i fantasized ’bout this back in chicago…

if you follow me on instagram, you know i spent the second half of last week in chicago.  a few years ago, i was spending some time in chicago with some of my favorite reslife women – gigi and christine.  while i got to experience chicago as a city, one of the most memorable events of that entire year was greek easter.  christine’s family is fully greek and greek easter is celebrated like christmas, only bigger and significantly more fun.


when christine got married this past december (you can read about my bridesmaid dress post here), i promised her family i would make it out for greek easter 2019.  when i looked at a calendar and realized greek easter fell during my spring break week, i was elated.  this meant i could not only celebrate greek easter but spend some much needed quality time with my work wife from honda, reens and her amazing boyfriend, sam.  over the years, we all feel more like family.  so, let’s get to it.


by the way, i feel like i ate my way through chicago.  i clearly took the whole “spring break” thing to a new level.


i flew in wednesday night and felt like i was moving to chicago with all the luggage i had.  part of this was because my hair is not in braids so i had to travel with far more products than i did on my previous trip to the chi.  the second reason is because the weather forecast changed about 87438729 times in the week leading up to me arriving.  even with me waiting until the day before to pack, there were still changes later on in the trip that i did not have proper clothing for.  such is life, i suppose.


i kicked off thursday with candace, one of the bridesmaids from christine’s wedding that i clicked with immediately at my first greek easter.  we met for brunch at 3 arts club cafe – this amazing restaurant located inside of a restoration hardware store.  you guys, i was shook.  it was absolutely breathtaking.  who wouldn’t want to wait on furniture this inviting while their table was being prepared?  so many of my home decor dreams came to life within seconds of walking in…




i live for neutrals, especially shades of gray and white.  the subtle pops of color whether it be a plant or a bowl made me ridiculously excited.  as if that was not gorgeous enough, these are a couple of shots of the view from my table.





i don’t know where i would put it but i need one of these chandeliers for my own apartment.


the menu was simple yet covered all of the necessary bases.  candace and i ordered a bottle of rosé while trying to decide what appetizer to get.



we ended up going with the burrata and there could not have been a better decision made.  it was so fresh and the oven roasted tomatoes were subtly sweet.  i honestly could have gotten a second order to eat as my meal but wanted to be mindful of just how much cheese i knew i would consume over my time spent in chicago.  candace laughed out loud at me – i am truly a californian.



for our meals, candace ordered the lobster roll with fries and i had the kale caesar with shrimp and avocado.  the only thing we would not order again were the fries – many because they seemed to have been sitting.  everything else tasted just as good as it looks below.



we couldn’t leave without satisfying our sweet tooth.  because they make their doughnuts in house, we had to try a couple of different flavors.  both the cookies n cream and the coconut doughnuts were so good!  they were just sweet enough and the texture was perfect – light, cakey goodness.



it’s like they knew i would be writing a blog post about this dreamy wonderland because there was a perfect selfie mirror on our way out that i had to get a shot in front of:



because the weather was so great, we headed over to one of candace’s favorite spots (quartino) that has great outside seating, including a terrace on the second floor.  for the record, “so great” in chicago is being in the low to mid 60s in april.  when i left la the day before, it was 81 degrees.




i will never say no to sparkling rosé in the sunshine.


i had a tiny bit of down time before joining reens and sam at one of the most breathtaking bars i have ever been to – cindy’s.




if you go, you have to order the drink pictured below – no bars.  i love just about anything with vodka.  the peach, citrus flavors and fizz made it even better.  this drink tastes like springtime.



because i knew we would be outdoors, i did a slight outfit modification.  the weather in chicago shifts at the drop of a hat so instead of one of my cozy cardigans, i brought out the faux fur.



naturally, reens and i were accidentally twinning.  this is one of the many reasons she is my work wife for life.



can we talk about both of these views?




cindy’s treated me well and i will definitely be back.  during a warmer day, i would not even attempt to go here without a reservation.  we waited about 15 minutes to get to the rooftop on a weekday when it was already in the 50s outside.


on friday, reens humored me by taking me to do all of the touristy things i wanted to do.  while i had done most of them before, i wasn’t blogging then so circling back was necessary.  first stop was:


millenium park



next, we went to portillo’s.  i eat a hot dog maybe once a year but i cannot go to chicago and not get at least a polish dog with some cheese fries from this staple.  it was just as good as i remembered.



