Category Archives: Favorites

How To Bargain/Haggle And LOVE It

January 13, 2014

Favorites / How To / Uncategorized

How to Bargain

For years I was humiliated as a child, watching as my mother would bargain for things from clothing to hotel rooms. I mimicked my father who would silently stand by, cringing, ready at any moment to pounce on her and apologize for her, pretending like this never happened. How did it always end? Well, we had a nicer hotel room and extra money left over to buy more clothes or toys. She always did it with a smile, often with lots of laughing and arm touching. The transaction would complete with a happy/sometimes relieved guffaw (front the salesperson) and we were granted our wishes. My mother is Korean and in the Korean culture, most things are negotiable.

As I got older and had to shop on my own, I totally started playing with her little techniques…and they WORKED to my total novice surprise. Now I got to embarrass the non-bargainer (nargainer) victims who accompanied me. At first I only tried this magic in countries outside of the U.S. but then I brought this trick to America and it was even more magical. 

I started with little American-acceptable things like, “Excuse me, this piece of art has a slight scratch on the frame, would you be willing to take 10% off?” That was easy enough. Then I got gutsy and started trying it in department stores. “Excuse me, I really like this ____, would you be able to do a better price for it?” I hold back my laughter when they meet me with a shocked face but they end up responding with something like, “Well, let me get my manager.” Then I think, “Wow, I’ve done it now…what do I do next?” Then the manager may ask me to possibly sign up for the store credit card but I decline and then there is some little deal that is made. Bingo. 

**Bargaining is a muscle you exercise and tone. ANYONE can develop it. 

Here are some tips:

  • If you know you are going into a negotiation, be conscious of how you look. Leave the fancy stuff (jewelry, handbags, clothing) at home. A salesperson sizes you up immediately and decides what you can “afford.” 
  • Salespeople are people too and they like to do things for people they like. Friend it up as you would anyone else. Chit chat. Ask questions. Find out what you have in common even if it’s just a love for the product they are selling. Touch on any connection they may have to the product.
  • Take your time. A good deal may take a little patience. No need to rush the sale. 
  • Be cool. Desperate for the item? That’s like a force field, shielding your from a possible deal. 
  • Having a wingman/woman can be really nice. Sometimes it’s neat to have “good cop” “bad cop” where one person says the item is great and the other sort of points out maybe why the item has some slight drawbacks.
  • Be honest. Do you really only have $200 to spend today and the item is $350? Did you see a similar item for $180 but you like the $350 item so much more? Tell the salesperson. You know this is a very low offer but can they work with you a bit more?
  • Start as low as you dare but you may want to start somewhere north of half the price. This may start some laughter but go with it and get a feel for what the person is willing to do. 
  • Be grateful. Really let the person know how happy they have made you. 

My friend, Cindi asked me to meet her at the Los Angeles Rose Bowl Flea Market. I’d heard it was amazing and it sounded great. Cindi is an interior designer and she KNOWS furniture. You can follow her work & style or contact her for a consult HERE. We found this stall and she fell in LOVE with this dresser for her daughter’s room. She got a GREAT deal on it.

Los Angeles Rose Bowl Flea Market

I could see myself blogging away and photo editing at this gorgeous desk. The owner collects these pieces and refinishes/distresses them himself. I recall it was about $175.

Los Angeles Rose Bowl Flea Market

These nightstands are a dream!Los Angeles Rose Bowl Flea MarketMore vintage furniture at another vendor.Los Angeles Rose Bowl Flea MarketOther chackas.Los Angeles Rose Bowl Flea MarketFur? There were TONS of fur coats at this stall.Los Angeles Rose Bowl Flea MarketCindi couldn’t pass on this darling baby doll high chair for her daughter.Los Angeles Rose Bowl Flea Market

Los Angeles Rose Bowl Flea Market

What a shopper’s high! Love it when my friends get a great deal. 

What is the BEST bargain you’ve had? What did you do to get it?

7 Reasons Everyone Knows You’re Pregnant

December 26, 2013

Baby favorites / Favorites / Uncategorized

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Here’s a list of things I laugh about being pregnant. 

1. Your Facebook feed shows everyone that you liked a million photos of your friends’ kiddos. (You caught me, Mattie) You used to be the one who was like, “PEOPLE, this isn’t BABYbook!”

