Whurl Guide to Amsterdam!

Whurl-AmsterdamWe really had the best time in Amsterdam! The weather was excellent which makes it so much more enjoyable to visit somewhere so walkable! There are so many reasons to love Amsterdam: the food is great, people are great, everyone speaks english so there’s little to no learning curve there. We did the same thing that we did when we went to Tokyo and we rented a Wi-Fi device which I highly recommend. It just helps you get around easier when you don’t need to search for a wifi network in order to connect to the internet. This was my third trip to Amsterdam; the other two were about six years ago for work and I love it more more each time I’ve been! The vintage shopping is amazing. I would say it’s one of the top cities to shop vintage in the world that I’ve been to! It was great to get to go and experience such a fun city with Aaron and my family was there too. I jotted down some tips below, hope you enjoy them!
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Considering how small of a city Amsterdam is, you might be surprised when you see how many options there are as to where to stay! Tons of hotels and airbnbs and everything in between but I’m extremely happy with our choice to stay at The Hoxton. Super centrally located, very comfortable, very cute and most importantly the coffee and food there was great. Oh great cocktails too!
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One of my favorite vintage chains to shop at is called Episode. There are four or five in Amsterdam and there are some in other European cities as well.  They have a really great selection and I really enjoyed their organization system! Tons of stuff that spanned many decades and was organized accordingly which made it super easy for me to find 60’s and earlier! And regardless of the decade everything was about the same price!

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We stumbled across this cute vintage store called Time Machine where I bought a gorgeous dress and Aaron even found a shirt he loved. The neighborhood was adorable as well!
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I also love this little market that we went to called Stach! I always feel drawn to those types of tiny convenient stores especially in other cities or countries because they usually stock local goods and we got some really good chocolate bars and some amazing sparkling water with hibiscus flavoring! Can’t wait to go back and go there again!
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Amsterdam is known for Stroopwafels which are like a little cookie waffles probably butchering the description there but they’re so good! I got mine from Van Wonderen Stroopwafels– made fresh and then dipped in various toppings and I thoroughly enjoyed mine with tiny marshmallows and chocolate. Highly recommend having at least once!
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Similarly, there’s a french fry spot called van Freitan that serves up just delicious fries and dipping sauces. I can’t resist a good salty snack so I had to indulge and no regrets! Yummmm.
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Speaking of no regrets…i happened upon another french fry stand and why on earth would i deny myself?! Also delicious and maybe even better because it came in the cutest little cone! Definitely go to Vlaams if you’re in the neighborhood!
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we also went to the Stedelijk Museum which is more of a modern Art Museum. Super fun and next door to the van Gogh Museum. It was cool to discover some new artists and get to check out a new museum in a new city.
Also went to the Anne Frank house which is exactly what it sounds like it’s the actual house that she hid in during the holocaust. It’s pretty powerful for a lot of reasons but I think it’s rare that you can go inside of such a historic place and really feel close to what her and her family must have felt. Make sure to reserve your tickets ahead of time!
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One of my favorite things to eat in Amsterdam when I went in the past was to get these tiny Dutch pancakes called poferjes.  They’re kind of shaped like little disks or UFOs but they’re the best pancakes ever!!  I like them better than regular pancakes because they’re a little bigger than bite-size and they really soak up syrup and whatever else you put on them. The Pancake Bakery is the spot!
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We went to the restaurant Mama Kelly right when it opened because I knew I wanted to take some pics of the all pink interior. It was pretty empty so I recommend that if you plan to go! We asked if we could take a couple pictures instead of just starting to snap away so I would recommend doing that if you go.
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We went to a restaurant called Neni with my parents on our last night there and it was like really amazing Mediterranean food. The hummus was so whipped and creamy and heavenly! The restaurant design was adorable as well with a yellow and mint green color scheme going on. Definitely would go back, one of my favorite meals there!
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One of my parents favorite places to go is this place called Winkel 43 and they’re known for their apple cake. It’s not really even worth describing because it just taste like heaven. It’s like apple pie but 20 times better! You definitely have to go there if you make it to Amsterdam.
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We had lots of great asian food in Amsterdam and loved this udon shop called Fou Fow Udon. They also have a cute little ramen shop nearby called Fou Fow Ramen. Since Amsterdam is a city that generally doesn’t get super hot it’s likely proper weather for a nice bowl of soup while you’re in town!
plukThere are so many cute cafes in Amsterdam, sometimes they start to blend together when you’re walking the city! It’s impossible to try them all but we walked past this one enough that I knew I wanted to try it on our last morning and it was just perfect. Delicious pastries, yummy oat milk matcha and a perfectly filling avocado toast! Would definitely go back to Pluk!
foodhallenWe loved Foodhallen! Ate here twice over the course of our weeklong trip because the food was so good and with over a dozen options and a full bar, it’s easy to find something for everyone in a big group when you’re going out to dinner. I wish we had more places like this in LA!
You know where to find me if you have any questions about this guide!
xo
Sam

7 things you must do in Tulum

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This blog post is brought to you in partnership with Southwest

