I’ve been on the go all summer I feel like, from the East Bay to The City, to Peninsula, and then to many wine country weekend trips and an overnighter in Modesto… it’s been a little hectic to say the least. I’m a professional nomad (and a well seasoned one I might add) even when I lived in Los Angeles, so until @Twelfthknight and I secure a place for ourselves I will continue to live and work like this until we find a home.
I got a bit stir crazy a few weeks ago and wanted so badly to trade the traffic and noise for cactus and wide open spaces like Palm Springs. Palm Springs never happened, but I did find this cactus garden in Palo Alto one day, and low and behold I felt like I had just teleported myself somewhere far away.
I look back on the last few weeks and realized this was a good reminder to find peace within your little sanctum. Whether it be carving out time to mediate, deep breathe, intentionally disconnect, or just sit and be still without judgment. Take a walk around the block, sniff flower bushes, or sit in the sun for 10 minutes…I think it’s important to allow yourself that each day. We’re so busy running around, wasting away in traffic, and being plugged in that we forget about what it’s like to be still or one with nature.
Let me tell ya, the suite life is the best life. @Twelfthknight and I love our staycations, and it was only right that I treat him to an early birthday getaway in wine country this past week. It was our first time to Healdsburg, and to be quite honest…we like this quaint beautiful town much more than Napa or Sonoma itself.
235 Luxury Suites is nestled in the heart of downtown Healdsburg and it’s an incredible 3 bedroom stay for couples, families, or small parties. It’s incredibly charming, cozy yet spacious, and still feels familiar like home. We stayed in the Fitch Mountain Suite, decked out with a huge spa tub that I used nightly, dual walk in showers, and giant CA Kings in each room. 235 pays attention to the tiniest details which is what we loved. They even offer light, medium, or hard pillows so that you can sleep optimally :D I’m a firm by the way.
This hotel is located a few steps away from the square of downtown Healdsburg, so you really don’t need to drive anywhere in town. You’re within a few steps to wine lounges, Safeway, Farmer’s Market, bakeries, and coffee shops. In fact, we never drove the entire time we were there, unless you count an Uber briefly. So convenient right?
We would absolutely stay here at 235 again, it felt like a true getaway but so comfortable like being at home. If you’re ever looking to get away and relax in wine country’s hidden gem, I highly urge you to visit Healdsburg. After exploring this little town, we didn’t want to leave, but we look forward to our next trip!
Below, you’ll find our favorite spots and recommendations if you fancy a trip out here yourself. Cheers and thank you for reading!
Dinner service was spectacular. Chef Dustin is a rockstar and provided a 5 course tasting menu that blew us away. Valette is the newest kid on the block in downtown Healdsburg and it’s one of those fine dining experiences you’ll have engrained in your memory for a long long time. Below are some of our favorite highlights.
Cocktail: Watermelon Fresca
Favorite app: Dry Boat Scallop en Croute- Squid Ink Puff Pastry with Scallop & champagne inside. Blew my mind!
Entree: Lamb Shoulder and NY Strip Steak.
Dessert: A salty/sweet Deconstructed Snickers Bar (which we still rave about)
Downstairs in the 235 hotel courtyard lives Cafe Lucia where Portuguese food meets Wine Country. @Twelfthknight has been to Spain and he talks about the tapas and paella there all the time. Naturally, we came down for lunch and we still talk about their food, overwhelmingly gracious hospitality, and service.
Tasting Plates: House wine, house pickles, blood sausage, sturgeon & capers
Tip: Order the Portuguese Mac n Cheese, we still talk about it today.
Favorite Entree: Seafood Stew with mussels and jumbo shrimp
We visited Kelly and Noah of Reeve Wines our second day in Healdsburg and we loved tasting all of their small batch wines. Their estate is picturesque and currently undergoing some exciting renovations which we look forward to seeing on our next trip up. Our favorite wine of theirs were their chilled rose which we had to take home with us. *P.S. Noah is the co-founder and Head wine maker at Banshee Wines in downtown Healdsburg and Reeve is a labor of love by night. Visiting Reeve Wines honestly felt like going to see your friends (who happened to have a winery) and it’s just fun, relaxing, and comfortable. Cheers!
Siduri is located literally a few steps from 235 Hotel. There’s something to be said for the decor and open window/day bed seating that attracts so many people aside from their delicious wine and pairings. I especially liked their cheese board with their pinot and would recommend sitting by the window while you sip and people watch.
