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Chau and B.J.'s notes from Space City

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I haven’t been back to San Antonio in probably more than 10+ years, but during my Spring Break, we decided on a whim to take an overnight trip. San Antonio made for the perfect destination: it was only a little over 3  hours away, the crowds were either at SXSW, Galveston, or the Houston Rodeo, and BJ has never been even though he’s lived in Texas for more than 5 years now.

We booked a room at the Hotel Havana, and it was the perfect place for a mini escape! It had beautiful natural light with skylights above the bed, Turkish rugs, boldly patterned bathroom tiles, and pops of pink, turquoise, and warm yellow in all the right places. As much as I love minimal white spaces, color will always win me over. I left inspired to find ways to make our space more relaxing, which can sometimes be an uphill battle with our limited amount of light and ever growing clutter. But I’m determined.

Below are some photos I took with my phone. Last set of pictures are from our BBQ stop in Luling on a way back home.



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Due to some issues with timing, I broke my buying trip into two separate weekend visits so that I didn’t have to take time off from work. With 4-5 trips under my belt, it has gotten a little easier (especially when BJ or Trang go too), but I often still feel like a newbie learning the ropes, being assertive, etc. I’m sure more mistakes will be made along the way, but I’ve gotten more comfortable with taking my time, trying things on, looking at details, and sticking with my instincts. I still think back to my first time buying, wondering why the heck I choose a chunky knit, almost floor length, coat for our Houston winters. I almost did a dance when we sold it – not to a Houstonian, go figure, but a lovely visitor from Germany where I’m sure it would get much more use. This time around, I had a better idea about what does well for us, which of our customers would really love a particular style, and how to filter through all the trends. It’s still hard though, specially for Fall/winter collections where I’m immediately drawn to everything wool, heavy coats (like the one above by Feral Childe), and basically anything that would only get 1-2 weeks wear in Houston. A few things that stood out to me were layering pieces like the denim crop top from Rachel Comey, a 2 piece jumper from Black Crane (the collection keeps getting better and better with new fabrics each season), and pretty prints from No.6 like the one above.

Going on two very short trips was a bit of a crazy idea, but I managed to carve out a bit of time and treat myself to non work related activities (even though my skin, sleep, and body are making me pay for it now). Before it all passes me by, I wanted to write down some of my memories: eating Shake Shack while it’s snowing around us, sitting window side at the Butcher’s Daughter watching the first snow fall do a sort of dance in the wind — it was so beautiful, randomly running into and meeting for the first time Julia from Rennes and her husband while reading at McNally’s bookstore, spending time with my brother in law Jeff, forcing myself to enjoy eating dinner alone, sleeping over with my friend Jen in the loft (the view!) her boss rented and enjoying bombolonis at Bottega Falai before our first appointments, grabbing brunch with Beth, and escaping for a bit with BJ – sometimes it’s exactly what we needed.

 

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Our weekends are now even more treasured since BJ went from freelancing full time to working at his new job. Neither of us are morning people, but we try to wake up early, put in some time at the store, and do as much as we can together (without feeling guilty if we don’t. I’m the worst). Our hours during the weekdays are so different, and one of the perks I miss from BJ’s previous looser schedule was we could sometimes meet up for lunch or just catch up for a bit in the middle of the day.

Lately, we’ve been organizing the house, loading up on plants, trying new restaurants, and taking walks to the Menil when the weathers nice. We took Igby and my sister’s new dog Missy there last weekend, and they were finally tolerating each other. All of us were so excited. We thought it would take a least a year given Igby’s diva reputation in our family. This weekend was extra special. Our friend and one of BJ’s best friends, Ben, came down for a visit. We haven’t seen each other in almost 4 years, and its sometimes sad to think about how spread out all your friends are post college. I am the worst at keeping in touch, but hopefully, this year, I can make it out to see my old friends.

We usually end our night by watching a movie or putting one on in the background while we work (Trader Joe’s popcorn tastes just like the movie theater’s. I already bought two bags in less than 1 week!). A few nights ago, we saw Enough Said again, which has to be one of my favorite movies of 2013 along with Short Term 12. As much as my night owl habits are ingrained in my DNA, I’m going to try waking up a little earlier during the week too. I really need that quiet time to focus and settle down, and if I remember, maybe add lemon water into my morning routine. Anyways, I hope everyone has a great week.