Ahh just settling back into normal non-vacation life…it’s hard, not going to lie! While sitting at the Cancun airport I jotted down some tips from my favorite places I visited on this trip and wanted to share them since I got quite a few messages from people planning upcoming trips to the area. I highly recommend it as an extremely reasonably priced tropical vacation. I’m here for any beach vacations where you can eat tacos for less than $5 for a meal!

acs_1822Mayan Ruins – this is one of my all time favorite tourist spots I’ve ever been to. Why, you ask? It truly has it all! Gorgeous ruins that are thousands of years old and fascinating to look at. Iguanas and Coati’s are walking around everywhere so there’s a zoo aspect too which I love. My favorite part has to be the beach entrance at the end. The cliffs at the end of the ruins overlook a gorgeous clear and warm beach, by far my favorite beach spot in the entire Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum area!

tacosTaqueria Honoria – The. Best. Tacos. Ever. We just love this place so much! We ate here probably 5 times on our last trip and knew we had to make it here at least once this time. They’re known for their Cochinita Pibil tacos, which is a Yucatan specialty made of delicious slow roasted pork. Theirs are served with a little pickled onion on top which is just divine! Not only are these delicious and native to the area, they cost about 75 cents each!

acs_1780Tiki Tiki Tulum – We stayed here the first time we came to Tulum and just fell in love with the aesthetic. The boutique hotel is designed so well with a gorgeous bar area and pool in the center of everything. We made it a point to stop in just for a drink and will probably end up staying here again next time we return just the two of us.

img_9958Wandering around downtown Tulum– Whether you’re looking for tacos, taking in the sights or people-watching, it’s nice to have time set aside to just wander and explore. There’s so much color and beauty to be seen! Also lots of cute wandering dogs to admire.

acs_1778Deer Tulum – looooved this shop! It actually just opened a few weeks ago so we really lucked out. The coffee and matcha were delicious and the store was full of handmade goods from local Mexican artisans. I bought a friend a gorgeous set of glasses as a housewarming / birthday gift. Can’t wait to give them to her!

acs_1823Posado Margherita – even for those of us that L O V E tacos need a break or two from Mexican food on a week long stay here. Luckily there’s no shortage of great food in Tulum! One of our favorites is the Italian spot Posado Margherita. After walking down a pathway littered with plants, cute vintage appliances and old window panes, you arrive at the most adorable beachside eatery. A refreshing cocktail and a bowl of shrimp pasta and I was perfectly content. What more do you need?

img_7465Swim in a Cenote– If you’ve never swam in a Cenote you’re in for a treat. They’re defined as surface connections to subterranean bodies of water. They’re basically freshwater pools that are often super clear and blue and fun to swim around in. The one we went to (Dos Ojos) is inside a cave and just so pretty! We saw fish but some even see turtles swimming around.

Thanks so much for following my trip and feel free to reach out if you have any questions about visiting Tulum!

all opinions stated are my own, however this post was sponsored by Southwest

Our stay at the Shoreline Hotel – Waikiki

Gahhh still reeling from our amazing vacation. We had the best time doing what we do best: eating, relaxing, exploring, adventuring, swimming and watching Hawaiian-themed movies!

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We were lucky enough to be one of the first to stay at the brand new Shoreline Hotel in Waikiki that just opened this Summer.When I first saw pictures of the hotel online I was certain it was the right one for us just be the colorful & cute interior and close proximity to the beach.

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When we arrived we happened to get there when they were offering free sweet and savory snacks in the lobby. You can’t beat arriving in paradise to a bowl of shave ice and a bag of nori popcorn!

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Our room was perfect: comfy and colorful with a great view of the ocean. Also extremely spacious with a desk and couch area.

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Another sweet touch: every guest gets a tray of free snacks and drinks in their room when they check in. Sorry, we had already chugged the POG juice before I snapped this photo!

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We also spent a lot of time at the rooftop pool. The temperature was just right for a daytime or evening dip. We even swam once in the rain; totally didn’t mind it!

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An added bonus of staying here was how close it was to a few of our favorite dining spots! All within two blocks we had our favorite Udon shop, a tiny hole in the wall Spam Msubi spot and an underground Japanese food hall!

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All in all our stay at The Shoreline was exactly what we had hoped and it really lived up to its photos on instagram. It’s not just a colorful backdrop for great photos (but it IS that too, haha), it’s also a really comfortable and accommodating hotel!

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Interview with Elsie Larson

Super excited to launch a capsule collection on Whurl today from Elsie Larson! I asked her a few burning questions about her business and fashion inspos. Check it out below!

 

Who or what is your current style inspiration?

Augh- good question. I am always inspired by 1960s and 70s looks. 

