Monday, September 26, 2011

obsessed... with our garden oasis!

I am absolutely obsessed with our garden right now (since yesterday)

but I mean... seriously obsessed.

It all started with our favorite secret garden where roo and I like to visit when we want some quiet time with great inspiration. I was looking at images from the garden the other day... and had a mini eureka moment that our garden might be big and overwhelming (physically and financially) to tackle everything at the same time..., but I can design a small area to be extra special!

So I came up with the plan that we can create a temporary partition with large planters and other movable props so that we can section the area close to the house to be a designated hangout area until we have enough resources to really tackle the whole yard!

I thought it was pretty brilliant!! I successfully convinced FB that we would have a family gardening day on Sunday! So that's what happened. Three of us went to Home Depot and managed to haul 6 large size planters (crazy heavy!!!), 3 bags of XL potting soil, 3 jasmine trees and 1 rosemary. Once I got all the props and little plants we've been growing in various sized pots, I was unstoppable.

I spent whole afternoon replanting all the plants into bigger pots, rearranging everything (and rearranging 5 more times to be perfect) and watering entire area. I was happiest I could be!

I came to the conclusion that I really love to be a potting gardener because it has so much to do with creating vignette as much as plants themselves. I suppose it would be the same when we plant flowers/trees into the ground but it's little too permanent for me. I love styling and re-styling the way plants look together in the corner just like the way I get obsessed with styling parties and details.

Now that we have invested some time and labor, I am totally crazy about our little oasis. I can spend more time outside... ! Summer has just began!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


thanks to our schedule and time management discipline, our weekend is finally starting to feel like a real weekend.

Today I spent most of the morning/afternoon hustling and busting the garage sale! It's funny because I was totally in my element setting up the sale display and being the shop owner. I got many great feedback on my display and sold most of everything from the shelf! Extra couple hundred bucks is always great for a budget conscious family!

Tomorrow we're going to have a very official 1st family gardening day! I am sooo excited! We're heading out to Home Depot to buy some rectangular planters to partition our backyard. We're using them to make a small courtyard close to our house. This way... we can focus on making the part of the yard pretty & picnic ready and let the rest to be what it is.

If we're lucky... maybe papa will make us some waffles like last weekend:)

I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Oh yes... outsourcing
It has been the buzz word in the design/business for a while. Yesterday I got to experience the effect of outsourcing in my own life and it was... (sigh)... amazing.

For the longest time, FB and I have been juggling everything house related on our own (roo care, gardening, cleaning, cooking, etc. etc.) Just taking as much as we can as time allowed.

But (as you have probably noticed from my (many) recent posts...), we both have been time deprived. Some people suggested a day care/nanny for our roo... but we're not quite ready to share this amazing privilege. But of course, we needed to make sure we could keep ourselves sane and continue delivering amazing results in what we do in our job.

So this was our solution. Let's hire a housekeeping lady.

It actually took us good few months to really go for it. I hesitated because I actually do enjoy cleaning the house. I get the feeling of devotion when I clean. After all this house has been our biggest investment in life and I like to really take care of it. I also love the zen-ness that comes from cleaning... but that usually only works when I actually have time.

So something had to give and it was either hiring a cleaning lady or giving up one morning out of my 1.5 work day that is dedicated to my shop related tasks... so that I could clean.

Yesterday was her first day. I was just getting home from San Jose as she was finishing it up. I can't tell you how happy it made me feel... to step in a (once again) a clean home. I think I told her that she saved my life.

I am just glad... that we're doing something about our time, schedule... and finding what works for us...

If you know any good time management strategy, let me know!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

sending my sister off... to a great start!

This weekend has been about my sister. My younger sister who just finished her degree in business AND found a job she really hoped for. I know she worked extra extra hard to get this job so I am really excited for her!!

Her new job required her to relocate from Southern California where all of her family and many of her friends live to the heart of Silicon Valley.

She is only few years younger than me but became independent much much earlier than I did... so it's not like this is the very first time she moves away from us... But this is the first time she moves away so far...

It's little crazy to think... one month ago, she had no idea where her future would lead her and tonight she is settled in her new home 500 miles away from where she was living.

