Goals for 2017

Re-reading goals posts from previous years, I always tend to start off with “[current year – 1] was the busiest year yet!” In an honest effort to try to avoid writing that same statement this year, I’m closing the chapter to 2016 and its reflections and moving straight into 2017. New year, new goals. (If you’re interested, past posts from 2016, 2015, 2014 reflections, 2013 reflections linked)

2017 is the year of being intentional. I did a lot of soul searching and self exploration last year, learned a lot, and now am ready to apply it all! It’s a hefty list, but here are my 2017 goals:

(via @viacalligraphy)

eat healthier. No more daily chocolate. Less fast food (bye, McDonald’s!). Maybe try paleo or Whole30? Realizing that I only have one body in this life, it’s time to start taking better care of it.

go to yoga regularly. Given that 2016 was full of exactly 1 yoga class (completed on December 31, 2016, no less), 2017 is going to be a more productive year. I forgot how good it felt to stretch all the muscles that sit stiff during the work day. Plus, it’ll be a nice balance to the on-and-off cycling and jogging that happens in the warmer seasons.

start wedding planning! We haven’t quite decided if we’re going to have a (traditional) wedding yet, so this goal is a little gated on whenever that first decision is made. Will it be 2017? 2018? Not sure, but it’s on the list just in case!

go paddle-boarding at least 2X. Being out on the water is my favourite thing to do in the Summertime. So much paddle-boarding happened last Summer and I can’t wait to surpass that number this year! It’s a bit of a trek to get to the water though, which is where the “2X” comes into play.

continue “no tech” weekends. My partner and I pick one day of the weekend to meet up at a coffee shop and hang out without our phones. This is something new that we started in the Fall of 2016 and really enjoyed. There’s something really special about not feeling the pressures to be constantly connected to social media and enjoying the presence and full attention of whoever you’re with. This is also our reading and journaling time, which gets me excited for the next goal…

finish documenting 2017 in bullet journal form! After a year of stalking beautifully designed and pages of bullet journal layouts (the #bujo tag on IG is the best inspiration!), I’ve finally taken the plunge to start my own. I got a set of grey Moleskine cahiers and ultra fine Shapries for Xmas and will be working my way from the front to back cover. (note: the combo of these pages and Shapries isn’t the best… but I’ll go into that more in another post)

blog authentically. A lot of my unfiltered, candid thoughts were shared in the first post of 2017. This goal is almost the most important one to me because I truly felt like I lost my voice a bit on this blog (compared to my voice on other platforms) last year. Here’s to being more transparent, sharing more personal stories, and continuing to build the awesome blogging community!

budget $200/m for clothes. no carry overs! I’ve never had a self-implied clothing budget before, so this one will be a challenge. With shifting my shopping habits from cutting fast fashion to primarily thrifting and buying “investment pieces”, we’ll see how well I can stick to this budget.

send at least 5 pieces of snail mail. Because who doesn’t love a little surprise in their mailbox? I had so much fun penning and mailing holiday cards in December that I hope to keep this old school pen + paper going! Something to do during those “non tech” mornings…

organize Instax photo collection. Last year I went a little crazy printing Instax photos. Now that my fridge is covered in photos, I’ve started to sprawl out my prints on the kitchen table. Food tables are no place for photos, so I’m looking to get crafty about organizing and storing the prints this year.

practice calligraphy once a month. This should be “easy” considering my goal to complete a bullet journal and seeing all the inspiring, beautifully penned pages on Instagram. *fingers crossed*

stay positive!! Saved the best one for last!


Real talk: Blogging woes, (not) keeping up with trends, and the future of this blog

2017 has been in full swing for the last week, yet here I am dilly dallying on getting the first post of the year published. Why? I struggled (and continue to struggle) with putting my thoughts into words. Taking a break from blogging over the winter break gave me a chance to reflect on how crazy 2016 really was. Last year, I found myself struggling to balance between spending my free time blogging vs keeping up a social life vs personal time for myself. While it may be obvious for some to draw boundaries and let creative outlets (i.e. this blog) fall to the back burner, I started to feel the pressures of not wanting to get left behind in the blogging world.

moorea seal tassel necklace
(April 2016: Adventures in the city)

As a blogger who started before blogging was even seen as a plausible career, I’ve seen and felt the pressures of constantly staying on trend, making frequent posts, all whilst staying active on social media. While the balancing act of maintaining a regularly updated blog was doable between my full time jobs in the past, 2016 proved to be much harder. I was on and off the road for work almost every 2-3 weeks. When on the road, I would be at my job for 12+ hour days, falling asleep immediately after walking in the door to my hotel room. All I wanted to do when I was home was cuddle my cat, catch up with friends, spend time with my significant other, and fold warm laundry fresh out of the dryer. There would be full weekends that I would completely avoid checking my inbox or social media because I wanted to be unplugged and enjoy being present for those around me. It’s the little things that help to keep me sane and grounded.

