Oh Canada!

A couple of months ago, I had this crazy idea to visit our great neighbor up north – Canada. The reasoning behind it was because of two long-overdue goals: to see the changing colors of fall and to visit some exchange friends after 2 years. And just like every trip, it crept up on me and ended too fast. So, in more ways than one, “Oh Canada!” is the perfect title for this post.

For one whole week in October, I decided to leave my warm California sunshine to experience a real autumn. I’m talking changing colors, chilly air, and falling leaves. We aren’t so lucky in that department here in so Cal. But little did it occur to me just how cold my destination would be. We’re so spoiled here, and I was going to our great neighbor up north, of course.

Toronto, Ontario

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Starting off in Toronto, its much milder climate was perfect to try and get me acclimated to Canadian weather. When I first arrived, the 6ix was so humid that I was perspiring! The next day? I just wore a long-sleeved shirt and sported a scarf when the sun went down. This was the kind of fall weather I’ve been used to. And it was perfect weather to get my bearings in Toronto. The next day brought the cold and rain, but I didn’t let this ruin my exploring. Read more about this in my last post here.

Parc Gatineau, Quebec

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After our little road trip up to Ottawa, Amanda then drove us over the province border into Quebec – into Parc Gatineau, more specifically. We were met with rain all day, which is such a shame! That’s what I get for visiting Canada during a season other than summer. Or that’s what I was reminded of during the whole weekend. It rained the whole time. But LOOK AT THOSE COLORS! We don’t get that in southern California.

Ottawa, Ontario

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The capital of Canada, Ottawa is home to PM Justin Trudeau, world diplomats, and Amanda’s family + friends. It’s a super cute town that again would probably be 100x cuter in the sunshine and warmth. It was wonderful regardless and I genuinely enjoyed meeting all of my host’s childhood and university friends. I experienced the famous Canadian hospitality and it’s something I will forever cherish. Thank you again Amanda for everything.

Niagara Falls, Ontario

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And finally, the grand and majestic Niagara Falls. No trip to the eastern part of Canada would be complete without a visit to the Falls. It was probably the highlight of my trip to Canada (aside from seeing my exchange friends, of course!). If you are ever in Ontario, you owe it to yourself to experience this natural wonder of the world. I caved in and took the Hornblower cruise that brings you and a whole bunch of other tourists face-to-face with Horseshoe Falls. It was a bonding moment for us all as we were pummeled by the mist.

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The sights, the people, the BeaverTails – Canada was amazing. I loved my first taste of Canada and I look forward to visiting more of it in 2017! Vancouver, I’m coming for you!



Cream Tea | Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe and Afternoon Tea

Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe and Afternoon Tea in La Mesa has been my go-to stop for all things British and afternoon tea. Now that San Diego has finally started to cool down, I’ve been aching for proper afternoon tea and a nice ‘cuppa. Years ago, my best friend was in town to celebrate her birthday and suggested we have high tea. That’s when we discovered Shakespeare’s. The last time I had afternoon tea was to celebrate her birthday, so a trip to the tearoom, for cream tea, was long overdue.

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To this day, Shakespeare’s is my favorite tea room. To be frank, I’ve only been to one but when you know, you know. The owners of the shop and tearoom, as well as the adjoining pub & grille, reign from England. Authenticity is something I always look for in everything, so learning that this place is the real thing thrilled me. And who wants English tea to not actually be English?

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My Cream Tea Experience

My sister and I arrived 10 minutes prior to our 12PM sitting. We were greeted by our server, the shoppe owner, and an empty tea room. We were directed to the tea sniffing bar where we’d choose our teas. My sister went for the White Coconut Crème, while I stuck to the classic Earl Grey.

We returned to the patio to our own teapot and tea set. Yes, you get a WHOLE TEAPOT to yourself! And word to the wise, empty your bladder before you decide to get stuck in rush hour traffic. They also provide milk and sugar cubes for the table.

As we started to enjoy our tea, our server then brought out our plates of scones. Cream tea traditionally consists of tea with a combination of scones, clotted cream, and jam. And for $9.95, that is exactly what Shakespeare’s does. We were both really impressed with the freshly baked scone! Oh, and that Double Devon Cream!

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I love a good tea party. Some of my fondest childhood memories are the tea parties that our Grandma Betty would host for me and my god-sisters. I remember walking out onto the patio to dainty tea sets and finger foods. It was always a great time and I’ll forever be grateful for those memories.

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Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe

As I mentioned earlier, Shakespeare’s has been my go-to stop for British goodies. I’m a huge anglophile. As are pretty much all of the women in my life. I have mad love/respect for the British culture, and it’s been like this for as long as I can remember. Around the holidays, I like going there to get mince pies and a Dairy Milk Advent calendar. They ship in pretty much everything from the UK, including Peri Peri sauce, Crunchie bars, and mugs with the royals’ faces.

