taking tokyo (japan part II)

Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo: expansive, bustling, organized, efficient, clean, convenient … I could go on. What an impressive city!

With so many different neighborhoods each with their own character and things to do, I feel like we needed at least two weeks to really see what Tokyo is all about. Kinda like when people tell me they’ve visited LA but only hung out in one or two neighborhoods – it’s simply not enough.

We had three days to work with so we spent them taking on some of the busiest train stations in the world, enjoying some sun at the Imperial Palace Park, and shopping at one of the newest malls in town filled with awesome Japanese brands and products.

At night, between dinner and drinks, we people-watched in Shibuya.  The sushi was as amazing as expected but surprisingly harder to find than Italian and hamburger joints. I’m sure it was just our location but the Japanese restaurants we did see seemed to be mostly grilled meats and veggies, not the sushi and ramen we were so desperately craving. I guess that the Hida Beef in Takayama had satisfied that end of the protein spectrum! I think the reason we were so surprised at the quantity of western dining options is because when living and traveling in South East Asia it’s easy to forget just how western Japan is by comparison. Not that I’m complaining – next to our hotel was a Tribeca, NY sister restaurant called Bubby’s and OMG did I relish a proper American pancake for breakfast!!! Not one place we’ve tried in KL has come close.

A typhoon during our last full day and night messed with our plans to check out the architecture in Omotesando and visit a few temples. So, back indoors we went, to Tokyu Hands, a long-standing DIY store that we had heard a lot about. Though small in square footage, it has everything you could need from laundry detergent to leather hides and supplies for making purses. It was a plentiful but well curated one-stop-shop dream for someone who’s been without a Target and Michael’s Craft Store for some time (don’t ever take those two for granted, US readers).

Abundance of stuff aside, the other things we experienced were very neat. Heated toilet seats in nearly every public and private restroom (don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it), easy traveling with Japan Rail Pass, and generally very gracious and pleasant shop keepers, bartenders, and restaurant servers, despite communicating in sign language half the time. Even the taxis were great.  Drivers wore ties and white gloves, and their car doors…they’re automatic!  So don’t you dare try to open or close them yourself – it’s taken care of for you.

With a service-minded culture, delicious food, and incredibly clean and organized streets and transit, Joe and I left feeling like we had to add Tokyo to our “cities to live in” list. Or at the very least return to spend some quality time immersing ourselves. We’ll be back, Japan!

words worth repeating / 42

words worth repeating 42 by ana maria munoz--anamu

Next week will mark our third international move and when I stop to think of what the universe has given us in the past three years, I still can’t believe that it’s all happened. Moving to London, South East Asia, and all the travels in between – it all began by getting out of my comfort zone.

Leaving that comfort zone of my hometown was the best thing I could have ever done. No matter how hard I may cry at times because I miss my family, or how many things get lost in translation when trying to live in a new environment, every day and moment has absolutely been worth it.

Leaving my comfort zone repeatedly has led to feeling more open and confident to taking news risks and seeking new experiences. Open to making life happen rather than waiting for it to show itself. For example, if you had told me three years ago that I’d be living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia I would have said “Kuala wha???” – I had no idea that the city even existed! But once you start opening doors more and more tend to appear. At that point the decision is between turning the doorknob to see what’s on the other side or choosing to ignore it and stay in the same hallway you’re standing in.

I’ve been stretched so far out of my comfort zone that it’s hard to imagine going back to my original shape. I like the new irregular shape that’s been molded by everything I’ve seen and experienced, both the good and the not-so-great. There’s a lot of life to be lived so whenever I start to feel anxious or worried about what’s next I remember this: the rewards for letting yourself feel uncomfortable, awkward, or scared are worth gold. Just step out and keep going.