The little time that I had set aside to blog is when I felt the pressure most. I will always be grateful for all of the sponsors and brands who choose to work with me. With bloggers on the rise, I know there are endless options of influencers to choose from and I am ecstatic when my aesthetic and voice matches that of a brand’s.

When I look back on these posts, I feel two things. One, I feel like 80% of last year’s posts were billboards for partners because at least one piece of most of the outfits were c/o. Two, in what spare time I had, I wouldn’t prioritize my blog unless I had an obligation to (i.e. had a post with c/o items that had a deadline) which is what lead to the previous point. While 2016 was the best year for collaborations, I also wish I didn’t feel the obligation to blog because of said partnerships. That pressure of keeping up with collaborations because I saw other bloggers working with them, having the latest and greatest, etc, played a big role.

women's athleisure outfit ideas
(March 2016: Kickin’ it with the cool kids)

Specifically to fashion, 2016 was a transformational year for me. Not because I was the trendiest or because I provided inspirational outfits… it’s actually the total opposite of that. One thing that I didn’t talk about on the blog at all was how I cut fast fashion in 2016. I stopped shopping at places like H&M, Forever 21, etc, because I didn’t want to (or have time to) stay up to date on the latest and greatest fashion trends. After a 2-year long process of minimizing and rebuilding my wardrobe, I had found my own groove for style and learned how to be creative without owning hundreds of pieces to mix and match between.

Instead of supporting fast fashion, I opted to thrift majority of my new closet additions (I’d say about 70% of “new” pieces were thrifted) and made investments in pricier pieces that I knew I would wear more often. I was also lucky enough to work with brands that encompassed the same values of slow fashion, or quality clothing at realistic prices, which helped to keep my clothing budget in check.

Although I added a handful of new pieces as I rebuilt my wardrobe, none of them were real showstoppers. Majority of the pieces were either elevated basics or “plain staples” (like black ankle booties) that wouldn’t turn any heads on the blog or in the real world. There were often times that I would question, “Will people keep reading this blog if I keep sharing the same pieces in my closest over and over again?” “Maybe I should buy a lace-up hoodie because that’s what everyone else seems to be wearing… even though I have no idea where I would ever wear this to in real life.”

To my surprise, even with slowing down on the pace of purchasing and the avenue I chose to buy “new” clothing from, I somehow continued to grow my readership and trust with you all. It was great to have honest conversations in the comments or on Instagram about closet woes (like this post about finding a jacket in the back of my closet that I forgot about for 2 years… it’s since been re-homed to a good friend who’s worn it more times in the last 2 months that I have in the last 2 years) and being accepting of the fact that not all bloggers’ lives and closets are perfect.

Even though I may not be the most fashion-forward style blogger, I hope to bring a new perspective in 2017. I’m excited to be more transparent about the thrift finds and budgeting that I’ve set for myself in the clothing category this year. Part of having a budget for clothes is to force myself to continue to be a conscious consumer… the other part is the fact that I’m also now cognizant of finances required to have a wedding. ;)

I also strive to be a more authentic blogger, sharing the good and the bad for purchases that I make. As a blogger, it’s easy to share praises for brands or products that I personally vouch for, but there are equal amounts of products that I buy on my own and try and don’t have such a “sunshine and rainbows” experience with, but have been historically too nervous to post a negative review about in fear of losing potential collaboration opportunities over.

Phew! If you’ve made it this far– thank you for sticking it out! This is the longest blog post I’ve written to date, but also the most transparent and vulnerable I’ve ever felt before hitting the “Publish” button. Thank you for always reading and supporting this creative passion project of mine. I can’t thank you enough for following along on the journey and am excited to keep styling and posting work that I am genuinely-from-the-bottom-of-my-heart-excited and proud to share!


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.

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