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Staples for a Minimalist

Wearing the same things over and over again can be a good thing! When I post “trendy” outfits, I don’t want to be under the impression that my readers should go out and purchase a bunch of crap that they’ll only wear once, or crap that some blogger told them they “need” in order to be stylish. That is not my intention. My intention is to illustrate the many ways people can style the wardrobe that they already have, and maybe getting creative when it comes to finding a variety of ways to wear the same blouse, or pair of jeans, or anything, really.

I came across this documentary on Netflix about fast fashion called The True Cost, and it changed me, or at least, gave me perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I’m into Fashion and I think it’s fun to style outfits, or find a new way to wear something ordinary, but I’m more aware of how I shop, the designer I choose to shop from, and where my clothes are being made, how it’s made, the impact on the environment etc. Now, rather than buying things for the sake of buying, I look through my closet to see what I already have, I donate my clothes or resell to consignment/thrift stores, and I check second used stores for items I may want instead of buying them new. If I decide to buy them new, I am much more thoughtful about my purchase. In the end, I found that I am saving money, less cluttered, need and want less and have quality items over a large quantity of clothes I’ve only worn a handful of times.

Here is a minimalist outfit that I wore yesterday. Hope this gives you inspiration to reuse that oversized collared shirt in your closet, or whatever else it is you decide to wear everyday. My minimalist wardrobe staple? v necks, a good pair of jeans, sneakers and a chelsea boot, and the ability to re-wear these things over and over again. 🙂

Minimalist Wardrobe Inspo:

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The True Cost Trailer http://truecostmovie.com/ 

Christine’s Uniform Vlog (inspiration)

Stay tuned for my blog post this weekend! I’m attempting to make a Gallery Wall in my living room. Any art or photo ideas? Any ideas on where to get great frames? Leave a comment below.

 

Cheers,

Court

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S-Town Podcast Overview

If you are new to S-Town, turn away now before I’m held accountable for any spoilers! I don’t normally write “reviews” or anything of the sort, on anything…ever, but this podcast was so captivating that I was compelled to write an open discussion, on all aspects of this production: the story, the narrator, the themes, the mystery, and even the logo and website design for this podcast! I couldn’t have been more intrigued from the start.

The Story & The Mystery:  

(A few paragraphs of this synopsis were paraphrased on Rebecca Nicholson’s review and can be found here:  https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/apr/03/s-town-review-its-hard-to-recall-a-more-touching-devastating-podcast-serial-john-b-mclemore-brian-reed)

S-Town, abbreviated for “Shit Town,” is produced by the same creators of Serial and This American Life. S-Town is about a man named  John B McLemore, an articulate and at times crass man, who writes to Brian Reed, co-producer of This American Life, asking Brian to investigate an alleged murder that seems to have been “covered up” by the Authorities in his hometown in Bibb County, Alabama, or “Shit Town,” as John put it.

What starts out as a “Whodunnit,” crime-solving story, evolves into an unexpected journey gathered around the life of John McLemore himself. A year after John writes to Brian, the two connect through various phone calls. Finally, many months after their frequent calls, Brian agrees to meet John in Shit Town, Alabama (officially known as Woodstock) for further investigation.

John takes him on a tour of his home, where he has built a maze so complex he gets lost in it himself! John tells Brian that he memorized the coordinates of his property, which he explains, will be the “only maze you will find in Google Maps, in Bibb County.” The way Brian explains this Labyrinth is pretty remarkable, and extremely… well- memorizing. He paints his listeners a picture of lush hedges soon to reach maturity and flower beds of every color you could conjure. I did a quick Google Search and this is what I presume to be John’s maze.

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John is charismatic, chatty, intellectual and largely misanthropic. At many times, he is outright pessimistic and depressing; he seems to despise the town he feels he didn’t do enough to escape and will go on rants about the town’s corruption.–pause here– When I would listen to John complain about Shit Town, I was sad for him, but then impatient and annoyed. I couldn’t help but wonder why he didn’t leave the town if he hated it so much. I learned that Shit Town, though awful to John, was Home nonetheless, and has been Home to him all his life. I chalked it up to, “He couldn’t leave because a part of him didn’t want to leave.”

