blue & sun for the jet lagged

UntitledUntitled Hello from LA! We arrived to bright blue skies and plenty of sunshine with a side of cool breeze, just how I like it. It's been a whirlwind of couple of days between settling into our current crash pad, running errands, attending a wedding, looking for a new temporary apartment/sublet, seeing family, and trying to get a solid night's sleep. I have never been so off before - jet lag usually hits me on the way back but since there's no return this time maybe I'm getting it all upfront. All of sixteen hours of it, making my eyes look and feel like I've been partying for days.

I'm hoping that this week brings a bit more calm and order to my schedule, emphasis on hoping. We leave for a mini road-trip to Arizona on Thursday for another wedding so if I can get just three days of productive work time (and good sleep) I'll be a happy camper. I'm happy now but very tired, definitely looking forward to feeling refreshed and on top of things again. Until I get there, please keep those blue skies and that shadow-play sunshine coming!

making it in LA

LA street art It's been good to be back in LA to get things done - what a difference it makes to be here! Instead of relying on phone calls and emails in different timezones, I can be somewhere at a moments notice and give comments and samples as they're needed (take that, two weeks snail mail). Not to mention the face time that I'm getting with suppliers and manufacturers. Can't even begin to tell you how invaluable the personal interaction has been.

Aside from getting my own work done, I've been re-inspired by all of the production that exists in the area. Name a tangible good and chances are that there's a place in LA that makes it. In the warehouse and industrial zones, every building you see is busy with people making clothes, accessories, toys, furniture, printing fabric, printing paper, bottling food & bev, packing and shipping - it's truly is amazing how much still happens here.

So where am I at with Ring Cozy? We've got our launch colors all set and so far everything is on track to ship pre-orders at the end of the month (woo hoo, fingers crossed!!!). Making it happen ladies and gents, making it happen.

 

gone summering

LA Palms Graphic Well, not really. We're off to LA today and though I'll be there for the rest of the summer, I definitely won't be summering the entire time - this girl has some a lot of biznaz to take care of!

Of course there will be some pleasure mixed in: attending a wedding, visiting the in-laws in Alaska, catching up with friends, and sneaking in play time to indulge in a So Cal summer.

Part of me can't wait and another part is seriously sad to leave my home in KL. It's strange to feel like my first home (LA) is not my main home anymore. For the first time since moving, I'm thinking of all the things that I'll miss in Malaysia rather than anxiously looking forward to everything in LA. Of course I'm crazy excited about getting face-time with my favorite people, and eating my heart out with the foods I often crave, but home is really where the heart is and my heart is always with Joe (cue cheese ball alert, I know) who will only be there with me for a bit. The extended stay is necessary for what I need to get done, and I know that it'll be great and totally worth it in end in more ways than one, I'm just being a total love sap.

So, LA - my first home and love - here I come!!!

 

Photo graphic by Ana Maria Muñoz

a year's worth of wanderlust II

This time of year always makes me reflect and one of the things that I'm most grateful for are the opportunities we've had to travel. We set out to live internationally for many reasons but traveling was/is priority numero uno. Looking back, I think we did a good job a sticking to our plan even though some days it feels easier to just veg out at home! Here are my fave moments, sights, and thoughts from our 2012 travel adventures....

Breaking away from Europe and landing in Marrakech. High hopes and expectations were met with a chaotic Medina with a character all its own.IMG_9915

Passed Berber Villages in the Atlas Mountains and seeing nothing but beautiful vistas. And snow. Who would have thought Africa had snow?!IMG_0120

Sipping on fresh mint tea while picking out our new/old Berber rug...the perfect souvenir!rug shopping

Our first LA visit together and indulging in three things: In N Out burgers, Mexican tacos, and fresh American donuts. This photo was from our morning binge session while doing loads of laundry next door.LA day _ weekend_3

Re-discovering the cool designs and colors found in LAgarage design, manhattan beach los angeles

Taking a quick break from LA to Anchorage, Alaska for a visit with Joe's parents. It was so awesome to be in the house he grew up in and see his childhood town.walking on a frozen pond

a day-trip to Oxford - LOVED it there. For you Hogwarts fanatics - their cafeteria is just off to the left.weekend_oxford_4

Stopping in Florence en route to Chianti. It's so true that the entire city is a museum.

enjoying an impromptu lunch overlooking vineyards near Greve Chianti. Hands down my fave meal of the trip...for sentimental reasons, mainly, because the other meals were aawweesooomme.italy_2

a "booze and chocolate tour" of Brussels with some sight-seeing on the side. A flea market was also involved - this one was one of the most legit I've been to.

brussels brussels

Leaving our love-lock in Paris as we wrapped up our time in London.paris

Our first trip after moving to KL: Penang. So colorful and vibrant.penang by Ana Maria Munoz

and with charming old character everywhere you look.penang by Ana Maria Munoz

Piggy-backing on one of Joe's business trips to Bangkok and exploring by boat.bangkok long boat

