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Belmont Shores and Downtown Long Beach

Because life > clothes. Here’s some pictures from last weekend’s mini-escapades.

Had brunch at Urban Table in Belmont Shores, Long Beach. I’m trying to find a lox bagel that comes close to the Russ and Daughters one I had in New York.

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Urban Table’s big sesame bagel.

It was delicious, but there are other lox bagels in the area I’d rather eat. Nevertheless, it is still a good filling meal to start the day with.

High definition bagel.

I also met Lucy the Schnauzer. She had just spent the morning at Rosie’s Dog Beach and as you can see here, she’s a natural in front of the camera.

Do it for the social media. She’s far more experienced at this than I am.

After picking up some pupcakes for Lucy at Frosted Cupcakery we ducked into an interesting shoe store called O’ My Sole.

The red one reminds me of my Camper flats.

The store seemed to carry a lot of Spanish-made shoe brands. Admittedly, they are not the most stylish but a recent foot mishap has made me consider the insoles of most shoes–and how a lot come up lacking in terms of support. I may have to come back here to look at and try on more shoes to get a better understanding of fit.

After our short jaunt through Belmont Shores we made our way over to Fourth and Cherry to get some drinks at the Flea Espresso Bar. My friend got an iced lavender steamer that was really delicious [Yelp shot] and I got my litmus test drink, a standard mocha. I’m not really into flora in my drinks (yet?) so I was surprised when I ended up liking the lavender-vanilla mix. Apparently the owner grinds edible lavender into vanilla powder and mixes it all with milk.

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Uh oh. No mocha for you Lucy!

We walked along Fourth Street which has a lot of vintage shops and niche fashion boutiques. Here’s some of the neat gifts in Songbird Boutique:

IMG_7041I’ve gotten earrings from A Million City Lights before–I have this geometric pair (holy throwback selfie.) But I think those avocado ones on the bottom left, middle are so very Californian!

I said goodbye to Lucy at this point, who was pretty tired from all her adventuring earlier in the day.

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Lucy and the technicolor sidewalk.

My last stop for the day was at Salud Juice. I was able to try a sample of one of their seasonal juices called “The Strawberry One,” and this shot called the Sucker Punch–lemon, ginger, honey, and cayenne.

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They don’t mess around–the Sucker Punch will wake you up! They gave me a slice of an orange to chase it with.

I can’t wait to return to the shop to try the other juices. Perhaps with more people so we can all share!

And thus passed the weekend. In a few days will be Friday and then it will be time to go traipsing about Southern California! Hang in there everyone~ (even though that’s really mostly a mantra for me.) Until the next adventure.

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le weekend

Grâce à Dieu c’est vendredi. 

Pardon my high school French, but it’s been a terrible week. I find myself wishing for more energy to do everything I want to–run, swim, bike, climb, write on this blog… instead of complaining about what I didn’t do, I’d like to celebrate what did happen this month:

1. I’ve been going swimming.

Fen talked about swimming as a workout, and I used to envy her tons. Then it dawned on me that I live in the capital of perpetual sunshine and there’s no excuse not to find a nearby pool. I’ve since found two community pools that are clean and spacious and as far as I can tell–health pending that is–swimming is back in my life. I enjoy it a lot; to me it’s play and less of a task, even when I’m winded and my legs are shot (kicking from the hip uses more core than I ever thought possible.)

2. Coffee.

I’m more into donuts than macarons and I don’t have a purse big enough to put flowers in, but I needed an Instagram schtick, because I am blogger (sarcasm.) Enter coffee. Nothing gets you more insta-likes than posting latte art and cups angled just so. But seriously, joking aside, it started with Vietnamese iced coffee and right now I’m in the milk+espresso phase, specifically mochas and cappuccinos. I can’t wait until I reach my mom’s level; she just drinks everything black. She’s the reason I started paying attention to coffee on my travels and I try to bring her new beans wherever I go. Mother’s Day is approaching, so it may be time to go shopping. And taste-testing. hoho!

