Virtual Coffee Talk, 0.7 // $150 Nordstrom Back-To-School Giveaway

Hiya!

Three guesses as to where I am right now, and go!

Nope, not New York.

Nope, not Houston.

Nope, not San Francisco.

(Although I've been to all three in the past week and a half, crazy right?)

Actually, I'm in China at the moment! As we speak, I am holed up in a big, fluffy bed on the 49th floor of a fancy hotel in Shanghai, fresh out of the luxurious rain shower and admiring the sparkling views of the city from the window in front of me. Coffee doesn't seem fitting for this occasion, so maybe you'll sip on some tea while we chat? Or maybe a chilled glass of wine?

Tomorrow, we are off to Nanjing, that little big city two hours away from Shanghai by train that I visit almost every summer like clockwork. The sister and I are in town to hang out with our grandparents and extended family, and to fuel up on hotpot and other delicious foods, I'm sure. It's our own little sisterly end-of-summer last hurrah, I guess! Upon going back to the USA next week, I'll have a week chilling in San Francisco and then I'm heading back to Stanford to help out at orientation / to begin the end of my college career. Cue the hyperventilation. 

Over our tea, I'd talk about how 2014 has been so go, go, go. If I were to count up the numbers, I'll find that I've been on a plane, train, or bus more than I've been at home. I've been at home for a total of two weeks this year actually. I'd tell you about how as life-changing and amazing as Europe and even New York were, there's also a special something about visiting China, especially now that it's become an annual thing. Disembarking the plane in Shanghai and being met with the familiar customs line, the commute, even the hotel - it's like waking up in my parallel reality. Europe was about branching out, China is about tending to my roots. And Stanford this upcoming quarter? It'll literally be all about sprawling out in the lawn under the tree with the sun in my face and a book in my hand. (The metaphor's gone out the window by now if you didn't catch on.)

Then, finding that our conversation has gotten a little too deep, we'd liven it up by talking about our Labor Day Weekend (I spent twelve hours on a plane, and you?), and most importantly - what we have on our lists for back-to-school shopping!

To help you out, the magical Jordyn faerie over at The Fairy Princess Diaries is hosting a $150 Nordstrom giveaway to kick off the season. Hop on it, lovelies!


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Houston, We Have A Problem

via
Houston, I believe, is the baby of whatever family it's a member of. I know this because each and every time I step foot off the airplane and into Houston territory, there's a solid wall of thick humidity hitting me with such force like it's jumping up and down and waving frantically, "HI, I'M HERE, DO YOU REMEMBER ME?! HELLO, HI, I MISSED YOU!!"

(As the baby of my family, it's something I'd totally do and so this is simply me relating.)

Houston, or actually the Houstonian suburbs really, is not my favorite place in the world. It's hot, it's humid, there's not much to do 'round these parts.

Except... except... Exfriggincept.

I went into four Gap's in a .0001 mile radius in NYC trying to find these black scalloped shorts, and was told that it would be mission impossible because they now only have "fall stock." Well. SORRY. I went into my hometown Gap for a mere two seconds, and saw - layered ten deep - a stack of the very shorts, and at more than 50% off.

Houston - 1.

My hometown mall also has the only Forever 21 in the world that doesn't overwhelm me, even though it's the size of an overweight mammoth's dwellings. It's probably because I've had the floor plan memorized since the day it opened.

Houston - 2.

The radio presets in the car(s) are just the way I like them: country, country, country, Top 40, country.

Houston - 3.

I am able to wear my outfit of choice (read: those ratty T-shirts that come free with trying at anything) while doing my activity of choice (read: absolutely nothing).

With minimal judgment. 

(Minimal, because my parents' new hobby as of late has been asking me why I haven't showered yet; Minimal, because also they have to love me even when my answer is 'will you let me live my life okay thanku.')

Houston - 4.

Catching up with best friends of middle school yore and slurping up iced coffees as the heat gravity melts the condensation into puddles on the rain-washed tables, and having it not be so different from how it was four years ago, except conversation topics like dress code khakis and Xanga and like-likes have turned into grad schools and leases and relationships.

Houston - 5.

Really good water pressure in the shower, two-ply toilet paper, all the pillows in the world to hoard, not having to swipe my own plastic ever, getting chauffered around, all my favorite foods hot 'n ready when I go downstairs, and all my Harry Potter books in one place.

