burnt

Summer is here. With a vengeance. It went from muggy and cloudy to clear, dry and hot like an oven. Despite the threat of awkward tan lines, I can’t currently stomach the thought of wearing more than shorts and a tank:

too hot either way

Top: old Uniqlo men’s chambray buttondown
Tank: old Zella workout racer back tank
Shorts: DIY Levi’s cut offs

But sun-safe and sun-smart me knows I should probably at least cover my shoulders and chest up. Just say no to melanomas, you guys. Skin cancer concerns are real for everyone, even for those who don’t get sunburned. Also, I live in a very sun-happy capital, where year-round tans are possible, but not necessarily wise.

I’m still trying not to get carried away with buying too many clothes but this is the time of year where I am susceptible to black cotton tops. I have quite a few of them (v-neck tees, short tanks, long tanks) so I don’t really need more. We’ll see how well I resist temptation this year. I’d rather get more sneakers; I need a new black pair anyway.

What’s on your sartorial radar this summer?

Steelhead Coffee / California Heights

In case you couldn’t tell¬†or it wasn’t obvious¬†I have become quite enthralled¬†with coffee this year. Thanks to some coffee-loving family and friends, I think I’ve firmly joined Camp Caffeine–though only time will tell if I chose wisely :D The energy and time I spent debating clothes is now split with researching new coffee shops and subsequently being exposed to coffee culture and history, which is extremely exciting to me. Or is it the rapid heartbeat talking?

Fortunately, there is no shortage of coffee shops in Southern California, and most especially in the city of Long Beach, which is a short drive away from North Orange County. It is home to quite a few coffee shops and coffee roasters who have contributed greatly to the city¬†having a¬†specialty coffee¬†scene. One of those newcomers is Steelhead Coffee¬†in the historic neighborhood of California Heights in Long Beach. I found out about them through–you guessed it–social media, as suddenly my favorite coffee accounts started to post and tag the shop. I decided to go into Cal Heights to see and taste the place for myself.

On the corner of Wardlow Road and Orange Avenue.
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First glance into the shop upon entry.

Steelhead Coffee owners John and Rany Aguirre, a husband-and-wife team, were interviewed by the Long Beach Post shortly after they opened, and are already garnering attention from foodie databases such as dineLA. The combination of a clean, bright interior, local coffee from Rose Park Roasters and bottled cold brew from Lord Windsor Roasters, and a rotating list of featured coffees from around the country make Steelhead Coffee a very welcome addition to the neighborhood, which has long needed a space for people to congregate and interact with others.

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The most-photographed area of the shop even has its own hashtag: #thatsteelheadwall

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A macchiato.

The fire-engine red of a custom-painted La Marzocco 3-group espresso machine, and the register area.

Behind the bar, and glassware from nonNeutral.

Steelhead typically uses Rose Park Roasters coffees but also rotates other coffees/coffee roasters. In this shot on the far left shelf are some coffees from Huckleberry Roasters from Denver, CO. On the right shelf are two boxes of bagged teas from Rishi Tea, Milwaukee, WI. The coffees may be featured in espresso-based drinks or as brewed coffee or pour-overs.

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Baked goods display case.

The pastry and sweets collection is modest, but does feature local bakers such as The Caffeinated Kitchen (donuts) and also pies and quiches from Scratch Baked Goods.

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Vegan donuts from The Caffeinated Kitchen.
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Wall opposite the register displays the seasonal roasters available.

As mentioned before, Steelhead also carries fellow Long Beach shop Lord Windsor Roasters‘ bottled cold brew:

The tea offerings from Mad Monk change with new stock. A local leatherwork shop called Anvil Handcrafted has selected products (wallets, keychains, candles) available for purchase at Steelhead.

Additional seating toward the front of the cafe.

What I like the most about Steelhead Coffee are the people. The owners and baristas are friendly and approachable, and almost everyone that comes in picks up on that mood and responds accordingly. Then again, I find that on the whole people are a bit more open in Long Beach as opposed to Los Angeles proper or even Orange County–there’s enough grit for a city/urban feel in LB, but there is also a focus on community and connectedness that is easier to reach.

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Where would Kristina be sans mocha?

For a new shop (less than 6 months) and such notice as it has already received, I have little doubt that Steelhead Coffee will soon be charging its way to the front of the Southern California coffee scene.