When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone? Took a new job, started a new business or hobby, moved homes, or traveled somewhere unfamiliar?

taking takayama (japan part I)

this post features interactive captions – hover over each image for the ‘dot’ to appear.Takayama, Japan
Takayama, Japan Takayama, Japan
Takayama, Japan
Takayama, Japan Takayama, Japan
Takayama, Japan
Takayama, Japan
Takayama, JapanTakayama, Japan
Takayama, Japan Takayama, Japan
Takayama, Japan
Takayama, Japan
Takayama, Japan Takayama, JapanTakayama, Japan

We’ve all heard that sometimes it’s not about the destination, but about the journey. In this case, visiting Takayama, Japan was about both. The high-speed train ride up the mountains showed glimpses of rice paddy fields, communal and family farm plots, homes with traditional glazed clay tile roofs, and some mountain scenery to rival anything we’ve seen in places like Alaska. I could have just done the train ride and been happy!

We chose Takayama by accident. Finding an available ryokan in Kyoto proved challenging (and grossly overpriced) so we expanded our horizon and looked for a similar, culturally charming town with easy rail access. Takayama fit the bill perfectly on paper and exceeded expectations in experience.

It was a quiet time in Takayama: mid-week, after the popular autumn festival, and before the colourful fall foliage. I can only imagine how gorgeous the city looks when the leaves turn to bright reds and yellows. The backdrop of Edo Period homes and shops, all in shades brown and black, would really make those autumnal colors pop. But even lacking the seasonal changes, Takayama was breathtaking. During our first walk in town we went to the main temple, but got sidetracked on an older, obscured stone stairway.  It led to a smaller and more modest temple perched on a hill surrounded by tall cedar trees and peek-a-boo views of the city. After reaching the top, the wind started blowing, leaves started bustling, and music started playing on loudspeakers mounted in the trees. It sounds silly but it felt like such a magical spot. I know that the music was for the ceremonial performances happening down below but it felt like it was meant just for us to hear at the top of that path. From that moment on we knew that we were in for a great couple of days.

We spent the rest of our time strolling the streets stopping to indulge in local specialties like Hida beef, sweet dumplings (mitarashi dango), buckwheat soba noodles, and lots of locally brewed sake. We drank sake like water and it was wonderful. Also wonderful were all of the shops filled with locally produced goods in wood, ceramic, and paper. We didn’t hold back in buying souvenirs as we’re big fans of the Japanese design aesthetic. Okay, we did hold back a little because there were plenty of hand-crafted chairs that I would have liked to take home with us. It’s amazing how they work natural materials so beautifully, everything is treated with the utmost respect and love.

That’s the way the entire area felt. The locals were proud of their heritage town and treated it with respect and love. Everyone from our ryokan hosts to the cashier at the riverfront snack shop showed genuine interest in, and gratitude for, our patronage, offering nothing but smiles and good cheer. The streets were pristine and clean, centuries old homes and shops were well maintained and revered, and every effort was made so that visitors had all the info they needed for a positive visit (i.e. directional signposts, tourist info desks among the shops). Even with all the helping hands, Takayama didn’t feel overly touristy. It was just right. Just the right amount of traditional charm, ease, and comfort.

At the end of our trip I couldn’t help but think “Thanks, Kyoto, for being so popular that we couldn’t book ya’”. Takayama, may have been a second choice but it sure came out on top.

 

 

 

and we’re…

going back to cali

Happy Monday, guys. I’ve been waiting to make a proper ‘move’ announcement and with one and a half weeks left, it’s safe to say that LA will be our next stop! A temporary stop, that is. We have two weddings to attend, a storage unit to sort out, and I could use some time on the ground for Ring Cozy. We love LA but we’re not ready to actually move back. Maybe we will one day, maybe we wont … we’re still itching to experience new places. It’ll be great while we plan for the next adventure because being close to familiar faces and things is always helpful during a transition. Who knows where we’ll be in a few months, but for now, I’m excited to make my first home home again!

 

let the countdown begin

In Tokyo

How is it Friday again?! This past week flew by with half of it spent in Tokyo (felt like LA in the photo above) and the other playing catch-up at home. We’re officially in countdown mode for the move and I’m trying my best to not feel overwhelmed. I’ll write more about that later, but now I’m looking forward to a fun and productive weekend, doing what needs to get done, and enjoying one of our last ‘free’ days as KL residents.

