Sunday, November 28, 2010

Illustration Inspiration: Natalie Ferstendik, Rene Gruau, Panik & Martin Wollerstam

I stopped collecting stuffed animals, books and other large items in middle school because my family moved a lot, almost every year, and my mom was a moving nazi, trying to keep our personal possessions to a minimum.  This may be the reason why a lot of the things I keep are pieces of paper, pictures, postcards, letters, birthday cards--things that take up very little space.  Ironically, my closet at home is stuffed with boxes, large folders, albums and binders full of these flat things I can't get myself to get rid of (and banned my mom from touching).

This habit of collecting paper things followed me to London when I studied abroad and became worse--I was collecting everything: museum tickets, free magazines, club and gig postcards, vinyl covers, neighborhood maps, etc. as a source of creative inspiration.  Simple in idea, a sheet of paper can be a million things, look like anything and serve many purposes.  Here are a few artists I discovered--from collecting a few cards in London when I visited recently--whose illustrations are really inspiring:

1) Natalie Ferstendik - I bought this greeting card (first image) from a small store on Columbia Road because I thought the girl in the card reminded me a lot of myself.  The detail in her hair and flowers and the colors are absolutely beautiful (my scanner doesn't do the glossy card justice)

2) Rene Gruau - I picked up this exhibition reminder (first image) at the Somerset House where the Dior Illustrated Rene Gruau exhibit recently opened on November 10th

3) Panik - I found this postcard (first image) for Street Artist Panik's collection at the Pure Evil Gallery in East London

4) Martin Wollerstam - Club promoters were passing out flyers (first image, excuse the shitty scanner job) for WetYourSelf night at ultraclub Fabric

All images besides my postcards were taken from Google

Friday, November 26, 2010

Our Successful Somewhat Traditional Thanksgiving Spread

Passed out in a food coma roughly around 10 pm last night while watching Elf (again), so I assume Thanksgiving dinner was a success... or, I'll take waking up to a demolished kitchen covered with every dish, utensil, pan and pot I own as proof that it was a festive, feastful night.  Being that I am Chinese, I opted not to cook a turkey (I'm starting to turn into MY MOTHER) and just bought two whole roast ducks from Chinatown.  It made the most sense considering our dinner party was only for 7; however, the rest of our meal was rather traditional: homemade stuffing, rosemary chicken, sweet potato fries, garlic mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, corn and for dessert, PIES.  I video-chatted my siblings and family in Hawaii twice so it practically felt like I was home.  I want to thank Ben, Sean, Zack and Jason who manned the kitchen and made another Thanksgiving a success!
  Check out the 2 lb Sweet Potato from the Union Square Farmer's Market
Homemade Sweet Potato Fries with Lemon Garlic Aioli by Chef Ben
 Jason sauteing the stuffing ingredients while Sean probably stole a taste of the duck
 Can barely hold back my excitement
 After feast food coma
 Jason's Maple Creme and Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) Pie!  DELISH!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Today and every other day, I am thankful for my family, my friends, my boyfriend and the roof above my head in my finally nice-sized Brooklyn apartment (really thankful for this one).  I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday whether it is spent with family, friends or strangers.

All the best,

One of my favs, enjoy!  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Puka Plate Lunch, Now Open in Hawaii!

I'm really proud to announce that my family and a family friend have opened up a small restaurant named Puka Plate Lunch in Hawaii this week.  "Plate Lunch" is a local Hawaii dish which consists of a protein such as BBQ Chicken, Mahi Mahi Fish or Shrimp, scoops of rice and side salad.  The restaurant also serves other local favorites like Saimin (ramen with fish cake and spam) and Loco Moco (hamburger patty, sunny-side up eggs over rice and gravy) and a variety of comfort foods like Burgers, Sandwiches and Hot Dogs.  Family-runned and located in the lush Kalihi Valley across from Kalihi-Uka Elementary, Puka Plate Lunch is truly a neighborhood restaurant.  "Puka" which means "hole" in Hawaiian perfectly captures the hole-in-the-wall charm of the restaurant that's dedicated to serving quality local comfort foods.

I am sad that I could not be home for the Grand Opening this past Wednesday, but in exactly one month I get to eat all the foods that remind me of home!  Even from 5,000 miles away, I have been extremely close to the development of the restaurant name, logo, white papers and digital strategy.  You can say that Puka Plate Lunch is my first-born branding baby. 

For everyone who is in Hawaii, visit Puka Plate Lunch in Kalihi and "Like" us on Facebook!  Or check out the Full Menu, Catering Menu and Photos at

Chicken Katsu Plate
My adorable siblings Zadrian & Zoe at Puka Plate Lunch

Friday, November 19, 2010

Google's Will Change The Way We Shop

I'll admit that I don't find shopping for clothes fun anymore due to the long fitting room lines, missing sizes and overwhelming number of options, but this week, Google (of all things) is making a bold statement with the launch of, "a personalized shopping experience that lets you find and discover fashion goods, by creating your own curated boutique through a collection of boutiques curated by taste-makers--celebrities, stylists, designers and fashion bloggers".

