Packing 101: Philippines 2016

Packing 101: Philippines 2016

Disclaimer: I’m not about to teach you how to pack for a trip to Asia–there are actual bloggers who do that sort of thing for a living; I just want to talk about what I ended up bringing and what worked or didn’t. 😀

I realize I’m five months late on this but hey! it’s still fun to discuss, n’est-ce pas?

Background:

Left California in December (aka 55F-79F highs/lows) to go to Manila “winter” (mild rain, humidity 80%+++, makes 80F-95F feel like 90-105F)

Activities: city travel, island stay (4 days), exercise (running)

Things I brought:

Tops: cotton short-sleeved tees, tanks (a few each), a light cardigan, rayon long-sleeved split neck blouses

Dresses/bottoms: one polka dot 3/4 sleeve dress, two pairs of Levi’s cutoffs, Uniqlo Ultra Stretch skinny jeans, Everlane culottes

Shoes: brown Saltwater sandals, running shoes, Nike Free RN Flyknit, Sam Edelman ballet flats

Special: three bikinis (to rotate wash/dry), goggles, water shoes

Outerwear: Arc’teryx rain jacket, Uniqlo Ultra Light down jacket

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The winning bits!

What worked:

  1. Arc’teryx rain jacket: you would think wearing what amounts to a huge plastic tarp would be insufferable in humid rain, but it actually was surprisingly comfortable. Not to mention it doubled as an emergency layer when we entered heavily air-conditioned areas. Note to self: you can get sick from the AC-inside, hellfire outside dichotomy. bring scarves too, it gets cold AND dry when a draft is blowing on you all day.
  2. Long sleeved (rayon) blouse/top: counterintuitive when you think about humidity and heat, but I was more comfortable in these blouses (and looked more put together) than in a tee-shirt. As long as the material is breathable and not constricting, I actually did better and preferred to be covered up rather than exposing my arms.
  3. Levi’s shorts: wore these more than the culottes which needed to be ironed every night. They broke into my shape in just the right way and were comfortable as all get. The only downside? full exposure to mosquito bites 😦
  4. Saltwater sandals: an impulse Amazon buy right before leaving. Not the most comfortable of all footwear (there’s a pressure point under the arch for me that kept bugging after 2-3 hours of wear.) but it goes well with the summer-casual dressing. I would have brought my Birkenstocks but I didn’t want to risk getting them damaged at the beach.

What I forgot and wished for:

  1. Tweezers and nail clippers – sounds basic. I thought I’d be able to borrow some from the family I was staying with–which I did eventually, but when my nails broke while at the beach I made a note to make it part of my makeup/grooming kit.
  2. Goggles – this was my fault. I forgot/couldn’t find mine, ended up buying a pair while on vacation. Unnecessary necessary expense.

What I learned:

  • Pack a beanie for the long plane ride (doubles as eye cover) and keep drinking water throughout (bathroom line be damned.) Hydration and sleep so that you feel less beat up when you get off the plane.
  • You really don’t need five tee shirts when three and daily washing suffices. YMMV on what facilities and opportunities are available to you regarding cleaning your clothes while traveling, but I still only used a good half of what I packed and the rest was just sitting in the suitcase.
  • Importance of curating (ugh, I hate that word) your closet IRL so travel packing is less annoying: after a few years of culling (also buzzword) my stuff into the things I really like and use time and again, all my potential building blocks for an outfit are thematically related. All that’s left to do before departure is ensure they are in good condition (I repaired a seam that was coming undone on a top) and you’re done.
  • Whatever you forget or is broken or missing can usually be replaced while abroad (except for special medications, most likely.) Don’t sweat the small stuff and try to relax!

Little Saigon Night Market

Little Saigon Night Market

One of my favorite things about Southern California (and I’m completely biased) is the sheer density of food choices in a small radius. The area has quite a few established ethnic enclaves, one of them being the largest Vietnamese community outside of that country, centered right here in Westminster, California. This weekend I went to check out the most underrated summer food festival in Orange County–the Little Saigon Night Market.

