{I’ve been waiting since May to share this lovely illustration!}

Alright sweet friends, the summer is coming to a close and we’ve got one last trip to finish it off right. The title of the post is a true description of what’s to come as we attempt to fit 11 people in my good friend’s San Fran duplex. That and Jon mentioned I couldn’t write a SF post without mentioning our generation’s favorite TGIF show (shout out to the Olsen twins).

We’re making the trip with our college friends and we already have a Google document with everything we have scheduled from a tour of Alcatraz to a Giants game to Tartine and much more (praying my feet will survive this last trip). The doc is shared with the entire group so everyone can contribute, but that means events such as “10am Luis and Jon – Hot Yoga” will also be added to the master schedule (this is a joke if you were unsure)!

More than anything I’m looking forward to escaping this record breaking heat wave! But what’s insane is that SF is literally 40 degrees lower than Dallas. I’ll definitely be packing warmly! For the last time this season, please share with me your favorite SF hot spots!

{San Fran illustration by Marisa Midori via Where the Lovely Things Are}

I’m going to make this short and sweet and let the photos speak for themselves! While in Los Angeles, I had the incredible opportunity to attend Oh, Hello Friend’s and Cakies‘ first We Like It Pretty collaborative workshop with Jenn from I Art U. It was a photography workshop perfectly entitled, Snap It Pretty, and boy did we! The day was perfect (an outdoor event in TX is totally not a reality in July) and the decor and details were honestly as amazing as they appear. Danni and Ruby really outdid themselves this time, and it was so neat to meet them in person as well as some new friends and fellow bloggers.

I would highly, highly recommend signing up for a future We Like It Pretty workshop so whether you’re local or eager to enjoy the LA weather, I suggest you make it out to the next one!

On a final note, I could hardly resist myself when I saw Ruby’s girls were present! Having seen their photos online, I couldn’t help but want to snuggle them once I met them (I promise, I’m not a creepers. Just love kids!). Ruby’s sister, RJ, was equally snuggable, but since she’s 19 I simply gave her a hug. Thanks for letting me play with your darling girls Ruby!

I’ve been a big fan of The Fresh Exchange blog since first discovering it a couple of months back, but this post Meagan recently did on The Essentials for the Modern Man is impressively spot on. After analyzing her suggestions, I am either currently pleading that Jon consider purchasing certain pieces on this post (ahem, gingham meet Jon, Jon meet gingham) or I’m satisfied because Jon fortunately has a few of these modern-man pieces. Top of the list items to eventually acquire are a gingham and chambray button up, cardigan preferably in navy, and a pair of slim (notice I used slim and not skinny) gray pants that can be rolled up.

Definitely check out Meg’s post to help guide the men in your life towards a more fashionable direction!

{image by The Fresh Exchange}

 

This photo above pretty much summarizes what’s currently on my brain: 1) Trying to figure out how to create a personal eclectic space in our new home and 2)Los Angeles. We came back from New York on Tuesday, packed and moved to our new place and now I’m off to LA. Our summers are always crazy, but I have to confess I kinda….sort of….like it. It’s a five-day trip that I’m going to be doing on my own (Jon has work!) and I think it will be a good time with valuable lessons in independence and spontaneity. Of course I’ll be staying with my super cool brother and sis-in-law and eating at their bomb dot com restaurant, Starry Kitchen. And I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to escaping the Texas sun in exchange for the LA breeze.

What’s your fave LA hot spot?

With so many talented artists out there, I couldn’t leave this post without sharing a cool illustration of LA!

{photo from Green Is The New Black // illustration by Albie Designs}

1 – $5.99 | 2 – $1.99 | 3 – $0.99 for 10

I’m totally digging these summery new finds at Ikea that all happen to photographed in threes. In between our out-of-town adventures, Jon and I have been searching tirelessly for a new place to rent and after finding one, we’ve been Craigslist searching and deal hunting like cra cra (I was taught this phrase from my girlfriends. It’s a fun version of crazy, except shortened to a one syllable “cra” and then repeated. Use sparingly.) Ikea is a natural visit for a new move, but these picks are totally distracting me to throw a house-warming instead of keeping my eye on the prize: outfitting our new place!