Isn't life crazy and beautiful at the same time?
In a way, I suppose... none of us really knows how things are going to be in a month. 

Few months ago, I found this article in my forever box that had been stored away for ages... I am sure that I kept it so that I would read it again when it's meant to be.

I think this it is for my sister today:)

Cheers to your amazing new beginning, Yuko!
-from your older sis

The beauty of Uncertainty
"Doubt is not a pleasant situation, but certainty is absurd." Voltaire

People with missing children. Children without parents. People without food or water. There are many who are destroyed by not knowing what the future holds. For those of us more fortunate, the beauty of uncertainty is that it motivates us to seek certainty. We are compelled to replace doubt with conviction, to replace confusion with clarity, to be more fearful of old ideas instead of new ones.

Nothing is more disparaged than the person who is lost, hesitant, and anxious. yet the true path to fulfillment comes from those conditions. Uncertainty becomes truly beautiful when connected with the certainty that there is a better life beyond the life that is known. The artist, scientist, entrepreneur, athlete, and traveler: all embrace uncertainty as their muse. What is going to happen next is more enticing than what is happening now. The thrill of anticipation, the mystery of the unknown, the open road, mistakes as portals of discovery, the inevitability of change, purpose from chaos, questions leading to answers, failure as the adventurer, the human being who is engaged in becoming.
The beauty of uncertainty is that it prepares us to embrace life in the face of death. Allows us the strength ot deal with the freedom to choose. To willingly exchange the fear of uncertainty for the security of certainty is to admit defeat. To surrender to the fear of actually living your life. As T.S. Eliot obeserved, "where is the life we have lost in living?" Nothing moves forward except by the graing to seek certainty from uncertainty.

"For without risk there in on faith, and the greater the risk, the greater the faith." Soren Kierkegaard

Friday, September 16, 2011

Could you help us {finding place/s in South East Asia}

Speaking of travel..., we will have this awesome opportunity to really step away from our home for as long as 4 months when 2012 hits. (one of the advantage of having a husband who teaches full-time... sabbatical here we go!)

FB and I have been talking a lot about how/where/when/what about this potential adventure but nothing really concrete has been put on the stone. 

So far, we are thinking of minimum 2 months in Bali, a brief visit to Hong Kong then head to Japan for the cherry blossom season in April. But we need one more location to spend a month or so in between... for a reasonable price (and hopefully at a safe spot).

What do you think?? If you know any cool spot to have a home-away-home with 1.5 year old baby, please please let me know.  I would really appreciate your inputs!

Thank you:)


p.s. Our friends Erin & Court from Erin Hearts Court gave us a stack of Indonesian bills when we mentioned to them that we might be heading to Bali! Thank you Erin & Court. I promise we will spend it wisely:)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

1st camping trip as a family of 3

I can't believe we were in the middle of this camping trip only a week ago! So much has happened since then and it feels as if it happened million years ago...

This camping trip has brought a mixed feeling about Jalama beach... We were originally supposed to stay for two nights but unfortunately crazy wind kept blowing away through the entire 1st day and night (almost blowing the tent with us inside!!)  and never stopped when sun came up on the second morning so we wrapped our tent and left as quickly as possible when we woke up.

Definitely not as glorious and awesome as we had hoped for our first family camping trip to be...  But we did learn a few good lessons which is helping us to be more prepared for the big adventure in the new year!!

First and foremost..., it takes a lot more effort/energy to adopt to a new environment with a little one in our hand. Rocky terrain, picnic benches with sharp edges, fire pit..., etc. Camp site can be full of high-risk areas. It took us about 2 hours to figure out where we needed to watch out for...when little roo was roaming.

She also needed a "roo spot" where she can safely hang out.  She loved the little entrance on side of the tent so we set up a picnic blanket with few of her favorite toys as a kid's corner. I think it sort of worked as a quick solution; though, we will need washable toys for this situation next time!

This is another baby related topic but we definitely needed to bring a portable crib for our roo. She is not used to sleeping with us so she tossed and turned quite bit on our bed and I was chasing her with a blanket all night just to make sure that she would stay warm enough. (and naturally... I got no sleep)

On a very different note, we loved stepping away from our daily grind. This summer had a few rough spots to get through purely from our time management aspect so it was really helpful to reassess our life and obsession to "check in" with our online world.

