Sensible Stylista

Tearing up Phoenix: Part 2

Alright guys, it's time for part 2 of my Phoenix recap - if you missed segment one and want to catch up, clicky here.  Now, it's been a while, but if I remember correctly the aforementioned post ended with me, Mel and Diana passing out at Hotel Valley Ho after a long but very fun day.  We were all exhausted, but we woke up hella early anyways because we wanted to take photos around our suite and eat breakfast before hitting up Usery Mountain Regional Park.  

We ordered a TON of room service and shot a kickass flat lay in bed!  In case you're wondering, we got a fruit smoothie, a yogurt parfait, a vat of coffee, Belgian waffles, red velvet waffles, and a mushroom omelette with toast and taters.  I'm not gonna lie, by the time we shot everything the noms were straight up cold...but luckily still delicious.  We were laughing our asses off while styling this shot (see it on insta here) because we tied Diana's camera to the chandelier to get the best angle possible.  Hashtag creative blogger solutions.  

After scarfing down brekkie, we changed quickly and checked out.  Tai from Boss Transportation was waiting for us out front to take us to Usery.  Anddddd let's just take a time out to talk about Tai for a quick sec.  If you're in AZ and need a ride, hit him up STAT.  He epitomizes professionalism and is cool as hell - he'll get you wherever you need to go on time all day, every day with max comfort. You'll seriously feel like an a-lister riding in the back of his whip.

Anywho, it took us about 20-30 minutes to get to Usery, and I was amped during the entire drive.  I'm a huge fan of hiking, and I had no doubt the views would be ridiculously amazing so I was pumped. Usery Park's located on the valley's east side and takes in 3,648 acres set at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains.  We hiked Wind Cave trail and ended up 2,840 feet off the ground (!!!) It took us a bit longer than expected and we ended up being hella late, but it was worth every minute because the view was spectacular up top!  

Here's a shot of us resting in the wind "cave" - I say "cave" because it's more of a scar-like depression in the rock.  Definitely worth checking out regardless!  Pro tip aka common sense tip: don't go around flipping random rocks and stay on the main trail.  This is the desert after all, and you don't want to piss off the critters (rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions, etc.) that live there.  It's honestly fine, and I don't want to scare anyone, but it's better to be safe than sorry, right? I didn't see anything other than a cute chipmunk and hummingbird, but one of the guides told us she saw a snake on the main path a while back so just be attentive...and smart.
After our hike, Tai drove us to Queen Creek Olive Mill for a tour + tasting.  We got there and were greeted by the most beautiful spread of tapenades, sandwiches, charcuterie, and sweets.  I wasn't super hungry (shocking I know) so I decided to just chill and munch on a cupcake while chatting with my new blogger friends.  They were raving about the food so I'm assuming it was delish - I'm actually kind of bummed that I passed on noms now, but I guess that just means I'll have to go back.  

Diana and I finished quickly so we decided to explore.  We walked inside and sampled rows of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I can't even begin to tell you guys how good everything tasted.  I would've TOTALLY purchased several bottles to go, but I didn't have space inside my suitcase so I had to pass - such a bummer. Their cheese stuffed olives and gelato though? So much yasssss.
The different bruschettas that were waiting for us: Caprese with roasted garlic olive oil, fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, basil, and robus EVOO.  Honey mascarphone, grapes, fig balsamic reduction, and balanced EVOO.  Then a pear one that I can't remember? I think it was seasonal!
Delish cupcakes that were to die for good.
Then we went off to our second lunch, ha.  I was SUPER excited to go to Agritopia because I saw that we were eating at Joe's Farm Grill - it was featured on Guy Fieri's show, "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives."  After studying the menu for a solid 15 minutes, I decided to get two dishes that were featured on the show:  the Fontina Burger (made with roasted red pepper, grilled mushrooms, field greens, farm-made pecan pesto, and imported fontina cheese) and Onion Rings (hand-breaded in rosemary-dill panko).

I enjoyed the burger's flavor profile, but for me, the star of the show was def. the onion rings.  They were crispy morsels of perfection, and I just couldn't get enough.  Oh, and did I mention that Agritopia sells same-day harvested produce at The Farm Stand (in their community) in addition to providing fresh ingredients for the diner?  Oh hell yes.
My noms - my presh noms.
After eating aka experiencing mad food coma, Tai escorted us to the Scott Resort where we checked in.  Once again, we were blown away by the facilities, and they made us feel super welcome with cute gift bags!  Mel and I had spa treatments scheduled at 3:30 so we unpacked quickly and power-walked to Jurlique.  She chose to get a resurfacing enzyme facial, while I got a Vichy Nirvana massage (as did Diana).  

