Sweet Chilli Thai Restaurant

My boyfriend and I drove up to Augusta a couple weekends ago to see a bit more of Maine. I hadn’t been there before so I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a pleasant surprise! Not too different from where we live now in the Portland area, but different enough to be remarkable. One difference is that it is definitely a hillier landscape, and there’s a pretty river running right through it, visible from two large bridge thoroughfares.

While there we actually drove up toward the regional airport for food! It was a quaint restaurant called Sweet Chilli Thai Restaurant, and it was perfect. We were able to sit by the window and see planes taking off and landing on the air strip while eating our tasty Thai fare.

It was delicious. I had the yellow curry, which had a good spice level and was a decent size. My SO had the pad thai. He tends to like it more peanutty than this version was, but I don’t, so I thought it was perfect. Both of us thought it was really delicious though. We also both got a Jasmine milk tea, which was DELICIOUS. Closest thing to bubble tea I’ve had in a long time (and that includes a place in Portland that actually serves boba..). It was an excellent meal and the establishment had excellent service, so I really highly recommend this place if you find yourself up in the Augusta area!

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Ogawa Coffee in Boston, Mass.

When my boyfriend and I came back from Japan we were cordially invited to a reception at the Boston Japanese Consulate General’s home. We attended and we met a good many people there – Japanese members of the community as well as JET returnees – and one of the attendees was the CEO of Ogawa Coffee.

Ever since we were there and I learned about it, I wanted to go back, and in April when I made a trip down to Boston I was able to! Here’s a look at the cafe and the sort of fare you can expect to get there.

 

Ogawa Coffee has a really cool, pretty authentically Japanese cafe atmosphere, but with American influence of course. Still pretty close quarters throughout, but with great high ceilings, some stadium/riser-style seating for solo guests and some tables for groups of up to maybe 5 or 6 people.

Now I wasn’t aware before I went, but they are apparently well known for their latte art. Upon seeing it, of course, I believe it! As you can tell I got not one but two drinks. :) The first a cappuccino and the second a matcha latte:

With my cappuccino, I ordered some food as well a turkey sandwich! I can’t remember the details but they actually have an extensive menu for food – mainly breakfast or lunch – and it was really delicious, balanced and healthy in my experience.

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I really miss the Japanese way of balancing meals, and this dish helped me reattain that balance. I wish I could pop in and eat there everyday.

To top off my experience I grabbed my matcha latte to go as well as a bag of coffee to share with my SO. :) Overall I had a great experience and they do a wonderful job of whipping up some delicious coffee, with the latte art as an added bonus. I always feel guilty for drinking the art away…

Have you been to Ogawa? What was your experience? And if you know of any other insider Japanese stops in the Northwest up here that are worth stopping at, give me a shout! I’d love to hear them.

A Spontaneous Journey to NYC

So a lot has happened since my last post everyone! Of those many things, some of which I will have to reveal at a later date, I was able to get out and have a somewhat impromptu trip to New York City, New York! The reason? To attend the U.S. Career Forum there, which is a career event oriented toward people with Japanese & English language abilities and interests. So for those of you who might be coming back to the US and want to pursue jobs in the US or in Japan with Japanese companies, this is for you!

Heading out

So this was the first leg of the trip. I bussed down to Boston South Station on the Concord Coach Line – which is pretty nice. If you’re heading up to Maine I’d recommend it. And if you’re ever having to linger around Boston SS and you need a snack or something, don’t feel like you have to stay in the bus station, which has limited options. My boyfriend recommended popping over to the train station next door because there are many more options available for whatever you may need – coffee and snack for me – and it was good advice. I felt better grabbing something at Au Bon Pain than I did at McDonalds. D:

After that I made the switch to a Peter Pan bus that would go to the NY Port Authority bus station. This… was not so nice. The drive down was good, but their buses are really not in good shape. The most vexing part was really only that none of the outlets were functioning on the bus, and I knew I was going to need my phone for navigation in New York so I wouldn’t just be that lost tourist.. A word to the wise: conserve your battery on the way down. Also, the bus was incredibly noisy – lots of parts seemed like they were shaking loose there.

And maybe par for the course for a Friday afternoon arrival, but we were scheduled to arrive at the Port Authority station at 1:45pm. When did we arrive? 3:30pm… Thank you gridlock New York traffic! I started to wonder why anyone even bothers to drive there.. more on that later.

That being said, we were on the bus for too long!! But the bright side is we drove all the way around Central Park in the process, which I wanted to see. :) It looked really cool – the scenic views were what kept me from losing my noggin in the middle of that lengthy bus arrival. From just outside the city all the way in, it was very, very New York. Up until now I didn’t know what that meant when other people said that, but now I do. So metropolitan, everything that everyone was doing just seemed like a natural, normal thing to do. I don’t know. Maybe if you’ve been you’ll know what I’m talking about.

