Home Styling: How To Style Big Shelves With Small Things

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I love moving. Not the spending a lot of money to get a new mattress because you deserve a queen kind of moving, but the unpacking which means you get to space-plan and decorate a new place kind of moving! Because I can’t bare to leave my rent-controlled studio, I take advantage of my friends who move to San Francisco. Case in point Denise and Steph. They recently moved to the Mission and were blessed with this built-in shelving feature. The problem being that they both used to live by themselves so they had a lot of small things for a big space.

Cue Gen. This amount of stuff may seem daunting to some but it looked very fun for me so I couldn’t wait to tackle this. So take in some of these tips about how to group your items so it all looks on purpose…which is the point, no?

1) Lay out all your stuff

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Before

Lay out everything you have. Nothing except books stacked on top of each other so you can see what you’re going to be working with (thank you Marie Kondo). This way you can start imagining groups of items and color blocking before you place things.

2) Use the rule of three

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Each space is a moment. One moment or three moments look strategic but two can feel like an accident. You can create a specific moment by grouping things of the same ilk (love that word) together. Juxtapose everything to keep things interesting by ensuring you’re varying heights, creating levels and grouping colors.

3) Use tiny trinkets to fill a space

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Although this might defy the rule of three, let’s tout that rules are meant to be broken. A tiny candle, sparkly geode or a faux, mini succulent can help balance a space. You’ll feel if it belongs there or not.

4) Step back for perspective

 

Like plucking your eyebrows, you want to step back with each pluck because things look differently from further away. Spoiler alert, people see you from far away a lot more than up close. This way you can properly place a print of an animated Jesse Pinkman that has a lot of yellow in a place that needs more yellow. Or you can put two green glass vases on the opposite corner of your house plant because it’s the only green you have to play with.

And there you go! Beautifully styled shelves and everything is on purpose. It’s the perfect backdrop for a magical sketch of Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live (yeah, I didn’t even think to turn the T.V. off when I took the picture). You got this!

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Do you want to style with me sometime? Shoot me a line here or on my contact page.

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How Going To Thailand Helped Me Save More Money Than Living In San Francisco For A Month

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“Rent,” “IPO” and ‘Z-Boards” are all terms you’ll hear on a daily basis if you live in San Francisco. They’re a part of that cyclical monthly schedule where you dedicate a whole paycheck to rent, waiting for the next one and spending $35 on dinner because you totally deserve it.

At the turn of the new year I made a goal to pay off my credit card. I don’t know if it was because I wanted to feel like a San Francisco contrarian, but I was ready to accept not having anymore credit card debt. This feeling contradicts all natural instinct and desire to travel and see the world of course so when I walked into work and a fellow coworker asked me if I wanted to go to Thailand it was hard for my incessant need to fulfill my spontaneity to decline. Then there I was, $2000 deep with my passport in one hand and a 20-inch pink carry-on luggage in the other inundated in guilt because I was treating myself despite my soapbox-like goal setting proclamation I had made at the beginning of the year.

I spent 16 days in Laos and Thailand and as the days went on, fulfilling every urge to buy that raw cotton pillowcase and those coconut cakes, I stepped back, gained a little perspective and realized that, despite how many transactions I was making, I was fine.

To digest that a little bit more, I made some lists. So take a look at an average day in Thailand on vacation and in San Francisco living my life. Hopefully you won’t be surprised, but I hope it will help you take the plunge and go to Thailand.

Thailand – $30/day (outside of housing)

  • $2: Morning Caffeine – Thai Iced Tea
  • $3: Breakfast – Kao Soy Noodles
  • $3: Lunch – Pad See Ew and a Thai Iced Tea
  • $6: Hour-Long Foot Massage because we walked everywhere
  • $2: Snack – Thai Iced Tea (okay I know I became addicted to Thai iced tea)
  • $7: Dinner – Braised Pork Shoulder and Rice from the Cowboy Hat Lady
  • $1: Dessert – Mango Sticky Rice
  • $6: Shopping – Shorts and, you guessed it, a Thai Iced Tea

San Francisco – $24.50/day (outside of housing)

  • $5.50: Starbucks Caramel Macchiato
  • $14: Lunch
  • $2.50: Bus to Crunch Gym from work
  • $.50: Protein shake using ingredients from Trader Joe’s
  • $2: Salad using ingredients from Trader Joe’s

I know I could bare to work a little harder to meal prep and cook lunch but how else am I supposed to keep those little joys in my life? The point being that here at home I’m making an effort to be frugal, and in Thailand, I’m not second guessing myself one bit and averaging a similar day.

