- Snackboxe Bistro welcome dinner. Ah, I’m so lucky this restaurant came into my life when they did. I couldn’t have asked for a better venue to welcome all of our out of town guests and loved ones. Getting to spend time with them in a place where I have artwork hanging and I love the food – it was so so special. The food was amazing, every single item was delectable and ALL the guests kept telling me how impressed they were with how delicious it was. It was well worth the money to have this extra time with everyone before the wedding.
- The Wandering Tea bridal tea. My goal in life is to support my friends and the Atlanta creatives I admire whenever and wherever possible. The minute I saw that my friend Charise was offering bridal suite tea parties, it was a no-brainer. I knew it was going to be a delight, but while it was happening I fully realized how necessary it was. Any bride who is getting their hair and makeup done needs some sustenance and relaxation and Charise brings it all to your room. I never wanted it to end! Sipping on tea and mimosas was really the perfect way to wind down before winding back up again. One of the best decisions I made by far.
- Laudae bridal gown from The Sentimentalist. My family and I did bridal appointments with four different shops and while every shop had beautiful gowns, it was at this shop that I felt most at home. My style is sort of all over the place and I like to take risks, but in the end I needed a gown that made me feel like myself. Other dresses felt very WOW but this one felt RIGHT. Like I didn’t feel like I was dressing up, I was just dressing like myself. And this is me.
- Sarah Dodge’s baked goods. If you didn’t know already, food is pretty important to me. Also I had been exercising some good restraint before the wedding so obviously I deserved treats. My favorite Atlanta baker, Sarah Dodge, was there for me. On my wedding day, she delivered straight to my hotel room – galettes, sandwiches, biscuits, scones, chocolate chip cookies, and a LOAF OF BREAD. Everyone was astounded by how delicious it all was and not only that but we had a bunch of treats leftover which we got to enjoy after the wedding for days. It was glorioussssss.
- Jade Jamrozy, a stylist I could trust. I think brides underestimate how important it is to like your stylist. Not just to like their style, but to also enjoy their spirit and company. Jade is one of the sweetest stylists I’ve ever had work on my hair and face and her kindness made me feel a whole lot less bridezilla-y when I had a bunch of thoughts and second guessing going on in my head. She really made me felt like I was taken care of and that I wasn’t crazy insane thinking about little things after the trial. That sort of trust is hard to come by. Naturally, like a few days after my wedding, I went back to her to chop my hair into a short bob. And now I finally have my forever hairstylist. <3
- Support without having bridesmaids. This is a short ode to my friends. I didn’t have a bridal party, but these girls acted exactly as if and made sure I never felt like I was being bossy or demanding. I am so so blessed to have friends who are as kind and caring as they are. They were with me at every step and I couldn’t have done it without them by my side. They don’t need to be wearing matching dresses for me to know that they are my forever friends.
- Being married by my BFF. And to segue from the last point, we knew very early on that we couldn’t be married by a stranger. It only made sense to pick either a family member or a BFF. My friend Liz was the only one I trusted to be able to do this for us – to give our ceremony the gravity it needed while still maintaining the closeness of having a friend by our side. She’s known me for half my life and it was reassuring to have her standing there next to me while I was trying to keep it together during the ceremony.
- Ben & Colleen, low pressure and always there. Have you sensed a theme yet? All these favorite things are about people giving me reassurance and being by my side. Ben and Colleen were no different and thank goodness I picked them as our photographers. They were always there when I was looking for them, they were in control but also very open to any requests. They were present without being too present. They were capturing all the little moments but also doing some of the traditional shots. I had considered so many other photographers, it felt sort of like fate that I ended up with them.
- Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, a venue that perfectly suited our vision. If you get married, make sure you love the venue. And boy, did I love this venue. No pictures can compare to how lovely it actually was in person, but you can imagine it:
- Our vows. Obviously the actual best thing about the whole day was that I got to marry him. His vows wrecked me and so I was trying to keep it together when I said mine. Sigh. Nothing could ever compare to that moment.
