Have you seen the recent Nate Berkus for Target collection? I love the tufted items. Even though the collection has been out for a while, it was backordered. Patience paid off, the blush tufted armchair is now sitting in my living room and I love it. It is a cooler, blue-er pink so not an Acne or Glossier pink. It goes well with black/cream/navy.The chair is pretty big so the box it comes in is huge and 50+ lbs. It’s great quality especially for the price. The seat sits slightly higher than my Ikea Karlstad leather couch, but not obnoxiously so. I can see the seat cushion needing rehab after a number of years. Two thumbs up!

P.S. Keep an eye on the price. If it drops, Target will honor price adjustments within 14 days and you can request it via online chat.

Source: Target

Source: Instagram – not mine

The Mansur Gavriel pop-up shop in the Soho area of NYC has been open from mid-November through January 11. After MG announced the expansion of their Saffiano line on December 13, it gave me incentive to check out the saffiano bags. Unfortunately, MG bags are still final sale when you purchase from mansurgavriel.com, which I strongly dislike because (1) they are expensive (2) many styles/colors are only available directly from MG who normally doesn’t have a storefront and (3) MG can be difficult with any flaws on the bag (this is based on personal experience and what I’ve read on TPF). I consider myself lucky that I live near their pop-up.

The pop-up is very spacious, minimalist, and pink. If you don’t like rose quartz pink which is popular with MG and Glossier, tough luck! I went mid-afternoon and got personal attention from both SA’s — not all stocked items are displayed and they also mentioned that they have the large lady bag in stock. There is also plenty of seating for the men and a fancy flower shop.

As I was trying on the bags, I realized that if I ever were to get another, I would need a regular sized lady bag so I can hold letter sized paper. I also was surprised at how gorgeous the tumbled leather is! The tumbled leather bag was lying around (the sales assistants try their best to put away bags while answering questions) and I think I might like it more than the saffiano, which is unfortunate for my wallet. The tumbled leather style is thicker than expected, perhaps due to the canvas lining, and will not stand on its own unless you stuff it. Out of all of the MG bag styles, the lady bag is my favorite and uniquely MG.

Pricing is higher than the bucket, given the style and construction:

  • Mini Lady: vegetable tanned $750, saffiano $795, tumbled or calf $1050
  • Lady: vegetable tanned $895, saffiano $945, tumbled or calf $1195

Orders with MG sent to NJ, NY, and CA have sales tax.

This “baby bucket” is exclusive to the pop-up and designed for a baby/toddler. It fits your smartphone if it’s not XL.

The mini lady bag in black saffiano and rosa saffiano with matching interiors.

I compared the mini lady with a regular lady in calf leather and quickly noticed the fraying thread. Ick. I have a detailed post on regular lady vs mini lady bag size here.

The saffiano leather is a very structured leather. Maybe it’s a little too structured for the lady bag style.

It’s hard to see, but there were dirt marks on the rosa saffiano. Not impressed even if it’s a floor sample. This cemented my decision to steer away from a rosa saffiano lady. I have a rosa saffiano mini bucket (review) which has some dirt marks that couldn’t be easily removed with a baby wipe. I asked the SA how to clean it and referred me to Leather Spa. That’s a cop out answer to me.

Regular lady bag in peony pink calf leather, mini lady bag in royal blue tumbled leather

Circle of MG lady bags, clockwise from left: black saffiano mini lady, red calf lady, rosa saffiano mini lady, and blu tumbled mini lady.

Love the non-knot of this peony tumbled leather mini lady

Closer look

Similar to Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Seoul, you can find all the Western brands in Taipei with crazy markups (in comparison with the US), so it’s best to stick to Asian brands. I hang out mostly in the Eastern side of Taipei so this is my point of view. Some places I mention are chains and have locations throughout the city. I shop mostly for beauty and housewares in Taipei and don’t go near the cutesy little things I used to find at the nightmarket that were since thrown out.

  • Tax Refund: With a foreign passport, you can apply for a sales tax refund if you spend over 3000 NTD (~$93) at an authorized retailer (details). Often the refund isn’t worth the trouble of remembering your passport.
  • Pay in local currency: All the places I mention are credit card friendly. If you’re not paying with an Amex or Discover and using Visa or Mastercard, you may be asked if you want to pay in USD or local currency. Always chose local currency and I hope you have a foreign fee free card. More reading: What is dynamic currency conversion, which card to use

Locations

The yellow road running East/West is Zhongxiao E Road. There are many boutiques, cafes, and restaurants in the alleys around this road. I’m using the MRT stations for reference but if you’re pressed for time, take a taxi.

  • Starting with the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station, you can find Japanese department store, Sogo, at the SW and NE corners. The NE corner is the original Sogo and I like to browse/meet people there beyond the It’s a Small World clock. There is also a large Watsons next to it and more boutique shopping and eating in the alleys behind it. The SW corner is the high-end luxury Sogo — with a Din Tai Fung in the basement.
  • Walking East, you get to the Dunhua S Road intersection which has the Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT Station. Look two blocks SE and there is an office building with an Eslite bookstore at the lower and basement levels. This houses the 24/7 bookstore. I also like Eslite for their boutique/stationary — which isn’t 24/7 but still open pretty late. On either side of Zhongxiao E Rd east of Dunhua, you’ll find local Taiwanese department stores and lots of retail stores like Daiso, Zara, Uniqlo, etc. I normally come here for the Innisfree, a Korean skincare brand (more on this below). There is also a Mos burger and Cosmed in the alley.
  • If you go further east on Zhongxiao E Rd, you enter the new Xinyi district (Taipei City Hall MRT Station) which has Taipei 101 and many standalone department stores — Breeze, multiple Mitsukoshis, Uni-Hankyu (check out their food court – Tim Ho Wan, ramen, bakeries, etc.), 101 Mall, Bellavita, and ATT 4 Fun (Totoro). There are walkways that connect these buildings either under or overground, which is helpful if it’s raining outside.

