Don’t Knock Coach. Coach is having a complete brand revival, and we should listen.

Earlier this year, I  bought my third Coach handbag in a one year period.  For the bag snobs out there, hold on a second — all of my other bags are Prada, Fendi, Lanvin, etc.  However, Coach has had an absolute brand revival.  They’ve gone from being the equivalent of Shop Rite [or insert any average grocery store], to Whole Foods, in only a few years.  Coach was a struggling and deeply asleep brand.

Coach, before…  Before this revival in the past few years, Coach was doing a lot of canvas bags, lots of logo bags, steep discounts, and out of touch with the consumer.  (Meanwhile all types of similarly priced brands cropped up.)  Coach didn’t seem to be focusing on handbag fashion, and it was definitely not seen as a luxury brand.  Coach has taken a lot of measures to improve their rundown brand image.

New people in charge.  There are two notable key players at Coach.  The first is Victor Luis, the CEO, who had a great vision and idea of what he had to do to revitalize the brand during his leadership.  The second is Stuart Vevers, who is the Executive Creative Director, and has previously designed for Bottega Vennetta and Burberry to name a few.   In fact, Stuart Vevers recently won “Accessory Designer of the Year” award from Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA) — well-deserved!

New boutique and merchandise strategies.  Some of the biggest things the brand has done is remove a lot of their merchandise from department stores, and close a lot of Coach locations.  Instead, they have shifted their focus on the quality and prestige of Coach boutiques.  Deeply discounting merchandise, has also become a thing of the past.  The brand has had to re-educate and re-train consumers on why it is worthwhile to pay for Coach.  Below are some pictures from the NYC flagship:img_5157

 

Fresh and revitalized products.  Now, Coach is focusing on their classic glove-tanned leather craftsmanship.  They are trying hard to turn themselves back into the luxury American brand that they used to be quite a while ago.  They are trying to keep up American tradition while bringing some European elegance to their products and collections.

Collaborations and brand image.  Coach has collaborated and obtained partnerships with fresh, vibrant, fashionistas.  The brand collaborated with the Mulleavy sisters, designers of the edgy brand Rodarte on their collection.  For those of you who have been living under a rock, Selena Gomez is the brand’s main model.  She has been featured in the advertising, as well as representing the brand by wearing it to the Met Gala, for example.

Market timing and new demands.  Right now is a great time for Coach, when prices for handbags are in the $4,000 – $6,000 and above range for premier designer bags.  The US consumer is more conscious and looking to invest in good quality handbags and items, without having to spend thousands.

Most recent purchase. This grey bag was my most recent purchase, and I always get so many compliments on this bag.  People are always so puzzled when they find out it’s Coach.  They usually guess Chloe and Celine.  What I love about the bag is the discreet and interesting closure, and the fact that the decorate portion is not comprised of sequins, but of actual beautiful leather.

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Here is the second bag I purchased around December 2017/January 2018 to wear on casual going-out nights.  It has interwoven leather, and the chain can be worn in two different ways — long and short.

They had two versions of the black bag that I was deciding between when I bought it:img_5140

I’ve gotten some good mileage our of this one:

This bag is the first one that I bought in 2017.  I also could not help but buying the leather black dinosaur bag charm called “Rexy” which has become an icon for Coach.  There is actually a giant dinosaur in their Fifth Avenue NYC flagship location that is made of handbags, wallets, etc.

I’m also not the only one who has been enjoying Coach.  My husband seriously can’t get enough of his backpack.  This backpack has been around Arizona, Florida, and is always parading around Manhattan!  There he goes with his Saks bag and Coach bag lol  This must have been the day he got the backpack!

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This backpack is always relaxing in nice places…

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I’m excited to see what else Coach brings to the table.  Cheers to many more backpacks, bag charms, and handbags!

 

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Minetta Tavern Review: Cool, Hectic, and Cocktail-Forward

Minetta Tavern is one of the those places that I had always heard about, but had never actually been.  My husband really wanted to try it, whether it was for dinner or brunch.  We had our hearts set on Sushi Yasuda for dinner, so we opted to go to Minetta for brunch.  I think going to a place for brunch is a good way to try somewhere new without committing to a long dinner.

