Hello from Norcal!

December 4, 2009

Hello from Healdsburg, CA! I’m currently up in Sonoma County on a business trip and am LOVING the chance to visit this beautiful part of California during such a festive time! With the chance to mix work with play, I’ve been lucky enough to stumble upon some amazing eateries and boutiques. I don’t have the time to do as detailed a post as I would like at the moment, but here’s a quick sneak peak of one of the fabulous finds here in Healdsburg:

Can’t wait to tell you all about this boutique when I get back to LA!

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Stomping in Puddles

October 16, 2009

Happy Friday!!! Although it’s gray and cold outside, Fridays are always a reason to be happy.  This weekend promises to be a wet and sloshy one, with rain and more rain. How to tell if your area will require an umbrella and/or galoshes? Try this website – straight to the point and hilarious. It also stores your location info, and helpfully suggests whether to bring an umbrella. Funny, before I moved to New York, I never checked the weather, there wasn’t a reason to. It still hasn’t become a habit yet, so I just keep an umbrella in my bag at all times or go to Duane Reade to buy one (which I’ve done oh, 4 times).

For those brave enough to go out, I’ve come across some cute rainboots to equip you for some quality puddle jumping:

burb

Burberry Mid Calf Check rain boot on sale at Nordstrom’s for $99.90. The website doesn’t show it as on sale, but anything ending in $.90 at Nordstrom’s signals a discounted cost. Good for those who like the iconic design of Burberry but don’t want to pay 2X the price tag.

red

A more subtle, gorgeous alternative from Burberry. Love the deep berry color that stands out in the rain. The tall boot is also more accomodating for wider calves, which from personal experience, should not ever have anything cutting it off at midcalf.  If I didn’t already have this pair from Jeffrey Campbell, I’d get these in a heartbeat.

hunter

Hunter rainboots ($115) are a perennial favorite, and are available in short and tall lengths in a rainbow of colors. Yellow wellies stomping around on rainy days are just so happy! I’d want a fun pair to beat the rainy blues. A lot of retailers carry these, I’d wait until there is a coupon code to grab these (Piperlime would be a good bet with their 20% off coupons).

And just for fun, here are some adorable Tokidoki rainboots! These bring out my cheeky side who loves Hello Kitty and all cute animations. Ee! (There are also Hello Kitty rainboots available by the same maker but even I know some limits of embarassment).

toki

This weekend is Saks Friends & Family 25% off. Burberry and Hunter are both not one of the many exclusions. Excuse the double negative, both are included! You can use this to get rainboots or anything else you’ve been saving up to get!

saks


The Bar Method: Small Moves for Big Changes

October 10, 2009

Please follow link!

Moved

This page has moved to www.coastalpolitan.com.

During senior year of college, my roommate and I started going to Dailey Method classes in Piedmont as a way to shape up before spring break. We averaged 3 classes a week for a month and I was amazed at the difference it made! Our laziness and lack of funds overcame our ability to continue past the new student introductory month, but I have continued to boast of the results I got from the few classes we were able to squeeze in. Approximately 10 lbs lighter and more toned than I’ve ever really been, it was the best workout I’ve ever tried.

barmethodposeNow that I’ve relocated to LA, the Westside and South Bay are actually quite littered with a few Bar Method studios–all inconveniently too far from me to attend regularly. After putting off making the trek for a year now, a Pasadena studio finally opened up this summer, offering the perfect stop for post-work days! I’ve been going for 2 weeks now and it’s been such a great way to end the day after sitting in front of a computer all day. The Pasadena studio is gorgeous and large enough for classes of 20 to comfortably fit. It’s conveniently located in the heart of Old Town Pasadena where you can park in the public parking lot on Delacey Avenue for free, grab lunch or dinner, or even do some shopping after class. I love that they stock their bathroom with Aveda products (including eye make up remover!) for the convenience of stopping by before work if I ever get up early enough for 6AM classes. What I’ve really loved most about it so far are the instructors–all sweet, helpful, and energetic girls! One of the girls is even a Cal alum! I’ve yet to take any classes with co-owners Kate and Liz, but am looking forward to soon.

