cait +tiff


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T / happy monday / the power of the press

I’ve been thinking a lot about how design and social activism intersect. It was a way for those early designers who smelled like patchouli to push forward peace, love and the anti-war movement during the 60s and 70s.  German and Swiss designers in post-War Europe embraced minimalism because they thought it was a way to transmit messages without the ideological crazy of their forebears.  Okay.  History lesson over.  Basically – I care about this topic again because a lot of money is being made from it right now, and in all the different ways.  And everyone wants a Future is Female T-shirt.  Some of it goes back to the right places.  Others, not so much (I see you Forever 21).  So here comes a cool lady whose company I’ve been watching for over the past year.  Pamela Bell is a self-taught screen printer who’s Prinkshop is killing it, especially in these dark days.  This biz is rooted in combining the perfect typeface with social activism.  So naturally, I was smitten.  And it all goes back to the causes we all support.

I live in a country that’s just re-discovering the power of voice.  And design is the most subversive voice of all.  So Ii I had all the time and money, there’d be screen printing stuffs coming this way.  Except I don’t really.  But at least I can scroll through and tell you all about it.  


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C/ My Cousin Wrote This

virg

My cousin, Rick, is one of the most eloquent people I have ever met. After the racist garbage in Charlottesville last weekend, he shared this beautiful piece, and it’s one of the best things I have read on the events. I have been stumbling over how to be angry in a productive way all week, these words have helped me to organize the tornado in my brain. There is a lot of work to do.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

There’s so much to say, and at the moment, I’m stuck on this:

One of the strategies the alt-right neonazi white supremacist terrorists use all the time is this: they claim that what they’re doing is legally protected Free Speech, and then they deliberately push their “speech” into a territory that is NOT legally protected — and then they sit back and revel in the confusion.

Forming a mob with guns, torches, and pepper spray, then attacking people in public isn’t legally protected “Free Speech.” Pointing guns at people isn’t “Free Speech”. Neither are threats and intimidation, or harrassment of individuals (online and in public speeches made on college campuses). And they know all this.

But, like internet trolls (in fact many of them are proud, well-practiced internet trolls), they aren’t trying to make coherent arguments for principles (like Free Speech, or the value of statues of Robert E. Lee) — they’re just trying to make people angry, frustrated, and exhausted, and thereby sow chaos and misery among their opponents. They’re quite clear in their manifestos that this is a deliberate strategy of theirs.

They are TRYING to get us to look upon our cherished ideals, including Freedom of Speech, with dismay and despair. They LOVE the fact that their deliberate misuse of the concept of Free Speech causes us to argue with each other angrily and endlessly. And by muddying the waters so deliberately, they obscure the fact that they obviously have never wanted to “peaceably assemble”. These people would have literally no idea what to do at a peaceful assembly. They want to incite chaos, violence, and race riots — with weapons and illegal actions.

There is no reason we should be having principled arguments among ourselves about whether they should be allowed to have a “peaceful march”. They should definitely be allowed to have a peaceful march — in a parallel universe where one of their marches might ever actually be peaceful. In this universe, we can see with our own eyes that they don’t want a peaceful march, and they aren’t going to have a peaceful march. (Would they be willing to have a peaceful march where they couldn’t bring guns and torches and shields and pepper spray — like every peaceful march I’ve ever been to? Pretty sure we know how that conversation would play out.)

Because, as they well know, in the world of actual Free Speech, where ideas are discussed and discredited and discarded, they lost. They lost a while ago. The vast majority of the world hates and mocks their “ideas”. (It’s almost cute how even when they attend an openly nazi rally, they STILL can’t bring themselves to speak to the press about their actual “ideas” — they have to claim to be motivated by things like “History” and “European Culture”, two subjects they clearly have no interest in or knowledge of.) They CAN’T win arguments (on the internet or anywhere else) on the strength of their “ideas”, so they troll instead. They CAN’T get the attention they want or attain any of their other loathsome goals with a peaceful march, so they have a violent one instead.

I myself love *actual* Freedom of Speech. I hate censorship of all kinds. I also have no patience for people who use “Freedom of Speech” as a cover for their various repulsive non-speech behaviors. I think it’s absolutely great that GoDaddy is kicking dailystomachchurner off their server — because congratulating your readers on a murder one of them committed is clearly an incitement to violence and not legally protected speech. I also think it’s great that people have decided, through speaking freely to their elected representatives, that they don’t want statues of Robert E. Lee or confederate flags in their public spaces. Sorry, alt-white trolls, you lost that argument.

