Skip to content

‘Tis the Season of Giving

Outside of the local supermarket, a man rings a bell next to a red tin. He stands by a sign that reads “Doing The Most Good”. While volunteering is a year-round activity, the holiday season brings out an extra desire to spread good cheer.

Every contribution can make a difference, from the volunteers who decorate donation bins to the person that drops a can at the bin in his office.

International organizations like The Salvation Army rely heavily on volunteers to support its programs. According to The Salvation Army USA, volunteers are “the army behind The Army” and are key to providing quality social services for the community.

From The Salvation Army’s Annual Report, over 29 million people were assisted last year, and 14 percent were helped through holiday assistance.  With data since 2003, volunteering during the holiday season remains a high percentage of The Salvation Army’s projects.

Another local organization, Santa Clara University, offers students and alumni opportunities to volunteer. The school partners with local nonprofits in an effort to “transform the world”. In an email from Santa Clara University’s Alumni Association, former students are reminded to honor the season of giving. “As you begin to celebrate the holiday season, consider volunteering in your community. Join one of our Alumni for Others (AFO) volunteering projects and give the gift of yourself this season.”

November through January is often known as the season of giving, evident by the actions and results of organizations and volunteers. Nonprofit organizations, individual and group volunteers, money donations, company programs, and food donations are some of the things that make the wintertime such a charitable time of the year.

Above all, volunteering is not limited. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations. Whether one’s passion lies in education, employment, animals, or another, there is likely a group for everyone’s interests. A great way to pay it forward is to volunteer by doing something you love.

There are plenty of volunteering opportunities provided by local organizations.
Here are a few upcoming events:

– 11/29: Feeding the Hungry (Centerville Presbyterian Church, Fremont)

– 12/5: Food Sort (Sunnyvale Community Services, Sunnyvale)

– 12/14 – 12/25: Peninsula Holiday Project at Nursing Homes (VA, Menlo Park)

– 12/16: Holiday of Wishes (Old Golfsmith Store, Fremont)

– 12/20: The Family Giving Tree (Former HP Facility, Cupertino)

– 12/29: Serve Lunch Saturday (Slide, San Francisco)

– 1/25: Serve a Hot, Nutritious Meal (Loaves & Fishes, San Jose)

Other local opportunities:

– Toys for Tots Drop-Off Bins (Various Locations)

– Tri-City Free Breakfast Program (Fremont)

– Tri-City Volunteers Food Bank (Fremont)

– Wish Grantor (Make-A-Wish Foundation Greater Bay Area)

– Meals on Wheels Driver (LIFE ElderCare, Inc., Various Locations)

‘Tis the Season of Giving.

<UPDATE> Published on the Front Cover of Flipside Times!
'Tis the Season of Giving (Flipside Times, November 2012)

<UPDATE> My company is having an Adopt-A-Family fundraiser, and they are matching our donations. Prepared these for our bake sale today! Cinnamon streusels and lemon bars. 🙂 Yummy.

Baked Goods

Advertisements

A Shot of Nostalgia

It’s a common trend for things that were once old-school to make a comeback. Retro-framed glasses, leggings, Backstreet Boys, and even Hello Kitty found its way back to the fashion platform.

Whether you grew up in the 1940’s or the 1990’s, nostalgia is coming, and it’s back with a flash.

It was the most exciting feeling bringing my new Polaroid Pic-300 camera to the cash register with a pack of film on the side. Like a good researcher, I posed questions and hypotheses for my experiment.

Will it work?                                   Doubt it.

Will I use it after a week?             Eh, most likely not.

Is it worth the money?                 No… there’s something called Instagram.

I can safely say that I proved all of my opinionated hypotheses wrong.  I adore this new-school instant camera, and you will too if you love the feeling of an instant snap and shake. The camera takes film that comes in a roll of ten, and the pictures are smaller than the original Polaroid shots.  I would classify them as business-card size. It costs around one dollar per photo for Polaroid film, but the great thing is that Fujifilm came out with a very similar camera that takes the same type of film. You can actually order Fujifilm Instax film for about seventy-five cents a shot and it works the same! I’ve been using my Polaroid for about one month now, gone through thirty photos, and just ordered five more packs for the future.

An additional feature that I wasn’t expecting from this camera is the four-scene setting that works with the automatic flash. I use my camera mostly indoors, and the indoor light setting really makes a difference in the picture quality. Needless to say, I am impressed- and so are my friends. This Polaroid camera has outdone itself for sixty-nine dollars.

If you’re looking for an HD quality, zoom-capable instant camera, this is not the product for you. But if you can find value in nostalgia and good old-fashioned feeling, then I can guarantee that you will give the Polaroid Pic-300 a five-star rating.

Yes! Published on real paper.

