Friday, July 25, 2014

16 years

There's something truly remarkable about love that I feel so lucky to know so well for myself.  

Love grows.  

With each year we spend together.

With each child we've brought into our family and all their milestones we celebrate.

My life with you is so full.  Full of laughs, full of your support, your guidance and care for all of us.

I could never have imagined all of this when I said I do sixteen years ago.

Happy Anniversary my love.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer days have come and gone

Summer is quickly racing by and I can't believe in two weeks we'll be back in Hong Kong!  On one hand, summer feels like it's been so full and relaxing, with just the right amount of time being spent with those we love.  Yet on the other hand, I feel like at every place we've visited, I haven't been ready to go.  How can that be?

Still, I have nothing to complain about.  I love these summer days just listening to my kiddos playing in the backyard, taking them on bike rides along the quiet small town streets, all of us marvelling at the fireflies as they begin to light up at dusk, and enjoying a late evening drink, giggling and chatting about whatever random topics come up.  

Our summer has been filled with variations of these things all the way through.  Different people.  Different places.  All amazing.  Now we're about to enter the last phase of summer.  The last set of rellies to visit and soon, a whole lot more goodbyes.  

Last week was my side of the family.  After next week it will be the hubby's side.  I don't enjoy this part, but at the same time, I know it will be good to get home to Hong Kong.  Even my big girl Ella said so today.

So for these last two weeks of our holiday, I'll be doing much the same as we have been.  And loving it all the same.

A quick side note about the outfit:  
I'm usually a skirts and dresses girl, but something about summer vacation this year has me loving shorts.  I got these vintage Bongo cut offs last summer and I've worn these and other summer shorts with blouse-y crop tops in various versions over the last few weeks.  It's simple and easy.  Also getting a lot of wear are my new Castell sandals.   I stopped in for a studio visit to Spanish Shoes HK before leaving Hong Kong and Maria sent me out with these.  How lucky!  I'll be sharing more exciting things from her soon.

Outfit details:  vintage Bongo shorts from Esty, vintage top from Good Style Shop in Madison, thrifted scarf from local charity shop and Castell sandals from Spanish Shoes HK, jewellery form independent designers (earrings from Madison designer Sarah DeAngelo, agate bracelet from a girl at Rockaway Beach)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Travelogue with Louella Odie: Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in

Well, it's I and Love and You actually.  It's one of my favorite Avett Brothers songs (click here to listen).  And listening to it now as I type, it makes me feel sad.  This morning I was sitting in my sister's kitchen in Brooklyn, packing up, sipping some coffee quickly before heading out to the airport.  Now I sit here in my in-laws' kitchen back in small town Illinois, thinking about how far away my sisters feel. I won't likely be seeing them for a year, and the reality of that fact is sinking in and it really stinks.

Living internationally affords me the great fortune of having these opportunities to travel.  I feel hugely privileged to be traveling around doing this travelogue with Louella Odie, to share my adventures and these gorgeous bags and accessories with you.  But there is one significant downside which most of my friends in Hong Kong can understand (as well as those of you who live overseas like me).  That is not seeing family regularly; that's a sacrifice.

Still, I won't dwell on it.  Not here.  I want to share with you one of my last days in NYC, in Brooklyn to be precise.  Each of New York City's five boroughs is unique from the other.  Having only been in Manhattan (one sister is in the West Village) and in Brooklyn (the other sister is in Williamsburg), I can only share my sentiments about those two.

Spending time between these two neighborhoods has given me a balanced view of NYC.  Many of the spots in the West Village are well recognized places used often in film and TV shows, magazine shoots and blog posts, etc.  At any moment, you can expect to see a celebrity walk around the corner (and I have).  Liv Tyler lives two doors down from my sister.  I try to keep my eyes peeled while at the same time practicing the New Yorker I don't give a hoot who you are attitude.  It's a designer, boutique, manicured feel of NYC.  Very charming.  

Then there's Williamsburg.  The vibe is entirely different.  It's more chill.  There seem to be outdoor markets or stalls all over (I found a good little vintage stall in an alleyway!), with artisans selling their wares and people setting up booths with really good food (Smorgasburg, Brooklyn Flea, Artists and Fleas, to name a few).  Vintage clothing and thrift shopping opportunities abound.  There is amazing food to be tasted.  Everyone's more tattooed and pierced.  It's a little less refined and slightly more grungy.  Alright, fine.  It's more hipster.  

I love it.

Street art is around every corner.  And not just juvenile tagging of names or defacing of property.  I'm talking about serious street art.  Graffiti done by artists whose names (and art) is well known and whose Instagram accounts are well followed.  I find the creativity of the artisans, the artistic vibe on the streets, the small businesses and delicious food all so amazingly inspiring.  So much to see and do.  

These pictures were taken on a short walk from my sister's house.  We popped into a neat Antiques and Oddities furniture shop called Re Pop (where I sat on the chairs outside).  We wandered Bedford Street and stopped to use this street art as a backdrop.  The artist, Nick Kuszyk or RRobots, is a studio mate of my sister's boyfriend.  Buddy met him the other day and was so excited to then go around seeing all his art on the streets.  

See?  Inspiring.

Being around all this art (in Brooklyn and also at the galleries in Chelsea) makes me super excited about Louella Odie's second collection launch.  I can't wait to see what art and adventure they have in store for us.  Don't forget to pop over to their website and browse their current collection.  Use the code traveltribe at check out for a 20% discount exclusively for my followers.  And if you haven't, you really must pop over to the Travel Tribe page to see the gorgeous artwork that Karen has been working on to accompany my travels.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Circuit Jewellery: Another story

As I mentioned in my Feel Good Fashion post with Circuit Jewellery, I'll be revealing my collaboration with them in three parts.  

One of the trickiest parts of our planning was picking a suitable location.  Loris, Pirry and I all agreed that based on the concept of their company and the idea of mixing vintage and modern, a historical site would make an interesting location for the shoot.

The tricky part wasn't finding historic sites.  Hong Kong is full of those, even though it seems like they're racing to make our city fast and modern.  Even though there are black and white photos of how things were in the old days, and many of those buildings no longer exist, there are pockets of hidden history everywhere.  Stop to notice the little plaques that commemorate things like the Sun Yatsen Trail, or the age of the temple complexes, look up to see the rounded edges of buildings in Kowloon, for example, and you'll marvel at how much still remains.  

The tricky part was dodging the rain.  It's not just a drizzle that can easily be worked around, it's torrents of rain.  Buckets full.  The kind that ruins a perfectly good pair of shoes if you don't plan carefully.  We lucked out though.  Our day was lovely.  Hot, but not too humid.  Sunny too, so lots of good lighting.

After brainstorming possibilities, we decided the easiest location to gain access to and most convenient for all of us involved, was the Murray House in Stanley.  

I've always been fascinated by this building.  All I really know about it is that it was built when the British were here and that some time in the early 2000s, they relocated it from it's original spot in Central.  Brick by brick!  You can even see remnants of the numbering system they used to catalog all the bricks left on some parts of the big blocks.  

Awakening Crystal Bangle

I did a quick Wiki search of its history and learned that basically it was indeed built during colonial times to be an officers quarters.  During WWII, it was used as a command center for the Japanese.  It still amazes me that they dismantled it, keeping the pieces in tact, and stored it until it could be rebuilt again.  Remarkable.  

What a story.  And it was such fun to have found people who enjoy a good story like this as much as I do.  Circuit Jewellery aka Loris and Pirry are looking at incorporating stories in their business practices, too.  They're working on using reusable packaging for their pieces handsewn by little old ladies who used to be employed as seamstresses before clothing production moved to places like China and Bangladesh.  Feel good fashion, of course!  

Don't forget, Circuit Jewellery is offering 20% off a purchase of $50 USD with the code: SUMMER14.  Pop over and have a look at their shop.  It's free shipping worldwide!  What are you waiting for???

And of course, thank you to the lovely Akiko Sakai for the beautiful pictures.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Travelogue with Louella Odie: Skyline on the High Line

New Yorkers appreciate their green space as much as we Hong Kongers do.  Limited availability of big parks (Central Park is the largest) coupled with the searing heat of summer means that the recreational green spaces they do have are highly frequented.  

One such spot is the High Line.  It's located on a section of an old elevated railway on the West Side of Manhattan, which they've converted (repurposed!) into a public park.  It has lovely landscaping with trees, bushes and wildflowers, a covered area with food and artsy souvenir vendors, and my favorite part, the water.  

Unlike in Hong Kong where we have the ocean conveniently located around all our borders, New Yorkers have to drive out east to get to their ocean.  Given that it's a concrete jungle which generates even more heat, most of the children's playgrounds have water sprinklers of some kind.  

The High Line has a section of running water, just the depth of a shallow puddle.  

Young and old, tourists and locals, students and professionals alike stop to remove their shoes and take a little stroll through the water to cool off.  It's lovely.

All along the High Line are wooden benches for sitting and some for lying down.  It's clearly a refuge for anyone needing to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, but it's also a great place to take a stroll by The Standard hotel on your way up to Chelsea Market or further up to visit some of the art galleries (as we did).

After we dried off our feet to put our shoes back on, we took another break under the shade for shaved ice for the kiddos and a tasty Blue Bottle iced coffee for me.

Despite those cool refreshments, we were still melting by the time we arrived to Gagosian Gallery where my sister works.

 It's hard to believe that our summer is nearly half over!  We're having such fun.  Don't forget to click over to the Travel Tribe page on the Louella Odie website to see a beautifully illustrated map of my journey.  While you're there, browse through their shop and get an exclusive 20% discount open to my readers.  Just enter traveltribe at check out.

By the way, go back and look at the pictures to see if you can spot the cute smiley face on my Skyline handbag.  I promise you, once you see it, you'll never be able to unsee it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Insta-weekly (cruel summer)

Sorry, song lyrics again.  Don't you have songs that are all time summer favorites? The fact that I love this Bananarama song belies my true age, but oh well.  It's the perfect song for this leg of our summer journey though.

We are in NYC and it's scorching.  It always is.  We had been enjoying cool breezy evenings and sunny, low humidity days.  I love the city at this time of year though.  Everyone wears as little clothes as possible and people have a sweaty glow. It's kind of sexy that way (if you think upper lip sweat is sexy).

Here's a glimpse of what I've been documenting on my feed. Follow along @imanorbyah

Louella Odie travelogue sharing bits of forgotten history.

Stoopin' it on our own stoop and trying to teach the littlest one how to blow a bubble gum bubble.

My favorite chairs at the Memorial Union, at UW-Madison.

Blogger buddy meet up with Gabrielle of @looksharpsconnie. Follow her, she's fab.

Nolascos land in Brooklyn.

College roomies reunite!

Brooklyn Flea vintage heaven.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Travelogue with Louella Odie: Main Street, USA

After a lovely two weeks in Madison, WI, we're now back with the hubby's family in Oglesby, IL.  We took the scenic route home via New Glarus, a Swiss settlement from 1845, and stopped into their famous brewery.  The detour was a nice unexpected break from the usual road trip.

We're here to celebrate the Fourth of July, which is the quintessential American summer holiday.  In every town in America, flags will adorn the streets and people will enjoy a long weekend.  It's all picnics and fireworks, baseball games and barbecues, parades and family reunions.  We know Americans to be patriotic, and why shouldn't they be?  Technically speaking, they're celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the very beginning of this country as we know it, all the more reason for national pride.

At last weekend's Rhythm and Booms fireworks in Madison, I became very aware of how different it is for an American living outside the US, like my hubby, compared to one living within these borders.  At the beginning of the radio broadcast of music to accompany the fireworks, the national anthem played.  Everyone in the open park area stood, removed their caps and clasped their hands on their chests.  It moved me in a way I hadn't expected as I witnessed the purity and pride in their sentiment.

I realized how easy it is to get cynical about politics etc, even as a non-American, when living outside the United States.  We are far enough removed from feeling direct effects, so it's much easier to have opinions.  But as I witnessed this simple act of reverence, I found it endearing and quickly made sure my little ones followed suit and understood why.

So I thought today about what people in American towns all over would be doing to celebrate, and I wanted to make sure to get uptown (as locals say here) to cruise down Main Street.  Yes people, cruising is a real thing all over America.  If you want to see what's happening and who's out, just take a little turn down Main Street.  It just so happens that while we were shooting for this post, my father-in-law and Ella cruised by on his scooter.  And, though in many places it's not actually called Main Street (here in Oglesby, it's Walnut Street to be precise), people will know exactly where you mean when you refer to it that way.

Main Street in Oglesby was decked out beautifully in American flags and banners, bright colors of red and white flowers lining the flower beds of homes, and not one business overlooked today's holiday.  I began to wonder about what makes this street the 'Main Street' and then suddenly, it dawned on me. 

On this one street, you can find the neighborhood dentist, the post office, a school, a laundromat, a car service garage, a furniture shop, a funeral home, several bars, a barber shop, a hardware store and right at the very tail end, the now closed cement company.  It's all there, everything the town needs to exist. Of course, as I mentioned in my Small Town Charm post, the grocery store, dress shops and shoe shops are now closed, but at one time they were there, too.

On Sunday, we're off to NYC for a couple of weeks.  We always feel instantly familiar in the big city because it's such a similar experience to ours in Hong Kong.  The neighborhoods in NYC are unique to each other (like Hong Kong, too), and in their own ways they are also small.  People visit their local grocer, are loyal to their coffee shops and it's quite common to bump into someone you know on the street.  

It will be fun to get back there.

By the way, don't you love how patriotic my Louella Odie Pomfret bag is?  Don't forget to click over to their website to follow my travels on a beautifully hand drawn map and check out the other bags and accessories.  Use 'traveltribe' at check out for an exclusive discount for my readers!

What makes 'Main Street' special where you are? I'd love to hear.

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