Steelhead Coffee (hours and contact info on Yelp)
1208 E Wardlow Rd
Long Beach, CA 90807

Back to order

As we head into summer days (is it really the second week of the second half of the year already??) admittedly, not much changes here at Uniformly Dressed. I still wear the same shirts and shoes, except I’m a little bit sweatier and deflated at the end of the day, perhaps. Such is life. However, I’m enjoying a bit of refreshed inspiration with my limited color palette thanks to these two Instagram accounts I just recently followed.

Yuka (@yuka_____i) has all the things I’d ever want in my closet. She does some really simple, very clean midi skirt-and-breton stripe combos I wish I had the height to do justice to. (I think midis make me look a bit frumpy.) I like that a lot of her looks could be work-appropriate; I own a few pieces similar to hers so I’ll see if I can whip something up that evokes the same aesthetic.

Jiang Lilun’s (@walilizhou) indigo game is SO strong. She doesn’t have too many captions, but I believe she must dye some of her own textiles as well as possibly sew some of her outfits. Reminds me of Black Crane with the way she plays with loose silhouettes (think culottes and oversized shoulders/flowy tops) except she features mostly indigo-toned outfits. I would like to try and capture some of her style in my weekend outfits.

Here’s my beginner’s take on a “Yuka-like” work outfit:


Shirt: old Gap 1969 bell-sleeve indigo blouse
Pants: old Target Mossimo ankle pants
Shoes: Cole Haan penny loafers

Fun story on that Gap blouse: it was in the sale section maybe three years ago, and I picked it up on a whim. At my heavier weight, I wanted something that would skim over my torso. It didn’t work–it made me look bigger than before (why doesn’t that logic ever work–hide your body, and it’s actually less flattering for you than finding something fitted?) It laid fallow in the closet until I had this resurgence of appreciation for the swing cut and the poof sleeves. It’s also great for the summer; despite the heavier cotton/denim fabric it flows away from the body and feels airy.

hoho hello sleeves

A coworker and I were discussing Gap as a brand, and we wish it would put out more pieces like this. [Kristina-ramble] Gap has been trying to keep their denim game up, but more often than not I see tons of chambray and denim oxford/blouse experiments end up on the sales rack, ignored. I’ll thumb through them and nothing really stands out OR it has an element I do not want: a few years ago everything had roll-sleeve tabs, or it was Western-themed double breast pockets. Droopy single-breast pockets. Popovers (button-downs that do not open all the way). Now put them all together on a shirt at once. To be fair to that shirt, it’s not even that egregious design-wise. But I know I like to slip into my shirts, not drag them over my head, and I do the JCrew roll on my sleeves, so I don’t really need sleeve keeps/tabs.

What looks, colors, or ideas have captured your attention lately, and how are you planning to execute/interpret them? Share with me your inspiration!

Sans titre

I’m in this place of waking up, working, coming home, running, eating, sleeping–the usual grind. Then the weekend happens. I don’t want to get into the habit of glorifying the weekend because I don’t want to be that person that hates routine or thinks it’s boring (it’s not.) Maybe eventually I’ll find a better balance between weekday obligations and weekend excess but for right now this is where I am; I use these two days to explore my passions, recharge, and collect scenes of pretty things to look at when I’m huddled in front of a screen.

Spent a pleasant afternoon in Downtown Santa Ana after my morning run:

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Red car, red brick, red flowers.

I went back to Hopper and Burr to take some pictures of the interior and also to enjoy some more coffee. It’s a pop-up coffee shop inside Little Sparrow Cafe¬†and is open Mon-Sat 7 am to 3 pm.

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A fairly well-Instagrammed floor.
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House-made ganache in the mocha. Currently using Phil and Sebastian coffee from Calgary, Canada.

By the way for those of you in OC/LA, Hopper and Burr is having a Coffee Negroni Week all this week. 3 signature cocktails will be featured, ranging $8-12. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, ne?

Kept driving down to Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza to research some black sneakers. Didn’t find any, but am curious about these New Balance 580s. They’ve got a Back to the Future vibe that is amusing to me, but I’m not sure if that’s the direction I want to go toward. Ended up at TK Burgers for the “Mini-Bargain” meal which while diminutive packs a whole lot of flavor and value in each bite. Nothing beats freshly done french fries (hoho!) and a juicy cheeseburger.

