Tuesday, December 31, 2019

My 2019

Click for this year's monthly recaps:
Click for past year's wrap ups: [My 2018] [My 2017] [My 2016] [My 2015]

I tackled my blogging much differently than last year and the preceding years, but I want to at least be consistent with what has become my annual wrap up. I've really been enjoying looking back at my summaries from past years and definitely want to continue this if only just for me.

Favorite Purchases
My number of Liz Lisa purchases went way down this year, even compared to my low numbers in 2018 (approx 32 in 2019 versus 51 in 2018 including both new and secondhand but not accounting for what I sold) and nothing really made my top favorites as a huge standout! Crazy how times have changed.
EATME garter off shoulder OP in khaki (purchased in June)
My first big EATME purchase! I had been keeping my eye on the webstore and just waiting and waiting for something I liked that seemed quintessential EATME but that I could feasibly wear in Hawaii weather and this was exactly it. I like that the design is subtle but still interesting and I really adore the dark green ("khaki" according to JP) color. I even wore this on Christmas lol. (And also purchased the pink version later on sale.)
- Olivia Burton Pretty Blossom watch (purchased in May)
I don't know why it took me so long to order an Olivia Burton watch, but I'm definitely a fan and really love the girly but elegant faces/designs. I was close to picking my recently purchased silver tone watch for this because it has sentimental meaning, but I wouldn't have gotten that one if it weren't for this pink and gold one and, I have to admit, I do love the color and theme of this one a LOT.
Michael Kors manhattan medium purse in black (purchased in Sept)
The impetus for this purchase was having a purse that matched with the vibe of my newly acquired EATME items. My wardrobe has been cutesy/sweet leaning for so long that I don't have anything black with a little bit of an edge. After spending a few weeks searching different brands and websites, I knew this was the perfect purse but it took me just as long to commit to paying for it. I have absolutely 0 regrets and loved having it for my Chicago trip and many of my outfits since.
- Lulu Fleurir earrings (purchased in April)
It was 2 long months before these earrings finally made it to me (along with the iPhone case, necklace and bracelet), but it was worth the wait. I love the design and I think they match with so many of my existing wardrobe pieces. I was wearing mostly studs for a long time, so this got me back into wearing dangly earrings. Although some of the gold color does seem to be rubbing off already, I still opt to wear them often.
- DreamV cross strap pumps (red, black, white, beige, coral, lavender)
Easily one (or more like 7) of the best purchases I made all year. I used to wear my Liz Lisa 3d flower pumps all the time, especially the white pair. I was thrilled to find a more neutral (minus the flowers) dupe on DreamV at a reasonable price and with a slightly higher heel and scooped up a bunch of them over the first half of the year. I even got a second pair of the black before it sold out because I knew I would wear them a lot. They're my go-to shoe for work but can easily be worn for many different occasions. I'm still missing the sax color, so I'll see if they ever go on sale again!
Laurie Fleming Asrai Garden Ring and Aika Ring (purchased by my husband in November)
I haven't had a chance to blog about this yet [blogged here!], but I would be remiss not to mention these as part of my favorite new items this year. I technically didn't purchase them, but I'm going to count them in this section anyway because they're new additions from 2019 that I'm completely obsessed with. I plan to have a full detail blog post about these rings early next year!

Favorite Outfits
These are my favorites from my Work OOTDs that got posted to my IG story this year + 1 from each of my major trips! (More on my thought process behind that in the Blogging & Social Media section below)
While some Liz Lisa and lighter colors still made the cut, I've always favored "different" outfits for this end of year wrap up as they stand out the most to me and tend to feel more special. Even though my Liz Lisa wardrobe has drastically dwindled in the last couple years, I'm rewearing a lot of my most loved pieces in more and more casual ways and while I enjoy that, they're really just regular clothes anyway. Overall, I'm quite happy with the selection I had to pick from this year and I hope nest year brings even more outfit diversity.