If you ever have a chance to go to Proof Bakeshop, please do. Please do. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying their baked goods at off-site locations (like Brash Coffee or Bread & Butterfly), but taking a slow morning at their bakeshop was a true delight. For that reason, space can be scarce, but on a weekday you’re bound to find a seat. I ordered a coffee and their ham and gruyere croissant. It was as big as my face and I didn’t give AF that I ate it all. #worthit
They’ve also got bread and cakes and other baked goods that basically make you want to move in and stay forever. At least that’s how I felt. It was a quiet setting, nothing pretentious and everything I ate – including cookies to go – were perfectly indulgent. My figure can’t handle going there any more than every now and then. Push this one to the top of your must-try list, especially if you do any sort of studying or freelancing. Oh, and let me know so I can join you!
Hello Chicken has been on our list for a little while – it’s on Buford Highway right across the street from some of our BuHi staples. We’ve been waiting for the right night to venture out of our comfort zone in hopes that we find a new gem. The windows are oddly completely covered so we were never able to tell if it was crowded or not, but you know, pictures of chicken wings are sometimes enough.
Note, Korean food is not something I’m an expert in. I’ve only recently become exposed to what it’s all about so I don’t think my palate is the best gauge. That being said, I just know what I like. The dish that made my night at Hello Chicken was ironically, not the chicken. It was this build-your-own hot plate bibimbap I ordered! It came out sizzling and I guess I just happened to pick all the right stuff… also, the ability to choose brown rice instead white was a revelation. It browned and crisped at the bottom just the way I like.
So the unfortunate news is that the chicken wings were not great and also kind of expensive. What up with that? We ordered two flavors, I honestly can’t even remember which ones. They came out with potato fingers too, doused in the respective chicken wing sauces. Also, the wings were not just wings – there were random pieces of chicken as well. Neither flavor we had was that good or crispy. With me trying to be at least somewhat disciplined in my calorie intake, these wings were just… not worth it.
Such a shame! The atmosphere was also sort of weird. They had two tracks of music going on at once – one was K-pop music videos and the other could be aptly described as the worst top 40 songs from the last 5 years. Too much. I would take the K-pop any day. Overall, I would say that it’s great that I know where to get a custom bimbimbap… but bad that I don’t know where to get good Korean chicken wings! Do you know a place?
Atlanta is – b l o w i n g – up with new spots and I haven’t even been able to keep up. Time is precious and also I just love supporting the businesses I’ve already fell in love with (i.e. here, here, and here… I can’t believe I’ve been writing blogposts for that long..). Every now and then though I’ll slip in a new spot for a lady date. By the time I got to Muchacho, it had already gotten all over the media so I knew very well that it had social media friendly things like coffee, avocado toast, and tacos. So I knew I had to make it there at some point and experience it for myself.
First impression was that it was wayyy smaller than I thought it was going to be? Even though I knew and had previously been in that building, I just imagined it being… more! There are really not that many seats to sit and enjoy your coffee. I was meeting with my friend Kelly who I knew was going to have a stroller and it was cold outside but I could not find any seating for us inside. Thankfully there were heaters on the patio, but still. Something to know before you try to go in on a weekend. Our visit was on a late Sunday afternoon so I can’t imagine what the morning is like.
The best things about Muchacho were this golden latte (I think it’s like cinnamon honey syrup or something else delicious?) and the friendliness of the staff. However what I did not really love was the food. Which was truthfully pretty disappointing given that instagram food pics more or less drove me here. This is where 8arm excels heads above Muchacho. I first fell in love with 8arm for the relaxed vibe and the warm baristas and then, at the time, Sarah Dodge’s pastries did me in completely.
I very much prefer the toasts at Spiller Park; Spiller Park does toast right. The tacos feel very out of place to me here. Perhaps I need to give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe Sunday was an off day. But there’s just no reason to get tacos at Muchacho when it’s more or less billed as a breakfast and coffee shop. The tacos were edible, but I honestly can’t even remember what they tasted like. Back to that golden latte…
Conclusion? You can go for the photo, go for the design, enjoy the atmosphere – the patio area is huge but it was cold on the day I went – and get a latte. I didn’t try any of the grain bowls so maybe you should try one of those. Don’t think I’ll be back though, now that I can say I’ve been there. Atlanta keeps growing so I’ll just keep moving on.