On to the shopping.

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Looking West from the Shangri-la Far Eastern Hotel rooftop

Eating is a huge part of Asian culture. Taiwan is known for their “small eats” and Taipei does not disappoint. Asia in general is big on food trends and subject to influences from other countries and cultures. In fact, it’s hard to find a bad meal. It’s up to you how Taiwanese you want to eat. If you want to get deeper into Taiwanese cuisine, check out The Food of Taiwan by Cathy Erway. I personally don’t eat as much street food due to serious family meals, limited time and stomach space when I visit. I also have a list on Yelp that is disorganized and will stay that way!

Fruit. Tropical fruit here is amazing, especially in the steaming summer season. Taiwanese mangos are one of the few things that make up for having to visit Taipei in summer. To find good fruit, it is well worth a walk through a local wet market. (If you visit in the non-summer, mangos can still be found but it is nowhere as good and not as cheap.)

Taiwan mango, red dragonfruit, lychee

Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) is a Taiwanese chain that’s known for their soup dumplings. They boast many flavors of soup dumplings. I am also a fan of their veggie dumplings and fried rice. Pro-tip: the truffle dumpling (center) has to be eaten with a clean spoon. If you have a good server, he will proactively offer clean utensils. It’s best to go with a large group so you can try more dishes. If you’ve been to any DTF locations, you know to expect a wait. There is one location in Taipei as of October 2016 that takes reservations Mitsukoshi A4 (新光三越信義新天地A4館). Some people only like to go to the original location, but I am fine for what is subjectively considered subpar food with no wait time. Most of their locations are in shopping districts so the wait is not bad.

Breakfast is easily one of my favorite meals and a reason to wake up early. It is carb heavy though! My favorites are rice burritos (飯糰), variants of dough with scallion and whatever else you want to add (蔥抓餅/蛋餅), and these baked scallion buns (蔥酥餅). Be careful though! If you eat too much you won’t have room for the rest of the day! Coffee is relatively expensive (local chains are must cheaper than Starbucks) and hard to find non-cow milk or skim milk options. Read More


Post-Christmas sales have started. Saks Fifth Avenue has 50% off Yoku Moku (amongst other things). Yoku Moku makes the best butter cookies and each cookie is packaged nicely in a reusable tin box. I love their cigare cookies (pictured). They are imported from Japan and ingredients are all natural. Plus, if you have Shoprunner, 2 day shipping is free. Shoprunner is free for Amex cardholders and PayPal users (I think).

(Left: AHA Moment and Let’s B Clear, Right: Dermstore Skin of Dreams Trio, C-ing is Believing)

I’ve been taking advantage of the recent promotions to restock my beauty closet — both on cost-effective drugstore favorites (that the mister uses too) and on the splurges. I consider Drunk Elephant to be a midrange splurge and current holiday value sets makes the price easier to swallow. Each value set comes with deluxe samples that are the same size as what’s in The Littles set — I can’t justify paying $90 for these deluxe samples. In most cases, the set is about the same price as a single regular priced item.

My Drunk Elephant experience to date:
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Two thumbs up to this faux suede moto jacket from Target’s ongoing Who What Wear collaboration. I held off on posting this for a few weeks because it was sold out online. It appears to be back in stock for most sizes. It looks like suede, is supersoft, and doesn’t come with the maintenance costs of real suede. Sizing is TTS (I take my J.Crew size). I layer it over this Uniqlo sweater in olive. It also comes in plus sizes. This jacket is pricey for Target. I got it on sale but would buy it at full price in a heartbeat. If you like shoes, make sure to check out the latest additions to this collab — most of it is too trendy for my taste.

This bright Merona red/blue plaid blanket scarf also gets a honorable mention. While a 100% acrylic scarf is far from luxurious, the price is great, it’s warm, and it has a red/blue plaid print that matches most of my outfits.

There are two stackable promotions right now: use code COLD through Thursday for 25% off (good for cold weather wear) and code STYLE through Saturday for $10-25 off if you purchase $50+ (applies to all clothing).

Image: Target, Who What Wear for Target Moto Jacket

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For Amazon Prime subscribers, there are a few new “sample” boxes with personal care/beauty trial sized items and the random full sized item. The purchase price of the box gives you a credit to apply to a future purchase in the same category. The Luxury Beauty and Men’s boxes aren’t interesting to me (do you know how long it took me to get the mister to stop using Head and Shoulders?), but the “Beauty Sample Box” looks great if you ever travel/need this stuff for the gym. If any of the links don’t work, make sure you’re logged into your Prime account and try refreshing.

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I love Uniqlo — it’s such a great value, good quality, and practical. Here is what I’ve seen or bought lately:

Extra Fine Cotton Oversized Shirts
Comes in stand collar, solid collared, and striped collared. I initially saw this on someone on IG and loved it. I wouldn’t have given it a second look otherwise. I ended up keeping 3 of these (all of the collared shirts were on sale for $9.90). The prices were raised and the smaller sizes are pretty sold out. It looks great with legging pants, sleeves rolled up and is light enough for yearround wear. This is an oversized fit, it runs big. Size down!


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