I’ve been missing Japan lately since I got back. It’s been nonstop here, with a wedding weekend in Napa, shoots piling up, meetings, and what not. But it’s fine, Summer is off to a good start which will continue to get even more eventful.
Looking back on some of my best and functional looks for Japan’s nearly perfect weather, I’ve put together a few of my favorites from Three Dots. I’ve worn Three Dots many times before as you probably have seen by now. Their cottons and linens are so soft, comfortable, and breathable. They pack well and are easy for layering which is why I brought them to roam all over Japan with me!
My favorite Summer skirt. These pockets are so deep, they held everything from rice balls to my subway change and keys. This is actually my most worn skirt this trip and I particularly like how it was the perfect length, not too long and not too short. For size reference, I am wearing an XS at 5’3” which fits true.
Ohayou gozaimasu, long time no see everyone :) What a life altering trip this has been. Never have I ever felt more comfortable, genuinely happy, and above all; complete as a human being. Before I get into this, I’d just like to say I am particularly ever grateful to the Shinkawa family for their over the top generosity, love, and hospitality. You are family.
Second, thank you Dad for doing what you do. All I have ever done is try to learn from you in business. It’s not always easy being your daughter, but for everyone else it’s an enviable position. Thirdly, thank you Shelli for coming to Japan with me. You are the most ideal travel buddy a gal can ask for. A true friend indeed. This was one for the books and I hope to do it again :)
Some of you on Instagram asked me if I speak Japanese, because you could kind of hear a slight accent or slur in my voice on my InstaStories. I should mention that when I was really young, my brother and I took Japanese lessons where we could read and write better than speak. I wish that my Granny would have kept the verbal part going at home because I spent the last month relearning everything and then some. What’s nice is that language and those sounds never really go away. I landed, and all of a sudden basic sentences start flying outta my mouth. My driver could understand me, then locals assumed I spoke fluently (which really tripped me out) and it’s like I just fit into the fibers after that.
6/2/17: SFO – Haneda Airport flying JAL with my monogrammed Mon Purse goods. I watched Beauty and the Beast and The Great Wall, ate a delicious bento box for dinner, and zonked out.
Key Tip: Arrange for a pocket wifi before you get to the airport or hotel. A few of you on Instagram were curious as to how I was using video and posting so much! This little cell pack is picked up at the airport, you plug in, and you’re up and running on secure network. Not once did I use data on this trip. Plus, the cell pack holds a 12hr battery charge!
Check in 6/3/17: Hotel Mitsui Garden Premier, Ginza Tokyo. Our home for a while. I loved staying here. The views of Tokyo are panoramic, a 9 min walk to Tsukiji Fish Market, 3 min to Shimbashi Station (the subway), and chock full of tiny delicious curry houses. I would absolutely stay here again, and hopefully soon.
I shot with photographer Kristine here at famous Tsukiji Market one morning before lunch. I had met her through Instagram and loved her work. Next thing you know we’re shooting in the heart of the fish market, dodging bikes, giant squid, and fish mongers :D It was getting warm, so afterwards Shelli came to meet us for some fresh sashimi bowls (you may have caught this on Instastories.) Eating here is nothing short of mind blowing. We won’t be eating sashimi or fish in the states for a very long time….
A Typical Morning: Jet lag unfortunately hit around 2am for me, however we really liked waking up at 6am naturally to start our day. On average we would walk about 13,000 steps on a non shrine day. We would wake up, eat breakfast or go to the 7-11 or Lawsons for quick coffee and Japanese pastries. 7-11’s here are nothing like the U.S. Here you can eat cheaply and incredibly well for the super hungry or super tired. It’s just plain ridiculous I tell ya. Just ask Anthony Bourdain.
Local’s Favorites: One morning we visited Kanako at her Local Coffee Stand. I was beginning to miss American lattes and I was getting those caffeine headaches late in the day. Here at Local Coffee Stand, they serve exceptional ones (even though the coffee in Japan is pretty good.) Kanako is the daughter of Fumito Shinkawa, my Dad’s dear friend and business buddy here in Tokyo. We have known her since she was in elementary school and when Shinkawa was not in the office, he was taking us out for dinner, drinks, site seeing, and day trips that inevitably turned into ridiculous adventures.
