The final city of our west coast road trip! We spent the first two days at the beach and the last two days in the city. I Skyped Kristy whilst in Portland, and she was like, it feels like everyone is visiting Portland! What’s happening there? I didn’t realise that Portland was a hot destination! We had just chosen it because Kat’s parents had a beach house for us to stay at. But I’m not surprised that Portland is a hot destination; the nature scenes are gorgeous!
I’m really cautious about writing “how to” blog posts, because I never know what I’m doing so I don’t feel like I’m in any position to tell anyone how to do anything, but a “how to” on how I edit my photos has been requested, and I’ve noticed some of you ask questions about it in the comments as well. I don’t know how helpful this will be, but I hope you get something out of it!
My family and I visit Seattle almost annually, but this was the first time I had gone with just friends! Places I’ve hit up in the past were Snow Lake, Kerry Park, Cederberg Tea House, Cafe Cesura, Drive Thru Boba, Amore’ Coffee, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and Paramount Theatre for George Ezra’s concert. If you haven’t had enough of Seattle by the time you get through this blog post, feel free to click through those links!
I lived in Beijing for 8 years before I moved back to the States for college, so I know what the Internet situation is like in Beijing. Or so I thought!! When I went back to Beijing over winter break, the Internet situation was worse than I remembered. The VPNs that I used to use weren’t working, but luckily, my family had recommendations. However, the Internet connection was so weak that I couldn’t even connect to the VPNs! Forget about trying to access social media; I couldn’t even access websites that weren’t blocked by the government! Luckily WordPress wasn’t blocked, which I was surprised by. Hopefully when I go back this summer I’ll still be able to access WordPress.
Somehow I survived winter break in Beijing, with much thanks to Sheena and Ray, who I hung out with almost every day. We didn’t have the Internet to distract us, so all of us were going a bit stir-crazy, and it’s not like it’s nice to be outside in Beijing due to the pollution. What a wonderful opportunity to unplug! you might say. Well, to a certain extent, yes. But there was also legit online stuff that I had to get done that I couldn’t get done, which stressed me out. Imagine not being able to check Gmail because Google is blocked…
So I’m creating a list of things that I can do whilst in Beijing as I will be spending the rest of my summer break there, and unfortunately, this time without Sheena and Ray to keep me sane. It’s more of a summer to-do list than a summer bucket list. Actually it’s more of a summer suggestion list than a summer to-do list.
ONE // Rose lassi
I’m also loving these rose rose cakes (they also come as cookies), watermelon frosé (frozen rosé), and edible terrariums! Straying from the pink, here are recipes for black sesame sugar and toffee snickerdoodle Totoro cookies and lemon berry mascarpone tarts. For those of you looking for savoury recipes, check out honey butter lemon chicken with asparagus, grilled corn, tomato, and avocado salad with chimichurri, creamy greek pasta salad, and this brunch bruschetta bar. Funny how I find all these recipes, but all I ever make for myself is cereal or some variation of stir-fry…
TWO // Instagram created a monster
Y’all know I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. I feel like I constantly complain about it, yet here I am, still on Instagram and trying to figure it out. I mean, if I really hated it, I should just quit and shut up and start putting good vibes out into the world, right? I think I need to stop being a big baby and stop being so stubborn. I can’t avoid the fact that despite all its flaws (imho), Instagram is an influential platform, and it’s something I’m going to have to come to terms with if I believe it has the potential to support my blog. This article gives you all the information about the new algorithm and talks about how it started and how to play the game, but it’s up to you to decide what you want to do with that information. I don’t want to play the game, but I will have to develop a strategy. What kind of strategy? Well… I’m still working on that. Sometimes you have to do what you don’t want to do in order to do what you want to do. It’s all about perspective. Maxie offers some tips about how to network if you hate networking. Alexandra Franzen offers a perspective for those who love making art but despise marketing: marketing is making art. It’s all about inspiring and inviting. On the topic of inviting, she also shares some advice about how to find clients and customers: Full heart. All in.
THREE // Boost your creativity
I think some people think that creativity is either something you have or you don’t. But what those people don’t know is that while, yes, those people who just “are creative” probably did start at the beginning already having creative inclinations, but everything from then on was practise practise practise. Corina shares some creative exercises to help you boost your creativity. Megan shares an honest update about how life and business has changed for her and Mike, her husband and creative partner. It’s a learning process that requires hard work. This article from the New York Times offers some words of wisdom as well: “Don’t wait around for creativity to come to you on accident. Be creative on purpose.” As Chuck Close said, “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” On the topic of creativity, check out Wit and Delight’s creative space and A Pair and a Spare’s travel journal ideas (just in time for summer break!).
