My Current Wishlist

Jewelry Finds at West Coast Craft

8:00 AM


I love when West Coast Crafts is in town. It's a lovely to see what independent makers are into these days. Most of it is cute unless junk (not another vegan sandal or abstract face outline on a vase) but some things are really worth their buck. Below are some of my favorite finds, mostly jewelry because that's what I've been drawn to lately.






Guilty. I found an abstract face on something. But these are cute. Alex Steele babouches.


Custom amulets by Molly Debiak. I want everything she has.


Earrings from 8.6.4. They also have some great pearl earrings.





Chakana stacking ring from Casual Seance





Italian Vacance

10:54 PM

We are off to Italy in three weeks for a wedding in Lake Como. I think we've started a destination wedding trend when we held ours in the Loire Valley in France two years ago. The romance, the decadence and quiet whispers will be rampant. There has been a lot of tension surrounding the upcoming nuptials and I may have played a part. I may have not. Let's say, I am not innocent, but everything I did, I did out of the desire for peace. A quiet and boring social life is a luxury nowadays. But I digress. This post is supposed to be about clothes.

I imagine it will be warm during the day and brisk at night. Lots of stone cobbles and columns. Lots of olive oil and humid air. The only way to combat acrid humidity is to be naked. But I guess the next best things would be strappy dresses, flowy pants and breathable straw hats. The below collection of clothing would be my dream Lake Como looks. I am so obsessed with anything Jacquemus for warm weather. But at the end of the day, when the sun is shining this bright, you only need a statement pair of sunglasses to make any outfit.

Scroll right to see the looks




Luxury Shopping Hacks

9:30 AM

I've been eyeing this Maison Michele 'big kate' hat for some time now as you can see it's on my current wishlist. It's listed here for $1,030. But I only paid 50% of that.

I hope you just got paid because this post could trigger you to press a few 'checkout' buttons. For the five of you who watch my Instagram stories, you know I shop during every waking minute. And while I like nice things, I hate paying full price. The logic is when I used to shop in stores at Neimans or Saks they would also have regular promotions that give you discounts on full price designer items. The habit sort of stuck and I figured it wouldn't be so hard to find deals at other retailers. Stores compete for buyers attentions online and when they compete we all benefit. So here are some hacks to save you some $$ so you can buy even more nice things.

1. Get a VPN to take advantage of international prices. I like to check for the cost of an item in the US versus it's international location. Let's say I wanted a Burberry coat. The US store lists it at $2,300. But if I change my IP to a UK location, I see that the coat is actually 15% less in the UK. In Italy it's 30% less (if I also take advantage of VAT refunds)! Crazy right? Luckily, I'm heading to Italy in a month so I call the flagship store in Italy and place an order. 

VPN's also let you browse anonymously if you also use an incognito browser. This helps you avoid dynamic pricing that some stores use. Dynamic pricing is when stores mark up prices based on your IP locations, browsing history and any other 3rd party data they have on you. If you live in an affluent city, you may see a higher price for the same item than someone in the suburbs.

2. Only buy the local designers when traveling to Asia. Most Asian countries have high import taxes on all luxury items that do not originate there. But if you happen to be in Japan, there is no mark up for designers like Sacai, Comme Des Garcons, Yoji Yamamoto, etc. Zara is so much more affordable in Italy and Chanel, Bash, Sezane, IRO and Maison Kitsune is cheaper in France. Chanel may actually be cheaper in Italy due to higher VAT refunds. But the rule of thumb is that the country's designer wears are often lower in price than if you were to get it anywhere else. Oh, can't forget about Korean skin care! Load up in Asia on the high end stuff for less.

3. For luxury skincare always shop duty free. I always find duty free in Korea, Paris or Italy at least 30% less than in the US especially for brands like La Prairie, Sisley and Chanel. I have my VPN installed on my phone so I can compare prices when shopping duty free to make sure I'm getting the best discount.

4. Comparison shop. This one is a no-brainer. The novice level is to just google the item you'r buying and compare. The advance level is to use VPN to compare prices on an international scale. You're welcome.

5. Stack cash backs. Use apps like Ebates and Honey to find deals, activate cash backs (up to 10% sometimes) in conjunction with credit cards that have high cash backs for shopping.