Soft Serve: I legitimately had about 1 soft serve cone every day. It was perfect weather for it, 75-80 degrees with no humidity and cool breeze. The soft serve here is not very sweet at all unlike the stuff they sling in the U.S. Shinkawa took us to a Premium Matcha Soft Serve in Asakusa on our first exploring day, and he was elated because the line was out the door and around the corner. It was worth the wait because our taste buds were blown.
Yoyogi Park: One of our favorite park days here in Tokyo. Mrs. Shinkawa took the day prancing around with us here. It’s kind of like entering another world even though you’re in the heart of Harajuku and Shibuya district. She said to not walk in the middle of the path because “you will trip the Gods.” Here, we went to the temple, bowed and prayed to the wealth and marriage tree, and even witnessed a Japanese wedding that was more fit for royalty (you probably saw that on InstaStories.) What’s more fun is that we wrote our names on a copper plate for the new roof of the temple, so we will forever be permanent here :)
Summer Style: I knew it was going to be warm, but the weather actually was perfect. Mid 70’s-low 80’s with almost no humidity and breezy evenings. June is the start of tropical rain, and we only experienced one evening of that. I packed quite light for this trip and wore my hat nearly every day. My best advice would be to pack hats and shoes you can walk long distances in. Luckily, I brought the whole Via Spiga and Franco Sarto shoe collection with me and not one blister.
Men are always in fitted suits. School children are in uniform with little hats, they’re the cutest. Hell, dogs are better dressed here than most humans. Women all dress very well and on the conservative side. They’re usually wearing a sun hat and flowy pants or skirts. You’ll hear their little heels running through the train station or sandals paired with linen pants or sundresses. It’s really fun to people watch and take inspiration from how they like to wear their clothes.
Kyoto: Unfortunately, we did not spend enough time in Kyoto. Taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto, it is about a 2.5 hr trip. We kept our hotel and made accommodations at the same Mitsui in Kyoto. Upon arriving (around 10am) we threw our over night bags into the lobby, packed up the cameras, and walked to famous Nishiki Market for street food before our adventures to the shrines. You saw the video I took at this market…it’s complete and utter sensory overload. What you didn’t see is me knawing on a King crab leg that nearly made me black out. Shelli nearly fainted when she ate her made to order yakiniku (beef skewer.) I personally still think about that fresh matcha manju with matcha powder coating my lil face. I could spend all day here, but we had things to see.
Nara: Nara Park, in Kyoto is home to the bowing deer. These deer are presumed to be messengers of the Gods and are symbols of this city. They do indeed bow for your cookies which is incredibly charming. I’ve had plenty of conversations with the little ones. A few males got aggressive and head butted me while I paid for their cookies, but I let that go a long time ago:D
Fushimi Inari Taisha aka The Fox Shrine: Fushimi Inari Taisha is the head shrine of Inari and one of the most famous in all of Kyoto. This is a very iconic spot, so maybe you have seen the infamous Torii Gates before. It’s unreal in person. It’s almost eerily haunting when you pass through the tunnel of red gates, and there are indeed 1,000 of them leading you up the mountain. Torii gates are here to symbolize leaving of the physical world and entering the spiritual one. This is why you’ll see people clap three times and bow upon entering a gate or shrine to summon the Gods before making an offering (or wish.)
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for continuing to read and follow along with me. Everyone says Japan is a magical place, and they are true for saying that. But, for those who are Japanese and Japanese American, there is an internal feeling and sense of pride (at least for me) that makes you a more complete and whole human being. And it’s simply just being surrounded by your people. Not once did I feel lost in translation.
I watched little elementary kids give up their seats and usher elderly into them on the train. It damn near made me tear up. Everything is clean, shiny, and spotless. Not once did I see a homeless person. Are there homeless in Japan? People bow and are gracious, helpful, and kind. The food, regardless of who you are, you will always eat well and never go hungry.
Part II will be coming up next week, so until then :)
Special thanks to the brands who came along with me:
Sharing some of my favorite moments from our time spent in Denver, CO now that I have a second to go through all these photos. The food scene is amazing, innovative, and incredibly fun. Colorado itself is panoramic, and the air is crisp and clean. Everyone is friendly and happy, not a pretentious bone in anyone’s body. That’s probably because they can afford to live there….*glares at S.F.* And, having met some of @twelfthknight’s coworkers on this trip, it was time well spent with good food, and even better company.
Shot by local photographer Jenna Sparks, I was able to capture a lot with her as my unofficial Denver photog. Thanks for the captures, Jenna!