+ Igby dog watching at the Menil

+ Good Dog Houston. One of our favorite trucks has a brick and mortar now.

+ Cleaning and adding plants. Loving my gifted silk trout sachet.

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Happy New Year! We felt a little worn from traveling and family holiday functions, so we rang in the 2014 watching Frances Ha and eating pizza in bed. It was perfect. San Francisco had gorgeous weather during our trip. It was clear and sunny each day, and we were constantly soaking in the views – from our rooms, car -even pulling over to catch the sunset, walking, etc. We booked a hotel downtown and rented a car at the last minute, and it gave us a chance to explore more of the city. Some highlights:

Eat & Drink: Tartine (Still dreamin’ of their morning buns), Happy Moose Juice, Taylor Street’s Cafe, Katana-Ya, The Codmother Fish and Chips, Lers Ros Thai

Shop: Little Paper Planes & Owl Cave Books, Dog Eared Bookstore, Gravel & Gold, Mill Mercantile, Daiso ($1.50 Japanese store)

See: Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Mission District, Japantown

 

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Happy Early Christmas & Holidays. I am so ready to rest and spend time with my family. This first semester at my new school has been humbling ­– I often felt like a first year teacher adjusting to the cultural shift, expectations, and new curriculum. Luckily I get to edit and beef up my lessons during the next two weeks since my classes are only a semester long. A new start fitting for the New Year. Although it’s been hard at times, I’m happy made the change, and I look forward to creating new memories here. Some things I’m planning to do this winter break:

+ Visiting San Francisco for Christmas. I went when I was one or two years old so it’s kind of like my first time. Any favorites?
+ Working on more block prints. I’ve started testing them out on linen napkins.
+ Taking photos not for products!
+ Listening to 500 Miles on repeat. I love Carey Mulligan’s voice.
+ Slow mornings and sitting down to eat breakfast.
+ Eating more of this soup. BJ made it a few weeks ago. So good.
+ Watching movies and shows in bed. So far we’ve seen Midnight in Paris, SNL’s Christmas show, and Top Chef.
+ Catching a showing of Her

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I’ve been a fan of Baggu’s painted pouches, and a couple of weeks ago, I decided to paint a handful of pouches for M&S’s Feliz table. We’ve been planning doing painting workshop at the store , but it’s been a little too busy to set a date. So this was a nice opportunity to experiment and practice. I copied some of my sketchbook patterns onto the blue pouch, and I’m hoping to paint a few more pouches for the holidays. It’s relatively easy to free hand paint, fun, and the possibilities are endless. This was the brand I used, and a little goes a long way.

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Pausing for a bit and trying to slow things down.
Favorite breakfast right now: yogurt, berries, chia seeds, and Milk & Honey granola
Ceramics: (above) Angel Oloshove (below) Bari Ziperstein, my glazed planter, fruit bowl from Gravel and Gold

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My summer break is sadly coming to an end very soon. This month, I’ve been going to my new classroom a few times a week to get adjusted. On off days, I’m at the store, seeing family, or trying to work on my own stuff. I haven’t been able to start anything big since my plans for an “uneventful” summer changed, but I’ve started some small projects. Above are two drink recipes I illustrated for M&S ‘s blog. They are both super tasty!

 

I’ve been gathering websites and materials for the upcoming courses I’m teaching and BJ has been a huge help with finding art history related lectures and movies. Last night, we finished watching, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a beautiful documentary about the Chauvet Cave in France. I can’t recommend it enough! The glittering stalagmites, the handprints scattered through the caves, the expressive horse paintings, the 30,000+ years of history all adds to the overwhelming sense of awe. We’ve also watched the Caravaggio episode of Simon Schama’s The Power of Art, which is presented in a more passionate and dramatic fashion than most art history videos – it works though. I’ll post any other good finds we come across this summer.

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BJ loves, loves going to the movies. I feel bad, because I only feel the urge once in awhile. When I get to the theater, I’m usually glad I went, but I generally prefer watching movies at home. But after watching these trailers, I’m looking forward to catching Museum Hours and  The Spectacular Now on the big screeb. They look promising, right?