Blogging & Social Media
This might be a irrelevant section for a lot of people, but I really like to record where my head is at with regard to blogging every year since it's definitely shifted a lot. While I feel like my attitude towards privacy on social media in a general sense has been pretty consistent over the years, I've really had some ebb and flow with regard to how much I'm motivated to post in 2019. In January, I thought I would hit the ground running with a new POV and maintain that, but felt really guilty about it soon enough and stopped. Plus, as much as I know it doesn't matter, the Instagram algorithm and how I literally lose hundreds of followers every time I start to consistently post again is always discouraging.
To somewhat circumvent the guilt I was feeling towards involving others in my posting, I started doing Work OOTDs in my Instagram stories in late May. I enjoyed taking back ownership of the photo taking while it being relatively low effort but still producing a result slightly better than "mirror selfie"-level. I started a self-induced challenge of featuring every work-appropriate item in my wardrobe at least once before being able to rewear anything which was really motivating and encouraged me to reexamine my closet a lot. Once that was over though, I kinda got lazy with 1. the outfits themselves and 2. taking the photos when I got into work, especially when it was a meh outfit. That's where I'm at right now and I want to find a different method for next year where I'm producing decent daily outfit content but actually enjoy doing it instead of it feeling like a chore. Maybe I need to do a monthly theme or monthly challenge. If you have any ideas for me, let me know! My preference is not to wear the same item multiple times a month if I can help it, but I guess only a few of my coworkers would notice.
For my blog here, I'm happy that I maintained doing my monthly updates which were a bit more fun than the one really long aggregate post that I did in 2018. The frequency was easy to keep up with - my only issue was when I didn't really have anything I wanted to share during a month which is boring but not a big deal. Unless anyone has any specific feedback, I plan to continue to do something similar next year but also to make an effort to do some more individualized posts for special items (like the LuluFleurir order) aside from just my trips. I might consider breaking out my outfits and purchases into separate individual posts, but I'm not sure if I can keep up with that for the whole year. I do want to make some header and sidebar changes soon as well since those haven't been updated in a long time.

I somehow managed to qualify for Pualani Gold status on Hawaiian for 2020 this year without 3 roundtrip flights to Japan. I actually flew a lot interisland this year and they really added up!
I actually went to Kauai a bunch for work (January, July, October, November) including going solo for one of those. It was a little daunting but I ended up enjoying not having to worry about basing my schedule around anyone else and even tried a few new (to me) restaurants on my own. I feel pretty confident in the area I stayed in now which is a huge plus.
Husband and I went to the Big Island 5 times - New Years, May, Lychee x2, Longan. My mother-in-law is originally from Hilo, so we return several times throughout the year to visit her mom and the rest of the family. The most important aside from New Years is summer when we go to help harvest lychee and longan! It's hard work but always so rewarding.
I went to Chicago for the first time (aside from a layover) for work in September and my husband met up with me for a short vacation after. We stayed with family friends and had a great time exploring downtown and riding Divvy bikes. I would definitely go again if the occasion arose.
This year we only stayed in Tokyo when visiting Japan (Spring, Winter), but these were both different sorts of trips for me. The first one was with my MIL and her mom who I've never traveled with before but were the driving force of the trip. The goal was to enjoy sakura and Ashikaga Flower Park which were both amazing. The second just for fun but mostly to meet up with my bestie who was in the area for work! This was my first time traveling with her and introducing her to some of our favorites in Tokyo.
I know we are very blessed to have all of these opportunities to travel - both near and far. There's always something different to see and new to learn.

Life Events
I turned 28 this year but still had plenty of firsts! Aside from some of the obvious ones on my trips or already mentioned - first time traveling to Chicago, first time time on an eBike, first time picking longan, first time buying EATME online etc, I also had some regular, run-of-the-mill life first time experiences that definitely had an effect.
During this past year, I tried Thai Food for the first time. I tried a pole dancing class for the first time. Had to travel completely solo for work for the first time. There was the first time I listened to an album all the way through in a long, long time. Ariana Grande's thank u, next album got me through some really long work days and I enjoy almost all of the songs on the album (enough to just listen to everything on shuffle). We tried out a few restaurant, Waioli Grill, for the first time and now totally love it.
I always want to keep trying new things and having new experiences. I look forward to my list of firsts being even longer in 2020!