I eat a lot of cheeseburgers.

On Sunday my brilliant friend B convinced me to go on a hike, so off we went to nearby Crystal Cove State Park to check out some new trails:

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The mostly sandy, low-brush “wilderness” we have in Orange County.

¬†The Crystal Cove area touches the water but if you go up into the hills it is possible to hike into nearby Irvine, Newport Beach, and Laguna Woods via the extensive trail system. I typically like to begin/end near the water, but there are other park access points in the aforementioned cities that are worth checking out (plus they usually are free parking as opposed to parking on the state property.) Overall as a hike location Crystal Cove is sandy and has little shade–so start early and wear good shoes. It’s big enough to have challenging routes but is also well-maintained and fairly clean. Bonus: Ruby’s Shake Shack hut along Pacific Coast Highway has good shakes and snacks post-hike and it’s kind of a cute drive-in off the road.

A piece of quartz, or so B says. Oh and I’d like to be a mountain goat some day so in the meantime I’ll practice on anything that resembles a rock.

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Sidecar serves Stumptown Cold Brew and their own roasted coffees in their brewed/espresso line up.

After the hike we rewarded ourselves with delicious treats from Sidecar Doughnuts and Coffee.

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Wild/foraged huckleberry donuts.

 

I liked the Colt’s Tooth macchiato I got–I don’t remember the tasting notes nor am I sophisticated enough (yet) to know what I’m drinking. But any coffee I don’t add sugar or cream to make palatable is good news, so we’ll go with that. :) Let’s talk about these donuts though–oh my! Mine was a “Mexican hot chocolate” donut and the one with a bite on it is butter and salt. I enjoyed how fluffy my raised donut was–I was expecting more cinnamon flavor but it wasn’t too apparent in the donut–maybe it was toned down to make more accessible for others? My friend said her butter and salt donut was decadent. Either way, I will probably be back to buy these as presents/treats for friends and family; this definitely falls under special-occasion sweets at $3-5 per specialty flavor.

Well look at that; publishing a weekend recap post before the next one rolls around! Such motivation :) Have a lovely week, folks! Never give up!

State of the Closet: 2Q 2015

As you may or may not infer, shopping has really taken a back seat in my life as of late, and for the better. My focus has been elsewhere, mostly in¬†coffee and food photography. I’m also back in my half-marathon training after an injury–I’m pretty happy about that, as a forced 1-month hiatus was tough on the mind and body. But here I am, and there are a few things I’d like to talk about. First, let’s look at the state of the wardrobe in the second quarter of 2015:

2015 Acquisitions (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

April

Brooks Ghost 7 running shoes
Custom orthotics
Balega Hidden Comfort socks
Feetures! High Performance Ultra Light No Show Tab socks

April was an expensive month for running. My previously well-loved Nike Lunarglides didn’t give enough arch support and my feet ended up taking the brunt of it as I progressed in my running. I also needed to learn a lesson about getting enough rest and stretching. This resulted in a hiatus of a month and a half where I had to be off my feet while I healed and the somewhat-necessary re-hauling of gear.

I ended up with the Brooks Ghost 7 running shoe and a pair of custom inserts (not the heat-formed ones from the running shops but orthotics from a medical manufacturer) and I feel a lot more supported and stable while running. Granted, I’m not a doctor or expert runner, so I don’t recommend or endorse any particular way for anyone’s foot problems, but the important part is with this rig I can keep running. If I don’t make it to 13.1 miles it won’t be for the lack of trying every known solution. ¬†If anyone cares to know more about that I’ll gladly expound on the topic. As for the socks I believe a few here mentioned Nike’s Dri-FIT and Balega; I am a recent convert to poly-blend running socks and I won’t look back. Hot spots (future blisters) at 5 miles is the last thing you want on your mind when you have to slog past 8 more. -eek-

May

Muji linen shirtdress

Hay gurl hay.

This linen shirtdress was somewhat of an impulse buy on Mothers’ Day. I spotted it while on a trip to Muji in Hollywood earlier this month and was enticed by the sea of blues and whites:

The lovely display at Muji Hollywood.

