What kind of traveler are you?

My friend and I were discussing travel plans for 2015. We both seem to have big plans in place and got to talking about the different kind of travelers there are. So my question to you is, what kind of traveler are you?

The Jet-Setter – You’re confident and poise. You take charge when needed but tend to go with the flow. You absorbed the beauty, culture, and cuisine each place has to offer.
The Shit-Talker – You hate where you’re going but you agree to go anyway (WHY?!). You constantly talk about how much you hate wherever it is you are. You nag and nag and want to go home the second you know you’re going.
The Antsy-Pantsy – You’re anxious and worried. You don’t like change and the unknown. You can’t stand not knowing what is going to happen when and it constantly bugs you. Will there be a typhoon? Hurricane? Tornado? No, thanks!

We only came up with three because those are the three that I feel best describes me. I’m great at absorbing different cultures and cuisines as well as soaking up the beauty. However, there are certain places I always tell myself I will never go (Nebraska) but end up going. It’s really not that bad! I wasn’t in town for tornado season but it was alright. I did get a lot of anxiety on the flight there because the plane was super small and there were lots of people. I was so anxious that during my visit to Nebraska, I went to get my bags after I landed in Colorado. Then a nice gentleman told me that my bags wouldn’t be there because I’m going to Nebraska. Thanks, nice guy! Has that happened to you? haha I’m genuinely curious. What kind of traveler are you?

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Hickory Cheers

For all my readers that have been following the blog for a while, you know I’m committed to giving back to the military community. I had set out to find a website that sends goodies to deployed service members in honor of my birthday next month. As I was growing up I was taught that it’s more important to give than to receive. Last year instead of receiving gifts, I had friends and family donate to TFSP fund. It was an awesome idea and assisted with funding postage for letters and cards, care packages, and my Christmas special. I found one of my childhood favorites, Hickory Farms. As a child I used to sell gift baskets out of the HF catalog. I always begged my parents for the biggest basket because their gouda and sausage is the business. I thought it would be a sophisticated gift as well as one that would hold up for shipping. I purchased the summer sausage and cheese gift box.

The box includes..
2 10oz beef sausage
10oz smoked cheddar cheese
10oz farmhouse cheddar cheese
6oz smoked gouda
2.5oz honey & pineapple mustard
2.25oz sweet hot mustard

All that deliciousness for $40. Shipping is FREE to all military addresses! Hickory Farms is dedicated to giving back to the military as well. It’s so amazing for them to do that because shipping overseas is expensive. The website has examples of how to enter military addresses of different locations like APO, FPO, AE, AP, and AA. I thought it was super helpful because I would have been super confused. I can’t wait until the recipient receives the package. I’m looking into ones that deliver birthday cakes but haven’t found a good one yet. Anyone know of any good places?

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Debt free is the way to be

I’ve received quite a few questions via email about how I finance The Fail Sweetly Project and I’d like to dedicate a post to those questions. I am technically debt free but I don’t think it counts for much because I don’t have house or car loans to pay right now. When I graduated from college I had accumulated $15,000 in student loans. After getting my first job post graduation, I saved EVERY PENNY. I even went as far as counting ALL the change in the various piggy banks I have and putting that into my savings account. It turned out that I had more than $100 in coins! I really wanted to live in Orange County after graduation because it was such an awesome environment. However, reality slapped me in the face and I couldn’t afford it. I ended up moving back home and I still live here now. With all the money I saved from my first job, I was able to pay off all my student loans in ONE year. I know some people don’t have the luxury of moving back home but if you can it’s a great investment. I was very focused on paying back my loans. That’s where all the money went first.