2. You say to your friend, “Here, I’ll get you a car mat,” when you meant to say parking pass but you don’t have the brain energy to explain what you really meant. 

3. You fall asleep sitting up while talking to your friends after eating lunch. Jen, I was listening.

4. You start a hike and then have to stop to cry because you’re not sure you can make it out of the extremely steep canyon (you have formerly run a half marathon and been in the military). You then turn around 8 minutes into the hike huffing and puffing. You even need to take a break to sit on the ground and catch your breath. Little children and the elderly are speeding by you up the hill. You spend the rest of the day sleeping and eating in recovery. This has now become a 1200 calorie setback. Add some more crying and blaming your husband for setting you up for failure and not understanding “your condition.”

5. You walk with peg legs because prenatal yoga made you do 5 minutes of continuous squats. You want to punch the wall when the instructor tells you to make your shoulder blades touch your heart. Then you want to cry about it. There are women in your yoga class who are 20 weeks pregnant and looking hotter than you’ve ever looked in your life. You start wearing makeup to class to feel better about yourself.

6. You go to a famous burger place for their signature burger (they only serve one kind) but they don’t make ANY exceptions i.e. they won’t pull the soft blue cheese off (some soft cheeses are a no-no for pregnant women), no matter what. So you eat a basket of fries and drool over your husband’s burger meal. Later you yell at your husband for not leaving the restaurant or yelling at the cook.

When your friends ask you to go out for dinner and a night of drinking you steer them away from sushi restaurants or bar crawls so you won’t be discovered. 

7. In your first trimester, you gained waaay too much weight (confirmed by your doctor in front of your husband) and somehow your birthing-hips got even wider.  Your pants no longer fit. Your skinny, well-meaning friends have all told you there is no need for pregnancy clothes until later and you listen to everything these women say (they’re pros) so you walk around with your pants unbuttoned and unzipped for months (break down and buy a belly band eventually). Finally at a restaurant dinner your pants are around your ankles from the tight pinching pain in your abdomen and the said belly band has snapped up like a rolling blind below your breasts. The valet guy tries not to stare as you depart the restaurant. Cue crying and shopping for fat, I mean, pregnancy pants.

Family Gems Or Pearls Rather

December 12, 2013

Favorites / Korean / TMI / Uncategorized

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Not those kind of gems. These would be the pearls of wisdom sayings you’ll be passing down to your kiddos some day. We’re in Seattle visiting the fam this week, celebrating our dad’s retirement from the Navy! He’s been a Navy dentist for a bajillion years and he’s finally retiring! Yahoo! So this is why I’m thinking of all those little sayings. Ok, down to business.

Let’s start normalzies and work our way up to full-on strango.

“If you want a clean house, invite guests over for dinner or a party.”

“Fish smells after three days.” AKA don’t be a houseguest at someone’s home for more than 3 days.

“If you can handle hot things (temperature-think holding hot dinner plates) then you can handle your mother-in-law.” AKA patience under fire.

Ready to take it to another level?

Men are like woodsmen, the chop women down with, “I love you.” (My sister got this one)

Let’s go on to body parts.

“Thick legs mean you don’t get sick often.” (Mom only ever said this to me)

“A big forehead means high class.”(me)

“Thick earlobes equate to wealth.”(my sister)

Hey, feel free to borrow any of these to add to your family mottos, especially the thick leg one. Basically, learn to turn any unnatracitve thing into a blessing. 

 

How To Buy A Diamond (Engagement Ring)

November 25, 2013

Favorites / How To / Uncategorized

engagement ring

I get super excited when someone starts talking about engagement rings! I think all of them are gorgeous and shopping for them is a total flea market-like hunt to me. Lots of searching, comparing, educating and then the big bang! I love to hear my friends’ stories about how they came to choose the setting and how they decided on the diamond. It’s also fun when their fiancés pick something out for them! I loved talking to Nancy (hand pictured above) about her rings! I even tried on the engagement ring (one of my favorite things to do).

We can’t all afford the Pink Star. No matter what kind of budget you (or your significant other) has, you certainly can buy a diamond for a very good value. Two very sweet women who know jewelry taught me some very different views about jewelry, specifically diamonds. They are what most of this information is based upon. They are pros and I appreciate the lessons!

