I recently "took over" the ever-popularAlfred Coffee's Instagram account. Comped coffee, pastries and whatever else I desired? What could possibly go wrong?


Not only does Alfred serve great coffee, but they also sell pastries made locally at Farmshop, a market/restaurant located in Santa Monica. Another fun fact: Alfred serves a signature coffee drink. No, not the $10 latte. I'm talking about the Waffle Cone - a waffle shot cup lined with dark chocolate, and filled with an espresso drink of your choice. If I could have one (read: "five") of these daily, my life would be complete.


Another funny story...this one I actually feel kind of bad about. When the barista heard I would be posting these pictures on Alfred's Instagram, he became a full-blown perfectionist.

Let me preface this by saying that Alfred never disappoints with their latte art. His first attempt at latte-art'ing my latte was beautiful. As were his second...and third...attempts. After 10 minutes of perfecting the swirly foam atop the latte he proudly handed me the cup and I went to my table to take a picture. It was then that I realized I wanted to order a waffle shot because the pictures were looking kind of one-note and I figured there was no better way to spice things up than with a waffle, chocolate bar and macchiato all in one. After the waffle shot was made, I went back to my table to find the latte art the barista had so painstakingly perfected, destroyed.

This is what happens with coffee. But ah, there is beauty in destruction and the show must go on. I also just didn't have the heart to tell the guy what had happened to his masterpiece. Hence the deflated latter art depicted in this photos is in no way a reflection of the barista's talent.


After my initial attempt to take photos at Alfred in the Alley, I wasn't completely happy with the variety of photos I had produced so I decided to take another trip. This time, to Alfred Silverlake. Because why the hell not?

My dad accompanied me on this excursion and even took the photo of me, above, while precariously perched atop the rail lining the outside patio area. What a winner.

There are many wonderful things I can say about Alfred. The coffee is always delicious, the pastries are fresh and always hit the spot, and that waffle cone...well, you already know how I feel about the waffle cone. Make sure to go check out an Alfred near you if you haven't already!



Quick do we all feel about this post title? The only excuse I have for calling it "Black Magic" is that my outfit here is (almost) all black. If you take away the jacket. Is that reason enough? Or did I just make a complete fool of myself? What comes to mind when


hear the words "Black Magic?"

In my humble opinion, this outfit is pretty magical. And it's (almost) all black. Very fitting, then, that this post it entitled "Black Magic." Not going to lie - this might be the worst thesis I've ever presented...

Last week, I took a major step by finally checking out 

Graffiti Sublime

, a West LA coffee shop infamous for its litany of strictly enforced rules (read more about them


). After reading several low-rated Yelp reviews written by angry customers complaining about everything from rude baristas to the 90-minute wifi limit, I was absolutely terrified.

What if I decided to go there and ended up getting yelled at for bringing my reusable water bottle (no outside food/drink allowed)? What if I stuttered whilst trying to place my drink order? Would I be met with a judgmental side-eye from the barista? What if???

All of these concerns were completely unnecessary. I honestly don't understand why people give this place so much shit on social media! The barista was friendly enough, I had a wonderful time catching up with my friend,


, without getting reprimanded for being too loud or anything, and the interior was absolutely stunning! This coffee shop is really more of an art gallery. Two floors of all-white floors, walls and ceilings. It even has a fire place?!?! I mean, how cool is that?

The lesson to be learned here is that you shouldn't believe everything you see/read online. Don't knock something till you've tried it. I'm sure that at some point or another, we've all been scared off by over-zealous Yelp reviewers expressing their hatred for a coffee shop whose rules have been put in place merely to achieve a certain (perfect for conversation and/or getting some work done) ambience. Ignore the haterz and just check that place out for yourself. If you end up siding with the angry biggie! But you might just end up finding your new favorite spot.

Moving on to the look...

Can I just say that I always feel so weird talking about what I'm wearing?


 I be discussing the benefits of wearing jeans and a t-shirt, or my preference for all-black outfits? You tell me.

My wardrobe is in desperate need of an update. I have owned all of the items featured in this post for at least six months. I feel like I've tried almost every possible combination of the items I own, but after an hour of trying to figure out what to wear on this particular day, I finally found


. Why had this ensemble never occurred to me? It's got the best of all worlds. Double denim (black high-rise denim shorts + denim jacket) + distressed black tee + cool shoes + RayBan's = happy me.

This outfit's a winner winner chicken dinner for sure.


I don't know if it's a good thing that I've gotten used to driving 30-45 minutes to get coffee or a bite to eat, or if it's just sad...but sometimes, it's just nice to go somewhere local. In the past 5-10 years, Downtown Los Angeles has seen an incredible revitalization.

Cafes, coffee shops, and amazing restaurants keep popping up, and with so many new places to discover, it's hard to know where to start. That's why I recruited my mom to spend a day Downtown. She's not much of a city gal, though...her walking pace is super slow and she's not that great at finding street parking. I think she had fun, though, when I wasn't asking her to abstain from drinking her 10-shot juice sampler until I finished taking pictures of it.

