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Monday, January 16, 2017

Fringe Suede Boots

Something about the combo of camel and buffalo plaid is so cozy and winterish - I've been living in this look! We shot these photos during our stay at Alderbrook Resort & Spa last month, which was the perfect weekend getaway to snuggle inside and stay warm.

Chicwish mock neck sweater (c/o)
Madewell buffalo plaid shirt (on sale!)
Naturalizer fringe boots (c/o - on sale!)

These fringe suede boots are fun and they're so comfy that they were definitely made for walking. ;) I'm looking forward to wearing them into spring with a utility vest and even into summer with a little white dress.

Hope your 2017 has been off to a positive start!

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Travel Tips for Seoul, South Korea

I visited Seoul, South Korea for the first time a couple weeks ago and had so much fun! As a non-Korean, first-time visitor to Seoul, I learned some tips while traveling that may make your journey easier if you're planning a trip there.

Tip #1: SIM card
Get a prepaid SIM card at KT Mobile in the airport (around $20 for 5 days). Having access to the Internet is clutch while traveling -- mostly for Google and Maps (but also for Snapchat, let's be honest haha).

Tip #2: Naver Map
Neither Google or Apple Maps work well in Seoul. We got lost a few times before finally downloading the Naver Map app.

Tip #3: Metro Deposit Refund
If you purchase a one-time subway ticket, the machine charges you a deposit. You can return the ticket to get that deposit back when you're done with the ride, so don't throw away your ticket! The deposit refund machines are right by the exit turnstiles.

Tip #4: International Taxi
Prebook an international taxi at the airport -- the drivers speak English and the ride is a flat rate (around $50). I've heard that sometimes local cabs can con you, plus many drivers do not speak English, so I like this option.

Where to Eat
Well... the question is really where not to eat. I feel like you can mostly eat anywhere and the food will be homey and delicious. We researched a few restaurants to visit but also just popped into spots that looked good, and they didn't disappoint.

Of course, Korean BBQ is a must! My favorite is pork belly (samgyeopsal) and Husband's favorites are marinated beef (bulgogi) and beef short ribs (galbi). Get a side of stew, like fermented soybean paste soup (doenjang-jjigae). Wash it all down with a bottle of Hite and soju.

- Heuk Don Ga (in Gangnam) serves black pig pork belly from Jeju Island.
- Baekjeong BBQ (in Myeong-dong) is a famous, celebrity-endorsed galbi restaurant. Get there early as the line is long! Also, wear clothes you can easily launder as they will get smokey.

Soups and Stews
I love soups: clam chowder, tomato bisque, french onion... don't get me started! Korean soups/stews are among some of my favorites, especially the classic kimchi stew (kimchi-jjigae).

- Sim Seun Tang (in Hongdae) has army stew (budae-jjigae), which brings me back to college days. One of my best friends is Korean and her mom used to make us a huge pot and we'd eat it for a week straight haha. It's basically a stew of veggies, tofu, ramen noodles, cheese, egg, spam, and whatever the heck else! Totally comfort food. I think we loved this even more because it was like 28-degrees F when we were in Seoul so the hot stew warmed us up from the inside out.
- Sinseon Seolnongtang (in Myeong-dong) serves seolnongtang, which is a broth made from simmering oxtail bone for hours. Lightly flavored yet hearty for breakfast/lunch.
- I forgot the Korean name of this dumpling (mandu) restaurant but it was in Gyeongbokgung. A Korean grandma was making steamed dumplings served fresh when you order! I love that there's still access to traditional, rustic cooking. Plus, the huge bowl of seafood soup with dumplings was only $6!

Myeong-dong Night Market
We stayed in Myeong-dong, so we had easy access to the Night Market, which was so lit! I recommend getting the seafood pancake (pajeon), fried sugar-stuffed pancake (hotteok), freshly made mochi wrapped around red bean paste and a strawberry, and more. Have fun and try a little bit of everything!

- Sulbing (in Myeong-dong) is a shaved ice (patbingsu) chain around Seoul and it's a must-visit! It shouldn't even really be called "shaved" ice... it tastes like a perfect powder day at Whistler lol (snowboarders/skiers, ya feel me?).
- Sobok Cafe (in Gangnam) serves artisan rice ice cream and I don't even miss milk! I got the matcha one and it's topped with mochi, pumpkin seeds, and candied persimmon.
- EP3 Black Essence (in Gyeongbokgung) is a coffee shop where I ordered a sweet cream cheese latte that was amazing! Yes, it coated my stomach in a thick layer of creamy fat but so worth it.
- Tulip Coffee (in Myeong-dong) is a cute 2-story cafe. We would get coffee there in the morning, sit and overlook the city, and prep for our day.