**If you are reading this as a person who is buying a ring for their fiancé, you are so smart and in luck! 

One friend says, “When it comes to diamonds, guys are into quality and girls are into size.” For me, this is totally true-now. Here are the things I prioritized when looking for an engagement ring diamond and setting (or any diamonds):

1. Carat (the size)

2. Color (how bright white)

3. Clarity (flaws)

4. Cut (how sparkly) 

5. Shape (the shape)

Not all women choose their ring! I was very happy to! My husband proposed so romantically and then offered me the choice of choosing a ring of my liking. Yay! 

This takes some time and research to find out what is most important to you. It starts with daydreaming about what you envision on your pretty ring finger and then seeing what is out there that fits with your budget and lifestyle.

Consider:

  • Are you active and want a lower setting where the diamond is less likely to catch on things (people wearing gloves at work)
  • Do you want a wedding band to be able to fit with it?
  • Do you want a band alone and not a “big diamond” on a band?
  • Is there a family diamond you want to reset and make your own?
  • Who do you know who has purchased a ring recently and may have some good advise/a jeweler?
  • What is a timeless style that will be beautiful to you day in and day out?

Once you have the look/feeling of your ring (vintage, art deco, Tiffany solitaire) and if you are looking for the center stone, start surfing the web to see what these things cost. Look at the most perfect diamonds and the least, find the parameters you are comfortable with and then compare within your parameters. 

Great online sourcing for price comparisons for solitaires and/or single loose diamonds:

Blue Nile

Costco 

TRY TRY TRY:

PLEASE go to Tiffany & Co. or Neil Lane and see what the most expensive rings really look and feel like in the flesh. It’s FREE! Lots of people do it! You should compare the quality of high-end rings and rings from less expensive stores. 

***AN EXPERIENCED JEWELER CAN MAKE YOU ANYTHING YOU LIKE FOR A FRACTION OF THE COST OF ANY STORE. So, if you see something you like in a catalog or store, bring in a picture or link and see if it is something the jeweler can do. If it is a popular setting, then the jeweler has probably made it many times already. 

Diamond 101

  • Carats:

Think about the size you feel looks good on your finger, what feels comfortable with your style and what feels appropriate to your budget. If you want to make a stone appear bigger, look at halo settings where a ring of diamond encircles the center stone. 

**Say you are looking at a 1 carat ring. Consider looking at .92 carat rings. They can be considerably cheaper but appear the same size. They can appear even slightly bigger if cut differently and this is more noticeable as sizes go up.

When you go into a jeweler looking for diamonds, they love to show you how YELLOW a diamond looks by putting a colorless diamond next to a diamond that falls lower on the colorless chart (i.e. has a tint of yellow). When compared as bare stones (especially upside down) under a UV light, you would NEVER want that YELLOW diamond.

In reality, no one will ever be looking at your ring upside down under this ridiculous lighting, next to a perfect (super expensive) diamond. Remember, your diamond will also be in a setting. Take some time to look at rings and even ask people the color of their ring if you’re comfortable (bf’fs or your mom). 

D, E & F gradings are all colorless

G, H, & I and J are near colorless 

Below that you get into the faint yellow colors that are visible to the naked eye but D-I gives you a LOT of wiggle room when it comes to price tag here. Personaly I would recommend going J or above. 

  • How do you feel about clarity?

GIA diamond clarity grading scale
Category Flawless Internally Flawless Very Very Slightly Included Very Slightly Included Slightly Included Included
Grade FL IF VVS1 VVS2 VS1 VS2 SI1 SI2 I1 I2 I3 

A flawless diamond is exponentially more expensive than an Included one. 

The clarity chart above and the explanation below are from Wikipedia via GIA standards.

The GIA diamond grading scale is divided into six categories and eleven grades. The clarity categories and grades are:

  • Flawless category (FL) diamonds have no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
  • Internally Flawless category (IF) diamonds have no inclusions visible under 10x magnification, only small blemishes on the diamond surface.
  • Very, Very Slightly Included category (VVS) diamonds have minute inclusions that are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification. The VVS category is divided into two grades; VVS1 denotes a higher clarity grade than VVS2. Pinpoints and needles set the grade at VVS.
  • Very Slightly Included category (VS) diamonds have minor inclusions that are difficult to somewhat easy for a trained grader to see when viewed under 10x magnification. The VS category is divided into two grades; VS1 denotes a higher clarity grade than VS2. Typically the inclusions in VS diamonds are invisible without magnification, however infrequently some VS2 inclusions may still be visible. An example would be on a large emerald cut diamond which has a small inclusion under the corner of the table.
  • Slightly Included category (SI) diamonds have noticeable inclusions that are easy to very easy for a trained grader to see when viewed under 10x magnification. The SI category is divided into two grades; SI1 denotes a higher clarity grade than SI2. These may or may not be noticeable to the naked eye.
  • Included category (I) diamonds have obvious inclusions that are clearly visible to a trained grader under 10x magnification.Included diamonds have inclusions that are usually visible without magnification or have inclusions that threaten the durability of the stone. The I category is divided into three grades; I1 denotes a higher clarity grade than I2, which in turn is higher than I3. Inclusions in I1 diamonds often are seen to the unaided eye. I2 inclusions are easily seen, while I3 diamonds have large and extremely easy to see inclusions that typically impact the brilliance of the diamond, as well as having inclusions that are often likely to threaten the structure of the diamond.

SI 1 and SI 2 diamonds and above, in my humble opinion can be spectacular. I’m sure there are even some spectacular rings that are included. I have seen at SI 1 and SI 2, there are many stones that do not have anything you would EVER see, even if looking closely. I have known a couple people with rings that DID have very visible blemishes (not sure which clarity) but these blemishes were hidden by the setting of the ring-like under a prong for example. 

Also, rings that are in settings other than solitaire do not require as “perfect” as a diamond to look as wonderful.

  • Cut

Choose a cut that makes your diamond sparkle. Certain setting that let in lots of light are also great for maximizing sparkle. 

**Keep in mind the setting’s ability to be cleaned! If it has a nice open back then you can easily clean the ring back to perfection with a toothbrush and home jewelry cleaner. 

  • Consider different Shapes:

I have an oval shape. I told our jeweler the shapes that I was considering and he offered me the oval one at the best cost-for-size at that time. It depends on what is in stock etc. A round brilliant will always be most expensive though because more of the rough stone must be cut away in order to result in these dimensions. 

Keep in mind that with different shapes comes different things to look for. For example, with an oval shape, the “bow-tie effect” (where it looks like a black bow tie is in the ring as the light hits it) can be prominent or unnoticeable.  

Certification

Not all diamonds are graded equally. I would recommend a GIA or AGS graded diamond to ensure the standards are high and accurate. This will be good for resale if one day you should decide to upgrade (not in everyone’s taste, I know) too.

Alternativos (I heart Spanish):

Ebay

Estate Sales

Etsy

**Remember, stores mark up the cost of their diamond rings many times more than an individual jeweler. Feel free to ask for quotes and shop around. This is a big investment and choice and YOU’RE WORTH IT. 

(Pictured- my friend Nancy sports an enhanced classic with lots of bands to make it modern. I totally snuck this photo.) 

The Thing I Get Asked About A Lot

November 19, 2013

Favorites / Me and Chris / ROMANCE / Uncategorized

St. Peter's Basilica

“Things you don’t know about me” has been trending on Facebook lately and one of my favorite bloggers is running an FAQ video series. You have those questions that people seem to ask you all the time. Something about what you do or who you are or how you look gets people curious about something. Many people (women) ask me to tell them how I met my husband, Chris. What a sweet question that I LOVE to answer. The usual, quaint, brief story I give is:

Our mutual friends, Isaac and Stephanie set us up. Isaac and Chris were friends since middle school. Stephanie and I met in graduate school (acupuncture). Stephanie was always fond of Isaac’s friend, Chris. When we finally came together, it felt right from the start with a lot of laughing. 

Often though, it seems like what the ladies are really asking is, “How did you attract the love of your life?” Since you are reading my blog I am going to get personal now.

One reason I feel both humble and confident about calling Chris “the love of my life” or my “perfect partner” is because I have been married before. The path that I had taken to him was a conscious path of reinvention, prayer and luck.

Very soon before I met Chris, my cheery, positive attitude about one day being with “the man of my dreams and having a family” fizzled to nothing and for two weeks there was a period of hopelessness (of love).

In those two weeks, I barely spoke to anyone other than people at work (my patients). I was so thankful to be wrapped up in their treatments and concerns. For hours after the workday, I sat and stared off into the distance and thought of nothing. Some people call this meditating. Others may call it COOKOO. After a few days of staring in the evenings, I switched into extreme OCD mode, organizing my life down to every little detail. My business was doing much better and I looked for a nicer place to live. 

