08 May 2015

Have a breezy weekend.

Did you queue up your Mothers Day flowers and brunch? I won't have the pleasure of spending this Sunday with my Mum, but I did send her tea, French hand cream and some other treats.  Happy Mothers Day to all the mummies reading!


Things happening around the web:

Cheese may be the secret to longer life. Best. News. Ever.

Reese Witherspoon has designed a Southern-inspired fashion line.

Brunch in the 1930's.

This Frenchie.

What kind of dog are you?

Big Bird shares a heartbreaking/heartwarming story.

JetBlue is launching direct flights to Cuba.

The hardships of nail salon workers.

Would you be into a lunch swap?

Made me laugh.


07 May 2015

Recap: Japan

Where do I begin? We spent the lion's share of our Asia trip in Japan. Touching down in Osaka, Kobe (yes, the beef is incredible), Kyoto,  Shimizu, Yokohama and Tokyo, we were able to take in a quite a bit of geography. It's difficult to give so many cities all the words they deserve in one compact post, ergo I have decided to share more photos than I would typically include.

Impressions Snapshot


In brief: beautiful, poised and playful. While wandering miles throughout Shimizu, with Mt. Fuji making appearances as the clouds passed, a man approached us and asked if he could walk with us on his way home. He explained that he wished to practice speaking English. We obliged and learned that he was a mechanic, had only left Japan once in his life (honeymoon in Thailand 20 years ago) and his son is in college.

The kiddos were incredibly friendly. Everywhere we ventured, they enthusiastically waved from buses and sidewalks. Return waves were eagerly accepted.


Everything in Japan makes sense. The way things are executed is incredibly considerate and practical.  It makes me want to take America by the shoulders and shake her until she takes notice. For example, we learned that trash is burned and converted to the material that is used to pave the roads.  While on the topic of refuse, we noticed that garbage cans were non-existent. People are accustomed to carrying their own plastic bag to collect their trash throughout the day and dispose of it at home.

Cats are everywhere and respected. This detail brought to light the constant theme of cats in Haruki Murakami novels (my favorite author). One evening, in Osaka, we were walking in the dark when we realized we were surrounded by cats lurking in the shadows. Watching us. It was a bit amusing and slightly terrifying.

Toilets are refined. Would you like a heated seat or a particular music genre played? This is possible.


A few things resonate with me in terms of fashion. To begin, it appeared that all students wore uniforms. There were few options to express individual identity outside of key chains dangling from backpacks.

As well, it came as a surprise (to me) that women were out-and-about in full geisha styling. I assumed that this custom was something that happened some time ago, and perhaps, for tourist interactions. However, on multiple occasions, we saw geishas in Kyoto. Wikipedia (my knowledge authority) confirmed that geishas are going strong in this particular region.

View all my Japan photos on Flickr.

01 May 2015

Have a fun Derby weekend!

Will you be putting on a large hat or a bright bow tie this weekend? We're still dancing around a few venues to watch the race and raise a mint julep.  I'm mostly looking forward to some quality time with friends and family!


A round-up of things happening around the web:

How you can help Nepal.


Five things happy people have in their homes.

This made me laugh.

An oral history of MadMen.

Would you wear the same thing to work every day?

The secret to female friendship.

Black Mass looks intensely good.

Recap: China

I've been sitting on this post for some time. Not entirely sure how to approach it, I danced around a few ideas and concluded I should begin with the foreshadow found in a text message.

Before boarding the longest flight of my life (twenty-six hours between JFK, Vancouver, Hong Kong and finally Shanghai), I had reached out to a friend that had visited China a fews years prior. After detailing a handful of spots to add to our list, she punctuated her text with, "I hope you have a better time than we did."

I'd like to think we did, but I must admit navigating through Beijing and Tianjin as a Westerner was difficult. Although hospitality desks provide print-outs  of round-trip directions with English and Chinese translations, there is quite a bit that happens between those moments. If you and I ever sit down with a bottle of wine, I'll share my story of the longest cab ride of my life. The six hour adventure involved four different drivers, scenes from the film Babel, three police men, one hotel desk attendant, a  desperate call to a tour guide from the previous day's excursion, a barage of honking/flashing lights and no seat belts in the back.


Impressions Snapshot


The things that resonate with me most may seem a bit silly, but I'm the type of person that walks into a pharmacy or bodega to see how people live. The products or tools that are at the core of every day living tell a story. Train stations are particularly transparent, as they strip down to basic needs.

In China, hot water fountains are installed rather than cool water. Folks refill bottles of tea and make instant soups.

ATMs are scarce (quite literally a challenge to locate) and cash was king.  We walked a few miles before we stumbled upon a bank and were able to withdraw some local currency.

Eastern toilets. It wasn't my first rodeo, but I somehow forgot that these are a thing and was grateful I had napkins from my morning trip to the cafe on hand. I learned to carry hand sanitizer and paper with me every where.

Also notable, you are expected to sit in the front seat of a cab. This came as quite a surprise to me as I'm accustomed to the plastic barricades in New York cabs. Apparently, stranger danger isn't a thing in China.


Living a stone's throw from Manhattan's Chinatown, we are well versed in authentic Chinese food. Oddly, our favorite meal was dim sum in the Hong Kong airport. I have to say there was a consistency to the traditional dishes we tried to what you can find in New York. The one surprise we encountered was the popularity of live scorpion skewers (and  many other types of critters) at Wangfujing.


The tour guide that brought us to the Great Wall, Ming Tomb and a Jade house was the only person we encountered that spoke English. We shared many hours in traffic with him and he spent a good portion of this time telling us about his daughter,"It's better to have a girl I think, you don't have to take on the expense of bringing another family member into your home." As well, he explained the challenge of becoming a home owner and the government's involvement in the process. Most surprising to me, he went into intimate detail about population control and his positive opinion of the practice. He was humble, kind and we are ever grateful that he gave us his cell phone number, as mentioned above, he acted as an interpreter between us and a cab driver the next day.


View my complete China album at Flickr.