Houston - 50.

Mom and Dad, and occasionally the sister too, sitting next to me at the dinner table.

Houston - 3,993,048,203,948,039,203,984,092,384,093,824.

And that is why, Houston, we have a problem.
my natural habitat – perhaps I identify with cats a smidge.

I'll Be There For You And Brunch And TV Shows // #CCTakesNYC, Part IV

Before we get to anything else, let's start off with a bite to eat and some pretty drinks to sip.

I might have an identity crisis otherwise. You know how I am.

No, but actually - last Sunday, I forced us to roll out of bed, into semi-acceptable clothes, out the door, and straight to a table for brunch. We decided on Cork 'N Fork, which was a few streets down from my apartment and not too busy - essential criteria for the starving.

Where to begin. I loved this place so gosh dang much that I up and registered a Yelp account just so that I could give them five stars. It was the little tapas place that could, y'all.

We started off with drinks. A Bloody Mary for her, and a pretty little sangria for me. Both were delicious. I'm not usually a fan of Bloody Mary's, but this one had quite the kick which I felt made it adequate. My sangria, on the other hand, was more than quite alright in my opinion. But here's the cherry on top: the drinks were complimentary with brunch.
We ordered two plates to share. The first - a Rancheros Scramble. Flavors to the roof, and then some. Loved, loved, loved this - and we absolutely demolished the amazing potatoes on the side. Still can't thinking about that plate of wonder.

Our other weapon of choice was the Avenue C Tapas sampler. Included were the stuffed avocado with pico de gallo and a poached egg on top (um, yes), the spanish tortilla you see in the middle, and the end-all-be-all: the spinach croquettas - spinach croquettes and parmesan regiana with aioli.

To quote Cassandra, "I would murder for these croquettes."

I more than highly recommend this place if you ever find yourself in the East Village. I know we'll be going back again at some point.
Happily stuffed, I dragged Cassandra over to The Strand bookstore where we wandered around and poured over books...
and found a good mantra, as well -
Finding ourselves a little exhausted, we made a pit stop at Stumptown Coffee, my favorite little cafe in all of New York City. 
Continued walking...
Under the watchful guard of this little dude:
OK, now the real fun begins.

Both Cassandra and I love television so much that we're both pursuing careers in the entertainment industry. We fangirl like crazy over our favorite celebrifriends (what?), look forward to nothing more than an evening at home marathoning our way through our favorite TV shows, and have made many a friend simply by keeping our TV/computer turned on high volume and our dorm room door open. People tend to trickle in and stay for an episode or two when they hear the familiar notes of their favorite show's theme song playing.

(Ways To Make Friends, Loner Edition)

Anyway, a good number of shows are either filmed in or based on New York City. So we decided to go on a mini, self-led tour of our own with the help of our dear friend Google.
Let's see how many you can guess right. (Scroll to the bottom of the post for answers!)

Ready?

We'll start off easy. 

This is the exterior to which lovely lady's apartment?
How about a little clue?
Next up.

This is the exterior of what famous apartment?
A closer look, you say?

Here!
And, finally, this one's a toughie.

Who supposedly lives in this apartment complex, smack dab in the middle of SoHo?
A little hint for you. (And if you know her at all, that reaction photo is a huge hint for you.)
After visiting our pals, it was time to take a break at Dunkin' Donuts, go home, take a nap, grab some dinner at S'MAC (deeeelish mac and cheese), and then head to bed early in anticipation of her flight home Monday afternoon and my long day of work ahead of me.
Monday morning, I let her experience taking the F-train to work with me, and then we had some chai and my favorite turkey confit sandwiches at Little Collins for lunch before she made her way to Penn Station and away from me.

Once again, thanks for visiting me in the city that never sleeps (and yet somehow, that's half of what we managed to do), my besticle.

--

Quiz Answers:

A) Carrie Bradshaw / Sex And The City. Although this apartment exterior is in Greenwich Village, Carrie's apartment is technically supposed to be on the Upper East Side. $700/mo rent-controlled. Such jokes.

B) The FRIENDS apartment(s)! The actual show was filmed in a studio in LA, but details.

C) Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) from Castle. Although Castle is also filmed in LA. Fun fact - the 12th Precinct in the show is fictional, but they apparently are supposed to cover East Village / Alphabet City, which is where I lived. Cue the shrieks of joy when we found out!

Thanks for playing!

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