6. Get those new member discounts. When you first go to a site they also have newsletter subscriber discounts. I use a burner email address that I made just for these kind of subscriptions. I actually use more than one so I can take advantage of this even if I'm not a new member.

7. Bide your time & shop at sites that have regular promotions. When you see something you like for an upcoming event or season save these items in your wishlist. I always do this with shops that have promotions every other week/month. Those sites are: farfetch, shopbop, intermix (they have great 25% off on top of sales), and sephora (theirs is quarterly). Sites not worth their sales: Saks - they always have exclusions on the best designers, Net-a-porter because their sales are so infrequent but when they do have them it's a pretty good steal.

8. Shop one season ahead or behind. I always try to shop one season ahead or behind to monopolize on off-season sales. Never buy swim suits during peak swimsuit season because they will never be on sale and you'll end up paying retail.

9. Befriend the store employees. There's an Isabel Marant by my office. I would come in at once every other week and made friends with one of the employees. I usually leave empty handed, but I try on a few things and get to know the person who is helping me. He feeds me lot of champaign as well. Over the years, I'll text him items that I see online to ask if he has them in store. Once he price matched a sale price on new season heels for me! And he also saves my size in any shoes I've been eyeing so that I can snatch them up as soon as they go on sale. He's now the manager of the store.

10. Ask for price match. I don't usually see this, but it has happened once in a blue moon. If you see a lower price elsewhere especially online when you are in a physical store ask them to match. I do this when shopping online too, when I would rather buy from a retailer that I know has better shipping and return policies but want to pay the lower price on some other website.

11. Retroactive discounts. I track my items. If I buy something and it goes on sale within 14-30 days, I reach out to the retailer and ask for a discount. This is because 14-30 is still within my return window. Retailers would rather give you the discount than have to take back inventory.

12. Use your network. I share items that I'm considering buying on my IG stories all the time. And more than once has a girlfriend messaged me about a secret deal or a lower price for the item being sold elsewhere. The more you share, the more you get. Live in abundance. 

13. Shop vintage. Not consignment of current trends. That's depressing. But go to vintage fairs to find unique one of a kind designer vintages that no one else has. My favorite current vintage traveling show is called A Current Affair. Check if they are coming to a town near you and score some vintage Manolo kitten heels.


xx

PS. If you have a hack, share the wealth

Image by: Mark Leibowitz


My Skincare Holy Grail - Sephora Edition

9:42 PM

Skincare? Oh, honey. I've tried them all. From drugstore brands to high end brands and for over a decade. After a few consecutive years of being a VIB Rouge at Sephora (which means I literally spent over $1000 a year there...hmm...) I've established a few products that have become staples that I cannot live without. And right now you can enjoy 20% off with code HEYROUGE until May 6th. Enjoy, ladies.


Peter Thomas Roth, Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel

Been a long time user of this cleanser for over a decade. The husband also uses it too. I like that it has salicylic acid which helps control breakouts and anti-aging is always a plus. I find that it's super gentle, yet effectively takes off even my waterproof make-up but is not too harsh on my skin. I always stock up on this when the 20% sale comes around because I can never afford to run out of this stuff. It's a staple. 
Cover FX, Mattifying Primer With Anti-Acne Treatment

On the rare special occasions that call for a full face of make up that needs to stay in place the whole day, I always use a primer. I like ones that don't clog my pores or make me shiny. This one has breakout preventing ingredients and keeps the cake face in tact all day long. Even in sweltering heat. 
Smashbox, Photo Finish Primer Water

Does this count as skincare? It keeps the make-up on. I've tried them all; the Urban Decay one, the one that every raves about...etc. This one works for those with oily skin at the end of the day.
Murad, Eye Lift Firming Treatment

This. Stuff. Works. I see instant results. Got this as a sample first, then got the full size.

