travel

I Saw the Sign: New Orleans Edition

by tatiana on May 3, 2014

I Saw the Sign: New Orleans Edition

Royal Street, circa 1900 Photo Credit: Detroit Publishing Company

In March I hopped over to New Orleans for MARDI GRAS for my good friend’s bachelorette trip. It was a trip I’ll never forget! I’m not much of a party girl (only sometimes!), but it was a lot of fun to be engulfed in the atmosphere and sheer joviality of the celebrations. Aside from the festivities, the centuries-old architecture and general look and feel of the French Quarter was a feast for the eyes. There were also a lot of really great signs and typographic goodness. Below is a little tour of some of the great signage I stumbled upon throughout my trip:

I Saw the Sign: New Orleans Edition

A lot of really beautiful tile work around the French Quarter.

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The mandatory “I was here!” shoe selfie.

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A quick photo outside of St. Louis Cemetery #1, where you can find the tomb of Marie Laveau.

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We walked by this building every morning, and every morning I’d get a sudden craving for a biscuit.

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This place was rad and also pretty terrifying. We went inside the last day of our trip. Highly recommend it.

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Looking back at these photos is making me miss NOLA. I would love to go back to New Orleans to explore the Garden District and other parts of the city that I didn’t have time to venture out to. We mostly stayed in the French Quarter, but escaped for a swamp tour, and to eat at Commander’s Palace in the Garden District (allegedly one of the most haunted restaurants in New Orleans, according to this super legitimate gift shop book that I probably paid too much money for).

AHS Tour | New Orleans

Fun bonus photo – one of the bride-to-be’s wishes was that I lead an American Horror Story: Coven tour for our friends in the French Quarter. It was a challenge! But it was a lot of fun. We dressed in our witch-y best and stopped in a front of the few locations where the show was filmed.

The city is absolutely magical and I can’t wait to return.

To view more I Saw the Sign posts, click here.

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Tokyo + Kyoto, Japan: My Top 10 Experiences

by tatiana on July 12, 2012

Buddhist Shrine in Kyoto

I got back to the states from Japan just days ago two months ago (yeah… it took me a while to get this post published!). Anyway, just like my last trip abroad, I’ve put together a countdown of my top 10 experiences in Japan. Since I spent time in both Tokyo and Kyoto, they’re jumbled together in this list.

10. Host Boys and Kabukicho

Host Boys of Kabukicho in Shinjuku

My friend and I had a bunch of goals when we were planning our trip, one of which was to stay in affordable hotels, but still have access to fun parts of town. Naturally that led us to Kabukicho (known for its love hotels and host & hostess clubs). No, we’re not pervs, but it was a really fun neighborhood to stay in. Very busy, and very different from anything I’ve experienced. Who would’ve known the red light district would be so safe and un-intimidating!? Also, if you’d like to learn more about Japanese host boys, I highly recommend this documentary: The Great Happiness Space.

9. Karaoke

Karaoke in Shinjuku

Because, duh. It was significantly cheaper than the private box karaoke rooms in SF… so of course we had to go more than once. Of course. Also, I need to add that I got super home sick when we were singing a song that featured video footage of Fisherman’s Wharf.

8. Vending Machines

Vending Machines in Japan

It’s true what they say about the vending machines in Japan… they are everywhere and they are AWESOME. The one pictured above is not a TRUE vending machine, but it was just the way to order a meal in an eatery. You choose your meal, put your money in the machine, give your ticket to the lady… and then you get your meal! Sometimes I’m all about limited human interaction.

7. Handmade Culture

Pottery being painted by hand in Kyoto

Fans, Handmade in Kyoto

We went on a really great 5 hour walking tour in Kyoto and learned that the handmade culture is still going strong in Kyoto. It’s just a way of life that hasn’t changed much (although our tour guide was telling us that all of the young people were fleeing Kyoto to move to Tokyo and work in more corporate fields, which seemed to concern him). I appreciated the focus and attention to detail; it was really great to watch the experts at work.

