February 11th, 2016.

My first post was uploaded on WordPress the second month after I moved to Chicago. Blogging had been something I’ve always wanted to do but had always brushed off with lame excuses like too little time and too much commitment. Hello there procrastination. Newfound leisure time that came with work became the spark I needed to jump start the project. Familiar Unfamiliarity was uploaded hours after the inspiration first hit, before I could fully contemplate the decision to start a blog.

Without a clear vision for the blog, I looked for inspiration online. While I loved the aesthetics of lifestyle blogs, none of the contents reflected what I wanted to put out. As an effort to avoid limiting myself, Ruomee was dedicated as a life and lifestyle blog. Within the twenty-one months of blogging, I’ve only written a handful of lifestyle posts, like Summer Flower, Nesting in Nest, and Summery BasicsAlthough these posts were fun to prepare, the actual content felt shallow. I didn’t have go through iterations of googling definitions and trying to solidify my thoughts before posting

Values and purposes. The commencement speech during my graduation was the first time I really thought about the two. I have a vague idea of my values, but I haven’t got the slightest clue about my purposes. Maybe running this blog is a part of a purpose. Who knows. Either way, I’m changing the blog to focus more on the “life” portion because I want to bring more to the table with my experiences. But there will a couple “lifestyle” posts popping in here and there because they are fun.


Tribeca. Usually known for its cute cobblestone streets and expensive boutiques, but after today it will also be associated with a terrorist attack. Like any other acts of terror, it was horrific. But unlike the incidents I’ve read through social media, this one hits especially close to home. Not only was it within a 5-mile radius of where I work, it happened right outside of my high school. It was like an unwanted alarm at 6 AM, jolting me awake to the realities and dangers of the world.

As I was internalizing the shooting on the way home, I was suddenly reminded of a memory that I can no longer tell if it was real or not. When I was a child, I witnessed a hit-and-run as I was going home in a taxi with my dad. A car and a motorcycle had collided. The mother knelt in a pool of blood while holding her limp child in the middle of the crossroad as the car responsible for the accident fled. She cried for someone to call an ambulance, but the crowd of people stood half a mile away from her not wanting to get involved. Honestly I cannot tell if this was reality, but it was too vivid to be only a nightmare I’d imagined. I never asked my dad if he has any recollections of this, I’m also hesitant to bring it up.

Thinking back, this incident might have been a major factor in why I’m intimidated by vehicles and cynical about people. The fear I felt when I saw the scene, the uncontrollable terror of imagining I might the next victim, I felt that again today when I read the news. No matter how much time passes, the harshness of reality is the most frightening thing.

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?

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.


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!



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).

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