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The Little Saigon Night Market is hosted every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night at the Asian Garden Mall, on the corner of Bolsa Avenue and Magnolia Street. The 2016 series runs through the weekends of June 17 to September 4, from 7 pm to 11 pm. Vendors and food stalls cover the entire front parking lot of the mall, while an entertainment stage keeps the mood going with performances from featured guests. The mall’s food court also stays open during this time, which provides even more food choices for the hungry. From the main cross-streets, it’s hard to miss the market–the lights, sounds, and delicious smells of barbecued meats are enough to make a pedestrian (and sometimes quite a few drivers) pause and redirect into the parking lot.

Now that I’ve sufficiently conveyed the pertinent information, time to move on to the food:

The grills operate non-stop, constantly refreshed with choice cuts from land, sea, or air.

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Deep-fried quail

You will want to make a slow circuit of the food stalls to check out who’s offering what, or ask people milling about where they got their food items.

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The grilled squid stall is quite popular. Not seen to the right: the growing line of orders.

There’s also a stall that does modern market favorites. Below are some ramen “buns” being toasted for a ramen burger.

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Noodle bun?

But I think the strength of the market lies in the unique street food offerings from Vietnamese cuisine:

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Grilled snails! 3 for $5.

I really enjoyed the grilled snails and the somewhat controversial/exciting (?) chicken embryo (balut in Tagalog, trung vit lon or hot vit lon in Vietnamese.)

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The snails were served with a spicy green oil; the balut with salt and pepper. Both plates came with a sprig of rau ram, or Vietnamese mint. These snails required a fork or chopstick to dig them out, and I had fun trying to drink the sauce out of the shells. The eggs were quite good on their own. I had a lot of fun experiencing these foods; I’ve had balut before, but the snails are an exciting new dish that I’d like to return to very soon.

My friends also bought some other Vietnamese snacks that were very good:

Left: banh khot, savory mini-pancakes (rice cake) with shrimp. Top right: bot chien, fried rice flour cakes with scrambled eggs. Bottom right: spicy pork sung (shredded dried pork) banh mi

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I have to come back for the rest of these!

This stall alone sold: fried pig tail, grilled sticky rice, grilled bananas, deep fried quail, grilled intestine, and that’s just what I see/remember/can identify here on this shot.

Desserts ranged from fruit cups, frozen coconut milk/fruit cubes, and the standard milk teas, boba, and jelly drinks. Up above is a coconut pandan waffle, and some plain taiyaki fish to be filled with a choice of sweet paste or ice cream.

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Friendly face at 3-in-1 Food Truck.

Piece de resistance of the weekend is a taiyaki churro ice cream (mashed together by yours truly.)

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#EATINGFORTHEGRAM 2016

The Little Saigon Night Market runs for two more weekends until September 4 this year. Come and try something new, celebrate the last few late nights of the year, and eat well! #repOC

 

Review: Taylor Stitch Katherine in Washed Black Oxford

Review: Taylor Stitch Katherine in Washed Black Oxford

I’ve had this review sitting in my Drafts forever, but thanks to a lovely (and timely!) comment from a previous post,  I’m finally finishing this! Let’s get to business with a look at Taylor Stitch’s Katherine shirt in Washed Black Oxford.

Taylor Stitch is a clothing company based out of San Francisco, California. I think their crowdsourced method of funding and pushing projects is smart–it allows them to determine and predict demand and only produce as many units as needed. If you sign up for their emails you’ll get notified when new items enter the Workshop, whereupon customers have about two weeks to purchase at pre-sale price. Taylor Stitch started with menswear but has been steadily increasing their women’s offerings throughout the year. When they announced this shirt I thought it would be a good time to try out the brand. From pre-sale purchase to receiving my shirt, it took about 6-8 months overall.

My package arrived in a brown paper envelope with a historical map of San Francisco’s street grid printed in white ink:

Packaging is key.

I had initially ordered a M, but it was soon evident that it was too big in the shoulders (although the relaxed fit throughout the body was good.) I contacted Customer Service to arrange an exchange for a S, which didn’t take more than two weeks to return and receive the new size. Here are some fit pics for the Small size:

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Katherine shirt, old Uniqlo boyfriend-fit ankle jeans, Gap belt, Blondo Valli ankle boots.