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What are your favorite pieces in your closet?
Definitely dresses and jumpsuits! I wear my everyday basics more often, but dresses are what I look forward to wearing the most. I love saving them for special occasions! 
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I heard that you used to own a vintage store! What was that like?
I did. It was a lot of fun… at first. But after a couple years I realized that owning a storefront wasn’t my passion. But I still miss dressing up the windows and making displays. My sister and I made a lot of special memories there.
Has becoming a mom changed your style or how you shop for clothes?
Yes. I didn’t think it would! But I am definitely finding myself craving a new look and it’s been fun to experiment with that lately. I think anytime you enter a new season of life it’s a fun time to experiment with new styles. I kind of just wanted to start over- and the cool thing is you always can! 
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What projects do you have coming up that you’re excited about?
Our app business, A Color Story, is always busy. I am currently working on a new effects pack that is focused on grain and light leaks. 
And for, A Beautiful Mess, I just love this time of year. Lots of halloween and holiday projects on the horizon! YAY! 
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Whurl Guide to Austin!

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Artwork by Louise Androlia

Honestly, I’m ashamed it took me this many years to get to Texas! I’ve wanted to go for so long and we even discussed doing a road trip there at least a half-dozen times but it always ended up being just too much time away from work + life. So anyway, this trip was long overdue but it definitely lived up to the hype. Great vintage shopping, delicious, amazing weather and people!

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The Line Hotel

When picking a hotel we knew we wanted to be somewhere central, not too pricy and comfortable enough since we were in town for 5 nights. The Line Hotel ticked all of those boxes and was even more exciting because it had only been opened for two months so it was brand new. It also had a gorgeous pool that didn’t hurt. Really loved staying here and the staff was so sweet and in love with Mochi too, ha.

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Alfred Coffee

Another huge perk of staying at The Line: there’s an Alfred Coffee in the lobby and oat milk matchas available whenever your heart desires.

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Butler Park

I fully fell in love with this park, located walking distance from our hotel and along a gorgeous lake. At the end of the park is an off-leash dog area we visited a few times. This being the first time we took a major trip (and flight!) with Mochi it was such a relief to have this so close to us. Also, seeing her splash into the lake with her new doggie friends brought me so much joy!

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Blue Velvet Vintage

I’ve followed this store for years on instagram and lusted over their jumpsuits and great pricing but I’ve always been devastated that they don’t sell online. So I made sure to stop by not once but twice while I was in town. Also got to meet the owner and some of the amazing staff which made the visit even more special.

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Room Service Vintage

Love this spot! Tons of good furniture, knick knacks and clothes. I found an amazing rainbow terrycloth swim cover up that I wore immediately when I got back to the hotel.

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Revival Vintage

Another great store across the street with equal parts clothing and home goods. Found a stunning floral maxi here!

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Prototype Vintage Design

Love the aesthetic of this shop! I’m such a sucker for color-coordinated merchandising and great 60’s minis! Located in the heart of Austin, this one is a mustttt after you brunch on South Congress!

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Flashback Vintage

Adorable little house turned vintage store. I’ve been to a few places like this around the U.S. and I just love it. I actually didn’t find anything I absolutely needed here but Aaron happened upon the most perfect pair of 60’s deadstock slacks that fit him like a glove for $18 so definitely worth it. I also love that they have equal parts women and mens’ clothing.

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Churro Co

Heavenly churro truck next door to Flashback. Just remembering it right now is making me salivate! We got the “Campfire” and highly recommend it!

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Tacodeli

When people talk about food in Austin they’re usually either talking about BBQ or tacos so naturally those were first on my list to try. Tacodeli is one of two main breakfast taco chains in Texas and it was so good. Also loved how customizable the menu is.

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Sour Duck / Odd Duck

Two sister spots we ate at that were totally worth the hype. We had the yummiest chocolate soft serve with potato chips and caramel on top at Sour Duck our first night in town. Drooool. On our final date we had a nice sit down meal at Odd Duck and enjoyed corn cakes with salsa and pork belly on top. Get it!

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Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs

Dreamy snowcones on the side of the road. Love this little icy treat we had in the middle of one of the hottest days we had in Austin!

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Easy Tiger Bake Shop

Right after booking The Line Hotel I found out there was a cool new-ish food hall directly across the street called Fareground. Yipee! Immediately after that I found out there was an amazing bakery called Easy Tiger Bake Shop with a giant German pretzel. Double Yipee!! The pretzel was heavenly and all the other food stalls were great to snack on too. Great stop if you’re downtown

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Launderette

Hands down our favorite meal in Austin. Everything was absolutely perfect from the hummus beet labneh to the birthday cake ice cream sandwiches for dessert and everything in between. The ambiance was perfect and the staff was impeccable. I can’t wait to go back!

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Kitty Cohen’s

Frosé on tap and a vintagey patio with a tiny pool and umbrellas. Need I say more? I think their instagram bio is what sold me: “Palm Beach Rebel Woman-Inspired Patio Bar”. Sign me up!

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June’s

Yummy brunch spot on South Congress with a juxebox and a fried chicken sandwich, two of my absolute favorite things in life! A nice slow spot for a mid-day meal after shopping and exploring.

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Fresa’s

Delicious, adorable and instagrammable spot for tex mex and best of all: QUESO. Thank god for lactaid because I went pretty wild there, haha. I’ll definitely be returining!

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Loro

Relatively new Asian Smokehouse in Austin that we loved. The atmosphere is a bit like a sports bar but I didn’t mind. Also got to hear an awkward first date next to us, haha! The highlight was definitely the mango sake slushie.