3. Little adventures.

I go on little adventures in my own town with a few people and so far we’ve tried a few bars, gone to a pool hall (which was fun as hell even though we had to keep pulling up the rules on our phones), and I’ve spent an afternoon trying to bowl mostly unsuccessfully. This is where the cash that used to go to clothing and wardrobe building has been spent–in coffee and in these extracurricular activities that people do to socialize and interact with each other. It’s very strange and funny to indulge in these activities now; I feel like I’m playing at these social rituals. Oh well. I want to get good at bowling and pool/billiards–and by good at least make the ball go where I want it to, which is at the pins and out of the gutter. Or in the pocket. Etc. We’ll see how this initiative goes. I’m discovering that loaded coffees are delicious! Maybe next time I’ll be more courageous and stray from the norm :D

4. Comfortable outfits

This weekend I’ll probably be wearing some variation of this:

Such creativity. Much comfort.

Uniqlo slim boyfriend fit ankle length jeans, sweat long sleeve pullover

I can’t wait to loaf around and eat everything in sight. Loose jeans imperative. I’ll be up to my usual antics; hope you all have a refreshing weekend!

Late bloomer 

Let’s face it, I’m not exactly a trailblazer of any kind. I’m behind on a lot of things, sartorial and life-wise. Most people my age have had party night stories to tell for years, and I’m only now even exploring the nightlife in the area around me. I’m still out of tune with my own peers, but I think as I age (and that unfortunately marches on, regardless of personal development) it’s easier to accept and be happy with the timeframe I live in.

Which brings me to this: boyfriend jeans have been around for a while, but it wasn’t until half a year ago that I got the opportunity to try it out thanks to an aunt who gave me this light wash jean from Express.  After wearing it a few weekends here and there and enjoying the fit, I thought I’d add a dark wash choice this year with Uniqlo’s slim boyfriend fit ankle length jeans.

Okay and I won’t lie, Sue‘s Instagram feed gave me many ideas.

As far as loose fit jeans go these are pretty tame–just a nice fade down the front and some detail at the hips. There aren’t any dings or rips; I could have picked a pair with those features but I always want clothes that can do double duty for work.

The middle look is probably my favorite, although I could easily see myself in the first one for work with a white oxford shirt instead–like what I tried in-store. I think as long as I keep the shirt and shoes on the tailored, clean end I can get away with it.

I took a 27 in the jean, and I think that was the correct hunch because as you wear it more it acquires a better slouchy feel. 28 would have been too loose all around, and I like having a bit of structure at the waistline/hips as an anchor for the fabric bulk in the legs. I’m also currently wearing it rolled up twice; those of you of average height will find this going into floodwater pants territory, for me it’s just the right length.

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In other news:

I’m currently 1 for 1 off of my Evolving Needs list: I got the running socks which I did use in my race last month but then these jeans sort of happened (which were technically on the “What I don’t really need but kind of want anyway” part of the list.) It’s good to stay publicly accountable. Hoping to get through the rest of April without any more extraneous purchases, except I do know I’ll be most sorely tempted to restock my perfume because of that post I wrote last week. -sigh-

In due time, Kristina! There’s much better things to spend money on, like coffee.

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Perfume notes – March 2015

I’m not much of a beauty junkie, but I like to wear perfume. Yesterday I went to the mall to try on some things and dropped by the local Sephora to look at their fragrance section. These are just a few of the things that I tried on:

Disclaimer–I’m no connoisseur; I just know what works on my skin. My observations will be quite simple and unrefined:

Commodity Goods‘ Black and White Collection:

Wear them solo or layered. Under the bottles there are “mix” suggestions from the brand; it was quite interesting. For this visit, I only tried them solo to get a first impression.

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Three of the five scents in the Black collection. Not photographed: Wool and Moss.

I was drawn to Whiskey and Book. Book smells great from the bottle but I don’t think my body takes to woodsy notes that well. I do know some friends for whom it might be more appropriate. Thumbs up on the packaging and name choices; it’s quite attractive to think “my perfume is Whiskey and Books.”

Unfortunately I think my style is more “Donuts and New Computer Smell.” I digress.

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White collection. Not photographed: Paper, and Rain

Gold wears like Atelier Cologne‘s Vanille Insensee on me. No wonder I thought it was familiar. Mimosa is also a pleasant scent; it’s got blood orange and grapefruit as top notes and ylang-ylang in the base.

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What I tried on at Sephora this month.

Of yesterday’s visit, I liked these three the most (and a fourth one not photographed, which is Atelier Cologne’s Pomelo Paradis.)

