2016 year end review

As 2016 came to a close this weekend, there are so many thoughts that crossed my mind. In and outside of this blog, there were the good, the bad, and not-so-pretty things that have occurred in the last 12 months. From my personal and blog fronts, here’s a quick month-by-month highlight reel of 2016:

January: As with every year, I started 2016 with a set of goals (some lofty [*cough* running once a week], some not so much). Did I make all these happen? Nope. Definitely fell off the running train once work travels picked up. Also did not finish fussing over my wardrobe, but more on that later.

February: What a fun month! Thanks to work, I had the opportunity to visit China for the first time ever. Made it to Beijing during the Chinese New Year festivities, which meant getting to walk the Great Wall without much traffic (both getting to the Wall or on the Wall itself)!

March: As part of the same trip in February, ventured over to Shanghai (so much delicious street food!) and eventually made my way over to Japan! With only a day of down time between meetings, I tried my best to visit all the touristy attractions. To this day, I still think about Japan a lot and hope to go back there soon!

April: Between work travels to visit new-to-me places in North America, and a quick weekend trip to Vancouver for fun, April was a quiet month. I focused a lot of my content with local Seattle Companies (Comeshopwithlove.com, Brooks Running, and Moorea Seal), and revisited partnerships with old favourites. In retrospect, I wish I had put aside more time to share non-partnered posts in April because looking back on this month makes me now feel like it was a rolling billboard month. Sorry friends!!

oyster picking at Hama Hama

May: One of my favourite memories of 2016 happened in May: Oyster picking! Having never been to Hama Hama before, or really having a taste for oysters, this trip taught me a lot. It was such a fun way to spend a day with friends, away from social media, and surrounded by the beautiful sunny skies, oyster smells, and yummy food. On top of the oyster goodness, May was the month of celebrating Moorea Seal’s B&M store turning 2! My, how the time flies!

June: With Summer kicking off in June, it was time to start wedding season outfit planning. Aside from all the outfit planning, there were fun personal trips planned for lounging around at a lake house, and planning the biggest event of the year: a pop up restaurant! The pop-up isn’t something I blogged much about (mainly because it was a joint event between myself and another friend), but I can’t wait to share more about it in 2017 because it’s something that I hope we get to do regularly in the future!

July: July was another busy month for work travel (so fun, but also a little crazy!). There was literally one free weekend that I was home in Seattle, which is the weekend my friend Joe and I hosted a fun pop-up restaurant in the Cap Hill neighbourhood. For one night, we offered a 3-course set menu centered around traditionally smoked meats and traditional Asian cuisine. With both of us being the children of immigrant parents, now raised and influenced in modern Western societies, this felt like the most authentic pairing of foods and flavours that we both grew up loving. Can’t wait to share more about this in the new year!

August: What a month for 3-day trips! A friend found an amazing flight deal which landed us in Alaska for a weekend. Eating through the Anchorage Weekend Market and then taking an 8 hour long tour of Denali was such a treat. As someone who grew up in a city and didn’t have easy access to the mountains or other outdoor activities, it always surprises me how excited I get about being outside and enjoying nature as I grow older.

the demure muse engagement story
September: The most exciting month of all months in 2016, hands down! Although I didn’t get around to recapping the story until November, September 2016 will always be my favourite month of this year because that’s when I said “Yes” to the next chapter with my best friend. I got to feel like Snow White for a weekend, running around Doe Bay with deer who would read with us at night, waking up in a cute little yurt – fulfilling all my glamping dreams – and hanging out without internet access with my fave guy. What a month!!

October: What is usually my favourite month of the year (mainly because of my favourite holiday, Halloween), October was bested by September. The biggest notable moment this month was being in Europe! Despite loving Halloween and being costume ready early (for once, hah!), I spent Halloween on the road with my coworkers in Germany. We spent almost 2 weeks on the road between Germany, Italy, and a few spots in between (Switzerland, Austria, etc). It was my first time to all of these countries and I loved every second of being on the road! This is the trip that taught me to be a hyper-efficient suitcase packer too.

holiday party outfit: maxi skirt and crop top

November & December: I’m lumping the last two months of the year into the same bucket because of how quickly they both seemed to zoom by! December is the month of my favourite outfit of 2016, which I wore to Bri’s annual holiday party. December is also the month that I discovered the magic of outdoor skating trails. December is also the month where I traveled the most, ringing in 6 flights in the span of 3 weeks!

Phew. Looking back, 2016 was a crazy year! Being on the road so often taught me a lot about myself as a person. I truly believe 2016 is the year I finally and wholeheartedly learned to grow comfortable in my own skin.

