Always Aubrey: May 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

Larchmont Bungalow

My Uncle in LA always takes us to the best places!  When we had a chance to have breakfast with our grandparents, he suggested the nearby Larchmont Bungalow.  Not only was it on the most adorable street near a farmer's market, but it was just jam-packed with everything delicious.

Things I didn't eat... but wanted to.

More things I wanted to eat, but didn't.


We ordered a variety of breakfast foods to share... from vegetarian omelets to crepes to French toast and pancakes!  Everything we had was good.  You order at the counter and seating is first-come first-served, but they bring everything to your table.  It's just very good food.

I'd go back to Larchmont Bungalow in a heartbeat... if I lived in the area, it would be a regular favorite!

Crepes


Pancakes and French Toast

Family!


Larchmont Bungalow on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 30, 2013

California: Griffith Park, more Ktown, and Santa Monica

For my second day on my SoCal trip, the cousins all went on a hike in Griffith Park...  we got a workout on the steep, sandy hills overlooking Griffith Observatory and the Greek Theatre.  We had some great views of Los Angeles, through the smog!

All the U.S. cousins

Aza, the Frenchie, loves to hike!

Afterwards, we headed to my cousin's apartment for even more Korean BBQ.  But this time, it was delicious kalbi, my absolute favorite!  I gorged.


Our uncle dropped us off at Wi Spa jjimjilbang after lunch, to shower and relax until dinnertime.  We ate even more Korean food with him then, plus a stop at Miss Coffee for some patbingsu, a red bean ice cream concoction with mochi and fruit and more.  It was intense.

Patbingsu
We spent our last full day in California enjoying even more food and shopping.  We had breakfast in Larchmont with our grandparents (review to follow), shopped in Santa Monica (I got a new Madewell bag!), saw the Star Trek movie (love!), and had one last Korean meal with the family.  It was a busy, but fun weekend.  I feel like I was there for longer than I was, but in a good way.  We just did so much.  I'd love to go back next year.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Shabby Apple Dresses

I love vintage silhouettes, so I've been tracking the website Shabby Apple for a while.  They have a ton of new styles that really look like vintage clothing.  Sometimes I even look to their dresses in particular as sewing ideas to aspire to!

Here are a few I'd snatch up on an online spree...

Racquet Club Dress
One for My Baby Dress
L'Or Belle Dress

Have you ever bought a dress from Shabby Apple?  What do you love from their site?

California: Long Beach, Koreatown

For Memorial Day weekend, Sissy, our cousin SS, and I flew into LAX to spend a weekend with our Korean side of the family.  We flew from Phoenix, Nashville, and NYC respectively, and it had been years since the Three Musketeers were reunited.  It was a fantastic weekend!


Amy and I came in earliest, and our uncle picked us up.  Since he had business in Long Beach, he took us to eat at the famous Parkers' Lighthouse for lunch.  I ordered a delicious Kobe burger with sweet potato fries that he recommended... it was perfect!  I asked Uncle requested a table with a view, and we weren't disappointed. My sister had a club sandwich, my uncle a salad, and everything was fresh and delicious.

The location is in a very touristy location, so I imagined it was mostly popular with out-of-towners... but that weekend there were definitely private parties for graduation happening, so its long history in the area definitely makes it a destination for a little bit of everyone.

Parkers' Lighthouse on Urbanspoon


After lunch, Sissy and I had a few hours to explore the many shops, enjoy the scenery, and just relax!  We ended up finding a sunny spot in the grass, overlooking the Queen Mary and a cruise ship that was docked at port.



We were excited to see our Korean family for dinner that night, and knowing I am a bit of a carnivore they decided to take us to Man Soo Korean BBQ.  It wasn't the typical Korean BBQ I'd been to; the meats were marinated.  Instead, we cooked them at the table with onions, sprouts, garlic, and other sauces.  Uncle even gave out shot of soju.  It was a great meal, with lots of small plates that everyone shared.

It was so good to see my grandparents and my cousins.  I don't get to see them enough.

Not a bad way to spend a half-day in California!  :)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Korean Sauna Experience (Jjimjilbang)

I lived in Korea from around age 5 to age 10... my mother is from Seoul, so it was a great formative experience to get to know her culture (and some of our extended family) overseas.  There were definitely some Korean culture traits that did NOT carry over into adulthood (kimchi, burping at meals, sharing entrees, maintaining ivory pale skin, and views on tattoos/piercings).... but there were others that did: respect for elders, not wearing shoes indoors, and appreciation for public baths to name a few.