More memorable moments
Most of my favorite and most memorable moments were already mentioned in one of the above or below sections, but I just wanted to also give a small shout out to these:
Sunflower fields at sunset - Not gonna lie, I wanted to go for the IG photo op, but this turned out some of the most amazing pictures of the year, even competing with the professional photo shoot we had in Tokyo. I love looking at all the photos from this day and they bring me so much joy.
Hiking - We did a variety of hikes this year - mostly with my bestie and her bf. I never spend as much time outdoors as I should, but again, I look back at these photos and can always recall what I good time we have when we make the effort to go out and explore the island.
The holiday season - This could be because it just passed, but omg this Christmas and New Years just felt like SO MUCH. In a good way. But also I just felt like we constantly had something to see or somewhere to go and family to arrange with. Now that it's officially over, I can say that I think it went off without a hitch for the most part and phew, we made it! I loved our tree and decorations this year, and I'm just really happy with how everything worked out.

My job
My job title is still the same and my coworkers are still the same but my actual duties got realigned a little bit this year in a really big way.
I will be/have been traveling a bit more for work now, but just to Kauai so it's not that much of a hardship. I really hadn't visited Kauai in years prior to this and now I'm going multiple times a year! I'm learning a lot more about it, even just from my brief stays. Even though I still can't imagine living there, I definitely understand why other people love that lifestyle. Aside from that, I feel comfortable but challenged in my position and have some new projects coming my way that I can't wait to tackle in the next few months.

My house
I refinanced this year. I really had no idea what that meant before I started the process, but my loan officer helped me a lot and my mortgage is a little bit lighter every month because of it. Seems worth it so far! Our major home project was the irrigation/piping leak a couple months ago which resulted in insane water bills before we caught it, but thanks to guidance and help from my dad, a DIY-able issue. We also had a little bit of an ant problem that I think I reasonably resolved with the right kind of bait/traps in the right areas, but other than that, home ownership is still pretty nice!
My friend Christa was our first overnight guest when she visited in May. We didn't get any new major furniture this year but will probably look at getting 2 new desks for the office maybe during the next 3-day weekend and I'm still looking to find some art that I want to put up throughout the bare walls!

My marital status
If you haven't read any of my Japan trip Winter 2019 posts yet, you may not have noticed that I started referring to my bf as "my husband". I got a couple of confused congratulatory DMs, but just to be clear, you didn't miss something. I didn't make an announcement. We got 1. engaged in August and then 2. married in November, and I didn't post about it. It wasn't a secret, but I just wasn't up to making a big hooplah at the time. However, I did want to refer to my husband as, well, my husband in the posts because...he's my husband and I love him. I did start a "my engagement and wedding planning" post that I may or may not share in the future, so that may be coming some time late next year if I'm up to it. I actually just picked/bought my dress and have a ton of ugly photos of me in the dresses I didn't pick so that might be fun to share later!

I hope 2019 was nice to you and that 2020 will have only the best in store. May you be surrounded with happiness, helping hands and hugs. If conflicts arise, may you overcome and at the end be stronger, wiser and still hopeful. Hauoli Makahiki Hou from Hawaii <3

December 2019 - Liz Lisa, Olivia Burton, EATME, Ted Baker + Tokyo trip w/o wifi & Christmas

I can't believe 2019 is finally over! The holiday season always passes so quickly, but I had quite a few things going on this month. And I ended up making more purchases back at home for myself than I really did on my trip lol.

Liz Lisa heart scallop ribbon blouse in pink (195-1005-0), flower pumps in pink (181-9608-0) and double ribbon clear heel sandals in yellow (183-9612-0)
The heart scallop ribbon blouse in pink finally restocked and, lucky me, on sale! I kept checking back for it because I missed my chance when it was initially released since I only wanted this color. Even though I find blouses with a color accent a bit limiting (compared to all white), I know I have several options for pairings for this and I can't wait to wear it next year. The shoes I threw in my cart because I wanted to take advantage of the free shipping promotion. I already have the pumps in white and the sandals in white/pink so this is just me doubling/tripling up on my favorites.