From the blog front, I feel like 2016 was a learning experience. This was the first year I started to branch out in partnerships and collaborations across all the platforms (blog, Instagram, Twitter, FB, etc). Although there were a lot of pros for the new blogging opportunities, the biggest con – to me – is feeling like I’ve lost some of my personal voice. Writing this year end review surprised me a bit because of the sheer number of collaboration posts vs personal posts. In previous years, my blog has been weighted much more heavily on the personal side vs partnerships, but that isn’t the case this year. I feel my voice and personal opinion coming through Instagram a lot more frequently nowadays and wish I did a better job of mirroring that across all platforms. Of course, every blogger will have a different opinion on the topic of partnerships, but I’m looking forward to 2017 and better about speaking up and out beyond partnered content.

I learned a lot about myself as an individual this year, and that extends to who I am through the lens of this blog too. I can’t thank all of you for continuing to read, support, and encourage this creative outlet of mine. The blog has really helped me to grow as a person – and professionally – and I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us!


Working off the holiday cookies

Happy holidays!! Hope you all had an amazing holiday season (for those who celebrate)! This time of year always makes me extra grateful because of all the quality time I get to spend with those who I may not get to see very often during the rest of the year. This holiday season is particularly special because of the fact that this is the first time my partner and I are splitting time between our families together. Historically, we’ve spent our Christmases separately, only reconvening in the new year to have our own little holiday party for two (or three, now, as Sushi Magoo the cat has come into our lives).

Aside from spending our days in sweatpants, eating holiday cookies, and replaying our favourite childhood video games, my favourite part has been sharing our love of winter activities with each other.

outdoor skating outfit ideas
outfit details:
Cambridge coat: c/o J.Jill (exact)
blanket scarf: Moorea Seal
leggings: Lululemon
oversized pom pom beanie: Uniqlo

outdoor skating trail
red pea coat styled for skating
We spent Christmas Eve on an outdoor skating trail, listening to the pop-country-oldies mashups of holiday tunes. Skating is something that I loved to do as a kid, but haven’t had the opportunity to practice much as an adult. As T and I tried to out-skate one another, I snagged the toe pick of my right skate in a small divet of the trail and fell straight onto my knees! The price to pay for trying to be a show-off, I guess! ;) haha!

Thinking back to the last few days with the family, I can’t help but think about all the holiday traditions we have and what new traditions T and I will start in the future. Keeping my fingers crossed for Christmas Eve skating to make the list (although I could do without the giant bruises on the knees)!


Comfy and cozy holiday traditions

Growing up as a child, there was one holiday tradition I would always look forward to. I can’t quite pin point the year it started, but I remember being excited every Christmas to get a new set of pajamas from my parents. My mom always picked out the cutest prints (she caught on to my love of cats early :) haha) and sometimes matched the sets between me and my siblings. Sadly, the pajama gifting tradition ended a few years ago. I still have all the sets my parents have gifted over the years (the ones that fit, anyway) because I’m too much of a sentimentalist.

This year, I’m excited to turn the tables around on my family for our old holiday tradition!

After being introduced to the fun, holiday themed poncho set from Karen Neuburger, I’m excited to share a few of the sets with my family. The layers make it easy to bundle up or down on winter mornings or evenings. I personally find myself snuggled up under the fleece poncho in the mornings, while sipping on tea and finishing up some light reading before getting started on my weekend errands.

While this particular set is quite festive, there are a lot of beautiful floral prints or straight solid night dresses available on the Karen Neuburger site. Best of all, if you’re in a pinch for last minute holiday gifts, a lot of these PJ sets are available with 2-day Prime shipping on Amazon too!

Huge thank you to Karen Neuburger for making such cute PJ sets and sharing one with me in exchange for this post.


Saying yes to the next chapter

Today’s post was a lot harder to write than most. Deciding whether to share such a personal story is something I waffled on for the last couple months. Even though I’ve been publicly writing this blog for over half a decade, there are still a lot of aspects of my personal life that stay private. It wasn’t until after reading the story behind Fran’s engagement and feeling that personal connection of similarities that I felt compelled to do the same. So here we are, almost two months after the event, recapping the engagement story.

the demure muse engagement story

If you read the glamping post back in October, that was the first time the engagement ring made an appearance on the blog. Glamping had been something that T and I talked about wanting to do since the early Summer. With our schedules being hard to coordinate thanks to work, we started looking into yurts within Washington state for a local, long weekend glamping trip.

By early August, we booked a weekend getaway to Doe Bay for late September. At the time, I didn’t think much of the trip since we had been on a handful of weekend adventures together (with friends) earlier in the year.

doe bay yurt

On the day of our trip, T picked me up bright and early and we drove to the ferry terminal together. With Doe Bay being on the San Juan islands, our commute took up the majority of the morning and afternoon. We checked into camping grounds, dropped our bags off in the yurt, and explored the island a bit before dinner time. We walked by the other cabins and yurts at the “resort”, stopping only to ooh and ahh at the beautiful scenery. For me, the daily grind of living the city life and feeling the need to constantly stay up to date on social media makes being off-grid and unplugging very re-energizing.