Terry Blacks’ BBQ

So delicious I didn’t even get a picture of it! Loved the brisket and ribs and my main weakness is sides and I definitely sampled every single one. Bonus tidbit: we decided to feed Mochi our brisket leftovers for breakfast and dinner our last two days in town #spoiled.

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P. Terry’s Burger Stand

Could this Austin burger chain be any cuter?! The aesthetic is like midcentury Pee Wee Herman vibe and I’m here for it. The menu is simple like In & Out and prices are pretty comparable. Where they really have a leg up is apparently their veggie burger is a dream come true. Honestly, I had all of the best intentions of trying it but I just wanted a regular burger, which was just as good as I had imagined.

 

I hope you enjoyed my guide! Drop me a comment with any questions you have below or where you want me to go next! XO

Dining Room Overhaul

I’m so excited to finally share this room with you guys! It’s been a long time coming, but we finally re-did our dining room to make it exactly what we wanted. Maybe “re-did” isn’t the proper term since we never actually “did” it in the first place (ha). When we bought our 1927 Spanish house two years ago, we quickly decided the dining room was our last priority. Our new house is almost twice the size of our last place and the kitchen already had a nook where we easily fit in our little 1950’s dining set that we had inherited from my grandparents (my dad used to eat his meals at it growing up!). All that’s to say that there were other rooms that needed our attention (&money) way more than we needed a second big traditional dining set, so the dining room became an interim sitting room which just meant we had an unnecessary second couch there.

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the second time we ever saw our future house! Georgie is itching his way through the dining room. Sorry to our real estate agent who I turned into a beautiful flower

About a year ago I connected with the folks at Joybird and discussed redoing our dining room with some of their furnishings. I already owned two of their couches and knew I loved their quality and how customizable their pieces are. Once I picked out the perfect console and dining room set, I had a few months for them to be built so I decided to wallpaper one of the walls to make the room pop.

I tried finding vintage paper but couldn’t find the style I was looking for. After awhile I decided to get wallpaper made out of a print from one of my favorite vintage dresses. The process was much more simple than I thought! I asked a few friends who work in design and illustration for their advice and they all agreed that it should be pretty easy for a designer to make a repeat pattern for me out of the dress print. I was referred to someone through an old co-worker and I paid her for her work and in less than two weeks, I had the exact image I was looking for! After doing some research I ordered some wallpaper samples of my print in a few sizes from Spoonflower. Within weeks I received 7 rolls of my customized wallpaper! I then hired a professional to do the install since this wallpaper isn’t removable, it’s easy to mess up unless you know what you’re doing. I really love the look of it but I will warn you that their wallpaper is very reflective therefore making it a bit challenging to photograph without a glare, but I don’t really mind!

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A few weeks later, our furniture arrived along with a rug that our friends bought us as a wedding gift from The Jungalow. Finally the room was complete! I really felt floored once it was all set up. Somehow the room looks bigger with more furniture in it than it did before?! It also just feels like it perfectly reflects us now! We were pretty quick to start inviting friends over for dinner now that we had a table that could fit more than just us. Perhaps I’m being dramatic but I feel much more excited to cook these days, just so I can sit and enjoy my meals in our lovely new dining room.

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Japan Guide!

JAPAN-WHURL.jpgWoooweeee there’s a lot to cover here! I think it’s important to go into a trip like this knowing there’s no way you’re going to get to every restaurant or neighborhood you’d like to. Even if you have everything planned out, you WILL get distracted. This is also a place where you want to get distracted because there’s so much to see and do that you can’t possibly predict. This is just a basic guide of some places I discovered that I really enjoyed. I hope it helps inspire your own trip to Japan!

Accomodations:

There are tons of places to stay in Japan, and in my experience most are pretty good and clean but very small. That goes for most airbnbs and low to mid priced hotels. They’re fine but they are what they are. Our final night we decided to splurge on a room at The Grand Hyatt Tokyo and it was great! The room was huge, breakfast was amazing, the pool and jacuzzi were so luxe. Definitely recommend it! I also recommend staying more central in Shinjuku or Shibuya when looking for hotels or airbnbs.

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Shopping:

First things first: Japan is not a size inclusive country. Many of the shops I went to had ONE SIZE (!) many of which didn’t fit me, but luckily some stuff did. Just want to be totally honest about that because although many things are crazy cute, be prepared to be let down or just go for inspiration if you’re not an xs/s.

Shibuya 109 – I remembered going here the first time I came to Japan nine years ago and loving it. It’s a mall that is only cute women’s clothing brands. So much good stuff in here including this insane cake castle installation and so many vintage-inspired dresses.

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LaForet – Another mall similar to Shibuya 109 but a little more edgy and pricy. Worth walking through for sure! Cute food court too.

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Wego – I went into 3-4 different locations of this store because there were so many around Shibuya and they had great stuff and good prices. Some of their stores also carried vintage. Somehow I have no photos from this shop but this is where I bought most of the things I purchased on the trip.