barmethodSo what exactly is the Bar Method and why does it work? Each 1 hour class consists of interval stretching, toning, and strengthening exercises and poses. The instructors throw in use of free weights, resistance belts, exercise balls, and foam pads for some moves as well. The focus of the bar method is to both burn fat and elongate muscles–a perfect combo for looking leaner. I’ve heard that it’s supposed to help sculpt a dancer’s body and the use of the ballet barre for stretching and back exercises offers a fun twist to other types of workouts I’ve tried. Who wouldn’t want to look as lean and graceful as a ballerina? With a regime of controlled, repetitive sets, it’s amazing how sore each class has left me because I somehow manage to work every muscle group while I’m there. What’s great is that there are many suggested variations to making each set more difficult depending on how much you want to challenge yourself. According to Burr Leonard, Bar Method founder, this is an “exercise that holds a long term fascination.”

Each studio offers a $100 new student introductory package, which includes unlimited visits for the first month! If you’re interested in trying out one class, there is also the option of paying $10 for the first class and upgrading to the $100 package later. With a schedule as busy as mine, I’m glad that there are later evening classes that I can catch on my way home and multiple weekend classes to start my Saturday and Sunday mornings off with.

Am looking forward to keeping this up and seeing some more changes! For now, it’s so rewarding to know I can barely walk up the stairs in my house after only an hour of getting my butt kicked in class. This is a pricier alternative to a gym membership, but for someone who needs motivation to stay in shape, I couldn’t have found anything better.


Summertime in LA

August 23, 2009

Without even realizing it, summer’s practically come and gone in no time flat!

My days during the season have been filled with work, sunny evening runs, and discovering a little more of what LA has to offer in terms of restaurants, bars/lounges, and sights and sounds! To my pleasant surprise, I’ve had the luck of stumbling upon some really awesome places that I wanted to share.

1) Annenberg Space for Photography: Nestled between the corporate high-rises of Century City, this was a great place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. I’ve been looking forward to visiting the gallery since it’s opening in April, but the new Pictures of the Year exhibit on July 11 was the perfect opportunity to finally check it out. Not only is the gallery beautifully designed, it overlooks a grassy knoll that is perfect for picnic lunches, people watching, or napping. The Century City Westfield mall is also conveniently down the street. I loved that I could enjoy the offerings of the photography exhibit and then spend the rest of the day discovering the surrounding area. With all that it offers, the gallery is free to visit and only $1 to park all day. The Annenberg Space for Photography turned out to be a terribly cute and fun date spot!

-1-766231

2) Bottega Louie: I have NO idea how I’ve never discovered this place before now! Being out on client sites has limited my time in Downtown LA, but a friend suggested this place as a lunch option recently and I AM IN LOVE. Bottega Louie offers gourmet Italian food in a classy setting. The food was scrumptious and very, very fairly priced for the ambiance that the restaurant offers. With about $25 each, we had more than enough food to spare between the two of us and even had dessert (the semi fredo was ah-mazing)! The restaurant also offers the option of grabbing something quickly from its market and patisserie if you’re in a hurry. This is now at the top of my favorite places to eat when I’m in the area.

bottega

3) Boulevard3: I think I’ve come to accept that as a 20-something living in LA, most of my going out choices relate to bars and lounges. Going out in LA is definitely a little trickier and requires much more effort than it ever did in SF, so I hate to admit that sometimes the concept exhausts me before I even attempt to go out. Well, after prettying up for the night this past weekend, I found myself at BLVD3 for a friend’s party. I’ve heard that it’s one of the classier LA clubs and was actually really impressed by the night. The venue was great–there were plenty of large open spaces with a calming outdoor area for relaxing and talking. The crowd seemed more sophisticated and everyone had a good time without any ridiculous shenanigans that you usually see at dark clubs. This place deserves another trip back!

blvd3


Cinco de Mayo, Chanel-Style

May 5, 2009

Every now and then, a genius marketing campaign hits you when you least expect it.  Like on a holiday that people celebrate merrily with tacos, margaritas, and cacarachas (or if you were at work like me, you read about other eople’s  festivities on Twitter… sigh).  Today, Cinco de Mayo for those of you who missed it, Chanel partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue to promote and honor its signature perfume, Chanel No. 5.