After a couple hours of exploring Doe Bay, we headed back to our yurt to rest before our dinner reservations. I was in half PJs, tucked into the blankets when the big question happened. I remember being half awake when I heard T rustling through his backpack looking for something. As he walked over to the bedside, I could tell something was off because he looked so nervous! That’s when he knelt down on one knee, said a bunch of really sweet things (that I would probably butcher trying to recall because I was having an omg-omg-is-this-really-happening-right-now moment) and he asked me to be his partner in life.

Right after it all happened, we couldn’t stop smiling and laughing together, constantly asking, “Is this real life? Did this just happen?!?!” Looking back, I love how very low key and true to “us” the moment felt. Having never fantasized about this day, I had no expectations to benchmark against. Except for maybe the fact I wish I wasn’t in PJs and looking like a haggard granny at the exact moment! ;) haha! And I guess it wouldn’t have hurt to have freshly painted nails for a ring pic… but we were glamping, after all.

With the engagement happening on the first day of our weekend of off-grid glamping, we weren’t able to share the news with our family and friends until a few days later. In hindsight, I’m really glad it happened this way. Having time to let it all soak in gave us time to bask in the excitement together before making the rounds of phone calls. Calling my parents and sharing the news with them will be a phone call I never forget! My mom was so cute and spilled the beans on being in on the plan the whole time. As my siblings were next in line for the news, they revealed they knew it was coming too! (How was he so sneaky?? I’ll never know.)

Even though it’s been over two months since the engagement, no plans have been made for a wedding. Since all of our family and friends are scattered across the US and Canada, the first step would be picking a city for the big day. With having to schedule Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday plans immediately following the engagement, we’re holding off on making any more big plans or decisions until the new year.

Until then, I’m excited to start planning all the peripherals of a wedding! While I am super excited about wedding-related decisions being made next year, this blog will probably only get a sprinkling of behind-the-scenes to avoid turning into a full-on wedding blog.


His & Hers: Matching without being obvious

Happy (American) Thanksgiving, y’all! T’is the season for spending time with your loved ones and fretting over what to buy for them for the holidays, am I right? This year, I vouched to start my holiday shopping extra early. I’m pretty much done shopping for my family and close friends, with just a couple people left on the list. One of the hardest people to shop for is my significant other.

I haven’t been very open on this blog about my personal life, but I’ve had a small goal for 2016 to start being a bit less of a closed book. If you’ve ever been curious about who has been shooting the outfits on this blog for the last couple years, it would be my fiance! He likes to stay behind the scenes, but I thought we’d put him in the spotlight in today’s post about his & hers outfits.

Brooks Heritage Women's Vanguard
outfit details:
wool & leather jacket: Calvin Klein (similar)
mock-turtleneck: Banana Republic (exact)
jeans: AG Jeans (exact, on sale at Shopbop this week!)
Vanguard sneakers: c/o Brooks (exact)
oversized pom pom beanie: Uniqlo (old)

Brooks Heritage Women's Vanguard, black & white palette
Brooks Heritage Men's Chariot
outfit details:
knitted cardigan: Banana Republic (similar)
v-neck tee: H&M (exact)
484 chinos: J.Crew (exact)
Chariot sneakers: c/o Brooks (exact)

As you might be able to tell from the photos above, we’re quite similar in the way we dress. We both have neutral colour palettes, favouring layering of basics to bold statement pieces. I often laugh whenever we meet up for date nights and realize that we’re wearing almost-identical-but-not-exactly-the-same outfits.

Don’t get me wrong– I love it when we’re matching! (I might even encourage him to do it, at times ;) haha!) But I also don’t think we need to be head-to-toe in the exact same pieces; #twinningstatus, if you will. This is why I love the Brooks Heritage line so much. The sneakers we’ve both styled in this post are from the most current F/W 2016 line, but I’m wearing the Vanguard style, and he in the Chariot style. While they’re similar, we definitely do not looking like the twinning emoji!

The mix of materials to modernize the classic styles make these shoes perfect for everyday wear. This ultimately means there are more chances of us matching than not… at least in the shoe department! If you’re stumped for gift ideas for a significant other this year, check out the other Brooks Heritage options linked below!

More Brooks Heritage Vanguard & Chariot palette options:

P.S. If you’re not following me on Instagram, you might want to start today! There’s a special giveaway going live this weekend that may or may not have something to do with the gorgeous shoes in today’s post. *hint hint, wink wink*

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