Today we’re sorting what we’re keeping from what we’re donating, and I’m making dates with friends so we can have a proper goodbye. There’s plenty of work ahead, but as I like to tell the procrastinator in me: everything eventually gets done. With the clock ticking away, I’m just going to have to believe that.

I hope you have a great weekend. I’ll be back next week to share highlights from our trip to Japan!

happy friday

ryokan

We arrived in Takayama yesterday. Tired from the red-eye flight and multiple train rides but happy to find a peaceful, friendly, and charming town. Our Ryokan is perfectly traditional and modern with everything we need for a Japanese home stay experience, low door frames and all. I don’t know how Joe has managed to go this long without a few bumps on his head, old Japan just wasn’t built for a man of his stature (he’s 6’3″)!

We just finished a traditional breakfast of fish, miso, and local veggies in the room, while sitting on tatami mats and wearing our yukatas. It’s all been pretty great so far so I can’t wait to have a full day of exploring. Maybe we’ll even wear our yukatas out as the locals do … or save them for a sake pub crawl tonight ;)

Have a great weekend!

 

 

words worth repeating / 41

words worth repeating 41 by ana maria munoz--anamu

How often do we worry about the littlest things when in the grand scheme of the world they hardly matter? I can’t remember what I fretted over a year ago but I do remember that our KL must-see/do list looked pretty much the same. It’s the experiences we have that create the memories we keep, not the spilled milk.

Keeping that in mind, we’re squeezing in something not so local just before we leave this part of the world – we’re going to Japan!!!

Are we crazy for taking a holiday just two weeks before we pack up our lives for the third time? Maybe. Did Christmas come early? Absolutely. I’m beyond excited but also a little worried. Japan has been top on my list for as long as I can remember and I wonder if I’ve over-hyped it in my mind. If all else fails (this is what I’m telling myself) there will be plenty of sushi and sake to be had. Can’t go wrong with that.

If you’ve been to Tokyo or Takayama (or live there) I’d love to hear your suggestions for design spots (shops, architecture, etc) and cultural gems. I’ll be on Instagram so come along!

 

reminiscing rio

Old Rio De Janeiro Centro

Back from Rio and major jet lag aside, it was a great trip. We went for Joe’s work so we stayed in a business hotel in the old part of Centro, far from the more recognizable beach side spots like Copacabana and Ipanema. I was hoping to be by the water – not gonna lie – but our location ended up being perfect. Had we stayed in a tourist hotel by the beach I might have never been forced to use my Google translator app to speak Portuguese with the staff.  I might have never had lunch with local office workers in a tiny well-kept restaurant overlooking a building facade of decorative hand painted tiles. And on Joe’s day off, we probably wouldn’t have spent an entire morning walking around the downtown city streets discovering little alleyways full of old European charm. It was quite the surprise. We never expected to come across such a neighborhood in Rio since all we’ve ever been shown are the parts of Zona Sul that look more like Miami Beach with a tropical backdrop. We went back for dinner and what a different scene it was from the morning…tables and chairs filling the alleys, office workers enjoying beers and baskets of fries, and every other restaurant blasting their stereo or showcasing a local band – we opted for the spot with live samba music. As we ate, I danced in my chair, shoulders shaking, making elaborate plans to be in Carnaval one day (I did say elaborate). It was a short and sweet trip but I’m already longing to spend more time there exploring its many facets. What an interesting little big city…I’m sure it’s full of surprises.

 

melaka

Melaka, Malaysia
Melaka, Malaysia
Melaka, Malaysia Melaka, Malaysia
Melaka, Malaysia Melaka, Malaysia
Melaka, Malaysia
Melaka, Malaysia Melaka, Malaysia
Melaka, Malaysia Melaka, Malaysia
Melaka, Malaysia Melaka, Malaysia
Melaka, Malaysia

Hello from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil! Can’t believe that we’re on the other side of the world. It was a twenty four hour trip but all things considered, it’s freaking amazing that it’s possible.

These are some pics from our recent overnight in Melaka, Malaysia, just a two hour drive from KL. Melaka is a World Heritage City so all of the touristy things you’d expect were present: loads of tour groups and buses, souvenir shops, and of course, a Hard Rock Cafe (we skipped the t-shirt).

