Sleep Tips for When Your Brain Just Won’t Quit

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I have a brain that just won’t quit. If you tell me you had a cupcake for breakfast my train of thought is the following: Cupcake – That time I baked carrot cupcakes for Rob in college – Carrots are good for your eyesight – I need to make an eye doctor appointment – I missed my dentist appointment last week –  I wonder if my dentist secretly hates me – I wonder if all my friends hate me – That’s stupid Kimberly, you should think about puppies to feel better about yourself – Remember that time you saw that internet meme about a chihuahua that looked like a muffin. – Muffins are like cupcakes only healthier. – Oh yeah, we were talking about cupcakes…you should probably respond now.

This business only intensifies the moment my head hits the pillow. While my husband is zonked out, I am planning escape plans for a zombie apocalypse for not only myself but my family members and friends as well (don’t worry guys, I got your back!).  In the likelihood of this ever happening, I’m pretty sure I have a well thought out plan. But  in the meantime, I’d like to sleep!

After trying EVERYTHING (acupuncture, saging my house, sleeping crystals, counting sheep, melatonin, exercise, fans, noise machines, new bedsheets, etc) I think I’ve finally got into a great nighttime routine. Here are some of my favorite tips!

  • Headspace – For days when I am really, really overwhelmed and I can’t shut my mind off this ten minute guided meditation is the only thing that can calm me down. According to Fitbit, it lowers my heart rate but more importantly by the time I am done with the recording it makes whatever big freak out I was having seem more manageable.
  • Golden Milk Latte – Also known as Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Calming Creamy Turmeric Tea. There are tons of recipes out there but my favorite one includes making a paste out of water, turmeric, black pepper (it helps boost the health benefits of tumeric by 200%) and coconut oil. I store it in the fridge and whenever I go to bed, I heat up some almond milk, add the paste and some honey and have a little nigh cap. The act of creating the latte is calming in itself but this drink is jam-packed with antioxidants and other good for you stuff. It’s an anxiety tonic in itself!
  • Cold Air and Warm Blankets – I prefer to sleep in a cool room but lots of warm blankets. Having bed sheets that breathe are super important as well. I purchased mine from Brooklinen and have never looked back.
  • The Five Minute Journal – If you asked me about this two years ago…or even a few months ago I would have told you that gratitude journals are for lame people who have way too much time on their hands. Boy was I wrong! My journal literally takes five minutes or less to write in and it helps me end my day with positive thoughts and feelings. Some people say its like a toothbrush for your mind and I totally agree with that!
  • Airplane Mode – Ever since I started turning my phone on airplane mode about an hour or two before I go to sleep, my life has improved exponentially. The light the phone emits actually signals your brain to stay awake and scrolling through social media is a guaranteed way to keep the wheels in your brain turning for all hours of the night. Instead, I try to take the time to talk to my husband instead. This is both the easiest and hardest thing for me to do.
  • Army Crawl Sleep Position – This position basically immobilizes your body so you can’t thrash around wildly.
  • Sleep Mask- When used in conjunction with the army crawl sleep position, this is magic! It’s so simple and so effective because it blocks out any light from your vision and forces you to stay asleep. I currently use a Qatar Airways mask, but this one from Modcloth is so lovely!

It has taken me years to perfect my sleeping routine and I still have trouble with it sometimes! Let me know if you have any additional tips and tricks for me in the comments! Sweet dreams!

Love Is In The Air

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Rob and I’s first Valentine’s Day went like this. He cut his long flowing locks, gave me a flower after class and asked me out to dinner. I didn’t want him to think I was serious about him so I told him that I could do lunch and when I arrived I wore my grungiest jeans possible to make sure he did not get the wrong idea. He wore a suit. We went to PF Changs and I ordered the Dan Dan Noodles. I accidentally put too much noodles in my mouth and then we parted our separate ways.

So imagine my surprise that eleven years later, he is still my Valentine. And we’re married now too!

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It was a long weekend so I gave Rob his gift early — a LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon complete with a detachable cockpit, spring-loaded shooter, holochess board and more! We worked on it together for pretty much all of Saturday and Sunday until it was completed while binging on Netflix in between. It was the most Rob and Kimi day ever.

Rob took me to a pretty bomb dinner at Momofuku but I have to say the highlight meals of the weekend were our annual Valentine’s Day Stouffer’s lasagna and a surprise snow day trip to Popeye’s (we have a new rule where we can only eat it on holidays so President’s Day it is!). I’m so happy to have found a life partner who loves terrible food just as much as I do.

What are your Valentine’s Day traditions?

Cheese Boards and Vision Boards

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I am the type of person who will look for any excuse to bring people together so this past Friday, I decided to host my very first Galentine’s Day get together.What’s Galentine’s Day you say? It’s only the best day of the year! It’s ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus…cheese!

On the agenda? Cheese boards and vision boards. Why? Because cheese is a delicious way to up my calcium intake and vision boards because they are all the rage in helping one clarify and focus on a specific life goal.

Based on these photos, it looks like I should have added taking down my Christmas tree to my vision board but in reality, it actually was a fun activity. It was a bit corny, but it helped open up the conversation to our hopes and dreams and allowed us to make plans for the future (even if it was as simple as a shooting date since it turns out we were all interested in learning more about photography).

For those interested in seeing what I’m interested in doing this new (Chinese) New Year….
+ Learning how to swim properly (Or if you take my vision board literally..become a mermaid)
+ Photography
+ Learning how to make Matcha Green Tea Lattes
+ Walking More
+ Saving up for a home
+ Meditatition and learning how to relax (I’ve been super uptight lately)
+ Finding a new hobby that Rob and I can do together
+ Cooking more at home and eating healthier
There were also lots of puppy pictures on my board but right now that looks like a long term goal.

If you’re looking for something a little different to do with your friends rather than going out to dinner or out drinking, I highly recommend grabbing some scissors and glue and get to vision board making!

 

I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts (And Mangoes Too)

As I mentioned in my last blog post, both of my grandparents ended up in the sticks because they were educators. I failed to mention that my grandpa was also a full time hustler. Besides running an elementary school he ran a copra business that my cousin continues to run to this day. He also has a mango plantation because …the Philippines…. but it’s actually not mango season so I pretty much missed out on any knowledge drop about that.

According to Wikipedia, Copra is the kernel of a coconut. It is dried and then pressed to make coconut oil. My family has been doing this for generations so when I tried to explain to my cousin that coconut oil was so in right now in the US he looked at me like I had ten heads.

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Copra has a unique earthy, meaty, tropical scent that I can only associate with the Saluyong. As soon as I arrived and breathed in the air, I immediately traveled back to my childhood in the Philippines. It’s a delicious scent.

My family gets our coconuts from native mountain people and from what I hear they are an interesting bunch. They did not like dealing with my cousin because he looks young so he ended up growing a big gnome-like beard to fit in better. They are pretty demanding group in terms of copra pricing so if they don’t like the price you quote them they will start to stroke their bolo (Filipino machete) and look you down menacingly.

The rest is all business — we dry the copra event more at our family compound and then they watch the rise and fall of copra prices and then sell it to wholesalers at the city. It’s almost like the stock market but island style.

It’s definitely a heart-racing type of job so I am pretty happy that I work in front of a computer all day and so far my run-in count with machetes at the job is zero.

And that my friend is how you get coconut oil! The next time you’re slathering it on your eggs think about my family and the countless other islanders who risk their lives on a daily basis to make sure you get your fill of heart-healthy fats.

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Mabuhay Philippines!

Hola! Or should I say Mabuhay!

Today is my first day back to work after almost a month away in the Philippines. Fortunately (or unfortunately?!?!) jet lag + Daylight Savings Time caused me to wake up at 3 am so I went from over 450 unread emails to just 13. By 8:00 am, I had already eaten a spaghetti dinner, cleaned my apt, and caught up on all of the latest episodes of ‘Once Upon a Time.’

With all of this extra time, I thought I’d take you on a little walking tour of my mom’s hometown.

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Nestled among the foothills of the mountains, Saluyong is rather removed from the comforts of the outside world. Yet it is rich in natural resources — I showered with water from a fresh spring, had access to all the coconuts I could eat, and woke up to the sounds of roosters crowing every morning. At first it was a bit annoying since roosters wake up really early, but with a sunrise view like this…how can you be mad? #HashBrownNoFilter

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My family lives almost directly across from the elementary school, where both of my grandparents were sent away to teach when they were younger (think Laura Ingalls Wilder but island style). They were one of the first people to help develop the school and my grandfather eventually became principal. He told me that he was the first person to have a motorcycle in the area and my grandma used to ride in the back!

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This is my niece hanging out in our family garden right before pre-school. Isn’t her uniform adorable?

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There’s no WiFi here (which meant I -TOTALLY- missed out on the drama that unfolded between Khloe and Lamar while I was gone) so kids have to entertain themselves in other ways. These children are part of the local scouting program and here they are learning to build tents out of palm leaves since there is no REIs or LL Beans in Saluyong.

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Tug of War is an international game but instead of rope these kids are using bamboo. Like most American kids, basketball is life for many Filipino youths…but their courts sure do not look anything like the courts at home.

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Rob and I are seriously scratching our heads on how children play basketball on a grass court. Not pictured in this frame, a loose piglet about three feet away.

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One of (pretty much the only) main attraction in Saluyong is a natural spring pool that is owned by the family of one of my the family of my mom’s childhood best friend. To get there we walked past the school, into a bunch of random coconut trees, crossed the river, past the water buffalo, past the chicken and dog playing together, up a small mountain and finally beautiful, sweet, cool relief.

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That’s it for now! If I’m still jet lagged tomorrow check back for information on the secret world of coconut oil.

 

Once Upon a Thai

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Thailand is not just beaches and elephants. It has a long storied history and a very rich culture. We loved riding a long boat through the waterways of the Chao Phraya River, climbing the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya, and the more modern temples in Bangkok.

Here are a few fun facts that I learned!

  1. If you find a white elephant you must present it to the royal family where it will live out the rest of his life in luxury. White elephants are considered sacred a sign of virtue and wealth.
  2. At almost every building or house you will see a miniature, highly decorative shrine in front of it. These are called spirit houses and are designed to provide shelter for the spirit’s of a previous building’s occupants.
  3. Transgenders (or kathoeys) are considered the third gender in Thailand. They are widely accepted into society  and I can tell you for myself that their contouring skills would put any Kardashian to shame. The average sex change operation (male to female) cost is approximately $8,000.
  4. Chang and Eng, two of the most famous Siamese twins are from Thailand (originally called the Kingdom of Siam). After they joined the PT Barnum Circus they adopted the name “Bunker” and became American citizens. They married two sisters and had 21 children in total.
  5. The sky’s the limit when it comes to ice cream toppings. Think: sticky rice, sweet potato, corn kernels, water chestnuts, pumpkin, red beans, gooseberries, and mung beans!

Eating My Way Through Thailand

When Rob and I first started dating, we became obsessed with the show No Reservations. My favorite episodes were always the ones where he went to a Southeast Asian country and tried their street food. It vaguely reminded me of my childhood in the Philippines and everything (except the rats and the crickets) looked so mouthwatering delicious that when we planned our honeymoon to Thailand we decided we would only exclusively eat at street cafes. #ShopLocal

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Bangkok is the capital of street food! It was impossible to turn a corner and not run into a purveyor or something delicious. The first few days we were so jetlagged that we would wake up past midnight to eat dinner. While most of the restaurants were closed, night markets ruled the scene. It awesome to fulfill our pad thai craving at all hours of the night.

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I’ve always had an aversion to eating any food where the colors were not found in nature. That being said, I was super impressed with this plastic contraption that allowed us to tote our beverage easily throughout the market. I wish I could bring my own to cocktail parties so I don’t have to live in fear of spilling my wine anymore.

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Roasted pork with extra crispy skin, gravy, rice, AND a soft boiled egg? It must be my birthday! Bring on the cholesterol pills!

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Rob was obsessed with the meat on a stick vendor. Pretty much every time we walked past it, he HAD to grab one to snack on.

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These little griddle cakes are hollow in the middle and filled with coconut custard. It was pretty much the best thing I’ve eaten ever.

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Street market jerky. It’s a little bit sweet and a lot more pliable than Ameircan jerky. It tastes fantastic with sticky rice.

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I wanted to take this giant bag of fried fish skin home but it would not fit in my luggage. I settled for a more portable version but it just wasn’t as beautiful as this one.

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I’m a true believer of the mantra that it’s not a true island vacation unless you’re drinking out of a coconut.

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On our last few days at the beach the boy and I subsisted wholly on fish — roasted, fried, grilled and fresh from the ocean! Our waiter commended us on our ability to eat pick fish like a local. #Skillz

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I could smell this chicken simmering from over a block away.

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Fresh produce at the local market! Look how tiny those little eggplants are in the bottom left corner. My dad likes to pickle them and eat them as a side dish at home!

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Rob was absolutely obsessed with this meat on a stick vendor and made me stop here every time we passed by (which was pretty much every time we left our hotel in Bangkok). It’s the perfect nightcap!

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Fruit shakes are a must in Thailand. It’s the perfect way to beat the heat! Rob’s favorite flavor was mango but mine was coconut.

 

Everyday I’m Hustlin’

I know I have used this space as a personal blog, but I recently realized that a lot of people are curious about my job at Yelp. While my Instagram may look like it, I promise I don’t eat out every single day. Here’s a few quick facts about what I do for a living so we can get back to what’s really important — Jake or Fitz (And the answer is Jake. Duh!).

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  • As a Community Manager, my job is to be the online and offline face of Yelp here in the DC area.
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  • Yelp’s Headquarters are in San Francisco but we have Community Managers around the world including places like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, São Paulo, and Rotterdam. #WhoRunstheWorld
  • I am not paid to write reviews. The reason I write reviews (and have been doing so for the past seven years) is because I love sharing insider knowledge on my favorite haunts and getting the dish from other locals like myself. Life without reviews would be life without Meat in a Box and that is a very sad life indeed.

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  • Every week I write and publish a newsletter which goes out to subscribers who live in the District! Looking to get your coffee buzz on?  What about having  a little slice of Havana without ever hopping on a plane? My newsletter has got your back!

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  • I also get to plan my own events for the Yelp community as well! They are free to attend and give Yelpers a chance to get up-close and personal with business owners and learn about their craft. Events can range from six-course wine and steak dinners for thirty people to hotel blow outs with over 1,200 people, 50+ vendors, and entertainment. I throw about three or more events a month. Want to learn more? Visit yelp.com/events and yelp.com/elite for more information.10632793_10152182610051533_2991545479005083337_n
  • I train businesses on how to use  Yelp’s free suite of business tools and give them tips and tricks on how to maintain their online presence. I usually meet with businesses on an individual basis but have also gotten the chance to speak at the DC Tourism Board’s public form as well.
  • I help Yelpers give back to the community! Over the past year we adopted DC Central Kitchen as a charity partner and every month we respond to their direct needs such as creating snack packs for their after-school program, preparing meals, and collecting warm winter weather wear. Since 2014, we have collected thousands of dollars for their program!
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  • For those not involved with the Yelp community there is a misconception that Yelpers are a bunch of people hiding behind their computer. That is not the case at all! A majority of Yelpers are just regular folk from all walks of life who love sharing information with others. Even celebrities have gotten on to the Yelp game! Mila Kunis, Jared Leto and Christina Hendrix have publicly said they were fans and Jerry Seinfeld and Wale are actively contributing their thoughts to the site.

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  • I work from home which means on any given day there is a high probability of me wearing yoga pants. When I’m feeling adventurous or social, I work at coffee shops, fancy hotel lobbies, Union Market (my favorite spot), bagel shops, bars, and even my rooftop pool.
  • I love my job because I get to meet and work with a lot of interesting and passionate people and because I get the chance to make the city that I’ve lived in for over 25 years a wonderful place to be.

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Antiquing in the Country

Goodbye City. Hello Country.

About an hour away from Washington, DC is the small, sleepy town of Lucketts, Virginia. Nestled between fields of sheep and several vineyards, a day trip to the Old Lucketts Store is one of my favorite ways to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. The rickety rooms are stuffed to the brim with all types of treasures….from weathered furniture, to tiny cordial cups to mink hats from the 1950’s.

Amber and I had so much fun exploring all the nooks and crannies of this store. After we packed up all of our vintage finds, we headed out to The Wine Kitchen in Historic Leesburg for red wine flights and chocolate cherry cake. I can’t imagine a more perfect day with my best friend!

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Tina Belcher

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During the month of December when Rob and I’s regularly scheduled shows went on break we became obsessed with Bob’s Burgers, a cartoon about the adventures of a man, his family, and his restaurant in a nondescript seaside town.

Watching the show, I especially felt an affinity to Bob’s oldest daughter Tina who pretty much is my 12-year old doppelganger, minus the barrette. I learned early on that I was more Daria than Quinn, Tai than Cher, and Molly than Samantha. Like most girls, I fretted over this fact and tried to fit in. Tina Belcher is  the exact opposite of my adolescent self, she embraces her weirdness and makes no apologies for who she is. She’s fun, fearless and my pick for my first Woman Crush Wednesday Post.

Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding.

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