a temporary home to love

this post features interactive captions – hover over or tap each image for the caption ‘dot’ to appear.KL HomeKL Home KL Home KL Home KL Home

Hi guys, I hope you had a nice weekend! We spent ours doing a major Fall Cleaning in preparation for the move today. It went well - a little off schedule but everything is ready to go until we meet again.

But before we gave away the plants, removed art from the walls, and sorted everything for the movers to pack into boxes, I made sure to take a few snaps of the living area that we made home for one and a half years. Do you remember this post when we just moved in and this one with our decor plan? I hate to say it - because it's an annoying cliche - but it feels just like yesterday. I can still remember Joe saying "let's get stuff up on the walls, it won't feel like home until we do" and little by little we did. Little by little we filled our home with pieces that made us smile and gave us comfort. You really can create a home that you love wherever you are.

With just some light cleaning and the final walk-through to do tomorrow, we're almost home-free! Not homeless though as we're staying at a hotel in the city until we depart on Wednesday. It's already proving to be a great idea, having a 'break' from moving before the long flights home. A big pat on the back for that one ;)

Okay KL, last few nights -  let's make them ones to remember!

and we're...

going back to cali Happy Monday, guys. I've been waiting to make a proper 'move' announcement and with one and a half weeks left, it's safe to say that LA will be our next stop! A temporary stop, that is. We have two weddings to attend, a storage unit to sort out, and I could use some time on the ground for Ring Cozy. We love LA but we're not ready to actually move back. Maybe we will one day, maybe we wont ... we're still itching to experience new places. It'll be great while we plan for the next adventure because being close to familiar faces and things is always helpful during a transition. Who knows where we'll be in a few months, but for now, I'm excited to make my first home home again!


one year, two different worlds

I didn't think that we could top last year but as I look back on 2012 I realize that we're only just getting started. We truly lived in two different worlds so I wanted to collect the most memorable moments, places, things, and thoughts into one post. I don't really use Facebook so I'll think of this as my "timeline" :) Travels will be on Thursday! Here we go....

Enjoying a rare sunny winter day in London. Primrose Hill was Joe's favorite place to fly his kite.primrose hill, london

A soothing cup of coffee and spot in the sun after my first (and thankfully only) mini-seasonal breakdown.post "i need to feel the sun's warmth" breakdown

Street art in our hood, W9. I loved walking past this everyday as a reminder of how much we had made London our home.street art w9

Back on Primrose Hill after the first snowfall, Joe proposed. His kite stayed home but he brought a gorgeous ring instead.engaged

Experiencing my first winter-to-spring transition felt so magical. I'll never forget how this warm day felt and how good that cold beer tasted. Can I just say how badly I miss London's pubs?!? Nothing else comes close.chiswick mall dove pub @ chiswick mall

Watching Feist bring the house down at the beautiful Royal Albert Hall. It was so cool to see her rock out in such a proper and classic venue.royal albert hall

Recapping our first year in Londonsmooch

...and then having to say goodbye shortly after

... and hello to a new landscape. Hello, Malaysia, you beautiful tropical place!palm leaves

Moving into our new apartment. Happy to have a few simple furnishings provided by the landlord.Untitled

Checking out our first wet market and being amazed by all the different varieties of fruit and fried food. I'm still learning what all of them are.chow kit, malaysia

Indulging in all said fruit. They're so nice to have after experiencing the blandness of the ones available in London.penang by Ana Maria Munoz

Receiving love scribbles from my nieces in LA just as I was feeling homesick.from home

Snapping out of my homesick funk and breaking in our building's BBQ for a little Fourth of July celebration of our own.weekend 070712_5

...and then doing it local style with the most amazing satay and peanut sauce ever. weekend we <3 you

Having front row seats to awesome thunder and lightning storms that happen nearly every afternoon. Even if we're outside when they occur, it's so warm out that it doesn't matter. weekend we <3 you

Finding beauty in KL's nooks and crannies.Kuala Lumpur

...and in more obvious and opulent places like the Petronas Twin Towers.weekend 102012_6

and last but not least, the feeling of growth that comes from exploring new territories both physically and mentally. 2013...bring it on.Batu Caves

making a home

home Thank you so much for the comments on yesterday's post - it feels great to feel fully settled in. I hope I haven't been too much of a debbie downer the past three months but I have, thanks for sticking by my side.

Moving ain't easy so what do you do when you have to start from scratch or with only a few pieces in tow? With two international moves under our belt I want to share some things I've learned that might help anyone who is moving to a new city or country for school, work, family, or in my case: amor ;)

It's tempting to think that you'll need everything but if you stay true to practicality and enjoyment then you will be okay. In other words, follow Mr. Morris's words and "... have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful".

Keeping that in mind, we moved to London with four duffel bags stuffed with linens and clothing, and shipped three medium size boxes full of kitchen utensils, office supplies, and a few art pieces and knick knacks that were personal to us. Just having a framed picture and a memento from the past offered an instant feeling of "home" ... even if said picture frame was displayed on the cardboard box it came in for nearly three months.

