The Everygirl Conference in Chicago

Working in the digital age, particularly when working freelance and/or telecommute, can imply several things:

  1. You can be on a very important conference call while eating a triple-scoop ice cream sundae with gummy bear vitamins on top.
  2. You are alarmingly hyper-dependent on Google and all of its products. Communication is held in G-chat or email form rather than face to face and can be minimized when drat, you’ve ran out of ice cream.
  3. You have never met the majority of your lovely co-workers, despite regularly communicating with them and greatly admiring their contributions.

Points #1 and #2 are likely still to occur. But last week, the #teamTEGcon held in Chicago made the last one moot.

Alaina and Danielle, the co-founders of The Everygirl, a site that I have been contributing fashion features to since February, generously invited all of us out-of-state TEG editorial board members to fly in from our respective cities — Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Charleston, Washington D.C. and Madison — to discuss and help shape the future of the website. The Chicago ladies joined as well, of course.

Removing the hazy digital screen and actually meeting everyone in person was surreal. Though my time at the conference felt like a whirlwind due to a less than 24-hour time frame, getting to know all of these intelligent, ambitious and career-driven women and their ideas made the nonstop hustle worth it.

#teamTEGcon |

One of the many gorgeous views — hello, Navy Pier! — from W Chicago Lakeshore, where we stayed. The recently renovated luxury hotel is located at the edge of Lake Michigan, thus offering serious eye candy from essentially every window, even the ones in our conference room.

#teamTEGcon |

I had the best travel buddy every step of the way: Allyson, the other Los Angeles TEG editor who also works at Lulu & Georgia and runs her own fantastic blog, Mimosas in the Morning. We ended up being roomies for the night due to a slight mix-up, which made sense after narrowly avoiding a missed flight together (darn you, lure of vino and french fries) and various other mini-adventures.

#teamTEGcon |

#teamTEGcon |

Got to meet my kindred spirit and fashion co-editor at last! It feels like I’ve known this girl for ages. Jess also has a fabulous blog (and style) that you can check out: The Golden Girl!

#teamTEGcon |

#teamTEGcon |

After a long but productive day of working, I had a little under an hour before my flight to run out and take in as much of Chicago as possible with Jess and Allyson. Summer evenings in Chi-town = perfection.

#teamTEGcon |

Luckily, I’ll be back in the fall for a wedding and plan to consume much, much more deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s. Yum. See you in October, Chicago!

Visiting Vancouver in May

Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide |

I shared photos from our two days in Seattle here, and now the gorgeous Vancouver, Canada gets its long overdue turn:

Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { Our man-cave Airbnb for “girls’ weekend”! I enjoyed the very minimal, greyscale aesthetic that was miles away — literally and figuratively — from my apartment at home. We stayed in Mount Pleasant, which is a slightly “hipster” and foodie/coffee shop-filled neighborhood. It’s about a 10-minute drive to Gastown, which also has a lot of great restaurants and nightlife. }Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { The Wallflower was right down the street from our Airbnb. It wasn’t originally on our list of places to try, but every time we walked by, the large gathering crowds patiently waiting outside piqued our curiosity. Linda and I shared a hearty breakfast poutine (not pictured, but this version of the Canadian dish had two poached eggs, cheese curds, bacon, hash browns and chicken gravy; not for the faint-of-stomach) and the peach waffles for a sweet finish. }Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { How is that sky above Granville Island even real? Look at those clouds! Happy sigh. }

Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { After a pointlessly long walk to Granville Island (i.e., getting ridiculously lost), our hangriness was raging. Go Fish Ocean Emporium, suggested by an awesome reader on my Instagram, gratified our hunger tenfold. The fish and chips were deliciously fresh, but the ahi tuna sandwich definitely won the gold. Before you start searching high and low for the mini-restaurant, it’s tucked away along the seawall of the marina — not located directly inside Granville Island. }

Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { Oh man. Be forewarned: Before you choose to take that first bite of a bagel freshly baked at Rosemary Rocksalt, know that no other bagels will ever taste the same. My sister Melody, who traveled to Vancouver about a month before I did, practically required I visit the bakery. She ate there twice before bringing a dozen of their bagels home to San Francisco, and I regret not following suit. }

Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { I had fresh lox on their trademark rosemary rocksalt bagel, but wish I also tried their signature smoked meat version. Do me a solid by giving it a try and reporting back? :) Also pictured: 49th Parallel Coffee, which received a double rec from Melody and the lovely Michelle (who has lived in Vancouver, so I was wise to believe her). A yummy necessity. }

Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { Out of all of the activities planned on our overly comprehensive to-do list, I was probably looking forward to Stanley Park the most. }

Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide |

VancouverLinda Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { Being in the outdoors, especially in the forest surrounded by soaring trees, makes me a happy camper — despite having severe allergic reactions to almost all types of trees and grass. Again, thank you Claritin for making my joy possible. I more than love you — I desperately need you. #NotSponsored #ShouldBe #JustKidding}Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { I once thought Americans in big cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York were suckers for brunching. It turns out we Yankees are amateur brunchers in comparison because it turns out, Canadians invented it. Touche, Canada. After encountering a mile-long line at Cafe Medina and not wanting to meet the same fate at Twisted Fork, we stumbled upon a little family-owned Italian restaurant. The name of the restaurant escapes me at the moment, so just gaze at the tantalizing dish above in the meantime. } Vancouver, Canada Travel Guide | { After walking from downtown to Mount Pleasant in pouring rain, we ducked into Brassneck Brewery for a roof over our heads and for a flight in its tasting room. Awesome-looking space — love all of the beautiful cuts of wood — and even better beer. }

Additional delights from our approximately 96-hour stay in Vancouver: 
Narrow Lounge in Mount Pleasant, which is a cool but easy-to-miss bar only identifiable on the outside by an eerie red light; Peaceful Restaurant for authentic Chinese food that incidentally goes quite well with red wine and watching “Clueless” when in take-out form; Granville Island Brewing for a quick taste of local beer (each customer is only permitted three small size/4 oz beers or one large glass/12 oz beer); Guu Otokomae in Gastown, which is super busy and might require a reservation — the food (e.g., kimchi pork bibimbap, salmon sashimi and crab and shrimp dumplings) is incredible and the drinks are cheap; Gene Cafe in Mount Pleasant for a hot latte and a simple but satisfying breakfast burrito to go; 8th & Main for affordable and on-trend clothing, shoes and accessories; and all of the vendors within Granville Island, from farmer and butchers at the public market to shops selling cute chatskis and trinkets.


What I’m Reading: “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed

Growing up, I would go to the local library at least once a week to check out a staggering pile of books — most written by authors with names I didn’t recognize, but possessing an intriguing cover or fascinating, catchy copy on its back. The library was my magical comfort zone; I would retreat there alone for peace and discovery.

Then when it was almost time for bed, I would pick up one of the books and devour page after page until I fell asleep, usually with the book falling near my hands as slumber overtook my heavy lids. Books were my silent, calming lullaby. I always slept well after reading.

Nowadays, working as an editor for a magazine, I read (and write) all day. Once I finally arrive home, that same motivation to even pick up a book has worn thin, which honestly breaks my heart a little bit. Life has been exhausting but so very good lately; however, recalling all of the above — how happy and relaxed that books and stories and literature and novels and poetry used to make me — is pushing me to return to my roots of joy.

All of which brings me to the above book recommendation, “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar” by Cheryl Strayed. Please, guys. Read it. I have already implored you to pick up a copy here, but it’s so powerfully compelling that I’m suggesting it again. I laughed out loud. A lot. I teared up more times than I should probably admit. I had to place the book down from time to time just to reflect and really marvel: “Wow. This is some damn good writing.” This book makes you feel; it melts any small and creeping or so-large-you-can’t-ignore-it signs of numbness away. (Psst: While you’re at it, read this New Yorker article about how the identity of Dear Sugar — which originally was an anonymous advice column hosted at The Rumpus — was revealed.)