6. Public Transportation

Public Transportation in Japan

What can I say? Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a big fan of public transportation… especially clean, efficient and FAST public transportation. We mostly took the JR line when we were in Tokyo, and then took the Shinkansen (bullet train) when we went to Kyoto (about a 2 1/2 hour trip). It was pretty affordable, although it probably would have been a little cheaper had we purchased a pass. Oh! Also, fun fact: in Kyoto we took a bus — on the buses there you board in the back and then pay at the front when you exit. Topsy-turvy!

5. Buddhist and Shinto Shrines

Shrines of Kyoto

On the previously mentioned walking tour in Kyoto, we saw a handful of shrines. Our guide took us to the smaller, local shrines because he wanted us to see “where the people of Kyoto really go to pray.” At the end of our tour, we didn’t feel the need to go to the bigger shrines that attract tourists… also we were pretty tired from walking around for 5 hours.

4. LGBTQ Bars and Shinjuku Ni-Chome

LGBT Bars in Shinjuku Ni-Chome

My pal and I decided to take advantage of the many great night spots of Shinjuku (Golden Gai was another great one that didn’t quite make this list!). We glammed up and moseyed over to Shinjuku Ni-Chome to check out the scene. What we discovered was… not matter which country you’re in and what language is primarily spoken there, the gays will ALWAYS know the lyrics to the new Madonna song. Fact. We had so much fun.

3. Feeling Safe Everywhere

Safety First!

We were in Japan for 11 days and I can only think of two instances where I felt unsafe… which is pretty good considering how I encounter questionable people who make me uncomfortable every day here in San Francisco. Everyone in Japan was super polite, and really respected your personal space (at least in my experience). My friend and I would get home at 2am and have to walk through alleys to get to our hotel — not once did we feel uneasy. I really loved that about Japan.

2. The Shopping in Harajuku + Shibuya

McDonalds in Harajuku

I know this section is about the shopping in Harajuku and Shibuya (which was a lot of fun), but I want to take this opportunity to talk about the McDonalds that recently opened in Harajuku and how freakin’ cute their outfits are. Look at those berets! Talk about a fancy dining experience. We went to McDonalds a few times during the trip for a quick iced coffee or a cheap lunch. It was always super clean and seemed like kind of a hip place to be eating. The food also tasted cleaner than in the states, which was nice I guess.

1. The Food

Omurice in Kyoto

The best part of my trip was basically every time I ate. Seriously. Some of the amazing things I ate: omurice (pictured above), okonomiyaki, ramen, and a plethora of curry and beef bowls. And onigiri. Oh, onigiri, how I love thee. Everything was delicious and reasonably priced. Also, everything felt super clean (even though I did eat my fair share of curries and chicken karage). Loved it loved it.

Bonus: Attending Tokyo’s 1st Pride Celebration EVER

Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012

Two weeks or so before we left for our trip, a friend told us that we’d be in Tokyo during their pride celebration, so OF COURSE we had to go. Being from San Francisco, a huge pride celebration is not only natural, but it is mandatory and it is always a good time. So we showed up, we walked in the parade, we cheered and danced. What we didn’t know until an English-speaking gent sat down next to us, was that we were at the very FIRST pride celebration EVER in Tokyo. Kind of amazing right? We thought so!

All in all, especially now that I’ve written about my trip and am craving some pork onigiri, Japan was an incredible experience. It was a bit frustrating navigating a country where neither of us understood or spoke the language, but after a few days, it wasn’t as frustrating. We learned how to get around and were really grateful for everyone who answered our questions (or tried to answer our questions). I absolutely fell in love with Japan and can’t wait to go again.

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What’s in my Reader: April 2012

by tatiana on April 15, 2012

Because I have a blog, or am constantly sending/tweeting or posting blog links to Facebook & Twitter, people tend to ask me for blog recommendations — I guess I’ve become a blog-reading expert, if that’s even a thing. I’m a graphic designer & communications person at a credit union, so at the end of the day when I’ve had my fill of jpegs and have seen the words “Traditional IRA” one too many times, the blogs I tend to enjoy the most are food, craft and fashion blogs. However, because I’m kind of a nerd and genuinely do love what I do, I enjoy reading about money, design and marketing, especially when it’s done in a way that’s fun and relate-able.

