new orleans notes

New Orleans - April 2018



NOLA is something else. I can't put my finger on it. It has a vibrancy that is unlike any other city I have been to. It also carries a calm, stoic sadness that it can't shake. I found it to be incredibly small when I arrived. There were only so many areas that I knew to explore. This was in part due to poor planning and a last minute ticket. 

Would I go back? Absolutely. I think every city needs an introduction and a follow-up. I would definitely stay in the garden district again and check out more live music. The city is bustling with creativity and I felt like I only skimmed the surface of what it had to offer. 

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my Do's + Dont's

Do book for a weekend where music is involved. 

Don't book on a weekend that is holding a WWE convention. 

Do try multiple beignet joints. 

Don't expect to eat all of them. They are FILLING. 

Do walk around everywhere - you get a better view of the neighborhoods and a day in the life. 

Don't be too prideful about it. If it is raining, hail a cab. It is not worth looking like a wet dog. 

Do check out the weather before arrival and pack accordingly! 

Don't expect this weather pattern to hold up. Anything can happen, from thunderstorms to blistering heat. 

Do take a tour of the nearby plantations. 

Don't take an uber there. Take the designated tour buses. Otherwise you WILL be stranded with no way home and will have to MacGyver your way out of it. (It was kind of fun to be stupid and clever at the same time).



where: 3 days in New Orleans 

when: April 2018

who: N + Shawna!

why: Shawna had a conference there + I am still not working + i’ve never been and have heard the BEST things 



✓depart for New Orleans in the morning.

✓ check-in @ Hyatt New Orleans. This hotel is known to be the hotel for conventions. It was huge. My room was pretty depressing. No natural light and overlooked an exterior staircase. The AC also did not work. I requested a room change and they ended up putting me in a city view room on the 33rd floor. Lesson: always ask for a room change if you are unhappy. It is worth the better night's sleep and comfort. I probably wouldn't stay here again - no warmth or individuality to it. 

✓ Explore the French Quarter. Only needed to do this once but we did it about 4x because we didn't know what we were doing :) 

✓ Eat a beignet (or 3). 

Check out some live music. 

✓ Walk along the Mississippi river. 

Try some classic gumbo. 

✓ Shop till I drop. I didn't find shopping to be all that interesting. Although everyone was hospitable and kind. I found 2 knockout dresses from 2 local shops. So I was a happy camper. 


Sign up for a Cemetery tour. 

✓ Walk the Garden district. 

✓ Get my hair done. I had forgotten to wash my hair prior to the trip and it was starting to show. I booked a spot at a local Aveda salon. NEVER AGAIN. Those products never work with my hair, and the stylist was clueless. I had to literally put in all the product myself. She had the audacity to want to start combing out my curls when my hair was dry! 

✓ Walk to the French Market. 

Check out local ramen @ Kin This was recommended by a friend which I found peculiar due to the cuisine at hand. But I came to read that the I didn't get a chance to go there, but will check out it next time. 


✓ check-in @ Pontchartrain hotel. Lovely hotel with a live music and a rooftop bar with beautiful views of the city. Rooms were classic with old-school bathrooms. Request a room facing the city and on floors 9 or higher. 

Note: Grab a coffee at their cafe before heading out. You MUSt get their $6 blueberry muffin. The price is absurd but the pastry is tasty. 

Plantation Tour

Check out coffee shops through town. 

Check out carousel bar. 

Check out live music @. Sad I missed this! It's a must from every local I spoke to. 


✓ depart for San Francisco. Chose a 6a flight. Why? Because I enjoy punishing myself. 





middle of the road





Art + Activities

Julia street for art + other



Food + Drink


food + drink - fancy fun - new american in old pharmacy locale - breakfast all day









dressed to remember

everyone has their own way of remembering - photographs, journals, facebook. i remember mine through dresses. 

you see, i always can remember how i was feeling and who i was feeling that feeling with in a dress. they have such a feminine quality to them - they can accentuate you in all the right aways. they can be subtle sexy to downright revealing. they make you want dress up and strut and give you a confidence no other piece of clothing can do in my opinion. they make you feel all the feels. i have always been fond of dresses since a young age, which i imagine is surprising to many as i don't wear dresses often, or i go through phases of loving and hating them. perhaps i also went through phases of loving and hating my life, or perhaps that is just being dramatic. but what i do know is that i have a hard time letting go of dresses that have meant something to me - even if they don't fit me. 

first, you have my graduation dresses from every stage of my life: 8th grade, high school, college. Each had a very different stories.