A few favorite passages/quotes from the book:

“You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.”

“Forgiveness doesn’t sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old fat guy you have to haul up a hill.”

“The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve. And ‘if your Nerve, deny you —’, as Emily Dickinson wrote, ‘go above your Nerve.’ Writing is hard for every last one of us— straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.”

“About how in love we were and also how lost. About how we were like those two kittens who’d been trapped and starving for weeks. Or maybe not about the kittens at all. Maybe the meaning was in how we heard the sound, but did nothing about it until it was so loud and we had no choice.”

“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.”

- Tiny Beautiful Things

Summer Solstice Picnic in Griffith Park

SUMMER is officially here, according to the tilt of our earth’s semi-axis and the ensuing summer solstice (i.e., the longest day of the year) this past Saturday. What better way to kick off the season than with a picnic at the park?

Most of my good friends are scattered throughout Southern California, but this picnic — round one of many in the next few months — fetched mostly those living in Los Angeles to gather in Griffith Park. Griffith Park is colossal and has several spots for folks to spread out their blankets, play upbeat tunes and open up a bottle of rosé. The only one that requires reservations is Crystal Springs (we chose Mineral Wells for this reason), so when you’re suddenly hit with the urge to picnic, making it happen is as easy as 1-2-3.

Special thanks to Lauren of Static Fox Photography for capturing these beautiful (non-iPhone) shots!

{ Delicious raw vegan chocolate almond butter cups, brought by the lovely Sara. See her recipe and healthy living blog here! }

{ Our facial expressions while eating the above yummy treat, captured. If you could look more closely, I swear you’d see the ecstatic joy in my eyes … and probably the melted chocolate on my face. Ha. }


photo 5
{ I made a variation of these picnic pressed sandwiches from Crepes of Wrath. Essentially: Place pesto, salami, prosciutto, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves on ciabatta bread. Wrap the sandwich very tightly in saran wrap before placing it in the fridge for a few hours. Finally, cut the compressed sandwich into bite-size squares and then serve! }

{ Playing Heads Up!, which you can download to your smartphone via iTunes. It’s guaranteed to bring laughs and is great for big groups. }

IMG_1541IMG_1493 Picnic02
{ Elusive bubbles that only Ted Nguyen, professional bubble whisperer, could make happen. }

Exploring Seattle, Washington

Seattle Travel Guide |

Now that I’m back into the swing of the continuous pendulum that is life and work, my six-day vacation to Seattle and Vancouver seems like it occurred ages ago. To refresh your memory (and perhaps even my own), I went on this trip with two close friends. The catch: They hadn’t met before, so I was a teensy bit nervous about all of this estrogen playing nicely together.

After all, when you travel in a group and on a budget, you’re with each other 24/7: a communal bathroom, lots of walking and navigating in a foreign place, sleeping in a small space, little-to-no privacy and the ultimate horror of just one moderately-sized mirror for three females (only half-kidding). But luckily, the three of us hold the common passion of exploring and an appreciation for craft beer, in addition to a similar sense of humor — so all was fine and dandy.

