Retail Therapy: A Zen-full Tea Shop

Next Tuesday is officially the first day of Fall. Can you believe it?? I KNOW. We can’t either. Good thing we’ve found the coziest haven from the ever thickening San Francisco fog; the most incredible tea shop you ever did see. Samovar Tea Lounge recently opened its newest location in the popular San Francisco Mission District and hipster hearts, including our own, are exploding all over the city!


Walls of custom made ceramic vessels and caldron-like copper pots steam brewing tea. Black-washed floors make the already subtly lit stone walls seem beautifully cave-like and a single bench stretching the entire room just begs you to stay a while. But {if you can believe it} there’s something more than this instagram-worthy space that has us convinced we’ll be making tea trips over coffee runs all season long! The answer is yes and it comes in the form of two words: chai tea.


We haven’t spied a space that does ‘cozy and inviting’ better than this one. Bundled up in a leather jacket and scarf, briskly walking down Valencia St., it’s pretty much impossible NOT to duck out of the chilled air and stop into Samovar. It’s something out of a movie, really. Tea is being stirred and ladled out of huge hammered copper pots and employees clad in crafty leather and canvas aprons are offering you a flaky scone and butter with your piping hot drink.


But the real treat is actually the tea itself. We’re here to tell you that their chai tea is the best chai you’ll ever put to your lips. Rich and milky, it’s the perfect drink to make you warm inside -we’d take it over a cup of jo on a brisk fall morning and that’s saying A LOT. It doesn’t hurt that it comes in a gorgeous ceramic mug of which we’ve already tried our luck at purchasing a set for ourselves only to find out they’re a custom cup just for Samovar. Nooooo.


Next time you’re in San Francisco, or if you’re a local and have YET to visit Samovar on Valencia, you need to move it to the top of your list. Fall is right around the corner and we promise, Samovar is tea-licious! —Bianca

original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick

The Color that Will Spring You Right Into Fall

We’re all too familar with the standard Fall uniform: black, tan, navy and maybe even a touch of cream for excitement {sarcasm fully intended}. But even if you’re a total color-phobe, we’re here to assure you, you can add color to your fall wardrobe – especially if it’s this lush moody mossy emerald green!


Sure, a closet full of neutrals is a very wise investment. When you stick with a uniform you’re suddenly able to mix and match with ease, you’re likely to wear pieces more often and can keep your closet edited down {my current fashion life-goal!}. But every once in awhile it’s fun to throw in a curve ball and this season I’m all about this crazy cool green hue! More sultry than your standard emerald, but more luscious than the old-school forrest green, it’s actually rather difficult to put your finger on what makes it so perfect. One line called it Woodland Green – I think that gets close. It’s like the deepest, richest green of a pine tree. Regardless, I love how perfectly it would pair with black, with brown – even navy!

If you’re still not totally convinced, why not test it out with a little nail polish {they call the color Shutter.}? Or if you want to keep things understated {and hidden!} how about switching up your lingere!?


I think my favorite option is that super cute handbag. It’s nice to give your standard black bag a break every now and then! What do you think? Would you add a new hue to your fall look?


> Phillip Lim for Nars Nail Polish
> Topshop Satin Bra
> Ojai Garden Pot
> Marlowe Dome Satchel

image 1 via Nordstrom // 2 + 7 via Emma’s Design Blogg // 3 via Once Wed photography by Ali Harper // 4 via Artek // 5 via // 6 via Blog Milk Blog 

The Kind of Woman: Balance

For the second edition of The Kind of Woman, the series Jeanne of Shop Sweet Things and I launched last month, we decided to tackle an issue we have a feeling plagues most of you, as it most certainly is a challenge for us: BALANCE.*


There’s a lot of talk about balance out there these days. How we need it. How it’s the holy grail to happiness. How it will keep us young, fresh, friendly and amazingly zen. But as I sat {and sat and sat and sat} thinking about what advice I’d give about trying to achieve balance I realized: do I even understand what balance really means?