All I knew before going to Minetta Tavern was that it’s an old classic New York establishment and that it was famous for meat.  I had seen it appear on several notable “Best Steakhouse” lists over the years.  Minetta Tavern is definitely classic New York.  It has been around since the mid 1900s, and use to be the hangout spot of Ernest Hemingway and E.E. Cummings to name a few.  The people who used to hang out there probably wouldn’t be able to afford it now, but that’s the theme of many of the historic NYC establishments.

Here we are en route like we’re embarking on some special covert operation mission.  Someone’s complaining on SnapChat about me copying his Porsche Design sunglasses.  Smh.  Who bought those sunglasses?

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The outside of the restaurant is inconspicuous for a one Michelin star restaurant.  Don’t mind me, just adjusting my coat:IMG_0474.JPGAfter you walk through the front door, you go through a thick velvet curtain, and then you’re at the hostess stand.  I felt immediately warm!  It’s the perfect place to go on a gray, cold, windy day when you want to escape the outside.  Minetta Tavern is very cozy, and has an extremely hectic but romantic feel to it.  It’s very compact, the ceilings are low, and it’s a cramped space for sure.  It definitely gives off the cool Parisian vibe that it’s trying to evoke.  Aren’t all Parisian bistros too small?  Lol.

We sat at the bar because the restaurant was full of reservations, the space is small and we didn’t feel like waiting for a table.   They do have coat check, and I highly suggest checking coats whether you’re at the bar or at a table.nXy2Cla9QmqVoI%2wq2jQw.jpgHere’s our spot at the bar and my “Minetta Mary.”  I plan to sit at the bar again next time, unless I am able to reserve one of the private booths because the back was just too cramped for me.  It’s also fun to watch the bartenders make cocktails, and see what types of drinks other people are ordering.  Also, I absolutely love that they put a white dinner napkin at your bar spot.  It not only elevates the experience, but it stakes your territory at the bar and defines your space.h2H9kYyWQtmeknYjbIDVtg.jpgThe brunch menu has its own twist, and you’re also able to order certain items from their regular dinner menu.   fullsizeoutput_3398.jpegI had originally planned on eating steak or a big juicy burger, but I really needed some vegetables.  I know, I know, you’re judging my order, but I was here for the experience and I was not able to handle a meat meal at that moment.  Next time, I plan to go starving, and order their famous “Black Label Burger” or one of their meat cuts.  My husband had the “Minetta Omelette” and I had the “Avocado & Eggs On Balthazar Levain.”  Balthazar bread is obviously amazing and the radish and tomato salsa was fresh, fragrant, and exactly what I was craving.  (Note: Keith McNally, the restauranteur who opened Minetta Tavern, also runs Balthazar.  The styles of the restaurants are all very similar — French, bistro, brasserie, fogged mirrors, dim lighting, you get the picture.)vr+2LUywRpe%mR2%p10Eug%ZAPcnfAQr2ue4lGUP6twA1ee7ZjdfRSuhZ2gQ7Ob4awWe had to move on and run a couple errands during the day, so we were not able to try more rounds of cocktails.  They definitely have an extensive cocktail menu, and everything they made while we were at the bar looked delicious.  At the end of the meal, they hand you the bill paper-clipped to a Minetta Tavern postcard:stHhPxXwS5eRvFXNGxeQgg.jpg

Au revoir Minetta Tavern!