One key observation that I had early on that persisted throughout my impromptu trip involved a pretty high level of horn honking. As a person who was once told that my ‘laugh point was low,’ it was pretty amusing, and no matter where I went in the city I heard fair amounts of horn honking. I think if you live there it becomes more like background noise and you notice less, but I definitely noticed it as an “outsider.” That being said, it certainly did not detract from the ambience of the city life – rather, it enhanced it! There’s no illusion when you’re lulled to sleep by occasional horn honks.

Anyway, to continue my tale, the first thing I had to do – well, second – was eat. I was starving after being on that bus for hours. So I went to Go! Go! Curry, which I found while Googling food on the bus, and I chose it because it wasn’t too far from the station. So I popped in there and ate ravenously.

 

It seemed like most of the clientele was male, probably because of all the carbs involved, but I had no shame. I hadn’t eaten in like 6 hours! And it was pretty delicious.

Since it was in the area and the theme of my journey seemed to be ‘Japan,’ I decided to pop into the NY Kinokuniya, which is right across from a nice park and a subway stop. I walked through some of the fashion district to get there and it was pretty scenic. My history of watching Project Runway found me excited to be in such close proximity to Mood, lol. But I pressed on to Kinokuniya because it is so natsukashii (なつかしい). I really long for some of the things I miss about Japan, being away from it and all. So I took myself in there and grabbed a book for my boyfriend, checked out a few more, longed for a wonderful bookstore such as Kinokuniya where I live, and then decided to head to my hotel digs.

So I got on the subway. Now I’ve heard a lot of things about the NY Subway (thanks 30 Rock), so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had to experience it right? I had bought a Metro Pass at the Hudson News in the Port Authority – a 4-rider – and used that to get on. I was in subway mode with my headphones and I stood most of the way. Nothing strange really happened, except a small kid came onto the subway selling snacks. When there were no takers he quickly moved to the next car. Other than that one occurrence though, nothing really happened at all. So I felt like the myth was busted. Rode down to Delaney St. and exited toward Essex St. above ground. I was in the Lower East Side, which was another thing I had to get used to on the journey – the Boroughs!! I was like which is where? half the time. Pretty handy to check out a map and try to remember though because subway signs say things like ‘Toward Uptown,” “Toward Downtown,” or “Toward Brooklyn,” and unless you know which area your destination is in, those signs aren’t exactly helpful.

The Digs + Lower East Side

Anywho, I walked myself a couple blocks down to the Blue Moon Hotel. You can find my Booking.com review here. It’s great value for the money if you’re willing to be a little far from you need to be. Lower East Side seems to be in a hopping area with a lot of night life, which makes sense when you consider it’s near NYU, so there isn’t a shortage of things to do.

I took a shower immediately because I felt gross after being out in public that long, you know the feeling. After I jumped out I was better able to appreciate the digs.

Speaking of things to do, while I felt pretty tired from the ride and the walking, not to mention I still felt I had a little prep left to do for some of my interviews the next day, I made myself go out to get a quick bite & drink. I went all the way to NYC so I should enjoy it right? was my line of reasoning. I stumbled across Goa Taco, and let me tell ya, I love tacos, so I went in.

I got a spicy margarita and a pork belly taco. It. Was. Delicious. goa taco is totally happening – there isn’t a lot of seating area but I liked the crew’s vibe and the shop was playing hip, current music, so it felt very New York and I enjoyed sitting there eating for a bit, watching people come and go. That spicy margarita though…. delicious. If you stop in and are of age, you HAVE to get one. I love a marg, but this one way exceeded expectations. :)

I headed back to the hostel/hotel, jumped in my bunk, did a little bit of prep, and went to sleep. I knew I’d have an early morning so I had to get my intelligence (and beauty) sleep…

U.S. Career Forum NY

So the next day I set out pretty early. And of course the best way to start my day is with a nice little breakfast snack and an amazing cup of coffee.

Lucky for me, Irving Farm Coffee Roasters cafe was right down the street from Blue Moon. I had know about this shop before because of a bit of a connection through my boyfriend’s family, so I was really excited to find it right next door basically. I was even more elated to find out how delicious their dark roast pour over and baked goods were!

2018-05-12 07.59.54It was a pretty refreshing breakfast. That was a piece of raspberry banana bread by the way, and it was AMAZING. I was in the first rush of customers who were approaching just as the doors opened on Saturday at 8 AM.

And yup, I was wearing a suit. Japanese style. That’s in the Blue Moon elevator right there.

So anyway I jumped on the subway after this, and shortly came to realize that the subway is definitely less reliable on weekends than it is weekdays, and it is a point that a friend of mine who lives in New York now reiterated to me later. So if you find yourself in the city rushing somewhere, it could be faster to take a Lyft or something, depending on the time of day. Just something to keep in mind.