Muji’s sizing runs a bit on the small side. Thank goodness my mom was with me on this trip and suggested sizing up because 1. the small was a bit tight in the arms and chest; 2. linen shrinks. True to its nature, the dress shrunk 15% after the first wash–so that the Medium actually fits more like the Small on me now. The length is mostly unaffected but I notice that the shoulders and sleeve length is a bit shorter than before. Which works for me, but if you’re reading this and are new to linen, beware. Size up and go with an airier, loose fit because it will inevitably shrink. I don’t know how it would be affected if dry-cleaned; I hope someone who has dry-cleaned their linen will chime in the comments below. Another unforeseen (hah) complication: despite the dark color, this dress is a bit sheer. After scrambling around for a slip I make do with a Uniqlo Airism tee and an old cotton miniskirt from H&M (very thin) to cover the pertinent bits and to shield my skin from the somewhat-scratchy fabric. It’s not a perfect solution but it gets me through the day.

The last thing I want to touch on today is more a collection of observances re: shopping:

– I’ve replaced shopping expeditions with trips to coffee shops and going out to nicer lunches and dinners

– Shopping doesn’t¬†leave me inspired or energized; often I am disappointed at the items on display, and I regret the trip out in the first place (why did I drive and stay out for two hours when I could have–gone climbing, taken a nap,¬†write on the blog…)

РThe best buying experience as of late was picking up my running shoes in a local business recommended by a fellow runner. I appreciated the personalized customer service of the attendant and her concern about finding the best pair for my orthotics and foot. She also worked hard to get the size and color shoe that I most desired.

A lot of the folks whose work I read (Kali, Maja, Fen, etc.) have all mentioned at some point going on a shopping fast or have self-imposed a type of restriction on certain activities/purchases. Though I myself am not on a shopping restriction, I’ve internalized the challenge somehow and I’ve been engaging in other pursuits to alleviate boredom. I window shop because I’m bored, or I feel down, and trying on clothes and looking at things gives me that newness, like something freshly bought will inspire/enrich my life. But nowadays even when I buy something completely necessary (better¬†running shoes) or even when I indulge in optional buys (Black Crane dress, Muji dress) it doesn’t give me that same rush like before; I still appreciate having the option to wear said dress and present myself a certain way, but it’s no longer treated like a grail item. Is this herd mentality/online peer pressure, or maturity? Maybe a bit of both. I am noticing that the more satisfying, uplifting times are when I trade my dollar for an experience, such as food, drink, or an event rather than a physical, non-consumable good.

Drop me a line–are you on a shopping ban? Are you skirting the edges of the minimalist culture like I do, dipping unsure toes in talk of fasting, mindfulness, and the like? Leave me your thoughts and musings below :)

(Miss)matched

Here’s a quick snap of what I’ve been favoring over the past few weeks:

Jacket: old H&M military-inspired parka (hood folds into collar)
Sweatshirt: Uniqlo sweat long sleeve pullover
Jeans: Uniqlo slim boyfriend fit ankle length jeans (on sale currently for $19.99!)
Shoes: Nine West Foodie double monk strap loafers (no current links)

One of the ideas floating around in my head is the lifetime of clothes in my closet. More often than not, and I hate to admit this–I don’t tire of things as much as I grow out of them. And not vertically either. For the next phase of my wardrobe, I would like to own something until it rips/breaks apart or is otherwise unusable. It seems like an earth-friendly, wallet-friendly goal to keep clothes until they break; also, that brings to mind that I should aim to buy and own only things I really like. Stay tuned as to whether this budding idea becomes reality.

In the meantime, I’m happy that this olive jacket (which is at least three if not four years old) is still pulling its weight. It’s become my spring piece that I’ve worn straight for the past month.¬†My favorite pairing is with these jeans rolled up and either these monkstraps or penny loafers. And you also saw it earlier this week with my trusty Nikes. My favorite way to wear this jacket is to push the sleeves up to my elbows to bare my forearms. If it’s cold I’ll zip it up all the way, and there’s even a hood under that collar somewhere, but the way you see it above is the way I typically like to wear it–relaxed but zipped, and pockets full of keys and phone.

This rediscovery of sorts makes me wonder what silhouette I’ll end up repeating soon. What are the¬†standout items you’ve come to rely on lately?