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Shakespeare’s also hosts themed tea parties, in addition to the more traditional Afternoon Tea. Just this past week, they hosted Harry Potter themed tea – sorting hat and all. Next month, they are hosting a Game of Thrones one!

There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back to the tearoom again. It’s my favorite and my only recommendation for an authentic British tea experience in San Diego.



Apple Brie Fig Sandwich | Autumn Cooking

For today’s post, I have an apple brie fig sandwich to satisfy your fall cravings. The crunch of fresh apples, the silkiness of brie, and the luxury of fig jam all come together to make the perfect autumn sandwich. The recipe is actually by one of my favorite YouTubers, Tess Christine. Remembering this video from last year, we were excited to try it for ourselves after our own apple picking adventure.

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You will need:

Apples, 1 to 2 small ones

Brie

Fig jam/butter

Arugula

Sourdough bread

Butter

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  1. Thinly slice your apples. After spreading fig jam onto the bread, place the sliced apples into a thin layer. Feel free to use different variety of apples – I used one Red and one Golden Delicious.
  2. Add a layer of brie, followed by your choice of greens. We went with arugula. Add the other slice of bread.
  3. To get extra fancy, grill your sandwich! Heat the frying pan, then place into it your buttered sandwich. Wait until golden brown, and do the same to the other side.
  4. Cut in half, and ENJOY!

Again, here is another simple and super adaptable recipe. Brie pairs really well with apple, I’ve seen the combination plenty of times on Pinterest. However, if you prefer another cheese, sub it in. Same goes with the arugula, but I was pleased to learn that its bitterness disappeared when warmed up.

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Apple Brie Fig Sandwich

Do yourself a favor and purchase a jar of fig jam. It was a great touch to the already dynamic duo of apple and brie cheese. We found this jar at Trader Joe’s! Also, make sure your bread is fresh. It really makes such a difference.

Can you believe its already October?! I seriously cannot believe it. Next thing you know, it’s going to be Thanksgiving, then CHRISTMAS! AKA the most wonderful time of the year. The Christmas music and movies can’t come quick enough.



Apple Crumble | Autumn Baking

On Sunday, my family and I went apple picking at Sentenac Ranch. We walked away with 98 apples, and we now need to get creative with this newfound apple abundance. In the spirit of autumn, my sister and I have come up with several baking recipes to share on Dressed in Black – the first being a delicious apple crumble that can be served á la mode or even enjoyed on its own.

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You will need:

Baking apples, 3 to 4 small ones

⅓ cup flour

⅓ cup rolled oats

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp cinnamon

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  1. Dice your baking apples into bite-sized pieces. Place them into a greased baking tin.
  2. In a separate container, combine the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon with butter.
  3. Cover your apples with the combined oat mixture and spread out evenly.
  4. Place the crisp into an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown.

This simple recipe is super adaptable. The measurements listed above are for a 3-serving apple crisp, and should really only be used as a reference. Add more cinnamon or extra sugar if you’d like! I think the key is to have equal parts oats and flour.

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Apple Crumble

Apple crumble, or more popularly know in the States as apple crisp, is the essence of autumn. I recommend you eat it straight out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Today is the first day of autumn, which I’m really excited about it. I am in my absolute element during these months of September, October and November. The overall coziness from the crisp air to baking is everything.

San Diego won’t have fall weather anytime soon, but you can bet that I will be enjoying this crumble every day until then.



Apple Picking in Julian | Sentenac Ranch

What better way to spend a Sunday than apple picking?

Yesterday, my mom, sister and I hopped in the car to Julian for the first of many autumn festivities to come.

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Sentenac Ranch 

We arrived around 2PM, after a little over an hour drive from south San Diego.

Secluded in the Julian woods, Sentenac Ranch is a 170-acre property that is part-venue, part-orchard. Upon arrival, we were greeted by extremely warm temps and the friendly owner. He told us that his orchard produces three different types of apples (Red Delicious, Golden Delicious & Rome), and assured us that he doesn’t spray them with pesticides. Big kudos to them for being 100% organic!

For one bag of apples, it’s $14. For two bags, they are $12 each. Then for 3 or more, they are $10 each.

He quickly briefed us on how to pick and choose our apples, and encouraged us to eat the apples right off the tree. After all, you want to know what the apples you’re picking taste like! I learned that apples with wormholes are much sweeter than those without. The worm is long gone, don’t worry.

Needless to say, we each had our fair share of apples. That’s IN ADDITION to the 100 ones we ended up walking away with.