Tokyu Hands – amazzzzzing department store in Shibuya. A great place for inspiration, souvenir shopping and buying cheap Japanese beauty products. Oh also dog kimonos and stationery so pretty much anything you can imagine. Set aside 1-2 hours to roam around in here.

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Kinji – One of the only well-priced vintage stores I went to. It’s sort of like a Buffalo Exchange where they buy and sell vintage so the selection can vary quite a bit. Mostly focused on 90’s but found some 60’s and 70’s too priced below $40.

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Amore Tokyo – stumbled into this store on accident and was shaken to my core. As soon as we walked in they locked the door behind us. I looked around and realized I was surrounded by the biggest vintage Chanel handbag selection I had ever seen. Naturally pricing reflected that but I still enjoyed the visit; it felt like a museum.

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G2? – Adorable vintage store in Harajuku. In a sea of relatively high-priced vintage, this shop’s curation makes it worth the stop. And I’m still regretting not getting those shoes!

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Shimokitazawa – This is a neighborhood of tons of cute little vintage stores. Loved walking around and exploring but truthfully didn’t do much shopping. Almost all of the vintage in Japan is purchased in the U.S. and just brought back so prices are much higher than what you’d see here for the same items. Again, it’s still fun to look around but don’t expect to find lots of deals.

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Koenji – similar to Shimokitazawa, this is another neighborhood off the beaten path that has tons of little vintage stores. I found the selection here to be a little more elevated and even discovered a few non vintage Japanese brands I really liked. Both of these neighborhoods you can just take the train to the area and once you’re out of the station you’ll start to see shops.

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Eating

First, it’s important to note that Tokyo has the highest number of Michelin star rated restaurants above any other city, even Paris. There are literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of top notch restaurants in Tokyo alone so you can be confident chances are high you will stumble into a great meal in any part of town. I ate 20-30 meals there and was only “eh” about one. Going into the trip knowing this, we didn’t make any reservations and just had a few recommendations we knew we wanted to check out. If you ARE interested in trying a specific place I highly recommend making reservations months in advance. Many restaurants are tiny so you can imagine what a bit of notoriety does for one’s ability to get a spot at the sushi counter.

World Breakfast Allday – Our jetlag going there wasn’t bad at all. Just stayed up as long as we could (9:30 pm I think?) and then slept 8 hours through the night. The only issue of course is waking up before 6 am and having nothing to do. Even cute coffee places don’t open til 9 for the most part. Oh also I woke up starving because my body thought I had missed dinner or something. Anyway, after doing some research we found this spot that opened at 7:30 and set out for it. It was so adorable and seriously delicious. They serve traditional breakfast options from 5 different parts of the world at a time and rotate often. I had the Malaysian and Aaron had Taiwanese and both were so good.

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Eddy’s Ice Cream – I mean, I just had to?! Cutest ice cream ever and you get to customize it with your choice of cute cookies and cones. Oh, and it was delicious too!

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The Latte Tokyo – I don’t drink coffee but I looove matcha so I had a lot of fun scoping out the best and cutest matcha shops. Thrilled to report this one even had soy milk. So yummy!

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Genki Sushi – So this was one of my most favorite spots to eat at, haha. First, the sushi is cheap and good. Every order of two pieces of sushi was about $1.19 and DELICIOUS. Second, yes you ordered individually from a computer and your food suddenly appeared in front of you like magic. Three, great for snacks in between meals because you could go in and get 4 pieces of sushi, pay and then be back out shopping. Lastly, we ate here twice and walked by countless times and I never saw a line. Highly recommend!

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Afuri Ramen – another place recommended by a few people I trust. Did not disappoint! And each bowl was under $10. They also have vegan options here if you’re looking for that!

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Cafe Kitsune – cutie cafe with delicious as hell matcha.

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Totti Candy Factory – another thing I just had to do in Harajuku! Honestly, it was yummy too (each layer was a different flavor).

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Tokyu Food Show – One of my favorite things about Tokyo is how many department stores house elaborate food halls in their basement. This one is one of my favorites. Keep in mind: most of these don’t have a cafe area for you to sit and enjoy the food you eat because they’re expecting you to bring it back home/work to eat. You can find stunning pastries, sparkling produce, and of course lots of sushi among other treasures here!

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W/O Stand – Grabbed this delicious matcha when I was doing vintage shopping in the cool neighborhood of Shimokitazawa.

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Gram Pancakes – I’ve been dreaming about these jiggly souffle pancakes since I saw them on instagram last year. I’m not sure if Gram is the first place that made them (you can get them at quite a few spots now) but they definitely seem to be in the highest demand. They only have three seatings a day at 11 am, 3 pm and 6 pm and you have to get there an hour early to get a ticket. The good news is you’re in the heart of Harajuku so once you snag your ticket you can easily wander around for an hour until it’s pancake time. I personally loved them! Definitely are more on the eggy side which I like; I didn’t feel weighed down by them as I would eating regular pancakes. Worth it!IMG_0706

Seirinkian – We saw this spot on Netflix’s Ugly Delicious a few months ago and had it bookmarked. They only offer two types of pizza and some great antipastis so don’t expect lots of options. So good though! Another delicious and cheap meal.