Links to reviews:

Yelp 4.0

TripAdvisor 4.0

OpenTable 4.6

Yukie Beauty Spa: A Midtown East/Upper East Side Nail Art Salon

My friend at work was going to get nail art, and it reminded me how much I love getting nail art.  Now that the weather is finally starting to warm up, I’m getting excited about wearing more colors and bright nails are definitely on my horizon soon.  I have a favorite Japanese nail art salon in midtown called Yukie Beauty Spa.  For months, I was going there consistently, but I was working in a conservative environment and I felt like I was pushing the outer limits with my nail designs.  A little about Yukie Beauty:

  • The salon uses Calgel and BioSculpture Gel which is thick, lasts long time, and can be used to slightly lengthen nails.  Most other gel manicures are thinner in comparison, and are not used to extend nail length.  (There are other gels and regular nail polish available at Yukie, but their true skill is nail art.)
  • The nail technicians can do anything that you request with your nails.  They truly are artists.  They can create shapes on your nails, they can paint them with specific designs, and they can also adhere stones and little objects.  I recommend bringing pictures of what you want, because it’s easier to communicate what you’re looking for visually rather than verbally.  (Especially, since many of the technicians that I’ve had mainly speak Japanese.)
  • The gel manicures have lasted me about 3 – 4 weeks without chipping.  The issue is that by that point your nails area so grown out that you have to get them redone.
  • My manicures have run me about $60-$70 depending on the amount of nail art.  This is reasonable in comparison with some places that start a little higher.
  • The salon space itself is small, and has about four spots available for manicures.  (There is also a connected hair salon, but I have not been there.)  They offer you a water, tea, etc. when you’re there.  One thing I really like is that they have a basket right next to your chair for your handbag.  I never put my bag on the floor!
  • It is located on a second floor walk-up right off Madison Avenue on 58th Street.  It’s right by Tao Uptown and the Four Seasons.  If you’re meeting someone right after, or have a significant other waiting — I suggest the bar at Tao.

This is my first gel manicure from Yukie.  I tried it right after Christmas, and right in time for my birthday:img_5102-2-2603144411-1519516169962.jpg

Here is one time I requested nude beige-toned nails, and a lotus shape flowed with a spec of gold in the middle:img_5512-1

This is a nautical design that I had during the summer.  It had navy stripes, and a small red heart accent:

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This is a more simple peachy-tan colored design, with a small printed black and gold line on the accent nails:img_6924

This an example of when they painted little leopard spots that I requested on my ring fingers.  Please excuse how grown out my nails are in this photo.  This is when I was completely overdue to change my nails at four weeks.img_5449-1

This is a pink and rhinestone racecar-like design I got right before a summer Europe trip:img_6253

Now that I don’t work in a conservative environment, I cannot wait to dream up exotic and neon designs!  The sky is the limit!

Link to reviews:

Yelp 4.5

20 Things To Do in Seattle, Washington

This is not a list of the biggest tourist attractions in Seattle.   This is a list of things that I have enjoyed in Seattle, and yes, some of the items are considered tourist attractions. They are in no particular order, so do not read into the numbering as a ranking.  I have also included a bit of hotel advice at the bottom of the article.  Happy trip planning!

20.  Pike Place Market — Let’s just get this one out of the way.  Pike Place Market is a big farmers market with locally grown food and locally sourced fish.  There are also lots of little artisan shops, and vendors displaying handcrafted pieces made by local artists.

The famous spot where you might be able to catch a fish!

Fish, fish, fish all over the market!!!

A cool little store with unique jewelry and lots of Native American real and inspired artifacts.  I even did a little rock and crystal shopping…

These are some other vendors stands where they sell handmade items, natural soaps and body lotions, and the list goes on.  The chapstick and bars of soap from All Things Lavender are incredible, and smell so perfumey and wonderful.  I will definitely be buying more soaps and chapsticks next time I visit Seattle!

19.  Lowell’s Restaurant for breakfast — I really like Lowell’s for breakfast/brunch.  It has a great view of Puget sound, and it’s the perfect place to watch boats and barges going back and forth.  The seafood comes directly from Pike Place Market, and fish is incorporated into almost everything.  Their breakfast menu is extensive, and almost every single dish has salmon or Dungeness Crab incorporated into the item.  I also highly suggest the cocktails, which also have all seafood worked into many of them.  The Bloody Mary’s that come topped with fresh crab and seafood are delicious.  img_5361-1-1607219076-1518479037702.jpgimg_0300img_5351IMG_0409img_5356-1.jpg