From a local’s standpoint, we’ve heard that you only really go to Melaka to eat Nyonya food (a mix of Straits Chinese and Chinese/Malay cuisine) but we thought it would be interesting to see what a World Heritage City in Malaysia looked like. The food was as amazing as promised (we went to Riverine, a Nyonya kitchen, twice!) but the architecture was what stood out for me.

In KL there are sadly far too many beautiful old buildings rotting away or being torn down to make room for new luxury malls or condos. The condo we live in is on a street where there used to be traditional homes and I can imagine how gorgeous they must have been based on the last remaining structure on the street. I feel like such an a-hole for lamenting the past while living in modern KL but if I ran the city, I would find a way to do it all better.

In Melaka, the heritage buildings seem to be a priority. Not all of course but a decent amount. It was awesome to see the different influences in design based on the location and date that the structures were built. Being the key port city of the Straits way back when, Melaka has buildings that reflect the Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, British and of course, Malay aesthetics. I loved the colonial stuff but my favorite was seeing the mid-century modern influences in their Chinatown and government buildings. It made this LA girl very happy.

Now here in Rio, I’ve already spotted a ton of cool old buildings that I can’t wait to check out. I’m not sure I’ll take my camera out too much since I’ll be exploring solo most of the time but I’ll capture and share what I can. Have a great week!

a walk in the park

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Happy Friday, guys! Did you know that Bangkok has a giant park in its city center? It was a nice surprise during our visit last week. Our awesome little hotel was just up the street from Lumphini Park so we took a morning stroll through it on the way to the metro station. There were school groups playing games on the basketball court, three old couples dancing to swing music underneath a giant tree, and plenty of locals getting in their tai-chi exercises for the day. It definitely felt like a proper civic park.

Aside from people watching, a few colors, patterns, and textures caught my attention. Particularly a large type of palm tree that was unlike any I had ever seen. It looked like the palm fronds were cut off as it grew, leaving sturdy slanted stumps begging to be climbed. And yes, I did climb one. Just a few feet up (ssshhh)!

If you can this weekend, do take some time to go for a walk and see what you see. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed doing that.

Something I can’t forget – announcing a winner for the Gin & Jacqie Love Malaysia Collection giveaway! Congrats to Alicia – you’re the lucky pick! Please keep a lookout for an email with details.

I’ll be Instagraming (and blogging) from Rio next week…hopefully I’ll have some news to share after that trip. Have a good one!

 

comfort food to-go

LaZat Malaysian Cooking Class
LaZat Malaysian Cooking Class LaZat Malaysian Cooking Class
LaZat Malaysian Cooking Class
LaZat Malaysian Cooking Class
LaZat Malaysian Cooking ClassLaZat Malaysian Cooking Class
LaZat Malaysian Cooking ClassIn Malaysia, food is everything. Food is the center of family and friend gatherings, celebrations, and everyday conversation. It’s such a hot topic that even while you’re enjoying a meal, you’re already discussing what and where your next one will be. Malaysians are serious about their makan-makan – or “eat-eat” – and we’ve happily joined them, full bellies and all.

But now that we’re leaving Kuala Lumpur soon, we’ve been loading up on our local favorites like roti canai, nasi lemak, char kway teow, beef rendang, chicken curry, and pandan flavored treats. What will we do when we can’t simply walk down the street to grub on our newly adopted comfort food? The only option is to make it ourselves!

Enter LaZat, a local enterprise offering Malaysian home-cooking classes set in a typical Malaysian home nestled in the trees just outside of KL. I took an Indian cuisine class with them last year so when Joe said that he couldn’t leave Malaysia without learning how to make his beloved beef rendang and curry chicken, I knew exactly where to go.

From the moment you arrive, you feel like family. Owner Ana and home-cook chefs Sue and Saadiah are warm, welcoming, and are equally excited to learn about where you’re from (and where you’ve been) as they are to share their passions and skills in the kitchen. They take great pride in using fresh ingredients and have a way of making even the most intimidated wannabe-cook feel at ease. Everything for the day’s menu is pre-measured and pre-arranged, laid out beautifully on woven straw trays and decorative dishes.