Houston for Lunar New Year, two very short days, lots of delicious meals and quality time with my family. When can Atlanta get some of this amazing Vietnamese food? Below acts as a pretty good visual checklist of all – well, most – of the things I can only find in Houston. I’m sorry, I probably should have taken note of WHERE all these dishes are, but I’ll do the best I can…
- These crazy sausage spring rolls (I think it’s nem nuong cuon). These are like your normal Vietnamese spring rolls EXCEPT there’s also grilled sausage inside along with a crunchy fried stick thing. It’s a very difficult thing to describe, but so unbelievably scrumptious. And I have no idea what is in that yellow dipping sauce. Egg? Someone who is more Vietnamese than me, please help me out.
2. Banh Xeo (in various forms). I actually do think you can find this in Georgia but I don’t think it’s as good? I’m not sure.
3. Vietnamese Chinese Food. There are like LOTS of restaurants that are like a hybrid? Vietnamese food with Chinese accents. Either way I like it all.
4. Che. Specially RED BEANS. Again, another thing you actually can find in Atlanta on BuHi BUT it pales so much in comparison to Houston that I cannot even bring myself to get it. Every time I try, I end up throwing it out. And in Houston, I get one like every single day. Happy hour is che hour.
5. Banh mi. SO. This is the one thing I’m proud to say we actually have a really great option for (Quoc Huong) on BuHi. The banh mi we get in Houston is a little different – more butter. Lots more butter. Which is awesome in its own way.
6. Papaya Salad with Beef Jerky. I have a feeling this is in Atlanta but I just haven’t found it yet. Anyone know something I don’t? This, like most of these other dishes is just about ingredients. I don’t know if anyone does this jerky, I don’t know if anyone does the sauce.
Long story short is that I love Houston for family and food; two of the most important things in life! Sorry this blog writing is not more finessed. I’m just dying to get these pics out there.
In a Buford Highway plaza named “Asian Square”, you’ll find the “Asian Supermarket”. Yes, that’s what it’s named (in English anyways). This is where I’ve found one of my favorite wonton noodle soups! And it’s also where Ben can find some seriously numbing Sichuan fried chicken.
This is the roasted duck that also goes into my wonton soup. Because wonton soup is not wonton soup without some roast duck! Ugh, I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it. This night in particular we went with our friends Molly and Andy and they went the custom route – choosing random ingredients for a Sichuan stir fry. I’m so glad they did it because I never would have tried it and now I know, this is a delicious option. Thank god for Buford Highway.
I’ve made it my mission to expand my horizons on Buford Highway. Obviously I love Asian food and I love exploring new restaurants, but I can easily get into a rut where I visit the SAME places every time. I can’t help that I have specific cravings! Once I find something I like, it’s really hard to switch to something new.
Vivi Bubble Tea has all the makings of a good instagram, so I was skeptical about the quality of their bubble tea. Thankfully my new friend Helen (@atlanta_noms) got me to try it for our first IRL meeting and now I’m so happy we did! I’ve only been there twice now, but I was surprised by how much I liked their tea. I thought it was going to be too sweet for me, but it was on par with Kung Fu Tea.
I ordered this tiramisu bubble tea so I could get this cotton candy topping. Yes, for instagram. But again – to my delight – the bubble tea was delicious. I enjoyed the boba and also drank that little mason jar of extra tea. Probably not the healthiest thing for me to do, but you only live once right? I think my favorite bubble tea is still Tea House Formosa, but cheers to trying new things and making new friends!
i’m leaving tomorrow, what do you say?
Alright so yes, I admit it’s totally cheesy to be quoting the cups song with the third Pitch Perfect right around the corner, but you know what? I just don’t give a f***. It’s speaking to me right now. Although I have some pretty low lows every now and then (who doesn’t?), I’ve been feeling pretty damn high in the friendship game. Sure there’s always room for more because no one has enough time nowadays but I feel like this year has been the ultimate in memory-making and friendship rekindling.
It’s mostly because I left retail – you’d be surprised at how much that changes your life. But another part of it has been my own personal commitment to ensuring that I surround myself with people who understand, support, and love me. That sounds like pure common sense, but it really doesn’t become so crystal clear until you’re older because when you’re like trying to be an adult, you’re forced to prioritize and other people are forced to prioritize as well. Strong friendships come out of mutual prioritization. Sustained mutual prioritization.
Convenience used to be a factor. School or work or whatever group/association you were involved in used to greatly dictate your company. Then you grow up, have a job and bills, and realize you have to make real choices about how you spend your time… and a friend has to choose you right back.