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Awomb – One of our friends picked this place out and we had our hotel in Kyoto make a reservation for us (one of the perks of staying at hotels is you can email them ahead of time to make reservations for you!) and it was a really fun experience. Definitely a meal for a more adventurous eater as they only have one plate they serve with lots of little plates of fish and pickles and a side of rice and broth and you kind of just make bites on your own. Reaaally yummy! Also the neighborhood it was located in was just stunning. IMG_4204

Shunbou – One of our last meals in Tokyo was this delicious lunch. A traditional Japanese lunch elevated. I loved everything I tried and the presentation was so pretty!

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Nishiki Market – A fun outdoor market in Kyoto with loads of produce, soft serve, fried octopus and so much more. Loved it!ACS_0540

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Mister Donut – I can’t remember how I discovered this chain but I immediately recognized the donut looking similar in shape to one we had in Oahu last year that had a chewy texture and was so good. I read some reviews and YUP this was the same donut. When we finally stumbled across one it was just as good as I remember. It almost has a mochi-like texture.

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Morning Glass – Cute little Hawaiian breakfast spot we found in Osaka. I enjoyed a delicious egg sandwich and Aaron indulged in some mac and cheese pancakes, naturally. Coffee and matcha were great too!ACS_0550

Sightseeing:

Fushimi -Inari Taisha Shrine – loved visiting this gorgeous shrine and getting to walk through the bright orange Torii gates. Definitely go early as it gets busy later since it’s the most popular shrine in Kyoto. ACS_0532ACS_0518

Nara Park – A dream come true! A little out of the way but if you’re going to Kyoto, it’s worth the extra leg of travel. Felt pretty magical. They sell food there you can feed to the deer but keep in mind we saw most vendors closing down at 4 pm so you wanna get there before then. Aaron also spotted an ice cream truck and had one of the yummiest cones of our trip: melon and hokkaido milk swirl! You only have to walk for 5 minutes from the train station before you start running into deer. ACS_0477 2ACS_0509

Dotonbori – Super cool neon shopping area and outdoor food market in Osaka. We read that it inspired Bladerunner which I can definitely see. Real talk: I got a bit overwhelmed while eating here and had to go back to our airbnb early. I think I was just overstimulating and drained from dragging our bags on the train and traveling and walking all day. Still fun and we ate some delicious tempura!ACS_0541

Harry’s Hedgehog Cafe – I had a really fun time here as expected! Got to feed and play with hedgehogs, otters, bunnies and chinchillas. Literally what more could you ask for?

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Tips:

  1. Don’t rely on google maps or yelp – There were plenty of times that we thought we knew where we were going from google or apple maps and then got totally turned around. Just know you’ll need a bit of a sense of direction when finding some of these spots and prepare to get frustrated at times. Many places are tiny and may seem hidden. Also, I recommend discovering places to go through guides (like this one!) and don’t expect to use Yelp or similar services to find good stuff. They aren’t big Yelpers out there and so it’s not easy to discover using those platforms. I had a bit more luck on Tripadvisor but keep in mind all of those reviews are from tourists so…
  2. Get pocket wifi – there are tons of websites that do this. You pick it up and return it at the airport so it’s super easy and ensures you have wifi while you’re out exploring. This is the one we used.
  3. Respect the public space / be quiet / don’t leave trash anywhere – The residents of Tokyo (and Japan throughout) are serious about respecting public space. Do not litter anywhere under any circumstances. Bring bags big enough with you if you have to hold some of your trash because there aren’t tons of public trash cans. Also, train etiquette is important: don’t eat, drink or talk loudly on them.
  4. Learn a few phrases / download google translate – super easy to do and helps with the few interactions you may have where you definitely are not understanding someone.
  5. Travel the least possible between cities – I definitely regret the way we planned our trip with spending a few days in Tokyo, then heading to Kyoto and Osaka and then back to Tokyo for a few more days. I had the best of intentions but the least you can travel, the better! A trip like this can be extremely draining and you don’t want to make it harder on yourself than you have to. Same advice goes for staying in multiple neighborhoods: not necessary! It’s so much easier to get comfy where you are and explore other areas by taking public transit around during the days and nights.
  6. Sign up for alerts for cheap flights (we use Scott’s Cheap Flights and Kayak). That’s how we found our flights for $500! I highly recommend it.

Skincare Travel Guide

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I’ve always been the type to put homework and any type of packing or preparation to the absolute last minute. Which is why I shocked when I noticed I was starting to gather up my travel-sized beauty products more than a week before I leave for my trip to Japan. I think it’s a combination of me feeling good about my skin and also enjoying consistency while I’m away from home. Though I love traveling, I’m really a creature of habit and homebody at heart so it’s nice to keep some of my routine the same while I’m gone. I’m also really happy with the products I’ve been using lately and thought this was a perfect time to share! I think it’s important to mention that I’m by no means a beauty professional. These are products that I like and that work for me. That being said, I do tend to lean towards more natural or at least limited chemicals in my beauty products. Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!

