavor) to gift family and friends. Suffice to say they were all gobbled up. If you’re in the Bay area you should definitely check them out. They’ve been a huge part of SF Chinatown for the past 57 years! Read the full review here.
$$ Moderately Priced
Chicken Wings (Capital Restaurant): If you love chicken wings the Salt and Pepper Chicken wings from Capital Restaurant in SF Chinatown is the bomb. It is THE place to grab wings, and on my visit EVERYONE included it in their order. See my full review here.
CNY Macarons (Macarons By Natalie): I recently discovered Macarons By Natalie (IG), who is a home baker based in Oakland, CA, who specializes in character macarons. At the time she offered preorders of her Chinese New Year Macarons ($30) and they were adorable! She currently does local pick-up in the Bay area, but maybe one day she’ll do shipping or open up a brick-and-mortar. I stocked her IG stories and the brick and mortar dream is a very definite possibility! She does custom orders, but it looks like her $30 assortment boxes happen during major holidays so St. Patty’s Day and Easter must be next! Want to see what flavors you incorporated with her designs? Read it here.
Laska (Lion Dance Cafe): I’m usually suspicious on a hipster’s take on authentic cuisine, but with lots of praise from various press including the San Francisco Chronicle, Eater SF and more I was very curious to see what the fuss was all about. Lion Dance Cafe is known for their Shaobing sandwich (photo here), but I was blown away by all the complex flavors in their Laska ($16). Order open up on Wednesday for Friday, or Saturday pickup. See my full review here.
Pizza (June’s Pizza): $30 a pie is expensive especially when it’s all vegetarian. However, June’s Pizza (IG) uses the freshest ingredients available that week and honestly I didn’t even notice that it was meatless because it was so flavorful. Every week they have different “special” pies depending on what’s in season. On my trip it was butternut squash, ricotta cheese, and fresh cracked black pepper *drool*. It was so good, and when when I’m not doing a meat-fast I definitely want to go back and try more pies! It is somewhat of a process to get since they only serve 60 pies a day, but worth it! See my cliff notes on how to order and the full review here.
Crab (PPQ Dungeness Island: I haven’t had crab in a long time, but the crustaceans at PPQ Dungeness Island were top notch. At the time of my visit they did offer outdoor dining, but we had to reserve in advance. I want to say it was $60 a crab or market price, but the way they prepared it is definitely worth a visit! The Peppercorn and their signature “roasted” were my favorite, but click here to read the entire review.
Beskar Baby Yoda Doll (BeskarBabyYoda): Beskar Baby Yoda (IG) $249 + $20 Shipping. If you love “the child” Shawn is an incredible artist who really takes it to the next level. He does Baby Mando, Baby Boba-Fett, and Baby Armorer. He’s also working on Jedi Grogu now! You can see my unboxing video here to get a closer look at all the details.
It was muggy and moist on the last day of my Midwest Roadtrip and my friend and I didn’t want to go into Chicago proper to explore. Additionally we were scheduled to fly out of O’Hare Airport in the late afternoon so we decided to checkout Little Italy, Pison and other neighborhoods instead. I typed in “thrift” in a couple of search engines as another activity since we had already visited three food destinations and found Village Discount Outlet as a spot to spend some time before eating again. lol
Wow! This chain thrift shop is uh-mazing, and had I known sooner that they had multiple locations and how massive it was I would have probably dedicated entire DAYS to just thrifting. Holy Cow! This warehouse location was massive and there were TWO FLOORS with aisles upon aisles of clothes, household goods, shoes, toys – you name it! and the prices were very VERY reasonable. On top of that if your item had a tag of a particular color there were additional discounts – SCORE!!! I had about 45 minutes to shop, but considering the size of the store I had to speed through my usual sections. I found a several cute dresses, but were slightly big on me including a Calvin Klein, Betsey Johnson, and BCBG brand. I settled on a black Batgirl dress that I planned to wear during a Batman Afterparty at SDCC (I got a LOT of compliments on it). There were some minor alterations that needed to be done, but for $3.50 I was willing to do some hand-sewing! I also bought the pink and white summer bag in the photo above for $5. Not bad considering the time constraint as well as luggage space. lol
Dresses and bags are always things I look for when thrifting. What kind of gems do you love finding?