Wi Spa in LA

Public baths?!  Say what?  When I was younger, and we lived in Korea, I would go with my mother to the Jjimjilbang, or sauna.  The Jjimjilbang consists of two parts.... one is a co-ed sauna, where everyone wears matching pajamas issued to you by the staff.  You sit on ondol (heated) floors, even drink and eat as you relax.  You also pop into the different varieties of sauna, from ice sauna to salt sauna to traditional clay.  It's a social event, and it's warm and relaxing.  Sitting overnight with your pals at a the Jjimjilbang is cheaper than staying at a hotel.

Example of public sauna area (source)

The other part of the Korean sauna experience is segregated by gender.  This is the public bath portion, where you enter a giant wet room of naked bath experience.  There are shower stalls, low shower heads with hoses and stools to sit on, buckets, dry and wet sauna, and a variety of public tubs... the tubs are typical ice cold, warm, then super-hot, sometimes with a rose water or green tea tub too.

Typical spa (source)

You can also purchase services like massage, facials, and scrubbing.  The scrubbing is the best part.

I don't remember the order of the ritual, but my Mom would have me soak, then go into a sauna, then soak again, then she'd scrub me until I'm red all over.  You could see grey pills of dead skin exfoliate off my body...  it was gross but simultaneously fantastic.  Then you'd jump in another tub and restart the process over again.  You feel ten pounds lighter.  Seriously.  And you need someone else to help you or it just isn't the same.

My American friends do not understand this... even at age 28 my mother will still offer to bathe me when I visit her.  But it's as comforting and normal to me as apple pie.

On my recent trip to LA, my sister, cousin and I all enjoyed HOURS of Korean bath goodness.  Yes, you're surrounded by woman of all ages, shapes, and sizes in the buff.  But there's just complete acceptance there.  I've never felt cleaner!  We were at the Wi Spa, which I highly recommend.  It was interesting because this was the first one I'd been to where you saw non-Korean people, but apparently the secret is spreading and lots of folks are embracing the experience.  I can't wait for another chance to go back.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bargain Shopping: JCPenney and Forever21

I've been bargain hunting lately, but I've also been returning things that haven't worked out, a la my friend Caroline.  Here are a few keepers I discovered!

You guys, I rock a one-piece.  I love my two-piece swimsuits (even as a curvy girl) but I have this thing for vintage swim silhouettes.  I scored this Liz Claiborne swimsuit for $38 during a sale at JCPenney and I can't begin to tell you how flattering it is.  I feel sexy and va-va-voom!  Even full price it's a steal over my Jantzen Vamp Maillots.

JCPenney, $64 ($38-46 on sale!)

I also found a clearance Duro Olowu skirt for $8 at JCPenney that was perfect for traveling.  I don't think the photo does it justice, because it was much more flared in real life.  It needs to be worn higher so it accentuates the narrowest part of your waist, but I love the length and material.  The elastic waistband (dare I say it!) makes it forgiving and comfy too.

JCPenney, $35

I was in-store at a Forever 21 during a business trip (I know, not online, shocking!) and found some adorable pieces that I couldn't resist.  They all had peplum/peter pan collar/accents that are very on-trend, but also something that I just identified as ME.  Am I getting closer to a personal style?  Maybe!  (BTW, actually finding these pieces online for this post awas nearly impossible!)  The long-sleeve blouse is hands-down my new favorite shirt.  I love it with skinny jeans!
Forever 21 Contrast Peter Pan Collar Shirt, $22.80

Forever 21 Star Print Peplum Top, $19.80

Forever 21 Contrast Peplum w/Neckerchief, $17.80 

Have any good shopping hauls lately?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Taliesin West

Taliesin West was the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright and his apprentices.  Sissy and I took the house tour, and it was a fantastic insight into the mind of this strange, but great architect!  I think the photos speak greater than I could about it.