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Apple Picking in Julian

Apple picking season in Julian is from August to early October. It is recommended to get there at the start of the season, but there were still plenty of apples at Sentenac. And it’s already mid-September. Call ahead before you make the drive up if this is your kind of thing!

The cute little town is known for their apple pies, but why not take your Julian experience to the next level by picking some apples yourself? There’s something about being on a farm, picking the produce with your own hands. You’re also helping out your local farmers when you do!

I’ve always wanted to take part in apple picking, and after 23 years, it finally happened. Our household is now rich in apples, with enough to last us into the autumn season. We’ve already looked into some apple recipes, which I’m definitely sharing on the blog. So, stay tuned for those!

This has gotten me so pumped for fall, and I intend on making the most of it!!!



It’s My Birthday | 23 Goals for 23

Today is my 23rd birthday.

Before I can say hello to 23-year-old me, I have to bid adieu to 22. This past year was really difficult for me. Looking back, a lot of it was spent feeling sad. My first year out of college – be it an existential crisis or just too much negative energy – was tough. Really tough. And I want it to be no secret that I found it that way, especially in this age of social media. No one’s life is as perfect as their Instagram feed.

Life is hard, but we get through it. And as I get older, I think the lows are just as important as the highs. I’m going to refer to them as growing pains, and my early twenties have already had a lot of them.

Every day I have to remind myself that I’m on my own personal journey. I might not be where I want to be yet, but I will get there. I’m looking forward to what this upcoming year has in store for me.

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23 Goals for 23

  1. Take better care of myself.
  2. Eat well (less processed, more whole foods)
  3. Do things that make me happy.
  4. Be a better daughter, sister, and friend.
  5. Travel to a new destination.
  6. Get out of my comfort zone more often.
  7. Learn how to dive.
  8. Read 10+ books.
  9. Watch all the Star Wars movies.
  10. Make an unlikely friend.
  11. Volunteer with animals.
  12. Work towards making my London dreams a reality.
  13. Visit Mariah in Washington state.
  14. Experience Harry Potter World Hollywood.
  15. Take a spin class.
  16. Spend more time outdoors.
  17. Write more.
  18. Smile more.
  19. Laugh more.
  20. Continue trusting in the process.
  21. Keep learning/growing/creating.
  22. Stay positive.
  23. Take it one day at a time.

And I’d like to wish a massive happy birthday to all my fellow September babies <3

Photo: @drakeoncake



Transition Style | Denim, Midi, & Superstars

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Black midi-dress – H&M

Jacket – Lola

Adidas Superstars – Adidas

Sunglasses – Prada

Initial Necklace – Topshop

Watch – Daniel Wellington

Today I am tackling transition style. And not just transition style, summer-to-fall transition style! I’m one of those fall-loving, Christmas in July types. And I just so happen to be a September baby, so once the end of August arrives I am in my absolute element. Everyone, it is officially my favorite time of year.

There is something about this “awkward” time of year. Kids are heading back to school, stores are selling Halloween + Christmas decor, and there’s a slight autumnal chill to the air. Okay, so maybe San Diego is just enjoying a cool-down and a fairly cooler summer season. But this does nothing to deter my excitement!

The outfit you are seeing in this post is something I threw together for a day of thrift shopping, café sitting, and mother-daughter(s) quality time. I wore this black midi dress (which I tied into a knot), a light denim jacket, and my Adidas Superstars. Aside from the jacket, each piece has been a staple in my summer wardrobe. I threw in the jacket because it was quite chilly that morning. I thought the combination of everything, including those classic accessories, is be the epitome of summer-to-fall fashion.

Transition Style

So here in southern California, it is practically summer year-round. However, when you’re as obsessed with fall and winter as I am, you accept the sunshine and break out the light jackets as soon as the temperature drops to the low 70s. A bit much? Maybe.

Growing up, I had several bins to separate my clothes by season. This meant winter clothes were stored away once spring had sprung. These days, my wardrobe is no slave to the seasons. It is also full of black clothing, but that’s a different story.

Transition style is all about having fun and wearing clothes because you want to, not because the season dictates it. I’ll still be wearing white after Labor Day and shorts in the winter. Paired with tights, of course.

How do you and your wardrobe transition between summer and fall?



Do-It-Yourself Bottled Rose Water

The newest addition to my beauty routine is rose water, and today I have for the blog a do-it-yourself bottled rose water recipe. I took inspiration from Swooned Magazine and this post.

There are many benefits to rose water, however the biggest plus in my opinion has to be its light scent. It is very much so reminiscent of a bouquet of roses – and for a romantic like myself, that is its selling point.