I always needed to have a dress that was different from the pack - no one could have my  dress, therefore I went all the way to Australia to find my dress for 8th grade. It was a cream, velvet bow number that was strapless, which wasn't allowed so we ended up adding custom gold straps. Diva much? i ended up using my mom's 40th birthday dress (gorgeous pink tibi dress) for my high school graduation dress because my original dress broke 15 minutes we had to leave (not impressed at all BCBG). Oh, and then there was my college grad dress that was previously used on the TLC show, Four Weddings. One of the brides of the show who desperately needed a green dress for the taping and convinced me to buy my dress and then she'd ship it back to me once she was done with it. My dress was famous - except that my contestant lost on the show.  

then you have my dresses through relationships, my jobs, and everything in-between:

- my french connection butterfly dress with an SF fling

- my madewell blue cutout floral dress that made it through first dates and messy hook-ups

- my black linen dress with structural details that looks good at any size I become.

- my ombre shirtdress that i found on my 2 hour lunch break that i frequently took. sweetest store owner ever. go there - LEGION

- my wedding dress. It is actually 3 separates: a beautifully beaded scalloped bodysuit with tulle bows, a satin skirt, and a chiffon cape. GOD i loved this combo. LOHO bride was magic. 

i also have dresses from each trip i've taken alone, with my friends, or with my hubby, all hailing from local designers. it has been a fun habit that I will continue to do.

A few of my favorites: 

  • buenos aires - black organza lace sheer dress; funky with flare that I can wear with high waisted jeans or a black slip. 
  • milwaukee - a polka dot dress from the 80s that i bought with my mother-in-law. It has an awkward hemline, a quirky pattern but it just works. 
  • mexico city - a gorgeous blue linen dress with a plunging neckline. 
  • paris - a blue and white heart-printed silk dress that screams spring oui oui!
  • berlin - TBD, but I know i'll find it on my next trip there in May! This is proof that it will happen. 
  • cabo - a local mumu from the town of San Jose de Cabo that is now a staple on beach trips. 
  • new york city -  kimono-inspired 3-tiered velvet masterpiece. Sounds overdone but in all the right ways. 
  • palm springs - colorblock dvf dress from the outlets. Vibrant just like the city. 

Dresses will never go out of style + they make me incredibly happy. Keeping this tradition alive. 

mexico city notes

MEXICO CITY - Feb 2018


Mexico City was everything i wanted and more. i fell in love with everything it had to offer: the food, the vibrant architecture, the charismatic locals, the variety of neighborhoods, the extremely cheap uber rides, the city vibe, the countless tree-lined streets. it is a quick flight from SFO (right around 4h) and very easy to navigate from the airport. each neighborhood had its own life wanting you to explore every one. i felt enveloped by the culture and the constant flow of people and their country pride. i would go every month if i could because they city felt so large and i felt so small (but in a beautiful way). there was so much to explore and so little time. my beloved got food poisoning immediately upon arrival (from United food not Mexico) so our explorations were limited but special. I'd recommend booking dinner reservations early, as well as tickets for the Frida home museum. i only skimmed the surface of the art scene and look forward to going back to explore more!



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my Do's + Dont's

Do spend time researching places to eat. 

Don't spend time at the last minute to do it - you need to make reservations early. 

Do check out more than the neighborhood you're staying in. 

Don't forget to check out the neighborhood you're staying in. There's usually 5+ places you'll miss because there are a bajillion places to see. 

Do find a hotel that is high in design and low in number of rooms (we stayed in a 3 bedroom hotel). 

Don't mind that there won't be as many amenities. This will get you out to explore more. 

Do eat everything that looks inspiring to you. 

Don't feel bad that you can't finish everything that inspires you. A few bites each also works. VARIETY is key.

Do take ubers everywhere (they're dirt cheap!)

Don't ride bikes - unless are okay with adventure and nearly getting run over. Every 8 minutes. 

Do buy local.

Don't forget to remember the conversion rate - you may be spending more or less than you think. 

Do indulge in a drink daily. You're on vacation! 

Don't do the same drink daily - mix it up! Margarita, rose, cerveza, cerveza in the form of ice cream. The world is your oyster. 

Do take photos of the architecture - it is bright, detailed, and different. 

Don't try to be an architect - more on that later :) 


where: 3 days in Mexico City

when: February 2018

who: L + N

why: easy direct flights + early vday + very reasonable pricing + heard beautiful things about the city + tired of traveling to beach towns over mountains + i am always down for delicious food


✓ check-in @ hotel in Alcobas at 8:30p: this hotel is a 35 room luxury collection. Each room has high-tech  appointments and a toto toilet (yas!). Located in Polanco it boasts great shopping and restaurants right outside our door. Breakfast is included and is DELICIOUS. I’d definitely stay her again for a night or two, but would probably move to a different neighborhood for the remainder of the trip. It is hit or miss on pricing. 

