cait +tiff


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C /

no phone

I am guilty of sleeping with my phone. I used to plug it in next to my bed, and the second I woke up in the morning, before I got up or had coffee, my phone was in my face, reading news, fake news, and watching videos of baby elephants chasing birds.

A few months ago, I stopped bringing my phone into the bedroom, and occupied myself in other activities before going to sleep. Reading, watching Clueless for the 145th time, and actually engaging with other people, actually make solid replacements for refreshing Instagram and finding out how Busy Phillip’s workout was. (For the record, I still care about that, I just watch her stories in the daytime.)

I am trying to fill up my life with non-screen related things these days. I work remotely, by myself, often from coffee shops or home, so I can’t avoid them all the time. But, because I’m in LA, there is rarely an excuse for me to be inside when I am not working. People are outside all the time, because it’s always gorgeous and everything here is just like the movies. I’m serious, it’s sunny all the time, there are constantly film crews on my street, and I fall in love like 9 times a day. It’s usually with other people’s dogs, but same same.

I am going to Malibu this weekend with a friend, have plans for hiking, eating all the seafood in California, and beaching myself. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and maybe even forget your phone.

caitsig

 


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C / boundaries

pink

I struggle setting boundaries. I think it’s attached to being a pleaser, I have a terrible time thinking that I am letting people down or disappointing them in any way, and it hasn’t done me any favors.

I saw this Brené Brown video last week, and it stuck with me. There is a part in it where she explains how some people don’t set any boundaries, get taken advantage of, feel violated, don’t do anything about it, and then become angry and resentful. While watching this, I was unconsciously shaking my head “yes.” I feel like that might be a problem.

I am currently taking classes in self-compassion meditation. I pay a wonderful woman named Heather to help me be less of an asshole to myself, and boundaries come up in class a lot. Brené can clearly tell you why they are so important better than I can, and it’s worth the 5:54 minutes.

Will this ever be a fashion blog again? Who knows. Happy Friday.

caitsig


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T / happy monday / the hustle is real

Photo Credit: Create & Cultivate (another great resource for ladies who #werk)

How do I say this?  Life is busy.  I have battened down all the hatches. There is no chances of this ship sinking.  Deadlines are being reached, sort of.  I have clients now!  Which is something I would never have thought would happen if you asked me three years ago.  These are all obviously good things because, you know, #makingit.  But I can’t wait for a break (I’ve got a month left before I get one).  Being stuck at this desk job probably isn’t helping.  I’m also working on weekends.  To deal with it all, I’ve definitely been picking three.  Which means that some things have gotten voted off the island.  But call me a masochist, I don’t necessarily mind it.  Though I won’t say no to a Sunday morning off, either.

I’m not complaining, but the last few weeks have really made me realize the importance of flexibility.  How privileged I was to work as a freelancer for a whole three years that let me learn, practice and prepare for the gig I really wanted.  And likewise, the privilege of falling back on a really well paying job when I realized my bank account needed a boost.  I’m also starting to think about what I need to do to make it all happen, like boundaries, rules, and the power to say ‘no.’  While also being a good friend and partner all at the same time.  And how does being a woman fit into all of this?  These are the things when you’ve got a side hustle going.  And they’ve all been swirling around in my head lately.  Then International Women’s Day happened.  And naturally, I wanted to share some of the things that have kept me chugging along over the past few weeks and helping to get all those things done and living a well designed life.  Oh right, and these all come from ladies.


Photo Credit: Kate Arends.

Community is a wonderful thing.  I have the community in front of me.  The incredibly inspiring and wonderful women who exist in the real space and sweat, and the friendships who might be over a significantly large body of water.  These women all keep me afloat. And then there’s all the women who are letting their voices out on the web.  Kate Arends is one of these women and I’ve been really getting into all of her monthly themed and incredibly honest essays.  This month, it’s Women Who #Werk, and it couldn’t come at a better time.  And it’s all so real.  Definitely pay attention to her space if you’re needing some reads on it all.

