Birthday Freebies- 2017 edition

– Sephora- tarte set
$25.00- Claimjumper + freebie (dessert)
$11.69- Red Robin + freebie (dessert)
$10.00- Godiva
$7.59- Zabas
$6.19- Tropical Smoothie Cafe
$9.29- Golden Corral
$18.00- Grimaldi’s
$9.69- + 20% off (lunch)- Sweet Tomatoes
$4.50- Ben & Jerrys
$35.00- Fogo De Chao
$6.35- Einsteins
$1.35- Yogurtland
$11.49- Lucilles
$8.63- Jersey Mikes
$15.00- Bare Minerals- eyeshadow
$12.00- Rosati’s- Sm thin cheese pizza
$3.99- Victoria’s Secret- panty

Yes, I belong to a lot of e-mail clubs, but there are lots of rewards, so that’s why I signed up!


Cruise Packing List: finding inspiration and style, Part One

We’ve been on two Mexican Riviera cruises on two different lines porting at the same places (Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerta Vallarta). I didn’t know what to bring, on the 1st trip, but I knew that it would take some research (I had a general idea). We weren’t going to a formal dinner. I made a list for me, and another one for our son (my husband had one for himself). I intended to pack my clothing into my carry-on along with our large joint one (everything else, our son’s clothing/ shoes, plus my husband’s clothing/ shoes). After the 1st trip, I had a better idea. It helps to know the following things, though. 

Some questions to ask and consider:

(1) What is your style? When I was doing some online research, some women had some cruise clothing guides which were not my style, either hoochie mama or 20-something. I’m in between those extremes, dress modestly, prefer classics and beach brands to fads, but I really do like my dresses! Whatever you prefer, you must dress in your style, because you should be comfortable.

(2) Are you a minimalist (10 pieces or less) or do you like bringing much more than that (20 plus pieces)? If you don’t mind mixing and matching, bringing some essentials is good enough for you. Some items can go double-duty, like a kimono jacket could double as a layer or a coverup. Your dress can be worn as a skirt (layer a button-down shirt or cardigan over it). Your PJ’s could be your gym outfit. Your travel outfit could be your warmer clothing items. I was cold a lot while we were on deck and pretty much used all my long-sleeves and scarves. (Honorable mention: It looks like the infinity dress is also frequently referenced on other sites.) It might help if you checked your closet and laid possible contenders on your bed and tried mixing and matching them, to make sure that the pieces will work together. 

In addition, I also have cosmetics which go double-duty (Philosophy three-in-one gel, Josie Maran lip and cheek tint, and raw shea butter can be used for many other uses, too).

(3) Will you bringing a large suitcase or do you prefer using a carry-on bag? Some people also prefer backpacks. This will also be an important factor.  

(4) Are you travelling with little ones? You’ll be packing for more people. You’ll need another list of essentials. And maybe a backpack for his/her toys.

(5) What types of activities/excursions will you be doing? This will determine what types of clothing you will need to bring. Also, consider comfortable walking shoes and comfortable sandals- those are musts! Swimwear is needed, especially since there are pools on the ship and beaches to visit at each port.

(6) Do you have a fabric preference? Lots of the non-wrinkle clothing is polyester, but that doesn’t fare well in hotter climates. I don’t like the way polyester sticks to you when you are sweaty, so I avoid polyester items. This also leads into the weather that you expect for your destination. If you don’t want any weird tan lines, this also must be taken into consideration when selecting your clothing (some tanks have strappy backlines). (For cooler climates or cooler deck nights, merino wool is favored, so check out the brands Smart Wool and Icebreaker.)

Websites for inspiration:

(A huge resource)

(one suitcase—this one’s my absolute favorite!)

(I really like her picture of her packing list- such a smart idea to use packing cubes!)

(Lots of packing lists and travel tips.)

(There are so many packing lists on this site.)

Some brands/ websites known for their travel wear:

womens, mens, shoes, luggage


womens athleisure wear, sportswear

womens, mens, shoes

womens, mens, shoes


womens, mens


womens, mens, shoes, luggage

(Useful if you are searching for something specific, especially if it is a retired style or print, and don’t mind purchasing it second-hand.)

I hope this post contained useful information. I’ll be posting another cruise guide soon. 