This may have quite possibly been one of the best experiences I've ever had, like, in my life. My therapist gave me a medium pressure full body massage while immersing my bod under their vichy shower, and I seriously felt like I was melting...and I mean that in the best way possible.  I came out totally relaxed, but wished it was 90 minutes long instead of 60, ha.  I'd honestly go back to Phoenix just to get pampered at Jurlique again.
Post-spa chilling in my Amiclubwear shoot!
...splashing water because I'm hella playful...
A huge thanks to Brooklyn Hat Company & Lipton PR for sending me this adorable hat!  I wore it EVERY day in AZ because I thought it was the cutest. I still can't get over how adorbs the design is - it has little pom poms (!!!!) See a shot of it here on my instagram.  
Anywho, after chillaxing and shooting pics, we rushed back to our room to get ready for happy hour + a fab culinary reception hosted by The Scott's culinary team.  They hired a new chef recently so they were super excited for us to taste their food - they're apparently revamping the menu and also renovating the resort throughout 2017.  After tasting their noms, I'm kind of sad I didn't get to try their actual dinner menu.  The food and cocktails were so on point!  The girls and I totally "mmmmm-ed" out loud as we sampled everything.  After chatting with the manager for a bit, we ubered to SumoMaya for dinner...

...and died from multiple foodgasms.  Who knew Phoenix was foodie heaven? I've seriously had some of the most amazing food I've ever had in my LIFE in AZ.  SumoMaya's a Mexican/Asian fusion restaurant featuring delish tapas that'll leave you ridiculously satisfied.  We got two different kinds of sangria (rose + red) to start and browsed the menu leisurely before deciding on the following: Spinach + Bacon Salad, the Lobster Mango Roll, Rainbow Ceviche, Rock Shrimp Tempura, Korean Beef Tacos, Pescado Dorado Tacos, Seared Scallops, and Mexican Street Corn.  

The grub was out of this world. If heaven was a food, it'd probably taste like SumoMaya.  As many of you know, I don't eat fish so I skipped the Ceviche and Fish tacos, but everything else was game.  The spinach + bacon salad came with baby spinach, warm bacon, togarashi, walnuts, raisins, asian pear, and pickled egg topped with a champagne vinaigrette.  Everything was fresh, and the flavors complemented each other beautifully.

The roll featured main lobster, crab, mango, okinawa, potato and piquillo chimichurri - super flavorful so no soy sauce necessary IMO.  The korean tacos were seasoned with yakiniku sauce and served with pickled veggies + kimchee - def. one of my faves from the night!  Althoughhhh, it's a tough call between them and the seared scallops.  The latter was seared perfectly and served in a citrus coconut plantain sauce + smoked bacon fufu.  I mean, I can't even. I'm still salivating at the thought of it all.  And the mexican street corn? Made with cotija, spicy mayo and lime, it was a total party in my mouth.  We ended the meal on an extra high note with different kinds of mochi ice cream + chocolate cake & caramel gelato.  
With our bellies full of food, Mel and I concluded that we desperately needed to work out so we powered through Tabata Strength (from the Insanity Max 30 workout) to burn calories before passing out.  Fast forward to day 4: we woke up bright and early again to check out the Desert Botanical Garden.  We had the option of sleeping in, but why do that when there's more to see?  

Tai picked us up and we got our browse on for a good 1.5 hours.  The garden was HUGE (140 acres to be exact) so we only got to see a small portion of it, but everything we saw looked gorg.  Some impressive stats for you guys, it houses 50k+ plants and averages 633k+ visitors yearly.  For those of you interested in visiting, tickets are $24.95 per adult, $12.95 for kids age 3-17, and free for members and children under 3.
Afterwards, we met up with everyone at Phoenix Public Market Cafe for breakfast.  I ordered a latte and a housemade juice ($6.50) to start - it was called the Hulk, and it had spinach, kale, cucumber, apple, parsley, lemon, and celery.  For my entree, I wanted something healthy so I went with their Quinoa Bowl, served with poached eggs, market vegetables (sourced directly from the adjacent farmer's market), quinoa, and pesto ($10.25).  
Management also brought out a platter of housemade pastries for us to share, and it was all super nom.  See that flaky goodness that's topped with strawberry frosting? That's their obscenely tasty homemade pop-tart.  I was half tempted to purchase a few to go, but I resisted my urges (self control FTW).  
Anddd that's a wrap guys!  I hope you enjoyed reading all about my trip to Phoenix.  If you're looking for a fab place to vacation, definitely consider AZ.  The food is phenomenal, the attractions are really interesting, and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, shoot me a message! I'm here for you all.  Before I leave, I want to thank Visit Phoenix for hosting me and my beautiful frands.  A special thanks to Trish Lanteigne for making it all possible.