Photo Credit: Jessica Murnane.

I’m being a heck ton better about everything I put into my body.  This past month, my pod-crush Jessica Murnane released One Part Plant.  Her podcasts have helped get me through things before, but now she has a cookbook that can help my insides work better. Lena Dunham even wrote the foreword.  After the holidays, my body had taken a literal beating.  I wasn’t feeling great.  Bloated was just the start of things.  Even though I was working out nearly every day of the week, I knew I needed to make changes beyond a single month of clean eating.  And I’m glad I made some new rules for myself: more home cooked meals.  More plants.  More good things.  And since then, I’ve never felt better.

GIF Credit: Libby VanderPloeg

Werk landed into my Inbox the other day.  Right after a conversation with a bunch of multi-hyphenate ladies as we were discussing all the things they do to make things happen.  And what gets left behind.  Ever wanted to know where the flexible jobs were? You know, the ones with the opportunity to work remotely? On your own time? So you could also do all the other things that were important to you?  They’re at Werk waiting for you.


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T / sparking creativity and mindfulness

colour-me-headerDuring my undergrad years I found myself on the verge of flunking.  Not joking.  My first couple of years out of high school were incredibly tough.  Pre-med was really tough.  I went to a really competitive school where it seemed like all of my fellow students seemed to magically get the oh so fun topics of inorganic chemistry and physics.  I knew this wasn’t for me, but I knew I needed to finish this thang and make my Asian parents happy with a science degree.  So armed with an quarter-life ADHD diagnosis  (finally a scientific reason for my messy brain) and a new outlook on learning, I started to ace my courses in the final couple of years of school.

And I owe it all to colouring.

I started studying things that required visualizations.  Political systems that needed to be fleshed out.  Concepts, like genetics and molecular biology, that begged to be drawn and coloured, basically.  My mind calmed down instantly.  All the swirls became logical.  I basically owe my undergrad survival strategy to a pile of colouring pencils.

Tiffany TsangFlash forward a decade and those jittery can’t focus feelings of are back with a vengeance.  I also have a tendency to get frustrated and restless if I’m not creating something.  But this time, I’m on the wiser side of thirty and I know how to deal with it.  My colouring pencils have returned and I’m planning on spreading the colour love across all of my friends.

And the experts all agree with me.  My pal Amy is an art therapist and uses colouring books to work with her clients.  There was even a freaking National Colouring Book Day in August!  Do I need to say more?  An article from the New Yorker?  Andy “Headspace” Puddicombe? It’s an art form that’s free of judgment.  Nothing is going to happen if you pick the wrong colour.  It is like dim sum for your creative soul.  Whatever shade your heart wants.

Tiffany TsangColouring books have also gotten so much better.  These aren’t the unicorns of your kindergarten years or the mandalas which are literally everywhere in the colour world.  We don’t have much on the printed side in Phnom Penh (does someone want to do a Cambodia-themed colouring book?), but there are a bajillion things you can download from the Interwebs. Hello Lemonade?  Or Chance the Rapper?  I love the uplifting colouring posters that Bri shared earlier this year (here and here).  And freebies from the lady who brought you Colour Me Swiftly?  All of them. Please.  You have no excuses.

Just remember to have a good sharpener around. colouring-book-4-sharpener


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.

 


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T / the creative rut, and how I’m getting out of it

Photo Credit: Klaudia Medano

Photo Credit: Klaudia Medano

I am sitting in front of my computer.  And I can’t get started.  Actually.  No.  That’s a lie.  I started a bunch of things this morning.  Then I inevitably deleted them after more than a few frustrating attempts that only yielded fitfuls of “ugh.”  So that’s been my week.  In addition to struggling to get my energy and my appetite back, I’ve also been trying to get “it” back.  I’m sure you know what “it” is.  And it’s not just relegated to those in the creative field, but…really…anything.  When you’re feeling hungry, but you don’t know what to eat.  No amount of coffee, or spice will pick this meal up.  Everything is just, blah?