Where to Shop

This was my favorite shopping district in Gangnam. First, the Gentle Monster flagship store is there, which is a 5-story art gallery... oh that also sells the coolest sunglasses. In addition, so many boutiques have the most awesome conceptual layouts that make shopping in person less of a chore but actually exciting, unexpected, and fun.

Myeong-dong is a one-stop-shop for all your Korean skincare needs. There are so many skincare stores like Too Cool for School, Belif, Tony Moly, etc. that they all start blurring and I... well, I was in heaven, but my Husband was like wtf after a while hehe.

There is also another StyleNanda store (the flagship store is in Gangnam) there called the Pink Hotel that is like the Korean girly version of The Grand Budapest Hotel lol. It's 5-stories of cute quirkiness: "hotel doors" as entrances to changing rooms and a "swimming pool"-themed cafe on the top floor!

Dongdaemun Market is open 24 hours -- yes, you read that right. This "Market" is so huge, it spans 26 shopping malls with 30,000 stalls. We had just finished dinner at 8pm when I got a text from my sister about this market, so we decided to take the subway there and shopped until midnight! I actually didn't buy anything here, I think because I was just overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff.

Also, I had earlier shopped at the sprawling Gangnam Station Underground Shopping Center and bought a few things. Tip #5: Bring Cash. Store owners often give you a deal if you pay in cash. You can also bargain, but I suck at doing that so I just pay it, though the prices are reasonable anyway.

There is also a large Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center. After a while though, all the clothes start repeating and looking the same, so I think if you go to one of these, you've pretty much covered most of the bases.

We also enjoyed sightseeing around Seoul, like visiting the Gyeongbokgung Palace.

I posted my outfit details here. You can also see more of my travel guides here.

Thank you for reading! Have you ever visited Seoul? What are some recommendations you would add? If not, please let me know if you have any more questions in the comments below!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Bundled Up in Seoul, South Korea

I spent the last week of 2016 in Seoul, South Korea, which was the final stop on our 2-week Asia trip (Japan and Hong Kong were our other destinations). It was my first time in Seoul and I had so much fun!

Marc Jacobs mohair coat (similar)
Neiman Marcus pom-pom beanie
Acne Studios "Canada" scarf

This outfit was essentially my uniform during the Seoul-leg of our Asia trip. The temperatures in Tokyo and Hong Kong were moderate, but it was like 28-degrees F in Seoul. Being from Seattle, we were not used to freezing, so I made sure to bundle up! I've always raved about these fleece-lined tights, but they really saved me -- though I did have to layer thick socks underneath them (the cold was no joke!). The tights, and this Acne Studios blanket wool scarf, are my winter must-haves. I've had this scarf for years now and get so many wears out of it. The size is perfect for getting all wrapped up, and the virgin wool is soo soft and not itchy at all. I want one in every color!

I'm so glad that "athleisure" is trendy and I hope that look never goes away. We often walked 5+ miles a day exploring and these Adidas sneakers were comfy but also sleek enough to go with the rest of the outfit. I obviously wear them at home too, sometimes to make a dress look more casual, but I also recommend them for traveling!

I'll have a Seoul travel post up soon that is more dedicated to transportation, food spots, and shopping. Let me know if you have any questions you'd like me to answer!

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year from Hong Kong!

Happy New Years Eve! I'm finishing up my trip to Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea, which could not have been a better way to end 2016. I've been reenergized by spending time with family and exploring some of my favorite countries, and I'm ready to head into 2017! Here is my NYE's outfit shot in Hong Kong:

Carven skirt (on sale!)
Saint Laurent velvet embellished bag (similar)
Chloé gold ankle strap flats (similar)
Monica Vinader "Fiji" gold bracelet

I'm a big believer in glitter, gold, and red for all the holiday festivities! If not now, then when?! (See the other holiday outfit I've been wearing over and over again.) So, of course, for my New Year's Eve attire, I combined all my favorite elements with this fun sparkly top, gold flats, and starry earrings...and topped it all off with the Smashbox red liquid lipstick that stays on all night (through endless glasses of champagne). Now I'm ready to ring in 2017!

For Christmas this year, I treated myself to this gorgeous Saint Laurent velvet beaded bag. The embellishments are next level, and I love that I've rarely seen a bag like this! Saint Laurent has just been doing the mostest with jazzing up their bags lately, and I'm totally into it. While I usually invest in classic bags, this piece was too special to pass -- it's like wearing a piece of art! I've linked some more embellished Saint Laurent bags below.

Thank you for reading and following along! 2016 has been quite a year with many triumphs and heartbreaks. I wish you a happy New Year filled with love, growth, and health. Onwards and upwards -- always.

Love, Carolyn

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