Did this make me rethink every dollar I spend and then stress out about the repercussions of my actions for days to come? Kind of. Then I closed my notebook and walked outside and remembered that I was in Thailand.

The biggest lesson I brought back from Southeast Asia was to consider your dollar…and also wear sunscreen. Just because not having savings, dining at Lord Stanley and binge drinking $10 Moscow Mules is in doesn’t mean you have to abide. Consider your dollar and focus that paper.

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Everyone loves a well-lit picture of themselves

I know you’ve been there. The sun is shining through those south-facing windows of yours, your room is flooded with in-direct natural light and then you take the perfect selfie. That picture is now your Instagram profile pic because you’re absolutely glowing. 

Then I bought a ring light. I put it in a 5’x9′ call room at work, set up a makeshift photo booth and busted out my Nikon. “A lot of fun was had” – an actual review from the giraffe. Take a look. Shoutout to my models for posing for me. 

What is happening to my body and other things you think about when you have an IUD

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“Ow my boobs really hurt” is another thought that tends to cross my mind as I’m running to catch the bus.

I got my Mirena IUD over a year ago now and it was a very simple process: go to doctor, pee in cup, confirm you are not pregnant, and then stick a plastic Barbie arm into your uterus. I experienced little pain without any Advil and went back to work right after, but as my doctor once said while freezing a wart off my leg and me not even knowing she did it, I’m “one of those.”

Fast forward three months, my period disappeared before my eyes, I deleted the reminder on my phone to take my pill every day for the last ten years, and I was liberated. Like “white pants every day because fuck you tampons” liberated.

With all short-term side effects in my rear view mirror, I didn’t pay much attention to my breast pain. “What the hell is going on? Ah bodies as usual” I’d converse to myself until one day my maroon blouse’s second button popped off right in front of my eyes and my tits were framed like the eye of sauron.

Over the next nine months I gained 25 pounds. Mentally healthy would not be a way I’d describe myself during this time unless that means measuring my thighs every night and spending 20 minutes staring at myself naked in the mirror because I caught my reflection on the way to shower. I went to the doctor who blamed it on lifestyle, told me I was vitamin D deficient, and then sent me on my way.

The last few months have been a journey of seeing what foods trigger my body to spiral into an “I feel icky” (that’s the scientific term) state of affairs until last week when I got a physical and then had a revelation.

This doctor I saw wasn’t anything but jaded at what medicine had become. She was verbally rolling her eyes and saying things like “sometimes it’s more of an art not a science.” This is in relation to recent blood work I got where my vitamin D levels reported at 15.4 – you would have had to be prescribed something if it was 15. I was recommended an OTC vitamin.

I loved her jadedness. It was calming to see someone who’d seen way more in her field so I asked her about why I’m fat. Simple enough…

“If you were 168 pounds before your IUD, nothing changed, and then now you’re 190 than, by using middle school logic, I can probably say that’s what it is. Just because it’s not a ‘common side effect’ doesn’t mean you’re not common.”

My head exploded.

She also mentioned that I had a choice and can take it out whenever I want and then go back on the pill.

What was left of my exploded head then exploded again.

Why is that we like to suffer and not see the bigger picture with these things? Maybe it’s because People Magazine has named it sexiest birth control method of 2016 (not a real list) or your friends talk about it like they talk about the best acai bowl in San Francisco. Even sometimes I have a hard time admitting that I don’t want an acai bowl because I’m overcome with the need to be current.

So here I am writing a pro/con list between the Barbie arm in my uterus and taking estrogen candy every day until I go through menopause. On my list are things like convenience, no periods, prescriptions…but the one thing they have in common is also the number one thing for both – they’re not permanent…unlike my ability to ask and do what I want.

Mental health should be just as convenient as not taking the pill every day so call me old-fashioned, but I can’t keep up with this hype.

 

*This is only my personal experience and not at all medical advice because lol

All about Reykjavik, Iceland (as cheaply and conveniently as I could)

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It all started with Pinterest – a picture of a geyser, a majestic waterfall…and I’ve been hooked ever since. The thing is, Iceland seemed like such a faraway land that I didn’t even begin to consider it as a vacation destination, but then here comes the government’s tourism push and I definitely reaped my benefits.

Of course traveling by yourself as a female sounds like a textbook “taken” situation, I’ve never felt more at ease and comfortable than I did in Iceland. It helps that Iceland has been deemed the safest country in the world with only 200 (out of their already small population of 330,000) people in the prison system. Aside from walking around at night by yourself and your only dangerous threat being too cold, my trip was all the more comfortable because of these few things:

1) Thanks to WOWair for getting me to Reykjavik direct from San Francisco for almost about as much as a tasting menu here in town, I’m more than happy to tout your name! It was no frills and super easy. There is decent food for purchase and way more leg room than a standard U.S. domestic flight. A one-way flight was a remarkable $140. I flew into Keflavik International Airport and was greeted with Joe and the Juice to satisfy my 20Something, San Francisco Juice cravings. Little did I know that would be the only vegetable I would have for three days. They really love their meat in Iceland.