So I decided to see what the experts have to say about it.  Because I’d really like to get out of this.

1. Let yourself play. I think I’m gonna go find one of my colouring books and go a bit nuts today. (Thanks Jane Parter @fastcompany!)

2. I’m going to take a little step back.  Notice that there is a lot going on right now (hello jobs and clients, see you later Cait, all the things) and make tiny adjustments. (Merci Victoria!)

3. I’m gonna go have lunch with someone awesome.  (Create & Cultivate always has the best tips)

4. I’m gonna try to trick my brain a bit (Design*Sponge is so lucky to have Adam J. Kurtz)

5. I’m going to go do the dishes and laundry.  Because I might not get anything done today. But at least I’ll at least feel good about an empty sink and a pile of clean towels that won’t get folded (that’s a pure piece of Tiff advice).

Fingers crossed on these working!


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C / reach out and touch me

So don’t physically do that, I don’t want to be touched, I have boundaries. But metaphorically, get all up in there.

I am elbow deep in job searching, life planning, and trying change everything all at once while not changing anything at the same time. It’s so relaxing.  My trip to the states in June was technically for job-hunting purposes, and though I had an amazing time and got to see tons of great people, no one begged me to work with them. I have been out of the game for a while, and it takes a minute getting back into it. I mentioned a little while back that I am working with a coach to help me strategize my way through all of this, and it’s been really helpful. One of the things that came up the last time we spoke was reaching out for help, and my inability to do so.

This probably stems from a few failed introductions when I wasn’t ready, and the awkward process of asking for things I didn’t really want. I worry now that I am imposing of friends, and feel like I should apologize for not having my shit together. That, of course, is not true. I have awesome friends who love me and want to help. It also might be the fact that I am a stubborn a-hole, and I want to do everything myself, all the time. Might be that.

So, while talking to Coach-Knows-Me-Too-Well, we came up with a plan for me to get over my damn self and start asking people for help. I have been reaching out to friends the last few days, who I would love to help, and trying not to feel like I am asking for the answers on a test. Because it’s not the same thing, even if it feels a little bit like it.

I am looking at jobs all over the world right now, and since this blog can be used as a shameless self-promotion tool, I am going to use it. Let me know if you know of any fashion-y/writer-y people that could use a hand. I am trying to get into the sustainable side of things, but open to any companies that you think are great. You read this blog, you clearly have excellent taste. Make sure you tell them I used that “fashion-y/writer-y” combo in my work, they will be super impressed.

Thanks, have a great weekend. Oh, and be warned that if you listen to “Reach Out and Touch Me” on YouTube, the playlist will take you through R.E.M., No Doubt, and inevitably, Aerosmith. I miss Alicia Silverstone.

caitsig

 


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C / Old Haunts

cactuscactus

Know what the best remedy for jet lag is? Me neither, obviously, because I just flew to London six days after returning to Cambodia from the US. The only thing that I do know, is that this is NOT the way to do it. Unless you like watching two romantic comedies before 7am on a Tuesday, then this is exactly how to do it. 

I’m in town this week for a friend’s wedding and I will be stopping by some of my favorite places that I got to know last summer when I was studying at Central St Martins. There are so many amazing spots in London, and I am sure I don’t know anything about the coolest anything anymore, but I do have a few places I am sure to hit this round.

(You may notice that this little list has nothing in it from West London, and that’s because I went there two times total last summer and I know nothing about it.)