Village Discount Outlet
2032 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Over the weekend I decided to check out a few local thrift shops to find some hidden gems. It was cold and dreary, but that didn’t stop me or other thrifters from scoring some major deals. I started my day at the Assistance League in Huntington Beach (Thrift Shop; 8071 Slater Ave # 145, Huntington Beach, CA 92647) and found this new with tags LulaRoe stripped dress for $8! They usually go for $40+ and I also scored a pair of new slacks (not pictured) for $12 (org. $98). I spent more than I usually do when thrifting, but all the proceeds go towards a variety of philanthropic programs, which is a win-win for me!
LuLuRoe Dress and Banana Republic Jacket with Tags
Next I headed to Cross Roads Trading Company (19021 Beach Blvd, Huntington Beach, CA 92648), which is a for profit thrift shop. They had more trendy, day to day type of outfits available, but I found this Banana Republic Navy Blue Suit jacket for half-off their selling price and for a total of $13 – it even had the original tags that said $113 and fit perfectly on me! Score!!
My last pit stop was at the Salvation Army in Fountain Valley (Yelp Page; 16119 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, 92708). This thrift shop has an enormous variety of items ranging from furniture to shoes. Additionally, the pricing is very reasonable and I found this near identical light purple purse to accompany one of my favorite cosplays – Lois Lane. And at $4.50 – it was well worth the splurge.
When you’re window shopping what do you tend to look at? Dresses and jewelry are my favorite!
In the past I use to go monthly treasure hunting for bargains galore and when I’m traveling I try to hit up at least one charity shop to find some hidden gems. My trip to Georgia was no different and The Drake House mission statement in providing shelter and education for women and children, it was a worthy cause to support.
I started my day at the Drake Closet Alpharetta location and when driving by I felt like I was going to someone’s house and upon entering it was as if I was shopping in someone’s closet. The set-up was very spacious and clean, with a purple and white color pallet. Most pre-loved garments shared the same sticker price, but some higher end designers were individually tagged in their boutique section ($20 starting price). Brands included mid-to-high designers including Banana Republic, J-Crew, Michael Kors, and Sherri Hill with prices ranging starting at $7 and most regular priced items falling around the $10 range.
The price-point is a tad-higher than what I have paid for in comparable charity shops, but the store presentation and variety of clothes made the experience fun and enjoyable. I had such a great experience that I visited two of their three locations.
26 Old Roswell St, Alpharetta, GA 30009
6030 Sandy Springs Cir, Sandy Springs, GA 30328
825 Mimosa Blvd, Roswell, GA 30075
Alpharetta had the biggest selection and Roswell branch didn’t distinguish the garments early as closely as Alpharetta. Overall, if you’re looking to diversify your closet or find something fabulous to wear for 2019 check out Drake’s before dishing out some serious dough at the mall.
I wear many Banana Republic garments, but I love Betsey Johnson pieces! What are some of your favorite fashion brands?
When I was first thinking about this post I thought to myself – man… I totally bombed the “will write a blog post every-week” goal, I “should” be making more money, I “should” be blah blah blah.. but as I looked through my rolo-dex of photos I realized that I had so many cool moments and while I didn’t meet all the goals I set out – I did achieve quite a bit and “should” remember those! This was definitely the year of “Me, Myself, and Irene” from my “Diary of a Beauty Queen’s Food and Travel Adventures (Instagram)” to opening up to my readers with my alias as @TheGeekyGuide (Instagram) to launching my College Consulting By Yu Youtube channel (website), I’m three people in one!
As @yurockstar I finished my term as Miss Taiwanese World Queen and passed the torch (blog entry), and visited so many cool restaurants – the Exchange Restaurant being my favorite this year! (blog entry) – and festivals as media including the LA Food and Wine Festival (blog entry 1; blog entry 2; blog entry 3) where I got to meet Tyler Florence and Brian Malarky. I also got to be a guest on Gordon Ramsay’s “The F Word” and critiqued the competitors dishes. 2017 was also the year when I got to visit San Diego Comic Con (blog entry) for the first time and hear Disney Legend Alan Menkin perform his classic hits at D23 (blog entry)! I also bought an annual pass to Six Flags Magic Mountain (blog entry) and convinced four of my friends to go on roller coasters with me. On a totally random note – I also won a mattress from an Instagram contest through yelp, woot!