Also, the striped bags are practically yodeling my name. Which Ikea item is catching your eye while still being kind to your wallet?

I was so excited to visit the London-based Top Shop apparel store for the first time on our final day in New York. It’s the only brick and mortar shop they have in the U.S. and it has four floors of  pure fashion eye candy. Unfortunately, my body was so worn out from all the walking that I actually didn’t enjoy it, rather, I searched for the closest chair (on the top floor) and sat for ten minutes. Ridiculous, I know, but I had definitely shopped more than I anticipated I would in the previous days.

Are you a big fan of Top Shop? What’d you think of their collaboration with Kate Moss?

One of my good friends recently graduated from NYU so we thought it was about time to take our first “real” trip to New York City to  celebrate her accomplishment and explore the city. Fortunately for us, we’ll be there for longer than 24 hours. I can’t wait to visit the MET, enjoy treats at the Pop Bar and Shake Shack, have a picnic with Christine, Jon and her friends at  Central Park and hopefully meet up with some old and new friends alike!

Like before, if you have a great suggestion, a favorite hang out, or restaurant you’ve been dying to try in NYC, I’d love to hear it! Your suggestions completely made our Chicago trip and I can’t wait to hear what you love most in The Big Apple! Thanks friends!

{awesome illustration by Fernado Volken Togni}

I love the way stylists turn everyday objects into a work of art. Stella Nicolaisen is definitely one of those gifted artistic stylists. She’s responsible for these photos created for artisan plate and tableware provider Rorstrand and all I can say is that fine dining never looked so good.

What stylist or styling has been catching your eye as of late?

Obsessed with these cloth tied garlands made by Styled Creative. Hoping to make one of these for an end of summer shindig a friend and I are planning. If you were going to make one, where would you go to search for fabrics? Any discount places online that you like?

If you made a garland like this, what colors would you incorporate? If you’ve made this before, I’d love to hear some tips!

Giordano’s
Price: $ – $$
Rating: Meh…. 
Something You Should Know
: There is a 30 minute wait if you order a stuffed pizza.

A reader specifically told me to skip the deep dish pizza because she felt it was overrated, but I have such an affinity for pizza that I couldn’t resist. Sadly, I felt like the coveted deep dish pizza was uninteresting and just a lot more cheese and calories filled with each bite. Looking back, I wish I had tried at least one more pizza place, but after this experience I decided to pursue other foodie endeavors.

Just Indulge
Price: $
Rating: Pretty good!
Yummy concretes and chocolate goodies made in-house. I had the vanilla concrete mixed with caramel and added a toffee bar on top. Yum!

{We made some friends from Florida while waiting in line! Definitely a highlight!}

Hot Doug’s
Price: $
Rating: Don’t miss out!
Something You Should Know: Bring Cash and expect a wait
It’s on Anthony Bourdain’s “13 Places to Eat Before You Die ” article for a reason! I’ve never had a hot dog quite this good and I’ve never seen a hot dog joint with both good ol’ hot dog, bratwurst and sausage combinations as well as gourmet options. I love the personality of the restaurant as well. For instance there is a dog called The Salma Hayek and below its name in parenthesis it says “Formerly the Madonna, the Raquel Welch and the Ann-Margret” with the description simply saying “Mighty Hot!” Hilarious!

Kuma’s Corner
Price: $$
Rating: Pretty good
Something You Should Know: The burgers are bigger than your face, they have a great beer selection and there’s generally a long wait.

The burgers here were pretty good: a generous size, fresh toppings, nicely melted cheese. What disappointed me was the quality of their sides. Jon had their chips and I ordered their fries and they were nothing to write home about, but I understand that the star of the dish is the burger of course. Just thought it was worth mentioning! The customer service was great and considering it’s a heavy metal joint that’s open until 2am, Jon and I can’t say we were too bothered by the music selection or atmosphere.

 

Doughnut Vault 
Price: $$
Rating: My mouth is salivating at the sheer thought of having a DV donut…..
Something You Should Know:  Cash only + They open at 8:30 and close whenever they sell out so don’t dilly dally when making a trip out!