As soon as I saw (and smelled) the colorful and fragrant spices, I was ready to get down to business, work that mortar and pestle, and heat things up in a traditional brass wok. We spent the next few hours switching from watching how it’s done to getting it done all while teasing our grumbling stomachs every time the wind picked up the aromas coming from our stove tops.

All of that teasing was worth it. We had our grand feast in the end but the true beauty was in the process. The simple things like remembering that some of the greatest food takes the longest time (patience is key), learning that it’s okay to throw in whole spice seeds, rather than ground or crushed, and realizing that for any meal to be Malaysian, it probably has to have a decent dose of coconut milk (yum and yum).

Now that I’m a LaZat alum, I’m excited to take the confidence I got there and bring it into my own kitchen. I’d love to push my boundaries beyond olive oil and salt and pepper and get more creative with spices and herbs. I took a baby step a few nights ago while making applesauce and I was quite proud of my small kitchen victory. Instead of adding ground cinnamon for flavor, I let the apples boil and reduce with whole cinnamon sticks, a few star anise, and lemon juice for preservation. The results? Amazing. The Malaysian recipes we learned have a bit more to them but I think I’m on my way to being able to prepare the dishes we’ve come to love. We have a brass wok ready to go so the next step will be to buy a mortar and pestle. Hopefully we get a chance to use it before we have to pack it in a box but regardless where that box ends up, we’ll know that we have the tools to satisfy our cravings and makan-makan our honorary Malaysian hearts out.

 

 

redang-culous sun and sand + here we go again

Redang, Malaysia
Redang, Malaysia Redang, Malaysia
Redang, Malaysia
Redang, Malaysia
Redang, Malaysia
Redang, Malaysia Redang, Malaysia
Redang, Malaysia

Hey guys, I hope you had a nice weekend. I know I know, it’s Tuesday already but I’ll explain why I’m so off with regular posts in just a moment. First, these are a few snaps from our recent trip to Redang Island off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. The hotel’s food and density were disappointing but the real reason we were there exceeded expectations: THE BEACH! The sand was unreal, completely white and soft like flour, while the water was incredibly clear. It was warm, calm, and the snorkeling was the best we’ve had yet. We swam with turtles, saw a baby shark, and found ourselves following (or being chased by) schools of tropical fish of many varieties. All that beauty just a one and a half hour flight from where we live…so crazy, so lucky, and so we better take of advantage of it while it lasts.

And by “while it lasts” I mean until the end of October – yep, we’re moving once again! Not sure to where just yet but until our boxes are packed and our apartment keys are turned in, we’re fitting in as much travel and local activities as we can. That’s why we rushed to make a trip to Redang as soon as I returned, did a quick two nights in Bangkok last week, will be in Melaka this week, and have more planned. I know that traveling is a crazy luxury so I’m not complaining, but it does make keeping a solid work (and blog) schedule pretty difficult. But I’m here and I can’t wait to see where the next several months take us, on and off-line!

introducing the love malaysia collection

Gin & Jacqie // Love Malaysia Collection
Gin & Jacqie // Love Malaysia Collection
Gin & Jacqie // Love Malaysia Collection
Gin & Jacqie // Love Malaysia Collection
Gin & Jacqie // Love Malaysia Collection
Gin & Jacqie // Love Malaysia Collection

Hi guys, I hope you had a great weekend! Today is Malaysia Day so what better day to share the launch of my collaboration with Kuala Lumpur based bag company Gin & Jacqie: the Love Malaysia Collection! It’s been nearly one year in the making and we are SO excited to see it come to life.

I met owner Jacqie soon after moving to KL and we were instant friends. We share a love of travel, design, and entrepreneurship so when she found out about my graphic design and growing love for my new home, she asked if I’d like to create a few prints that represent Malaysia…something that could pique the interest of tourists, expats, and locals alike. I jumped at the opportunity as I’ve always wanted to do product prints and I loved the idea of playing with images that were recognizable and unique to the country.