I’ve let go of a lot of friendships in my day, as I’m sure you have too. A lot of friendships that I was 100% certain would stand the test of time. They didn’t. And although each set of circumstances was different, all of the friendships that dissolved did so because of the same essential issue – we stopped choosing each other, we stopped choosing our friendship. To reference Sex & The City (apologies for all the chick flick references), some relationships are short stories, but that doesn’t mean there’s any less love in them. It’s just a part of life.
I’m not sure where I intended to go with this. I don’t have any sage words of wisdom. I’m just writing to write. To get back into the habit and to make sure I remember what a special year this has been.
I’ve been extremely delinquent with this blog. It’s a good thing when I really think about it – I’ve been so busy living real life that my virtual life has taken a step back. There can only be so many hours in the day, right? And I’ve learned that it’s okay to go through ebbs and flows with different outlets. It’s just a part of figuring it all out.
What’s been most challenging for this blog in the past few months is coming up with ideas to write about that are different or more interesting than my instagram. I don’t want it to just be a reiteration of the same stuff. I was on a good track with my summer travels but then I just fell off. I still have SO many great pictures from the west coast and also from Montreal – I just gotta hunker down and edit that shiz! I think the answer is to just stop being a perfectionist. I probably don’t need to edit every single picture that goes on here… or do I? I don’t know. One thing I’ve learned recently though is…
I don’t have to be everything to everyone.
The past few months of my life have been all about the above statement. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t repeat this to myself. It’s been the antidote to feeling inadequate and feeling like colleagues are passing me by. Creating a new mindset requires a mantra, and this one has been mine.
I’m not sure where this blog is going to go. More food? Maybe. More artistic process? I don’t know. Just hang in there with me. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
You may have noticed that I haven’t been showing my face as much as I used to – there are less style posts and less selfies overall (instastories don’t count). The reason for that is doublefold; the first is that I no longer work at Anthro so I’m not constantly buying new clothes. That’s a good reason. The second is that I’ve had a lot of trouble with my skin lately. Somehow in this year alone, I’ve gotten more cystic acne than ever before in my life!
I turned 30 this year and I have no idea if that has anything at all to do with it. I thought I had a skincare regimen down last winter and then sometime earlier this year.. things just began erupting. Not only that, but because of all the activity and how easily my skin darkens, I’m left with dark marks of pimples past. So there’s just crap all over my face! Relative to actual acne, I know it’s not that bad. But for me with the history of my skin, it really has been the worst (this picture doesn’t feel like it really portrays the worst I’ve had).
My Salon Suite came to my rescue, like the universe answered my prayers! They offered me a complimentary service of my choice and of course – duh – I wanted to see an aesthetician. I needed someone who could look at my skin objectively and help a sister out. I had never heard of My Salon Suite; it’s sort of like a boutique beauty office where you can have the opportunity to work with as many or as few beauty professionals in one space as possible. The suite set up allows each expert to set up their own suite and be their own boss. The lovely aesthetician I spent the morning with is named Donai with D’Vivre Beauty and she was telling me how much she really enjoyed having the freedom My Salon Suite provides to her, allowing her to branch out as an independent entrepreneur.
There’s not really many pictures because essentially it’s a dark and meditative room where I had it, but this is actually why it was so relaxing. I spent an hour and a half there with Donai working on my skin and me asking every question that came to my head, like a skin therapy session. The products she used on me were great – honestly I don’t know what they are but they’re all natural. I remember hearing papaya and pineapple (because those words get me going) enzymes and natural oils. She’s the expert – not me!
Donai also does massage therapy soooo it didn’t hurt that during my mask time, she also gave me a neck and head message. YAAASSSS. It was just wonderful; Donai talked about her goal being that she wants to give people the power to take care of themselves, to treat themselves, and feel beautiful. Yes it’s about the skin but it’s also about the way you feel and how it emanates outwards. She was pretty amazing. Her own journey into becoming an aesthetician started when she was dealing with her own skin issues. She found that there was so much information out there that it was too overwhelming and she decided she was going to figure out her skin the right way – which led her to here.
My skin is still on the road to recovery, but this facial got me on the right path and using My Salon Suite was easy. I’m a believer! Now how soon is too soon for another facial?…
If you’re feeling like you need a little pampering, please check out D’Vivre and book an appt ASAP! Before those winter feels really set in…