The buttermilk doughnut is $2 and the glaze donuts $3. Easily the most expensive donut you’ve ever paid for, but clearly also worth their price once biting into them. The above photos are of their chocolate glaze, vanilla glaze and pistachio donuts!  And I don’t think the photos do a good job of conveying the size of these donuts. They are huge! In addition to their  donut’s visually pleasing appearance, don’t you just love the way they’ve designed their exterior with the vintage painted menu and blue paint? I couldn’t get enough photos of it!


XOCO
Price: $$
Rating: Pretty good
Something You Should Know: A contemporary Mexican sandwich restaurant started by the renown chef, Rick Bayless.

Jon and I ordered two entrees, but the one above is the one that I think is more than worth raving about! The bread in XOCO’s sandwiches lean towards the crispier (aka kind of cuts your mouth up) side, but when dipped into this spicy flavorful soup, it’s a myriad of flavor, textures and ingredients in each bite. Top it off with their limonade (lime instead of lemon) and you’re golden! Unfortunately I can’t remember exactly what this entrée is called, but after looking at the menu it might be the Ahogada.

Julius Meinl
Price: $$
Rating: Yummy in my tummy
Something You Should Know: It’s a European based restaurant.

Their egg bakes are the bomb and I loved their bread pudding-like French toast. Yums!

Wormhole
Price: $
Rating: Pure Awesomeness
Something You Should Know: Don’t miss out on their delicious macaroons for just a $1!

Humorous, chill, and old school (did you see the NES!) would be the three adjective I’d use to describe the atmosphere of this coffee shop and absolutely delicious would express how much we loved their coffee and macaroons. The Wormhole received great ratings on Yelp and we could clearly see why. It’s located in the artsy district of Wicker Park (shout out Laura!) and it’s completely worth the trip (I shopped at some local thrift stores while Jon was sippin’ on iced coffee).

Big Star
Price: $
Rating: Rocked my world
Something You Should Know: It’s located in Wicker Park and it doesn’t have a sign that says the name of the restaurant, it just has that red and black star.

I mean, it’s clear to see that the place is just cool. It’s even better to know that the food is great too. That pork and pineapple taco, known as the Tacos Al Pastor, above was my absolute favorite. I want ten of those right now! Jon somehow managed to devour the loaded  Sonoran hot dog that had a bacon wrapped dog topped with pinto beans, lime mayo, and the essence of life. Just kidding, but seriously it was difficult even attempting to bite into the hot dog because of its size. The beer battered tilapia taco was also scrumptious!

Bon Bon Vietnamese Sandwiches (aka Banh Mi)
Price: $
Rating: Get in my belly
Something You Should Know: Cash only + Featured as one of Chicago’s top cheap eats!

Okay, down to our final eatery! It was 9:45 at night, I was hankering for one last Chicago treat and Bon Bon happened to be open and down the street from where we were staying. It was meant to be. The above photo is the pic we took when we came back the next morning to eat there one more time since Jon was too full the night before from eating the “heart attack in a hot dog” at Big Star to eat a sandwich (meaning I ate a sandwich by myself…yes, I love food that much). We only had the opportunity to try their ginger chicken and charred pork banh mi but they were both phenomenal and less than $5 each. When you’re eating out so much, it’s nice to have a break on your wallet while not compromising a tasty filling meal. Oh, and the Thai tea and surprisingly their crinkle sweet potato fries were wonderful as well. Be sure to ask for their special Sirachi mayo sauce and say hello to the owner. He’s a sweetheart!

——

Here are a few basic foodie tips Jon and I have to offer from our experience in Chicago:

TIP 1: I have recently appreciated Urban Spoon much more than Yelp because the site lists the top 10 Foodie Finds in the area that bloggers and food critics alike are discussing. This is how we discovered both the Donut Vault and Kuma’s Corner.

TIP 2: BRING CASH!  We can’t tell you how many locations were cash only!

TIP 3: Be ready to travel all around the city for good food. It can be kind of time-consuming to figure out which buses and trains you’ll take to get to a certain area, but it’s worth discovering all the different pockets of a city and trying the best local restaurants that you can’t experience at home.

——-

A HUGE thank you goes out to those of you who were kind enough to share your recommendations with me. It deeply influenced our trip and enhanced our Chicago experience! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m still feeling full from the trip (and that was two weeks ago). Gotta love this blogging community!

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