On Atelier Cologne: of the three citrus-themed scents I’ve tried from them so far, I’ll say Mandarine Glaciale > Pomelo Paradis > Orange Sanguine. Personal preference. They seem to last longer than Diptyque does on me. I’ll call it an insistent fragrance: you will smell yourself for a while. So likely others will too (is that what sillage is?) Love that they smell like freshly cut fruit, but it may be a bit overwhelming for some people.

Juliette Has a Gun is a brand by Romano Ricci, whose ancestry includes Nina Ricci and his grandfather Robert Ricci, creator of L’Air du Temps. I tried Not a Perfume and Anyway. These are pretty understated perfumes, Anyway goes on clean and finishes like a hint of soap or powder after 45 minutes. In contrast to Atelier Cologne, those two scents from Juliette Has a Gun are subtle and quiet. There are other “heavier” scents but I’m looking for a daytime spring/summer vibe, so I didn’t check those out.

Finally, Commodity Goods’ Gold: I like this better than Vanille Insensee; I’ll keep it in mind, but it’s not what I’m currently looking for. I may go back to try Mimosa or Tea.

That’s where I am fragrance-wise this season: looking for a new spring/summer, airy day scent. Do you wear fragrances? Do you change your scents with the season/for the occasion? Or do you prefer to wear one brand or one type of fragrance only?

Evolving needs

I haven’t really talked much about shopping lately because there isn’t much that I desperately need. 2015 has been relatively quiet on the shopping front; so far all I’ve accumulated is the following:

As seen on Instagram:

January

February

Nine West Foodie monkstrap shoes 
Black Crane Pleats Dress in gray

March

Gap true straight and tailored crop work pants

The following are non-urgent ideas, but would be nice to have to supplement the evolving wardrobe:

1. A pair of dressy/casual flat sandals.

I bought these super dorky (yassss!) gold Easy Spirit sandals last year and they’re not that great. The strap is loose around my ankle and the foot bed while cushy, is not entirely supportive at the arch. I am not sure whether to donate these or to see if I can get the strap shortened. I’d like something that straddles dressy-casual, so probably something in non-distressed leather. 1/2 inch heels okay.

2. A wide-brimmed (straw?) hat for walking

I walk during my breaks at work. The straw hat I use is falling apart. I’d like one that I can tie under my chin in case it is windy. I like straw hats because it makes me feel like I’m from Little House on the Prairie, but I could also go for a more outdoorsy/sporty sun-fabric hat for practicality’s sake. I like the idea of a straw hat; I personally like the idea of being that dorky Asian lady with a visor (not yet! maybe in 20 more years!) While I love that Southern California gets a ton of sun, my skin will probably appreciate some protection.

3. A new fitted button-down shirt (dressy)

My old button-down work shirts are much too large on me. I’d like a fitted white or navy dress shirt to have on hand for interviews or “formal” work occasions. The sloppy fit of my older shirts are ok for casual days, but there are times when I need a prim and proper option.

4. Running socks

Of all the things on this list I’ll probably buy these first, along with the hat. My current socks abrade my skin after long runs–I think because of the way the inside of the sock is manufactured. Going to try these Hidden Comfort socks by Balega on the next pay cycle.

What I don’t really need but kind of want anyway:

– straight (not skinny) jeans in a light wash. not sure if I want distressing or whiskering yet, but Sue of Susie So So sure makes it look good. (look at her jeans 1, 2, 3, 4 not fair! so many options!)

– another dark plum lipstick (I own Bite Beauty’s High Pigment Pencil in Bramble) but Mac’s Sin (Matte) lipstick makes me look like one of those Tumblr girls (actually, that’s model Taylor Hill.) The dark lip + bold brow combo satisfies the 90’s craving I have without necessarily dipping back into plastic tribal tattoos (which I wouldn’t mind trying again for the hell of it.)

– I don’t need perfume, but I enjoy it and I’m running low on my main scents. Not a high-priority purchase, but one I can probably save for a birthday or special occasion.

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It’s interesting to move from filling closet gaps to refining needs/desires. I notice that the things I want above are replacements or refinements of items I currently own. In some cases, what I own fails to fulfill its purpose (gold sandals) and at other times I’m buying because I ran out (perfume.) In general, I’m glad that I’m better at identifying WHY I want to buy something new–knowing the reason and purpose behind it helps me evaluate and prioritize future purchases. And spending that time to deliberate weeds out a lot of impulses and leads to a more optimized acquisition.