The Full-time Working Mom’s Challenges

I must admit that  when I had my baby, I was worried about the transition back into the workplace after taking maternity leave. As a full-time working mom, there is a sense of guilt (yes, it is very real, this feeling, and, heavy, at that) with leaving your child in another’s hands. But I am not independently wealthy (although I did possess personal assets, not debt, before getting married), and my income was needed. My sister is a stay-at-home mom and with four kids, it amazes me that she is able to do that. What I am saying, essentially, is there is a sense of admiration for other women who can do this, and at the same time, lots of respect.

I think that the idea of having it all or trying to keep a balance (*always ebbing and flowing*) is a blanket generic generality (and society expects a lot from us, too, at the same time). It’s pretty much a juggling act, every day, monday through friday, day in, day out. Some things get done, while others don’t. If you can live with that, you might have an easier time, because acceptance is a huge part of it. I depend heavily on written lists, because if I commit to memory, I could drive myself crazy, with every task and project (the anxiety could keep one up at night). Deadlines force action (ie. Dmv registration). It throws off plans, sure, but sometimes you just gotta roll with it. (Doing something/maintenance/ cleaning, everyday also helps out, rather than letting all of those tasks pile up on you.) It’s important to set realistic goals, don’t list out 20 items on one day!

I used to get so upset about the things not getting done that I forgot about all the little victories, the tasks that actually got done, thus, marked off my list—that is what truly mattered. I’ve changed my mindset. The bigger picture is, if I’ve done my best on that day, then, that is enough for me. It isn’t the end of the world if something has to wait for the next day, or even the next day, for that matter. (Doctor and other appointments get saved on my cell phone calendar right away.)

Side note: I do think that one must make time daily to exercise (weights, yoga, pilates, dancing, boxing, martial arts, interval training, swimming), meditate, time to be creative (knit, sew, crafts), or whatever other activity you enjoy (creating art, doing crossword puzzles, adult coloring books, pet your dogs or other animals, reading). I know it’s difficult, but please take some time for yourself too. Even just a short walk has good health benefits. If you do something you like, you’re more likely to make this little act a regular activity in your routine.

Sure, some planning is in order in the arena of time management (bring a grocery list when grocery shopping, or cooking once, preparing several dishes for the week, or buying meat in bulk, cutting them up, packaging them separately, and freezing for future use or lunch prep on sundays for the work week)


We are finally moving, Now What?!

Earlier this year, I thought it was crazy fast how we contacted an investor directly and set an appointment to get an offer. BOOM! After a few days (lots of back and forth on our thoughts and feelings), trying to see about our other options (the other investor was not so cut and dry; he was the middle man; we didn’t like that), we accepted the offer. The next problem was, would we find something updated, modern, and newer in our price range in the area of town we preferred? A Bump. The first property we were to look at had sold one hour before our appointment time (the listing agent hadn’t changed the  SOLD status in the system). We were disappointed (it was really nice). We looked at other properties the following day, and found one (it was even better than the one we “lost”- not a thing to upgrade, we needed something move-in ready), so we had our realtor write up an offer. There were six offers on the same property (it was a new listing) but ours was accepted. Excited. Thrilled. Ecstatic.

Of course, all the real work would begin after the accepted offer. One big new change, is, it is a major downsizing operation for us (this is ok with us, we’re fine with that). We’ve been in the same house since 2005. We have to get rid of about 30% of our stuff. It would be one thing to be packing. The other, is, I’ve got to go through things (lots of things—hubby says I am a hoarder (a hoarder can’t walk around freely in his/her home, I reason), but I have collections, my “organized chaos”) to decide if it stays, gets donated, or sold at the yard sale that we are having. Going through stuff is quite time-consuming. I will be glad when it’s all done. I will also feel relief. I know that I’ve been holding on to stuff, and I’ve been dreading the time to face it all. Well, the time is now. (And if we need to a second-coming Purge (post-move), so be it.)

Does this sound easy? Well, sort of… (1) Time is a factor, at first we thought the timeline would be two months. But then, after the purchase contract was set, it moved up by a month! (2) We had planned a vacation (this was made last year). (3) While on vacation, our son’s relapsed cold, which in turn, transferred over to my husband who is sick now, too. (4) I work full-time, so I can only work on things at home for a few hours each week night. On weekends, I can do more, but can’t really make too much noise when our son is napping, either. Yes, all of these things are just examples of life happening when you make plans. Hiccups, bumps, life presses on. I just gotta keep going. I’ve got to get things finished.