John is a horologist –Horology is the scientific study of time. Specifically, horology involves the measurement of time and the making of clocks. He was renowned for his clock-making skills, not just in Alabama, but far beyond the southern states and in the UK. He is a voracious reader. He is kind, he is cruel, angry and resigned. He sounds paranoid, at times, playful, and others, depressed. Later, there’s a hypothesis as to why, though like much in this story, it is never quite resolved, which is sort of the beauty that this podcast offers. You’re sort of left with your own resolve, your own thoughts on how this story ends, if there is even an ending.

At the end of the second episode, Brian learns that John has taken his own life. It’s devastating. Brian’s distress at the loss of the man who had become his friend is stark and upsetting. It’s a rift in the expected narrative and a genuine shock to us as listeners. This was supposed to be about the police officer accused of sexually assaulting women, or the cover-up of a murder by a rich man’s son, some real life version of True Detective. But John’s death sets the stories of S-Town on a wider stage, and asks bigger questions, and turns this into a deep exploration of empathy and understanding. John’s life, which he seems to say has been stuck in this Shit Town, turns out to be so rich that unpacking it over seven episodes can only begin to do it justice. It might, one hopes, make its listeners consider the untold stories behind more people than John B McLemore at least, according to Rebecca Nicholson, who reviewed this podcast.

I was moved after listening to all 7 chapters of this podcast. I felt for John, and was saddened by the news of his suicide, but also found myself relieved when I concluded that he had methodically calculated when his life was “fulfilled,” according to his Manifesto on how much time one has to “Live a Meaningful Life.” By the end of the first Episode, I knew that John was clinically depressed, but by the time Chapter 7 had unraveled, I arrived at a separate thought entirely. Yes, John was clinically depressed, but I think he was depressed because he had been poisoned by Mercury, which can cause sudden death, illnesses, nausea, depression, bipolar disorder, mood swings, and Gingivitis. Mercury exposure was very common amongst Hatters and Clock Makers in the 1800s, hence the coined term, Mad Hatter’s Disease. Many Clock Makers in the 1800s practiced the art of Fire Gilding- the process in which Mercury and Gold are mixed together to create a smooth, Golden metallic finish on the surface of many clocks. Nobody in this day and age is known to Fire Guild anymore because of its obvious health hazards. Nobody, except John McLemore, who apparently did this to many clocks in his lifetime, and without any masks, suits or other forms of safety precaution. So, you see where this leads… right? yes, his suicide (at least that’s what I think).

Narrator & Themes: 

Brian Reed couldn’t have been a more perfect and well suited Narrator for this podcast. I often found myself impressed with his ability to share John’s story, even well after  John’s life. I think it was also partly due to Brian’s ability to interact with the characters in this story with out bias, or judgement, and maybe his ability to befriend such a character as John himself.

Rebecca writes that ‘S-Town is particularly good at navigating subtleties and grey areas. In a digital age that rewards polemics, it stands out even more in its refusal to judge anyone, instead presenting people in all their contradictory messiness, including John himself. We meet racists, we meet thieves, we hear about violence and abuse and loss. These things can be hard to hear, but everyone involved is treated as a person. At times, the most trivial of anecdotes can unravel into something unbearably poignant, such as John’s embrace of Annie Proulx’s short story Brokeback Mountain, which he comes to call “the grief manual”.’ I would agree.

I was dealt with discomfort whenever John crassly identified himself as a Queer, who could never disclose that openly in Woodstock because “that kinda thing would get ya killed,” or when a few of John’s friends casually referred to Black people by the N-Word. I was fascinated by my own surprise to discover that John was a sheer genius, despite my own preconceived ideas of him based on his background, social class, and dare I say, his Southern Twang, or according to John, “Redneck” accent. I’m found guilty, kneeling at the whims of my own racial stereotypes. Me–a pacific islander, Asian-American Woman, so often looking at the world through the lens of a minority, indeed found guilty viewing John the way the World so often viewed me. 

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The Logo, a tribute to John B. McLemore: 

After everything I’ve already discussed in this blog post, it may seem silly of me to bring up my fascination for this Podcast’s website design, but I’ll do it anyways. The website design was so intricately created, and paid homage to John, the mad scientist, the eccentric horologist, and the friend we didn’t expect to connect with as listeners.