So I like to use it before a long day/night out and then I load up on SPF moisturizer over it. Lines smoothed out and it feels super tingly, which may not be the most pleasant if you're extremely sensitive. I find the eye patches that they come with made for giants. So I cut them up into smaller strips and it's perfect. Use at least twice a week.
Tatcha, The Rice Polish Foaming Enzyme Powder

You have to exfoliate at least twice a week (less if you have sensitive skin). This stuff feels like silk on the skin and it makes my skin feel like silk. It effectively removes that top layer of dead skin. Beyond expired epidermis.




xx




Artwork by the amazing Miho Hirano. I'm doing this thing where I'm following and supporting more talented Asian artists whose objects are Asian women.  Growing up I only saw art of beautiful women who were white...and without realizing it, I idolized and internalized the figures in those pieces. But they do not connect with me on a deeper level because I do not have features like that. I do not think white features are the only standard of beauty. So as a quest to grow the love of self within myself, I want to seek out art that focuses on the beauty of Asian features. This is a full post on its own (coming soon?), but go check Miho Hirano out.

Travel Style Inspiration from And While We Were Here

1:00 AM
I love this sleeper of a movie, And While We Were Here. The solitary traveling. The quiet moments. And Kate Bosworth's wardrobe in the movie, which is all from her personal closet. As I get older I am falling more in love with the subtle richness that is created through monochrome palettes, flanked by a hint of color or a statement piece of jewelry here or there. Here, Kate Bosworth shows us the art of subtlety as opposed to the overt. Enjoy the screen caps.

If you get a chance you should watch the movie, maybe on a lazy Sunday, to catch a bit of the wanderlust bug!
















Trailer:



community

12:54 AM

I started this blog in my late teens. I didn't feel like an adult then, and I sometimes don't feel like one today. It's strange how far you can come in life, while obtaining all the trappings of an adult life, and still feel so small and behind at the same time. Maybe you don't feel like a fully independent adult until you parents finally pass away. We all revert back to our infantile self when we return home for the holidays and ask our mother to make our favorite dishes (often with a pout). If that's the case, I truly never want to grow up.

But time doesn't slow down. And I wish I could have the time to spend more time with my parents. It's one of those things that become more and more urgent as the day passes. My time will come soon enough, but not before theirs. I hope I will be able to make them smile a few more times before then. 

If we had stayed in Vietnam, I would probably still be living with them now. The family unit becomes and extended family community housed under one large roof. Aunts, uncles and little cousins all clamoring about. Everyone with a place, and responsibility, never alone. I think about the community that my parents lost when they immigrated here. How that loss must have felt. How scared they must have been, and utterly alone they must have felt having to also care for my brother and I at the same time. We had some help from family once we arrived, but it always felt like a burden. Something about how helping family out in the states is viewed as a burden whereas in Vietnam, it's just what you do. 

My brother lives less than a mile away from me but I see him only a handful of times a year. I wonder what makes us so prone to not prioritize each other. Maybe it's because our time isn't as imminent. We'll prioritize each other soon enough.

But time isn't slowing down. Not for any of us. 


cultivating creativity while living a real life

11:55 PM


Ever since I've started working full time again (four years now), it's been really hard to maintain a balance outside of work. Finding the energy to cultivate new skills and hobbies outside of a full time job can add even more stress to an already full schedule. But like all goals, you have to put in the time. I've made it an effort to prioritize myself more this year (when is this not a goal lol). Along with sleeping earlier (10am) and waking up earlier (6am), as well as picking up therapy again, I've decided to learn new ways to create content. I want to document everything. The result is still a bit rough, but that isn't the point.

The point is to keep iterating. Practice makes perfect.


I decided to try a new blogging format when words fail at capturing nuances in the mundane. Like an Instagram or Snapchat story, I like the format above a lot. Sometimes I want to play a video of someone going about their day in the background as I go about my owns chores around the house. So here is my mundane.

xx

Ps. There's a sneak peek of what our house looks like.

image: Arctic Fox by © jarradseng

2019; what you will bring

10:42 PM


Adventure – I live in California, FFS. There are so many things I want to try before I longer can. From foraging for sea urchin, seaweed, Dungeness crabs, to camping outdoors to learning how to ski. These are things I have never embraced before; getting dirt on my hands.

Give more, expect nothing – It’s time to accept that I really enjoy giving. I haven’t always given without expectations. So I cut back on gifts, but realized that wasn’t the solution nor did it make me happy. This year, I’ll enjoy giving for the sake of giving, because it truly makes me happy to do so without any expectations whatsoever. 