Lucky for me though I had a lot of time. The doors of CF open at 10 am and the event ran until 5 pm, with a short 5-6 pm happy hour following. So I got off at the closest stop, which was Penn Station and walked for 15 minutes or so to the Javits Center. It was further than I anticipated, but it was good to get some exercise.

For many people, you may not have to arrive at the Career Forum as soon as it opens, but if you’ve scheduled a lot of interviews in advance using their website or via email, you’ll likely be putting in a whole day. I certainly did. I had 4 interviews lined up and a lot of resumes prepared to hand out to all the different booths along the way. Really your effort in advance and the day of makes the experience for you, so I think it’s well worth the time put in ahead of time to have things arranged and lined up for you once you arrive.

Part of what precipitated my journey was also that I received/was approved for the travel scholarship down to the event. They’ll give you a reimbursement based on where you’re coming from to hopefully offset the costs involved with going down. So even if you aren’t sure you’ll get it it is worth a shot to apply. I didn’t think I would get it and I did! So that’s what helped me decide to go down.

All in all I think it was a useful event for me to really see where I want to end up. I’m kind of at a nexus point in my career, so I want to make sure the next step I take is the right one, and being able to go to this really helped me realign my compass so to speak. I think it can help others too, so it’s well worth going to one of these events.

After Career Forum

So after Career Forum I had plans to meet up with a friend from university and we had a blast. She’s been living there for going on 7 years now, so she knows a lot about NYC. So we checked out a couple awesome places. The first being sake bar decibel.

Sorry the photos are a little blurry, but it was dark! It was a pretty awesome place. We had some delicious food, and they had amazing sake! It was an excellent place and we stayed there for a while just chatting and catching up. Eventually we ran the clock though and had to order more or scoot, so we decided to scoot.

2018-05-13 00.26.10We walked around for a bit to decide what to do next, and we ended up heading to a place she knew about called Angel’s Share, which is located through a discreet door inside of a Japanese restaurant called Village Yokocho. It’s a speakeasy concept so it’s one of those ‘secret’ locations, but even though it’s secret, it was pretty popular, lol! It’s like that everywhere I feel with speakeasies once the word gets out. But if you get the chance, I highly recommend stopping in. Their cocktails were out of this world….

That’s something that I think is pretty impressive. The level of NYC cocktails is off the chart. I though some of Portland’s restaurants put together some awesome cocktails, but the NYC game is pretty strong. So if you’re interested in sampling and are of age, it’s something definitely worth looking into. Just any cocktail bar will probably be amazing, but Angel’s Share was pretty much the best I’ve had yet. It was a tequila-based drink with burdock-infused mezcal. I don’t recall the name of the drink, but think about those components alone! Pretty amazing.

So my friend and I continued chatting for a while and enjoying our adult beverages and we were considering doing karaoke, but I’m just too old – hahaha! So we went to our respective homes and I got back at about 2:30 am (which is a stretch for me nowadays, lol). I knew I had an early morning (8:30 am return bus), so I showered ASAP and got in bed. I decided to grab a Lyft the next morning to make sure I made my bus in time. I was exhausted with the whirlwind trip, but since it was my first time in NY I was glad to do it. I think everyone should go check it out. Really  it seems like a place where anyone can belong, and I think that’s one of the best parts about the city. It was great to feel that vibe for a weekend. Needless to say, I made it back to Maine safely and in better time than the way down, which was a huge relief.

Did my journey get you curious about New York? Send me a message or comment below and I’m happy to share my impressions or more info about Career Forum. :) Until next time!

Stitch Fix Review #6

To continue my streak for the week, I am up to Fix #6 with my reviews. I am going to accomplish my goal I swear! I made a request for an on demand fix in mid-September 2017 because I knew that I would be attending a wedding in early October. This was a bit of a special Fix because I requested all dresses for such an event! No surprise now, but my wonderful stylist delivered and I had a good variety to choose from.

Similar to my previous post, I neglected to take photos of this Fix’s pieces because I was in such a rush to get ready for that weekend, so for now let’s please :) make do with my Style Cards and I will happily post some more pics of the items I kept later.

sf6 1Dress #1: Claudia Lace Dress by Brixon Ivy

If I recall correctly this was a cute navy blue option. I liked it, it fit alright – not amazing, but alright. But the issue was more that it didn’t speak to me. So it was a return.

 

 

Dress #2: Emeralda Knit Dress by Kaileigh

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I thought this one was a pretty classy option. While I was dubious with the floral, I love navy, so I was willing to give it a try. These dresses never seem to work for me though unless I am 100% fit at the time: they tend to highlight whatever amount of tummy I have going on, no matter how small. So I had to veto that one. Return!

 

Dress #3: Leeah Lace Knit Dress by WISP

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As I have mentioned before, I really like black. So when I pulled this delicate but strong LBD out of the box it became an instant challenge to let it go. So I ended up keeping this one. ‘Nuff said. Haha!