To be honest, I was kind of a closet cosplayer and nervous about cosplaying one of my childhood idols. The live action Wonder Woman movie debuted earlier this year and I felt very conscientious about wearing a corset, let alone portray such an iconic character. I was selected as one of Game Spot’s Best DC Cosplay at SDCC and WonderCon, and featured on the LA Time’s “Why Cosplay as Wonder Woman” video. But more importantly, I loved when kids came up to me to ask for a photo opt – just to see them smile made me feel that that 2 hours it took to do my hair and make-up all the worthwhile.
I also debuted Chun Li this year and was invited to join a Street Fighter group! Everyone does such a great job in portraying their character, and they inspired me to revisit and brush-up on my martial arts and dance techniques. I also upgraded some of my Sailor Mars uniform and had a blast with various photoshoots with the Sailor Scouts and Tuxedo Mask! I’ve made so many awesome friends through cosplay and it’s always awesome to see familiar faces portraying different heros and villians.
Minnie Mouse is known for her iconic red dress with white polka dots (pink depending on which version), but for special occasions she debuts some bold fashion choices. At the bi-annual D23 Expo (Disney Convention) in collaboration with Honda the expo showcased some of her flirty fashion choices throughout the years.
Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary 2012 – This bell-sleeved pink-and-purple ombre dress is decorated with a night motif of stars and crescent moons.
Disneyland Resort 60th Anniversary 2015 – In Spring 2015, Minnie Mouse wore her traditional red dress silhouette with rhinestones and crystals to celebrate the Diamond Celebration.
Shanghai Disney Resort Grand Opening 2016 – With a Grand Opening, it’s expected for the host to debut a stunning number. Minnie Mouse certainly didn’t disappoint with her Asian inspired ensemble. With soft pinks and gold embroidery this piece is inexcusably royal
Minnie’s dress is unmatched by her iconic oversized bow. I feel that this feminine accessory really makes any outside complete and of course Honda wouldn’t be doing Minnie justice without it.
In this photo I’m wearing my recently purchased clip-on bow from D23. They had designs inspired by all the Disney Princesses as well as some multi-colored one. Mine is the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland and this design will be available at the parks at the end of the year!
Disneyland Paris Fashion Parade 2013 (Designed by Alber Elbaz of Lanvin Paris) – Minnie wouldn’t be a household name without taking some fashion risks and at Fashion capitol of the world, Minnie debuted an incredibly presidential attire. She adorned a form-fitting royal blue with symmetrically patterned jewels.
Rock the Dots 2015 (Designed by Christian Siriano) – Project Runway Winner and “Fierce” Haute Couture Designer created a one of a kind ensemble for this “Fierce” one of a kind mouse. He drew inspiration from her bubbly, but girly personality and added bows and rhinestones to show off her playful nature.
Rock the Dots 2017 (Designed by Olumpia Le-Tan) – This custom dyed blue dress was created with 53 custom appliquéd polka dots and paired with a signature monogram leather belt buckle of Olumpia Le-Tan. This little sequin dress is both flirty and fierce.
Hong Kong Disneyland 10th Anniversary 2015 – Wow! If you’re ready to party, this dress will definitely turn heads. This brightly colored and festive ensemble was designed by the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and designed to dance the night away.
Fashion Los Angeles Awards 2017 (Designed by Stacy Bendet of Alice + Olivia) – I definitely see nods to Jackie Kennedy here. This hight-low gown is covered with 14,000 hand-applied jet black crystals and accessorized with oversized glasses. The look is complete with red patent pumps – a staple in every girls closet.
Mink and Roses Russian Vogue 2008 (Designed by Oleg Ovsiyoy) – When Minnie took a vacation away from her sunny Southern California home, she certainly dressed to impress. WIth her faux mink fur and accented with sequins, this warm, fuzzy look is functional and stylish.
I loved Minnie’s daring Disneyland Paris Fashion Parade ensemble. Which outfit was your favorite?
I know it’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here!!!! My popular annual Birthday Freebie post is finally complete! This year I was able to redeem over 20 birthday freebies in the month of April, and while this may seem overwhelming many freebies allow the patron to redeem the promotion either the day of, week of, or month of your birthday!
