missing home from home

palm trees LA Hi guys, checking in from LA where I'm really missing the blog. I miss taking photos, I miss using this space as a creative playground, and I miss sharing things with you!

Work has been all consuming - which is a great thing because that's what I'm here for - but I'm longing to fit in more time with family, friends...and my camera. My whole work smart and not harder thing is hard to do when there are so many unknown variables at play. It's getting better though with just three more weeks to go and a to-do list that's feeling less daunting with every new thing that I learn and every step that I take.

It's been nice to be back here, in my second life as I've been calling it, but it's just not as fun without my man by my side. A place doesn't feel like home without him, even if it's my very own hometown. That being said, I'm doing my best to make the time that I have here count, make things happen, and am enjoying the ride with bumps, missteps, and small victories along the way. It's all part of a greater journey...

I hope that you've been awesome!

 

i can see clearly now...

see clearly Did I mention that I was getting LASIK eye surgery? Well yes, I had my eyes did on Thursday and wow, I can't believe what technology is capable of. Not yet 24 hours after staring into bright laser lights and smelling my burning eye balls (the brochure forgot to mention that pleasant part) I could see perfectly clear through distances that used to be a big blurry haze. I was a bit scared to go under but with rave reviews from others who have had it done and logical statistics provided by Joe on the higher risks of simply wearing contacts, I was sold.

I've never had any type of surgery done let alone really considered anything cosmetic (aside from a boob job but I can't bear the thought of something foreign in my body!). In this case, getting LASIK was purely a lifestyle choice. I was so sick of pushing my glasses up on my sweaty nose while working out and having to swap out my prescription sunnies to my regular ones whenever I walked indoors - or worse, keeping the sunnies on and straining my vision through the dark lenses while inside. Had my eyes been more receptive to contacts I might be fine but after three hours of having them suctioned onto my eyes I would inevitably take them out and reach for my trusty glasses. And as for maintenance, is it just me or is it nearly impossible to keep glasses clean? I feel like I had a phantom toddler with sticky fingers just smudging up my glasses all day long. I could never keep them clean enough. So yeah, I'm thrilled that I took the leap and went for the surgery!

I've spent the past five days resting my eyes and going a bit stir crazy. Can't really go outside when it's sunny, have to keep the apartment kinda dark, can't watch much TV, and especially can't be on the computer for too long. I never realize how much I look at a screen all day between my laptop, phone, iPad, and TV...it's a bit sad really but I guess it's also a reality of working from home.

Since I couldn't do much with my eyes, I let the ears have it with podcasts by Monocole's The Entrepreneurs, Here's The Thing, Studio 360, and TED Talks. As anxious as I felt at times to get back to working smart, it was nice to just lay there and listen to interesting conversations and discussions. Not listening while cooking dinner or writing emails...just laying there and doing nothing else. I highly recommend it. Speaking of, I should get off of the computer and give these new old peepers a rest ;)

This photo was taken using a fun Optrixx Looking Eye I bought at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA. 

all framed out

framedframed framed framed framed

Happy Friday, guys! Wow am I excited for the weekend. Even though I'm planning on getting some work done, I just love the fact that we'll be home. For all of the traveling we do I'm really quite the homebody. That's why I'm so excited to finally have framed all of the photo prints from my shop so we can enjoy them in our living room! I also had a little graphic fun with a photo I took of the Sydney Opera House. Looks kinda like a fan, doesn't it? The color is just the pop that we needed in here.

All perfect timing too since I just received a copy of our home feature in IKEA Malaysia's Live magazine (!!!). We had practically just moved in so it's nice to see what we've done to make it even more homey since then.

Enjoy your weekend!

5x7 frames by IKEA / large frame by Habitat / cushions by {me}longings

 

not so little anymore + adios for now

photo 2-1 photobooth While looking at these photo booth pics with my family and Joe that I have placed around our home, I thought "wow... I'm not so little anymore". Packing for our first trip to Colombia together thinking of the celebration and fun that awaits, I couldn't help but also think of how crazy life is as you get older and experience the many chapters of life. One by one, you write each sentence and paragraph with every action you take. Before you know it, the school chapters are done, work and career ones begin and forever get revised, love stories develop - some flourish and some don't - and family remains the constant thread throughout. The book of life is one neat novel, isn't it?

I'm excited to head out today and continue Joe's and mine's story together with a special wedding day. That plus some holiday fun with friends and family will surely make the next two weeks fly by...I'll be sure to stop and smell the coffee beans in the midst of it all ;)

Will see ya back here later this month when we return but until then, you can catch me and our Colombian adventures on Instagram and Twitter. Vamonos!

a month of love

Home sweet home. I'm back in KL and I've been unpacking, doing laundry, and catching up with Joe, work, and of course, Downtown Abbey. I had a full marathon via our iTunes subscription since the entire season is now online - I couldn't believe it!