Wanna protest? Fine! Protest! Have a sit in, lock arms, sing songs about Robert E. Lee (do you know any?), lie down in front of the statue when the crane comes to knock it over, get arrested, go to court, make a beautiful emotional speech, try to win public approval for your side… oh right, you’re not going to do any of those things, because taking “principled stands” about Robert E. Lee isn’t what you’re really about (what you’re really about is… I’ll say it in a minute). And if you did take such a “principled stand”, it wouldn’t work, because we’ve already heard your arguments and decided they pretty much suck. That’s too bad for you. It doesn’t mean you get to threaten and kill people instead.

Because, alt-white trolls, that IS what you’re really about. You’re really about racism, which for you is about threatening and killing (and in various ways controlling) people who you think are inferior to you (though frankly everyone can see that you’re, to put it mildly, not superior to anybody). In your fantasies, you will have the right to do those things openly some day, but in the real world you won’t, so you retreat into your self-created Stupid Zone of offensive words and pictures, a zone you deliberately make stupider by the minute, where you can sort of pretend that you sort of DO have the right to sort-of-Free-Speech-your-way-into-doing-something-or-other — and then you crawl back briefly into the light of actual reality and you do something like what we saw last weekend. Which is not your right, and never will be.

White people (I am one) have an absolute responsibility to speak out (and take actions) against these alt-right neonazi white-supremacist terrorists and everything they do, and every way that racism (the alt-right’s racism and others’ racism and our own racism) still permeates this society. We don’t have any responsibility to “engage” with their “ideas” because that conversation is over. Getting sucked into a debate about Freedom of Speech is falling for one of their tricks. Freedom of Speech is great, and what they’re doing isn’t it. End of this particular tirade.

 


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humpjump

hj

Tiff is obsessing about stationary and ordered a bunch of stuff from the US that will probably arrive in Cambodia (because infinitely slow snail mail) around Christmas time.  Yay surprises! Cait is pulling out all the flannel she owns because it has dipped below 75 in LA, and trying not to pull all of her hair out in reaction to the state of the country.

Way too cool.  Though I’d probably get freaked out if I saw these floating around.

The biz behind the myth!  But I still think French girls are way cool.

Mindy Kaling’s house – swoon!

All the pretty fonts. 

Really looking forward to this one piece suit I’m getting this weekend!! (yay visitors)

 


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T / happy monday /

Artwork Credit: Print Magazine

Confession. I have been a font (sorry…typeface) nerd since I was tiny.  Yes.  High school publications were involved.  I won’t say which one because that will take the geek levels through the roof.  So when this little doco showed up on my daily blog roll, I may or may not have ecstatically clicked.  I also may have gotten equally excited about this font around 1995 too.  So if you’re the type of person who also get excited about fonts, this tiny video is adorable.  And if you feel like a deeper diver, this one (of course) and absolutely this one (the envy of all design careers!).


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T / not just temples – siem reap part two.

Here’s the thing about Siem Reap.  It’s not just temples.  Yeah, I know that 700 year old World Heritage Site there, emblematic of Khmer heritage and culture.  But you can still celebrate that and avoid waking up at 4am and getting clocked in the head with a selfie stick mounted with an iPad.  And for those of us who’ve been there more times than I can count, it’s also not a shabby place for a quick weekend getaway (see last week!).  Siem Reap is a base for so many artisans and innovators.  Basically, it’s where the cool kids are at, making gorgeous and delicious things and taking Khmer art and cuisine beyond anything.

I kept hearing from friends it was the place to be.  And many of these places are in Kandal Village.  No, not an actual village.  But a couple of blocks that you can eat and shop the heck out of.  Plus, these guys are organized like a tiny mafia of entrepreneurs, so naturally they’ve got an accessible map of it all that you can grab on the way in.  So when you’re all konked out from the temples, you can spend all your money here.

So on my last weekend in the little city, I wanted to go a little nuts and find all these places.

PS – this little guide is not exhaustive. A weekend is obviously not enough.  Next time – this food tour’s on my racket.


Start at Sister Srey in Siem Reap’s central market area – far enough that it that sufficiently avoids the obnoxious backpackers but still easily accessible.  This little Aussie-inspired café has built up a following among expats and visitors over the past couple of years and I finally got to check it out. In addition to being a training restaurant, they also serve excellent coffee and affordable casual fare like chicken schnitzel sandwiches and YES, avocado toast for brekkie.

