I had such a great time hosting a 'Yes To The Dress' brunch for my bridesmaids this past weekend! Traditionally the bridal party goes dress shopping together and upon finding "the one" the boutique hosts champagne for them to celebrate.  I, however, ordered my dress from an online store so I wasn't able to experience this affair.  Not wanting to stray from tradition, I decided to host a brunch so I could show the girls my wedding dress.  On the menu was a few appetizers + an abundance of champagne because why limit ourselves to just one glass?! Minus the incident where Linh was nearly decapitated from the champagne cork, the afternoon was filled with constant laughter (and maybe a little bit of gossip). If wedding planning could just continue to be this easy, I'd appreciate it.  



Crying In My Mom's Lap
There are so many things I neglected to appreciate as a daughter in my earlier years: the biggest one was my mom’s ability to understand situations I endured in life and how I would undoubtedly react to them.  It’s silly to think that the woman who raised me and molded me into the person I am today would be the last person I looked to for friendship. I’m abased to admit the first time I openly let my mom see me cry was in my mid-twenties.  And while the story behind it is not important, here’s something that is: you are never too old to need your mom.  There is something so special that happens when God creates the relationship between a mother and her children; they truly are the remedy for every broken heart.  So whether I’m 6, 26, or 46 I am so blessed to know I can always cry in my mom’s lap - just as she has often made the commute to where her mother is, and done the same.  

Creating A Financial Budget - And Sticking To It
2015 was a crazy year for Tommy and I.  We traveled quite a bit and because of this we had to remodel our financial habits. I wouldn't say we were careless with our money.  As a matter of fact, we thought we were doing pretty well: neither of us had any debt, we both put about 30% of our paychecks into savings, and we had more than enough expendable income to do the things we wanted to do on a daily basis.  The main flaw we saw in our spending was that we weren’t keeping track of any of it.  Once we started to, we realized which areas of our spending needed restructure.  Rather than creating a monthly budget, we created a bi-monthly budget for every pay period (since we both get paid twice a month).  In doing this we were able to see that, very often, our expenses for the period were greater than our income for the period.  For example, if I got paid $100 on the 15th (obviously a made up wage), I was often spending $120 before I got paid again on the 31st.  Though these overages were often small, they gave us perspective on where we could reduce our spending and add to our savings.  Most of our overspending came in a not-so-surprising category: food.  We were overspending not only on eating out, but also on groceries!  Did we really need to be buying expensive seafood so we could eat surf and turf three times a week and falter to every ridiculous deal Sam's club had on Tombstone pizza? Probably not.  This encouraged us to develop meal planning strategies and in turn made us better grocery shoppers (if anyone wants free Tombstone pizza - please inbox me).  

We also realized we were keeping more expendable income in our checking accounts than we needed to - so we started putting  those additional funds into our savings accounts.  Getting on a good financial track is so important, and developing disciplined habits early on is crucial - especially if you're in it with someone else.  My best advice: learn how to use Excel.  Spreadsheets change your life!

Taking My Parents To Disney World 
I’ve always wanted to take my parents on vacation but I never thought it was good timing.  This year with getting engaged, planning for our 2017 wedding, and paying for tuition out-of-pocket I thought it to be undoable.  But then I realized that if I always made up excuses like this in my head that “someday” would turn into “never” and before I knew it I’d wake up and be  27 and regret all the times I said I’d do it but didn't.  So I broke the mold and booked a trip for my parents and little brother to go to Disney World.  It is honestly one of the things I am most proud of because my parents have made the ultimate sacrifices for me and my siblings and they truly deserve the world on a silver platter. I'm sure you’ve all got Disney World engraved in your minds as a magical place for kids, but judging by all my dad’s pictures with Buzz Lightyear and his take home of multiple plush toys, I'd say Disney World brings out the kid in all of us.  They have Dinosaurs that actually walk around the park okay!  If you don't get excited by the sight of that, you have no soul! So whether it's calling my mom to just say 'hello', stopping by and dropping off groceries, or taking them out to dinner from time to time - it is my ultimate joy to contribute to my parents happiness and cherishing every moment I have with them.  