That’s it for me on the shopping front–quite boring, really, but it’s just where life is going nowadays. What’s on your shopping list lately? What’s your best buy of the year so far?

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Bouldering at Joshua Tree

This weekend I took my suburban self out of the concrete jungle into the desert park known as Joshua Tree.

Last year I took up bouldering after my friends encouraged me to try it at least once. I got hooked pretty easily. Bouldering is rock climbing without the use of special gear; just a pair of climbing shoes with rubber soles suffices. There’s traditional rock climbing with rope and harness which is more common and more well-known. I enjoy bouldering because of the low start-up costs (not as much gear) and because it doesn’t require a partner (a belayer, someone who holds the tension for a rope climber.) I’ve come to enjoy the sport quite a bit, so when I was offered a chance to go bouldering outdoors I was excited to try it out.

I am fortunate to know some amazingly buff and excellent people from my local climbing gym. We headed out to Joshua Tree (or JTree as I’ve heard people call it) early on Saturday morning. It’s about two hours from my home, but it was a nice clear day with hardly any traffic. I hadn’t been to JTree since I was nine, so I didn’t have much context heading in. I just remembered it was hot and dry and full of spiky things that can hurt you.

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That assessment still stands. Many pointy things abound.

Since I went with a fairly advanced group, there weren’t many routes I could really climb. I’m not quite as strong or as skilled as the others just yet, though someday I’d like to be. Still, I managed to finish two routes (climbers say “to send a route”.) I sent two routes. The first one was an unmarked warm-up problem in The Outback area.

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The other lady in the far right corner is starting Chuckwalla V6, a much tougher problem than what I’m working on.

In the U.S. routes are rated using the Hueco scale. Problems start from V0 and go all the way up to V16. At the easier end of the scale, some use the designation “VB” (sometimes said to designate “basic” or “beginner”) for problems easier than a V0. I’m definitely at this beginner level!

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On the aptly-named Dragonscales boulder.

Dragonscales in the Planet X area was really fun. It is about 20 feet tall and the many cracks and grooves make it an easy climb. Of course “easy” is a relative term–for me, the starting move was a few inches out of my reach. Luckily my spotters were there to pile some crash pads underneath me to boost me up to a good height. Crash pads (the mattresses on the ground) are essential to providing some measure of fall protection. Of course, it is still advisable to climb within your limits and always go with a group of people.

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Success!

I’m really glad to have gone bouldering outdoors–it was one of my goals that I wrote down for this year. Now that I’ve accomplished it, I can’t wait to go back and go outdoors more. It gives the gym workouts a purpose if I know what moves I’m practicing to get better for outdoors. As free-spirited as it sounds, you really can’t beat being out in nature and fresh air.

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Menswear redux

Workplace dress will always fascinate me. There’s no shortage of wonders in what people deem work-appropriate, and I like to see what others come up with. My employment does not have a dress code, but my job has a significant front-facing, public dimension. This whole blog has been about me trying different ways to improve my outer image, to learn how to build a good foundation of a wardrobe that will serve me well in my daily activities.

Last month I was hemming and hawing over adding a new silhouette to my repertoire, but this month I’m back in my menswear corner, opting for a far more masculine vibe:

Blazer: old JCrew maritime blazer (see 2013 me)
Shirt: old Lands End No Iron Supima dress shirt
Pants: Gap tailored crop pants 
Boots: Ecco Structured 45 Gore-Tex booties
Belt: black leather, silver buckle. borrowed from my grandmother.

I got some new pants from Gap and they’ve revitalized my workwear pieces. I’m back to slacks, socks and shoes! I’m enjoying them. I have been searching for new pants for a while and I hope these ones stand the test of time (and the washing machine.)

Eventually maybe I’ll learn to look less rumpled and be even slicker but for now, I’m happy with what I’ve got. My pants have functional pockets and don’t drag on the floor (thank you “ankle length” option). Next on my vague list is a black jacket that ends at the waist–maybe a light bomber style jacket. Something to throw over myself at work that can be casual or dressier depending on what I’m wearing.

That’s where I am sartorially as of late. I suppose because there’s not much change in what I’ve been doing, it’s affected my blog posting schedule here. These days I’m far more likely to update via Instagram–it’s admittedly a lot easier to write a short sentence than a whole post, not to mention I’m quite visually oriented. Please join me there should you feel so inclined :)