When you actually get to Kandal village, your probably want another coffee. Or maybe that’s just me.  Anyways, our coffee Yoda and my buddy Corbett have been waxing poetic about Little Red Fox Espresso for ages.  Their creations are beyond solid. I can’t think of another place in Cambodia that can serve a ristretto.  Also – Montreal inspired bagels (which are apparently a theme in Siem Reap).  And if you’re still hungry in Kandal Village and want something a little more on the vegan side of things, check out Vibe, down the street. We just got one in Phnom Penh and the city is ecstatic about the acai bowls and all the nut milks in the world.

There’s pretty much only one reason I can think of to go to Pub Street.  If you haven’t been to Siem Reap before, then let me paint you a picture: fanny packs, drunken frat boys, gap year kids, and a crap ton of vendors shilling the same T-shirt.  And fish massage.  But I do have to say, this central tourist area has its charm – the little alleys with hidden treasures like Gelato Lab (Phnom Penhers – we’re getting one too!).  I don’t think I need to say more.  That scoop, above, is a Zabaione.  t tasted exactly like one should.  And I probably couldn’t find one anywhere else this side of the Mekong.

All of these eats and drinks have been recommendations from my buddy Mike. He has the luck of getting shipped up here a ton, so the man knows his lay of the land.  But by far, I am most grateful for this one, even if its namesake was off in Madagascar.  Georges Rhumerie was one of the most memorable meals.  They start you off with a complimentary shot of their home-infused rum.  And what follows is a meal (and series of drinks) inspired by Creole cuisines from the Reunion Islands and Georges’ own home of Madagascar.  That means foie gras served alongside chutneys, gratins that seriously pop and the best sausages ever.  Finish it off with baba au rhum and you’re fine.  A three course meal for two, with beverages will not shatter your wallet at roughly $45.  This is Siem Reap’s best secret that I may or may not have ruined.  So make reservations.

So one last thing.  I like me some good artisanal bread.  A starter that’s past through centuries.  A good pungent rye.  And bagels.  Zita and Jana started out on the farmer’s market circuit in Siem Reap and just finally broke their bread with Bang Bang (pronounced like the Khmer numPANG from which it’s derived).  Zita makes the bread and Jana’s all about the cakes.  Look at those babies!  We flew back with a massive loaf of perfect rye and a half dozen of equally yummy bagels (of the New York variety for you purists).


Siem Reap being full of artisans means that you’re going to find things you would never find in Phnom Penh’s drone of occasional repetition.  And most of the treasures you do find in the capital are crafted by the wealth of skilled artisans in Siem Reap.   Ceramics is an excellent place to start.  Before I left, my pal Hillary said I had to check out Louise Labourieres in Kandal Village.  Not only did I get to check out her gorgeous goodies, but I got to meet the lady herself (thank you for that recommendation to Bang Bang!).  Her collection of gorgeously designed and so well curated of pale pinks and torquoises that pair perfectly with the soft cream of her ceramics.

Then just up a couple of doors is Mademoiselle Thyda.  Basically – buy all of your foodie friend gifts here.  Everything in this store is regional and beyond Kampot pepper.  You’ll discover what’s happening on the spice route in the hilly and indigenous northeast, or tiny organic farms that are just starting to dot the peri-urban areas in Phnom Penh.

And next door (see how convenient Kandal Village is?) is Niko’s Studio.  I absolutely adore the French artist’s adornments painted on wooden Buddha carvings.  I got to meet Niko herself and learn about how she approaches each piece.  She even works in this studio itself so you might even get to see the piece you want crafted in action.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang.  Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for prices of long haul flights incurred.


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humpjump

Photo Credit: @sfgirlbybay

Hi team, we hope you are having a great week. Cait is still in New York this week, wandering around Godzilla-ing all the pizza she can. She might even go get that birthday cake that Tiff talked about on Monday, you can’t just post something like that and expect her not to eat cake.  Meanwhile in Phnom Penh.  Tiff is still working up the energy to make that cake.  Happy Wednesday folks.  Hope you get that cake today.

I sort of liked reading this, and I was sort of like STOP KNOWING MY LIFE.

One more Funfetti cake I’m obsessing over.

If I worked for Blue Apron, I would legit write this.

My lone strapless bra finally had its last day.  So I’m obviously replacing with this!