The Roses-frequently discussed as favorite parts of John’s property

The Labyrinth-another one of John’s creations, where he would spend many nights wandering and pondering Climate Change, and the future of Bibb County

The Gears- symbolizing John’s “purpose” for so many years, the Gears represent measurements of time, the study of clocks, and John’s fascination with creating a meaningful life with the time that he had so obsessively calculated, as well as the admiration of the gears themselves.

Thank you, Brian Reed, for an amazing podcast. I feel like someone whose favorite Netflix series just officially ended. To some extent that’s exactly what happened.

Thoughts? Discussion? Reply below!

Cheers,

Court

Design Inspo: German Schmear

I’m always inspired by old buildings and modern home designs. I’m inspired even more when the two meet each other halfway, incorporated into one building, particularly in a home.

One of my favorite exterior designs is this technique called the German Schmear. Side note- I said that to a friend once, and she responded with “WTF, this sounds sexual.” For those of you who don’t know what German Schmear is, it is not a sex position, or slang for any sexual act in contrary to my friend’s belief. German Schmear is a technique used on modern home designs, cafes, and other types of buildings to restore/recreate the “worn down” aesthetic of exterior redbrick.

There are several ways to brighten up brick walls, but I love the uneven texture and exposing some of the redbrick. German Schmear as an example, uses mortar as a coating. The contractor, or designer would then scrape/wipe off some of the mortar to achieve a more rugged, rustic aesthetic. Here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate redbrick and the German Schmear technique. (A common look in Atherton and Menlo Park, at least from my days living there as a college student.) 1d9b886b945e05a492332200b11a4f6d6c8244897d9231421d3ee135b9406c4d36f178406fc80797aece48341052e850063c0749bcf517b27656c2b5d16362ec83f60d80805b86bd9df85f671de4358cdb5d3ba7df33db882cd0d110e9d5c4dde56508e20ae050537a01aa7d7eaf51ee

Wellness & Cupping

Aloha Coconuts!

I posted on Instagram this morning that I would share with all of you my cupping experience. If you don’t have time to read this today, there is one thing you should take away from this blog post- I HIGHLY RECOMMEND CUPPING.

My Acupuncturist is Jake Huang. I have not had acupuncture yet, but I will try that next in addition to cupping therapy. You can learn more about Jake and his practice in this short video below.

1. What made you try cupping?

Before cupping, I wanted to try acupuncture for the longest. High blood pressure seems to run in my family. My Aunty was diagnosed with high blood pressure several years ago, and her doctor placed her on a regimen that consisted of small doses of medication to manage her blood pressure. While this wasn’t terrible, my aunt felt like she could find a way to alleviate her high blood pressure all together in a more holistic way.

In addition to daily exercise, which wasn’t difficult since my aunt is extremely active and athletic, she started to practice Yoga and Meditation. In parallel, she also saw an Acupuncturist regularly. She swore by her experience, and was completely off of her BP medication.

The first time I heard of Cupping, was when an old college teammate and dear friend, Nicole Yap, moved to China. While her and her boyfriend Jamey traveled quite a bit through out the south east of Asia, they found themselves happy and content in (insert the name of the city), China. I see pictures of them traveling all the time, and I always have to reconsider my career and moving to live abroad for a few years. Anyways- I saw a blog post of her cupping treatment that she received on her hitting shoulder. Volleyball isn’t extremely abrasive or detrimental to your body, but like any sport, you do it long enough and it can be a lot of wear and tear. She swore by it, so I knew one day I’d have to give it a try. The problem is that in the US, everything costs $. Holistic practices in CA can be expensive unless you have insurance that covers it. If you’re a small business owner, you’re likely paying out of pocket for everything. For the longest time, I couldn’t convince myself that the cost was worth it. And then the neck pains began.