18.  Walk by the original Starbucks location — The original Starbucks location is right across from Pike Place Market. I have never had coffee there because I refuse to stand in line, and it’s a tourist attraction rather than where any Seattleites get coffee. I put this on the list because it’s fascinating that this one coffee shop became an empire and revolutionized the coffee shop industry.  (If you look carefully on the picture below, you’ll see mannequins standing on the balconies . . . interesting . . . )img_5380

17.  Voxx Coffee — If you’re hanging out around downtown Seattle shopping and walking around, I suggest Voxx Coffee to start your day or take an afternoon break.   It has beautiful high industrial type ceilings, interesting light fixtures, and a lot of the decorations are meant to evoke an old school classroom feeling.

16.  The original Nordstrom — Seattle is where Nordstrom started, and right in the middle of downtown is the Nordstrom flagship store.  I recommend visiting, and they even recently renovated in the past few years.  The store has an inviting set-up, and has a bar at the top where shoppers can stop for a quick break and drink to regroup.  I do some shopping there every time I go to Seattle, since there’s no Nordstrom in Manhattan and it feels like a bit of a novelty.  Right next to Nordstrom, there’s also Nordstrom Rack, which is the outlet version of the store.  I also made my way to Nordstrom Rack, and found a few amazing designer items that otherwise would have been almost $400 each.  You can’t go wrong either way!

15.  See’s Candies — See’s Candies is a West Coast time-honored chocolate tradition.  While the iconic brand started in Los Angeles in the early 1900s, it truly is a West Coast brand.  They have a cute shop in downtown Seattle, steps away from Nordstrom.  Their old-fashioned black and white interiors will make you feel like you’re in a candy shop from a different era.  While Warren Buffet’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, has been the owner since 1972, the company has kept its signature look, and is as sweet and good as it was in the 1900s.

14.  Drinks at the Four Seasons — Views, views, views . . . and a little luxury in Seattle.   The Four Seasons Seattle is right by Pike Place Market.  It’s only two blocks from the restaurant Lowell’s that I recommended above so the views from the restaurant Goldfinch Tavern overlooking Puget Sound are about the same; however, the ambiance is very different.  I equate the environment at Goldfinch to a luxury lake home.  All of the seating was plush and comfortable, incorporated a lot of wood, dim lighting, and was inviting yet exuded a certain opulence.  Cocktails range in the $15-$20 area, with an elegant menu to go alongside the drinks.

Perfect opportunity to change into new earrings I had just bought from Nordstrom.  Making myself right at home . . . img_0289

13.  Alki Beach — A fun feature about Seattle is that water taxis are fairly prevalent.  If the weather is mild enough or you’re in Seattle during the summer, I suggest taking a quick water taxi to Alki Beach.  There’s a long stretch of beach with walking and bike paths.  It’s a relaxing spot to take a walk, and there a couple of restaurants to grab a bite and enjoy the Seattle city view.img_5834

12.  Take a Ferry Ride — The ferry system is extremely developed in Seattle, and it is one of the biggest systems of its kind in the United States.  We had an overnight trip planned when we visited Seattle, and one of the legs of the trip was to take a ferry to Friday Harbor on the San Juan islands.  The ferry was pleasant and it was about an hour ride.  I suggest planning a day or short overnight trip, if you’re visiting Seattle for longer than two days.

11.  Chihuly Glass Museum — Dale Chihuly, born in Tacoma, Washington, has become somewhat of an institution around the US and the world.  He’s one of the most famous glass sculptors of our time.  His handblown glass art sculptures are around the US, grandly displayed in places such as Las Vegas, Dubai (in Atlantis the Palm), and even on exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden.  In Seattle, there’s a permanent exhibition of Chihuly’s work right next to the Space Needle.  Chihuly Garden and Glass has a very large indoor and outdoor exhibit, showcasing so many amazing Chihuly pieces.