✓ casual dinner close to hotel @ Comer Jacinta. Great place for fun drinks and a lively atmosphere. Waiters were attentive and price was just right. Food was also a wonderful surprise. Definitely get the bone marrow sopas. 

- ice cream @ Gelatoscopio

✓ drinks @ Jule’s basement. Fun, weird bar behind a meat locker door. It wa not my scene. Limited seating and music was too loud. I’m lame. 


✓ coffee run @ ny coffee. Cute atmosphere but uses an automatic machine with pretty weak beans. However It’s a paerfect stop on your way to museums.

 ✓ unplanned pastry stop @ Esperanza moliere. Holy guacamole was this a ally surprise. Stumbled upon it and ended up buying pastries to last the entire trip. Fun to just roam the rows of sweet rolls. 

✓ check out soumaya. Gorgeous exterior and approachable exhibits. It’s also free! 

✓ check out hilltop castle. Lovely view of the city and takes you back to Europe. Highly recommend as a start to your trip to get you inspired and get all the feels. Precocious squirrel sittings on your walk up - if you have snacks with you they’ll eat out of the palm of your hands. 

✓ lunch @ Contramar at 11a. Must go. Grab a tostada sampler of the tuna and daily specials. Whole fish was tasty but i was already too full to appreciate it. You can’t go wrong with nearly anything on the menu. I was also skeptical of fig tart but it’s pretty damn delicious as well. 

- zonamaco art festival or San Angel art market

✓ walk around Roma + Condesa: Condesa Hotel, shops, parquet México, coffee, ice cream, markets. Meandering the streets was my favorite thing. Could not get enough - too much to see. 

 ✓ try a traditional quesadilla @ Maria Isabel. Holy fuck this was perfect

✓ fancy dinner @ Lorea at 8:30p. Great meal but lacking fun hustle and bustle. chef will talk to each table which is a nice addition. Enjoyed the snacks the most. 

- drinks @ xaman bar 



✓ coffee run @

✓drop off bags @ ValiseThis was the most design oriented hotel I have been to. Three rooms total and all exquisite. We stayed in La Luna, which had a large swivel moon between the living and bedroom.

- traditional breakfast @ Fonda Margarita at 7a / 8a (Bourdain favorite)

✓Frida Kahlo museum @ 10:30a (purchased) (and) Diego Rivera museum.

✓ explore old town, go to mercado. nibble on insects? worth the experience but i didn't enjoy the insects. i love weird consistencies but these were awful. 

- late afternoon meal @ Limosneros @ 3:30p 

✓ Cathedral, house of tiles. LOVED. beautiful pieces of art. 

✓ sunset @ Downtown @ 6:30p. I would stay here for one night next time. The rooftop terrace was gorgeous, great energy, delicious drinks and a fun pool scene. 

✓ churros @ el Moroholy crap were these good. we waited in line for 45 minutes and it was so worth it. Chewy and crispy and everything in between. you can get value meals of churros AND a shake for $5 - um a perfect combo. 

✓ drinks @ Limantour


✓ pastries @ Rosetta. Yum. If you have time eat at the counter and soak in the croissants, butter and coffee. i ordered a tarragon sweet roll - weird and wonderful. 

✓ go to Teotihuacan @ 6a in hot air balloon (weather permitting). 




boutique read up on it here


middle of the road





Polanco - fancy 

Roma / Condesa - creative / hipster 

Downtown - old school / classic

San Angel - charming, art + cobblestone streets 


Art + Activities

Franz Mayer  

Frida Kahlo 


Art festival 

bike for free on Sundays 





Food + Drink


mercado de San Juan - insects and fresh everything! Worthy spectical. 

tacos -

quesadillas  - “Para ir comiendo” take it with you

street food 



out of main drag -

sushi -

classic mexican -

fancy -

pujol, top restaurant in world -



churros -

ice cream - or Nomada



good read

bar w. views -

bar w. plants

classic bar

deposit bar

(Apparently 14th) best in the world -




fabrica social

Lago DF

Carmen Rion 



japan notes

i've realized this is a great landing page for all of my trip itineraries - and it will be the first time I've probably saved my notes :) Our trip to Japan and the Philippines was short, silly, (not-so) sexy, and quite sweet. i seem to enjoy packing everything in short stints - it keeps things interesting and you get to explore plenty of places without the mere thought of getting bored. 