Crystalin and Natalie have this awesome thing going on where they do blog shoots for each other; one will photograph for the other, and then they’ll switch. Not only is this a reliable and efficient strategy, but it’s also a very natural one. Because they are both fashion and lifestyle bloggers, they understand each other on a creative level and know what they are looking for. Whilst I’m not a fashion or style blogger, I had a great time collaborating with local fashion and style bloggers in my city (recap here), and since then I’ve been more curious about working with models. I found this beginners guide to working with models quite helpful. Making the models feel comfortable and being able to provide direction when we’re stuck for ideas are two aspects that are important to me when I’m doing a shoot with a model, so before a shoot, I’ll browse Instagram to get posing inspiration. I like this video where Jenn Im shares her go-to Instagram poses and this Buzzfeed article where guys learn to pose like Instagram models.
I randomly found Steph whilst browsing my Instagram discovery page some time a long time ago. She “[lives] a high carb vegan life and [hopes] to inspire others to live a happy and healthy life.” What stood out to me was what a happy and beautiful soul she is. In this vlog, she said something that was so inspiring and resonated so deeply with me that I had to save it and quote it (I’ve included time stamps if you’re curious):
(1:24) In my life I’ve always only really done things for, like, a means of an end, if that makes sense. (1:39) What I’m trying to do these days, in these last, like, six months, is just to do things for the pure joy of it, not necessarily for any outcome, not for any kind of like adulting goal, but just to have some parts of my life that are just purely for enjoyment and for nothing else. (2:33) I just really encourage you guys, if there’s something that you like doing but you’ve always just thought that you shouldn’t do because you’re not gonna be, like, a professional at that or you’re not gonna do that for a living… Who cares? If you enjoy it then do it. That’s, like, what the point of life is, right? It’s just to enjoy the experiences that you’re having.
Another link that resonated deeply with me was this one about how we crowd out happiness and how we shouldn’t. I almost always crowd out my happiness. I stick it in between the miserable stuff in hopes that the miserable stuff will seem less miserable, but really all it does is crowd out happiness. It’s time to flip the script and change my perspective.
This is gonna be a long one. I considered breaking up the trip by day (which would have made five posts for five days), but I don’t think we did enough each day for a meaningful post for each one. Probably because we would always head back to our hotel mid-afternoon for a nap, and it’s really hard to leave the hotel once you go back! But to be fair, it was because we always woke up early and got a lot done in the mornings. Basically, our circadian rhythms stayed on EST despite the fact that we should have switched to PST.
Jennifer introduced this cafe to me when I stayed at her place over Memorial Day Weekend last year. As soon as she said it was a Taiwanese cafe, I knew I had to check it out. I miss Taiwanese food so much. I’m only ever in Taiwan once a year, but during those one or two weeks I’m there, I always make sure to visit the night market every night and stuff myself with as much food as I can. Not the healthiest choice, but I will allow myself to indulge in this once a year. Taiwan has the best food, and it’s all super affordable. It would be a crime not to eat it all!
– I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. –
Jane Bunker thought she’d escaped the pollution, noise, and dead bodies of the big city when she left her job as a Miami homicide detective and moved back to the idyllic town of Green Haven, Maine. But through her work as a marine insurance investigator, it appears she s left behind the bustle of the city, but not the murder.
When Jane is called to the remote Acadia Island to assess the damages from a house fire, she also finds a badly burned body in the charred rubble, and it turns out that the victim is the owner of the house, a wealthy woman who just happens to be one of the most hated women in town. As Jane investigates further, she becomes embroiled in a plot as thick as New England clam chowder, which involves convicted felons, a real estate scam, and the deep conflicts between the locals and the summer folks. On top of trying to find what might be a murderer on the loose, Jane is still living with her bonkers landlords, the Vickersons, who are delighted when Jane finds out that her brother Wally (who has Down s syndrome) is going to move in with them, after losing his assisted living arrangement. It’s all Jane can do to keep all the moving pieces together, much less figure out who would want to burn someone alive and why.
Before we get started, I have two questions for y’all:
- How have you been liking these month-in-review posts? I’m worried they’re too long and that maybe I should consider doing some subtopics separately (i.e. do monthly books separately or monthly highlights separately or idk). Also if you have any other feedback for the blog, feel free to leave it in the comments below!
- What are your opinions on Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat Stories? I know that I prefer Snapchat because it feels more personal, whereas I’m too anal about Instagram to not curate my content on that platform (even Stories). It’s just all too stressful for me. Curious to hear your thoughts.
At the same time, I’ve been really thinking about getting into Youtube, but doing that plus live Stories is… too much time spent behind the lens for my caring. On the other hand, live video is the “thing,” so I feel like I need to keep on it, whether or not I get into Youtube. Ughh. Sometimes social media is annoying.