Working in an office environment can take a tole on your body. I have such an active lifestyle, that going from moving every day, to sitting in a desk for 8 hours, really caused stiffness in my back, neck and shoulders. My coworker saw an acupuncturist for the same problem and they had offered cupping in the same session. She swore by it, once again, so I had to give it a try. When 2017 came around, we were lucky enough to learn that our insurance was now covering holistic practices including Acupuncture and half the copay for Cupping. At this point, it was a no brainer.

2. Did it hurt?

NO. This doesn’t hurt a bit. In fact, it was relaxing. The way my Acupuncturist described it was “It’ll feel like your back is being kissed by a giant octopus.”

3. How long do the dark circles last?

This depends on how dark the circles are, but typically, the suction cup marks go away after a week or less. For me, I had quite a few blockages in my upper back, kidneys, and my hitting shoulder (go figure), so mine may take a week to a week and a half to recover. At that point, when I’m healed, I will see my doc for another session.

4. Any side effects? How did you feel afterward?

I felt amazing; re-energized even. I was extremely thirsty the rest of the night. We had a few people over to watch the fights, and I couldn’t stop drinking water and using the bathroom. I think my body was flushing out toxins and clearing out the “blockages” that Jake kept talking to me about. Learning about my body’s Medians is extremely fascinating. I even learned that the reason why my feet are always cold, is due to the fact that I have some blockages to my Kidneys. (who knows how severe, or what’s causing that. I would need a few more treatments to discover) Overall, I am healthy, and this is just another way to pay attention to my well being.

taken Right After the Cupping session

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Taken later that night after an epsom salt bathcuppingday2

Taken this morning (Day 1) after cupping. Tons of dark circles or blocked chi! cuppingday2am2017-03-04-23-22-06

As promised, I also said I would include the recipe to my green smoothie. (I’m trying this one out and playing around with the ingredients)

 

Green Smoothie Ingredients:

2 cups of baby kale

1 small Persian cucumber (cut into small circles)

8oz of organic Apple Juice (Trader Joe’s, pasteurized) Make sure it isn’t filtered with water, and no added sugar!

3 or 4 frozen mango chunks

2 frozen peaches greensmoothie

Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday as much as I am, even though it’s raining! Light some candles, cozy up in blankets, and have some tea!

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I’m thinking of making this wall a gallery wall- thoughts?  ( wall behind couch) don’t mind the yoga mat. This area turns into my studio when Coleman is studying in the other room.

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Frothy Coffee

Friday’s are one of my favorite days of the week aside from the weekend. I get to work out of the cutest little coffee shop in San Jose. I’m not going to tell anyone what it’s called for now, even though that would promote their business, because it’s the quaintest little gem and I want to keep it to myself for the time being. They make latte’s look beautiful, and it’s rich and smooth and perfectly fulfills my caffein deprivation on those early AM work calls. Not to mention it’s a total change of scenery, which I need after a long work week.

Did I just write a blog about coffee? No- not sure what this blog post is supposed to be yet. I suppose it’s about the two things inspiring me these days; really good coffee to get the day started, and dancing for therapeutic purposes. This is the first video of me dancing I’ve ever posted. My dance instructor invited a few friends to take a contemporary class, which I loved! Almost more than ballet! It’s been 14 years since my last contemporary class, but I’m surprised yet again how much my body remembers.

I have a few deadlines to get done for work, but coffee and dance will get me through it all. What’s getting you through your stressful week?

 

Cheers,

Koto

The Graphic Tee: lazy style for the office

Excuse the filter issues with my photos here. It was done by the courtesy of my iPhone 6s and my coworker. 🙂

I thought it would be a great opportunity to show you what an appropriate “lazy” outfit looks like at the office.  Granted, if you’re company is extremely corporate, this shit might not fly, but- this is my favorite way to look polished and still rock my favorite edgy, oddly faded, definitely washed out but still cool, graphic tees. That was a mouthful.

  1. So, let me break this down. For starters, you could tuck your t shirt into a midi lengthed pencil skirt like I’ve done here. Something that has detail at the waist or perhaps a zipper, or unique shape would help add sophistication to your look.  (I’ve paired Bob Dylan with my fave skirt from Vici)

2. Normally, pending the length, I would recommend a killer pair of heels, that are comfortable to wear. Comfort is key. But, because of all the dancing I’ve been doing and the somewhat cold weather in California, I have ugly toes and opted for my cool boots with a slight heel. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the pattern on these bad boys. So unique and still work appropriate.