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Supergoop Sunscreen – I recently started using this stuff and I’m ashamed I didn’t try it sooner! Protecting my skin is super important to me (skin cancer runs in my family) but I’ve been so disappointed with almost every facial sunscreen I’ve tried until Supergoop. The main difference is it settles into your skin almost instantly and isn’t greasy at all. Easy to wear as is or with make up over it.

Patchology lip & eye gels – I’ve been using these for almost 6 months and I looove them. The undereye gels are great at brightening in the morning and the lip gels make my lips so smooth and plump. This also really helps prep for application if you wear lots of matte lip shades like I do!

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Nyakio Maracuja & Yangu Soothing oil – I’ve been using this for the past month since I got it in a gift bag and I loooove it. It’s completely vegan and cruelty free and totally soothes and brightens your skin. I wear it in the mornings or overnight and i’ve definitely seen a huge difference. Also added bonus: Nyakio is owned by a WOC.

Pacifica Rose Water Face Wipes –  So important for me to remember to wipe off all of my make up or any sort of excess grease at the end of the day if I don’t wear make up. Love these small travel packs too.

Schmidts Bergamot Lime deodorant – My absolute favorite brand of natural deodorant. I’ll be bringing this newish scent with me because I just ran out of my favorite – coconut pineapple! This one smells good too though 🙂

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Bioderma Hydrabio Micellar Cleanser – I use this every night to take off make up and find that it’s great for all over the face and neck and especially eyes as it’s very light, unscented and not greasy. Love finding travel sizes of some of my favorite products!

Eczema Honey – I just started using this stuff two weeks ago when I had a rash but quickly found it’s so great and soothing for all over. I sleep with a thin layer on my face and have noticed overall softness and diminished acne scars. Also nice on my hands and arms too!

Embryolisse – This moisturizer is my holy grail. It’s so light and heavenly and truly evens out, hydrates and plumps your skin. As you can see I need a new bottle! This one has lasted me almost a year so a little goes a long way.

Billie Razor – my new favorite subscription service! I love everything about this company. It’s a razor subscription service that sends you new cartridges every few months (you can always opt out of a shipment if you don’t need a new one). You can also pick your color and the packaging is so cute! It’s priced great at $9 with free shipping and the company is owned by a woman too.

Ouai hair oil – love this natural hair oil for my ends. I put it on right out of the shower or even a few days into dirty hair. Smells great and nourishes my damaged ends.

Biossance Squalane & Vitamin C Rose Oil – another holy grail product I’ve been using for a few months. Natural and completely amazing at nourishing your skin and evening out your complexion. Though their products might seem pricy, you can snag free samples of this and other products on their website just by paying for shipping!

Blossom perfume roller – this is my first time trying this and I’m pretty excited! The packaging is adorable, the smell is fresh and the ingredients are pretty clean. And of course it’s small enough to throw in my carry on too!

Honeybelle Foaming Facial Soap – this is another first time product I’m testing out. I loved the small size and the natural ingredients including tea tree, coconut and sunflower oils.

 

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City guide! San Francisco

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This was a fun one! I mentioned on my stories that I was planning a quick trip to SF a couple weeks ago with Aaron. He was attending a conference and I went to tag along and get some work done in a distraction-free environment (anyone else who works from home feel like they need a break sometimes?). I wrote out a list of all of my favorite bay area shops and eateries (including ones I had yet to try) and I immediately started getting excited. As a whole, I think there’s a lot of overpriced crap in SF (just being honest) but I also think it’s a great example of a city that can be really fun when you have a curated guide in hand.

Where to stay

I’ve gotta be honest here: I don’t have a favorite hotel in SF. Overall I think the hotels leave a bit to be desired as they’re generally overpriced and small. But that’s not a huge issue when you’re spending most of your time out having fun. I genuinely don’t mind a small hotel and tend to save money for when we go to really fun places (like Japan next month!) and use Hotel Tonight for quick trips like this where I don’t need luxury, space or amenities.

 

Shopping

As someone who lived in the Bay Area, one of my absolute favorite things to do was go to the Alameda Point Antique Faire the first Sunday of every month. This flea market is in my top 5 for sure. It’s huge, easy to navigate, tons of variety AND lots of food trucks. Los Angeles flea markets are majorly lacking in the food department, and truthfully this would help keep me happy + shopping for hours.

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me with a dreamy ice cream trash can i found 3 years ago!

I was really excited to check out some shops on Haight I hadn’t been to in years. Also got some great recommendations from instagram that did NOT disappoint. My first stop was Relic Vintage and I was just floored from walking in. Relic specializes in 1920’s-1960’s men’s and women’s clothing. As expected, each piece is so well curated and cared for it almost makes you not want to remove them from their special place in the store. Within minutes the owner Oran came up to me and rather than try to eye me while touching a pair of $400 1940’s pajamas he said “aren’t these amazing?! You should try them on!” while sliding them in my direction. I can’t believe the amount of early 1900’s vintage stores I’ve gone to where I was treated like I must not know anything and like there was no way I could afford or fit into anything they had; this was such a refreshing experience.

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Next up was Static Vintage down the street and I had just as good of a time in there! I chatted with the owner about our favorite silhouettes for our bodies, gushed over prints and tried on so many dresses. I walked out with this one!