How a dog can change your life

One year ago on 11/11/11, a 3 pound mutt was whimpering under a McDonald’s bag in the pouring rain, strapped to a pole with a Bad Boys Bail Bonds lanyard.

– Starvation
– Fleas
– Tapeworms
– Asthma

She wouldn’t have survived that night.
I was never one to believe in fate, but I think that it all happened for a reason.

Abandoned Puppy

It’s incredible…
To find a bond where you know you both rely on each other the same.
To find a puppy that brings so much life to your senior dog.

To find a puppy that sings with your 15-year-old bird every morning.

To find a new member of your family that puts such a big smile on your mom’s face.

To know that you have a little shadow that will never leave your side, never hold grudges, and never doubt you for one second.

11/11/12

– 11 pounds
– Minor asthma
– Separation anxiety
– But most importantly, happy and loved

I wouldn’t have asked for it any other way.
Happy One Year, Suki boo 🙂

Roadtrip First Stop: Disneyland

Have you ever been to the happiest place on Earth?

 

November 1, 2012

Two friends and I decided to take a long weekend roadtrip – first to Disneyland, then to Las Vegas. We could have only gone to Anaheim and I would have been perfectly content.

First Stop: The Happiest Place On Earth! 🙂

Keep in mind that November 1 was the day after the SF Giants victory parade (which I proudly attended), and that even in Southern California with Dodgers and Angels fans, the first people I saw were Giants fans. 🙂

After checking into our hotel and a glass of red wine, we headed straight to Disneyland.

As far as hotels, I absolutely recommend booking something within walking distance of Disneyland. If you are planning to spend the the whole time in Downtown Disney, Disneyland, and/or California Adventures, this is the best option.

  • First, you don’t need to worry about parking since you can leave your car for free in the hotel lot.
  • More importantly, you may want to go back to the hotel to take a nap, change, or refuel.

My friends and I got a great rate at the Best Western across the street on Harbor Boulevard and we booked it just a few days before the trip. We arrived at Best Western at 9 a.m. for early check-in and decided to upgrade to a suite for $30. The total cost of the hotel was about $150 for 3 people. We booked it last minute, so I’m sure you can find even better rates especially when planning ahead.

As I was saying, a glass of wine and pounds of junk food later, we were ready to embark on our Disney adventures at 10:00 am!

(No judging because… what’s a roadtrip without junk food?!)

  

Welcome to a land free of worries. Welcome to a land where people tell you to have a magical day. BOY DID I HAVE A MAGICAL DAY. It’s nice to enjoy a vacation that brings back childhood memories and reminds you of why you love to live.

   

I bought the tickets online at Disneyland’s website for $89 a piece and chose $5 for will-call instead of printing free at home. For some reason I like to keep ticket stubs as a souvenier and it was worth it!!! They gave us these adorable tickets that happened to match each one of our personalities. If you’re a ticket-stub kind of person, pay the 5 bucks. Which Disney personality are you?

In terms of ticket pricing, there are a lot of different websites that sell Disneyland tickets. We chose the 1-day pass to 1 theme park. In this case, there wasn’t a big price difference. However, if you are looking for a travel package or multiple-day park hopper, there are a lot of great deals out there. I know there are AAA discounts, Costco discounts, and more. Doing a little bit of research can save you those dollars. And those extra dollars can be spent on more souveniers in Disneyland!

It’s funny how every little thing in this land can make me excited.

If you’re looking for a free souvenier, here is a tip. Go to Disneyland City Hall and ask them for a pin! They’ll ask you things like… What’s the occasion? Is it your first time? The occasion was “It’s a girls trip”, and it was my first time that I can remember since I was 3 years old.

 

Tigger and Pooh, all fun with Roo
McQueen and o’l Mater, no time for Haters.

I found it necessary to bust out a rhyme… and this is why I’m not a poet.

Anyway…

One thing that was really cool about going the day after Halloween was that we were able to see a Christmasween fuse. Everything was still decorated with the Halloween/Fall theme with a layer of frosting on top. Also, the theme park was a lot less crowded since everyone was there on Halloween for the hype. We didn’t have to wait in long lines or get fast passes!

 

  

Even though it was only a one-day stop on our road-trip, it was a great day. I got to hug Mickey Mouse, eat rainbow sherbert ice cream, go on a Star Wars Adventure, wear light-up Minnie ears… and that wasn’t it. We went shopping in Downtown Disney.  Take a Disney-loving shop-a-holic and put her in Disneyland and you get a disaster for her wallet. Mugs, shot glasses, shirts, pins, magnets… ahhh. I am proud to be a tourist.

After all that, we went back into Disneyland and ended the day with the Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. All the characters came out waving, dancing, singing… No wonder they call it the happiest place on Earth.

  

If you want to play in lala-land for a day, go to Disneyland.