My husband, prior to getting sick, has been doing things daily (plus, he did start packing things last year to give us a start), but then, keeps telling me “I don’t know if we have room for this.” So, we have these tough decisions to make, and need to let go of a lot, but I keep trying to focus on the positive end of it all, we are trading up, though others see this is as downsizing (negatively); however, I am quick to point out that we don’t even utilize parts of our current home (it isn’t functional, lots of areas need repair/ attention, and the huge yard we don’t use, it’s a shame…), and the upkeep on the outside maintenance is no longer our problem (we don’t currently have an association, but we get letters saying we need to cut our weeds down and that our trash receptacles need to be placed out of sight, or else we will  be fined—also, the neighborhood is trying to get Landmark status). I would rather give up things than get a storage unit because I did that before, and it was not worth it, in the end.

This move is what we’ve been wanting for so long, and I know it’s been a tough road, but I really want to make a fresh start. I really want a better life for our family.

PS.) I started this blog post months ago, so we’re much more settled and life is less chaotic (moving’s such a huge process).


Bittersweet Goodbye to our home

I love watching home makeover shows on the HGTV and DIY channels. I also thought it would be cool to really customize our space. We had an old home, which was built in 1954. This means no insulation, few storage options, two prong outlets, and lots of unused areas (ie. not functional) of our home, both inside and outside. Many things have mounted over the years (it was getting pretty hard to ignore), and all things considered, we really don’t have $75,000 to plunk into our home, nor did we have the time, due to our toddler and overall busy daily lives (it’s become a fixer-upper, sadly) to get it updated. The neighborhood is changing as the original owners are dying, and there are basically a handful of homes which are white elephants (translation: a constant revolving door of neighbors). Tons of foot traffic (esp. by transients and homeless people) brings garbage, cigarette butts, and other people’s dog poop into our front yard and/ or curbside.

Here’s what was wrong with our home:

(1) No insulation (this was probably the worst feature, it was not comfortable)

(2) No storage (we had one hallway closet that we used for linens)

(3) Two- prong outlets (we had to use those convertor plugs)

(4) Unused space (inside and outside)- kitchen, backyard, storage room (was a conversion)

(5) Bugs—this was the worst I’d seen and I’ve been in many homes over the course of my life

(6) Mold (this was affecting our young son and our senior male dog who has allergies)

(7) Landscaping (front and back- huge, but one of our dogs uses it)

(8) Horrible smells (there was a weird backup line that was very very strong)

(9) Plumbing and pipes (a plumber told us we would need about $8000- to replace the pipes)

(10) Popcorn ceiling (hate those!)

(11) The kitchen was outdated and needed updating (I keep noticing the cabinets in ’80’s movies and home search shows)

(12) The bathroom was outdated and needs updating (the toilet and sink are broken)

(13) All of the tiles were difficult to clean and many tiles were broken/cracked

(14) The windows are double pane and very wide (making it difficult to cover)

(15) Rain damage- likely, a roof problem but our handyman could not find the issue

(16) The siding has come off in several areas (very very windy at times)

(17) Lighting inside the living room was limited as the owner before us, removed one crucial fixture in the dining area

(18) I always thought a fence around the property would maybe keep people and their animals off of the front yard (we had lots of lamps)

(19) There were cracks in the walls, and one in particular bothers are son, who described his room as “broken”

(20) One of the doors was not the right type of door (it was glass and simply painted over to conceal it) and is not fully secure

(21) All of the flooring needed replacing, including the light brown carpets in the bedrooms

(22) Bars on all the windows

Here are some of the features of the house that I did like:

(1) the ranch style, single story property

(2) the front patio enclosed with a gated fence

(3) the open living room and dining room

(4) the size of the backyard was huge (big enough for a pool)

(5) there are three bedrooms and two bathrooms

(6) in two of the bedrooms, I liked the closets, which was from floor to ceiling, the bottom level were drawers, the middle part was for hanging clothing, and the top parts were cabinets (we stored seasonal clothing there)

(7) the living room had some rounded edges connecting the walls to the ceiling, interesting architecture, which added character

(8) the size of the kitchen was nice (most of the space was not functional)

(9) the mirrored wall when you walked through the front door

We had lots of pictures and memories over the dozen plus years, (even had several dogs, who passed away), but we had to move on with the next stage of our lives. We wanted a better neighborhood, in a better side of town, and a newer home. Sure, we downsized by getting a condominium instead of a single residential home, but so far, I’m loving the lower cost of living (we have four less monthly/ quarterly bills), less maintenance overall, we have access to three community pools, and our community is gated. 