Taking A Month Of Unpaid Leave 
So many people think if they don’t have paid vacation days that they shouldn’t take time off.  If you plan ahead and have cogent spending habits - or let’s say, a good financial budget (see #2 above) - this should absolutely be doable! This past December Tommy and I took a month off to travel to China, Taiwan, and Thailand.  I remember being extremely nervous knowing I was going to take a month of work off unpaid.  I prepared close to a year in advance to make sure everything would be taken care of in our absence: our utilities, our rent, and other miscellaneous bills.  In that month I saw the country my parents were once refugees in, I met my aunt who hasn’t seen my family in over 35 years, I ate alien food, I bathed in mountains, I fell in love with strangers, and I became someone’s fiance!  It was the best month of my life.  And by all means, this isn’t intended for you to think you should take unpaid time off just to go on vacation or to encourage careless work ethic. Sometimes we need a day to visit family.  Or a day to rest.  Sometimes we just need to choose ourselves first.

No Longer Measuring My Success
One of the hardest feats I’ve had to overcome in my coming of an adult is accepting that life is not a race and my timeline is not determined by someone else’s.  I’ve found ‘success’ to be such an asinine term.  It’s a weird habit to measure your success in life only by the numbers side of the equation. Who cares if you bring in $100K a year if it only buys you a crappy apartment that you hate in a city that stresses you out with friends that don’t inspire you and a daily existence you mostly daydream about escaping from?   Who cares if you have 12,532 followers on Instagram and get 430 likes on staged photos with imitated aesthetics and overexposed  lighting?  We’re all guilty of seeking validation in superficial environments and we’re all familiar with the feeling of how second-rate those ventures often make us feel.  It’s okay to be two steps behind.  It’s okay to make less money than your peers. It’s okay to be second best and it’s also okay to be just as good as someone else.  Only you can truly know what kind of life you want, but opening your mind to measures of progress beyond salary and social acceptance will give you a much better chance of crafting a life you love.  



For anyone who follows me on social media, you’re probably already aware that Tommy and I got engaged this past December while we were in Thailand!  Our trip to Asia is an overdue post, but I hope to find some time to share our experiences from that soon. That being said, this is such a special time in my life for said reasons and more!  There will be no shortage of laborious days ahead and for that reason; I’ve decided to document the events leading up to the wedding. The first being the bridesmaid proposals!

Like any fanatical bride-to-be, I wanted to find a creative way to make my bridesmaid proposals simple, yet intimate for each one of my girls.  As those closest to me already know, I take the art of ‘gift-giving’ (yes, it’s considered an ‘art’ to me) very seriously. Every detail that went into these proposal gifts – from the color of the boxes to the filler inside was conceived through spiritual mediation where several good friends of mine lost their lives (RIP Moscato, Pinor Noir, Chardonnay, and the $5 wine from Sams Club whose name I forget).  

Choosing my bridesmaids will be the second easiest decision I will make throughout this wedding planning process (the first was saying ‘yes’ to Tommy).  The girls I chose are the sweetest, smartest, and funniest girls I know and while they are 4 of my closest friends/family members, they have also been exceptionally active in coming to know and love Tommy the last 4 years we’ve been together.  I cannot describe in words the extent of my excitement to have had them all say ‘yes’ (nevermind that snipers were on standby in the case that any of them said 'no').  To avoid overkill, I only snapped photos of a couple of the boxes, though they were all synonymous.  Scroll down for photos & details!

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Proposal:
FREE Printable c/o SomethingTurquoise
Candles: Target
Poloroids: Polabora (Love this site!  6 prints for only $5 USD and FREE shipping!  Takes about 3 weeks)
Macaroons: Cocoa & Fig 
Emergency Kit: Pinch Provisions
Boxes: Michaels (similar ones on Amazon!)
Glitter Name Tags: Sugar Paper LA for Target
Box Filler / Twine / Greenery: Michaels
Cards: Target (Dollar section!)



Dress: Forever 21 | Shoes: Ninewest | Bag: French Connection | Jacket: H&M

'Dressing up' for me typically means switching up my modus vivendi of sweats & sneakers to sweats, sneakers, & a statement necklace.  I've always been an advocate of comfort style which is really just a decorative way of saying I'm an advocate of dressing like a coach potato. This translates to me always wearing long dresses or skirts to formal occasions so no one can actually see the air force one's I'm wearing underneath.

Last night I attended the 2015 SOY (Shades of Yellow) Hmong New Year Event in Saint Paul with some family members, which celebrated the GBLT community here in the Twin Cities.  It was a beautiful night filled with beautiful people so I made the exception of pulling out the short dress & high heels (okay they were really only a 1/2 inch heel, but that's still progress!).  You'll see we got a little carried away with our selfie stick, but hey! We was feelin' ourselves!  Until security escorted us out...