Less – Of everything. After we moved from a 600 square foot apartment into our new two story home, we realized how much stuff we had. We had filled every crevice of our old tiny apartment with so many things, in case of this or that. To have to physically move all these (often useless) things from one place to another – and to pay for it – made use reevaluate our purchasing behavior. We went through a major cleanse of our things and I hope to continue to do so this year. I want to shop less so that I cherish the things that I do have, live more sustainably and be more conscientious of what I bring into my home. 

Maui – This is the first wedding trip of the year, and the first in a long time where I’ve made it a goal to actively plan our trips and be present. In the past I’ve just been a passive attendee, showing up because that’s what you do for friend but never really taking advantage of the destination. In the past we’ve been to Da Nang, Vietnam and I truly regret not plotting our adventures for that one more. So, this time around, we’ve planned an open-door helicopter tour, trips to hopefully see whales and turtles, lots of eating among sunsets and hikes, lots of hikes.

Embracing the darkness – Clarice Lispector said it best:
          
“Respect yourself more than others, respect your needs, respect even what is bad in you­–respect especially what you imagine to be bad in you–for the love of God, don’t try to make yourself into somebody perfect–don’t copy an ideal person, copy yourself–that is the one way to live. Take for yourself what belongs to you, and what belongs to you is all that your life demands. It seems like an amoral moral. But what is truly amoral is having given up on yourself. Have the courage to transform yourself, my darling.”

            It is so easy to compare yourself to that perfectly filtered, Facetuned Instragram model/lifestyle guru. Do not do it. Obsess over yourself. Watch your own stories over and over again. Take countless selfies of your face with and without make up. Obsess over your own life because it is more real than anything you see on Instagram. 




Italy, Bali, and other parts unknown – This is the year of destination weddings. Our friends have been selecting far flung places to tie the knot and we couldn’t we luckier to be able to attend. Excited to plan these trips as well, but if you guys have any tips based on your travels please let us know.

Handstands– Last year I finally accomplished splits. I had to go to yoga at least five times a week. Some days my body would not let me be still (usually after work), other days I fell into poses effortlessly (weekends, figures). After a few months, I finally accomplished a real push up. I had to work my way into it, building up the muscles in my shoulder, triceps, arms, abs and back. I want to continue to do so and maybe by the end of the year I will be able to point both foot in the air.

A dog– I’m almost afraid to type this one out because I’m afraid I might chicken out. A dog is a huge commitment. Lucky for us, we’ve been cutting back drastically on going out so it won’t change our lifestyle as much. What may be difficult is all the traveling that we are doing this year, but I have a feeling we will figure this out or find a friendly sitter close by.

Taking a pottery class– I’ve been putting this one off for so long. But 2018 had so many other priorities that this one just couldn’t be squeezed in. But the goals have been set and written down with plenty of room for this easy commitment. I feel like it will be a great way to escape and focus. I’m most excited about working with my hands to create something physical again because I spend most of my time working in digital marketing, everything is intangible. To be able to hold something that I’ve made (that will hopefully be functional) will be a nice feeling.




Learning photography– The lover recently got me a camera that I’ve been eyeing for a few years. I have an Olympus from 2011 that has been getting less and less use as the years go by. It’s a limiting camera that is a bit bulky and I was looking for something with a wifi connection to easily transfer pictures. I’m embracing my addiction to instant gratification. Learning how to use this baby will force me to capture more memories on something other than my phone or IG stories…and then immediately share it on my IG stories better. My 10 followers on Instagram have the most to gain =) 

Xx

Ps, this is a great video of women ages 5 to 75 sharing what they are looking forward to the most in 2019. I love that adventures do not cease the older you get. 

the problem with influencers

10:20 PM


I used to follow influencers like a certain Song of fashion, style Toast, or the Italian Barbie salad religiously. They used to show such a great sense of personal style through their interpretation of runway trends with their limited resource – read: before they were paid or lent clothes right off the runway but lived on a normal budget. Aimee Song in particular had such a unique way of mixing feminine looks with a strong masculine touch. I loved getting ideas from her and would often purchase items from attainable sources such as Zara or H&M after she would feature them. Remember when she had an interior design job and blogging was her side-gig?