Sissy and me... you can tell who lives in AZ, eh?  #pale




I love architecture and houses as museums.  How about you?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Phoenix, the Encore

When I returned to Tucson after my week on business, I had the most indulgent afternoon at the Joya Spa at Montelucia.  It was the nicest spa I'd ever been to.  I enjoyed lunch sunning on their private terrace, took a dip in the pool, explored the steam rooms and sauna (there's even an ice shower!), and took a refreshing cat nap in their Whisper Zone.  That's right, there's a room just for napping, with plush beds and curtains.  Sigh.


Sissy hooked me up for sure, treating me afterward to some sliders and a shake at Chicago Hamburger Co.  You guys, this was better than In-N-Out Burger.


I had two cheese burgers sliders and a super-thick vanilla shake.  We split some fries.  It may have been my favorite meal in Arizona!  The quality of it all was fantastic.  We stayed until closing (it's only open until 8pm, closed on Sundays) devouring it.  This place may not look like much on the outside, but inside you're transported to Chicago.  If I come back, I'll try a hot dog!  They have beef franks that look awesome.
Chicago Hamburger Co. on Urbanspoon

We also checked out Singh Farms, Taliesin West (post to follow later!), and had an evening of drinks at The Duce.


Singh Farms
I've gotta say, The Duce is a fascinating concept.  Think open warehouse space converted into hipster playground.  There's a second-hand store, prohibition-era cocktails in Mason jars, mini cakes and pies, ping pong tables, and plenty of space to mingle amongst the mix-n-match furniture.  Serious hipster dreamland.

The Duce (source)

I had a great time in Phoenix with my sister... and I'll be spending another weekend with her (and more family!) soon in sunny Los Angeles!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tucson

I spent a week in Tucson for work... but it was an awesome time.  Why?  We were staying at the gorgeous, swanky, JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa.

View from my room.  For real.

Not only was my room fantastic, but the food and facilities were top notch!  From conference rooms to ball rooms to terraces to bars... I could have spent another week there.  I didn't get to explore their trails or pools (they even have a lazy river) or the fantastic restaurant and spa... There's even a Starbucks!

Our one Tucson adventure involved getting lost on the way to Hotrod's, which was a kitschy restaurant filled with racing themed furniture and paraphernalia.  The terrace was nice, and I enjoyed all the opportunities we had to socialize.


I also accomplished one more must while in Arizona.... In-N-Out Burger!  This west-coast-only fast food joint it a guilty pleasure of mine.  And I'm not the only one.  A group of coworkers and I made a late-night trip to In-N-Out to satisfy our craving.  YUM!



I had a fantastic time in Tucson!  I would love to come back to the same resort someday.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Jerome

Jerome, Arizona is a quirky old mining town up in the hills, not too far from Sedona.  Sissy took me there after our hike, so I could see it.  After miles of switchbacks, we made it up the hill to explore.



Jerome was a booming little mining town back in the day, with plenty of brothels apparently.  (One madam was the richest woman in the U.S. before her murder, or so I'm told.)  It was booming.  Then the mines closed in the 1950s, and everyone just left.  No one could sell their homes, they just packed up.

One of many historic plaques

Later, past residents and a bunch of, well, hippies decided to make Jerome a destination.  Now there are ghost tours, wineries, a candy shop, galleries, even the "world's largest" kaleidoscope store.  It has adorable restaurants and stores too, with historic plaques everywhere to tell its interesting history.

One of many former brothels...

I wish we'd had more time to spend in Jerome, but it was a nice day trip and walk to break up our day.  Definitely worth checking out, because it is just plain unique!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sedona

Arizona is gorgeous.  You can drive thirty minutes and see like three different kinds of landscapes.  A couple hours from Phoenix is Sedona, which I'd only driven through before.  Sissy decided it would be fun for us to go hiking in the beautiful red rock formations.


We went to Bell Rock for our hike.  I am incredibly out of shape, but the rock was really easy to grip with any kind of shoes.

This is Bell Rock.  Blogger wouldn't let me rotate my photo so this is a substitute.  (source)

What I liked once we got higher in the hike was how peaceful and quiet it was.  Gorgeous!!!

Seriously, no filter.  This is straight from the camera.

Sedona itself is very touristy, with lots of psychics and the whole crystal vortex thing.  Lots of shops and restaurants too!  We even stopped at a Native American market just north of town, where it started to look like a forest!  (Closer to Flagstaff it feels like you're out East.)

It was a gorgeous day in Arizona!
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