Not only did I get to design the prints but I also got to help design the bags that would be created for the collection! Since Gin & Jacqie is focused on making life a bit easier and more organized while on-the-go, it was easy to decide on the final products. We went with multipurpose pieces like zip pouches that can store anything from makeup to electronic choards, and a handy wrist pouch that can be kept in a larger bag and used separately when you only need to carry a few essentials. As you can see by the photos above, I took a few pieces on a trial run during our holiday last week and they were great! They kept everything tidy and easily accessible at all times…just right for making traveling easier.

Now, about the prints! The prints symbolize three main things that are standouts in Malaysia: food, heritage, and landscape.

For food I designed a pattern of the ubiquitous pyramid-shaped packaging of Nasi Lemak – Malaysia’s unofficial national breakfast consisting of coconut rice, dried anchovies, hard boiled egg, rendang or curry chicken or beef, roasted peanuts, and cucumber slices. I’m obsessed with it now and crave it more than I crave tacos (!!! I know). But even better than the taste is the little pyramid shape created when all of the contents are folded into a large banana leaf – a true on-the-go meal!

For heritage I went with the iconic Wau kites. The origin of the name – pronounced ‘wow’ – is Arabic, the kite tradition is Chinese, and each Malaysian state has their own unique design. It seemed the perfect representation of Malaysia’s diverse cultures.

And for landscape I created a tropical leaf pattern that represents the jungle greenery that is everywhere in Malaysia. Even in the city, it’s never really a concrete jungle. It’s the real deal here and it’s awesome.

It’s been a great experience to work with the Gin & Jacqie team and I’m beyond thankful for the opportunity to create something that represents a country that I’ve grown to love so much.

Now it’s time to share the goods with you! We’re giving away the product of your choice to one lucky Anamu reader. All you have to do is “like” or comment on your favorite product photo in the Love Malaysia Facebook photo album + leave a comment here to let me know that you’ve done so. We’ll pick a name next week, Thursday, and announce the winner on Friday the 27th.

Even if you don’t enter to win, I’d love to hear what you think!

hump day island hop

woven wall

The rainy season has come early so before it gets too wet to enjoy Malaysia’s beaches, we’re taking advantage of a last minute deal and heading to Redang Island off the east coast. We haven’t been to that part of the country yet but we’re told that the snorkeling is some of the best in the world. While in LA I bought this adventure camera (I was beating up my DSLR waaaay too much) so I can’t wait to give it its first dip in the sea.

I’ll be back here on Monday with an exciting announcement and giveaway but in the meantime you can come along with me via Instagram. Have a great rest of your week!

photo woven wall, bali  by Ana Maria Munoz

beam me up

beam me up KL

My first full weekend back was appropriately spent playing tourist at the Petronas Twin Towers, binge watching the first two seasons of Scandal, and sharing in a special baptism and brunch with friends.

This photo from our night out kinda says it all for me right now … I’m in complete awe of our experience here. Seriously, the opportunity to live somewhere so different is something that I pinch myself about every day. There are some changes ahead for us so if you find me a bit emotional and/or in awe of everything, it’s coming from a place of immense gratitude, reflection, and anticipation.

Cheers to a great week ahead!

 

mirrors mirrors on the wall

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Every time I leave Malaysia for a while I return with a renewed ambition to see and do everything on our “hit list”. It’s embarrassing that our list is as long as it is (since we’ve been here for a year and a half) but the good thing is that with time comes more understanding and appreciation of the things around you.

Friends of ours recently went to the Islamic Arts Museum and highly recommended it for peeks at mosque architecture around the world and of course, artifacts with designs and patterns that are uniquely Islamic. We didn’t hesitate in making a date to go the next day.

I was in awe of a miniature model of the national mosque I visited in Abu Dhabi (how do they make it so small?!) and was fixated on a section where the mosaic designs were broken down to basic geometric sketches of shapes from beginning to end. It made me think that had I learned geometry through the art of pattern making I would have enjoyed my math classes much much more!