Now, major influencers like Aimee only don the latest looks on-loan from fashion house. The same goes with Chiara who has become a self-made celebrity. Rumi Neely, the godmother of fashion blogger how started it all, has morphed into a hipbone-jutting slim-spiration model where each Instagram (IG) post is a ridiculous game of how many bones can she expose without being fully naked. Skim through a few of the top fashion IG's and you will see the same it items on every girl: a teddy coat, Balenciaga dad sneakers & sweater, Dior saddlebag, Ganni sweater, Chloe bag, Ancient Greek Sandals, Realisation Par dresses, Zimmermann–and so on.

"These ladies and the spawns that they have created do not present a realistic nor sustainable lifestyle." 

For some readers, these influencers can come to represent success (read: happiness) in the modern age; millions of Instagram followers (popularity) and the illusion of an unlimited income (professional success) to travel and shop. In a world where we are told that if we only work hard enough we can achieve anything, this is problematic. Because we all have bills to pay. If you were to imitate their lifestyle you will fall into crushing debt. A single glance at how often one of these women travel in a month, staying at five-star hotels and dressed in designer duds, can cost upwards of $15,000 with a night at the Ritz in Paris starting at $1,108 and a Chanel dress around $8,150 (pictured). Influencers and fashion bloggers, alike, encourage inconspicuous spending without letting their readers in on the secret; that those outfits were on loan for the day, the hotel was paid for with a sponsorship, that they were gift that bag in return for posting, or they aren't naturally slim because they drink that tea. And that Fyre Festival was actually a bad idea. Let's ask these bloggers the real questions that matter: How do they plan to save for retirement? How will they put their kids through college? Do they plan to influence forever? How will they build their net worth and plan for the long term as they settle down, buy a home and start a family?

The fashion blogosphere, once a source of inspiration based on unique personal style, is now filled with a dull sense of sameness that it has become an extension of the consumerist capitalist machine full of fake followers and bots, artificially boosting follower count. Unfortunately, not everyone has what it takes to become a fashion/travel blogger. But for some reason I see girls on Instagram with full time jobs stepping out in the exact same $$$ outfits as these bloggers. Why waste your hard earn cash to look like someone else? What happened to looking at trends with a critical eye and making them your own, instead of being lemmings to what is popular?

Even the bloggers themselves are getting sick of the facade. Aimee has repeatedly mentioned wanting to talk about things outside of fashion and speaks openly about seeing a therapist on her Youtube channel. Could it be that a life peddling images of sponsored hopes and dreams leads to unhappiness? This is not a critique on Aimee as a person since I do not know her, but a critique on her blogger persona and the messages it sends and its many contradictions. These influencers have curated a very specific image of themselves that they almost cannot get out of. And we all know that no one looks that perfect all the time, yet these people will try their best to present that as exhausting as it can get.

My hope is that in 2019 readers will see past the sparkly brand names and choose to take themselves out of the running to keep up with the bloggers and unsubscribe. My hope is that we yearn for and encourage realistic authenticity that is attainable and sustainable. For our own well being, I hope we stop following fashion bloggers and follow our own dreams. For bloggers to follow who I admire for authenticity, see this post.

xx

cup of noodles to save your life

10:57 PM


I have a dangerous obsession. I am addicted to cup of noodles. But my blood test came back last week and my cholesterol levels are super healthy. So maybe it's not thaaaaat bad?

I recently ventured far outside of San Francisco into Berkeley to the Tokyo Fish Market, and discovered some interesting varieties of cup of noodles. I picked up a curry one that contained real dehydrated potatoes and a seafood one that had imitation crab and real bits of egg (!). They were ridiculously good. Unfortunately, I ate it all before I remembered to take a picture.

But fret not, fellow unhealthy foodies. You can order your own online at Candysan. This is the most amazing site I have ever discovered. If you like Japanese snacks, well, you're welcome. Available flavors include cheese curry, tom yum, laksa, and Pokemon.

Enjoys!

P.S. There's even unique flavored Cheetos.



Cured Egg Yolks

7:00 AM


Been cooking up a storm lately this holiday season. One of my closest girlfriends gifted me a jar of picked veggies recently which was extremely thoughtful. Fermented/pickled vegetables are so good for your health and they take some time to tend and make. Gifts of preserves or anything homemade foods are so much better than materialistic finds because they show an investment of time. Food made with love will always be appreciated.