I have been going and going until I’ve run myself sick, so I’ve been trying to slow down a little bit and can now recap my second half of Nevada. Per my last post, @twelfthknight and I ventured off the beaten path while in Vegas and happily took day trips outside of The Strip. Time is what you make of it, and I’m always looking for a little adventure or new perspective. We were able to see the local art installations and museums which was fun. I also made time for family and visited Uncle Mikey and the kiddos that Sunday evening before going back. This trip specifically has changed my perspective on Las Vegas and it’s not all that bad.
Life only seems to be moving faster, so thank you to Nicole Vienna for a new timepiece and for reminding me to slow down, take time for yourself, and spend it with the one’s who matter most.
There’s something magnificent about wandering through the desert. Having just gotten back from Nevada for a wedding, @twelfthknight and I spent the past few days off the beaten path and away from The Strip which I was really happy about. We spent a lot of time outside; roaming through Red Rock Canyon, visiting The Neon Museum, and of course the Seven Magic Mountain installation. I really wanted a not so expected Vegas trip seeing as we’re not that into partying or drinking anymore…and this was the perfect way to spend our time. Wind in your hair and the sun on your face, I like it.
Yesterday morning, I met up with photographer Jazmyn Le at the sleepy town of Goodsprings where The Pioneer Saloon is located. We were able to shoot a quick look here in this old mining town. I love working with new photographers and this set looks like I just walked out of an old Clint Eastwood movie.
I’d like to know, what do you like to do in Vegas? Are you on The Strip or do you veer off of it?
I’m not entirely sure what I would’ve done without my travel bag from Lo & Sons on this trip to New York. Would you believe that this light weight carry on fit my 13.5″macbook, 2 chargers, wallet, phone, snacks, and a moto jacket effortlessly through TSA and fit under my seat with no struggle? Here’s the kicker, I didn’t need to carry it through the airport. I just fed it over my suitcase handle and it sat on top of my Samsonite as I rolled up :D
If you’re reading this post currently, I am enroute to Nevada and yes, I did bring this bag with me. It’s a lifesaver and makes everything about packing and traveling so much easier.
My travel style is quite casual and made for efficiency. I was tired way before I ever got on my flight, so this look is a no fuss no muss type of deal. Slip on loafy sneakers from Carrano (available here) to make the checkpoint faster, a sweatshirt from Majestik Supply (available here) and a long line coat from State of Being the Label (found here on Revolve for $63)
Shot inside NYC’s World Trade Center Station, by photographer Lauren Listor (@laurelcreative)
Above on street level at The Hudson River Greenway.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend an amazing wine and food pairing in Sonoma. Hosted at the ever charming Arrowood Winery in Glen Ellen, myself and fellow Bay Area bloggers were whisked away for the day to wine country, and I can honestly say I am really truly grateful for the experience. I’ve heard raving reviews about the delicious food served at renowned restaurant, Girl & the Fig. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw that the event would be catered by their lead Chef.
I’d like to thank Kristina Werner, wine maker at Arrowood. She herself is quite the inspiration, who went from a BioChemistry and Agricultural Economics degree to pursue winemaking full time. Something I took away from listening to her that I’d like to share:
“Taste everything you can get your hands on.
Never stop learning and never get bored.”
I couldn’t agree more. Cheers to an amazing day that I don’t take for granted. My eyes and stomach are very full :)
I have found a new appreciation for wine, what goes into making it, and how it really can transform a meal and your senses. If you’re in Sonoma one of these days, be sure to visit Kristina and the Arrowood staff and taste for yourself. I personally would go back in a snap.
For those who are interested in Arrowood wine but can’t get to Sonoma anytime soon, I’m offering 15% off anything on their site using “ARROWOOD15” here. I had an amazing time and can’t wait to go back.
Sometimes I feel like I’m always searching for some resolve or peace of mind. Maybe I’ve always been restless. Not sure what I’m always searching for exactly, but I know that to be completely content with oneself and where they’re at in life is quite rare. Striving for more but better yet figuring out how to get there is always on my mind, day in day out. If you’re anything like me, it’s exhausting am I right?
A few days in Paso Robles (2 hrs north of LA) with the furbaby and @Twelfthknight helped me reach some calm finally in a long time. Every dip in our hotel pool, a morning tour of Hearst Castle, and some really nice time spent wine tasting and eating…can’t get more relaxing than that.
Hearst literally built his dream. And so will I, one way or another.
As always, thank you for reading and keep striving :)