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You will need:

  • Miniature spray bottles (I got this one for .97 at Target!)
  • Pot with lid
  • Stovetop
  • Fresh rose petals
  • Purified water
  • Measuring cup
  • Coffee filters

 

Making this DIY is fairly simple, and it only took me around 2 hours to prepare, cool, and bottle.

First, gather your rose petals. My grandmother has a variety of garden roses in our front and back yards, so I experimented with a few in order to achieve the pretty pink color you see in the photos. I ended up using petals from one darker pink rose. You are also welcome to use store-bought roses. Either way, make sure you rinse the petals!

Next, place your petals into a pot with purified water. I used less than half of a water bottle to cover all the petals. After it begins to boil, allow it to simmer just until the petals have lost all their color. Remove from heat.

Once cooled, I poured the water and petals over a coffee filter into a measuring cup. It made it easier to bottle in the long run.

The end result should be a full bottle of your very own rose water. The finishing touch was the sticker label I added to the front!

The Benefits

Aside from being cheap to make yourself, there are quite a few benefits of it. I was pleased to learn of these qualities:

  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-inflamatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Moisturizing
  • Toning

If its light, fresh scent isn’t enough to encourage you to make this DIY, I do hope its benefits are!

Let me know in the comments if you decide to make it!



Ice Cream Flights | Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream

Summer in San Diego just wouldn’t be complete without an ice cream cone… or six! You’ve heard of beer flights, but have you heard of ICE CREAM FLIGHTS?! We can all thank Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream for the brilliant concept. With flight options of 3, 6, and 32, no ice cream enthusiast walks out of the shop unsatisfied. A statement I personally know to be true.

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I remember first wanting to visit (way back in 2014) when I saw a picture of a flight of 6 on Tumblr, and I thought “Wow. Where is this place? I NEED to try it out.” A quick Google search later, I learned it was in my city! Needless to say, I paid a visit the very next day.

Hammond’s is now my go-to ice cream shop when I’m feeling like treating myself. I always go for the sorbets because I can’t say “no” to POG*-flavored anything. Flavor favorites amongst my sister and I are green tea, pineapple coconut, and pitaya.

(*Passionfruit-orange-guava)

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Ice Cream Flights

With flavors such as toasted coconut, Kona coffee, and peanut butter guava jelly, it’s no secret that the ice creams are island-inspired. Hammond’s offers over 300 flavors of ice cream and sorbet made by Tropical Dreams in Hawaii. They specialize in super premium, meaning you’ll be partaking in super rich and creamy ice cream.

When I visit the shop, I always go for the flights. I commend myself on being able to making a sound decision, but sometimes you just don’t want to choose between chocolate and vanilla. That’s why these ice cream flights are simply amazing. I can get every flavor I want, and the flight itself is quite the aesthetic.

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Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream

The initial shop opened two years ago in my favorite SD neighborhood of North Park, and now Hammond’s boasts a total of 3 locations in the city.

North Park – 3077 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104

Point Loma – 3740 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

Pacific Beach – 1418 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

Please do yourself the favor of visiting one (or all three) of these locations when you’re in San Diego!



Empanadas, Pastries, and More | Liberty Public Market

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Last week, I had the chance to finally pay a visit to Liberty Station’s newest resident – Liberty Public Market. For those of you not aware, Liberty Public Market is a farmers market composed of local San Diego and southern California vendors. Inside you’ll find everything from food vendors to fresh produce and even wine tastings. There’s something for everyone – with plenty of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free options as well. It is basically a foodie’s paradise.

I was mostly interested in trying the Argentine empanadas from Paraná. The empanadas are baked, made with all natural ingredients, and are to-die for. I ordered the Mushroom & Cheese, Margherita, and Beef (for my sister) empanadas – and they were delicious. I loved the crust of the empanadas, and the Mushroom filling was so flavorful! Definitely a must-try.

It’s also worth it to mention that we went to the market during its peak time around noon. This place was poppin’, which resulted in not enough photographs of the many vendors inside of Liberty Public Market. There are a total of 25 resident “artisans,” and you could very well spend half a day there trying everything.

There’s no shortage of great food and fun at Liberty Public Market. Enjoy something healthy and raw from Fishbone Kitchen, something fried and greasy from Cane Patch Kitchen, or something sweet from Crafted Baked Goods and Le Parfait Paris! I had a lot of fun looking at all the pastries – it’s a favorite past-time of mine.

I’m a huge proponent of shopping and eating local, so I’m glad that I have Liberty Public Market. I love going to farmers markets here in San Diego, but now I don’t have to wait until the weekend.

If you ever find yourself in San Diego, make sure you give yourself half a day to enjoy this amazing marketplace. You won’t regret it!