What is balance anyway?? In today’s world of doing everything all the time, how do you know balance when you see it? Do you need to achieve it everyday? How about every five years?? Sure, I see women I deeply admire who appear balanced all the time! Put together, successful, accomplished, multitasking, yet always with an outwardly cool, calm and collected demeanor. In my mind that is certainly the outward appearance of balance, but how are we to know what’s bubbling under the surface.


According to the Webster Dictionary definition balance is:“a state of equilibrium or equipoise or mental steadiness or emotion stability.” Now, I can confidently claim to have mental steadiness and relatively strong emotional stability {the husband might say differently}. But how do I measure everything else in my life to see if it’s all in fact equal? You know the list: family, friends, colleagues, spirituality, fitness, jobs, kids, dogs, the house, car, bills…I could go on – but all these things certainly aren’t all “equal?”

As I continued to ponder this notion, I found myself asking – why should I have an expectation or even a desire for everything to be equal? We simply cannot evenly divide time, attention and energy to everything in our swirling worlds. That’s just not physically possible. And I’ve decided that’s actually ok. I’m officially declaring that the first step toward achieving balance is recognizing its highly imperfect nature!

There will be times when you prioritize work {major projects, promotions, new positions or simply a desire to grow professionally}. Sure, in all likelihood you’ll experience some guilt for neglecting your partner/your/kids/your bestie, but it’s ok! If you. The fact that it happens is reality. It’s something that life requires. And if you take the time to communicate to your loved ones why you’re making the choices you are, they’re very likely to understand and support you! The key is to ensure you balance those intense periods where you are hyper focused on one aspect of your world with other periods where you reinvest in neglected areas. That could be relationships, your health, your mental state, your love of travel or your favorite pastime.


All this being said, it’s always good to reassess your current habits. There’s losing a bit of balance due to unique circumstances and then there’s just never setting priorities in the first place. If you feel like you have to do everything for everyone all the time, in all likelihood you’re going to let most people down, including yourself.

Here are few internal questions to consider:

> Are you letting those nagging deadlines interfere with a good dinner conversation?

> Are you secretly checking your phone while your kids are on the swing set?

> Are you skipping the gym or putting off a friend yet again to deal with work??

Those are all tale tell signs that it might be time for the pendulum to swing back a little bit.

I’m the first to call out that I’ve been in a phase of prioritzing my career…for quite some time now. I find incredible satisfaction in pushing myself to do more, do better and to constantly grow. But I’m also the first to admit that I can let the pendulm swing too far and I need to remember to stray from my to-do list once in awhile. If there were FIVE super simple, no brainer easy changes I’d add to my daily routine to create more “balanced” habits, they’d be:

> Call a friend or family member on my drive home every day- even if I just leave a voicemail

>Text one person a day to just let them know they’re on my mind

> Do 10 minutes of yoga in the morning

> Put the phone away after 9pm {no liking, hearting, tweeting or status updating – the cute baby videos will still be there the next morning}

> Spend 30 minutes reading something that is completely separate from the work on that interwebs that I do all day

And so, in the spirit of balance I’m publicly committing myself to achieving at least one of those five things every day for the next 30 days. See, I’m being balanced about it. Adding all five at once would just be too much pressure! While there may never be enough hours in the day and we may always say yes to too many things, I’m going to look for my balance in small, digestible moments of zen.

What do you think about balance? Is it a necessity? An unrealistic goal? How do you approach finding balance in your life? Be sure to head over to Shop Sweet Things to hear how Jeanne approaches the search for balance.

*I do think it’s fascinating how similarly Jeanne and I approached this topic in our posts. Please note, we did not discuss them before hand or compare notes until this morning! I find it incredibly fascinating and strangely reassuring to know we share similar struggles and concerns. 

original image for The Kind of Woman by Aubrie Pick // styled by Erin Hiemstra & Jeanne Chan // image 2 // image 3