Large Chanel flags decorated and lined the side of building, window displays boasted scenes with both size bottles of the fragrance, and whimsical street signs re-dubbed sections of the avenue as “Avenue Chanel No. 5”.  Along with the eye candy, Chanel gave away free deluxe samples of the scent, and also unveiled its just-for-Chanel short film, Train de Nuit, starring Amelie actress Audrey Tautou (love!)

(photo credit to Racked)

I’m impressed by this fling of creativity – come on, it’s PERFECT: Saks Fifth, on Fifth Avenue + Chanel No. 5 + May 5th. I love when things just work, and this idea and partnership meshed beautifully on so many levels. I also applaud the use of different medium in the execution: the visual displays both above and at ground level, the commercial teasers that got people wondering about what Chanel had up its sleeve, and the samples of the perfume to link the scent with the experience of the day.

More about the perfume, it was purposefully created to be made up of synthetic notes, that is, unnatural scents as opposed to its floral counterparts. This is the reason why upon first encounters, many would describe it as on the strong and heavier side. The rich composition includes ylang ylang, jasmine, vanilla, patchouli, and iris.

I don’t personally use the perfume – I prefer lighter scents for now, but appreciate the timelessness of the fragrance, an extention of the classic yet modern appeal of the brand itself. Well done, Chanel, excelente.

no-5


How Skype is Saving My Long-Distance Relationship

April 17, 2009

I’ll begin with this conversation from mymomisafob.com:

“mom (on the phone w/ my dad): how come i cant find u on SKY-PEE?
me: Skype.
mom: how come i cant find u on SKY-PEE?
me: he wont understand u. its Skype.
dad: SKY-PEE. u mean Skip.”

(if you haven’t checked out mymomisafob.com, go.  Readers submit stories of ridiculous-but-true anecdotes of fobby things their asian parents say,  it’s hi-larious and endearing.  The mydadisafob.com counterpart is equally adorable, maybe more so b/c asian dads say the darndest things)

I’ve been relying on Skype heavily to chat with my mom and bf, both of whom are overseas.  I log on, fill up my account using CC, and then dial straight to their cell phones for 2 cents a minute. 2 cents – that’s less than the cost of a text message! An hour of chatting only ate up a little over $1 of my account.  That means I didn’t  have to squeeze everything into the Twitter equivalent of 140 characters (Good, becuase I like talking).

skype

Skype's sign-on screen.. looks like AIM

 What’s also really helpful is that in Skype, you just choose the country you’re trying to call from a drop down menu, and input the local number. No need to figure out what the country code and region code is, and if calling a cell phone means you can eliminate the region code.  I had to figure that out before when using a calling card, which was pretty confusing.

Skype started off as a voice-over IP service providing users with free telephone calls via the Internet.  Later, it expanded to allow users to dial computer-to-mobile at cheap rates (like 2 cents a minute!), and now, the newly set up iPhone Skype application essentially lets users call mobile-to-mobile.  The webcam features also enable video conferencing, and I know of many organizations and businesses who use Skype to communicate across geographies at group meetings and brainstorming sessions. Technology evolution rocks!

To date, this is the biggest foe of telephone networks.  Well, first it was the cellphone that made landlines archaic. (Sidenote: does anyone even use landlines anymore? Maybe when my friends get their own apartments…) Now, it’s Skype that’s got the networks sweating. And for good reason… No longer are customers confined to making calls during their free minutes, they can use the webcam to see the other person on the line, and it’s cheap!

