Thursday, December 18, 2014

ModCloth Ugly Christmas Sweater set

Something about this season makes me want to throw what I know about style out the window. Today for example, I wore red and green together (not the bright colors mind you, rather a darker version of each).  I think because Christmas is my favorite holiday of all, anything that reminds me of the season and all it's traditions just makes me smile.  

Take the Ugly Christmas sweater trend. We all know it's not really ugly.  It's really cute.  The hubby has a Snoopy one and I've got one with reindeers on it. When ModCloth got in touch with me about styling up a holiday sweater, I thought how cute. I added in red and green accessories, the necessary holiday bling and two of my favorite things: polkadots and my Louella Odie Skyline handbag.

The look is quirky and vintage inspired, naturally, and I couldn't make up my mind about which shoes I'd actually wear because they're both perfect.  Details for this Polyvore set can be found below, but for more Holiday Gift Guide inspiration, click here.  Or go ahead and have a look at the rest of ModCloth's sweater selection here.

Modcloth Ugly Christmas Sweater set

Retro top

Black pencil skirt

Heels & pumps

Spike necklace

Love That Luster Earrings | Mod Retro Vintage Earrings |

What do you think about this look?  How would you style your Ugly Christmas sweater?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Print House Party

I think for the first time ever since Buddy was born, my birthday took priority over his. Okay, that doesn't sound right.  Kiddo birthdays are way more exciting than grown up ones, but still you only turn 40 once.  After all the party prep for my amazing day, Buddy's party was relatively low key.  They have kind of been low key for the last two years.  I feel a pinch of sadness thinking that he's moving beyond this stage in his life, and knowing that one day he'll probably just celebrate with his friends instead of us, but so it goes.

He decided this year, he wanted to keep his party tiny.  We always tell the kids to keep them small (invite the same number of kids as how old you are plus one).  Buddy kept his even smaller than that and he said this year he enjoyed his party the most because he only had six friends around.

While normally we do something quite active, this year Buddy opted for something creative.  Friends of ours (and the kids' art teacher) have opened an amazing new shop in Stanley Market called the Print House.  It was the location of my Stanley Market Pop Up Shop a few weeks ago and is a hive of creative energy in the market.  On Sundays, the boy has been volunteering there so that he can be surrounded by like minded creative people.  He really loves going in and I love how inspired he is when he comes home.  He'll draw up a storm after a session at the Print House.

So, how did it go with six sporty boys plus Buddy screen printing and designing shirts?  It was loads of fun.  They each tried their hand at screen printing and then all collaborated to do a little DIY original design which Leo and Matt exposed onto a silk screen for them. I loved to hear them all relying on Michael's guidance.  What do we do, Michael? You're the artist, not us.  How do you know so much about this? And I think he felt good about being in that position. It's not always easy being a boy like Buddy and feeling that it's okay to enjoy what he does. I was glad that for his party, he felt the confidence to be himself around his friends.

It's really why I want him to hang at the Print House, so that he can feel good knowing there are other guys like him and be okay with that.

Postlude:  We just got Buddy's results back for the standardized tests they do in Middle School.  His highest marks were for art and creativity.  It makes my bosom swell with pride.

***More on the Print House in a post coming up.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hats off (or on)

The weather in Hong Kong has turned quickly.  Today I was thankful for a lovely sunny day so that the photo shoot I had been planning could go ahead.  We'd had to postpone it by two weeks because of rain and fog.  I'm glad we did because today was quite possibly the most beautiful day we've had in a while. What luck!

But, it was really cold.  Like stand in the wind and it goes right through you.  Lovely Gabby and Nat of The Duality were troopers for wearing the summery What the Frock dresses even though they were freezing.  I made sure to hand them their jackets so they could rug up while they were waiting.

Can't wait to tell you more about this project, but will wait until it's all finished.  If you'd like a sneak peek, pop over to my Instagram feed @imanorbyah.  Just a little hint, you can search up the hashtag #WTFxLouellaOdiexTheDuality.

The bonus of this weather is that I can finally wear my hats!  I have some cute ones that I like to pull out, and just last weekend I got a brand new one as a birthday gift.  It's so nice to be able to wear them without sweating.

I've been coming back to this look a lot (booties, black floppy fedora, and long sleeved vintage dress).  I think I'm going to like this winter.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Make your clothes work

Recently, I was asked to send some pictures into Redress to celebrate the success of the Get Redressed 2014 challenge on Instagram.  They're looking for stories from followers about how they have been inspired over the last year to become more sustainable; whether it be in clothing care, DIY, going to swaps, sustainable fashion selections, restyling, supporting local, etc.

I selected some of these outfit pics to share with them, but what I realized was that many of the outfits that appear in my lookbook album could fit into that category of being sustainable.  Much of my wardrobe is restyled or repurposed.  It's altered to be more what I want it to be.  I decided that for me, this is what has changed most over the years.

Where once I would have been more quick to send clothes to the donate pile if I didn't wear them, now I look at why I don't and think about how I can change the piece so that I will.  I've revived a number of articles of clothing and turned them into ones that I really love.