I was curious what a fashion site built by Google would be like so I created an account today, and the first step is going through a photo style questionnaire that deciphers your personal style.  I have quite an eclectic, confusing style (NYC Black Boho Meets California Casual Retro?), so I was skeptical about BOUTIQUES being able to recommend things that I would like.  But no surprise, BOUTIQUES is awesome!  I would wear majority of the pieces recommended if I could afford it.  I am loving the Polyvore-esque personalization of your own boutique (you can upload your own images and share your style inspirations) and the coolest part is being able to browse pieces in the boutiques of popular fashion bloggers like Rumi Neely and celebrity style icons like Mary Kate (where is Rachel Bilson & Kate Bosworth?!).

BOUTIQUES is a user-friendly hub of fashion inspiration that uses runway and celebrity photos to help users guide their own personal style while seamlessly recommending pieces users may not have seen before.  Would be interesting to see how fashion labels/retailers are incorporated into the site, because I am sure the advertising platform for BOUTIQUES will awesome in its targeting capabilities.

Besides my recent trip to London's vintage flea markets and high street stores, it's been a while since I have been excited over beautiful dresses and funky heels.  BOUTIQUES reminds me of why I love fashion and shopping in the first place--reminds me that there are so many skirts, shirts, dresses, shoes and purses that scream "me".

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

AirBnB, My New Vacation Obsession

You know that feeling when your friend tells you about a website that is super awesome and it totally changes your life like finding a $100 bill on the ground--well it happened to me a few weeks ago when my friend Sam from London told me about AirBnB, a site where you can book affordable vacation rentals around the world at Bed & Breakfasts, bedrooms in people's apartments or entire houses!  

I was struggling to find cheap hotels in London and I wasn't looking to do the hostel experience (I am not a hotel snob, but I've done my share of bunk beads and communal bathrooms) so I was open to any other options.  After browsing the AirBnB site, which by the way I am in love with the clean, simple interface, I realized how beautiful some of the rentals are (a lot of the rentals look like architectural design treasures) and how much cheaper it is than staying at a hotel.  Plus, I prefer staying in a real apartment or house because it gives you a more authentic experience.

I booked my recent 9-night London trip through AirBnB and stayed at a really cute Lodge for the decent price of $58/night.  A full breakfast was included.  I absolutely loved staying at the B&B and our hosts were the kindest people ever.  Here are some photos, click to enlarge:
Like Yelp, AirBnB relies on user reviews to rate the rentals and provide others with helpful information when making a decision.  Hosts can also review the guests that stay with them; in turn, AirBnB self polices itself through crowdsourcing and everyone wins as the end product is a satisfactory experience.  PURE GENIUS (what more can you expect from a online business based in San Francisco).  Also, to encourage the expansion of its listings, users who book with AirBnB can save money off their booking by listing their own place.

This is the first time I have used a site like this, and I know HomeAway does something similar and may have even been a first-mover; however, I predict AirBnB will gain momentum and a huge fan base (probably from young professionals) due to its clean user interface, variety of artsy fartsy rentals and easy-to-book system.  If you're going on vacation or thinking about it, I highly recommend checking out the site.

I'm already eyeing a Treehouse on the Big Island Hawaii or a maybe a trip to Berlin.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lord Mayor's Fireworks Show on the Thames

I Actually Like British Food

People need to stop hating on British food, because I actually like dining at pubs with familiar British favorites like Bangers & Mash, Fish & Chips, Meat Pies, etc.  I mean anything deep-fried or in the shape of a pie or sausage tastes fine by me.  Plus, dining at a pub is awesome!  It's low-key, has a good selection of ales and ciders--it's almost like bars in America minus the fratiness.  I'm sure if I was in London longer, I would be crying for a good burger and waffle fries but for now my tummy is happy and my health probably not.  Here are some of my I'm-on-vacation-so-I-can-eat-whatever-I-want meals in London (warning not all are British fare):

Bangers & Mash and Fish & Chips with Mushy Peas at Woodin's Shades near Liverpool Street
Taking a break from the British stuff, Seafood Thai Noodle Soup at Noodle Time in Greenwich
After the HP7 craziness, a nice quiet Indian birthday dinner at Preem & Prithi on Brick Lane
Papadum & Chutney, Balti Chicken Korma, Preem Special Biryani and Garlic Nan
Nina cooks a traditional Costa Rican dinner of Corn Pancakes and Rice & Beans
Although the pancakes didn't stay in pancake form it was still very delicious
Lunch with my career guru & sweetheart Sarah at Smith of Smithfield (SOS) in Farringdon
Getting my traditional English breakfast fix at The Breakfast Club in Angel
Favorite tea in the world = English Breakfast
The Full Monty--Sausage, Bacon, Beans, Mushroom, Tomato, Black Pudding, Eggs, Toast & Homefries