So without further adieu, here are my favorite blogs RIGHT NOW (and most recent additions to my Google Reader, categories included). I hope you like them as much as I do!

Cherry Heart: A mummy who loves to knit, sew, crochet and bake
Category: Crafts
Favorite Post: Sunday’s Child

This Martha Stewart-esque blog simultaneously makes me happy and pisses me off (in a good way?). It makes me happy because Sandra does a wonderful job documenting her process with whatever project she’s currently working on with beautiful photos and has a writing voice that keeps me reading — and being a person who loves just simply looking at pictures of yarn, this blog is total craft porn. This blog pisses me off because I’m totally jealous of how much crocheting she gets done. I’m sure she’s working on multiple projects at a time, but in the world of the internet and blogs, this woman is on fire. She is super talented and I’m a big fan of her work.

The Billfold: Everything about money you were too polite to ask
Category: Finance
Favorite Post: Middle Class Snack Kids

This fabulous blog was launched 2 weeks ago and it has easily become a ‘must read’ in my Reader. Mike Dang (a good friend and fellow UCI Alumnus) and Logan Sachon have created a safe space to talk about money… and how bad some of us are at it. From sharing where their last $100 was spent to helping the rest of us figure out how to start saving for retirement (in a fun way!), this is a great place for any money n00b (or non-n00b like me, sort of) to learn something new, or just realize that other people our age are still trying to figure this “stuff” out too.

Lists of Note
Category: People
Favorite Post: The Anti-Flirt Club

This blog is pretty easy to explain: they post lists. All kinds of lists made by all kinds of people, organizations or businesses. Most of them are old, which makes them even more fun to read. It’s a pretty fantastic site.

The KISSmetrics Marketing Blog
Category: Marketing
Favorite Post: What Startups Can Learn From Pinterest

This is a blog I stumbled upon in one of those LinkedIn spammy-but-not-so-spammy emails. KISSmetrics is in the web analytics business and have built some software that you can buy — but if you don’t want to buy anything and just enjoy reading/learning about metrics (like I do), check out their blog. KISSmetrics is a great example of a company who is an expert in their field and has no qualms about ‘giving away’ their knowledge for free. I appreciate that.

The Road Forks
Category: Travel
Favorite Post: Budget Japanese Cuisine

My relationship with this blog was quite serendipitous. I’m traveling to Japan at the end of this month (more on that in a future post) and while doing research, I did a Google search for “do I really need a Japan Rail pass?” (yes, I actually use search terms like that), and it directed me to this blog. Luckily this site, unlike a lot of other sites about Americans in Japan, was not ugly. It was also super informative and fun to read. This couple has embarked on a world tour full of food, adventure and really great photos (so the rest of us could live vicariously through them). What more could you want from a travel blog?

What are some of your favorite blogs? Please do share!

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“How old are you now?” – my dad asks me, pretty much every year on my birthday. This year I answered, “28,” since that is technically my age (I still feel 24, just smarter), and he replied with a face that read “hot damn, ouch, oh lord help you, you’re getting old,” and then I gave him my faux mal de ojo and we chowed down on some Fresh Banana Cheesecake and everything was dandy.

Actual cheesecake, shortly before it was devoured.

I feel like 28 is going to be a great year, and apparently my Chinese horoscope agrees with this (hey fellow rats!). Here are some other things that happened this month:

1.) Casino time with Mom

San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in San Bernardino, CA

$50 in free play from your local casino? Why wouldn’t you want to go?! I did and won a nice chunk o’change. Most importantly I got to spend the day hanging with my Mom, which was the best part. The buffet was also a plus. In addition to having too much fun at the penny slots, it was great to be home visiting family and friends… and finally try that Buffalo Wild Wings place I keep seeing on the TV.