 

May days

Looks like nowadays I do my living on the weekends. That’s not to say that important things don’t happen on weekdays; I do a lot of life maintenance then (exercise and what little chores I can’t keep putting off) but I dream up amusement for myself on weekends. Here’s this week’s installation in pictures:

After work on Thursday afternoon I treated myself to a cappuccino at Steelhead Coffee; a new neat place in California Heights / Long Beach that I am enthralled with. Prepare yourself for multiple social media posts from me at this shop because the light in here is amazing. Hoping one of my next return visits will be on a bright early morning so I can capture the shop better.

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Two different tonkotsu ramens (one shio, one traditional tonkotsu) and the biggest pieces of chicken karaage I’ve seen to date.

Last week’s cooler weather has been stirring up thoughts of hearty soups, so when one of my girlfriends suggested ramen I was quick to accept. Hakata Ikkousha¬†opened up in Costa Mesa, which is becoming quite¬†the ramen spot in Orange County. The city alone hosts seven ramen shops all within a mile of each other! Ikkousha’s standard tonkotsu is my favorite, and I have to give the fried chicken a thumbs up as well. That ketchup/chili pepper flakes combo is killer on the breaded chicken.

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Bacon cheeseburger from Paul’s Place.

On Friday a friend of mine was in town from Arizona. She really wanted a blue cheese burger, and I’m not one to stand in the way of a woman and her beef patty. We ended up at Paul’s Place for some oooey-gooey–I restrained myself from adding a fried egg this time, but I did go with some avocado. :D

I also promised her a coffee so back it was to Long Beach for a vanilla latte (hers) and my beloved mocha, this time though at the Flea Espresso Bar on Fourth Street.

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My best submission to #coffeeandclothes yet. Though to really be exact I should be wearing Flyknit Lunar 3s, Roshe Runs, or Theas, not my dorky-notNikeiD-Lunarglides. #runislife oh. and shout out to that mocha. See the ganache on the cup rim? I ate that stuff off. YUM

That’s two coffee posts already and it’s only Friday.¬†#noregrets

Saturday morning consisted of a run and a hastily-scarfed down lox bagel before coffee again at Makai. I generally am not so social, but everyone seems to be traveling/visiting this month so I’ve been putting my local food guide/ambassador skills to the test. Then later that night I went to downtown Santa Ana intent on having an Old-Fashioned but finding this instead:

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The West End Theater building hosts The Barrel Room and Cafe Calacas.

Santa Ana is the county seat of Orange County and has a courthouse, several museums, and is where a lot of local city/county government have their buildings. It’s a pretty big and busy city, and downtown especially gets a lot of traffic from county and city workers. There’s a decent art and nightlife scene in DTSA that I’m only coming to appreciate now as I’m much older. To that effect I’ve been trying out one or two places in the area when I get a chance; on Saturday we found The Barrel Room while wandering around looking at whatever caught our attention from the street.

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Moscato cause I’m basic!

I don’t really know what I’m doing with wine and spirits yet, so when I find a place with staff that is willing to explain things to me I get pretty excited. This Moscato from Tobin James Winery in Paso Robles, CA tasted like fun apple cider. Very very easy to drink especially for a n00b like me.

Sunday morning I woke up hungry like a wolf, so a breakfast burrito sounded great. Enter Ham n’ Scram, a cheekily-named breakfast joint that specializes in ham and egg burritos:

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Meet the “Reverend,” double portions of egg, ham, bacon, bell peppers, and cheese.

My friends have spoken about this place for ages but it wasn’t until this weekend that I and my hunger felt up to the challenge. A double meat burrito is no joke. I managed half easily, but only got through half of the second part before calling it quits. I also promptly fell asleep afterwards, but that’s OK. :D That’s what Sundays are for. Food comas and subsequent naps.

It also made me happy that they carry banana sauce (a mostly Filipino invention):

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I noticed that the Sriracha bottle was returned to this lineup after I put back the banana ketchup/banana sauce. :D

Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that I now engage in some kind of sport during the week, I’d probably weigh a lot. Food and the enjoyment of food is a prime motivator. My metabolism probably can’t sustain these weekend escapades for much longer, so my philosophy is to enjoy my relative youth and processing power. (eek)