Measurements (Women’s Small, after multiple washes)

Sleeve (measured from shoulder): 24 in
Shoulders: 16 in
Body: 27 in

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Because averted gazes are all the rage in the blogosphere.

Things I like (nay, love) about this shirt:
– the fit: I mean you can’t really tell in these pics, since I wore it straight out of the package (gasp! bad blogger) but the shoulders are spot-on. And the slim fit follows my body without making me look cramped. There’s no boob gap on the buttons (good placement?) and the sleeves while technically long aren’t comically unusable.
– the fabric quality: I won’t insult the shirt by comparing its fabric to other retailers’ offerings, but this particular cotton cloth just feels better than my Uniqlo and JCrew oxfords. It’s thicker, but it wrinkles less even though I spend 9 hours in a chair at work. It also irons like a dream. You could wash and dry it and be fine, but it just feels so crisp after ironing.

Not much I don’t like except to wish that it were offered in more colors (oh wait, it is.) Quick check of the other Katherine models available reveal, however, that not all the fabrics are the same weight or type, so I don’t know how that will influence the fit. I wash all my clothes cold/normal cycle and dry on medium. There was no appreciable shrinkage, and in the last 6 months of owning the shirt I’ve not seen any stitching or buttons come loose yet.

Final thoughts: if the folks at Taylor Stitch ever see this post (hi!),  I’d like to see a short-sleeved version like their men’s Short Sleeve Jack but with a tailored fit like the Katherine body. The mens’ line gets such beautiful fabric choices: I want a women’s shirt in this hanami batik fabric! Please share fabric choices over to the women’s side and you will quadruple sales. Short-sleeved versions with collars with men’s fabric as an option. Just a thought. (indigo for ladies too!) 🙂

I hope that helps you shop wisely; if there is anything else I can cover, leave me a note below!

OOTDs: June 2016, Week 5 (End)

Last week of outfits for the month of June:

Monday: old Cotton On crop tee, Uniqlo ankle boyfriend jeans
Tuesday: Forever 21 floral print button front dress
Wednesday: Taylor Stitch Katherine oxford shirt in washed black, Uniqlo ankle boyfriend jeans
Thursday: old JCrew Factory check camp shirt, Gap real straight pants, Gap belt

I can’t stand how schlubby/disheveled I’ve been on the bike-to-work days (MWF) that I’ve been inspired to try a little harder on my driving days (TuTh). To me, the air feels humid lately–or maybe it’s just the house, but I don’t feel crisp in my clothes. And I don’t like the restlessness that comes with summer dressing–I don’t need new gear, I just need to be happy with what is already there. At least for workwear bottoms and tops.

Thus concludes our June series of OOTDs! I may leave small musings here and there as I see fit, but it’s been fun to write semi-regularly again.

OOTDs: June 2016, Week 4

Here I go again on my own:

Monday: ?  gifted cotton tank purchased in Hawaii, Everlane culottes
Tuesday (not photographed)
Wednesday: Target Merona black v-neck flowy tank, Everlane culottes
Thursday: old Madewell linen striped pocket v-neck tee, old Zara denim culottes
Friday: old Forever 21 rayon/viscose split neck top, Uniqlo boyfriend fit ankle jeans

It’s been so hot that I’ve been scrambling to identify what to wear to work. I didn’t really succeed this week. I feel like dressy goes out the door when the heat goes up. It also doesn’t help that my footwear choices are limited; my Gentle Souls flats are so beat up, they’re embarrassing to wear out in public. So thus begins the footwear search once more.

My shoe wishlist includes:
– something in the shape of the Sam Edelman Trina sandals. Neutral, low, simple two strap construction. I’d prefer a stacked heel rather than the metallic one.
– red ballet flats. and red sneakers.
– gold or silver flats

But then I just wrote all that and thinking of looking for all of those different shoes frustrates me, so maybe I’ll just go and buy another pair of Nike Flyknit Frees.

OOTDs: June 2016, Week 3

Back at it again with the outfits.