2.) Handmade Birthday Cards

“Hold on tight, spider monkey.

Each year I receive a handmade birthday card from Cathy. Last year’s featured Lil Jon and a ilustrated version of me vomiting from drinking to many “Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots!” This year I’m being admired by one Edward Cullen. Much more pleasant, right?

3.) Hanging with Rocio

Roc and I in a great vintage furniture shop on Valencia Street

My good friend Rocio was in the Bay Area for a conference, so we got to hang out! Always great to see her. We explored the fun shops on Valencia Street and later ordered in because it was FREEZING outside.

4.) House of Prime Rib

I first learned about House of Prime Rib on No Reservations and wanted to check it out immediately… this was almost 3 years ago, so it was about time I went. I figured my birthday would be the best time to drag my friends with me — and in actuality, everyone was really stoked to go, which was awesome. It was not a disappointing experience. That salad! Those cocktails! That cute corn bread thing! I need to go again, and soon.

5.) A Gift to Myself

So, this is what I got myself for my birthday. Don’t even act like you don’t buy yourself birthday gifts. And don’t make me reference “Treat Yo Self” and force you to watch the YouTube video. (Side note: Can Parks and Rec come back now, please?) Anyway, a friend I highly respect suggested this book, so I picked up a copy and am SO HAPPY I did. It’s pretty stellar.

6.) Cathy in SF!

My good friend Cathy road-tripped up to San Francisco to celebrate her birthday (yay, fellow Pisces!). She drove up with her BF, and our friend Maggie from college drove up from San Jose to spend the day in the city. (Anteater reunion!) We all went to Alcatraz (which explains the ever-so-stylish ponchos in the photo) and it was a soggy morning… particularly for those of us who decided against wearing rain boots (ahem, me). Anyway, it made for another great memory with these ladies and I want them to come back ASAP… or move here. Moving here would be more than acceptable.

And that concludes my birthday month, 2012! Thanks to everyone who made it extra special.

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2011: My Year in Review

by tatiana on January 22, 2012

Each year that passes brings bigger and more exciting things, as it should, right? 2011 was probably one of the best years yet. Although there were the inevitable moments of hardship, disappointment and mistakes, life wouldn’t be LIFE without those bumps that force us to become stronger, wiser people. Can I get an amen? Anyway, here’s a breakdown of my year.

January: The Month I went Pro-Bono

I joined Taproot and worked as the graphic designer on a brochure project for the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay. We worked on this project for just around 6 months, and it was the best experience I’ve had working in a pro-bono capacity. My team was fabulous and I can’t wait to work on another project with Taproot.

February: First Trip Abroad

I traveled to London with one of my favorite people, Brianna, to visit another one of my favorite people, Kendra. The trip was so so great; I miss London so much. Such a beautiful city. [click to continue…]

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It’s the truth. Sorry I’m not providing photo evidence, but you’re better off just using your imagination. My former boss once reacted to it by calling it “very Golden Girls.” I took that as a compliment, naturally.

So, here I sit at SFO waiting patiently to board my flight to Portland. I’m using my shiny new Macbook Air which has improved my quality of life exponentially, but I unfortunately haven’t had time to upload any photos from my iMac, hence the Portlandia image up top, which is relevant yet impersonal, but whatever. It’s all good.

I know it’s tacky to talk about how one has been avoiding the blogosphere for an extended period time, but I’m going to do just that and outline what have been huge (but productive) and/or great time sucks for me:

  • My Sister Got Married! – That’s right, kids. And with a wedding comes lots of events, lots of time with family (which was really great, my family is a lot of fun), and of course dancing, good food, and laughs.
  • San Francisco Holiday Renegade Craft Fair – which involved crocheting and planning every day. EVERY DAY. EVERY WEEKEND. It’s fun and was totally worth all of the work, but it didn’t really allow for much else… the exact reason why I am happy to not be a full time crafterprenuer. Yes, I made that word up. It probably exists.
  • Sewing – Once Renegade was over, my wrists rejoiced and I dove right into my “to sew” pile which currently consists of 4 dresses and 1 top. Fabric has been cut, everything is slowly being assembled. And I’m still very much in love with my serger.
  • Reading – I reached my goal of reading 30 books in 2011! Yes. Thank you for the applause. You can take a look at what I read here.
  • Reuniting with Friends – Well, not really reuniting. I see my SF friends on either a weekly or bi-weekly basis, but due to craft fair stuff I became somewhat of a hermit, actually announcing my ‘hermit weeks’ in various social media, as a way of warning my friends to not ask me to hang out. I’m kind of a jerk, no? I try not to be. Also, my friends are the coolest people on Earth.
  • Freelance & Pro-Bono Projects – I just finished my 3rd commissioned logo last week, and this week got the great news that I’ve been chosen to be on an amaaaazing Taproot project that I’ll be starting work on soon. 2012 is going to be a great year for my professional life. I can feel it. (At least I hope so!)

Anyway, I’m going to do another post that goes over my 2012 Resolutions, as well as my 2011 Year in Review. All of these things are written and in my ‘drafts’, so stay tuned.

But, back to vacation mode…

This is my first time ever traveling to Oregon, and although I hear it’s going to be quite chilly, I’ve been looking forward to this all month. I’m especially excited to see my Seattleite friends whom I have not seen for over a year. OVER A YEAR. That is just unacceptable. I’m happy to be remedying this this weekend. I have my Instax Mini, emergency granola bars in my purse, and my trusty Hello Kitty umbrella handy. Will post more about the trip when I get back!

 

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London: My Top 10 Experiences

by tatiana on March 10, 2011

My week in London was a trip I will never forget. There is nothing like experiencing another culture, especially in a city that is so incredibly rich with history.

I went with my pal Bri with the goals of taking in as much of the sights and experiences London had to offer – and to spend some time with Miss Kendra, my old roomie who is going to grad school in London and is quite the amazing lady. I heart Bri and Kendra mucho and I’m happy that the trip happened. Here’s a countdown of sorts of my favorite things that I experienced while visiting this great city.

10. Trifles from Sainsbury’s


Ingredients: fruit + gelatin mixture, custard, shortbread, whipped cream. It came in a little single-cup portion, like pudding. I was in heaven… several times throughout the trip.

9. Ginger Beer


Crabbie’s. Alcoholic. Amazing. You can put ice in it! One of the things I loved about London was that the drinking culture is so different than the United States. Big, burly men drinking fruit ciders and ginger beer with ice in it… my kinda place.

8. Clotted Creme


Another food experience! Yes. This luscious creme came with our scones at high tea in St. James Park. It wasn’t too sweet, but it was sweet enough. Like buttah, but creamier. I die.

7. In-Your-Face Daytime Lip Color


On the tube, at museums, basically everywhere I went I saw gaggles of super cute gals rocking the bright florescent red or pink lips. Absolutely stunning and a nice contrast from the gloomy weather. After a trip to the MAC store, I too was a part of the bright lips party.

6. The Tube


I live in San Francisco and am one of the few who rarely complain about our public transportation system… but that’s probably because I’d never experienced the Tube… holy moly is that thing efficient. A train comes every 2 minutes or so. Absolutely wonderful. The train cars are clean, and although they can get quite crowded, everyone is usually really polite.

5. Not having internet or GPS on my phone
I’m kind of happy I decided to not pay the $30 extra (or however much it was) to have internet access on my phone while abroad. It forced me to check email and social media accounts at the apartment only (or when I stumbled upon free wi-fi, which was rare). I was able to really focus on and absorb my surroundings. On the other hand, I didn’t have instant access to my interactive map with GPS. But I luckily downloaded a London Tube map app (which I’ll also blog about later) for my iPhone before the trip. That was pretty damn helpful.

4. Paul’s Patisserie


I really think that my friends are sick of me talking about this place but really… there are no words to describe how incredibly mindblowing their macarons were. And the strawberry tart… and the prosciutto sandwich! Delicious, amazing, oh my god.

