Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

I adore Las Vegas. From the crazy desert heat, the annoying street peddlers (seriously, do I look like I want a flyer about naked ladies?) and the aggressive air-conditioning; to the amazing food, the unique people-watching, and the amazing food (again), I am 100% on-board with driving to Vegas for a random weekend!

We arrived Friday afternoon, checked into our room at the Flamingo, and headed off to a happy hour crawl!

[t-shirt, coated denim shorts: Forever 21; wedges: TOMS; jewelery: BaubleBar, Nixon, Gorjana, Stella & Dot, T+J Designs]

I spotted this tiger shirt at the mall, and immediately cracked up. It got me a lot of attention, but my favorite comment was from a little kid who grabbed his mom’s hand, and said “Look, a tiger!” I enjoy observant children, apparently. FYI these wedges are incredibly comfortable. We walked and walked and walked and WALKED, and not once did my feet hurt. I may buy them in every color.

We had drinks/appetizers at Michael Mina’s American Fish, where we split small plates of tuna tartare on crispy sushi rice cakes, the lobster roll, the crab cake, and the mac and cheese; and then at Nob Hill Tavern, where I discovered gin is not my friend. See my Yelp review for the saga, as well as a heartwarming tale of what good can come when you hire nice bartenders.

Here’s a montage, because I like those, too!

[purse: H&M]

The top photo on the right hand side is from our late-night happy hour/dessert-fest at Max Brenner. We had the corn croquettes, the tempura bananas with toffee and chocolate fondue, and I had an Americano with a peanut butter liqueur. My friend had some sort of cake-flavored martini, which was also crazy good.

Saturday was pool time, and then a spin through the Cosmopolitan hotel (which is also where we had our last meal before leaving. We also had a fancy dinner at Sage at the Aria on Saturday night. If you can get there before they realize that their tasting menu portions are far too generous, GO! I also befriended a man who ordered a $100 pour of whiskey. I semi-recall telling him to “ball so hard” I believe. Guess their cocktails are stronger than I thought!

[gelato x 9]

Sunday’s brunch was at the Wicked Spoon. The brunch buffet is only $29, and for an extra $8, it comes with all the champagne, bloody marys, or mimosas you can drink! As we were on our way out of town, I didn’t partake, but that’s a pretty sweet deal! Pro tip: get there before 11:00 if you want quick seating (and if you also want to taunt the 500 people standing in line to get in at that time), and make sure you try the gelato bar! My favorites were the salted peanut (top middle), the mango (bottom right) and I will say the Thai tea (bottom left) tasted exactly like a frozen Thai iced tea.

[fatman from above]

In a stroke of genius, I took today off from work. I spent the morning resting, re-earning the trust of the cats who thought I’d abandoned them, and trying to get the last remnants of smoke out of my hair. I also took advantage of having a Monday off by hitting up the mall for some fall fashion! I’ll show you my purchases in my next post.

Viva Las Vegas! And Viva Sleeping In,

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It’s been a crazy last few days! I managed to squeeze in a quick trip to Minnesota to see my family, a concert, and (obviously) some shopping. The flight from San Diego to MSP was uneventful, other than an unexpected seatmate at the airport while I waited for my flight:

[hello birdie!]

My flight even landed 20 minutes early, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, there was traffic on I-35, so I enjoyed another one of my holiday traditions while I waited for my dad and brother to pick me up:

[dark chocolate peppermint mocha]

Although I am a regular patron at Starbucks, my heart belongs to Caribou Coffee. I love that they have a daily trivia question that gets you 10 cents off of your drink if you get it right! Sadly the closest location is *not* in my hometown and nowhere near San Diego, but I guess it just makes it even more special, right? Speaking of special…

[the view from our deck]

The weather was incredibly warm over the holiday – it was mid-upper 50s both days I was there, which was a huge change from last year, when I flew in over a blanket of snow. I used to try to sneak out onto our deck in high school and surreptitiously tan myself before my grandma would catch me and yell at me about the importance of maintaining light skin so that no one would mistake me for a peasant. Gotta love my old-school grandma. Another piece of wisdom from gran: Two lions cannot rule one mountain. I’ll just let you think about that for a while :)As for the actual food holiday itself, it was full of family, and, in true Asian tradition, electronics.

[cousins e, baby w]


[everyone likes angry birds]

[taro chips]

And no visit home is complete without an obligatory photo of our beloved house cat, Frisky:

[frisky ponders his kingdom]

The flight home was much less awesome than the flight to Minneapolis. Not only did they oversell the flight, but when I went to check in the night before and was instructed to “select my seat,” ALL of the options were marked “unavailable” unless I wanted to pay $25 for the privilege of having a place to sit (spoiler alert: I didn’t) so I showed up to the airport with no assigned seat. When I got to the gate, there was a high school dance team running around and being teenage girls.* To make things even worse, when I went to go ask about a seat, the  gate agent said “we’re still trying to figure that out.” Just as I felt my inner Grinch rearing its ugly head, I heard those magic words: “Passenger Woo please report to the counter.” 35 minutes later, I was Team Exit Row and seated in front of a super-cute and shockingly well-behaved toddler who slept for most of the flight and was happy to look at pictures of my cats when we got to the gate. Yessssss.