2) I was staying at the very cool Kex hostel which is right off the main road, Laugavagur, which has an incredible breakfast of fresh bread, jams, salmon, and yogurt. If you pre-book when you reserve your room you get breakfast at a discounted price. Highly recommend because Iceland made cost of living in San Francisco seem reasonable. Kex used to be an old bread factory and whoever interior designed this place did an amazing job capturing the old with the modern – a lot of honeycomb tile with herringbone wood flooring alongside a modern kitchen. There’s a pretty popular bar in the lobby that was noisy until late at night but after all your adventuring you will sleep right through it. You can stay in a co-ed, all female, four or six dorm ranging from $40-70 a night plus breakfast.

3) Iceland is very expensive since the only thing they can grow naturally is a root vegetable, but the best deal I found was pre-booking a food tour. Thirteen stops and four hours of someone’s time really peaked my interest. I booked through http://www.thereykjavikfoodwalk.com and do not regret how many calories I consumed. I learned a lot and ate just as much. Other than that, you can walk around downtown Reykjavik in half a day. My tour guide was Marin who is a local chef who really knew the town. We had everything from lamb to langoustine and licorice to rye bread ice cream. Seeing that by the seventh course I had been up for 26 hours, I passed out shortly afterwards.


4) Another thing that definitely helped make Iceland one of the most convenient places I’ve been to is renting a car. I didn’t have to rely on others for transportation, I lived on my own schedule, and parking was INCREDIBLY convenient – a nice refresher to the reality of San Francisco. For example, by my hostel, all day parking was three U.S. dollars. ALL DAY PARKING FOR THREE DOLLARS. I was able to make my own schedule and saw what I wanted to see to make my stay really count. This was my biggest expense by far, especially with gas (or petrol as they call it), but the benefits outweighed the cons by far. My car with gas ran me about $115 a day.

And there you go! I know you’ve been intrigued by everyone’s pictures and videos (see some of mine below) so you should take the plunge and make this your next destination. I’m jealous you’ll get to go again!

San Francisco Magic: Foggy Nob Hill

I live in Nob Hill, one of 36 neighborhoods in San Francisco. I’ve been in this place for about two years now and there are some definite pros. Along Polk Street are one of a kind shops that will fulfill your thrifting, knick-knack, and consignment needs while you are fed and nourished by local eateries like Cheese Plus, Basik (for those amazing acai bowls), or Teaspoon for some boba.

(of course there are bars but I don’t think I know when the last time I roamed Polk Street bars on a weekend was…contained extrovert over here)

Nob Hill sits in the north-eastern side of San Francisco and hits the water by Fisherman’s Wharf so it’s fair game for fog. This past Sunday, the fog got the best of it.

I invited my dear friend and very recently, my neighbor, to come with me and my Nikon to go shoot because I’d much rather photograph people than things. See our day below 🙂

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San Francisco Magic – Lands End

Today was a special day. Through the magic of fog and Apple’s SD card reader for your phone, my Nikon was back in action. I missed the large, high quality, light absorbing, and isolated focusing power of my camera, and now I can access them again without a functioning computer (at the moment).

To celebrate, I took a walk to Lands End with my sister and some friends. It was foggy, dusty and windy. None of us were wearing make up, and it was that kind of cold that you think you can stand though you know the whole time it will always win, but it’s okay because you’re suffering together. I did my best to tell today’s story – I hope it translates. Enjoy 🙂

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My Grandma’s House: the best vintage store around

My maternal grandma passed away last month. Isn’t it funny how you learn so much about someone after they are gone? I wish she was able to tell me her stories herself, but aside from raising five children, immigrating to America, working her way up in a Chinese restaurant to save and buy a home in the Bay Area, she was creative and very thoughtful.

My mom and my aunt have been working on clearing out her house and cleaning out some things. Not only are there years and years family pictures, but there are these beautifully constructed blouse and culotte matching sets. The construction of these are impeccable and thoughtful with absolutely no seams frayed. Take a look at these amazing articles of clothing that are now mine thanks to my grandma (and a bonus crochet rug that my mom made 51 years ago that I’ve now added to my home!). Also ask your parents or grandparents their story. No matter what, it’s going to be breathtaking.

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