Olivia Burton Enchanted Garden Demi Dial Watch
I've been looking at getting a silver tone watch for almost half a year now. The EATME items I've been buying all have silver metal accents (whereas Liz Lisa always does gold), so I really wanted to get a watch that didn't clash. A lot of my earrings and rings are also more of a silver/white gold color, so it just made sense to get a watch that matched. After getting the Pretty Blossom watch this summer and adoring it, I was determined to get another watch from Olivia Burton. Although I had a lot to choose from, I knew I wanted something on the lower price end (for the brand) but was still uniquely Olivia Burton which meant getting a floral face. The band is supposedly blue but in a lot of fluorescent lighting actually appears slate grey which I really like. I also opted for free debossing on the band which is my new last name. I see it every time I look at my wrist and I love that small detail that is obvious to me but not super obnoxious.

EATME lace up neck rib top in pink, dot tulle off shoulder blouse in black, side lace up skirt in mix
EATME items finally started going on a decent sale again. The blouse that I desperately want is still out of stock (I just can't commit to paying $99 at full price) but I thought these would be a good supplement in the mean time. I already have the pink version of the skirt but the mix color was a very near second choice at the time, so this seemed like a good opportunity, and the tops were just a good price to round out my order! Unfortunately I had to upgrade to EMS when shipping with Tenso after the package was too large for small package so that was the main bummer (plus it also took forever??)

Ted Baker NANINA - Neapolitan buckle detail dress in light gray
I received a really nice Christmas gift from Ted Baker from my MIL, but I was curious so I went to take a look in the store and they were finally having a sale on this dress! I had seen it a couple months ago but definitely couldn't pay full price for it and this was the last one in my size. Knowing that my MIL wouldn't mind me exchanging her gift for something I really wanted for a while, I made the exchange and got the dress. I already have a few occasions in mind for when to wear it! 

Homde faux leather jewelry box/organizer (from Amazon)
I recently realized that I actually have a fair selection of rings and earrings now. I've pretty much just been keeping them on a little dish in my bathroom which isn't great storage and really wanted to find a better solution. I ended up scouring Amazon for "jewelry organizer" and picking this one. There were SO many choices and so many different reviews, but I really just ended up picking what I thought suited my specific jewelry the best. Etsy was another place I looked but I actually liked the Amazon selection more. I really like the necklace hooks (the main thing I wanted to reorganize) and then the top section which I'm using for accessories I'd likely wear almost every day. The drawers have been for more specialty pieces. In the 10 or so days since I got it, I've found myself accessorizing a lot more now that I can see all my choices in one place!

I fell off the wagon even more with work outfits this month. I was out of the office a lot due to my trip and other personal leave due to end of year, but even when I did go in, I didn't feel like taking photos most of those days. Either because my outfit didn't feel special enough or sometimes I'm just not in the mood to be patient enough to stage everything in the morning to get the shot. I may take a different approach to this next year because I really don't want it to feel like a chore.
Forever21 bow tie blouse, Ank Rouge key embroidery cardigan, EATME faux leather zipper skirt, DreamV cross strap pumps, Michael Kors manhattan purse

Liz Lisa bow tie blouse, Liz Lisa sweet latte cardigan, Liz Lisa bear book skirt, Liz Lisa 3-strap pumps, Samantha Vega bijou ribbon purse 

Liz Lisa color scheme blouse, Liz Lisa frill ribbon cardigan, Liz Lisa bear book skirt, Liz Lisa 3 strap pumps, Samantha Vega purse 

Delyle Noir shirring cami tunic, Forever 21 cardigan, Material Girl pants, Jessica Simpson Dany sandals, Michael Kors Manhattan purse

Liz Lisa off shoulder blouse, Liz Lisa houndstooth fitted skirt, Liz Lisa ribbon beret, DreamV cross strap pumps, Samantha Vega bijou ribbon purse

Delyle Noir flare sleeve blouse, Ank Rouge key embroidery cardigan, Liz Lisa flower fade skirt, DreamV cross strap pumps, Samantha Vega bijou ribbon purse

Japan trip Winter 2019
My husband and I went on a short trip to Tokyo from December 3 and returned on December 10. This was prompted by my friend J's work trip to Japan and we met up with her for the weekend while we were there. I decided on a slightly different blogging format which was event based rather than chronological and organized by day. This was a little more manageable for me although some of the posts were a little shorter than I would have liked, and some of the details don't fall into any particular category. However, I do still want to remember/write about them, so I want to include some of those details here + maybe just post some photos I liked lol.