Despite the crazy wind and all... I enjoyed walking on the beach while sun slowly sat down. Feeling the ocean breeze, seeing Shep run/swim with so much energy and simply being a part of the nature. It just felt good... you know...?

We travel to disrupt our daily routine... to discover something inspiring on the road and finding a new routine that works for us on the spot. So the trip didn't turn out as we wanted it to be... but we are still super happy that we came home little wiser and few shades darker:)

wow... our 2nd pop-up shop at Rosebowl Flea Market!

Wow... I have so much to share... but somehow I am still keeping myself really busy! Shop maintenance, doing my best in customer services, kicking-off a new class/semester at Art Center and yes... caring for roo.

But I wanted to share how things went at Rosebowl Flea Market on Sunday.

I had again my sister's help in making the day happen (yuko, you're awesome:)! We had a spot right in front of the main gate so our shop was definitely hard to miss and that was a huge win for us! The spot came with its own challenge, though.  It was a carry-in only space so we had to make many trips from our car parked in the parking lot with boxes of items, 10x10 tent, tables, etc. etc. I think I got enough work-out for the whole week! Also being "the first shop" to be spotted, some people were just not ready to purchase anything even though they liked what they saw...

The day started at 6:30-ish for us but by the time we finished our set up was 8:30-ish which was perfect since the general admission started at 9am. It was thrilling to see a flood of customers coming through the gate!

This time... the BIGGEST hit was Traveler's Notebook and BRASS collection. Some of the changes we made in the shop display really made a big difference.  Remember the visual moodboard for different ways of customizing the Traveler's Notebook accompanied with actual notebook filled with customization ideas and samples? Some customers spent good 1/2 hour looking through all the samples... trying to figure out the best way to customize their Notebook! Some customers told me, "I want to take everything you have in this sample notebook". That was some of my highlights from the day. Not because I sold more... but because I was able to share values of these items in an intuitive, easy-to-understand and inspiring way. You know... we thrive on those tings as designers:)

I heard my customers talking to her friend over the phone, "I am still stuck at the first shop (because she just came through the main gate)..., you know the really cute Japanese shop?? You have to come and take a look! You will love everything they have".  Few minutes later... two of her friends arrived and she started telling everything about all the items we had in the shop. My sister and I looked at each other and smiled:)

Also I LOVED seeing my friends who come to visit my shop! FB and I have this dream of opening an European style cafe someday where friends gather after work and hang out for a glass of wine before they head home... (that was my impression of cafes in Paris when I traveled...) and in a way... this pop-up shop is facilitating something similar. Throughout the day our friends come by to say hi and we spent some time catching up and they see other friends there and really get in talking about what they are up to... Time to time, the shop does get crazy and feels like everyone is making purchases all at the same time... but we have some down-time when I get to hang out and chat.

Meeting new customers is a big plus for having the physical shop too! I love the potential of online world and what is allowing us to explore as an online business but there is definitely something really "real" about the offline relationship we build.

Well... since we had a great outcome on last Sunday, I decided to try it again in October. 

We're trying something different and new, though!
We will be in the vintage area with a spot number: JJ05 (October 9th). I am hoping that customers will feel little more relaxed since they will have already walked through the market for a while... and can take their time looking through our items instead of being rushed to discover something more. We're not necessary selling anything vintage but I think our items have the potential of being the future of vintage:)

I also have few new ideas for the display... focusing on communicating inspiration and making it easier for everyone to understand what each item is all about!

More updates to come:)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My customers ROCK!

These days I am packing orders nightly as the shop is slowly growing... (thanks to all the great blog features:)

Because of the way I like to pack the items, it usually takes good 1-2 hours to finish all the packing each night but that's probably one of my favorite shop moment of the day. I have my special packing tools all laid out on my work station and I take my time folding, stamping and writing as I imagine the new home to which these items will be adopted. It's totally zen to me...