Once the ducks were in a row, I employed the help of some friends. I took up my friend Stephanie’s offer to tie on a prayer bracelet she had brought back from Brazil. You can read more about it here. I wanted to set the intention of attracting my mate. I wanted to let him know I was ready.

A 100 year old nun and patient at the clinic was always so kind to me. She was from an all-religion-inclusive type of church. She reminded me of nuns I knew growing up. I sincerely asked her if she would pray for me. “Write it down for me on a piece of paper,” she said. When she looked down at the paper, she looked up at me in surprise. “That’s what you want,” she asked in disbelief. “More than anything,” I said. Then I prayed. I wrote and I prayed some more. I wasn’t on any online dating sites. I didn’t take up any blind date offers. I stopped noticing who was in line at the deli. I was waiting for him to find me. When he found me, I knew he wouldn’t let me go.

I worked hard and my practice was doing so well. The friends I surrounded myself with were supportive examples. I spent time with my friends who were married, with children and role models to me. 

There were hours a day dedicated to daydreaming and cultivating my best self. 

I had reinvented myself. Instead of focusing on who Mr. Right was or daydreaming of being “saved” (gag and p.s. the “being saved” fantasy was a very brief period) I was becoming Mrs. Right. Manicured nails, self-confidence, a great work out regimen, self-supporting, cute condo by the beach and all the self-discipline of a lady. Does it sound like gloating? Well, I looked at it as hard work and focus. I was my best version of myself. The days of disappointment were over. It was only possible to attract a match, no one who didn’t make the cut. There was no “well, he’s nice and has a good job.” 

I DID make the list for Mr. Right though. It was 11 pages long to be exact. I drew a “picture” of he and I on the white board of my fridge. He was in a nice biz casual outfit because he was a professional and he had really nice hair. I stood next to him with one leg bent in the air. I was kind of jumping up with happiness. He was steady and stood tall. 

I knew he was on his way. I actually said aloud to Stephanie once the bracelet was on that he would come around within 2 months. Our courtship would be easy and we’d soon be romantically engaged then married. Then it happened. It was hilarious and it was perfect in the most unexpected but comfortable way. 

(photo: Chris and I in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. Vatican City, Rome) 

Why You Need To Start A Blog

October 3, 2013

Blog Land / Favorites / Uncategorized

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Why is everyone starting a blog these days?

(Disclaimer: Blogging isn’t for everyone. I started out stalking other people’s blogs- a first-world hobby, but then decided to try it out for myself.)

1. Advertise Your Work:

Do you have a business/profession where seeing your photos, examples, or your personality would help people make a better decision on whether or not to work with you? I chose our photographer because of her INCREDIBLE blog where she shows tons of examples of her work. It was obvious that she didn’t just have a few fluke prize-winners. Her blog showed that she was consistent with her style and work. We could count on our experience being comparable and it was! It was clear that her personality was also a great fit for us.

Share all that valuable information you have!

2. Develop A Focus:

Want to become specialized/an expert in an area but don’t know where to start?

Start a blog.

You will eventually become clear on your interests and can then specialize.

3. Connect:

Tap into an entire community of people who think like you and like to knit similar cartoon alien headwear. Find a new job, new colleagues and new friends.

4. A Healthy Routine:

Exercise your discipline and commitment muscles. Set up goals and stick to them!

5. Let Go Of Some Fears:

Let’s be honest. In the beginning, no one except your grandma is reading your blog (if you’re lucky). So, write about something you need to get off your chest, your personal opinions, something you learned, a dream you may have or maybe even a little confession. It’s cathartic, empowering and eventually inspirational.

6. The Ultimate Challenge:

Keep your mind sharp by learning new skills-

How to code simple objects to improve your site’s look and navigability.

Unveil the world of SEO or search engine optimization. See how the world wide web works from the inside out.

Improve your Photoshop/GIMP (imaging software) know-how. Make great collages and layouts.

It’s like interior design. You are continually rearranging your room, throwing out the old and bringing in new shiny things.

Learn how Social Media works and why it can be valuable.

7. It’s Free:

Go to a site like Blogger and set up a customizable and free blog.

Go a level up and purchase a template from a template site or ETSY.

Get even more serious and hire a freelance designer (I used Dirt and Lace Design Studio who I found on ETSY).

**Ask me any questions you’re having. The biggest step is writing that first post.