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You’ll be able to take a picture of the Space Needle, because you’ll be right next to it.img_6124

10.  Canlis — Canlis is the Eleven Madison Park of Seattle.  It is by far the most expensive restaurant in Seattle.  Dinner will be pricey, coming in at least in the $300-$500 range, depending on alcohol consumption.  (They offer an exquisite wine pairing, or you can order a la carte from the wine menu.)  The price is well worth it, and every course is a work of art that you will want to take photos of from every angle before you eat it.  The restaurant itself is in a mid-century home, but it feels more like a fancy treehouse hidden in the woods.  There’s a small cocktail lounge seating area when you walk in, with a musician playing at the grand piano.  I recommend starting with a cocktail, and enjoying the ambiance before you sit down for the main event.  Be prepared for a long dinner,  and if you’re like us, we arrived when it was light out, and left when it was pitch black outside!  (Link to reviews: Yelp 4.0, TripAdvisor 4.5)img_5840img_5838img_5839The view from our dining table was incredible:img_5843img_5844

9.  Walk around Capitol Hill — Capitol Hill is about the equivalent to the West Village in New York City.  It originally started out as an artistic and free-spirited neighborhood, with liberal and progressive thinkers.  Over time, similar to the West Village, it has become gentrified and the prices of real estate have sky-rocketed!  It is a great place to walk around, shop, bar-hop, and try out some restaurants.  It is one of the most trendy and desirable places to live and hangout in Seattle.  I loved bar-hopping in Capitol Hill, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the rainbow crosswalks!

8.  Taylor Shellfish — Taylor Shellfish is a longtime family owned oyster spot with happy hour, where the oysters are “tide to table.”  I’ve been to the Capitol Hill location multiple times, and it’s definitely one of my favorite places for oysters in Seattle.   They really try to keep all of the oysters from the Seattle area, so you’ll be hard pressed to find Canada or Oregon oysters.  When you go to Taylor Shellfish, you have to try to the geoduck — pronounced “gooey-duck.”  Geoduck is a Pacific Northwest area clam that looks like a clam with a large snake attached to it (pictured below).

Map showing where all of the seafood comes from:Highly recommend the tequila oyster shooters:Here’s the geoduck keeping fresh in the large seafood basins.  It is such a unique looking creature.I love how all of the clams and oysters are displayed, and stored in the middle of the restaurant.Geoduck (left), oysters, and black sturgeon caviar (in the two small white spoons).

7.  Victrola Coffee — Victrola Coffee is a serious coffee shop and roasting room in Capitol Hill.  (They do also have a couple of other locations, but I suggest the Pike Street location.)  I love getting their espresso here, even though it is a little too strong for me.  I also love that they serve it with a small cup of sparkling water, so that you can cleanse your palate after the coffee.  Trust me, you will need it!

irFJ20gjSoSRicHfHbY6FQwQMpLFswQKib5Orxo3s0sQQk8A1rwTAiSYpqz5ntosw.jpg0ZGf8GxS9m2OJ0he67FUQ.jpg5f7FmlkOQMShMZNPmK5pJQHere’s a goofball Seattle friend with glasses he just found on the sidewalk, being emo, and enjoying an espresso:img_5837

6.  The Pine Box — If you have an appreciation for the supernatural, you might get a kick out of The Pine Box.  It’s a craft beer bar that used to be a mortuary.  The bar even has old photos on display on the wall, so patrons can see what it used to look like.  I recommend coming here for a beer or two, if you’re making your way through Capitol Hill.

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5.  Unicorn Bar — The Unicorn is a classic Seattle bar, with a carnival-themed interior, a large arcade, and skee ball in the basement.  Arcade games are popular in Seattle, and they’re in a lot of bars around the city.  You may recognize this bar because it was featured in Macklemore’s Thrift Shop video.  They also have lots of salty snacks, and I recommend the truffle popcorn while you’re downing beers.  Unicorn is definitely known for their carnival-like cocktails, but somehow I’m always in a cold refreshing beer mood when I go there.img_5437img_5438img_5440img_5445Lime Jell-O shots!img_5446The bedazzled ATM is a nice touch for Unicorn bar’s environment:img_5447Have you seen anyone so excited to get money out of the ATM?  You’d think it was someone else’s bank account lolimg_5449img_5451img_5452