I can’t guarantee that you’ll love work on Monday, but you will have a smile on your face when taking a sip of coffee out of your new Disneyland mug. 🙂

3 Types of Halloween Parties

The one fabulous thing about Halloween is that it is a holiday for everyone. This pre-Halloween weekend, I was able to see all sides of celebration. Being fresh out of college in the working world, I caught a glimpse of corporate Halloween while maintaining my 22-year-old youth of crazy Halloween. And as my first Halloween with Suki, I also experienced the cute “I-Think-I-Just-Died-A-Little-Inside” Halloween party.

First up!

1. Family-Friendly Halloween Party, or what I like to call the Cute “I-Think-I-Just-Died-A-Little-Inside” Halloween Party

Saturday, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

This Howl-O-Ween party consisted of canines, families, and adorable non-promiscuous costumes for the little guys. It was planned by a group of regular Fremont Dog Park visitors, and donations were made to the Tri-City Animal Shelter right next door!

A fun day for a good cause – what a way to start off the season of giving.

I dressed up my little one as a rufferee. Personally, I think she won best costume/cutest dog in the world award, but that’s pretty bias… and as a journalist, I like to maintain objective.

So of course there were other adorable creatures at the Howl-o-Ween party!

Best of all – dogs don’t pick on each other when one has a bad costume… or do they?

2 baseball players, 1 football player, and a referee.

Summary: This Howl-O-Ween party is rated PG for kids, tweens, teens, adults and canines of all ages, shapes and sizes. Family friendly. Felines not welcome. Donations suggested. Costumes required. 😉

2. Professional Halloween Party

Saturday, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

This was also a very fun Halloween party on a completely different scale. It was hosted at Tesla Motors showroom in Menlo Park, so if you were bored of the actual party, there were 100% electric vehicles to keep you entertained. Not that the party was boring – because it wasn’t. It was actually a blast to hang out with my coworkers outside of the workplace! These people are so much fun, and it was great seeing professionals completely decked out and full of Halloween spirit.

The best part about hanging out with coworkers is the gourmet food that comes along with the parties. Shrimp and sausage kabobs anyone?

Don’t eat meat? Not to worry… there are fancy cupcakes.

Oh, you’re a vegan? It’s all good – grab a drink and gather round to watch Game 3 of the World Series!!!

(Viva los Gigantes! World Series Champs!)

On a plasma HDTV 🙂 luxury at its finest.

Best Costume Awards at parties like these will be given to the person who deserves it the most- based on creativity, humor, and Halloween spirit at its finest.

Summary: I give a Halloween party with coworkers a 21 and up rating since there is an open bar. Other than that, it’s a great way to kick off your Halloween evening with a couple drinks, delicious food, and business talk. Remember, even though the party is unaffiliated with your company, most of the guests are still your coworkers. Keep it classy, my party animals.

 

It’s really not until the late evening parties when things start to get rowdy. So drumroll…

The youthful crazy Halloween

3. Not-So Family-Friendly-Professional, More-So-Social Halloween Party

Saturday, 11:00 pm – 3:00 am (Notice the time stamps on these Halloween parties)

The evening can start off in sobriety and stay that way if you choose.

And then you can run into a bunch of friends from elementary school in the middle of San Francisco and have a blast!

It’s also common to meet nice strangers who share their 4th meal with you. Free pizza from Ninja Turtles!

Sometimes you’ll see people dress up as themselves – those who come to the party just to dance the night away.

There are also those who dress up in full suits for one reason. Ted knows.

Overall, the city streets are filled with lights, people, and a feeling of excitement.

Summary: Definitely rated 21+. Nightlife in San Francisco is elevated by ten for Halloween. You’ll meet people in all-out costumes, people who try to wear as little clothing as possible, and of course thousands of Giants fans parading in their Kung-Fu Panda hats. You’ll meet people who will hate on your costume or people who tell you you are awesome. You just need to know to shrug off the bad comments and flaunt the good ones. You’ll meet drag queens, cowboys, doctors, and officers… an orange slice, Mario, Luigi, and Usher. Whoever you meet, whatever you meet, wherever you meet, it’s a Halloween party!

 

Enjoy All Hallows’ Eve. I hope you are able to find a party of your favor. 🙂

 

Joan’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch

Every year since I could remember, I have gone to Perry Farm Pumpkin Patch to pick out my perfect Halloween pumpkin. I thought I’d change it up a bit and try a different farm this year! Joan’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch

We drove deep into Livermore, passed dozens of wineries, and finally pulled into Joan’s Farm. On the dusty path to the parking lot, there were cows about three feet to the left of my car. I kid you not- these cows are well fed. I wish I could show you, but I didn’t snap a shot since a) I was driving, and b) there were a line of cars behind me full of eager pumpkin-hungry children.