Below you can find my list of things I wanted to do, what was actually checked off the list (+ notes) and what I'd recommend moving forward.

this was one of my favorite trips - not because I thought Japan was the bee's knees like everyone else seems to believe (it really wasn't my favorite), but because I was able to explore with my partner and learn to roll with the punches when things were out of our control. Some days were definitely better than others, but all of them were memorable 🙈


my Do's + Dont's


Don't plan a trip that requires hot and cold weather clothes.

Do pack a good weather jacket no matter what. 

Don't expect to jive with the culture if your'e not used to it.

Do try and embrace the culture for what it is.

Don't pack your day with things that you're supposed to do.

Do plan activities that excite you. 

Don't eat everything. 

Do eat often. 

Don't expect anyone to say no, but rather "it's very difficult".

Do push for a more direct response, but be polite!

Don't expect to always plan well. 

Do plan to be flexible. 

Don't get on social media the entire trip showing off to yo friends.

Do take photos to remember the blissful moments. 


where: 4 days in Japan + 4 days in Philippines

when: Dec 2017 / January 2018

who: L + N

why: found a cheap direct flight + heard amazing things about Japan + L wanted beach time and I wanted anything that felt like winter in winter

Japan in 4 days

my summary:  i would recommend going a little later in the year. It was too cold for us, or just pack better thehn we did. However new years was beautiful. It is considered the largest holiday in japan and focused more on family + reflection than partying. Nice change of pace.

Read # 1

Read # 2 

Read # 3

3 days in Tokyo



✓ Prince Gallery Hotel: $$$

high tech room with great views, however in quiet part of town, perhaps finance district, so it did not feel lively at night. Concierge was also lackluster. 

- Park Hyatt: $$$$

- Capsule Hotel: $ I wanted to stay at a capsule hotel so bad, but since we'd be separated by gender we decided to skip. 9Hours looks great - clean, cheap and they have a location at the airport for ease of travel. 


Museums + Art + Activities

✓  Fish market: it was an amazing experience and recommend getting there early to see the set-up. Went the last weekend it was opening before moving.

✓ Ginza shopping: fancy fun. Didn't spend enough time here. 

✓ Shibuya Crossing (famous walking district); underwhelming, but still fun to walk. 

✓ Harojuku area: overwhelming in a great way. dessert vendors every 15m. ladies everywhere. general happiness from everyone. Get a Pablo tart or a happy pancake. highly recommended. Expect to wait in lines everywhere. 

- Mori Art Museum

- Ramen museum

✓ Meji Jingu Temple: extremely crowded, but beautiful. Close to harojuku district so you get too very different vibes. 

✓ Mikimoto pearls in Ginza: can easily get at airport (which we ended up doing), so no need to go to store. 


Food + drink

- coffee + matcha: not sure how I didn't accomplish this yet.

- new york bar @ Park Hyatt: heard great thing about this bar, but it didn't seem that exciting to me via photos. 

Bar Tramfelt like SF, so good but nothing special. pretty sure everyone in SF googled where to go and followed the NYT list. 

- Sushi Ko Sushi

- Fu Unji Ramen (get there at 5p)

- Sushi Bar Yasuda - send request 

✓ Robot Cafe: too touristy for me

✓Golden Gai (Albatross if you're lucky): a must, although it felt americanized. the streets were littered with people and the sweetest small bars. Hard to choose just one. 

✓vending machines: LOVED. had hot coffee options at every single one, and they were tasty. And they were in very obscure locations. Do these things make money?!

1 day in Kyoto 



- Solaria Nishitetsu 

Ryotei Ryokon: i don't know if i would stay here again. it wasn't clear that you had to reserve a time for dinner before you check-in therefore when we got there at 7p they would not serve us, and all restaurants were closed because of the new year. thank goodness we found a delicious 

- Suiran 


Museum + Art + Attractions

- monkey park

✓ shrines: very busy with everyone and their parents, grandparents, uncles, cousins, friends. but everything we witnessed was gorgeous. 


Food + Drink

4 days in the Philippines

my summary: it was technically supposed to be dry season but there was a typhoon warning so we were stuck on Palawan (in El Nido) for 2 days . El Nido has limited accommodations and activities so it felt like we were stuck for a month. After talking to a number of locals it sounds like the weather is unpredictable, so don't get disappointed if you don't see sun or get to go island hopping (which is the #1 tourist attraction).