I haven’t had that many opportunities to wear it yet, but I love it all the same, I know it is there waiting for me when that perfect opportunity arises. I didn’t really see that opportunity being the wedding though, so this was an extra buy. :)

Dress #4: Tahj 2fer Knit Maxi Dress by Gilli

sf6 copyI was doubtful when I saw this one in the box. Florals, light blue, it didn’t really strike me as a ‘me’ dress. And while this is true…

It looked beautiful on. You can’t see it as well on the card, but there is a double layer of fabric over the bust (for the light blue vested construction) that made it super flattering. It showed a little chest while still remaining classy. And it was a longer (read: warmer) option for the wedding on Peaks Island. I’m actually really glad I chose this one because of that – it was really foggy that night for the reception and it would have had quite the chilly otherwise.

Dress #5: Zola Knit Dress by Loveappella

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I really like the burgundy color, it was especially right for fall! So I hoped it would look good. However, the fabric did not pull in the right places for me. It stretched oddly around my thighs and though I liked the decorative cut toward the bottom, it didn’t work for me, so it was a return.

 

All in all, I bought 2 dresses. That is pretty good for me considering I am a pants and tops person by default. I loved all the options and I think I picked the best options for me.

I really enjoy Stitch Fix for special occasions as well – it is so much easier than going out and trying on 100 dresses, all with one little thing wrong with them or an imperfect fit. Not to say that you can’t find a dress in-store, just that it is a little more time-consuming. :)

I’m going to keep on trekking on my Stitch Fix reviews. I’m almost done!!! Just two more and then I’ll be up-to-date. And I’ll make sure to log my next Fix properly. And in a timely fashion. Get it?! Fashion. Anyway, until next post!

Stitch Fix Review #5

Okay, so this one might be a little boring pics-wise: I neglected to take photos of this Fix! Shame on me. But I was able to grab some shots of the pieces I received from the Style Cards which I received with my package from June 2017. I think this time I requested some loafers and a pair of Pistola high waist jeans; also maybe another pair of denim shorts. Here we go!

Lila Ryan high waist skinny jeansPiece #1: Aislynn High Rise Distressed Skinny Jean by Lila Ryan

There were not any Pistola high waist jeans available, but my stylist still wanted to fulfill my request for high-waisted jeans, so she sent me these lighter wash jeans for the spring/summer season. And I’ll tell you I love these jeans! They’re pretty great. They fit perfectly and are long enough for my legs. This is another brand I tried to search for more after receiving these (to no avail). These were definite keepers and I have used them a ton since last year!

Piece #2: Krina Lace Back Detail Top by Papermoon

Papermoon tank top

This top, which was one of the surprises of the box, was a beautiful color with good details straight out of the box. Plus when I put it on, it looked great, which is always a plus. Liked the color and needed some classier tank tops shall we say, so I decided to keep this one.

 

Piece #3: Rafiki Split Back Top by Renee C

sf5 2This top was another cute surprise! I had received the skirt by Renee C in a previous fix, so between the two items I was impressed by their delightful prints. They’re fun and modern, which I really appreciate.

To another point, I’m not sure if I ever would have picked out a shirt this color, but I definitely have enjoyed having it in my wardrobe. Another detail that I enjoy about this top is the split back detail. I have a couple other shirts like that and I think it’s a fun little surprise when you wear it out and about. So this one was a Keeper as well.

Piece #4: Stephen Cuffed Denim Short by Mavi

I raved so much in my comments back to my stylist, plus I may have mentioned needing  another pair of denim shorts, so she delivered (as always). :) Like the previous distressed pair, these are amazing. Nothing like spring & summer with a couple pairs of these!

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Piece #5: Abourne V-Neck Blouse by Renee C

Renee C print blouse

Lastly, I received another classy tank option! And not just any classy tank option. My FAVORITE tank option to this day. The color scheme & the detailing on this top really smashed it out of the park for me. I can wear it to work, I can wear it when I go out, it’s a really flexible piece that I’m so glad to have kept from this Fix.

Again, a third piece from Renee C where they are winning with prints! I’ll take more of these any day.

In summary, I kept all 5 – again! Since the style cards are here I will mention that they are really helpful as a guideline if you go out and are looking for other pieces to complement your items. It’s just one more awesome thing they do to help you build your personal style.

Since drafting up this post I went ahead and took a few real life pics of these items (since I bought them all) and thought I’d share those with you here so you can see the quality of the items and how they hang. Do forgive me for not ironing them all! Haha.

Thanks for joining me again this time – I’ve only got 3 to go. Maybe I’ll double up on one for tomorrow, because I’m pretty sure my next Fix will be on its way soon! Until tomorrow, then! -L

A writer who is a travelling inter-webber.

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