My alterations are never too complicated, merely a crop, a hem, or a chop.  While I have no sewing machine skill at all, I do have a trusted seamstress who works with me on all my clothes.  She studied fashion right here at a local Hong Kong university and now runs a successful shop in Stanley Market with her hubby, Master Wong (I've written about it before, here and here).

I'll come in with a piece and tell her what I'm thinking and she'll look at it to see if it's possible at all.  As you can see from pictures, it's only a matter of taking up a hem (the black skirt and blue dress), or removing sleeves (or in some cases just making them shorter or different).  The two vests were once jackets which I hadn't worn in ages, but now that they're vests, they make it into the rotation quite regularly.  Vests are great for layering in our Hong Kong weather.  I've even turned dresses into blouses or skirts.

I have worked with Jilly to do a few more complicated pieces, which I've been really pleased with.  Later on, I'll share the latest one, rescuing a black dress which was ruined when the color bled into the white stripes.  Again, it's amazing what changing a hem and using other fabric can fix. 

I really enjoy working with her to change my clothes.  I feel like I'm personalizing my wardrobe.  But more importantly, I'm making my clothes work better which has a positive impact on the environment.  It feels good.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Birthday hangover

On Saturday night, the hubby threw me probably the most amazing 40th birthday party I could ever have imagined.

He filled the night with surprises, like these I'm a Norbyah t-shirts he had screen printed at the Print House. I was stunned when they all came down dressed in them.

We invited the amazing New Zealand duo The Bollands to come and play on our rooftop. They rocked it and then hung out with us until the very end of the night at 2am. I absolutely loved having live music and I think more should be enjoyed in an intimate setting like this was.

Some good friends came by to celebrate with me. I was so touched by their presence and all their gifts of friendship. I'm still speechless to think about it.

Joey put together a lovely video of old pictures and videos people had sent him (who couldn't be there themselves). If it wasn't for being so surprised and in shock at what they'd all contributed, I'd have probably bawled my way through it.

Then the night came to an end. I'm still reliving all the fun and feel rather in a funk now that it's over. Little did I know that all these months the hubby was preparing such a special evening for me, I'm feeling a little undeserving. 

The next day, as we cleared everything up, we felt a little down thinking that it was all behind us. The headaches and lack of sleep probably didn't help, but it was so worth it.

At last minute (comparatively to other years) we also threw together a 12th birthday party for the boy at the Print House (here we are on their CCTV feed). More on that fun later.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Feel Good Fashion starts with awareness

Lately what's been popping up on my newsfeed has been videos and articles sharing the disgusting (and ridiculous) consumerism that happens on Black Friday.  Have you seen this?  It's not just an American phenomenon, but it's spreading to other countries.  There's Cyber Monday, and just this year I learned of the expression Grey Thursday.  Yes, that means some businesses are opening their doors ON Thanksgiving day so customers can get a head start before the madness of Black Friday.

Now, I know that Black Friday has been around for decades, but something has happened in the last eight years that has created this crazy frenzy.  I find myself watching with morbid curiosity at what happens via You Tube videos of shopping brawls over TVs, underpants, parking spaces, etc.  It's bizarre. And ironic.  The same weekend, no sometimes the same day, that we've stopped to give thanks and spend time with family, those same rational thankful humans are shoving, punching and pepper spraying others over material things that they probably don't really want.  It's just that they can get them ridiculously marked down that it creates that need to have it.

I think what bothers me most is the mindless spending of money on ridiculous material things creates such waste.  When people have calmed down from the hysteria of the sale, they're bound to realize that what they've purchased is actually unnecessary. That the items might be of poor quality, not well made.  They won't have done the necessary thinking about whether or not they need three new pairs of sneakers because they were the price of one pair, they'll just have all this stuff.

Where am I going with what is now sounding like a rant?  Well, my friends over at Redress have recently joined Global Giving's Gateway Challenge in order to raise money and continue with their mission to cut waste out of fashion.  They're already addressing this mission by sponsoring the EcoChic Design Awards and educating those participating designers on sustainable design methods, but they want to reach out further and provide more education and awareness for other designers, too.

I made a small donation (just $80 HKD) to this cause and I encourage you to make a small donation, too, if you're passionate about it like me.  If they successfully reach their target of $25,000 HKD, they'll become a permanent charity member and will benefit from this ongoing fundraising platform.  You can follow this link for more information:

Monday, December 1, 2014


I've been doing a lot of reminiscing lately.  I find myself following the links on the bottom of my blog posts to read old posts that I've written about the kiddos.  The things they said.  The things they did.  Those little faces.


I've also got an app on my phone called Time Hop.  Each day you can 'time travel' back however many years (from one up till maybe seven, for me) and look at your status from your newsfeed, pictures you posted, and Instagram updates.  


What it makes me realize is how quickly my children's lives are passing by.  It's unbelievable.  I remember living in those moments and now it seems like they're so far gone.  And, it seems like each year zooms by faster than the one before.


Buddy turns 12 on Thursday.  I feel like I have been asking this a lot lately, but seriously, where did the the time go?


I'm turning 40 on Thursday.  I can only imagine how my mother feels about that.

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