Living at home is not the ideal “cool” thing to do but it really helps you out. I was able to save some money for my emergency fund, housing fund (when I move out), car fund, retirement fund, and The Fail Sweetly Project. Every month I have an amount that goes into each of those categories once the bills are paid. I don’t pay for rent and car insurance (apparently it’s cheaper if you get a family package so my dad takes care of it). My dad made a deal with me that I don’t have to pay for car insurance as long as I can show him that I’m saving money towards buying my own car so he’ll get the one I drive now. I do pay for my own cell phone bill, health insurance, life insurance, groceries, gas, credit card bill, and any other things I want/need. My sister and I split the house phone/internet bill. With that being said, the housing fund and car fund have the most money. My emergency fund has a set amount and I already have that set aside. The retirement fund and The Fail Sweetly Project are a little slower than housing and car funds. TFSP has a set amount I can spend a month. I created a sheet on Excel of all my spendings. I might not spend the set amount every month but I won’t spend more than that amount. I only have one credit card in my name and I always pay off the full amounts each time. My dad has a credit card with all our names and that’s my back up card just in case something goes wrong with my own card. Not to toot my own horn or anything but I have excellent credit. It’s extremely important to have at least decent credit to buy cars or houses. On average I would say I pay around $600 every month for everything excluding TFSP. It’s a pretty good amount to be paying because I know some people pay WAYYYYY more than that. TFSP varies in funding. Sometimes if I get donations from friends or family then I’ll host a giveaway but usually I plan for what/how to spend the amount saved in that fund.

Right now my first goal is to buy my own car. My second goal is to move into my own apartment. Third is to go back to school for my Masters. I want to be comfortable with my finances before I go back to school because I know that will only create more stress and put a dent in my finances. Well there you have it. I hope I answered all the questions regarding my project, my savings, as well as how much I pay per month.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Baking The Blues Away

Ever since the funeral, my family has been kind of in a slump. Everyone seems a little down so I decided to utilize my #1 self-care method. You’re right, it’s baking! I had been meaning to thank the veterans at the VA for helping get into the fellowship program I recently graduated from. Nothing says thanks and happy holidays like a tin of yummy PW cinnamon rolls!
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Three of the five tins
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My own pan! Or my moms…I woke up the next morning and half of it was gone.
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Stockings on the fireplace. Please excuse the grapefruits. My dad wouldn’t let me take them off the fireplace.
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The lights my dad puts up every year.
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An updated version of my Christmas tree! 🙂
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And last but not least, PW mocha brownies. Deliciously sinful. I’ve been meaning to bake some more this week. I’ll be baking some cookies and bite size brownies for family.

I’m glad I got to go to the VA today and see the vets. They were super excited when they heard I was coming in. Because I usually bring goodies of course. They were excited about the cinnamon rolls and dark chocolate almond clusters. I also wrote them Christmas cards to go with the goodies. I didn’t realize it but the cards were a huge gesture to them. A lot of them made jokes about receiving only that card or just a few cards but I know some of them don’t have family. It tugged at my heart quite a bit when we were talking about that since they’re like my second family. They taught me a lot and embraced me for my weirdness. They also talk freely about any topic when I’m around when they used to censor themselves. Apparently I’ve been in the trenches with them before so they don’t mind being themselves.

That’s all for now! I’ll do a post about how I packaged the cinnamon rolls. Happy Holidays!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

A Merry Christmas?

Every year around Christmas time my mom’s side of the family all come together to visit my grandfather, great-grandmother, grand aunt, and grand uncle’s grave sites at Rose Hills Memorial Park. There’s a Chinese holiday that’s behind the visit but I can’t translate it into English where it makes sense (I apologize). Every visit we’ve made, I always see funeral processions taking place. I’ve always thought to myself, wow that must really be brutal to have a loved one pass away during this time of the year. This year, I was that person. My uncle’s mother passed away a few days after Thanksgiving from a stroke. I wasn’t super close with her but every time I saw her she was always happy and excited to engage me in conversation. While attending her services today, I noticed two military funerals taking place. It really tore me up inside.

I think today was a test of character for me. During the service for my uncle’s mother, my aunt completely lost it and broke down crying. In my culture, the son always takes care of the mother when the father isn’t present. My uncle got onto the podium to thank everyone for coming to the service and my cousins just sat there while my aunt lost it. I felt really bad because my aunt was crying really hard and leaned on her oldest son for comfort. Every single person in that chapel heard her. I asked my sister what we should do because someone should go up to her row and comfort her. My sister told me, “okay, go. I’ll watch your purse.” So I went. At first I was hesitant but then I told myself I should live up to the standards that I hold others to. My aunt and I have had a lot of rough patches and while growing up we never got along/saw eye to eye. When she realized it was my arm around her and my hand reaching out, she thanked me. It’s safe to say that family always comes first.