we swung by sears (now willis) tower because we thought this sky lounge was there but we were at the wrong building!  we pulled it together and made our way over to the signature room at 95th – it is at the john hancock building.  the views and the service were unparalleled.




oddly enough, the best views were from the women’s restroom – it is like they knew women would want photos with this background.  we literally watched a group of women leave their table and request that their table be held so they could get a group shot while the lighting was still this good.  gotta love it.


we headed home and i finally got to try the deep dish and calamari served at giordano’s – my life will never be the same.




this was the perfect thing to coat my stomach before heading out to the bar to continue drinking and participating in my first turtle race!




big joe’s was such a great little pub.  the staff and locals were so friendly.  there was a diverse crowd.  i appreciated that the patrons controlled the music, the drinks were stiff and i happened to win my first turtle race with #4 – lucky dan.  i even have a shirt to prove it!



on saturday, we trekked out in the snow.  yes, you read that correctly, the snow, for a byob brunch.  la really needs to take some notes from chicago.  there are so many byob places and that is a game changer.  breakfast house was amazing and the supreme chorizo hash had this unreal chipotle aioli that i could happily just drink.  probably sounds gross but it is honest.  the pancake that accompanied my chorizo hash was perfectly fluffy and absorbed the syrup just the way i liked.  i am certain everything was improved by the two bottles of champagne and bottle of sparkling rosé we polished off.




we relaxed for a bit post brunch and then by sheer luck, one of my closest mentors and friends, reena was in town for just over 24 hours.  we were somehow able to make dinner plans work and proceeded to spend literally four hours at this dope restaurant – ocean prime.




pictured above are about half the items we ordered:  the black orchid is a delicious vodka based cocktail with an edible orchid – how gorgeous?! for dinner, i ordered the lobster roll and the spicy tuna roll – both were ridiculously fresh which makes sense since they have the fish flown in daily.  for dessert, we split both the butter cake and the creme brûlée – we had zero regrets.  not pictured is one of the most beautiful cocktails i have ever seen – berries and bubbles – it is also vodka based and you can see its goodness on my chicago highlight on the gram.  we had the smoked gouda tater tots and the broccoli and cauliflower.  all were flavor packed and just perfection.  we were so impressed with both the ambiance and the service seeing as how the restaurant has only been open for three weeks.  they have several other locations but if you go to the one in chicago, ask to be seated in tyler’s section.  he is an absolute riot and so friendly and relatable.


sunday rolled around and it was so bittersweet.  i was sad knowing my trip was coming to an end but was so pumped to head to greek easter.  i could not wait for reens and sam to experience it.  there really is no way to really explain it – you just have to live it.  i think they thought i might be exaggerating until we walked up the driveway with all of my luggage (since i was going straight from aster to the airport) and my favorite uncle in the family screamed that we needed to take shots.


if you have seen my big fat greek wedding, think of that kind of situation only better because of the company, the laughter, the never ending drinks and the best lamb you have ever had in your life.






getting to reunite with almost all of the bridesmaids from christine’s wedding and squeeze her parents and karl (her husband) in person was the icing on the cake!




chicago was exactly what i needed to help get me through the last month of work.  it was filled with friends who have become family, great food, tasty cocktails, tons of fun and just joy.


if you have been to chicago, what places were must sees for you?  i would love to hear about it in the comments below.










a much needed psa

may is not a month i typically enjoy.  in recent years, it also is not a month that i look forward to.  in fact, i now dread the month of may.


over the four years i was in grad school (2013-2017) and working in the car business, may was absolutely slammed.  tons of exams, papers, projects and work at the dealership was insane, especially with memorial day weekend being one of the highest volume weekends of the entire calendar year.  i knew before may arrived that it would be far from easy and would require an unreal amount of work.  sleep would be limited and iced coffees would be exponentially increased.  as if this time was not crazy enough, i received a call while at work at the dealership on may 27th of 2016 that would change the lives of many.


i was working in my office at honda when my phone rang.  i have very few unscheduled calls, this applied even more while i was in grad school.  it was a call to tell me that one of my closest friends, gracelyn, had lost her dad unexpectedly. i was in disbelief and simply wanted to figure out how i could show my support even if we were living on opposite ends of the state.  while it is not easy to lose a loved one (regardless of the circumstances), i think it is even more difficult if there were no warning signs.  gracelyn had no idea that when she saw her dad the previous weekend for her brother’s wedding that that would be the last time she would be able to see her dad in the flesh.  how does one prepare for something that hits you like a ton of bricks?


