california: day 3

our last day in cali started out quick. our flight out was in the early afternoon, so that left us with only a few hours to do a few things before we had to head out to the airport.

first things first: eating. we wanted to go to a place called tart, but in typical fashion, huy and tashina got there before us and said it was a two hour wait…whaaaaa?! no thank you! i really wanted to try tart but we did not have the time to wait around nor would we have if we even had the time!

so, huy and tashina had us meet them at king’s road cafe. it is a cozy little restaurant, not very big…what you see down below in the photos is what you get. our tables were right next to the kitchen counter, so not a lot of space! the coffee was strong and delicious. the food was good, typical breakfast fare. tashina and huy ordered and ate first because tashina needed to get to a dress fitting within the next hour. did i mention that she is a dress designer & stylist?! so ah-maze and talented! check out her website here. oh, and i’ve said it before…my brother is an accomplished and incredible photographer, so together they are quite the powerful, artsy, brilliant couple!

anyhoo, after brunch, tashina left and we met our brother at the LACMA. waaaayyy cool. thuy and lan actually went there the night before…when kim and i were pooped out and wanted to shower and go to bed {yeessssss, we were tired}. they took some pretty cool pictures that night…obvs, a light installation is much cooler in the dark!

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[sneakers, flats, and taps oh my!]

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i really wanted to see the rock. huy and tashina told us a story about the rock the night before at dinner. i was totally intrigued. how it took so much money {$10 million in total} to transport this rock to it’s home, they literally took apart signals, utility lines, and cables to allow this rock to be transported to the museum because it was so big {it took up three highway lanes}. bananas.

of course we took a gazillion pictures of the rock and then we walked around towards the light installation. as i said before, pictures at night would have been cooler but taking some in the daylight sufficed!

i am so glad we stopped by the LACMA…it was the perfect ‘last day’ destination. i had such a good time exploring some unique artwork. i love art! there is always something so dark, inquisitive, mysterious, thought provoking, enigmatic about the artwork you see. it makes you curious about the madness behind it. it makes you excited to see people’s creativity, vision, and the final product that they conceive.

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[the rock]

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[it reminds of magritte, my favorite artist]

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[i’m so strong!]

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[the 340 ton boulder | michael heizer’s levitated mass]

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[ahhhhhh, green grass & the warm sun]

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[light installation at LACMA]

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[thuy hitting up the light installation the night before]

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and that’s a wrap! we had the most wonderful time celebrating thuy’s birthday in L.A. it was a pretty awesome weekend! i am very thankful we also were able to spend it with my brother and tashina. they totally made our weekend fabulous {thanks to them for taking us around!}.

haphaphappy birthday thuy!!!!!

xoxo

california: day 2

on our second day {the temperature was puurrrrrfect}, the sun was shining and i couldn’t wait to let it hit my skin {spf anyone?}! we got ready and headed out to our first destination of the day – bottega louie.

oh em gee. i was in heaven. i love, love this place. it encompassed everything i love: white, light, delicious food, coffee, ambience, interior design, pastries, gifts, candies, cakes, and macarons. beautiful, colorful, tasty, perfectly made macarons.

my sister kim had found this place and put it on our list of things to do. we arrived early and there wasn’t a wait. i couldn’t get past the first few feet, running directly into the macaron cases! they were being seated and i was still straggling around in the front.

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[beverly hilton hotel]

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[ready to parrrtayyy!]

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[we found olive’s street!]

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[diiiiirty sidewalk. ew.]

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[almost there! eeekkkk!]

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[so excited…the pastry cases alone had me in heaven!]

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[auhhhhhhhhh! nom nom]

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[beignet appetizer with a raspberry compote]

we sat down and ordered the beignets as an appetizer. i die. i ordered, as usual, an orange/grapefruit juice mix and a decaf americano. for my breakfast, i selected the belgium waffles and a side of bacon. natch. it was all soooo good. i loved the scene, the food, and the company.

after we ate, i went up to the cases of pastries to purchase a selection of macarons. i bought the birthday girl a box of pistachios and then myself, a mix of flavors to take home. i wanted to buy so much but i always have to calm myself down and get real. one person can’t eat two dozen macarons in a few days {well, to keep this figure, one can’t do that!}.

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[belgium waffles, seasonal berries, chantilly cream {vanilla bean: i die}, and vermont maple syrup]

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[i wanted one of everything]

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[decisions, decisions, decisions]

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[strawberry, raspberry, lemon, espresso, and vanilla bean]

after brunch, we met up with huy and tashina and they walked us around downtown L.A. i had the best time. there was so much to do and look at. the first place we hit was the bench from the movie, 500 days of summer. it was fenced off {no trespassing!} but that doesn’t stop us. at least not me. i’m such a rule breaker {or very antiauthority…it does get me in trouble sometimes}, so naturally, i jumped the fence. what?! the worst anyone could do…tell me not to be in there? well, i was willing to face that. it was fantastic. we snapped some great photos! i loved every moment of it!