I am so grateful that a lot of the communication I have with my customers feel very real. There was one customer from Portugal who needed to return her purchased items... we exchanged several emails to figure out what would be the best way to process her exchange... then I got a return package with items neatly wrapped and accompanied by a little bookmark card (thank you Alexandra:). It totally reminded me of the Pen Pal day...

Then I have another customer who just came back from Japan... and brought me a list of items to check out (thank you Mark!).  Wow...

I do consider my customers as my partner in crime. I believe we do share a belief towards how we want to live our lives in some way... and that makes this "online" world so so real.

thank you everyone:)


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Prepping for the 2nd pop-up shop! This time at Rosebowl Flea Market!!

Yesterday was our true Labor Day. Laboring over projects and work. We loved it:)

Since our big Rosebowl Flea Market debut is coming up in less than a week, I knew I needed to spend a good chunk of time preparing for the day. I am making some big and small improvements to our 10x10 baum-kuchen world based on what we have learned from the last pop-up shop.

Few things we're doing differently!
  • I got a brand new shop banner!! Now everyone knows that we're baum-kuchen:)
  • Using vertical space much more effectively! 
  • More tables = more space for all the goodies
  • Small sign which communicates that we gladly accept credit cards.
  • Visual moodboard to share different ways of customizing Traveler's Notebook (3rd photo below) - I am so excited about this!!! I created three Traveler's Notebook profiles based on the feedback I have received from different customers. Each board has special artifacts, inspirational quote, and a little index of how this person would customize his or her Traveler's Notebook.
  • Special arrangement for BRASS items. - these brass goodies are so petite... I noticed that they were getting lost between everything else during the last pop-up shop. So they will have their own little display area...  hopefully it is easier for everyone to find them!
It has been really hot few days so it wasn't easy to mock-up the 10x10 space on our driveway yesterday. (I think I drank 10 cups of water in a few hours...) But it's totally worth it! I now know exactly where every item will be placed on the table. All the items are packed neatly in boxes so we can load up the car on Saturday evening and launch the shop very quickly when we get to the Rosebowl on Sunday morning.

If you are in LA, I hope you can make it!

Our shop will be located right in front of the main entrance. I have a Facebook event page if you would like to get a timely update!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

new routine - 9pm

With our roo in my life, I am all about coming up with a creative daily routine that works for us.  Trying out a new routine always feels like tackling a new challenge... and having some kind of framework and predictable schedule really allows me to be free of chaos in my head... less email check while I am with roo... and more focus on the moment.

If you are my twitter buddy, you might have noticed my new evening routine...

I am trying out 9pm cut-off for work and anything laptop related. I then take a short walk with our fluffy family member Shep then head to bed to catch up on my reading...

Since it has been such a crazy summer, I have been working late almost every night. Having my own business = there is ALWAYS something to edit, create, update, follow-up... etc. etc.

Good side? I LOVE doing it...
Bad side... I can easily get carried away and I often get this feeling that it is the "only" thing that matters at the moment. I forget to eat, sleep and take care of myself and people in my life. By the time I decide to end the night, I am so worked up that I have really difficult time falling in sleep even though I am totally exhausted.

So last few days I am forcing myself to stop at 9pm... literally peeling myself away from the laptop. Shep loves it because he has a new little routine to look forward and I love it because I am sleeping little longer (which means more likelihood of getting up early and doing laps at swimming pool in the morning) and I look forward to the next opportunity to work on my stuff!

You know the saying that it's always better to leave a party at its peak instead of waiting till it ends? Yeah... that feeling.

Naturally some routine works better than others but we would only know it by trying. So we'll see... for now I am closing my biz every night at 9pm;)

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I am so happy (and relieved) that the fiesta party for my friends Penelope and Dave's 5th Wedding Anniversary was a big success on Sunday. Lots of family, friends... great food cooked by Cucina Cosina (Alex's new venture with her Master Chef partner, Tracy), mariachi band and Pinata!!

I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity... to be a part of such a special occasion for one of my closest girlfriends Penelope and her awesome hubby Dave. We worked really hard throughout the month of July and August to brainstorm, create and execute this fun themed party!

I think that's what life is all about! To utilize our skill set and passion for people we love.

Happy 5th Anniversary, Pen & Dave!



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