a little less than a year later, in early may, my grandmother, connie, or grammy as i called her, passed.  while she had cancer, just a couple of weeks before, there were talks of discharging her.  so even though when someone has cancer, the normal thing to do is to start to prepare, with talks of discharge, that is not the route i took.  flying home on may 7th of 2017 and getting to the hospital less than half an hour after her passing is the most devastating thing i have ever experienced.  i do not know that there are words for it.


just a couple of months ago, a dear friend of mine, tierra, lost her mother.  similarly to my grandmother, it was also to cancer.  just like with my grammy, tierra’s mom was one of her best friends – they had the luxury of truly experiencing one another as adults and getting to know and love all pieces of one another, flaws and all.  while it may be standard to have to bury a parent or a grandparent, the grief that is endured is not lessened.


while all three of us were supported by some friends and family, all three of us also encountered a great deal of people who tried to rush us through our grief process.  whether it was by telling us this was normal + the cycle of life, dismissing our feelings all together or telling us some generic one liner, we all endured more pain from people we thought would be supporting us.


when i came across this quote, i thought about how it was applicable to so many parts of life, and especially to grief:




“psa:  please don’t tell people to heal from something you’ve never been through.”


i do not know who said this but they deserve all the fucking recognition in the world.


there were so many people who had never lost a parent who were telling gracelyn how she should be grieving.  rather than letting that take over in the worst possible way, instead, she started two amazing projects – luna peak is a company founded with her aunt based around cancer survival and snapshots of life after loss is all about grief and loss over time whether it be one month or 10 years; it could be a friend, a spouse, a child or a sibling – all types of grief and loss are covered.  all types of grief are covered because all types of grief are significant.  that is something that is not said enough and needs to be shouted from the rooftops.


with the loss of grammy, it was clear that plenty of people in my orbit did not get it.  why was i taking the loss of a grandparent so hard?   grammy was not someone i saw just on holidays or had a surface level relationship with.  for six years of my childhood, i lived with her.  my grandmother was at every major event at my school.  my grandmother directed the gospel choir i sang in as a child.  my grandmother was the first person i called in a state of crisis.  my grandmother went from being my grandmother to one of my best friends as i entered adulthood.  no topic was off limits – work, school, family, friends, sex – you name it, she could speak on it.  i found it (and still find it) incredibly frustrating when people would try and tell me how to heal.  how could they when they were comparing it to surface level relationships with their own grandparents?  i had to resist yelling not to speak on shit they could not relate to.


most recently, watching tierra take a risk to be vulnerable about her grief process with her mom has been both sickening and beautiful.  it has been sickening to see people who are close to her try to dictate what grief around her mother should look like.  it has been beautiful to see other people let her be raw and even more beautiful to see her blossom and be unapologetic when expressing her grief.  some people trying to dictate what this should look like still have their mothers here.  i cannot even fathom what it will be like if/when i lose my mom but i imagine myself being a fucking wreck.  watching tierra still do day to day things, especially being a registered nurse (where her job is taking care of people every single day) is mind blowing.  i am constantly in awe of her strength.  similar to gracelyn, they are both still finding out ways to really honor their parents in their deaths.


something all three of us share is that we do not want to be told how to deal with our grief, especially by people who have never experienced loss to this degree.  while this might be an extreme case, i want you to ask yourself if you have ever asked someone to heal from something you have never been through?


or better yet, have you ever been asked to heal by a person who has not experienced the same thing?


i would love to hear about it below.






brass fern house

at any given moment, i have at least one bouquet in my home.  most often, they are placed in the rooms i frequent – my living room, dining room and/or kitchen.  i also love having a bouquet in my office at work – it transforms the space and makes both the client and myself feel better about being there.  that being said, you can imagine my excitement when lorraine from brass fern house contacted me to collaborate.


while i have ordered from brass fern house on several occasions whether it be a birthday, planning our 10 year class reunion or a just because bouquet, i have never designed a bouquet myself.  lorraine does such outstanding work that i just trust her without hesitation.  even still, because she knows of my love for flowers, she thought it would be cool for me to come up with inspiration for a special bouquet for spring.


i spent hours scouring the web looking at different types of flowers and finally sent over the flowers i liked best along with a color scheme that felt both springy and like me.  what she came up with on the first go was absolutely spectacular.




the bouquet is packed with ranunculus, roses and hyacinth and other spring blooms.  here is another shot of this beautiful bundle!




it is the perfect gift for mother’s day, to brighten your best friend’s day, for a birthday, a just because gift for your girlfriend/partner/wife or any other occasion.