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[500 days of summer]

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[whaaaa? you can never have too many designer purses on at once!]

after we visited the bench, we walked around the area. we stopped by a pretty water court, made a pit stop at MOCA {bought some great gifts for olive and the boys}, and spun by the disney concert hall. we snapped fun pics all along the way!

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[water court downtown L.A.]

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[frank gehry]

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[i love simple|cute|fun packaging]

i had to stop by the car {for a mommy pit stop} while the group hit up the bradbury building {a cool, antique space}. after visiting the building, they went into the grand central market. i met everyone there, it was sooo busy and crazy inside. we walked around for a bit, exploring before we narrowed it down to what we wanted to get. lan, thuy and i decided to get ice-cream {from mcconnell’s} while kim got tacos.

decadent. the ice cream was so smooth and creamy. it was filling and sweet! we sat around outside while we ate our food, enjoying the beautiful weather. ahhhhh, i can’t wait for summer in chi town!

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[grand central market]

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[wexler’s deli]

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[mcconnell’s icecream]

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after our escapade downtown, huy took us to the area where he usually bikes {up a mountain}. it was a crazy route there. we were on our way to the griffith park observatory but before we got there, we made a stop at a coffee shop. huy stated that we would totally love the quaint little coffee shop and he was right. yes…this is where we were shoulder to shoulder with beyoncé, solange, and little blue ivy. can you believe it?! as tashina put it, it was like finding a unicorn! yes it was!

they were with two other friends and their kids. i was standing right next to solange. i kept thinking to myself…wow, do i know her? why does this girl look so familiar?? duh! by the time i realized it was them, they were already walking down the path to the street! boo! i can’t believe i missed the photo op! after we got our coffee and hung out a bit at the coffee shop, we walked back to the car. this is where i realized they were still hanging out around the area! i was able to snap a few photos from afar but hey, it’s better than nothing!

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[the trails…the infamous spotting of beyonce and solange!]

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we drove another two miles to our next destination…it was cuckoo. the road was so tight and it was cray crowded but we finally made it to the griffith park observatory! the views were ah-mazing! now, i am scared of heights and being so high up freaked the sh*t out of me but it was so worth it. we nabbed some awesome photos, created some great memories, and checked another awesome view off our list!

we then headed back down and hit up another shopping center! glendale galleria and americana way. it was like a mini vegas. seriously. it felt like i was in vegas with the way they had built the buildings, all the lights shining all around us, and how crowded it was.

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[griffith park observatory]

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[our view of downtown L.A. from the griffith park observatory]

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[deluca’s italian deli at americana way]

we stopped for a snack before we headed out to dinner. yes, we did eat before we ate. hehe. anyhoo, we explored the malls for a bit and finally headed out to our final destination: the boiling crab. huy and tashina got there first and text us that the wait was two hours and forty-five minutes?!!!!! wtf. no thank you! they then suggested a place across the street called banh mi cali. yes, please. we were sooo in the mood to eat pho and bun bo. it totally hit the spot. no wait, delicious phood 😉 , and it was $5 and change a bowl. woot woot.

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[pho at banh mi che cali]

that was our last stop of the day. phew!!! what a whirlwind day. we squeezed in so much and it was perfect. i had the most wonderful day with my sisters, brother, and friends. we visited so many awesome places and i was a happy camper {well, i don’t camp and if i was camping, i probs wouldn’t be happy…so, maybe i should really say happy as a clam but are clams really happy??…okay, okay…i’ll stop analyzing now.}.

xoxo

california: day 1

the time had come to head out to l.a. we had booked this trip months ago and it came upon us in a blink of an eye.

i wasn’t ready. i hadn’t done much of anything to get ready. it was going to be a short trip {to celebrate my sister’s birthday!} over the weekend but i typically prepare, think about packing, and get random stuff {purchased} to go on vacation with but this time around i didn’t. i was having a little anxiety about leaving little miss olive. i knew i was going to miss her incredibly! nonetheless, i got myself ready {pedi and mani all set!}, packed my clothes, and went to bed. i was definitely ready for some warm weather, relaxation, and yummy eating to ensue!

we arrived in cali {golly, it felt like the longest flight evah?!}, rented our car, and skedaddled on our way to the beverly hilton hotel {thanks so much to thuy…she was the driver the whole time!}. we relaxed a bit before we headed out to the grove. we freshened up and went on our way. it was sooooo lovely out. the weather was fantastic. sunny and warm. ahhhhh. i was loving it!

we got to the grove and went straight to the farmer’s market! we were so hungry! we walked around to weigh our options and decided on some delicious gyros. i love the farmer’s market. it’s so quaint and fun. there are so many shops and tasty places to eat at. i also couldn’t get over the beautiful weather. i was in heaven sitting outside, all toasty, eating my food. after we noshed, we walked around a bit to get something sweet. i bought toffee for my dad {although we snuck in a few bites}, thuy and lan grabbed some doughnuts, and kim purchased a coffee. perfect.