But in general, the Philippines are gorgeous and the people are the kindest folk i've come across - gracious and full of positive vibes. I'd definitely go back fro better weather and island hopping - the beaches looked gorgeous (from afar) with countless adventures. 

Read # 1

Read # 2

Read #3

1 day in Manila


The Peninsula

✓ The Conrad if you want to be near the water and the action. Boardwalk immediately outside the hotel.


Museums + Art + Activities

- Casino heaven 

- plenty to see, but we saw nothing more than our hotel room for the day :) 


Food + Drink

bucky's poblacion 

- alley at karrivin

- locavore 

- 210 degrees 

- toyo eatery 

3 days in Palawan



✓ Cauayanprefer beach villas over water. It was gorgeous once we got there. Service was top notch. Upgraded us to 2 bedroom pool villa which was divine.

note: I’d highly recommend staying @ El nido resorts, they have access to EVERYTHING. They are owned by one of wealthiest Filippino families so they have more control over everything - airport (they own the only airline that flies into Palawan), waters (their boats could still travel even though there was a travel ban), and resorts onsite. We were stuck in El Nido town because there was a typhoon warning and hotels were limited. We stayed in hostel that was missing basic amenities - I took a shower while sitting on the toilet. 


Museums + Art + Activities  

- snorkeling 

- island hopping 

- day trip to Coron for diving


Food + Drink

we didn't event get to dive into this. Will add some when we go back!

1 day to depart Philippines --> Japan --> USA!

WIP or "writer in progress"

I do not consider myself a writer. It's been a difficult trying to understand my poetic prose. I mean I can put sentences together but I would not consider them eloquent. They are kind of short, and cute, and stocky, and silly - like a minion.  I believe I've had some sort of writer's complex from experiences over the years. Or perhaps it's just brought me to where I am today. You be the judge. 

Case 1. My boss told me I wrote too much. Verbose was the word. What I would write in 3 paragraphs should be condensed to 3 sentences. I would always wonder why my CS emails took me 3x longer than most, and I'd end up having long-winded conversations with people I didn't know or care that much about. I managed to back up the queue by 200 emails because I was too focused on writing a good experience. I was taken off CS soon after that.

Oh, and no exclamation points! You sound like you're YELLING! 

Case 2. In college one of my professors said my writing was "awkward" and recommended that I just try harder. What does that even mean? They obviously didn't know me well. I'm an awkward human and trying harder would only bring forth more awkward.  

I received a B+ in that course. So close to an A but far enough that you couldn't say you nailed it. B could stand for you "you' can do better". 

Case 3. In high school, I paraphrased plenty and considered it "research".  I always felt that my summary of a book was far inferior to that of, well, others. I always struggled to grasp the true meaning of class reads. This was also around that time they had those suspected machines that scanned everyone's papers to investigate whether you plagiarized or not. I would hold my breath every time hoping they couldn't see that cliff notes had their dirty paws all over my papers. 

I never was caught, or at least never repremanded. Perhaps I wasn't the only one, or perhaps my teachers just didn't care. 

Case 4. 4th grade. We dressed up as our ancestors, or something like it. I had on traditional African garb, although all I can say is that my dad's side is from Florida. Seriously. That is what I tell people when people inquire about my race. Anyways we can discuss another time. Each student had to write about his or her experience as immigrants and the best entries would be published. Well, my poem was not chosen, but as a consolation prize I got to read mine aloud to the entire school at mass.

I think I ended up being the big winner for that one :) 

As you can see I've gotten caught up on the judgment (more like an opinion) people pass on my own writing. It's definitely not their fault, but it continues to be an insecurity of mine. But what I've found is that in order for them to understand, I should probably understand my own voice first. I am working on it, so as it stands I am a writer in progress.   




blog log

Blogs are hard, or at least they are for me.  I've started and stopped. Started again (briefly) and stopped. I am not sure what's happened. Perhaps I never got in the habit. Perhaps I was worried about what other people would think.  Or perhaps I just didn't care enough to write anything down.

But for now I am taking this opportunity to have a landing page for my thoughts, however random or wonderful or odd they may be.  I don't plan to win a lit award, be a top blogger with my favorite fashion finds (although I might ramble a few times on my online shopping browsing), or even make sense. But I am ready to do something. 

I promised myself that 29 would be my year. Well I am pretty sure that won't happen unless I actually take action, and give a shit about something. Consider this a turtle step in the right direction.

So get ready for nothing, but everything to me. I will try to be vulnerable, to be consistent and hopefully laugh my way through most of it. You'll come to find laughter can help you get through anything. It feels authentic and it feels light even in the heaviest of moments.

I want to laugh for all of it.