So I learned of this recipe from here and posted about the process on my IG Stories. I grated the dried yolks over oil tossed pasta with shrimp and it was the. best. thing. I. ever. made. Then, like the masochist that I am, I made a batch of a dozen and gifted them in cute little jars to some friends. Add a cute little star tag and they're perfect for any millennial.

A few things to note...

  • Be super careful not to break the yolk when you are separating it from the whites, if it breaks, you can't use it. Save it for an omelette.
  • Try to remove as much of the whites as you can, don't half ass it, you'll thank me later.
  • Use half of your mix to make a nice bed for the yolks, use the other half to cover. The first time I made it, I did not cover my yolks sufficiently and found that they weren't as cured as when I did.



Happy curing!

xx

Hauntings

1:18 AM


It was one of my first jobs during college and I knew she attended the same school. One of the few other younger employees on our team, I noticed her immediately. A few months go by and I finally have to courage to initiate a conversation. I wanted to get to know this girl. She was so poised and put together while I couldn't even wake myself up early enough to get a shower in. I approached her cubicle and she was inviting. We talked for about an hour connecting over school, classes and the office life here. The conversation went well and I returned to my work for the day. After that, we never spoke again. She would encounter me in the hallway or in the elevator and advert her eyes. Maybe I my nose is crooked? Maybe she had social issues? Maybe it had nothing to do with me at all.

I left the job a year later and here she is, a permanent memory on my little blog.


image

We hadn't spoken for over two years. Time flew by so fast that when he finally texted me, I thought we had spoken just last month. No, trust me, it's been two years, he insisted. I had to stop talking to you because I was mad about what you told me about my relationship at the time. But you were right. He had come back to say this. I remembered at that moment I promised myself to never be a martyr for the truth again. Some people just don't deserve it.


image

"I can't be the friend you expect me to be." The end.

image

He took my picture. He was very talented and very miserable. After I dropped him off at the airport, I never heard from him again. Perhaps he found his happiness after all. I hope he did because what he did was cowardly and I don't want it to be in vain.

~

I don't know what the purpose of this post is, maybe it's not healthy to dwell on these unanswered moments of the past. Maybe it's cathartic.


Favorite follows; November edition

7:00 AM


It's Thanksgiving. You're going to have a lot of down time today because there is only so much family one can take (or is that just me?). So I'm here to share some of my favorite content creators at the moment. I particularly love these ladies because they keep it real whether they are unapologetic about how they are still figuring things out or authentic in their content voice. I don't really think of these ladies as bloggers/influencers because their main appeal is not to shill the latest trend, adorn themselves in gifted/loaned designer wares or push unrealistic aspirations of the #jetset life on sponsorship dime. More on this another time. Anyways, take a break from chatting with that uncle you see once a year and chill in the awesomeness of these ladies.

  • Ashley Kane of Brunch on Chestnut. Ashley lives in San Francisco like me so not only is she super relatable, she also has a very strong sense of personal style (downtown classic) but her decorating skills are really on point too. I like that she has suggestions of great closet staples that are devoid of fads. She also posts a lot of great deals and lives life on a normal budget like normal people. 
  • Aja Dang. I like this woman for her authenticity. Aja is honestly trying to get her life together and taking you with her. She shares hurdles of tackling her student loans, her struggles with keeping a budget, and she shares how she edits her photos – facetune and all. She's unabashed, humble and hustling her ass off.
  • Vanessa Grall of Messy Nessy Chic. Francophiles, get your fix here. I discovered her youtube videos a few months ago and have recently discovered her blog. So many great tidbits about Paris that goes beyond the basic topics about Paris. This is for the endlessly curious bookworm in all of us. 
  • Pamela Rf. Some days I don't have to energy to leave the house. This is how I discovered Pamela's workout videos. Her workouts are challenging but their short length (20 mins max) keep me from getting bored. I try to master all her workouts by doing them a few days in a row each week.
  • Jamie Beck of Ann Street Studio. Another expat living in France, but her pictures are dreamy and her daily chronicles serves as the perfect escapism. Follow Jamie as she goes to the farmers market in her small town or learn about the editing process behind how she creates beautiful portraits. Following Jamie has reminded me to pause and appreciate the small moments in my daily life. 

Enjoys.

xx

image via