I’ve arranged them alphabetically for your convenience with a hyperlink to the retailer’s site for more information to sign up for their loyalty program. Personally, I created a junk email account for all these retailers to send me their promotions and then I check that email account during my birth month to print out the coupons, and collect all my goodies. Check out to see if your favorite retailer is here!
Baskin Robbins: (Free scoop of ice cream). I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! They’re really picky about printing out the coupons, so be sure to do that!
Black Angus (Free Steak Dinner with purchase of entree): Join the Prime Club and get a free steak dinner with a purchase of an entree of equal or greater value. Yee-ha! Good for the month of your birthday.
Boston Market (Free side): Join their VIP club and get a free dessert or an order of a regular side. I chose a side of creamed spinach. Yum! No purchase necessary. Expires a week after your birthday.
Brueggars Bagels (Free bagel!): Start your day with a free toasted bagel with cream cheese. You will get the email the week before your birthday and it will expire on your birthday.
Buca De Beppo (cake and meal discount): This year Buca De Beppo gave a $15 off with a minimum purchase of $30 and if you make a reservation with 4 or more they will also give you a cake for everyone to enjoy! Be sure to make your reservation through opentable to earn rewards points for your next restaurant gift certificate!
Charming Charlie ($5 gift card): Join the Charm club and earn a $5 gift card to purchase anything in the store! You can get jewelry, accessories, shoes etc
Churned Creamery (Free Scoop): Sign up on the “Five Stars” App on your smartphone and add Churned Creamery to your list. I believe the freebie is good for a week and expires on your birthday.
Corner Bakery: (Free Baked Good): Sign up for their eCafe list to redeem a free pastry treat. I chose a giant M&M cookie to take home. Expires a week after your birthday.
DSW($5 gift card): You can get kicks, heels, or flip flops, but I always get a new pair of cool socks.
Del Taco (Free milkshake): Your choice of strawberry, vanilla, or chocolate! No purchase necessary. Expires a week after your birthday.
Denny’s: I worked till 9pm on my actual birthday, and most places are closed by the time I left the office. Luckily I just flashed my drivers license for a complimentary grand slam (I opted for a “choose your own”). Who else loves breakfast for dinner?
El Pollo Loco (Free meal!): Join the E-Club and enjoy your choice of “Original Chicken Tostada” or “2 piece fire-grilled chicken meal” within the month of your birthday.
Godiva (chocolate covered strawberries): Complimentary $10 gift certificate at the Godiva shop. I decide to purchase a cone of dark chocolate covered strawberries ($12.50) and paid the difference. The freshly dipped treat was a lux indulgence that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Kiehls (Free Lip Balm): Be a Loyalty member and get a free lip balm ($7 value) with a purchase of any item.
Mimi’s Cafe (muffin sundae): If you love the contrast of cold ice cream topped with fudge, strawberries and whip cream over a warm muffin, this offer is for you. Expires one week after your birthday and no purchase necessary.
Red Robin (Free meal!): I think this is the best deal meal deal. A free gourmet beef or chicken burger plus unlimited fries for free, and on my visit they also gave me a free birthday ice cream as well. Just show them your Red Robin’s Rewards Number. This is always one of my favorite places to visit during my birth month.
Sephora (Free Makeup): Love makeup? Be a beauty insider and you can get a deluxe sample of the latest products! No purchase necessary. This year I choose the Caldalie skincare items and so far it’s been very luxurious. Oh la la!
Souplantation: Join Club Veg and you will receive coupon for a free lunch with drink or a to-go combo #2 which includes a salad plate, two small soup containers, and a bakery bag
Starbucks (Free drink – any size!): This year they changed their promotion. You will get an email the day before your birthday and need to redeem it either on that day or on your birthday. Must have a Starbucks account.
Togos (Free Sandwich): Sign up to be part of the Togo Tribe on your phone and get a free birthday sandwich!
Veggie Grill ($5 gift card): This year Veggie Grill gave me a complimentary $5 gift card towards any menu item. I decided on a Grillin’ Chickin’ (fake meat) meal and enjoyed my healthy lunch. It’s a great healthy fast food option for people on the go. Offer good a week before and after your birthday.
