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!
San Francisco is home to many ethnic areas so I decided to spend the day exploring three different areas: Chinatown, Union Square, and Tenderloin aka. Thai Town (my phone died so I unfortunately do not have any cool images of the later two cities *cries*) – nevertheless I’ll still compile a list of the places you’ll have to visit!
It’s quite a walk from the Exploratorium – but after a good 30 minutes or so we finally made it to Chinatown. Notes: Most of these restaurants won’t have their own business pages so I included a hyperlink to their respective yelp pages – hope it helps! 🙂
Chinatown Food (Cheap Eats)
New Lun Ting Cafe: By the time we walked to Chinatown I was famished. I pulled up my phone and looked for some cheap eats with generous portions and this restaurant popped up. My friend and I shared the Oxtail stew and for $8.95 it was quite a steal. The meat was fall off the bone tender and the gravy was a great accompaniment to the rice and veggies.
Good Mong Kok Bakery: Serving traditional dim Sum in a fast food type of manner. If you see a long line outside you’re in the right place. Stand there and get read to point to everything you’d want to eat. They have everything from har gaw, BBQ buns, shu mai among other items. Each item is also jumbo sized – like twice the size of a typical counterpart. Cash only.
Golden Gate Bakery: No trip to SF’s Chinatown would be complete without sampling the famous egg tarts – if you catch them when they’re open. On many different occasions this bakery has closed due to random vacations, but you can check their Facebook page to see status updates.
AA Bakery and Cafe: A bakery serving authentic sweet and savory pastries for a very affordable price point. I took two buns home and they tasted great 🙂
The Fashionable Diva ($$$) in the Financial District/ Union Square
Tourists and locals would flock to Union Square to as it’s the Heart of San Francisco (complete with all the heart sculptures you can imagine). It’s also home to almost all the major designer labels and fashion staples. But if you’re looking for something a bit more unique consider the shop below.
Angelic Pretty and Harajuku Hearts: If you’re into Japanese fashion, you’re going to love this store. Angelic Pretty carries more girly, frilly items whereas Harajuku Hearts tailors to the moth goth punk crowd. Both share the space and there are a bunch of really cute unique items. Kawaii!
Authentic Thai ($) in Tenderloin, CA Sai Jai Thai Restaurant: When most of the patrons are Thai you know you’re in a solid joint. This hole in the wall restaurant serves traditional Thai fare for a very reasonable price (see menu above). The pad thai with shrimp was really tasty and I would definitely be back again!
Do you have a favorite frugal find that I missed? Comment below!
The first major pit stop for my 8 day roadtrip was San Luis Obispo (roughly 4 hours away from Orange County) and I was famished. Ready for the first foodie stop!
Click here if you missed the original post documenting my journey.
Bookmarked on my list was Splash Cafe, a little hole-in-the-wall mom n’ pop shop that’s known for their clam chowder. My friend and I split a bowl ($5.50), which was essentially twice the amount but only a dollar more. A cup was $4.50 and they didn’t mind giving us an extra cup to share.
The soup was on the more salty side, but it was very flavorful and creamy. The seafood was ample and I can see why this restaurant is a local favorite. I saw a lot of delicious looking pastries in the display case, but wanted to pace myself for all the yummy munchies I’ve planned for this trip.
As a small college town San Luis Obispo is home to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (aka, SLO), one of two Cal Polytechnic schools in California (the other being Cal Poly Pomona) that emphasizes a “learn by doing” educational philosophy. The university is known for their robust engineering program, but also their flourishing agriculture and horticulture department.
A cool and FREE thing to do is visiting the Leaning Pine Arboretum, a 5 acre garden with breathtaking mountain views. The garden features plants from all over the world including New Zealand, South Africa and other Mediterranean climates.
Pro Tip: Park in the student lot before you hit the horse ranch and pay the blue automated ticket box. Parking is $2 for an hour.
Hours of operation is 8am -5pm, Monday – Saturday; however, I recommend travelers to come early in the morning to beat the heat. 45 minutes to an hour is also adequate time to spend walking through the different gardens, but they do have benches scattered throughout the park so you can definitely slow down and enjoy the scenic views.
After a brisk walk around the garden it was time for lunch and let me tell you if you’re hungry you definitely want to hit up Firestone Grill – it’s where all the hunky firemen eat *wink*
Unfortunately on my visit there were no men in uniform on break; however, my eyes were all on the tri-tip sandwich ($9.25) – yum! The meat was super tender, BBQ sauce was tangy , and the bread was lightly toasted making it a really hearty meal. Two thumbs up! The restaurant set-up is also really conducive for any sports gathering. I can only imagine what this place would be like for the Superbowl or the World Cup. With great food and ample big screen tv’s I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. It’s a happenin’ place!
But if you’re looking for a more intimate location to enjoy a conversation with a friend or just seeking a great local coffee shop, Scout Coffee Company, is an up and coming cafe simple rustic decor. The environment has a type of zen feel and patrons can enjoy everything from their cold brew to homemade almond milk.
The SLO downtown area has a lot of great cute restaurants and shops and one that caught my eye was the Hep Kat Clothing, a shop that sells new vintage style clothes, which is timeless and very figure flattering. I only quickly browsed through their sales racks, but they had some really adorable items.