Visiting Singapore for the first time and wishing we had moved there instead since it was so clean, organized, and seemingly perfect. It was during a rough point in my new-home adjustment but now love and appreciate the imperfect and real character of KL.

singapore singapore 7

The beach holiday that ruined it for any other ones in the future. Con Dao, Vietnam was utter perfection. Honeymoon is done and done. Untitled

Going back to LA to give these little ones hugs and kisses and begin research on my new venture. Untitled

Making a long-weekend out of Joe's business trip to London. We'll take any amount of time there, no matter how long the flight. Plus, Joe needed to stock up on his favorite Whisky and you can pack more with two people + checked bags than you can with one ;) Image 1 Image 3

The unexpected layover in Abu Dhabi from London. I did my best to make the most of my 48 hours there despite major jet-lag (I was only one week back from LA!)Abu Dhabi

Getting to know and love the bits of Melbourne that give it it's reputation as a hub for good coffee shops and interesting street art.

grace cafe in fitzroy melbourne street art

Hanging out in Bondi Beach where I used to splash around as a toddler. Can't believe that we used to live just down the road. Part of me wonders what it would have been like to grow up there and be a little beach bunny...

bondi beach

... or just dance around The Opera House all the time...sydney opera house at night

...and with Australia, that brings us to a wrap!

But we won't be idle for too long. With the US, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa covered in one year (that is cray cray!) it's only fitting that we kick off 2013 with South America in February. Yep, I cannot wait to visit my parents in Colombia and say our "I Do's" with family, friends, and buñuelos!

I'm so thankful for this beautiful year....and to you guys for sharing it with me. I'll stop before I get all sappy but know that interacting with you via this blog, twitter, instagram, email is such a joy. And if you just joined me this year, you can catch up on where we went in 2011 by clicking here. Oh, the places we will go......

friday pic & pin

friday pic & pin 17 It's been a great week of catching up with friends all over town and getting local things done. I've literally been all over the map from orange county to the valley and Sunday will take me to the westside for a brunch in Venice. Each area has different memories and associations for me so it's almost as if each chapter of my life is a different zip code and I'm flipping through the pages as I drive along.  It's a trip.

We'll see what stories are created this weekend.

Have a good one!

(image left: Downtown LA skyline from LA State Historic Park by Ana Maria Muñoz, right: Pin via Delovely Arts)

los angeles design, i

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Hola, how was your weekend?

Ours was all about traveling and settling back into our flat; man does it feel good to be home!!! One of the things that I love about London is that the architectural details are so different from everything that I grew up with in LA. When we moved here I became obsessed with noting the tiny details of building facades and period characteristics of the 1600's onwards.

Los Angeles is obviously much newer so going back for a visit after being away for a while proved to be super inspiring. Everything from the Mexican and Spanish Colonial details around El Pueblo/Olvera Street, the Art Deco facades in Old Pasadena, to the simple retro lines of the beach communities ... they all hint to the diversity of design in the City of Angels. I admire and respect the ornate and elaborate styles of traditional European design but when push comes to shove, simplicity and basic geometry always captures my heart. It wasn't until this trip that I realized how much my hometown had influenced my personal design tendencies. I guess sometimes you really don't know what you've got until it's gone...or at least leave it then go back :)

...and the winner is

I've been on total vacation mode for nearly two weeks and I just realized that I never picked a winner for the Marrakech souvenir giveaway! Please excuse me, I haven't been my internet-self as of late but thanks to this handy site I was able to pick the lucky winner in a flash (thanks for the tip, Marianne!). I really enjoyed reading about your favorite travel souvenirs and I wish that I had a little something to give each of you but alas, the tassel will find a new happy home with.....drum roll please.....Leah! I can't wait to see what you do with it. Be sure to check your inbox for an email from me :)

I also realized that I better enjoy the rest of the time off (and the excuse for missing to-do tasks) because March is going to be one busy month. Two and a half more days of palm trees, sunshine, drinks with friends, and whatever else we want... LA, I'm going to relish you like there is no tomorrow!

weekend we

donut shopdonut shop donut shop donut shop views of DTLA from Perch views of DTLA from Perch views of DTLA from Perch bday at Shareen Vintage bday at Shareen Vintage Anchorage, AL snow sculpture Anchorage, AL I see a moose! Anchorage, AK walking on a frozen pond living out my figure skating fantasies

Hello from Anchorage, Alaska! We're here visiting Joe's parents for a few days and so far I'm loving it. It's such a different world from LA or London but it definitely has its own charm...snow sculpture competition, walking across a huge frozen pond, spotting a moose, and pretending to be a figure skater - yes, please! It was crazy to get back into our boots and coats when just the day before we were in our flip flops getting instant tans simply walking around town. The wonders of air travel, right?

It was my birthday weekend and I felt totally spoiled by spending tons of time with my dearest friends, indulging in yummy donuts, sharing some great wine and views at Perch, and celebrating the big 27 with my favorite gals at my favorite vintage clothing store, Shareen. I got everything I wanted and more this year - I love you, friends!!!

Now....off to look for more moose, I'm totally obsessed ;)

meet me at union station

Union Station Los AngelesUnion Station Los Angeles Union Station Los Angeles Union Station Los Angeles Union Station Los Angeles Union Station Los Angeles Union Station Los Angeles

While not nearly as robust and extensive as public transportation options in other cities and countries, LA does have its very own subway and rail system. I love riding the Metro and even though it has its faults, one of the pleasures of forgoing a car is getting to pass through Union Station in Downtown. I was so happy to have the excuse to take the Gold Line there yesterday for a lunch date with my girlfriend Erin. It's such a special place.

happy friday! + LA architecture month

stahl house, los angelescastle green, pasadena gamble house, pasadena heritage square, los angeles downtown la skyline

AIA and the City of Los Angeles have declared October Architecture Month. Since it begins on Sunday and I'm not there to take part in their many events, I'm going to celebrate by sharing some photos from my archives.

There's not hiding it. I. Love. LA. It is my home, my heart, and it will always be the best city in the world to me. As a native it's interesting to live outside of LA and hear what other people think, say, and ask. These are usually my responses...

Yes, there's traffic but you have it too and just as bad.

Yes, there are celebrities but no one cares about them.

Yes, it's "SO big" but it's got something for everyone and every mood, hobby, interest.

No, we don't decorate palm trees for Christmas, we get pine trees just like you do.

No, Santa Monica Beach is not littered with busty blonds. Sorry.

... I could go on but I'll spare you.

My point is that a lot of people, visitors and those who live there alike, never stop to take a look at the real LA. They simply trug along the Hollywood points of interest or are too jaded to appreciate what's right in front of them. That's why I love that AIA and the city have devoted an entire month to highlighting the Architecture of LA. Though it seems that they're mostly promoting modern and future developments, I'm going to champion what we already have. Sure our buildings are not as old as other cities' but they're ours and they're special too. For example, we have the epitome of an American Craftsman in The Gamble House, preserved Victorian homes at Heritage Square, a Downtown with layers upon layers of architectural history, and perfectly executed mid-century homes like the Stahl House. Each one of these tells a story about the history of the city and there are many more just oozing with beauty and intrigue if you take the time to look past the stucco strip malls.

So, for this weekend, I'm going to remind myself to be inspired by the buildings that surround me in my new home. Any detail, any sign, even if I've walked past it a hundred times, I may actually see it for the first.

Have a wonderful weekend!

This week's three one rad links ( it's the only one I really want to share) ... • Walking tours of Downtown LA by the LA Conservancy. I did one and wish I would have done the others too. Choose from Art Deco, Theater District, Modern Skyline and more.

(almost) goodbye, LA

It finally hit me. I'm moving. I'm leaving my beloved Los Angeles.  It all came to me while at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, a quintessential LA locale.

As excited I am for the adventures - and even trials and tribulations - that await in London, I'm really going to miss LA. I'll miss towering palm trees lining the streets, the Downtown LA skyline that I grew up admiring and then called home for one incredible year, reliably delicious In-n-Out cheeseburgers (add pickles), and putting on my baseball cap to cheer for the boys in blue.

I requested a window seat for Thursday's flight. I want to savor every last bit of the city, even if from a birds-eye view. I love you LA.

::photos via Instagram, follow me (AtotheM) for more::

Car-less in LA

While sitting on the Metro Gold Line and flipping through a magazine I saw a car ad that read...

the car you drive says a lot about you. the car you don't drive may say even more.

After getting over how ridiculous the ad was , I realized that I hadn't shared the news of my new car-less life!

What's that? Impossible you say? Not at all. While having a car at your beck and call makes things easier, it may not always be necessary.

I moved to Downtown in December  '09 and that's when my car began to sit idle 90% of the time while I still forked out the cash for parking, insurance, maintenance, and gas on a monthly basis. I was paying for the convenience of knowing I could get in my car and "go".  With the decrease in driving, my tolerance for it also took a dive. All of this combined with a desire to save money and I knew I had a decision to make.

After getting better acquainted with public transportation and signing up for a local car share program, LAX CarShare, I was ready to let go and let someone else take the wheel.

It's been incredible to not own a car. Sure it takes some more time and planning but when the need arises, I simply rent one by the hour through the car sharing program. Otherwise, there's the Metro (rail and buses) that gets me to most places I need/want to go, my bike is great for quick trips, and I get more exercise by walking.

I used to think that being car-less in LA was impossible and that I didn't have time to spend on public transportation. However, I find myself with much more time than before. I can read, do emails, or simply relax. No need to pay attention to the road. Plus, its nice to be connected to the world and other people rather than sitting in your own bubble.

Admittingly living Downtown makes the option more convenient (as does having a boyfriend you're always with anyhow) but it ultimately comes down to choices. I'm very happy to no longer pay attention to ads promising a better life with a purchase of a car. Sometimes not having those luxuries can have the same effect.