My Old Haunts

Attendant-Shoreditch

Yeah, it’s the cool kid neighborhood of London, and no, I’m not a cool kid, but I DO have a leather jacket and I am pretty sure that’s all you really need. I found Attendant last summer because I had some time to kill in the neighborhood before a class at Frame. It has all the makings of a pretentious hipster coffee spot, but it’s sort of decided not to be. The people are lovely, the coffee is damn delicious, and they have a guest chef who makes phenomenal breakfast treats. Things like Vanilla & Passion french toast, with rhubarb mascarpone, berries, honeycomb and maple syrup…and FLOWERS on top. I just ate this and it would be tough to share with my favorite person. 

Caravan-Kings Cross

I go to Caravan for the Aussie-approved coffee, the art student people-watching, and they craziest, most delicious savory muffin in the whole damn world. They have a different one every day, and it’s a mix of cheese+veg+something else awesome, maybe even surprise chorizo. Everyone loves surprise chorizo. Because it’s housed in the school, Caravan tends to a slightly younger crowd with as many different hair colors as there are stars in the sky. They always play good music, because they would explode from all the eye-rolling if they didn’t. It’s a busy spot and can be loud, and the server from last summer remembered me yesterday. I don’t know if that matters, I was just happy about it. 

The Water Poet-Liverpool/Shoreditch

I can’t put a list together without at least one proper pub on it. The Water Poet sounds fancy, but it’s a nice local spot with great beers and giant helpings of french fries. Yeah yeah, “chips.” Whatever, I’m American. #OGBrexit. They have a gorgeous and comfortable back patio that fills up around 4pm if it’s sunny, no matter the day of the week.

Boulangerie Bon Matin– Finsbury Park

This placed saved me on my very first day in London last year. I was exhausted, nervous about starting this whole new thing, and more than anything else, hungry. Bon Matin has a spread of gorgeous salads that should make Ottolenghi nervous, full of simple, delicious produce and things that make produce taste even better. The pastry that fills the front windows are a one-way ticket to the danger zone. Maybe even the highway there. It’s inexpensive, friendly, and sunny. They also don’t mind if you set up shop for the day to work on your Cambodia-based design blog and use their free internet. 

Monmouth Coffee-Covent Garden

This place was introduced to me by a friend from Cambodia actually, and it really is the snobbiest. There are like 7 seats in the whole place, the tables come with artisanal sugar and side eye, and no internet. But the coffee is really, really good, and the brownie is reason enough to stand in line with a bunch of disaffected 23 year olds talking about cold brew like they found it first. 

Dinerama-Shoreditch

Oh Dinerama. Cool London friends showed me this place last year, and it’s the perfect summer hang out spot. It’s a pop-up-food-truck spot, and they have everything from lobster rolls to BBQ and papadum nachos. That’s right, papadum nachos. The best thing there is for the carnivores, and it’s a beef rib from the grill spot in the back. The thing is probably cooked for 8 days, and it falls off the bone like a prom dress. Best when eaten with hands and dragged through the leftover guacamole from the Mexican spot next door. 

Off to as many of these places as possible before I face-plant at 2pm.

caitsig

 


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C / Tiny Trump

bowie-sh.jpg

I’m not going to talk about Donald trump directly, don’t worry. Instead I am going to make him useful. I know, sounds impossible, but bear with me.

I am in a pretty good spot right now, but not without a helluva lot of work. I have talked about working with a coach on the blog before, and working through issues I have that stand between me and what I want. The coaching has been so valuable for me, but I actually got the best advice of the year from someone on Facebook. To be totally honest, I don’t remember who posted it, but it resonated with me.

The post was about getting rid of the bad voices in your head that tell you you can’t do something. They tell you that you are not worthy, that you suck, that you are not good enough. The solution was this: Give that voice a face. Give it a face of someone you think is absolutely ridiculous. Someone you would never listen, trust or even stand to be around. A racist, a sexist, an egomaniac. Who comes to mind? Trump, obviously.