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I also popped into Love Street and Held Over on the same block and had some great finds! It’s definitely worth the schlep over to Haight street, since there are so many great stores within 3 blocks.

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Another fave Wallflower, is located in the Mission. I loooove Wallflower because it has such an amazing mix of vintage, their own in-house 70’s-inspired line and even some new sunnies to mix it up. A must-stop when you’re in the area!

Where to Eat

Mmm my favorite part! This was really fun because I hadn’t been to any of these places, but had been wanting to try them for so long. I definitely had a Hawaiian / tiki theme going but I promise each place was totally different!

I can’t even believe I had never been to the Tonga Room! It’s sooo fun and located in the basement of the fancy Fairmont Hotel. Amazing happy hour spot and please don’t be alarmed when fake rain comes down over the water every 30 minutes. It’s like a mix of vintage hideaway, tiki dream and a dash of Disneyland.

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After returning home I realized I may have gone a little overboard with Boba Guys. I mean I went there all three days I was in town, haha. But actually it turns out I didn’t go overboard because I’ve been craving it everyday since! Why is it superior to other boba places, you ask? Because they use higher quality ingredients, have lots of yummy milk alternatives and let you pick your sweetness levels. Definitely the best milk tea I’ve ever had.

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One of my favorite meals of the trip was at aina in Potrero Hill. Absolutely delicious elevated Hawaiian food. The menu was small and there were four of us so we got try the majority of the menu and everything was so good. Highly recommend it for a low key but elevated lunch or dinner.

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You know that feeling when you see a picture of a new crazy looking food trend on instagram and you’re like “hmmm okayyy” and you’re simultaneously intrigued and also judgmental and also set very high expectations? That’s me literally everyday, haha. I basically took one look at this photo on instagram and judged it and walked in ready to hate it for basically no reason.  I was so wrong and it was amazinggggg!! It’s not just an instagram-friendly food like all of those ice cream cereal tacos I keep seeing (why) but it is truly delicious and perfect for someone like me who enjoys a protein heavy breakfast muffin. If you make it to Craftsman and Wolves, make sure to order the Rebel Within!

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Our dinner at Northeastern Thai eatery, Hawker Fare was also delectable. The aesthetic in there is kitschy with lots of Elvis memorabilia and some tiki statues. We went there with a few others and since it’s family style, we got to try a lot. Absolutely looooved the larb and papaya salad. Oh and of course my tiki cocktail was DIVINE!

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I’ve been wanting to try Leo’s Oyster Bar for awhile and planned it on our last day! I’ll be honest, the service wasn’t great and I also had an allergic reaction to an oyster (oops lol) but the decor was top notch and the food was pretty good. I’d totally go back for a cocktail and some bar snacks.

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San Francisco is definitely a city rich with culture with tons of amazing museums, historic buildings, beautiful parks and even beaches. Although i didn’t have time to make many stops since it was such a short trip and I was clearly too busy shopping and eating, I made sure to go to one of my favorite places in San Francisco. Musée Mécanique is one of the largest privately owned vintage arcade collections and it’s so fun! I mentioned on instagram that Aaron and I had one of our first dates here, just making it way more special. While it’s located in the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf, it definitely has a run-down arcade feel (which I appreciate) and is worth the trek!

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Kira Cook interviews Georgia Hardstark

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Another great closet sale from my pal Georgia Hardstark launches today on Whurl and I decided to ask one of our mutual friends (and beyond talented writer!) Kira Cook to conduct the interview. Enjoy her answers below and make sure to check out the sale on the Whurl app!
Do you dress a certain way for your live podcast shows? 
Karen and I decided to wear black just to coordinate and have a “vibe.” Unfortunately I’ve always been obsessed with tacky patterns and bright colors so I literally only had 1 or 2 black dresses when we started touring. I’ve had to do a lot of shopping, which I don’t hate.
Do you miss eating on camera for work?
I miss cooking on camera, but not eating. No one looks good eating on camera.
You’d done a couple (or at least one) podcasts before MFM taking off. Did you sense from the beginning that it would become a phenomenon, or had something special, or was it just you two nerding out on murder for fun?
It was the latter. We liked both talking about true crime and podcasts, so we just decided to start MFM on a whim. We were, and continue to be, blown away by the success.
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What’s your favorite era for vintage and why? 
I love the elegance of the 1940s and 50s, but my body was not made for that era. For my figure, I’ve found that 1970s and 80s compliment my combination of small boobs and big hips. Think Janet from Three’s Company.
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What would be your Last Supper and what would you be wearing?
It would be a buffet in Las Vegas and I’d be wearing a beautiful dress with an elastic waist and pockets.
Has your personal style changed at all with the success of MFM?  *write in q from instagram*
I now have significantly more black in my wardrobe and fewer of the uncomfortable fancy dresses I would wear for Cooking Channel stuff. I also have more “casual” dresses that I can throw on when I go work at a cafe or run errands. I feel so much better about myself when I have a dress on, even on a random weekday, rather than jeans and sneakers.