This way to the pictures –>

A friendly Welcome to Joan’s Farm & Pumpkin Patch sign

Are you ready to hop onto the Hay Wagon ride?

Silly scarecrows lining the fence on the way in

The pumpkins are sorted into different sections based on size.

 

There are so many activities that you can do at this farm, but if I have to pick a favorite…

I would definitely pick the animal farm.

I mean it’s not every day that you can ride a pony,

that sheep smell you,

that goats kiss you,

 

and that an alpaca will eat from your hand!

This alpaca is so cute. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of him/her. I’ll just refer to “it” as a female for this entry. She shows so much expression through her eyes. They are wide open when she is looking for a hand with food, and when she eats out of your hand, her eyes wince. Her ears go up and down if you talk in a high pitch voice, which I call my “animal/baby/old-people” voice. And her neck curves backwards if you peer your head towards her.

 

Okay, enough pictures of the alpaca.

As far as pricing, the pumpkins are relatively well priced.

I bought all these for just $11. (It rained on them this morning.)

In all, Joan’s farm is located on a gorgeous property.

Beautiful in nature

Parking and admission is free. It is open daily until Halloween from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Food, corn maize, pumpkins, pony rides, farm animals, sweets shop, and the activity list goes on.

I will recommend this place to anyone who wants to have a fun day on a pumpkin patch.

But as a warning…
– wear sunglasses because the dust will blow into your eyes on a windy day
– wear close-toed shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty
– bring cash because they don’t accept credit cards
– take allergy medicine if you’re allergic to pollen, dust, or animals
– if you’re going to buy a heavy pumpkin, bring your muscles to lift it 😉

And bring a camera because some memories are worth putting in an album.

Social Media and the Meteor Shower

    1. This story is shared from my new Storify account. I’m trying out a new way of telling stories by curating social media. Let me know what you guys think of it! It might be a revolutionary way of publicizing your personal blog.
      Working as an intern in a news room is one of the coolest positions that I have ever taken. Around 7:45 pm, I got a call from someone saying that he saw a green and red fireball go over his head followed by a loud boom. He was from Pacifica. More people continued to call saying they saw aliens, fireworks, felt an earthquake – craziness! I called police stations to see if they knew anything about it, but guess what? I learned the most about this breaking news through social. My personal Twitter feed exploded with reports of a meteor shower. Even Marc Benioff tweeted about it!
    2. Benioff
      Welcome to the social meteor.
      Wed, Oct 17 2012 20:15:33
    3. PaloAltoPolice
      We rec’d calls about a bright light in the sky around 8 p.m. According to news reports, it could have been a fireball produced by a meteor.
      Wed, Oct 17 2012 20:42:22
    4. abc7newsBayArea
      We’re getting a lot of reports of people seeing something in the sky around 7:45 p.m. Did you see it? Send pics/video to ureport@kgo-tv.com.
      Wed, Oct 17 2012 20:07:40
    5. kron4news

      No one from NASA is talking tonight but here is what we are working on…A meteor shower spawned by history’s… http://fb.me/ve9e4dVV

      Wed, Oct 17 2012 20:57:43
    6. People talking around the Bay Area! The initial confusion, the thoughts – it’s all fascinating how social media can spread word so fast. And what’s more incredible is how you can see stories unfold right before your eyes.

    7. Jmanggg13
      Earthquake and a meteor shower….end of the world? I’m feeling it, good to know I spent basically my entire life in school #solid
      Wed, Oct 17 2012 21:01:51
    8. Wed, Oct 17 2012 20:44:26
    9. I even typed in “loud boom” and saw so many results pop up!
    10. jsnell
      We heard it here. Loud boom. RT @martyn_williams Heard a boom in Palo Alto, and Twitter reports say fireball seen over Silicon Valley…
      Wed, Oct 17 2012 20:01:37
    11. EvrythingSoCty
      Everyone around town & surrounding areas are talking about the loud boom/meteor this evening. Thanks to Kris… http://fb.me/1XoNV6qiz
      Wed, Oct 17 2012 21:15:07
    12. meccaunixrazah
      METEOR SHOWER OCT~ 20 -21*-* http://pic.twitter.com/BG0Kwy6n
      Wed, Oct 17 2012 19:54:55
    13. Is it the awaited Orionid Meteor Shower?
    14. NBCNews
      Orionid meteor shower to light up night skies this weekend http://nbcnews.to/QnZjt0
      Tue, Oct 16 2012 13:51:38
    15. jesusdonkey
      RT @abc7newsBayArea: The National Weather Service has received reports from Mendocino to Monterey. They believe it’s related to the Orionid meteor shower.
      Wed, Oct 17 2012 21:15:23
If you didn’t see the meteors this time and will miss them over the weekend, at least know that you can experience it vicariously through social!