Monday: old JCrew Factory polka dot popover, old Uniqlo boyfriend ankle length jeans
Tuesday: old Gap v-neck sweater, Gap striped skirt
Wednesday: old Nike Dri-Fit long-sleeved zip up, Nike Legend sleeveless tank, Nike Legend capri pants in tight fit
Thursday: old H&M military jacket, old Muji short-sleeved checked shirt, Target Mossimo ankle pants
Friday: old JCrew Factory polka dot chambray buttondown, Target Mossimo ankle pants

In general:

  • a feeling of satisfaction when I reach for my clothes in that it is the best possible iteration for me. The striped skirt, the chambray shirt, and the H&M jacket are all examples of items that when I first purchased them, there were details about them that bothered me. The skirt has an exposed zipper in the back, the jacket didn’t look tailored on me, and the chambray shirt was falling apart in less than a month! But after some repairs, and some time to reflect on these purchases, they end up being the things I reach for again and again.
  • learning about what I really wear on a day-to-day basis. When I started this blog I didn’t know what my specific needs were, so I bought clothes and accessories to fit the “office” life I thought I’d entered. Turns out my workplace is far more casual than my previous idealized preppy-style. The blue Gap v-neck sweater (and the other 2 colors I purchased) have been staple fall/winter tops, chosen for being thin, amenable to layering, and the v-neck and oversize fit being flattering. Now that the cotton/silk blend fabric is beginning to show its age, I’ve begun to keep an eye out for replacements (see Everlane v-neck sweater.)

On athletic wear:

  • buy the thing that makes you excited to get back outside.  I don’t have to have an all-Nike kit (even though that’s totally what happened this week) but as long as it is reasonable I do try to buy what I like, what fits right, and what makes me look damn good.

Hope everyone is having a good week so far! Can you believe we’re almost halfway through 2016?

OOTDs: June 2016, Week 2 | Everlane SF Showroom Visit

OOTDs: June 2016, Week 2 | Everlane SF Showroom Visit

It’s been a while since I’ve done this but here are some pics of recent outfits worn:
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Monday: Everlane cotton sweater v-neck in heather gray, Banana Republic cropped skinny jean
Tuesday: old Uniqlo 3/4 sleeve dot dress
Wednesday: old Forever 21 jersey sleeveless dress, Heattech long-sleeve shirt under
Thursday: old JCrew boy shirt in polka dot, old Target Mossimo ankle pants
Friday: Everlane cotton sweater v-neck in heather gray, old Gap Real Straight corduroy pants

Visit to Everlane Showroom

2170 Folsom St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

The newest piece is the gray sweater from Everlane, a brand I’ve heard much of and seen for quite a while since I started writing on the blog. I had an opportunity to visit the store’s showroom in San Francisco during my recent trip–it was a great experience and I recommend it to anyone visiting the area; I got a better idea of fit and quality of many key pieces.

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Showroom area. Behind the mirror are the workstations for Everlane employees.

Linen tees and shoe display.

Currently, to view the showroom you must make an appointment at either their SF or NY location. The staff person who attended us was very personable and helpful–I can’t remember her name now but she gave great customer service. Neither of us didn’t expect to buy anything but between my friend and I we ordered:

my cotton sweater v-neck in heather gray
we both got the cotton poplin culotte (both in black)
she got the cotton poplin pleated skirt (in navy, which is actually a richer, more vibrant blue in person than in pictures)

all of which was sent to our respective homes with free two-day shipping. For the culottes, a light press with an iron gets rid of most of the wrinkles, but otherwise the fabric feels very light and crisp–this will be necessary for surviving the upcoming heatwaves and yet still looking somewhat presentable for work.

Unfortunately for my wallet’s future, I also got a look at the following which are now on my “hmm…” list:

the swing trench in sage (I took a S for layering purposes–I wear stuff in US 6-8 Regular or 8-10 Petite. I don’t need another olive jacket, but this falls so nicely and the fabric is a comfortable weight that I go, hmm. Probably better suited for those of you with actual climates; it would be underutilized where I live)
the cashmere cropped sweater in grey (I think I took a M in this one. The cropped fit is what I was going for; liked the slightly longer back hem, but again not going to need this with the climate I live in. Would buy a cotton cropped version though, ASAP)

Anyhow, my post got away from me–this was only supposed to be a quick “what I wore last week” but it rambled on. It’s really been a long while since I’ve written anything and it feels good to want to write again. I tried on other Everlane favorites during my visit so if you have any questions, drop me a line!