Here are some tips to consider for creating instant comfort and avoiding unnecessary expenses and wasted energy:

• Bring your own bed linens, towels, and pillows. Even if only one set of each to start out with - you'll need them immediately.

• Basic kitchen utensils plus a pot and pan for cooking a simple meal. I always feel more settled if I can scramble my own eggs and not have leave home to feed my morning hunger. These individual items can also add up to a large expense if bought new.

• Personal photos, art, and any tchotskes that are small but meaningful to you. Something that you can place on a counter or lean against a wall and smile at until you find a more permanent space for it.

• Office supplies - it's amazing how necessary a stapler or paper clips can be. Especially if you'll be filling out paper work for new local accounts and such. Having these along with pens, paper, envelopes, etc., saves so much time in having to locate the nearest stationary shop. Of course, you'll eventually find one (and other stores for other things) but the point is to make starting out as easy as possible.

• Movies and favorite TV shows downloaded to your computer while you arrange your internet and TV services. This is extremely helpful for morale on those nights when you're sitting in an empty room eating off of paper plates.

And most important, don't forget to pack your sense of adventure and sense of humor. It's a big test for what you can and can't live without but the good thing is that it's temporary and as long as there's a roof over your head and a pillow to rest on, all is truly well.

As you can tell by the photo above we've moved to KL with a few more items. It was easier to do that this time around since we knew what our apartment looked like and could justify the freight shipping based on what it would cost to buy them all over again. We lived somewhat sparingly in London but now we're ready to go the distance, even if we have to pack it all up again (or leave it) in a year or two. We've gotta love it and enjoy it right now - home sweet home.

Do you have any items that instantly make you feel at home whether moving across town or across the globe?

it happens


I was in such a funk yesterday with domestic matters. I was tired with the lack of internet in our apartment and annoyed that our bed linens had to be ironed because the two-in-one washer/dryer does nothing but create accordion pleats (all you people with fluffy tumble dryers - appreciate them, please!). Very trivial stuff, I know, but when I'm in a new country, in a new home, and I'm spending most of the day alone - I need the internet...and soft sheets. I need the internet's familiarity, the connection to friends and family, the ability to work, and last but not least, the silly but oh so valuable social pick-me-ups that it gives me via twitter and instagram. I remember feeling this exact way in London during the first month so I'm not surprised that it's happening again. The hardest part of moving is getting the technical details sorted so that we can have a comfortable home base. At least this time I know from past experience that any frustrations are temporary, or you at least find ways to deal with them. Once we get connected at home I'm searching for a local fluff and fold delivery service - I'm not putting that much elbow grease into those sheets again. Nuh uh.


Update: our internet was installed this afternoon - HURRAHHH!!! I grinned like a total dork when my homepage loaded. Plus, I re-designed yesterday's words worth repeating - I really shouldn't design when I'm in a funk...much happier now.


the suite life

KL_suite life_2 KL_suite life_4KL_suite life KL_suite life_3 KL_suite life_1

Just a few things that are making our temp apartment feel like home. We wouldn't dream of leaving our friend Erl tucked away in a box and Joe couldn't be without his favorite whisky. Recognize the Moroccan slippers and the book cover? The router has been a life saver since the suite only has a single ethernet connection. We've learned how to make hotel stays a bit more comfortable.

Do you have any favorite things that instantly make a place feel like home?

a taste of KL

a taste of KL KL seemed to be all about contrast - modern skyscrapers towering over old rain trees and state of the art shopping centers next door to traditional street hawker stands. With cold and gloomy skies lurking outside my London window right now, the image of a sparkly new pool couldn't be any more different. An entire new world awaits. A very hot and humid one in fact. Just as I had curated a great little collection of wool and cashmere sweaters it's time to trade them in for cotton tops and linen dresses. Definitely not complaining though because as a So Cal girl I'm happiest in sandals and denim shorts anyway.  It felt strange to show my shoulders and legs again after months of hibernation and I couldn't help but wonder if it was okay to do so. Malaysia is a predominately Muslim country but the difference is that everyone is free to practice and express as they wish. That means that a woman won't be (our shouldn't be) chastised for not following the hijab dress code. Nevertheless, I'm used to traveling to places where it's one or the other so I wasn't quite sure what to do when I turned a corner and realized that I was the only female in sight not covered from head to toe. Going to the mall reassured me that I was going to be fine - I could have been in LA with hundreds of fellow flip flop, tank top, wearing peers! It was definitely the place to be. Shopping centers are a BIG DEAL but I'm pretty sure it has more to do with the omg-this-feels-so-good air conditioning than anything else.

In the evening I found myself giddy with joy at the fact that we were sipping mojitos outside without a coat or scarf in sight. Other things that I loved and look forward to is the incredible hospitably and customer service, amazing food both in proper restaurants and street-side stalls, and the awesome afternoon shows that thunderstorms put on for the city. Not to mention that with the exchange rate everything is either dirt cheap or at least LA equivalent - much easier to stomach than London Town's high premiums. And of course, I'm  rreaaalllyyy looking forward to our new swanky pad in KLCC (city center)! I can't wait to settle in, decorate, and jump into that pool! It's so different from our charming, traditional flat in London - ultra modern, brand new building, gym facilities, and city views. Basically, I'll be pinching myself for the next two years. A few suburban neighborhoods were suggested to us but a) we don't want a car as is necessary to live there b) we don't need that much space and c) we like to live where we play. It seems like the "nobody walks" mentality is prevelant due to the heat but we're down with at least giving it a go. Only thing is that the sidewalks are either non-exitent or in terrible shape in some parts but we'll eventually learn the best routes for what we need.

One thing is for sure: with KL being so modern and western yet also deep rooted in ancient cultures and traditions, I really want to make an effort to explore the latter as much as possible. I can imagine it being far too easy to simply float along with the modern aspects of the city once we settle in. I don't want to be that kind of expat. Between the humidity and the pool, I will, however, turn into a three shower a day person. That much I can guarantee.

{here we go again} we're moving!

Yep, this is the big announcement I've been mentioning - just as we mark our one year anniversary in London we're packing up again and moving to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! We might as well balance things out by doing the other side of the world right?!? Joe was offered a new opportunity with his company and we simply couldn't pass up the chance to live in and explore South East Asia. It sadly cuts our time in the UK short by a year but we've got to take things as they come and trust that we'll have just as much fun creating a new home there as we did here.

The move is going to happen very quick. I'm talking the first week of May quick - eekk! Between squeezing in trips to Brussels and Paris (we need to leave our mark), visiting KL to look for an apartment, wrapping up work projects, and all of the moving stuff to do in London, it's going to be a crazy couple of weeks. For that reason I won't be blogging next week but I will be prepping a big moving sale for the shop and will have bits to share from the trip to KL the following week.

There's so much to personally reflect on and anticipate but that will have to wait for a later post - I need to get through a very long to-do list first! If any of you live in or have traveled in that part of the world I'd love to hear about your experiences, tips, and words of wisdom. I've never been so my eyes and ears are wide open!

 (image: taken in Shoreditch, London)

happy friday + moving day!

bye bye bath Today is the day that we say goodbye to our first London pad but more important is that we will finally be able to stand upright to get clean. You see, we haven't taken a proper shower at home in six months because our "shower hose" doesn't have any water pressure above two feet. The little that it does have barely does the job so we've been using a plastic water pitcher to make do. Yep folks, we've been bathing like it's 1859 over here in London Town! It was funny at first, then really annoying, then I forced myself to get used to it, and then I really hated it. At least I'm a small person that can comfortably fit in a tub, Joe on the other hand...poor guy.

The only showers we've taken are when we've traveled and stayed in a hotel. Those rented waterfalls were the only saving grace for my hair as shampoo became increasingly difficult to scrub out with a pour of the pitcher.

We were all the wiser for our next flat (who would have thought that you needed to test showers, anyway?) and I'm excited to say that we have AMAZING water pressure! AND it comes down from seven feet above! To add a cherry on top, our new flat's bathroom sink has a dual temperature water faucet which means we can finally use warm water. I swear, I really don't understand why using either hot or cold is the norm here. Especially when 1) kitchens do dual so they know it exists and 2) safety laws are so crazy that electrical outlets in the bathroom and wall light switches aren't allowed (you get a pull-string or the switch is placed outside the room). But burning myself with scorching hot water is okay? So strange.

I'm beyond excited to be moving into the 21st century...my hair will be happy too.

Have a great weekend!

new flat found...at last

moving Things are really starting to get busy around here for many reasons but mainly because....drumroollllll... we've found our new flat! We put our offer in on Friday and it was accepted yesterday afternoon. I didn't mention it in the weekend post because I'm slightly superstitious that way but, YAY, it's a done deal!

After spending weeks searching online and visiting derelict flats that I wouldn't even wish upon my worst enemies, we feel so lucky to have found our new home. It has two bedrooms, it's modern, spacious, is in our current neighborhood that we love, and best of all, unfurnished!

I can't tell you how excited the word "unfurnished" makes me. The norm here is that when you rent a place, you also take whatever furniture is in it. I understand that renting is temporary and that buying furniture can be quite the expense but just because I don't own the place doesn't mean that I don't care about the environment inside of it. It is still our home.

Too many of the furnished places we saw were flat out nasty. They mainly consisted of  worn out IKEA sofas, mix-matched 90's furniture, and curtains from the 1800's. We don't need to live like college students anymore and we wont. Especially at the fancy rate these places were going for!

I was starting to worry that we may not find something that felt right but luck came to us between viewing appointments on Friday. We stopped by a new (to us) pub in the neighborhood and while we ate I decided to see if anything new had been listed online that morning. Our place came right up, I gasped in excitement, called the agent, and within twenty minutes we were checking it out and drafting the offer in our heads. It felt too good to be true.

While that feeling still sort of worries me (like, what will we learn once we're actually living there), I know that it's already a thousand times better than our current place. Why? Because it has a real working shower AND a dual temperature faucet in the bathroom sink! I think I'll have to explain our current bathroom woes in another post but for now, things are looking up!