3. British Television


I really need to write a separate post about my favorite British television shows, but they were just so informative and fun and slighty different than American television. That’s fo sho. When I was tired from a day of walking and navigating the city, I was excited to come back to our gorgeous apartment and take in an episode of Take Me Out, or My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (photo above).

2. Hampton Court Palace


I really like “touching” history. You can’t touch old things at museums, so when I’m in an old building, I like to touch the walls. I don’t know why, I just like to know that I’ve touched something that’s been around, in the case of Hampton Court Palace… since the 1500s. This beautiful palace was built by Cardinal Wolsey, given to King Henry VIII and was used as a hotel/place of entertainment for foreign royals. Good times. You can see glimpses of it in the Showtime series The Tudors.

1. The Tower of London


Once again, I totally touched these walls (once I got inside, of course). This place was built in 1066 and is really fucking old. I spent a good 5 hours here.

The first hour was spent on a beefeater tour which I highly recommend because they are a.) knowledgeable, and it’s a good introduction to what you’ll be seeing, b.) funny, and c.) slightly intimidating.

I saw the crown jewels, the ravens, and lots of old armor. The photo above is of the Queen’s houses – where Anne Boleyn spent her last days before being executed.

Bonus: The Jack the Ripper Walking Tour

I can’t believe I almost forgot about this! It was a lot of fun, and silly, and really crowded but I recommend it for those who are fascinated by this unsolved mystery. (Photo above: Mary Kelly’s pub of choice).

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Greetings from London!

by tatiana on February 2, 2011

Good morning, and greetings from the fuuuture. It’s Thursday morning, around 6:58am right now. I woke up at 4:50 this morning with an intense craving for a sausage and cheese breakfast sandwich, but tried to make myself go back to sleep. That obviously didn’t work out so well. So here I am, catching up on Google Reader and eating this £3 lasagna that I picked up at the store yesterday (thank god!). I had a feeling I might want a snack at some point.

I’m pretty sure Brianna, my travel companion, is asleep right now. And I salute her. I wish I were too. We were planning on heading to Borough Market around 10am… but hopefully we can head out earlier.

We arrived yesterday afternoon and did a lot of walking our first day. Initially the idea was we’ve been on a plane for 10 hours, our legs need to move! But then around 6pm, which was when sleep deprivation hit the both of us, we couldn’t get back to the apartment fast enough.

Anyway, I’ll try to update while I’m here. It’s hard to upload photos since it seems this laptop won’t let me save image files, so my award-winning iPhone photography will have to wait to be shared with the public until I return.

Just for fun, here are some items on our To Do list: Tower of London, Fashion & Textiles Museum, Design Museum, V&A, tea in the park with Kendra, Jack the Ripper Walking Tour, visit Brighton, visit Oxford, go shopping. There’s a bit more, but these are the things I feel pretty confident about conquering in the 5 more days I have here. Yesterday we saw Trafalgar Square, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, Parliament, National Theater, the Old Vic, and FLEET STREET (yes, I was singing the Sweeney Todd anthem in my head).

Anyway, I’m off! Hope all is dandy in the states!

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Gonna take 'er down to Thunder Road

by tatiana on November 26, 2010

This year I spent Thanksgiving day at the mister’s family’s house about 2 hours outside of San Francisco. Everything was great… and I opted to take a photo in their 1957 Thunderbird. If I look nervous, it’s because I was. I was sitting in an antique! Ugh. It was a beauty.

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I Saw the Sign: Sausalito Edition

by tatiana on October 10, 2010

… or, SAUCY-lito, as we are now calling it.

Anyway, for a few weeks now, Marissa, Jane and I had been planning to check out Sausalito. I have never been and I kept hearing that it was a great place to relax, eat good food and take in the pretty views. So we met at the ferry and escaped our little city that was bustling with Fleet Week excitement (and, rightfully so, lots o’ visitors).

There were a lot of really great signs in Sausalito, so I thought I’d share some of the ones I came across. Here we go! [click to continue…]

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