Our week before flying to Colombia is already jam packed so it's a fun treat to kick it off by being a part of Cuyana's 14 Days of Love campaign where I share my personal and brand-love stories. I absolutely love what those ladies are doing in giving artisans around the world a beautiful and stylish platform to share their work.

Being asked to be a part of their campaign couldn't have come at a better time. February is a special month for Joe and I as it is our "Valenbirthsary" when we celebrate everything at once: the day we met, valentine's day, and my birthday. And this year we get to add a wedding date! Add the fact that we get to share that date with the people we love and there's all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings going on. February, you're my fave.

 

thoughts over sunsets

LA sunsets Hey guys, how have you been?! I've been MIA from the blog but I certainly haven't been slacking in anything else. Honestly, don't think that I'll rest until I'm on the flight back home! Not complaining though because I'm doing everything that I came here for, and then some.

It feels like my personal to-do list is just as long as my work one. Going to the dentist, getting a haircut, shopping for favorite things that can only be (or are more easily) found here, and of course, prepping the final details for next month's wedding in Colombia.

I'm starting to get really excited about it now that it's just several weeks away. Sure, I've been excited about the trip in general for months now but since I've been so caught up with my new product launch and somewhat removed from the details (my mom and dad are doing the gritty work locally), I haven't really had that direct connection to planning and anticipating the day. It wasn't until my sister and I went shopping for my nieces' flower girl dresses that I felt the emotions of "getting married" hit me. Those two little ones definitely made it feel real for me. Aside from buying my own dresses and a few things for the reception that we'll ship from LA, it was one of the few tangible things that I've done for the actual wedding day.

My parents have been amazing ever since we told them that we wanted to get married at our family finca. They're finding the best deals for our group transportation, rental vendors, hiring cooks, and shopping for other essentials. We're keeping things simple but never the less, some things require attention and I'm so thankful that they and my other family members are putting so much energy and love into it. They've also been busy sprucing up the finca for everyone to enjoy. I haven't been there in four years so I can't wait to see how it looks now that it's getting my parents' special TLC. I'm feeling really blessed right now…for the special day ahead of us and for everything, really.

Thankful for supportive the friends and former colleagues I'm seeing this month, thankful for the health and energy that keeps me going every day to learn, grow, and do more with what I've got, and most of all, thankful for my beautiful man back home in KL whom I love and miss like crazy.

So yes, all is well. Busy, but well. Check back tomorrow to finally see what I've been up to!

getting started

LA Hi guys, how was your weekend? As you can probably tell, I wont be posting daily while I'm here in LA but I will check in often.

It's been non-stop since I arrived but it's already been an eye-opening several days with the feedback I've received. It's exciting to end each day with new insights about improving a sample or a strategy, for example, but also equally terrifying to think that there's so much more that I don't know and will need to figure out as I go along.

That's the beauty of the process I suppose.  Everything comes together with each step you take and before you know it, you've got a long trail full of experiences behind you. Have you ever looked at a completed to-do list from a past project and thought "wow, at one point all of these items looked so overwhelming!"? It's at that moment when you can really see how far you've come. I love that part of creating something...it makes everything and anything seem possible as long as you take it step by step.

Today will probably be spent standing in more lines than I'd like but at least I'll have the California sun and blue skies to keep me company as I zip from here to there. This weather is exactly why I once thought that I'd never leave LA. But since I did leave, it's really amusing to hear and see everyone freaking out about it getting below 50 degrees. I guess my adopted London blood is still with me after nine months but we'll see if it wears off by the end of this trip. Either way, it's nice to feel something other than balmy for a change :)

 

 

 

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

doing the wok

brass wok 2brass wok 4 brass wok 3

Last week I attended a local cooking class and while I completely forgot to take my camera along for photos, I did leave with a beautiful brass wok; crafted right here in Malaysia and just what our wet kitchen needed. What is a wet kitchen you may ask? It's a secondary room with a gas stove, sink, window, and a door - all for cooking and frying up your fish and meats without stinking up the rest of the house. So yeah, we have a second kitchen right off of the main one and it's totally normal...here at least ;)

Our wet kitchen also doubles as a laundry and storage room so we often forget to cook in it. But, now that we have a fancy new wok I'm more than ready to get in there and get dirty. The class I took was for Indian cuisine and my faves were the potato samosas and dhall curry. I'm hoping that I can make my home versions taste just as good since I'm pretty sure that most of the flavor came from the love and sweetness of our instructors Sue and Saadiah. They reminded me that a good meal is all about a pinch of love and dash of creativity ... and now, using an awesome brass wok to fry fry fry.

If you find yourself in KL and want to cook like a local, check out LaZat. I loved it and already want to go back for another course.

then and now

postcards from australia My parents are seriously cool and I have these postcards from their early days in Australia to prove it. They were sent to family in Colombia when my sister Monica was an "hormigita" or "tiny ant", as my dad wrote, well before I was born. My folks were two adventurous, young love birds who saw nothing but an opportunity to get more out of life. They lived an ocean away from their families, didn't speak the language fluently (to start), worked hard to keep a roof over their head and yet somewhere in between they somehow managed to start a family of their own. When I think of all of the incredibly beautiful - and incredibly challenging - things they went through for our family I literally break into tears. I'm so thankful for them, each and every day and they inspire me to no end.

It's always been their dream to take my sister and I back to Australia, to show us where we lived, where we played, where our family started. Unfortunately we haven't been able to go as a family yet but Joe and I will get the ball rolling this Friday. It'll be my first time back since we moved when I was a year and a half old so it will be completely new in one way yet completely familiar in another because of the stories and photos I grew up with. The photo on the bottom left of the postcard pile is tiny blond me, walking in the park near our apartment in Bondi Beach, Sydney. My mom and I did a google maps search for it while we were in LA together and she says that it looks like the park is still there. She also made me promise that I'd go to that very same spot and take a photo...from baby to lady. I promise mama. Anything for you.

 

pop displays

neon tags One of the first things I noticed when we moved to Malaysia was the way that some small independent shops display product prices and information. These neon tags are everywhere and they literally make me smile every time I see them. How could they not?! They're bright, playful, and with great geometric shapes and cartoon-ish hands they're hard to miss and not appreciate. When I started seeing packs of them for sale at stationary shops I got really excited because I knew that I had to have them. I have no idea what I'm actually going to do with them but I'm quite happy with the collection that has developed. Do you have any ideas for putting these awesome tags to use, functional or as art?

pick a card, any card

IMG_1608IMG_1615 IMG_1613 IMG_1629

Give someone a Moo card and you are bound to get a compliment. Be it the high quality, the smooth texture, or the many designs to choose from - they make an impression. I began using Moo in 2009 for my accessories shop after falling in love with their Mini cards. Since then I've called on Moo for holiday postcards, stickers, and most recently, The Pond Market collateral. I had been itching to get new business cards for my creative services so when Dan from Moo USA contacted me about designing my own for keeps I jumped at the opportunity! I love that with you can upload your own designs and have each card feature a different one. With that in mind I played with a few new patterns using my blog's color scheme and I'm really happy with how they turned out. So happy that I'm now itching to re-design my entire blog! I want to keep the colors but I feel like it's time for a re-fresh, especially since the launch of my print shop will be happening very very soon (!!!). I've been mulling over the idea of selling my photography for about a year now and it finally feels like the right time to go for it (that "Photography - coming soon" sidebar button that's been there since February? yeah...). New business cards have a way of making things feel extra official, exciting, and possible, don't they? :)

 

cultural bits

mooncake I was lucky to be able to catch up with a lot of friends in LA but one of the hardest parts of catching up was answering the question "so, how is living in Malaysia?".  Though most of my friends keep up to date with my blog I realize that I haven't been sharing as much of the everyday moments and things that really make up the collective experience of living here. "Where do I even start?" I'd ask myself. On the surface level it appears to be like any other city (fancy skyscrapers, high-end shopping, trendy bars and restaurants) but how do I describe the nuances that make my walk to the grocery store that much different that it was in London or LA? And what about what happens inside of the grocery store? How do I give examples of things without making KL sound like a completely strange foreign place while acknowledging the fact that it is a thriving city straddled between old customs and modern western ways?

I found myself answering with surprising optimism that I LOVE it. I've realized that yes, it would be easier to live in a more mature city like Singapore but KL is rad. It feels like it's five to ten years away from being like other major cities and we have a front row seat to the action. Construction is everywhere, locals seem to be hungry for new and exciting retail and dining experiences, and the tourism board is on overdrive - with good reason, too. Just like London is to Europe, KL is the perfect launch pad to the rest of South East Asia, Asia, and Australia. Malaysia may not have it all (yet) but what it does have is worth celebrating: heritage cities, modern cities, jungles, beaches, unique street-food, colorful religious festivals, and best of all, friendly people. I encountered more openly friendly strangers in the first three weeks here than I did in a year in London if that tells ya anything.

As for the little details? The ones that aren't so great are made easier by the details that I have fallen for: the giant rainforest trees spared by new constructions, the black and white striped curbs on the roads that make me feel like I'm in a race car game, and the dangerously delicious baked goods that are hot and fresh anytime of the day (in the mall bakeries, of course ;).

I don't recall if I managed to recite all of the above to my friends in response to their question but I did give them a few fish out of water type stories. I want to share those with you, too, so moving forward I will offer up some "cultural bits" so you can gain a little more insight as to how different (or not) living here can be.

Oh and the photo? They're Chinese Mooncakes in celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival. I initially had a totally different direction for this post but naturally I went off on a tangent so now the image is kinda random. Oh well, c'est la vie!