The main stand out for me was this impressive razzle-dazzle wall of mosaic mirrors. Though situated in the restaurant, it’s definitely a piece deserving of its own “Modern Islamic Art” section. I don’t know if mosaic mirrors are a new thing in Islamic design but it sure feels fresh and I love love love the looks of it for a modern interior. Future home DIY project perhaps?

aaanndd i’m back!

Three bags, three different crash pads, five rental cars, and too many miles in a car (and in the air) … this girl has left LA and is back in KL! It’s so good to be home. I arrived yesterday morning and have been unpacking and re-organizing everything in between hug and kiss attacks from Joe who can’t seem to believe that I’m actually here.

It was a great two months in LA though it was certainly a different kind of visit than I’ve had before. I was focused on work versus play so I left feeling shocked that for the first time in a loooooong time I didn’t go to a single Dodger game, a show at the Hollywood Bowl, and – gasp – not even a flea market. The first two are a very sad thing for an Angeleno to admit and the third one is just sad for me personally (see this if you’re new to the blog). But, if I had to be away from Joe for so long I had to make it worth my while and that worth was all about pushing Ring Cozy forward.

The moments that I did take to be with friends and family were few but really treasured. I had missed their hugs, their smiles, their way of “knowing” me. It’s pretty awesome to feel that there’s a group of people somewhere else in the world who love and care about you regardless of seeing you once in a blue moon. There were definitely moments where I wanted to toss the expat towel in and be back with familiar faces. Like the one day I went wedding dress shopping for two of my friends and had so much fun doing something so girly. But then when I remember that everyone is so busy with their own lives now that I probably would see them just as often as I do now, I don’t feel so bad. It wasn’t uncommon to go months without seeing certain people when I still lived there nearly three years ago. We’re traveling more, focusing on family, getting busier with work … it’s a rare treat to just call someone up on a random day/night and say “let’s do X and Y” and have them actually be available, or willing. If you’re under 25 and reading this…enjoy it while it lasts!

Now back in KL I’ve been welcomed home via texts and emails by the friends I’ve made here. They’re a part of a different chapter in my life and I’m so thankful that they fill the pages with new and amazing experiences. They remind me why I love being an expat: the simple fact that albeit challenging, you can make a home and build a community anywhere you are. I can’t imagine anything more comforting than that. It’s so good to be home.

 

 

 

 

missing home from home

palm trees LA

Hi guys, checking in from LA where I’m really missing the blog. I miss taking photos, I miss using this space as a creative playground, and I miss sharing things with you!

Work has been all consuming – which is a great thing because that’s what I’m here for – but I’m longing to fit in more time with family, friends…and my camera. My whole work smart and not harder thing is hard to do when there are so many unknown variables at play. It’s getting better though with just three more weeks to go and a to-do list that’s feeling less daunting with every new thing that I learn and every step that I take.

It’s been nice to be back here, in my second life as I’ve been calling it, but it’s just not as fun without my man by my side. A place doesn’t feel like home without him, even if it’s my very own hometown. That being said, I’m doing my best to make the time that I have here count, make things happen, and am enjoying the ride with bumps, missteps, and small victories along the way. It’s all part of a greater journey…

I hope that you’ve been awesome!

 

making it in LA

LA street art

It’s been good to be back in LA to get things done – what a difference it makes to be here! Instead of relying on phone calls and emails in different timezones, I can be somewhere at a moments notice and give comments and samples as they’re needed (take that, two weeks snail mail). Not to mention the face time that I’m getting with suppliers and manufacturers. Can’t even begin to tell you how invaluable the personal interaction has been.

Aside from getting my own work done, I’ve been re-inspired by all of the production that exists in the area. Name a tangible good and chances are that there’s a place in LA that makes it. In the warehouse and industrial zones, every building you see is busy with people making clothes, accessories, toys, furniture, printing fabric, printing paper, bottling food & bev, packing and shipping – it’s truly is amazing how much still happens here.

So where am I at with Ring Cozy? We’ve got our launch colors all set and so far everything is on track to ship pre-orders at the end of the month (woo hoo, fingers crossed!!!). Making it happen ladies and gents, making it happen.

 

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