For the first time since I was 8, I want to dress head-to-toe in pink.

We’re obviously on the same page. High waisted pink linen pants. I want now.

I’m not a mom, but I love this piece, and all of my mom friends should know how awesome they already are.

Apartment envy.

I have had this pasta salad, and it’s absurdly delicious.

If I lived in Tokyo and this magazine actually existed, I would totally subscribe and read like 10 at a time.


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C / Update on the Reboot

debbie

Photo by Irving Penn

Hi. So last week, I boldly declared that I was going to fill my brain with all the inspiration I could manage, and be a changed person by Friday. The thing is, when you are filling your body with pizza and cocktails, it’s sort of hard to feed your brain online classes and meaningful literature.

The actual update on what I said I was going to do:

  • Take online class. I did not take an online class. I did look at them, and consider it, but then I went to happy hour.
  • Read a whole book. There was no way this was ever going to happen, I don’t know why I set myself up for failure, I never even looked into what book to read.
  • Starting Yoga again. I DID THIS. It’s the hot kind, and I sweat so much that a woman stopped me in the street after class to make sure I was ok.
  • Go to a museum. I did this too! Actually, I did it twice, so I think I get double points and one of the trips to a museum counts as taking a class.

According to my math, that is 3/4-ish, so I feel pretty good about my inspiration week. And, AND, I am filling this week with even more artsy shit that makes me want to create again. I do want to get back in to making things, my hands are getting restless. I saw the Irving Penn exhibit at The Met yesterday and I just filled with energy, in a way that I haven’t experienced in a while. I am not a photographer, but Penn has done some of the most incredible work I have seen, and it’s impossible for me to look away from it. So I bought the $70 coffee table book, which weighs 1400 lbs and is going to be an awesome carryon.

So I did some of my self-imposed homework, but the thing that I found most inspiring this week, was having conversations with people I love about the work I am doing right now. I have a lovely job and work for a friend, but my brain has started to wander.

I applied for a job a few weeks ago that I was SO EXCITED about. It seemed like the perfect fit, and I took a lot of care with my application and cover letter, and I made my friends read my CV and sex it up for me. I felt so good about sending it all in, and I was confident that I would be a great fit for the job.

I haven’t heard anything back, and it’s been two weeks, so that ship has probably sailed. Which is fine, ship sail all the damn time, that is what they are supposed to do. But as I have been talking through all of these things with people this week, it has become pretty clear that I need to get back to making things. It’s where my brain goes back to before I go to sleep, and it is what my brain has filled with while I am walking around New York.

So, I am getting back into it. I even got a new notebook and fancy new pencils this weekend, and you know I can’t waste back-to-school supplies.

Have a lovely Tuesday.

caitsig

 

 


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T / happy monday* / craving hard

Photo Credit: Lucky Peach

*yes I know it’s Tuesday. But Cait’s still in Monday.  So ha.

You know those moments when you can’t get this one thing out of your head?  It’s not even for anyone’s birthday.  I just cannot get Funfetti cake out of my head.  I have never even had Funfetti cake before.  We don’t even have Funfetti in Canada.  It’s SPRINKLES.

I’m not a person who craves sweet things, but it’s one of those mornings (hello 150 burpees) and I’ve turned into a toddler.  Beyond the burpees, work is getting busy, so you’ll also notice I’m writing this on the wrong day, and I’ve turned into a slightly manic cake monster.

So I leave you with this – a tiny video on making the most famous sprinkle (sorry Funfetti) cake around: Christina Tosi’s Birthday Cake at Momofuku Milkbar.  It’s so iconic, it inspired a skin salve (which I have on right now because it’s an adequate replacement).  I’m going to make Cait eat it for me since she’s in NYC and I might even make an attempt at it myself.  If I ever get out of this chair.  Happy Monday…errr Tuesday.


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humpjump

Photo Credit: Hello Lunch Lady

Happy Wednesday! Tiff needs all the soup this week, even though her snuffly voice is super adorable. Cait is in New York this week, taking down bagels like Godzilla in Tokyo, and pretending she is cultured. It helps if you go to a museum, find a painting that’s weird, stand back about 8 feet and stare while saying “interesting” to yourself. People will buy it. Have a great week!

I really want to make this.  Stat.

I am visiting some old favorites this week.

Zero-dollar days! Genius!

Mobiles have the same effect on me as they do on babies.

Ahhhhh I need to go to Porto.