4.  Dick’s Drive-In — True late night eats.  Okay, clearly you can also come here during the day, but I think Dick’s Drive-In is a great night spot.  This burger place was also featured on the Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown Seattle episode.  I highly recommend trying at least one of the plain cheeseburgers, even if you’re going to order a deluxe burger.  They are delicious, and I’m not even the biggest burger person!Look how happy my friend is after eating these delicious cheeseburgers lolMy husband’s starting lineup (fries not pictured) . . . Okay, okay, some of those are mine!!Extreme close up of my second cheeseburger:

3.  Georgetown bars — When you think about Seattle you picture overcast skies, grunge music, flannel, and dive bars.  However, the reality is that with the wild success of Amazon and other Pacific Northwest companies, Seattle has become gentrified, and a lot of the places now cater to highly paid corporate workers–many of whom come from other big US cities and expect a similar environment.  If you want to visit one of the few places in Seattle that still has more of a neighborhood and stereotypically Seattle feel, visit some of the bars in Georgetown along Airport Way.  The neighborhood is industrial, everyone is very casual, and there are also a few breweries and cool places to get wine.

*Side note: A restaurant called The Corson Building is located in Georgetown.  I went this last time I was in Seattle on the insistence of a husband’s friend, but I would not go back again.  The restaurant is one very small room, where you share a communal-style table with others.  Everyone is served each course at the same, because it’s a completely set $80 pre-fixe and everyone in the restaurant eats the same thing.   The concept is farm to table, without a big focus on seafood, and a few of the courses are large plates shared between the table and not individually plated.  There is also an accompanying wine pairing for $60 to go along with the dinner, which was the best part of the meal for me!  (Link to reviews: Yelp 4.0, TripAdvisor 4.0)

2.  The Bellevue Collection (Bellevue, Washington) — Bellevue, Washington is like the Westchester of Seattle, but it’s a lot closer, since unlike Westchester, you don’t have to drive through the entire city of Seattle to get there.  I am adding The Bellevue Collection to my Seattle list because if you’re visiting Seattle for three or four days, it’s a great place to go that’s full of bars, restaurants, a dine-in movie theater, and tons of shopping.  (Especially if you happen to go during a time of extreme rain, and you’re sick of trekking the streets of Seattle in the rain!)  There a mix of high-end restaurants with fun sports bars and pubs, a new W Hotel, and lots of the buildings are connected by convenient outdoor bridges so that you don’t have to walk outside in the rain.  The Bellevue Collection refers to this whole collections of stores, restaurants, hotels, and buildings.  Bellevue Square refers to the name of the original shopping “mall” dare I call it, and it’s the main shopping center.  The last few times my husband and I have stayed in downtown Seattle, but next time we are considering staying at the W Hotel in Bellevue so that we’re close to his parents.

1.  Chateau St. Michelle Winery (Woodinville, Washington) — I highly recommend the 30 minute Uber trip to visit Chateau St. Michelle Winery.  Washington State produces some great wines, and Chateau St. Michelle is one of their best wine procedures.  The grounds are beautiful, there’s lots of lush greenery, and the air feels crisp and clean.  During the summer, the winery has a whole concert series, and lots of famous artists frequently perform at the venue such as Bob Dylan, Gypsy Kings, Josh Groban, and the list goes on.

Notable mention:

If you really need to get your hair done or blown out while you’re in Seattle, I suggest the Gene Juarez salon.  It is the Seattle area’s biggest and most prestigious salon chain.  I went to the downtown Seattle location for a blow out.  I’m only giving this a notable mention because I thought the downtown location could use a little facelift, and they were a bit understaffed for a busy Saturday afternoon.  However, the location is perfect, and there are huge windows looking out onto downtown.  If your significant other needs somewhere to grab a drink while they wait for you, a new bar and restaurant just opened next-door to the salon in Hotel Theodore, called Rider.

Seattle hotel advice:

Obviously, it depends on what you intend to do during your Seattle trip.  As far as Seattle proper goes, I really like staying within walking distance of Pike Place Market, downtown shopping, and Capitol Hill.  When you’re planning where to stay in Seattle, keep in mind that Seattle is extremely hilly.  It is completely uphill from Puget Sound all the way to the direction of Capitol Hill.