[juice box wine!]

Even when I don’t have food in my refrigerator, I have wine 🙂

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! Back to work tomorrow.

*Please note I have nothing against high school dance teams; in fact, I was on mine until I got sidelined by a knee injury (whoo Faribault Emeralds!) but I was in a horrible mood by the time I got to the airport that day.

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I made a brief pilgrimage to my home state of Minnesota for Thanksgiving (details in an upcoming post, I promise!) Here’s a quick look at my traveling outfit.

Scarf – Banana Republic

Coat – Old Navy

Cowlneck dress – Target (similar here)

Tights/iPhone cover – J.Crew

Boots – Aldo

You can’t tell by the picture above, but the dress is actually a deep maroon color (and is super comfortable!) And the best part? It has front pockets! Warning: the photo below is totally Blurs-ville, but I was too tired to reshoot!

I also adore this iPhone cover by J.Crew, but I feel compelled to tell you that I’ve had it for less than a week, and glitter is *everywhere*. I also don’t have the greatest amount of faith that the case will still be shiny in a few weeks, but it’s such a fun holiday case, I couldn’t resist! I never said I was practical ;-).

And in case anyone’s wondering, that’s my childhood bedroom in the background. Ah, nostalgia.

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

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We didn’t get back to the hotel until almost 1:00 am (due to our late dinner, long drive back to the city, and complete navigation fail on the part of me and K), so we slept in the next morning. Waking up without an alarm clock blaring (or in my case, Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” blaring) is such a luxury. As always, the day started with Starbucks, and questionable spelling. Behold:


We headed for Ghiradelli Square in search of breakfast, and some light shopping.

Our first attempt at brunch was at Lori’s Diner and it was a massive failure. Granted, it was almost 1:00 by the time we arrived, but it took 15 minutes for the server to even notice us, and they weren’t serving breakfast anymore. Thankfully, we live in the era of the smartphone, and within minutes of hearing the words “lunch menu only” we were on our way to the Buena Vista Cafe down the street! According to the signage, the Buena Vista is the birthplace (or something) of the Irish Coffee, so K (being ever brave and lover of all things Irish) ordered one. This is where we stop for a second: I went to an Irish Catholic university in the middle of nowhere, and consider tailgating to be a legitimate sport, but O.M.G. this drink was strong! The Buena Vista also earned infinity cool points for having the following: 1) open seating, 2) breakfast all day, and 3) THIS:

I am twelve years old

In addition to Beaver Mustard, they also had Grey Poupon and good old fashioned Heinz mustard, which prompted a blind taste-test, a la “Top Chef.” I am 99.99% sure everyone thought we were crazy, but we were pretty delirious with hunger. The brunch was good, and relatively cheap, so two thumbs up!

In what might have been the worst idea ever, after our super-filling brunch, we decided to walk (WALK) to Lombard Street. San Francisco is hilly, and Lombard Street is famous for being 1) steep, 2) twisty, and 3) extremely expensive. After walking at what seemed like a 90-degree angle for an eternity, we made it!

Arty, exhausted photo

Our last stop was the Golden Gate Bridge. At first we tried to walk (not possible), then take the bus (equally impossible), so here’s the closest we got – thank goodness it was a beautiful day!

Last, what does a Minnesota-turned-San Diego girl who doesn’t check the weather before going on vacation wear to wander the city?

Canadian tuxedo!

Jacket: J.Crew; Top: Zara; Jeans: Paige; Bag: Target; Sunnies: Chanel

That’s right my friends: denim on the top; denim on the bottom! Not my proudest style moment, but it was chilly (or at least cooler than the 80 degree days I’m used to in San Diego, and I, in a stroke of genius, only brought one pair of pants for the entire weekend. I love this plaid shirt from Zara. Love the color combination, and there are pockets!

After saying goodbye to the Ks, I got some quality time in with my Kindle, and some much-needed hot tea.

Kindle, hot tea

I never thought I would like an e-reader, as I’ve always maintained that I like to fold down pages, carry books around with me, and I just enjoy having physical books. That is, until I bought my Kindle. It’s super-light, holds tons of books, and doesn’t hurt my eyes, unlike trying to use the iBooks app on my iPhone. Also, I heard that the prices might be dropping even more this winter, so I’d highly recommend getting one if you ever travel or find yourself in a situation where you want to look busy (hello avoiding conversations with people at Jiffy Lube!) I’m also obsessed with the website Goodreads, and while I hardly ever have time for reading that doesn’t involve social worker reports or psychological evaluations, I do try to read for fun when I can, although I’m not going to lie: I am currently watching the Real Housewives of NY reunion and it’s a total hot mess…

Peace, love, and Canadian tuxedos!