I think this is the prettiest. 

Larry David’s daughter has a web series!

What to say to a grieving friend? It’s hard to know what people need, and I am grateful for this piece from Cup of Jo. 

So pretty. Want all of it.

I think I am a little hungover, because I feel like I could eat ALL OF THESE right now.


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T / not going for the temples – siem reap part one.

You’d think that this blog having origins in Phnom Penh would have put up a Siem Reap guide or two by now.  After all, Cait and I have run our fair share of Angkor Wat Marathons, personally brought and sent visitors, the whole shebang.  This time around, I was looking for a getaway that wasn’t the usual haunts of Kep or Kampot.  I looked northeast, partnered up with the wonderful folks at MAADS, and got to check out Templation, their new 5 star property in Siem Reap that prides itself on sustainability.


A combination of burnout related sensations happens when you live in Phnom Penh.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this city and I’ve actually called it home for the past six yearss.  But even for this mild mannered freelancer, there comes a point in time where you need to get the heck out of dodge.

Templation is one of the brand spanking new hotels in Siem Reap that not only prides itself on the modern design, impeccable service and gorgeous setting, but also sustainability.  And they’re part of the MAADS family of hotels that I love so much (check out old faves here and here). So it was the obvious place I wanted to escape to with my partner when we both realized we were more than a bit exhausted.  This morning person sometimes needs a little lie-in.

And with reliable and safe flights going three times a day from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap on Angkor Air, we found ourselves checking into Templation just three hours after locking up our apartment. The place is just fabulous and the moment you walk in, you know you’re in a MAADS property, bring warmly greeted by staff and lead to relax at their veranda bar by the pool while they get everything ready for you.

We were lead to our Pool Suite (read: PRIVATE POOL) and we never had any desire to leave the confines of our little 70 square meter escape.  When I did have to work (let’s be honest, the work is never done and I like to respond to clients immediately), I could retreat into the air-conditioned living room for some quick design edits, and then dive right into the pool again.

Oh right.  That pool.  It’s not the usual tiny bathtub that many hoteliers try to pass off as a pool.  This baby is huge.  And the whirlpool jets are cherry on top.  Also, those walls that line your private little space are high, and lined with all the green things so you know that your little foray into skinny dipping is for your companion’s eyes only.  

The other thing about the folks at MAADS is that they are experts at combining modernity with the local vibe.  Every little element I couldn’t help but think that this is how the future of Cambodia living could look like.  Concrete structures that felt warm and inviting.  The perfect amount of minimalism and sparseness in each room so you never felt boxed in by decorative elements.  The walk to your suite even feels like you’re strolling through a lush utopian planet on Star Trek.  And I mean that with the fullest adoration and fangirl sentiment.

MAADS properties also pride themselves on sustainability. But Templation takes this a step further.  They’re near completely energy self sufficient.  This means that they’re producing almost enough energy, from solar panels installed by Solearon, to power their operations.  All of those air-conditioners in their 33 suites and villas that have been designed to be energy effiicent, 21 pools private pools, spa, kitchen and other operations are covered.  And they’re the only hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia’s tourist mecca, to do this.  Oh right, they’re also committed to recycling and composting on the property too.  As a David Suzuki-bred Canadian who is trying to be a little more eco-conscious this year, I’m a huge supporter of this.  

So you could come to Siem Reap to see the temples.  But you could also just come to visit this cultural mecca of Cambodia with all the best artisans and most delicious food, and stay at Templation.  Their restaurant is delicious, with a superb breakfast that is the opposite of your typical buffet and is instead an unlimited a la carte menu that’s part of your stay (read: it’s classy).  Templation also boasts a Bodia Spa right on its premises with a free 15 minute back and shoulder massage offered to all guests (this also means Bodia products in all the rooms!).  So even if you did decide to go for that hike up Phnom Kulen, or rise at 5am to catch the temples at sunrise, you have everything waiting for you when you get back.  Seriously.  Not shabby at all.

Templation is located just minutes outside of the Angkor Wat Temple Complex.  Prices will vary according to season.


This was a sponsored post and thanks to Bernard and the folks at MAADS for reaching out for this collaboration.  We’re huge fans of the MAADS family of hotels in Cambodia and we can’t wait to see what you develop next!

PS – next week I’ll be posting a guide to all the new Siem Reap eats and shops!


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for any public nudity charges as a result of the luxury of a private pool.