Our flights
We left Honolulu for Haneda on the afternoon of Tuesday, Dec 3 and was fortunate to get an upgrade due to our gold status with Hawaiian. Last month of eligibility this year, so I'm glad it was useful! I'm especially grateful for the extra comfort section on the flight over since it's pretty long and we still have to do a lot upon arrival in Tokyo once we deplane and I'm all groggy and grouchy sometimes.

Our return flight from Haneda to Honolulu was the one departing close to midnight (23:55). They do have one that leaves a couple hours earlier, but I figured we might need those hours for something and already knew the shuttle schedule to arrive for this flight. The junk part about it is that I'm usually just so sleepy by the time we board and I try to knock out right away since the flight home is so much shorter than the flight over. Apparently I didn't even take any photos on the plane and I just slept lol. We did get another upgrade on this flight though so that was a win!

The first thing that I like to book after I know the dates when I travel is the accommodations. We decided to check first with Airbnb because that's usually the best price-wise. After looking at many different options in different locations, we settled on this apartment.
Interior - The main downstairs area included a small kitchen with refrigerator and freezer, microwave and other typical appliances. There was a small table with bar height chairs and then a coffee table and fold out couch. Upstairs, in a lofted space, was the bedroom which also had plenty of space for luggage etc. Photos showed a bathroom with a separate toilet and shower area which was a feature we liked.

Location - Listing described the apartment as a 15 minute walk from Shibuya station or a 30 second walk from Shinsen station. Since it's not summer, I anticipated that we'd be okay for the walk and could otherwise just transfer if we were too tired. It truly was pretty close to Shinsen station, but probably closer to 1 minute rather than 30 seconds. And from the JR Shibuya Yamanote line tracks, it's probably closer to a 20-25 minute walk depending on how many lights you catch and which way you walk. We probably walked 50% of the time and took the Keio Inokashira line to Shinsen 50% of the time.

Pocket wifi - The listing included a portable wifi device with the unit, and I had also messaged the host to confirm its inclusion with the reservation prior to our arrival as it was something that was important to me to have (otherwise I'd order a separate one myself). Host confirmed it but when we arrived at nearly midnight on Dec 4 after our long flight, the wifi device was nowhere to be seen and there was some really strict check in instructions with an iPad that was passcode locked but no indication on how to use it. LUCKILY, my husband's phone plan includes an international data plan so we were able to use his phone to message the host but he didn't respond. Long story short, we messaged the Airbnb host multiple times a day, almost every day of the trip and did not ever receive the wifi unit - just messages saying "please check the apartment again" after every 3rd message to him. Believe me, if it was there, I would have found the damn thing. The unit itself does not have a regular installed modem or router so the portable unit was the only source of wifi. We had to rely on my husband's very limited phone connectivity for the entirety of the trip, including to just argue with the host + I would occasionally have to stop in Family Mart if I wanted a stronger signal. Any meet ups with people I had planned were almost impossible to coordinate by myself and I just hate not being able to navigate on my own or look up information ahead of time. This was a huge burden for me and I ended up reaching out to Airbnb Customer Support, especially after the host wouldn't respond to my messages for over 48 hours. Customer Support was reasonably responsive and did issue us a partial refund, but overall, I'm still extremely displeased with how the whole thing turned out. I would definitely rather have paid the regular price and had the wifi/connectivity! Definitely never staying with this host again, but I really dont know what I would have done differently because he confirmed that the wifi unit would be there before we left and the reviews when we booked were all really good!

Trip outfits
I always meticulously plan out my Japan trip outfits, but don't always intend to share my process. Since my work outfit section this month is so dismal and since I blogged the trip based on event, I thought it might be nice to include a small section here for my coordinates. I took the flatlays as part of my planning methodology but they're not picture perfect lol. Every outfit includes my Liz Lisa My Melody 2016 fukubukuro pom pom coat and Samantha Thavasa purse. And since it was pretty cold, for the most part I only have photos with my coat on so the outfits look a little samey :|
Plane outfit:
Liz Lisa sweet confiture jumperskirt, Liz Lisa cardigan, Liz Lisa music note charm long boots

Day 1 (DisneySea and Disneyland)
Liz Lisa color scheme sample blouse, Liz Lisa cardigan, Liz Lisa bear book skirt, Liz Lisa music note charm long boots + Shellie May pouch

