It wasn’t raining the day we stopped talking. It was cloudy. Like today. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but I ensured the date with my impatience and over thinking tendencies. The underlying complications had been masked by playful interactions. When problems showed their tails, I ignored them. If I don’t acknowledge their existence, then they are not real. Right? I ran away from confrontation, confronting you in person, and things unfolded the way they did. We are not on the same page and we both are unwilling to compromise. So I wonder, if I felt lightly and gave you space, will we move on from this standstill?

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard.

Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.

Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.

Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Aldous Huxley, Island

Before you, I believed the hardest part of any relationship was the initial tension. I didn’t understand that starting a relationship opened the doors to all the incompatibilities and insecurities that were tucked away. I had to learn how to communicate and confront the differences, the expectations, the disagreements. Your lack of communication made me realized its importance. Thank you. Even though my first response to conflict, potential rejections and disappointments is running away, I’m working on them. Although I miss the one who believed if a couple professed their mutual attraction, they get a happily ever after. But this is all part of growing up. Isn’t it?

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The temperature has been dropping these past few days in New York. I am very excited for autumn to come with all the sweaters, boots and hot chocolate. Although I am not at the age where most of my friends are married, there are a couple outliers who’s wedding photos remind me that we are in the middle of the wedding season.

Picking gifts is always hard, picking gifts for a couple is even more difficult (now you’ve got to worry about whether both people like your gift). Like any other gift, I value practicality above all other qualities. The team at Zola (a very cool wedding planning agency) put together several infographics outlining some of the logistics, like how much to spend and when to give the present.

Like the tip cards mentioned, “don’t bring the gifts to the wedding.” I think one of the best occasions to bring the gift is during a house warming party.  It’s an intimate location and the couple wouldn’t have to worry about bringing the gifts home. As for the actual presents, the wedding registry is always a good place to start. But sometime you just want to go that extra mile for your best friend. So I made a list of things I think would be good on their own or as an add-on. Of course this isn’t an extensive list and not only applicable to weddings.

just moving in

  • A comfortable textured blanket instantly make any space feel like a home.
  • Matching set of mugs. You can never have too many mugs. Especially huge ones that can hold more than one cup of tea/coffee.

who loves to cook

  • A miniature garden kit with a mini greenhouse and some herbs.
  • Pick a theme and start an old fashioned recipe book with some of the dishes you think they will enjoy. Include empty pages at the end for them to fill out.

wanting to travel the world

  • Help the couple start a travel fund by making a easy how-to-guide with resources online and you can customize the instructions based on their lifestyle. A little contribution to start the fund will be the cherry on top.
  • Groupon vouchers for cool events like hot air balloon ride or skydiving

If nothing on the list stood out to you, a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine is always nice. Some of my current flower favorites are hydrangeas, peonies and anemones.You can also personalize the wine like getting a bottle with the vintage of the year the couple met or the year of the marriage. To make sure the couple will enjoy the wine, a rule of thumb I go by is if they eat more red meat, go for the red and if they eat more seafood, go with white.

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Ultimately it is a celebration for two people coming together for the next chapter of their lives. There really isn’t a foolproof list of “here is what to get for a wedding gift”, everything is just a suggestion. They are your friends and you know them the best. At the end of the day, they will appreciate your thought and friendship than sweat over if you got the exact gift they are looking for.

Before archiving photos on Instagram was a thing, my feed consisted of everything I’ve ever posted on the app since that first photo of my Japanese notes back in April 15th, 2012. The app is basically my diary in photo format. The changes in the way I take photos can be easily seen scrolling through the 600+ pictures I’ve posted.

Thinking back, my interest in photography, specifically city-scapes and buildings, peaked during my stay in Chicago. I’ve also started this blog during that time. Being in a city with so many interesting high rises had a huge influence on my interest in man made structures. It was also during this time that I started this blog. Some of you might remember the series “week in pictures,” I created that as an outlet to share the overflowing amount of photos I was taking during that time period.

The devices I’ve used in the past five years upgraded from the Samsung S3 camera to the iPhone 6 and now to the Canon 80D. Camera technology these days has been involving at an amazing speed. The two lens camera on the iPhone 7 plus and the digital Polaroid are only a couple of the new technologies that are currently available. One of the coolest innovation I’ve seen is the mobile camera Light L16 which is a point and shoot camera with a DSLR like system inside. I don’t really understand technology used (you can read more here if interested), but the product looks like cell phone with many camera openings of different sizes.

In the time span of five years, the way I edit photos changed quite a lot but the content remained similar. I used to abuse all the filters on Instagram and exclusively use the app as both a photo sharing and photo editing platform. Throughout the years I’ve learned to enhance the photo rather than drastically change its tones, although I still do massively edit some photos to portray a certain vibe. I’ve read it somewhere that photography allows the photographer to share the way they view the world to everyone else. The subject of a photo is never as important as the way the photographer views it. While I continue to develop my style through experience, who knows what it will become five years from now.

With the recent events, the blurry divide within the country became clear as day. I may be called naive and an idealist, I can’t help but wonder if the world would be a nicer place if people are a bit more empathetic, a bit more open to those who are different. Technology is improving rapidly. We are no longer confined within the boundaries of physical world. Virtual reality is being employed by a variety of industries, from gaming to construction. For example, my company uses VR during safety training for big projects to help workers fully understand the dangers while working on the site. Verbally telling someone about the dangers of working on a steel beam a hundred feet off the ground is one thing, but letting them walk on said beam with no safety equipment through VR is another thing. Teachers always say, in order to fully understand a concept you’ve got to describe it using your own words. Having this personal experience of what might happen is an much more effective way to getting the safety protocols across than simply talk about them.

If people need to be in the situation to understand the concerns of others, I think virtual reality might be a perfect way to install some empathy in said group. For example, for those who don’t understand the concept of “mansplaining,” a virtual world can be set up where any individual’s actions are viewed in a patronized and condescending way. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have chances to become another person and view the world through their lens? Maybe it would help some people open their mind. Maybe it would help the world to become a better place.

 

P.S. Recently a friend pointed out to me that I have minor grammar errors in my posts. I am sorry if these errors bother you, please let me know if you find any and I will try to change them to the best of my ability!

Hey there.

Today marks the beginning of the sixth week since I started my full time. As I settle into the new chapter of life, I'm often reminded by these lyrics in the song Home from the musical Beauty and the Beast:

"I was told,
Every day in my childhood
Even when we grow old
Home should be where the heart is
Never were words so true"

Through the numerous moves between dorms and apartments in the past few years, I've curated a mental list of things that are essential for me to turn a space into a home. My two favorite things are the inspiration wall and accessory corner. You would find some version of both if you were to visit all the places I've lived at. Like me, both of these are always changing. Each time I move, some bits get left behind while some pieces becomes part of the family.

One of the first things I do when I move into a new space is to put up my inspiration wall. I've always had the habit of collecting tickets and pamphlets with nice graphics. I also take photos everywhere I go. The main purpose of the inspiration wall is actually to provide a space to exhibit the physical reminders of places I've been or experiences I've had. It's a lot like the world map wall decal but in a collage form (and the best part is that it's free). Not everyone will have a large space available for this, another ideas of achieving the same goal is use an electronic photo frame, like the ones from AURA. Another idea is to put the collage on spaces you're already using. For example, DIY photo magnets (putting magnetic tape onto photos from Polaroids or regular prints) and arrange them on fridge doors or other magnetic surfaces.

The accessory corner is a space filled with things that brings me joy and use daily. It brightens up my day every morning when I reach for my perfume or a pair of earrings. Currently, this is located on top of my dresser but at the previous apartment, it was a shelf in the bookcase. Having a space filled with things you love can really help make place feel like home.

Like the lyrics say, "home should be where the heart is." If you fill up a space with things close to your heart, no matter where you are, it will always be home. What are some tips you have for making a place home? Let me know down in the comment section!

Cheers,

Jenn

P.S. Would you like me to potentially link products I show in photos? I can't promise I will always be able to find the products since some of them I bought overseas (i.e. I carried the MUJI organizer all the way from Tokyo even though the MUJI by my office sells it as well).

Hey there,

How you doing? This month is a productive one, especially for the blog. I have one more post scheduled to come live this month, that’s three posts in a month! I haven’t been this prolific since I started my last year of college.

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Although last week was filled with cloudy and raining days, the upcoming week looks a bit more promising with the sun. A look I’ve been loving this summer is the blue-and-white striped blouse like this one from H&M and this one from F21. Pairing it with a basic bottom, like a pair of white jeans or a black circle skirt, and you will be all set for a day in the sun. Sadly, I have yet to find one that fits well and could be incorporated into my work wardrobe (now I have to ask “can I wear this to work” to every piece of clothing I buy thanks to being an office worker). Instead, I substituted the blouse with a basic white tank and paired it with a sequined body con skirt for a summer date outfit. I’ve also included some of my current favorites in this flat lay: Narciso Rodriguez’s Fleur Musc (which I got in Europe), Clio’s pore priming sun block and Avene’s thermal spring water spray.

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Being someone without 20/20 vision, frames are a constant accessory for my outfits (especially on those lazy days when I don’t want to put on contacts). Thus, I added my current favorite vision glasses to help you imagine the whole outfit. This particular pair is from eyebuydirect.

Warby Parker‘s newest collection, the Sculpted Series, would be a cute accessory to outfits like this one. They come as both sunglasses and vision glasses. The four frames in the collection are based on stone-inspired hues, which I love, from Onyx Tortoise to Rose Clay. Being the summer and my girly ways, my favorite pair out of the collection is the black, almost cat-eye frames with rosy tones peaking through. The black matches most of my closet while the rose brings out a bit of personality. And for my face shape, large, cat-eye/trapezoidal shaped frames usually look the best.

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I’m going back of my usual style of keeping the things short and sweet. Last week’s super long post is a bit of an exception, but it’s honestly impossible to condense my first Europe trip to be any shorter. Anyway hope your summer has been going well so far and there’s lots of sun and fun in store. Let me know in the comments below where are your favorite pair of frames from or where else I should look for the blue-and-white-striped blouse!

Cheers,

Jenn

P.S. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen no matter the weather outside to prevent skin damage from wrinkles to skin cancer!

June 21st was the official start of summer and it’s been more than a couple of weeks since then. It has been quite hectic for the past month. Now that I’ve pretty much settled into the new chapter of my life, I’m taking some time to look back and give you guys an update.

As my last post suggest, I have recently graduated from college. Less than 48 hours after I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, I was on an international flight to Lisbon, Portugal. This was my first time travelling to Europe and I was beyond excited. Although due to time constraints, I was only able to budget a little over two weeks on the continent with a focus on Italy (Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome) with a 19-hour layover at Lisbon and a couple days in Brussels, Belgium.

travel-map

Honestly this trip was reaching the definition of spontaneity. Putting it plainly, we had nothing planned after my friend and I booked the tickets to Brussels at 2AM on a Tuesday morning. We waited till a week before the flight to finish booking all of our Airbnbs (I strongly do not advise this, especially for Venice which became really expensive). We decided on the attractions as we explored. Planning as you go can definitely stress out some, but I really enjoyed having the possibility of the unknown. Just naming a few, we stumbled upon a handful of free galleries in Venice, a symphonic concert in Florence and a really cute postcard boutique in Brussels.

If I were to recount every memory I had of the trip, this post will go well beyond a proper length. Hopefully through the photos, you guys can experience vicariously for a brief moment.

 

There were so much history everywhere we went. With the pace we were traveling at and historical background we had,we really could not absorb everything the six cities had to offer. However, one regret I have is that we were not able to go see the Uffizi Gallery in Florence due to the line. The famous painting by Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus is housed there, and it’s one of my all time favorite paintings. I did end up getting a post card of the painting in Florence to make up for the missed opportunity.

Although it would be impossible to pick my favorite city of the without any preconceptions, Venice will have a special place in my heart. The city on water is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. Being obsessed with anything water related, whether it’s mermaids or Neptune or aquariums, I love them all. Not to mention, I basically have a college degree in water. Venice is just as beautiful as I thought it would be, surrounded by canals and roads paved by cobblestone. The only thing was I didn’t except the amount of tourist that would be there.

As for food, I had nothing but pasta in Italy with the exception of two meals. And of course, I took full advantage of the great wines in the region. Chianti will forever be my favorite red wine, not even the fancy Bordeaux wines in France can beat it. Since we are on the topic of food, one unexpected problem we faced was water. I’m not sure about you, but my friend and I really despise fizzy/sparkling water, especially after this trip. We has so much trouble distinguish between fizzy and still water, especially in the supermarkets. We even developed this shaking method, but it was not very reliant. We still accidentally purchased fizzy water multiple times. It was so tragic whenever we opened a new bottle of water and a gush of CO2 comes out. For those of you who don’t like fizzy water, you might want to keep this in mind.

There are still so many places in the world I hope to see one day. This trip was just the start of my Europe journey. Even though it is currently on hold, but it won’t be long before I go visit again. Till then. Ciao.

 

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