Skype, Skip, Sky-Pee, no matter how it’s pronounced, this is one application that I know will continue to challenge past ideas of how people communicate.


Tasting Menu: Momofuku Ko

March 24, 2009

Last week, I scored reservations to the elusive Momofuku Ko restaurant!  The dining experience here starts even before you clamber onto a stool and eat – getting a reservation requires you to navigate through the online system, and beat hundreds of other hungry clickers for a spot at the 12-seat bar of Ko.

Everyone is treated equally – no special VIP attention is given.  That’s the enforced rule at Ko; that everyone has access to it.  Ironically, this makes it really difficult to get a res, and the one week ahead only rule doesn’t make it easier.  Every day at 10AM, the online system opens for the 7th day from that day.  Reservations can be made for 1, 2, or 4 and are taken very quickly, so a fast finger and persistence is vital.  Sometimes, people get lucky and score random cancelled times, but more often than not, the screen will look like this:

ko

Frankly, I think the whole process of snagging a reservation inflates the whole experience.  It sets lofty expectations for the meal quality, taste, service, decor, etc. 

On the contrary, my night at Ko was low-key and chill. First off, we couldn’t even find the door because it’s so nonchalant and hidden.  I live by the East Village, and have walked right past Ko many times (but for a good reason – Tarallucie next door for dessert!)  Once we found the door, the pretty hostess seated us on stools at the bar and we commented on the no-frills wine cork that doubled as a chopstick holder.  Digging the casual vibe.

When our meal started, the dishes came quickly at first – yummy appetizers that were pleasing and promised a great meal ahead.  We had about 5 plates in 20 minutes, and the bf deliberately slowed down, wanting to drag out the night as long as possible haha.  Beginning favorites included:

  • a standalone biscuit that was plain yet buttery and fluffily delicious
  • long island fluke sashimi in a mildly sour/spicy buttercream sauce accented with poppyseeds
  • soft boiled runny egg with caviar, vinegar, and topped with a sprinkle of fingerling potato chips

After the teaser appetizers, the dishes get heavier. I remember a pasta with snail and chicken sausage (i am terrified of snails and gave my pieces away), halibut, the (in)famous foie gras and a tri-tip steak surrounded by a genius jalapeno sauce.  Each plate is pretty generous considering that there is still more to come.  However, this is where the meal lost a few points with us – the bf and I weren’t so pleased with the shaved frozen foie gras with Riesling jelly over pine nut brittle and lychee, which was the one dish that everyone who dines at Ko raves about.  Not being a huge fan of foie gras and its heavy taste, I’d been looking forward to it with some hesitation.  To some, the peculiar arrangement was just the right balance of heavy flavor, crunchy texture, and light sweetness.  For me though, the way the foie gras flakes melted and stuck to the roof of my mouth just didn’t sit right with me, and I concentrated my anti-gag reflex efforts on the brittle and lychee, which I did think were yummy. *shrug* maybe we need more sophisticated taste buds.

Dessert was okay but not spectacular – a guava sorbet with liquid cream cheese (would have much preferred the sorbet by itself) and black sesame + lemon ice cream with a huge hunk of sugared funnel cake.  Throughout the meal, we shared a good wine pairing which went well with each of the dishes, which I’d recommend.

The menu changes a little each week; I read somewhere that the chefs rotate out one dish at a time so that it’s not always the same meal.  Reading/seeing pics of other people’s accounts of their Ko experience, this seems to be the case, as we didn’t get to try some of the other much-written about dishes.  Also, we didnt take pictures b/c the bf forbade me from doing so, no mixing technology with food.

 (photo by thewanderingeater.com)

All in all, it was something cool to do once, but probably not again for us.  At $100/person, it didn’t rock my world as I’d hoped. We probably wouldn’t get another reservation for awhile anyway, and plus, there are so many other restaurants that NYC promises!