Gone with the Wind...Literally

It was SO ridiculously windy out when Julian (aka Steeze Media) and I took these shots.  It was GREAT for photos and all, but I totally got sick afterwards because it was fuh-reezing.  I love shooting formal gowns because they're fun to play with, anddd I realized I never featured this piece so I figured better late than never.  I've had this dress for YEARS now so it's been through a lot - think graduations, important performances, and nerve-racking auditions.
Like most all of my dresses, I scooped this number up at BCBG.  Their gowns are always on point! They're pricy, but they ooze quality and their designs are second to none.  Man, I'm still pissed that closed all of their brick & mortar factory outlets, ugh.  I guess I'll be hitting up ASOS more often than I already do, ha.
I'm a huge fan of pastel gowns, but I feel like red looks best on stage.  There's just something about the color - it makes me feel powerful, confident, and sexy!  Anywho, I'm curious to hear what you guys think from an audience's perspective.  Are there specific shades that you prefer? If yes, why do you think that is?
 Shot by the fabulous Steeze Media.

Recap: Walters Art Museum & Nom Korean Food + Desserts in MD

Excited to update you guys on my latest adventure!  The BF and I recently hit up the Walters Art Museum for funsies - we got to the Peabody Institute hella early and had time to kill so we decided to mosey on over and edumacate ourselves.  Located in Baltimore, MD, the Walters is internationally renowned for its art collection - 4 floors, baby - showcasing pieces from pre-dynastic Egypt to 20th-century Europe.  Their current exhibitions include:  Ferocious Beauty:  Wrathful Deities from Tibet to Nepal & From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story.
The bf and I enjoyed exploring their extensive arms and armor + jewelry collections!  I was also a huge fan of the roman sculptures & impressionist oil paintings.  I actually want to come back here and do a photoshoot in the sculpture court...if that's allowed, ha.  It's this GORGEOUS space with giant white pillars - I'd feel super goddess-y shooting gown pics in here soooo I'll definitely have to call and ask.  

Anywho, admission's totally free because William and Henry Walters were bamfs, but if you're looking to support the arts (which you totally should), you can donate or purchase stuffs from their shop.  Street parking's a bit difficult in Mt. Vernon, but there are several garages near by so you don't have to worry!
After browsing for a few hours, I took bf to the George Peabody library (housed inside my school, the Peabody Conservatory) and showed him around.  In case you haven't been, the architecture there is ridiculously stunning. There are six tiers of cast-iron columns, decorative railings, and classical embellishments that are touched with gold-leaf. The room itself is 61 feet tall and features a b&w marble floor + ginormous skylight.  I left him there to take pics for his instagram account (@scenicpath) because I had to work - in case you didn't know, I'm a piano teacher there by day.
We were super hungry so we drove to Ellicott City afterwards for noms.  I wanted to get soontofu for dinner at Lighthouse Tofu, but they had closed? Such a bummer because I really liked their food, but it's all good because we got to try a new joint.  A few of my friends had told me good things about Han Joong Kwan so we decided to go - FYI, they specialize in Chinese-Korean cuisine.  I ordered for us and got the following: jjajangmyun (noodles with black bean sauce + pork + veggies), kkangpoongi (spicy garlic fried chicken - pictured below), and tangsuyuk (sweet & sour crispy pork).
The jjajangmyun there was REALLY on point!  The noodles were cooked to perfection, and the sauce was super tasty - it was by far my fave dish.  The fried chicken was also good, but the tangsuyuk was disappointing, which was strange because it was the most expensive dish we ordered.  There was just too much fat and the sauce was too sweet for my taste.  

All in call, I'd go back, but I'd stick with the noodles because they were cheap AND delish ($7 for a big bowl).  I'd be down to try their jjamppong (spicy seafood noodle soup) too!  If you're a fan of asian cuisine, definitely give them a try. Heads up, the restaurant itself isn't decked out - the interior isn't all that great, BUT it's clean - and there isn't much of an ambiance so if that's super important to you, I recommend going elsewhere.  
I bought dinner so the bf offered to buy drinks + dessert.  We stopped by a liquor store and picked up nice wine and Hpnotiq before heading to Tous Les Jours, a french-asian bakery, for sweets.  We got a cup of honey bread (pictured below), a chocolate croissant, and a chocolate pastry to share.  The noms here are usually good, but we struck out this time.  I'll have to do an in-depth review for you guys next time featuring my faves, but for now, I bid you guys adieu.