After searching, in vain, for street parking, we settled for an $18 flat rate public parking structure. Gotta love the city. We made our way to

Verve Coffee

, a spot known for its signature plant-covered outdoor patio. I'd dare to compare it to a hipster Rainforest Cafe...but without the waterfall sounds effects and huge animal models. It's been a good 10 years since I've been to Rainforest Cafe though, so that comparison might be a bit of a stretch.

My point is that this spot is super, super cool. 

And what better way to enjoy your coffee, than while surrounded by walls of winding greenery and insanely wealthy young adults toting enormous shopping bags from the new Acne in town and complaining about how often their parents call them??

(No, seriously. I had a minor meltdown during the first part of my time at Verve because of the people sitting at the table next to me. And yes, one girl actually complained about how often her mother called her, then continued to say that she contacts her dad via email only.)

After this slightly intimidating group left, I was finally able to take pictures of my latte and my mom's 10-juice sampler without fear of judgement. Our new table neighbors were also much more kind and welcoming; we met their dog, Kevin, an adorable chihuahua mix (this is saying a lot, as I tend to hate small dogs because they remind me of rats) that had been rescue from a junkyard.

We enjoyed the majority of our sampler (my favorites were "The Redhead," "The Pipe Cleaner," and "Hot Lei," while the "Block Rockin' Beats" and "Cream Party" were a little harder to stomach), and all-in-all, $12 is a pretty good deal for 10 juice shots and the feeling that you've done something to healthify your diet.

After our coffee and juice date, we bid farewell to our new friend Kevin to explore the new APC, Acne and Aesop stores in the area.

Let's just say that we had a lot of fun at Aesop. Maybe a little too much fun. I mean, it's really hard to say no when a lovely sales associate offers to pamper you by massaging wonderful lotions and balms into your hands. It's like a spa treatment...but free.

We left Aesop happier, cleaner and excited to start using our purchases, a favorite of which was the Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm, a deliciously hyrdating hand cream with hints of mandarin orange and lavender.

I'm so glad to have added this wonderful product to my list of summer essentials, which also includes

Bali Body's Natural Tanning and Body Oil



 by this stuff - it gives me a beautiful bronze glow, while helping to diminish the appearance of skin irregularities, including my eczema), and my favorite sunnies from Toms.

What are your summer essentials?


I'm going to start this post with an apology: I sincerely apologize to all those follow me on Instagram, and who read this blog, who have seen nonstop uploads of pictures from my trip to New York, which at this point, ended almost three weeks ago. You might say I have somewhat of an obsession with the city. We're all I a little crazy, I guess.

That being said, here goes a super belated post about day 4 in the "city that never sleeps."

I spent the second day of my trip in Brooklyn, where I visited a flea market-type indoor shopping spot. It was there that I found the

Fig Collective

. And I'm so glad that I did.

My eye was immediately caught by the most incredible bomber (besides the

rose gold Acne Studios bomber...I swear, I cry every time I see it

) I have ever seen. The perfect shade of green - something between forest and olive. I tried to tear myself away as soon as I heard the price was $200 (*wait, I just looked it up online and retail is $260???!!!!).

After the devil and angel on my shoulder bantered for a bit, I was able to talk the shop owner into letting me buy the jacket for $180, no tax. I was actually pretty surprised with my bartering skills.

Fast-forward to Day 4, when I went to the Fig Collective showroom in Brooklyn to pick up my baby (the bomber; I do NOT have a child).

From the showroom, we went to Toby's Estate, where I ordered a Roast Turkey Melt with mustard creamed kale, Gouda, and maple sriracha. Heavenly. I expected the sandwich to be really heavy, but it was surprisingly light thanks to thin but crispy slices of Pullman bread.

When you're thinking about that goal summer bod, but you're also thinking about all the delicious food out this roast turkey melt with mustard creamed kale, smoked Gouda and maple sriracha from @tobysbrooklyn... #thestruggle
A photo posted by Caitlin (@caitlinntayy) on Apr 12, 2015 at 11:16am PDT

(Also I am SO sorry the embedded Instagram picture isn't centered. It's bugging me SOOOO much, but I don't know how to fix it :( Someone who knows coding, please help!)

Out of all the amazing cafes, restaurants and other eateries I visited in New York,

Toby's Estate

is definitely the one I miss most. The coffee was flawless, the food menu diverse yet simple, and interior nothing short of perfect. In all honestly, I would have had absolutely no problem living there.

Like in the coffee shop.

I never thought I would say a coffee shop represents everything I want in my future living space, but here we are. 

From our coffee stop, we decided to play tourist and headed to the High Line. The weather was perfect - clear blue skies and warm if you stood in the sunlight (but frigid in the shadows). I was actually surprised by how long the High Line was. I don't remember the total distance, but I think we walked something like 20 blocks each way (that might be completely off, but my point is that our walk on the High Line was the fastest we traveled, even considering car and subway rides, the entire trip)?? It was actually somewhat surreal because there was so much greenery along the High Line, that it was as if we had traveled to some European countryside. It felt nothing like New York, and yet, the apartment buildings on either side brought us back to reality. Very cool.