This is the third funeral I’ve ever been to and I don’t know what it’s like for other cultures but in my culture we always have a “memorial meal” after the burial. Usually it’s at some sort of Chinese restaurant. Today we went to NBC Seafood Restaurant in Monterey Park, CA. It’s been a while since all of us have gotten together to eat out but I wish it was under different circumstances. I did take some pictures of the food we ate and the awesome egg tart my mom got me after we left the restaurant.
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In this picture there’s a bowl of rice, a bowl of crab/seafood soup (it’s expensive for we usually only have it for special occasions), a glass of Pepsi, and a plate of honey walnut shrimp and stir fry veggies.
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This plate has sweet and sour ribs, stir fry fish fillets with bok choy, and salted soy chicken with shrimp chips (usually they have the chips with Peking Duck).
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A better picture of my third round of food. The plate was super small or else I would only have one round.
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The delicious egg tart from Jim’s Bakery. It’s so so good! Eggy, sweet, and creamy on the inside and flaky on the outside. That’s exactly what an egg tart should taste like.

While today was bittersweet, I hope that I will remember to put family first above all else. I think that was the biggest lesson for me today. Keep your loved ones close and let them know that you love them.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Fake or Real?

For as long as I’ve been grown enough to know the difference, I’ve always heard people argue about a fake or a real Christmas tree. Some people like the fake kind better while others are vice versa. This year I decided to get a fake tree at Target. I was actually looking at some cards because I have a huge list to send to and I caved. I began inching towards the trees and admiring each one. At first I was just looking but then I found a 6ft tree for $25. It was a pretty sweet deal considering they were selling 3ft fake trees for the same price. Anyway, I got some ornaments and two strings of garland for the tree. I went with a gold theme so the ornaments are gold and silver and the garland is the same colors. In the mist of my excitement, I forgot to get the star. Who does that?! I always thought it was the most important part of the tree. I also needed some new lights because the ones my dad bought forever ago are different colors. My sister laughed at me when I told her she needs to get the star and some lights.
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This is the tree half way done. I still need to put on more ornaments, lights, and the star. More pictures to come when I do that!

I graduated from my fellowship program today! I’m officially certified as a mental health rehabilitation specialist. It was pretty awesome. One of my fellow classmates has his own baking business and he made cupcakes for our graduation. There were three flavors, oreo, vanilla, and red velvet. The oreo one was legit and the red velvet was also delicious. I’ve never been a vanilla cupcake lover so that one never wows me.
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I can’t wait to see what’s next. My internship is over. I graduated my fellowship program. Next up, is job hunting. I’m still waiting on getting a call back for an interview I went to. Hopefully they’ll call me soon. I get super anxious about that kind of stuff. It’ll be really weird not going to class anymore. I felt like my classmates and I really bonded over the last 12 weeks. It was a hell of a ride. I’m glad we’re done but it’s bittersweet. I’ll miss all the residents I had the pleasure of getting to know. I’m looking forward to quality family time this holiday season. I’m going to try my best to go visit Christmas Tree Lane up in Altadena. I always say I’ll go every year but I end up not going. I want to see the decorations this year.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

The Fail Sweetly Project: 2nd Annual Christmas Special

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Hey all! So after a few months of hiatus with the giveaways for TFSP…I’ve come back for an awesome Christmas Special. Last year’s theme was Target. Everything I gave away was from that store. This year’s theme is kitchen. You know, cause I write a food blog and all that. There are three items in this years special. Military spouses get ready! 🙂

Here are the rules:
1. You must be a military spouse (doesn’t have to be active = you can be married to a veteran)
2. You must have an active blog with at least 2 blog posts per month
3. You must live in the U.S. as giveaways only ship within the U.S.

The three giveaways end at 12AM December 8th. One winner will be chosen from each giveaway category. I will post the winners on here as well as email them. You have THREE days to respond or else I will chose another winner.

#1: Georgia Peach Mason Jar Beverage Dispenser
Enter the Mason Jar Dispenser Giveaway

#2: Crock-Pot Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker
Enter the CROCK-POT Slow Cooker Giveaway

#3: 18 Piece Set Wilton Holiday Metal Cookie Cutters
Enter the 18pc Cookie Cutter Set Giveaway

Happy Holidays to all! 🙂 I’m excited to see how this year’s giveaway plays out. Good luck everyone.

Picture courtesy of Google.com.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina