It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

It’s a rainy morning here in Dallas, Texas. I’ve managed to cozy up onto my couch and watch Santa Claus because let’s be honest, I’m just a kid stuck inside a 20-year-old’s body. Christmas is my favorite holiday for reasons that go beyond consumerism and tangible presents. Everyone is just a little bit happier, regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas for the gifts, for family, or for the “magic” that goes with it, I believe it’s wonderful. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, happy holidays to you. It is my theory that whether a person does celebrate Christmas or not, the majority of the time, they’re not offended if you say “Merry Christmas.” If a person says “Happy (insert non-Christmas holiday here),” I will gladly respond with, “Happy (insert non-Christmas holiday here)” too.

photo: Sruti Nuthalapati

photo: Sruti Nuthalapati

In other news, I feel like today is the right time to make a shameless plug for a student-run business that I fully support. I present to you Maya Painted Shoes. The project started with my good friend Sruti Nuthalapati, a second-year electrical engineering major at The University of Texas at Austin. Sruti is a bright gal with creativity and the kindest heart. Her shoe-painting start-up is simple: you pick a theme, a picture, a quote, or anything that catches your eye and send it to her. Afterwards, she’ll paint it on a pair of canvas shoes, for the price of $30-$45, that includes the shoes, so you don’t have to go hunt down a pair.

Now, I know a shameless consumer-driven plug sounds wrong on Christmas Day, but here’s the real reason why I’m posting this. Maya Painted Shoes donates a portion of its proceeds to a local Austin charity that helps underprivileged kids nurture their creativity through art.

“Art is de-stress. Art is happiness. Your shoes are happiness for me. I want to help kids discover what I then experienced. What I now experience,” says Nuthalapati.

So, if you’re looking for a new pair of shoes, while contributing to a great cause, visit Maya Painted Shoes and order your pair of shoes. Happy Christmas everyone! May your day be filled with love and kindness.

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The Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

Woke up this morning to sounds of my mother dancing around in the kitchen preparing scrumptious meals for this evening’s festivities. I hope everyone is having a safe and warm Thanksgiving, wherever you may be. I will be devouring unhealthy amounts of my parents’ homemade cooking that includes a mixture turkey, pie, egg rolls, noodles, and various Vietnamese dishes that I cannot seem to describe using the English language. Sorry y’all, not all items can be literally translated without receiving a cringe from the general public.

Happy Thanksgiving. Texas fight, beat TCU.

Timber!

Oh Christmas Tree, oh Christmas tree, how much I hate spending time taking you down. Seriously guys, taking down this tree is taking forever.

Hope everyone is enjoying 2012 so far. I’m spending the day taking down Christmas decorations and cleaning the house in order to feel less guilty about spending time with friends tonight. Tonight, Pretty Little Liars comes back on television for a new season and I am going to head over to my friend’s house to watch it with her along with our beloved USNA friend that is back home for winter break.

When are you guys taking your decorations down?

New Year, New Scarf.

I promised myself I wouldn’t start the New Year with a purchase or spending any form of money, but of course, my brother wanted to stop by the mall and I should have known that resolution would have been broken immediately. But in my defense, the scarf was on sale for $9.99 and I was given a 20% off discount for being a college student, so it wasn’t too bad of a purchase.

Madewell 1937 wool & cashmere blend scarf.

In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, here are mine:

1. Study harder
2. Manage time more wisely
3. Have a working closet
4. Work with what I have
5. Read for fun more
6. Keep track of every dollar spent
7. Use cash to give myself a limit to spend when going out
8. Become more involved
9. “Go out” only once or twice a month
10. Go to bed earlier
11. Wake up earlier
12. Actually work out because the gym is right next door
13. Get to know my professors, specifically my major-specific professors
14. Network, network, network
15. Blog at least once a week
16. Keep a list of weekly goals
17. Get to know my new friends even more
18. Call my parents more often
19. Plan for the future
20. Write even more thank you notes

I hope everyone is having a great New Year so far; I know I am!

Cheap Preppy-ish.

I’m under the impression that the only positive aspect about my work days is that I have an excuse to dress in a fairly presentable manner and leave the house.

Old Navy gingham shirt, Gap sweater, J.Crew headband, American Eagle Jeans, Lucky Brand watch, Gap bag.

So today is New Year’s Eve and I’ll be bringing in the new year with my family like I do every year. Because I have wonderfully protective parents, I also must confess that I have never spent New Year’s Eve anywhere outside of my house. But it has become kind of a tradition and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I have a list of resolutions that I need to accomplish and I surely hope that I will succeed in at least half the list. Hope everyone’s New Year’s Eve is well and safe!

Post Christmas Retail.

Hi, I’m Vi and I have successfully survived an 8 hour shift at a retail store on the day after Christmas – one of the busiest days of the year for retail stores. Win. Aside from the fact that my legs hurt, I think this has definitely been one of the less stressful Day after Christmas retail cashier experiences I’ve had. When I arrived at 11:00 AM to begin my shift, I underestimated the potential amount of customers that could enter the store. However, by the time the clock turned 2:00 PM, a sea of customers eager to snatch up deals and return unwanted Christmas presents lined up in a formation equivalent to Black Friday sale days. By the end of my shift, I was ready to tackle my own quest for post Christmas deals, but unfortunately, found myself sifting through piles of clothing and accessories that did not fit my taste or simply, my size.

I did however, manage to find a few gems in the endless piles of rubbish and spent only a mere $20 or so on everything. That’s what I call a successful shopping trip due to my minimal college student budget and income.

Old Navy bag for the days when I only have one or two classes and dread carrying my backpack in its entirety, cozy socks for the days when my dorm room decides to turn into a freezer (Old Navy), the essential gloves for the winter (Old Navy), new Face Stockholm nail polish (J.Crew) and a new headband for my already extensive collection from J.Crew. Overall, I would have liked to be able to have more time to purchase new items and take advantage of the sales, but all in all, I found my purchases to be useful and worthy of money spent.

Happy Christmas.

It’s finally here, the day I’ve been waiting for all year: my favorite holiday, Christmas. Although there are no presents under the Christmas tree this year, I’m still looking forward to the annual Christmas dinner with my family and our relatives. Why are there zero presents under the tree this year you ask? Well, as you know, I’m a college student, a broke college student that only asked for money to spend on textbooks and miscellaneous expenses for next semester. I can honestly say I’m pretty thankful for the help my relatives are giving me by even helping out on my college expenses and it is graciously appreciated.

In honor of the warm feeling that today brings, I would like to present to you a song covered by a friend of mine, Vinh Nguyen. The music video below features one of the most adorable and fashionable couples I know: Johnny Van and Hoang-Kim Cung.

Aside from the fact that this video is quite adorable, it features a couple that presents to the world how aspirational and dedicated the millennial generation can be. Johnny is the founder of uThinkTank and Hoang-Kim is the current reigning Miss Texas Collegiate and writes a fabulous lifestyle/fashion blog called My Golden Age. These two definitely represent the belief that a little bit of hard work can go a long way. Now that I’ve managed to rant about this cute couple, let me go back to the artist covering this song. Vinh is a first-year student at UTD that I met at SMU’s Asian American Leadership Education Conference a few years ago. All of his covers are amazing and you should definitely check out the rest of the videos on his channel.

image courtesy of Pinterest

I hope I haven’t been too cheesy during this post and if I haven’t, let me increase the cheese factor just a little more. I hope everyone is having a great Christmas Day filled with warmth, happiness and tons of delicious food.

Nerdy Christmas Eve.

I’m a bit of a girly girl. The type that enjoys finding a sophisticated piece of clothing and admiring it as if it was a piece of artwork. However, there is also another side to me: the nerdy technology geek that is obsessed with the latest gadget on the market and becomes overwhelmingly excited when Google changes its homepage themes. In honor of Christmas Eve and to express to y’all my inner nerd, I present to you the current Google theme that has me refreshing my page for a good ten minutes due to sheer amusement – like a kid in a candy store kind of happiness.

click to be directed to Google homepage

Seriously you guys, I’m pretty obsessed with this right now. It’s as if Google realized I’ve been having a stressful week in retail hell and decided to cheer me up with a simple theme that just happened to make me giggle like a giddy little girl. Talk about the best Christmas present ever – aside from the money relatives send me to pay for next semester’s textbooks.

Speaking of serious topics such as textbooks, I have successfully sent out all my holiday e-mails to my favorite PR pros and former internship supervisors. Due to my lack of stamps and lack of time to purchase festive stamps, I guess e-mails will have to do. However, I will admit, I am quite disappointed in myself for not sending out as many holiday cards this year as I have in recent years, considering it’s kind of my thing for the season. I guess the reduction is a result of a the sheer amount of hours I’ve been logging for my position as a retail slave sales associate.

On a lighter note: I would love to wish all of you (the few who actually read this blog) a happy almost Christmas. May your church services and midnight masses meet your expectations.

The First Cupcake.

Once upon a time, I promised I would start documenting my baked goods on this blog and then failed miserably to live up to my promise. Tonight, after a week of waiting, I present to you the very first cupcake of the winter break season. This cupcake debuts as a pecan and graham cracker cupcake with vanilla frosting that has been lightly decorated with pecan and graham cracker crumbs. The recipe is simply a modified version of your basic vanilla cupcake or at least my recipe for a vanilla cupcake.

I am not blessed enough to have a nice camera, but I do have a suitable one and iPhoto, which allows me to lighten the image and blur the edges for that “fancy” camera effect. I promise I will bake more throughout the break and apologize for the suspense due to my seemingly endless retail work schedule. I hope all of you enjoy my little piece of food porn. Drool away my dear readers. And for all of you who are not satisfied with a simple picture for this post, I present to you, Michael Buble’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

iWrite.

Contrary to popular belief, I have baked once in the past week. However, I did not manage to document my amazing cupcakes for the blog world to view and for that, I apologize dearly. Anyway, I can’t help but to revert back to my old topics of what I love most about this season. One of my most favorite aspects about this season is writing holiday cards.

This is the card I'm going to send out this season.

Back in high school, I was notorious for writing these cards and my fellow classmates not only asked about them, but expected to receive them during the season. Nothing makes me happier than knowing my friends who have gone off to different colleges still keep my silly holiday cards from our high school years. I spend a good amount of time sitting down and writing these cards because I believe that each card should have a specific message that appeals to that person as an individual. I am personally not a fan of the generic card messages that involve a simple “Happy Holidays!” No, I fill the entire card with a profound message that is personal and specific to that individual.

One of my favorite places to hunt down affordable and visually appealing cards is Paper Source. I can spend countless hours in this store and collect a variety of cards for different occasions if I had the time. The best thing about this supplier is the random sales on cards that one can find. Today, for example, I stopped by to purchase about 10 cards thinking I would spend around $10 or so for a fairly decent design. However, I found 10 for $4.85 and that’s with tax. With the excitement of such a reasonably priced purchase, I sat down and began writing. I didn’t have the time to pass out holiday cards while I was on campus, so the lucky few who have graciously provided me with their addresses will be receiving my cards via snail mail.

I hope everyone is having a great winter break and holiday season!