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[the ubiquitous cali shot]

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[i always fancy pastries]

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[the original farmer’s market // we are so into it…well, at least me!]

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[yum]

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[these toffee’s were divine!]

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[of course i had to take a pic of bennett’s ice cream shop!]

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after eating, we walked the grove. we stopped into a few shops…i needed to get a few errands done. it’s funny how i live at a mall at home but yet i never stay long enough to pick up anything that i need! i’d rather get home to my family than stay and shop. so, i took advantage of this moment to get some things i needed to get and get done.

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[the grove: coffee and pastries will always do]

we shopped until huy and tashina arrived at the mall. we all met at morel’s for dinner. our usual stomping ground when in cali. it was soooo great to see them! i was excited to spend some time with them while we were here. we ordered up a storm, toasted to thuy, and drank our night away.

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[face timing the boys at morel’s]

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[cheers to being in l.a. for thuy’s birthday!]

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[charcuterie plate]

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[i wear my sunglasses at night…especially when i eat a burger]

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[left only! directing traffic…]

our evening was short lived. although we were out until eleven o’clock {hey…that’s one o’clock chicago time!}. we were spent. traveling always takes a toll on you! we said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel.

it was a pretty good first day! we had a great time exploring the farmer’s market, getting around town, and eating a tasty dinner with our brother and tashina at morel’s! until tomorrow {next post 😉 }.

xoxo

flashback friday

in lieu of our trip to l.a., i thought it was fitting to reminisce about our first trip together to the golden state. here, waaayyyyyy back in 2008 {don’t we look the same? or am i just being hopeful?!}, we are in california on our way to santa barbara. look at reagan, just look at the little dude. how cute is he?! omg…so stinkin’ adorbs. i love, love this picture of him…those cheeks, so chubby!

anyhoo, it was a total family trip. mom, dad, everyone. it was sure a cray trip all around. we were on our way up to the mission in santa barbara with my uncle khai and his husband don. my aunt and my brother huy were also with us {they live in cali and well as my uncle}, so it was quite the posse traveling together. you can only imagine the shenanigans that ensued with so many strong personalities together!

it was a great trip overall, we had a chance to check out a lot of fun areas in california. i loved so many places we visited. at the time, my brother huy lived right next to the grove and i loved their farmer’s market area. there were so many yummy food stands and it my first time trying the ‘hip’ pinkberry. according to my {hipster} brother, it was already passé. so, apparently i was behind on the popular trends {hello, i should have come out to california earlier!}. c’est la vie! regardless, i was in love. it was so yummy, sweet, and fresh! i chuckle when i think about that story. passé or not, i’m love what i love! 🙂

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alright lovies, i wish warm weather upon everyone {soon!}! yes, truly with all this coldness all around us, we will be california dreaming! happy friday y’all!

xoxo

my brother{s}

my brother and his girl tashina came to visit us for christmas up until new year’s eve. it was pretty awesome to have them around. huy doesn’t visit very often, maybe twice a year if we are lucky. i love seeing him. we all miss him. plus, he is sooooo wonderful with the kids too!

huy moved out to cali quite some time ago. i can’t even remember…it’s been nine years now?? anyhoo, life suits him just fine out there. he’s so l.a. now…such a hipster. well, he’s always been a hipster but whatevs.

he’s been a photographer for quite some time now. he’s super talented and has done some amazing work. you can check out his website here.

on one of the days they were in town, hc invited everyone over to our place for supper. we ordered uncle bub’s for dinner and had a swell time hanging out together. i came home and only my sisters and the kids were home. soon, everyone else slowly trickled in. hc and terry were out picking up the food and arrived home last.

we got down to business! the table was set and the food was ready to be served. we noshed, imbibed, and conversed about all sorts of topics. it was fantastic just to hang out and enjoy each other’s company.

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[feeding the garbage disposal]

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[boy band brothers]

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gosh, family is so great. i feel very fortunate to have a large family. i sometimes, still can’t believe my parents did what they did. raising a large family with the means that they had. it’s pretty awesome to have brothers and sisters…people you can go to when you need them, people you can hang out with, people you can rely on, people who help you out. siblings are like built in buddies, non? and you know what really tops the sundae off? when your siblings are with/marry some more awesome peeps. the family grows larger and better. life does have it’s not so great moments {irritations, fights, disappointment}…don’t get me wrong, sometimes it sucks but i love having the glass half full. it only makes me feel more fulfilled, loved, and happy. i’d rather count my lucky stars than think about the pile of shit i just stepped on.

a lucky star i’m thankful for?? my little babes, olive. i love watching her play with her cousins. it’s just the best and cutest times evah. *sigh*

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[silly kids]

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[silly faces]

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[ba going in for a kiss]

well, it was a quick but lovely time with tashina and huy. we enjoyed them being in town and spending so many great days with them. it definitely went by too fast. lots of love to them both…we can’t wait to see y’all again!

xoxo