to order the k.tap x brass fern house bundle, click here.


it will be the best $45 you’ve ever spent.  the bundles last well over a week and will definitely put a smile on the face of the recipient.  if you are currently subscribed to my blog, you will have access to a discount code for $5 off – just message me once you decide to place your order.


to see more extraordinary work from brass fern house, visit their instagram page.  you will not be disappointed.



k. tap

thought of the week: healing takes bravery

if you have a single social media account, i am sure you have been inundated with messages about “self-care” – many of the people in my friend group, myself included, talk about this concept frequently.


when i looked up the definition of self-care, it was described as “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health.  although it is a simple concept in theory, it is something we very often overlook.  good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety.”  common forms of self-care include getting a good amount of sleep, exercising or spending time doing something relaxing – my favorite form of relaxation is taking a candlelit bath with a good playlist.  self-care is thought to be something that is healing, or at least that is how i frequently hear it pitched in mainstream media.  there seems to be a missing piece.


elizabeth (or biz, as i call her), an awesome mama bear of two who seems to constantly post things that speak to my soul shared this earlier this year.  i cannot count how many times i have reread it.




“be brave enough to heal yourself even when it hurts.” -bianca sparacino


i do not say this just as a therapist, i say it as a person who is constantly working on self-improvement:  self-care is not just about great rem cycles, yoga and bubble baths, self-care is also truly doing the work necessary in order to heal.  that is the shit i don’t see discussed enough.  when i think of the most significant self-care, it has been based around having difficult conversations with people i love, setting crucial boundaries and spending time working with a therapist, even when it took every ounce of strength i had in me.


something i tell each of my clients during our first session is this: before we go any further, i want you to know that before things get better, frequently, they have to get worse.  we are going to dig deep and that may unearth some things you thought were resolved.  i just want to be transparent about that before we move forward.  are you open to doing the work?  and then i let them decide.


i let them decide if they are brave enough to heal themselves, even when it hurts.


now, anyone that knows me will tell you that my dream home has an insane tub in the master bath because that is one of my favorite ways to decompress.  as much as i love bubble baths, they do not take the place of the devastatingly beautiful work i have done in order to truly heal.  while a bubble bath might transport me to a different place for the hour i spend in the tub, if i am not doing the work to truly address the problems that are present, they will be waiting there for me the second i step out of the tub.  if that is the case, am i really taking care of myself?


true healing often involves true discomfort.  it might even hurt.  but trust me, it hurts so good.


are you brave enough to heal yourself even when it hurts?  i would love to hear about it.



k. tap

love goodly

to kick off my spring break yesterday, i enjoyed a great vegetarian meal at zinc cafe and market (and a couple glasses of rosé, of course) with an old friend from high school, nicole.   there are few things that compare to great conversation over a great meal but one thing is seeing an independent woman thrive in her field.


nicole is currently the e-commerce manager at love goodly – a company that created subscription boxes for women by women.  their focus is on being nontoxic, cruelty free and vegan.  there is something refreshing about knowing that the products you are putting onto your skin (the largest organ on your body) are actually good for it.


at lunch yesterday, nicole was kind enough to bring me the february box (you guys know how i feel about the month of february)!  the box was absolutely adorable.




the box contained only things that were both healthy and indulgent.


one of my favorite snacks ever – angie’s boom chicka pop sweet & salty kettle corn 



for you chocolate lovers, a fine & raw chocolate bar with sea salt



zatik’s gratitude face serum – this is the product i am most excited about.  i am all about preventative care and while i don’t have deep wrinkles in my skin as of yet, i definitely see smile lines from time to time that could turn into crow’s feet if unaddressed.



a two sided aisling organics makeup brush – highly functional and i don’t think there is a such thing as having too many brushes.



flower mill’s balm shell smells heavenly (and i could actually understand every ingredient used to make it) and removes anything from your skin that isn’t meant to be there – from makeup to excess oil.  if you are like me, sometimes, your skin may not feel totally clean after using a makeup removal wipe.  i am thinking this will be the perfect thing to add to my routine on the couple days per week that i wear makeup.



the best thing about the love goodly boxes are that there are a variety of items both to use and consume, every item is full sized so you can actually get several uses for each product and most importantly, exactly what is says on the box: eco. natural. healthy. no animals harmed. curated with love.


head over to love goodly to customize your own box or to subscribe.  i think these boxes would make the perfect gifts!



k. tap