Wienerschnitzel (Free Corn Dog): You get a coupon a week before your birthday to redeem an item and this time for me it was a free corn dog. Expires on your birthday.
Whats your favorite birthday freebie to redeem? Are there freebies that I missed? Comment below!
It’s true California’s palm trees don’t change colors like the East Coast foliage, but it’s officially autumn and that means cozy knit sweaters, cashew scarves, and trench coats are making a come back! A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend Style Week OC a fashion festival celebrating the Fall in style. The weekend festival kicked off the occasion with a fabulous outdoor runway show featuring the latest trends. It was obviously fierce.
Pink and yellow combinations, statement furs, and one shoulder outfits were evident on the runway; however, rich, warm neutrals (above) are always chic and a perfect way to transition to Fall. After the show fashionistas were guided to various participating stores who were pumpin’ rockin jams and serving various mocktails and light bites. My friend and I were given VIP treatment while browsing through the racks.
Various stores participated in the annual event and several actually had various fun activities as well. At G-Star, known for their urban street style clothing hosted Kim Kyne, an extremely talented fashion artist, who created personalized sketches.
She took a photo of me modeling one of G-Star’s super soft leather jacket and evergreen beenie and begin drawing with her felt tip markers free-hand. Looks pretty legit to me!
Michael Stars was another Fashion Island store that hosted some fun activities, including frozen banana tasting from Hannah’s Bananas and a complimentary Polish from the Nail Bar. While Rose Quartz and Serenity (essentially baby pink and baby blue), are the 2016 Pantone colors of the year, I decided to do a nod to the color by selecting a grayish purple (when combined the colors it makes this beautiful and very wearable color.)
Next we headed to Brooks Brothers to get in touch with our artistic side and colored away on these adorable Inspired Art Wine postcards featuring Brooks Brothers very own lamb. Coloring is so therapeutic, and if you need an outlet to express yourself Inspired Art Wine in Costa Mesa has different classes to paint and create different masterpieces.
Other stores such as Rebeca Taylor, Halston Heritage, Elie Tahari, Trina Turk, and Anthropologie also participated in the event and hosted fabulous beauty/fashion bloggers meet and greets. Overall, this Welcoming of Fall shopping party was a blast and it reminded me a lot of when I attended New York’s fashion week shopping parties. These events are always so much fun and I can’t wait when we transition to my favorite season – winter!
Hi everyone! Sorry for the delay in entires, I’ve took on a new project this past month and well I guess you can tell from the title of this post what I’ve been doing. Yup! I competed in an ethnic-oriented pageant and was crowned Miss Taiwanese World Queen. Yay! I’m still recovering from the weekend excitement and a new counseling job that I started recently (crazy right?!), but I thought I’d give you a few photos from the pageant.
Here I am with the Pageant Chairman, Jack Liu, and Senior Pageant Director, Cindy Wu. The chairman founded the Miss Taiwan World organization back in 2000 and the Pageant Director ran this show for the past 10 years. Essentially without these two people this show would not have been possible.
Here’s a photo with me and the Miss Teen titleholder. Isn’t she a cutie 🙂
I think she kinda looks like my younger sister, what do you think?
A group shot of the 2015 court, judges, and 2016 royal court (Miss, Teen, Preteen, Jr, Mr etc)
Here’s I am with the 2015 Miss Taiwanese World.
I’d hardly consider myself a “pageant girl,” but fate decided otherwise. As the 2016 Miss Taiwanese World Queen I’m honored start my year of service to promote my Taiwanese heritage where yes I’ll smile and “wave” in parades, attend ribbon cutting ceremonies, and mix and mingle with politicians and community leaders, but I hope that through this experience I can also share my platform “Education Through Travel” to encourage everyone to explore and learn. There are just some things that a textbooks can’t teach you and as an educator and foodie I believe that traveling is the best way to learn about a new culture.
Follow hashtag #MissTaiwaneseEats on my instagram account @YuRockstar to get the latest scoop on my foodie adventures and #FollowYu to see the world through my eyes.
What type of entries are you looking most forward to read? Food? Travel? Pageant events? Comment below!
P.S. I will intertwine my #MissTaiwanese2016 series with my #SleeplessinSeattle series for the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned!