Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Island to Island with Louella Odie

These days, I just don't travel without my Louella Odie kit in tow.  I'm a Louella Girl, you see (more on that in a later post).  

Our village is in the background.

Naturally, my Louella Odie Pomfret bag and my Silk Beach Wrap from their Island Life collection came with me on my school trip to Fiji. The Slouchy Pouch with a fish on it came, too but it didn't make an appearance on this trip.

As I mentioned before, my Fiji trip was not your typical resort style travel experience.  When I go to Fiji, I live like a local in a village with my Fiji family. 

It's always great to catch up with friends like Kiko, who I hadn't seen since my Fiji trip in 2008. He was living in Darwin, but returned this year.    

Island living leaves lots of time, or Fiji Time as we call it, for shooting the breeze, telling stories and enjoying the ocean breeze.  It's the Fiji version of stop and smell the roses.

There is many a gorgeous sunset to be enjoyed as well.  The colors of each one are always different so I made sure to watch the sun set every evening.  

My Louella Odie Pomfret bag served many purposes on this trip.  First, it was my carry on to take with me on the plane.

Then it became my carry-all around the village.  In it I always had my Fiji water, a fan, my sunnies, some mosquito spray, some after bite lotion and of course sun block.  These are just the bare necessities.  

For days at the beach, I also threw in my extra clothes, my Silk Beach Wrap, a book and my toiletries.  I was really glad my Louella Odie bag was so versatile.  Such a good travel companion.

It's no surprise that pieces from the Island Life collection would fit right in beautifully on a different island.  They were absolutely meant to be!

The Coral Coast Railway, out of commission since the cyclone four years ago.

I wonder where else my Louella Odie goodies will go?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday reality blues

Well now, that was a fun weekend.  Massively fun party at ours, a Rooftop Concert featuring talented band the Head Clowns, made for a busy two days. More on those concerts in another post. For now, let's just say it makes Monday a bit harder (and us a bit more tired) than usual.

Here's another thought that makes my Monday feel blue.  Or me feel irritable, more accurately.  My favorite Refinery 29 posted this article last week and it was something about dressing for your age.  

Look at this cover picture...

Photo credit: Refinery 29

Why does it end at the 40s? After reading into the article, I did see that it did extend into the 50s and even the 60s.  But shoot, the cover just depressed me.  

I do agree with what the article says about dressing your age in the 40s: 

You're on top of your game in most aspects of life. You get yourself, and you get your wardrobe. Confidence is key, and after (many) ups and downs in your 20s and 30s, you finally feel comfortable enough in your own skin to wear what you want.

I think I was starting to feel that way in my 30s, which was why I wasn't sure about turning 40, but hey I really can't complain now that I'm living it.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Post-Fiji funk

I'm not in a funk because I'm back.  I admit, returning this year was the best feeling ever.  Better than in previous years because of the emotional stress leading up to our trip this year.  As a school community we were all spent.  Life threw us a reminder of it's fragility that made everyone reevaluate what is important.  I was not ready to leave my family for a week.  I was afraid to leave them for a week.

In hindsight, though, I think it was good that this week long trip came at the time that it did.  We needed to switch gears.  We needed a change in place.  As we returned to school this week, it was evident we were all in different stages of healing this week that felt better than before we left.

Amelia, Ella's tickle friend.

No, I'm not in a funk because of all of that.  I'm struggling to get my head back into Hong Kong mode. Island life does that to you, I guess.  It's part of its charm and part of its challenge.

Always singing.  This is perhaps my favorite part of Fiji.

On one hand, living carefree and totally unaware of the stress of deadlines or of time passing for that matter, is really quite therapeutic.  We make kids surrender their phones, which means we do, too. I never really knew what the time was all week, and the awareness of the outside world (or the cyclone that threatened the South Pacific) faded away. On the other hand, island living can become redundant.  You begin to get a sense that you need to be able to get things done.  Efficiently.

The Coral Coast railway, out of service for the last four years since their last cyclone.

Being back for a week now, I realize how quickly the pace of life moves here.  It seemed like the week in Fiji moved at a snail's pace, yet here we are now in Hong Kong and the week has zipped by, full of activities and events.

The local beach.

But I'm struggling.  How did I do it all before?  Take for example the fact that writing this post has taken me nearly a full week!  I've got a backlog of things to do and I'm bloody exhausted!

Bear with me.  I'll adjust.  I always do.

My host, and my friend Nate with her daughter Frances.

 And, as always, I'm so thankful for the Fiji family that I get to visit every year and the experience they share with me.

I have knownVasiti (with the scarf on her head) and her family (her mother Mere, waving) since I started traveling to Fiji eight years ago.

Right now, I'm missing their smiles, the warmth of their friendship and the music.  Oh, the music.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Sega Na Lega (No worries)

I'm leaving tomorrow to take a trip to visit my Fijian family with a new bunch of high school students in tow (22 to be exact).  I'll be with my trusty companion and workmate, Sam.  I'd be lying if I said I was ready physically and emotionally to board the plane tomorrow.  Nonetheless, it's going to happen.

The pace of life in Fiji will be a welcome change from the emotional stress of the last few weeks, the illness in our home, etc.  I know it will, but I may not quite believe it until I get there.

Until we're all safely reunited, I'll be sending positive vibes to all my work friends and coworkers also on a weeklong trip elsewhere in the world with twenty some kids, too.  Particularly, I'll be thinking of my mum on her hiking Interim in Japan. And of course, my family staying behind in HK.

And, I'll be happy to be safely in my own home again.  But, as the Fijians say Sega na lega or no worries

Back in a week, peeps.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Etsy Confessions: NOIROHIO Vintage

I can't remember when I stumbled onto Maggie's Etsy shop Noirohio, but I do know what made me stop on it. The incredible selection of vintage is one thing, but the gorgeous model (Maggie herself) and her stunning collection of tattoos. Now, those are amazing.  Her sister, the other gorgeous model in these pictures (in the black and white outfit and black hat), is a tattoo artist. I especially love the two on Maggie's shins and I keenly recall wishing I could have the guts to be inked up like her.  I'm serious, people. Major tattoo envy.   

I've now bought three beautiful items from her shop and I'm always going back to look for more.  I'm thrilled to introduce you to the owner of Noirohio Vintage, Maggie Leadman. 

How would you describe yourself?

I'm pretty much fit the description of a type-A personality to a T. I feel like I'm pretty hard working but also a dreamer and hopeless romantic at heart. I can get lost in a good book or movie at a drop of a hat. I change my mind a lot but I guess that's always helped my store evolve.

What are your interests? Your profession? Your aspirations?
I've been running Noirohio Vintage since 2005 (this year will be my 10 year anniversary!) Obviously I love hunting for vintage gems and alway enjoy browsing flea markets and the occasional estate sale. I've always had an interest in photography, especially film and polaroid. I used to take photos all the time when I was younger so I would like to find the time to get back to that again.

Why did you decide to open a shop on Etsy? How long have you been on Etsy?
I decided to open an etsy shop after being on eBay for eight years. The clientele and policies on eBay had been drastically changing since I began selling and I felt it was time to move on. I love the smaller community of Etsy (although it seems to grow larger by the month!). I've been happily selling on Etsy since 2013.

Significance of Etsy shop name?
My shop slogan has always been "vintage is new black". When I was younger I loved film Noir and the word "noir" itself is so beautiful. Being born & raised in Ohio I just put two and two together. Also, the color black is always timeless in fashion and in life. When in doubt, wear black! Ask Johnny Cash, right?

Where do you source items for your shop?  What do you look for?
I always pay attention to fashion shows each season & street style blogs to see what new trends will be and keep that in the back of my mind when looking for new items. But above all I always look for super interesting pieces or items I would love to wear. My wardrobe changes all the time - that's why you'll find so many eras of vintage in my shop. I love it all! I honestly shop anywhere & everywhere. When I was doing auctions on eBay I would drive all over the state looking for vintage. Now that the pace of my shop has calmed down tremendously, I am happy to shop when I need new stock (or even when I don't need it). I've been lucky to collab with some awesome ladies on the east coast (Dusty Rose Vintage and Rackk & Ruin) who have supplied some awesome pieces to the shop as well.

What do you like about Etsy?
I love the community on etsy. It feels so much more personal than eBay. The whole website is streamlined and super easy to use. The customer base is wonderful.

Here are some ways you can check out Maggie's shop, NOIROHIO Vintage:

Instagram: @noirohio

And, there's really no excuse not to.  She's giving all my readers an exclusive Etsy discount code.  Simply enter NORBYAH at checkout to get 10% off your purchase.  How's that???

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Who am I?

Apologies for the blog absence.  Life lately has taken a front seat over the blog these last couple of weeks (not that I put my life on the back burner normally, I'm just usually better able to balance).

We had one week off from school for Chinese New Year, which was a welcome break.  I needed to be home, to get to jobs that I never seem to have time for, to be a totally hands on mum and maybe take the kiddos out of their usual routine. It's been a mad rush these last three months to organize kiddo birthdays and I haven't had time for much else. Well...the kids got sick (me too, but not sick enough to stay home, just sick enough to be tired) so my idea of getting out of our routine went down the tubes. Part of the week off included the hubby being gone from 10am to 6pm each day for a PD workshop. They were also three of the four public holidays that Eva and Jojo were off. And, we were dogsitting.  So again, things were busy.

The last part of what's made life challenging lately is a horrible tragedy that has impacted our school community, predominately the high school.  Last week, a family of four (two had been students at our school) lost their lives in a horrific car accident.  The result of this tragedy left our kids, their parents and our teachers lost in grief.  Even as a teacher who never interacted with these kids in a classroom, I feel deeply sad about these circumstances and watching as those who did have the privilege of knowing them struggle to come to grips with this while trying to comfort them.  It's been an emotional week, to say the least.  I gave a lot of hugs and walked around on the verge of tears.

In any case, this accidental two week hiatus from my blog has left me feeling reflective.  Often these days when I meet people, I'm asked things like: how do you manage it all?  You work, have three kids, attend events, keep up with two blogs and do you do it? You're amazing! I'm hyper aware of the image I portray to my blog readers, on Facebook, and on my Instagram feed. I always want to make sure I'm relatable and genuine to those around me. To use my blog to support things I believe in like sustainable fashion or wear the things I've been gifted after collaborations because I really like them, etc.

I used to blog a lot more about parenting and life, but haven't done that much lately.  I used to have a rant here and there.  Not so much now.  Life hasn't changed, but I realize that my blog is much more public now than it used to be. Perhaps I'm just guarding these things because they're more personal, but that gives me pause to think. When did I start to feel like my personal life needed to be hidden?  I'm pretty open about things I think others can handle.  Heck, I remember a post in which I exposed the hilarities of breastfeeding my youngest which included a now-off limits photograph of my boob.

So, who am I now?  Have things really changed? I can only answer that simply; I'm still a Norbyah.

The truth is, I don't know how I manage. I actually don't think I do it all that well (no, I'm not fishing for compliments here, I'm being honest).  I'm flattered by the compliments I receive, but embarrassed that I've received them. Here's why; I think I could be better. I think I do too much. I think I let people down. I think I could be more patient with my children. I think I could be a better friend, sister, wife, mother, teacher, blogger, etc.

Deep down I think of all these things, but I don't necessarily let them eat away at me.  And here's why; I'm doing the best I can. I make mistakes. I lose my cool. I just don't share these things as often anymore, but maybe I should. I am human, after all. And, I have an incredible support network around me.  They're who make things possible.  They have an invisible, but integral role in helping me and this blog be the success that it is.

Okay, reflective thoughts finished.  Back to regular blogging...and life, soon.

**I've included images that show a few behind the scenes views of the real life of I'm a Norbyah, with just a few of the people I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

A shock of red

My original plan for this outfit was to wear my hot pink beanie to off set the neutrals of this look.  When the morning came, I couldn't find it.  It turns out I did a boy look and it was right on the top of my stool next to the vanity in my bedroom, but I didn't realize this until I got home later.

So, the hubby suggested I borrow his red beanie instead.  As it turns out, I like the red with this outfit better anyhow.  Funny how his suggestions make things better; he's got a keen eye, that one.

The rest of the outfit was totally inspired by the woman who I bought the blazer from on Etsy.  Her shop is called Noir Ohio Vintage.  I've mentioned her shop before in a few places, both on this blog in my post about Stevie Nicks and on my other blog on Style by Asia, Sisters in Vintage HK.  

The Etsy seller Maggie had styled this blazer with a striped top and high waisted black skinny jeans, and the look was perfection.  

I like color, though, so I made this look my own by adding the beanie.  In these winter months, I'm such a fan of beanies and all kinds of hats.  I think I've had my head covered with one or the other four out of five days this school week. You can check my Instagram feed for proof @imanorbyah.

 The red is kind of an auspicious color for next week, too.  We're mere minutes away from the start of our Chinese New Year week off.  I'll be pulling out a lot of red for next week.

Oh, and Valentine's Day, too.  But I'm not so much into that.  We'll celebrate it in our typical family Valentine's Day way (see here).

Have a look at @noirohio for more style inspiration, too.

Outfit deets: Vintage blazer - Noir Ohio on Etsy, Black skinny jeans with DIY distressed knees - Urban Outfitters, Cropped striped t-shirt (cropped shorter by me) - Cotton On, Skyline handbag - Louella Odie, Shoemint booties and the hubby's beanie.

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