  • This last time we stayed at the Grand Hyatt in a Club Access Room.  It’s very easy to walk to Capitol Hill from there, Pike Place Market, and it’s in the middle of the downtown shopping area.  It has bland corporate decor, so if you’re looking for a boutique experience, I would not recommend it.  However, if you’re seeking a clean 4-star hotel with a great location, I suggest staying here and paying for Club Access.  I am suggesting Club Access because we ended up using it so much.  It was great for getting bottled and sparkling waters, quick snack, or enjoying a whiskey or wine, when there isn’t enough time to go somewhere before dinner.

The view from our Elliott Bay View room:

  • The Sheraton Downtown is about a block away from the Grand Hyatt.  I have not stayed here yet, but the hotel lobby looked extremely bright, and very modern.  I would be willing to try it, if I wanted to be in this exact location again.
  • I stayed at the Westin downtown once.  The hotel is very old, and I did not enjoy spending time in our room, even though we had an incredible view from a very high floor.
  • The Fairmont Olympic is one of Seattle’s oldest and most historic hotels.  Think of this hotel as more equivalent to the Waldorf or Plaza in New York, but a more scaled down version.  The hotel has some rooms that are more updated than others, but at the moment the entire block in front of the hotel has been excavated to basement level.
  • The Four Seasons is located right on Puget Sound, one block from Pike Place Market.  I plan to stay here next time I visit Seattle during the summer.  The hotel has an infinity pool and overlooks Puget Sound.  However, the hotel is slightly out of the way of the city, and everything will end up being uphill from there.  Additionally, if you want your trip to be more walkable to fun places like Capitol Hill, then this is definitely not a walkable location, unless you want to hike.

Beyond Proper by Boston Proper: A Catalogue Fashion Company with Great New Summer Clothes

I have never heard of this website/catalogue called Beyond Proper by Boston Proper, but I’m really loving their stuff.  (It seems like one of those online-only boutiques, with lots of cute more trend and seasonal items.)  I just got this catalogue in the mail, and some of their items really have me excited for spring, summer, warm weather, and traveling!

This is the cover of the catalogue:img_5517

Here are some of the pieces that I really like, but would obviously have to try on! 🙂

I love how this bathing suit is low cut in the bottom, and has a very interesting and woven rope-like design deep into the back.  The skirt on the right, I could just imagine being loose and flown, and easy to match with a lot of simple tops in white, black, and maybe even grey.img_5507

Here’s the same skirt shown with a different top below:img_5505

I love this slinky bathing suit top that turns into night.  I could totally see this worn with high-wasted pants for a dinner date.  I think this could be a fun top if your pool time is going to turn into happy hour time.  At the very least, I like the idea that this is a bathing suit, and when you feel like wearing something sparkly you can actually wear it in a city setting without a pool or beach.img_5500

I love the chic design of this bold striped bathing suit, and I think it could be one of those pieces that’s very slimming.  My picture definitely doesn’t do it justice!img_5503

I think this black bathing suit is fun, and could look good on a lot of different people.   I also think you could easily mix-and-match this bathing suit with other bathing you already own.  I also think the flowy top of the bathing suit would be something really fun to wear with shorts for a sweaty bike ride!  img_5508

I love textures and things that have movement.  At first glance this looks like a dress, but it’s actually a two-piece skirt and top that can be worn separately.  I love that there are a lot of outfit options here, and the top can be work with jeans or silky pants, and the bottom can be dressed up in a variety of ways.  The catalogue gives you one idea of wearing it with a white button-down and denim jacket.img_5504

This blue dress is so perfect for a tropical vacation.  I’m ready to pack my bags!img_5506

These two sweetheart off-the-shoulder tops are definitely items you can incorporate into a vacation wardrobe as well as your city wardrobe.  I love that you wouldn’t need a bra with these tops, because when you’re packing, it’s annoying to have to remember the correct bra for every outfit variation.  One less thing to pack here!