3. Add a Statement Necklace like I’ve done here. No necklace? no problem! Pair this look with skinny pants and a blazer and you can conquer this outfit.

KEY TIP: BLAZERS SAVE THE DAY

If you don’t own big pieces of jewelry, or if your style is simplistic or more on the minimalist side, focus on key pieces that are versatile and appropriate for any occasion. When I think through my wardrobe, I tend to ask myself if there are items that I can transform from weekend wear, to going out wear, to office wear, all in one piece. The usual go to life saver ends up being a vest or a jacket of some sort. For the office and even out of drinks, Blazers have made looking “polished” a no brainer.

I DESPISE traditional suits for women. I’m 24 for fucks sake; why should I have to dress in pants and collared shirts that aren’t flattering and do nothing to express my style or personality?! Grab a blazer, and you can transform a pair of jeans and an old graphic tee to a chic outfit that you can wear to work!

KEY TIP: FIND A FOCAL PIECE THAT TIES IT ALL TOGETHER aka. A great pair of shoes if possible.

For a more sophisticated and polished look, throw on a great pair of shoes that you can wear all day. Pointed toe flats, or a pair of heels makes everything in your closet practically transitional. Here are a few of my favorite ways to polish the “lazy outfit” look.

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What are your favorite ways to rock this look? Have something in your closet you don’t know how to style? Leave a comment below, or write me a note and I’ll be happy to post about it.

 

Cheers!

The Gallery (Indie GoGo Fundraiser)

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Aloha Coconuts!

Thanks for stopping by. Today, I wanted to do a quick shout out to a Menehune Alumni doing big things with his talent. Mitchel is starting his IndieGoGo fundraiser to finish his latest production, The Gallery: an Anthology, produced and directed by Mitchel Viernes, founder of Intertainment Studios.  Please click on the photo above to check out his trailer and learn more on how to support this beautiful work of art.

For more of Mitchel’s work, you can check out his film reels on Youtube: Click Here

OR see the latest on greatest on Vimeo. Click Here

You can follow iNtertainment Studios on Vimeo. Mitchel currently resides in Honolulu, Hawaii and you can donate to his GoGo fund to follow his current project. I for one, am excited to see the final cut!

Cheers!

Chasing Light with Friends

As promised, Jiana and I ran to the woods the first chance we got. The sun was out for the first time all week and we were so excited to test out the new lens on my Cannon. It’s fun to express art in different ways other than dance. I love to dress up with friends and take these beautiful images! Portraiture is an incredibly moving thing and so fun and silly all at the same time! There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a camera, dressing up, and allowing yourself to feel beautiful.

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An Adult Ballerina

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Currently cranky because it’s been a whole week without dance, or any “me” time, even with Coleman in Seattle. The work commute and coaching has had me spinning the past couple of days, but not in pirouette, which is why I’m so bummed. Not making class sucks.

Also, being an “adult ballerina,” is extremely vulnerable. People mock and laugh all the time like “it’s cute,” to relive my five year old self. It’s really not the case at all. Ballet was my first craft, and it was an art form I didn’t have the luxury of continuing along with volleyball. I think it’s important to break comfort zones and try new things. Dance has not only been therapeutic for me, but it allows me to connect my mind and body together with TONS of focus. I’m present when I dance, and progress, although minute, is extremely rewarding. In any case, tomorrow is the first day predicted without rain, so fingers crossed.

I’m taking my camera and chasing light in Woodside with Jiana, so that project will be up after editing! stay tuned.

Cheers!

Digital Influence

Just over a year ago I started a blog on fashion and when I rebranded to a lifestyle and adventure blog on my life, I had no idea if my content would reach anyone. I’m so thankful to uncover that I now have 861 blog followers/subscriptions. Thank you all for reading!

Side note and other inspirations: This week’s gloomy weather in the Bay Area has me looking forward to Spring. Jiana and I are taking advantage of the sunny weather this weekend so look out for a fun photoshoot that will be posted on the blog!

I’ve been dying to get back to my camera so this should be fun.