Day 2 (Pokemon Cafe and airKitchen cooking class)
Liz Lisa fur collar cardigan, Liz Lisa sweet patisserie sukapan, Liz Lisa smokey color pom pom beret, Liz Lisa 3 ribbon pumps

Day 3 (Kimono rental and eBike tour)
Liz Lisa mermaid sweets parlor OP, Liz Lisa cardigan, Liz Lisa 3 ribbon pumps --> rented kimono

Day 4 (Harajuku Zoo Land and Ramen Museum)
Liz Lisa message ribbon sailor collar blouse, Liz Lisa charlotte print skirt, Liz Lisa music note charm long boots

Day 5 (Shopping day)
Liz Lisa merry go round jumperskirt, Liz Lisa message ribbon sailor blouse (traded it for a cardigan!), Liz Lisa ribbon beret, Liz Lisa 3 ribbon pumps (changed to boots at night for added warmth)
Day 6 (Sweet Escape photos at Shinjuku Gyoen and Go Cafe)
Liz Lisa sleepy bunny OP, Liz Lisa 3 ribbon pumps
(I ended up using my new Samantha Vega purse purchased on Day 5 instead!)

Overall thoughts
A pretty short trip, but honestly we were glad to be coming home by the end of the fourth day lol. Without intending to, we really packed a bunch of activities in there. I had really meant for us to just take our time and not have to rush around, and for the most part we did. But really, just being out all day doing stuff is not the norm for us unless we're working lol. Definitely the lack of connectivity ended up weighing on me too because I was particularly frustrated with the non-response we were getting from the host who didn't even remotely try to remedy the issue. Taking that out of the equation, I'm really happy with many of the new activities that we tried, and I know there's some things we'll definitely want to explore further on future trips like the eBike tour and cooking class!

Links to the rest of the activities on our trip if you haven't seen them yet!

Miscellaneous life updates
Gel nails from Salon Glitter
I usually go to Salon Cherie in Waikiki for my nails, but I really wanted to get them done before my Japan trip and they didn't have any convenient openings so I opted for Salon Glitter since they're open on Sundays. I've been to this salon once before and it's right next to one of my favorite restaurants (Menchanko Tei), but haven't visited in years. I asked for glitter gradient/fade gel on my natural nails and maybe some rhinestones if time allowed depending on how I liked the gradient. The appointment ended up taking almost 2.5 hours lol. The nailist was very kind and patient and I liked the result but the gel started lifting on the tips of my pointer fingers after just 8-9 days and on the rest of my fingers no more than 10 days after that. Gel from Salon Cherie usually lasts me 8-9 weeks lol. I should know better than to switch salons!

Arancino at The Kahala 
Husband's family does an annual Christmas dinner with long time family friends and this year it was at Arancino. They ended up order the course menu, so I took a bunch of photos I thought might be fun to share real quick.
Unfortunately, I only really ate the Pappardelle alla Bolognese and the table bread, so I can't really review anything but doesn't it look nice?

Christmas/the holidays
Christmas fell right in the middle of the week on a Wednesday this year. I had a bit of use-or-lose type leave left even after my trip in early December, but decided to spread it out a bit before Christmas instead of using it all at once. This resulted in a really weird work schedule where I would sometimes be in 2 days in the week and I actually somehow ended up with a whole 7 day period where I didn't end up going in (with the weekend in the middle). I did work between Christmas and New Years but I don't mind that because traffic is light and no one else is in the office. I took advantage of some undisturbed time to focus on some training I needed to do as well as really clean/rearrange my desk which I had needed to do for months lol.
For the actual holiday, on Christmas eve, we did dinner (the meal part) at my husband's mom's side and then went for presents and games at my mom's side after. On Christmas day, we went to church, then to my in-laws house for brunch and presents. We had a break for a few hours and then my parents and brother came to our house for super quick present opening before heading to my dad's cousin's house for dinner with my dad's mom's side of the family. It was a lot for two days and I was surprised I didn't forget anything wherever we needed to go (presents, food, etc). Next, we conquer New Years!

Even though I blogged monthly in 2019, I still plan to do a wrap up for the year similar to what I've done since 2015 or so, so hopefully I can get that finished and published soon. Happy 2020!