These sequined sweatpants are just cool, and I really want a pair.  I would feel totally comfortable wearing these sweatpants to Whole Foods, and enjoying a casual day out.

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These last two items are also notable, and I’d have to see how they fit when I try them on.  Sometimes items like these can be bulky and make you look bigger than you really are due all of the fabric.  From first glance, these items might be better on someone very petite, but would definitely need to try them on.

Can we start counting down to hot weather already???  I can’t wait!!

Cooking Tip: When Making Pasta with Creamy Alfredo-Style Sauces, Boil It With Milk

I’m always looking for ways to improve my cooking and recipes.  One thing that I highly recommend when making creamy pasta, is boiling milk and water.  Some recipes suggest using only milk, but I have had a lot of luck using a proportion of about 3/4 water and 1/4 milk.  If I only have a little bit of milk left, then I just throw in what I have.  I only use skim milk when I use this strategy, but the higher the fat content of the milk, the creamier the pasta will end up.

As when normally making pasta, I still add salt so that the pasta does not stick together.  I’ve tried boiling my pasta with milk both with and without olive oil, and it has turned out well each time.   I happen to like putting in a dash of olive oil because I use skim milk, but if I was using 2% or full fat milk then I would not recommend olive oil

This works with any time of pasta.  I’ve tried it with rotini, linguini, and fettuccine.

Step 1:  Fill pot with water and add salt

Step 2: *Optional* Add olive oil

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Step 3: Add milk and bring water to a boil

Here’s a picture of Step 3 with olive oil added:

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Here’s a picture of Step 3 without any olive oil added:

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Bring the mixture to a boil and throw in whatever pasta you’re making.

Linguini . . . img_2414.jpg

Rotini . . .
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There are so many possibilities with pasta.  Here are a couple of my finished products after boiling pasta with milk 🙂

Pasta alla carbonara:
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Wild shrimp and asparagus fettuccine Alfredo:

 

Use Leftover Cranberries for Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins

I’ve been on a baking tear the beginning of this year.  My husband was tired of his bagel/bialy/protein bars that he rotates for breakfast, so I spoiled him with fresh muffins.  In order to use up cranberries, I made oatmeal cranberry muffins.  I had lots of leftover cranberries from various recipes, and I was looking for something low effort since I made these first thing Saturday morning.  (FYI cranberries stay good in the refrigerator for up to a month, so don’t preemptively throw them away!)  This is an easy recipe, and the muffins are relatively healthy, as they do not contain any butter or white sugar.  I will definitely make these again, and potentially try them with blueberries next time!

Rather than butter, these muffins are instead made with plain yogurt.  I had regular plain Chobani yogurt on hand, so that’s what I used.  The first step to making these muffins is to combine the oats and yogurt and let the mixture sit while you prepare everything else.img_5202-1.jpgNext, I was too lazy to sift the dry ingredients, so I mixed around all of the dry ingredients with a fork.  I added the honey, one egg, and then stirred in the yogurt mixture.Lastly, I added the chopped cranberries.  I didn’t worry about chopping the cranberries too finely, and instead just cut them in half.  Then I stirred until they were evenly distributed.These were very easy to scoop out into a muffin tin prepared with liners.I baked them at 400 degrees for almost 20 minutes, keeping a close eye on them.Look at that height!I kept these muffins refrigerated because it’s warm in my apartment, and it’s better to gently heat them every morning than let them sit out.  I just bought this handy dandy tupperware a couple months ago from Amazon right before I started my holiday baking, and I’m obsessed.  Mmmmm, warm oatmeal cranberry muffins, a delicious breakfast!

Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins Recipe (reprinted and slightly modified from original recipe):

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup halved cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare muffin pan with liners.
  2. In a separate smaller bowl, mix together the oats and yogurt and let the mixture sit.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients.  Add in the honey, olive oil, and then the yogurt and oat mixture.
  4. Evenly stir in the chopped cranberries and lemon juice.
  5. Divide into prepared muffin pan.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.  (I check on my muffins at around 17 minutes first, to make sure they’re not overdone.)

Enjoy!