Picture Donald Trump, telling you that you are a loser. It’s funny right? Him jumping up and down, creepy hair piece flapping in the wind, tiny hands clenched into even tinier fists, orange-faced and yelling at you in four-word sentences? Hilarious. I sort of even love it. I added my own twist to the scenario and made him hamster size. When I am done listening to him, an actual hamster named Sprinkles chases him away.

hamster.jpg

This works with many people. My favorite dumb/evil people are Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, King Joffrey Baratheon, and Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast. I encourage you to figure out your own person that sucks the most. I know it’s sort of a funny exercise, but it’s also been helpful, and entertaining. I would LOVE to know who you choose.

Bowie sexy photo credit here.

Gross photo and cute photo via here and here.

caitsig

 


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C / Compassion Collective

bball.jpg

First off, thank you to everyone who made my birthday so special this week.

I have received a lot of love in the last few days, thanks to people using the internet for good, instead of evil. I ate a remarkable amount of cake, spent the day with people I love, and fell asleep on the couch. It was a better-than-average Wednesday.

My brother and I generally don’t exchange gifts for birthdays, because he lives in Chicago, and I am here. He’s older than me by a few years and our birthdays are only 5 days apart, meaning we spent a few years sharing birthday parties, which sort of worked out. I was a very jealous child, and somewhere, there is a photo of us, with my brother opening a gift by the pool. I am standing next to him, in my ill-fitting bathing suit with my arms crossed, giving him the fiercest side-eye to ever cross the face of a nine year old. Relative maturity hit later on in life for me.

He sent me a nice note for my birthday a few days ago, and broke our usual, no-gift pattern. He had donated to The Compassion Collective in my name, one of my sister-in-law’s favorite organizations. They work with kids all over, but mostly focus on families affected by refugee issues and homeless youth in the US. I had heard about them before through the Elizabeth Gilbert/Brene Brown/Cheryl Strayed-love-power team, but I wasn’t fully aware of what they are doing.

After going through the website more, I’m so in. The people behind it are some of my favorites, including the human heart with legs, Glennon Doyle Melton, of Momastery. They collect the money using their reach and network, and then work alongside the pros to make sure the money is going to all the right places.

I encourage you to look at what they are doing, it is truly wonderful. This gift was unexpected, and so appreciated. It’s a reminder to me of what is important, and how to lean in to the feelings, and not shut down just to keep your own heart safe. Read more about them, because they can say it better than I can.

“Because love is not Either/Or. Love is AND/BOTH.”

Cover Photo

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T / happy monday / hello productivity

Photo Credit: Todd Selby

Photo Credit: Todd Selby

This year, I made productivity, integrity and accountability as a few of new year’s resolutions.  Not necessarily goals or objectives I needed to accomplish, but values I wanted to uphold in all parts of my life.

But then Netflix happened. In Cambodia.

And it is what I spent a considerable portion of my weekend doing. Specifically binging through The Mind of a Chef.

So enter TeuxDeux.  This is the app that’s going to keep me in line this year.  For me, one of the biggest challenges of entering a creative career is self doubt.  The fear eats me up and I wind up finding other things to do (read: baking green things) rather than accomplishing the tasks that will actually help me move forward.

Created by the design maven cum serial entrepreneur, Tina Roth Eisenberg (aka Swiss Miss), Teux Deux is the solution to all of my productivity slumps (I’m looking at you, 2-4pm).  It builds upon other productivity apps I’ve tried and failed at because it absolutely feeds into my competition loving self since I can see my productivity stats.  And it’s simple and pretty in the way that a Swiss designer would (and the colours are absolutely customizable).

I get to see what I have done, what I’ve still got to do, and clicking on a completed task and seeing it dissolve into the grey is just so satisfying.  This is what I’m up to today (yes, I’m a meal planner)!

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 10.58.49 AMTry it out! TeuxDeux is offering a 30 day free trial, with the option to subscribe at $3/month or $2/month if you sign up for a full year!

I’ve gotta go finish my list, whilst this orchestral ditty (by Arcade Fire violin maven, Sarah Neufeld) plays in the background. Happy Monday!