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I had the most amazing, semi-impromptu weekend in San Francisco and wine country last week. My good friend (and senior year roommate) K was in town for work, and I managed to find last-minute flights for $69 each way on Southwest, and my trial that was supposed to go most of Friday vacated, so I figured I’d take advantage of the free room and reunion. All of the flights to San Francisco were delayed due to fog, but I still got in around 5:00, and, in a fit of embracing the eco-friendly vibe of the city, I took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to Union Square, where our hotel was.


[Photo processing via Instagram]

I *love* Instagram. I fancy myself a photographer, but am very aware (as I’m sure you all are by now) that the only camera I currently own is integrated into my iPhone. Thankfully, the Instagram app makes it easy to make your photos look super artsy, and best of all, it’s free! It lets you take a photo, crop it, adjust the focus, and then you can apply one of fifteen filters to it. Voila instant hipster credibility! (Or not :))

After a harrowing attempt at navigating my way to the hotel (you’d think in-phone gps would make it easier for me, but sadly, you’d be wrong) I arrived at the Taj Campton in Union Square, a cute little boutique hotel to meet my friend K and her current roommate (also K, but I’ll call her K2 for clarity’s sake) It was also 59 degrees outside, and my cardigan just wasn’t keeping me warm enough, but thankfully there was a Zara nearby! When the going gets tough, I go shopping…

After a lackluster dinner at Betlenut (think slightly trendier P.F Chang’s), we braved the city bus back to the hotel (again, in the spirit of eco-friendliness) and got plenty of rest in preparation for the main event: Napa Valley!

Starbucks; spelling fail

…but not before some caffeine, and the first of many attempts of the corner Starbucks baristas to spell my name, which reminds me of this hilarious tumblr blog: Starbucks Spelling. I used to tell them my name was “Eva” (instead of Evangelina) but that yielded worse spelling attempts (Avo, Ava, Eve) and even worse pronunciations (“umm…EV-uh?”).  But that’s another post for another day (maybe).

Now, I love me some wine, but our first stop was actually Domaine Chandon for some champagne tasting. The grounds were absolutely beautiful, and the guy pouring the champagne wasn’t too bad either! Sadly, champagne always gives me a bad headache, so I played it safe and had just one cocktail, thus forgoing the 4-champagne tasting menu and commemorative flute. I still maintain I made the right choice, though.

Champagne cocktail, sunnies

 Jacket: J.Crew; Dress: Mimi & Red; Bag: Target

Please note I would normally not wear my hair in braids (unless it’s Halloween and I’m dressed up as Pocahontas) but we left while my hair was still wet, and I figured “Disney’s version of a Native American princess” was a better look than “wet rat,” so you’ll have to excuse me this once.

Our next stop was the Robert Mondavi winery, where we saw/heard Babyface warming up for some afternoon concert, thus fulfilling one of my seventh-grade self’s life goals (remaining unfinished goals from seventh grade: (1) be presented with a giant novelty check, (2) win Olympic gold medal in ladies’ figure skating, (3) meet the Backstreet Boys) and took an extremely informative (but LONG) tour where I learned things like (1) Malbec grapes were originally grown in France as “mixing grapes” but were first bottled on their own by South American vineyards, (2) the type of wood the wine is stored in is super-important, and (3) there are something called “appellations” (not to be confused with “Appalachians”) and that has something to do with why Napa Valley is so good for growing wine grapes. K’s roommate K2 also befriended a German guy.


Later we met K’s cousins, M/T, at Oakville Grocery to pick up supplies for an impromptu picnic (my favorite kind of picnic!) and head to our next destination, Rutherford Hill.  We had cheese, bread, and an amazing view of Napa Valley, along with a tour of their wine caves (and some more jokes about the quality of the wood that wine is aged in, which my inner 12 year-old appreciated).

Napa Valley, via Rutherford Hill

Caves, wine, good (French, allegedly) wood

One thing about wine country: most of the vineyards close around 5:00, and they’re all closed by 6:00. We managed to squeeze in one more tasting at Rubicon after we left Rutherford Hill. By the time we got to Rubicon, we were all pretty exhausted. Exhibit A:

K2, K, me, giant fountain

The washed-out colors are supposed to symbolize our level of fatigue. Just kidding. Running around and drinking wine all day really takes it out of a person. I have a tough life, I know ;).

We had dinner reservations at Bottega, but not until 9:45, so to kill time, we drove back to the city of Napa (not to be confused with the rest of Napa Valley) where things similarly were all closed early, and managed to walk two full miles in the name of finding the only open business there (a Starbucks!). I’m so sad I didn’t get photos of our dinner at Bottega (or a candid of chef/owner/Food Network personality Michael Chiarello, who we all openly gawked at when he made a cameo in the dining room towards the end of service) but my phone had died by then. We ordered the polenta under glass, the succotash, the ricotta gnocchi, veal bolognese, short ribs, more wine, and the tiramisu profiteroles, and I can verify that it was all extremely delicious.

Coming up: San Francisco day 3. Here’s a preview: it involves Beaver Mustard, a Canadian tuxedo, the Golden Gate Bridge (surprisingly, none of those are euphemisms).

In vino veritas!

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