From 1954 Single-Family Home to 1990’s Era Condo Living: culture shock


I didn’t think that this whole process would be easy, as we were in our former home since May of 2005 (a three bedroom ranch-style home in the historic Beverley Green neighborhood, near the south-side of the Strip and downtown). I didn’t expect to move so soon, either (a 30-day close) but we found something we liked very much: in our price range, located on the west side of the valley, something built in the 1990’s, and convenient to the shopping areas we like. I would’ve preferred a 60-day close, but I think that the investor was happy about moving the closing date a month sooner.


I now know, that in real time, 6 months would’ve been more suitable for our situation (we are collectors, including our son). Yes, we were downsizing (about four hundred square feet) but I was almost ready for that change, but this was a dramatic change for us. I’d read in articles, a few times, that once a purge was done (ie. setting aside for donations, give-away’s, and having a big yard sale) that another purge would be necessary (I was packing and purging at the same time, a few hours a night, after working at my full-time job—this was pretty time-consuming). We were able to sell some furniture and appliances on craigslist just before the big day.


The move itself was pretty rough, as we were still packing things while moving, not something that I recommend as it gets pretty crazy trying to manage multiple people in your house. Luckily, family members were helpful and very involved. We had to rent the truck for 2 days and we made multiple trips between both properties. Our new place was filled with boxes and stuff. This made life crazy for the first two weeks. Our goal was to go through as many boxes and edit our collections as much as possible (it needed to be done—I found it liberating to let go of things that didn’t bring me joy, didn’t have a use, or something that was just taking up space). We also made numerous donations (this felt good, too, as we were helping the community) almost nightly for the first week.


To gain a little more clarity and sanity, we did rent out a storage unit, just temporarily; just to get some breathing room and not continually bump into this or that. My husband’s goal is to go through things at his leisure. Regarding the clothing purge, I was glad to have less to keep track of, and thankful that there was room in my closet for my favorite items: my dresses and handbags— that was my silver lining. I really made an effort to edit those items, as I keep remembering that all the experts say we use 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. My closet is pretty much set, but I might need a few other organizational items. The neat thing is I know what’s inside my closet.

Coming together

I was so glad that most of the items we selected to keep in the kitchen had a place. This was unpacked and completed early on, which helped a lot. It’s nice to see the living room as a beach-themed sanctuary. It’s nice to see the pretty view from the dining room. Some of the furniture we opted to keep didn’t fit our new space but we were able to find some small-scale items at IKEA. We also went to T.J. Maxx, Wal-Mart, Ross, Marshall’s, and Bed, Bath & Beyond for some items we needed. We found some pretty aqua colored baskets for the laundry area; editing made a big difference, and it’s nearly the way we want it. We are placing an Amazon order. I also want to visit The Container Store.

More ahead

We have a couple more areas to tackle (the patio and our son’s room), then we can move on to the other items needing attention (other collections, items in storage, etc.). But, it is nice, that our place is becoming a home for us. It’s been a long, eventful, painful process, but once, we’re done, I know that I’ll be glad that the hard work was completed. And, don’t get me wrong, I know this is a continual thing, but I’ll still be glad that we did it together.





Beauty School Bargains in Las Vegas, Nevada- guest services by beauty school students

I’m not one to go to the Day Spa, although, I really must make the time to go (I’ve gone to the massage school to get a massage a couple times:—info is on the school, but you can call for details or look up the address—also, you can purchase gift certificates at the school), but here are some bargains worth looking into, for locals and tourists alike.

I went here once when I was pregnant, but the service I had is no longer available (sad face); it was a body scrub treatment, and it was divine! This one does skin care, body care, nail treatments, makeup, waxing services, and hair services, as well as hair color services. I also like that this brand focuses on natural ingredients. I do intend on going there in the very near future. Also, you can purchase gift certificates online, which is a plus! Located in a strip mall, East Tropicana and Eastern corner, near Walgreens.

This is a longtime running beauty school here located on the west side (Charleston, in the Red Rock Plaza strip mall) ; they do hair care (many services!), skin care, back facials, add-on services such as makeup, eyebrow tinting, eyelash application/removal, spray tanning, epilation, and beauty packages here.

Here is another option for you. This one does primarily, hair, and makeup. Located on Eastern, still Las Vegas (89123 zip code).

Hope this information is useful.