First up from our adventure: Seattle. Our two days there weren’t enough! We especially loved this city:

Seattle Travel Guide |

{ We checked into our Airbnb in Capitol Hill, a fantastic neighborhood in Seattle, and then started on our short walk toward downtown. While a block away from Pike Place Market, we grabbed fusion-style hot dogs from Gourmet Dog Japon, a popular street food stand. I ordered the “Matsuri,” which is a Kielbasa sausage in a toasted hoagie bun, topped with seaweed, teriyaki glazed onions, carrots and Japanese mayo. }

Seattle Travel Guide | #pikeplace { Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle, albeit known as a tourist cesspool, was a must. Though still bustling on a Wednesday, the market wasn’t as teeming as I’d imagine it to be on a weekend day. Our 4:30 a.m. wakeup call that morning to make it to the airport made a latte from Storyville all the more delicious. The aforesaid hot dog left zero room in my stomach for pastries, though The Crumpet Shop is supposed to be mouth-watering. }

Seattle Travel Guide | #pikeplace Seattle Travel Guide | #pikeplace{ Even if I was a local, however, I would return to Pike Place Market at least once a week for the gorgeous selection of flowers. Peonies in full bloom appeared everywhere we turned, and bunches were sold at a fraction of the cost here in Los Angeles. }

Seattle Travel Guide | #pikeplace{ The market is also famous for its fish market, which is right by the main entrance. Supposedly, the fishmongers (i.e., people who sell fish as food) turn vending into a lively show for customers and passersby. We didn’t manage to catch a glimpse, but from what I have read and heard: If a customer orders a fish, the fishmonger will energetically throw the fish to his or her co-worker to package it — even if it’s a whopping eight-pounder. }

Seattle Travel Guide | #bottlehouse{ For dinner, we went to the darling Bottlehouse, a tapas and wine bar in the Madrona neighborhood. It’s situated in a renovated colonial house, but you’ll want to request an al fresco seat. The weather was perfect, and when the night started to fall, they lit up the lights strewn about the patio. Everything we ordered was delicious, but I’m almost positive that mac and cheese was sent from heaven… }

Seattle Travel Guide | #victrolacoffee{ The next morning, we got our morning fuel (mine was a latte and a doughnut — typical) from Victrola Coffee, also in Capitol Hill and just a nice walk away. The coffee roasting facility is open for guests to see what goes on behind the scenes, which provides interesting insight for the curious. }

Seattle Travel Guide | #macrinabakery{ The doughnut was just a warm-up for Macrina Bakery. But by the time we got there, they had already ran out of the popular breakfast items, so I settled for a banh mi sandwich (marinated tofu, spicy cabbage, field greens, cucumbers and ginger aioli on a panini bread). My friend got a yummy looking quiche with a fresh baked roll, pictured above. }

Seattle Travel Guide | #acehotel{ Ace Hotel was right across the street and since I love the neighboring Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles so much, I insisted on stopping by. It didn’t disappoint. It’s much smaller than its LA sister hotel, but it still has that same Ace Atelier magical touch. (Ace Atelier is Ace’s in-house design team.) }

Seattle Travel Guide | #elysianbrewingco{ The first of many strictly-beer stops on our trip: Elysian Brewing Company. The standout of my beer flight was the Avatar Jasmine IPA. With just one sip, you can actually taste the floral jasmine notes, followed by satisfying hops. }

Seattle Travel Guide |

Seattle Travel Guide |

{ Over a decade of true friendship. ;) }

Seattle Travel Guide | #spaceneedle{ Our breathtaking view from the Space Needle. }

Seattle Travel Guide | #oysters

Seattle Travel Guide | #elliotsoysterhouse #bookstorebar{ Left: Elliott’s Oyster House on Seattle’s waterfront has a “progressive oyster happy hour“: at 3 p.m., freshly shucked oysters on the half-shell are $1 each; one hour later, the rate jumps to $1.50; and from 5 – 6 p.m., it’s $2. Guess who isn’t an oyster fan? Right: Bookstore Bar, tucked into Alexis Hotel in downtown, was an awesome find. Booze and books line the shelves, and yes, you can even buy a book — all are $5 each — as you sip a cocktail during the 2 – 6 p.m. daily happy hour. }

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to check out all of the wonderful suggestions I received (thanks again, everyone!), but I don’t plan on my first visit to Seattle being my last. :)

Next up: Vancouver!