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T / happy (sort of) monday / like a double shot latte

Photo Credit: Leah Reena Goren

It’s still Monday somewhere right?  Because this whole “trying to get everything done before you go on a long ass trip” thing is maddening.  I am desperately trying not to get distracted (example: watching all two seasons of Insecure in one week).  But of course I am.  Always.  There is no other way.

So I thought I’d share some more distractions.  There are more than a few illustrators out there that I adore and who’s Instagram feeds I probably pay a little too much attention to. But really, their honesty, drive and inspiration are generally the things that keep me afloat.  It also turns out that all their wisdom are being turned into tiny compact readable things this fall.  Of course I’m buying multiples of all of them (because sharing is caring).


Artwork Credit: Adam J Kurtz for Design Sponge (here and here)

Adam J Kurtz isn’t an illustrator (it’s technically calligraphy I guess). But I almost consider him to be one because his dance with words is just so perfect.  He’s not even 30 yet and Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives is his third publication.  The name says it all.  It falls into my own mantras and the person I hope I’m trying to be.  But he makes it so much more amusing.  You can basically hear his voice (Instastories!!!!) through ever single word.  Furthermore: at under $10, it’s much cheaper than therapy.


Lisa Congdon is probably the oldest and most established of the illustrators I follow.  So naturally she’d write a book about getting older.  My appreciation knows no bounds for this as I just read this article and it’s freaking me out about the impending middle years.  And at this point, I am going to take all the advice I can get.  I can’t wait to see all the beautiful things her hands have made inside.


Photo Credit: Leah Reena Goren

This one isn’t out yet.  In fact, illustrator Leah Reena Goren literally just announced it.  But I’m really excited about it because it’s probably the book I need right about now.  It’s not coming out until May 2018, but in the meantime, check out Ladies Drawing Night and Besties.


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T / happy monday / creeping on dorsu’s new line

There is pretty much only one brand I turn to when I think of sustainable and ethical basics that are also affordable and look amazing.  Ask any girl in Phnom Penh and they’ll have one, two or perhaps even an entire wardrobe filled with these black, grey, striped tees, tanks, T-shirts, shirt dresses.  The whole kit and kaboodle.  And did I mention that the entire biz is packed with amazing ladies committed to upcycling all that remnant fabric waste that gets chucked out of Cambodia’s garment factories on a regular basis?  So yeah, that.

I’ve admired Dorsu from afar for ages.  And with this blog handy, Cait and I quickly became pals with co-founder Hanna Guy.  She’s a freaking awesome lady who hails from gorgeous Australia and, together with co-founder Kunthear Mov, is committed to producing clothing that you’ll actually wear everyday and everywhere, in a workshop that pays everyone ethically, and is constantly pushing the edge of what can be done in sustainable and ethical fashion.  They’re the kind of pieces that you’ll tell your friends that the very jersey or French terry you’re wearing was once considered waste (you can read more about that here).   There’s so much of it that Hanna and her team can produce entire collections that you can purchase both in Cambodia at their store in Kampot or at retailers in Phnom Penh, or online, where they’ll ship basically anywhere.

This year Hanna got together a Dorsu crew to add some ideas to the collection.  This means the classics are still around, but there are some amazing new pieces added in their Core Collection and Classic Capsule wardrobe.  More items that you can transition from office to night to weekend  She’s been teasing about this for ages.  And this past Friday, these new pieces were released, and the interwebs is going nuts.

In August, I got a sneak peak at the line (and colours! check out that millennial pink), when Hanna invited me to shoot some behind the scenes photos.  This also meant I got to shadow the uber talented Rita McNeill, Hanna’s pal and awesome lady behind the lens for all the official Dorsu shots, and watch the styling feats of Dorsu’s sales and marketing guru, Ellen Tirant.  Creeping on their creative process was exactly what I was doing.  I walked away with a bunch of shots and my eye on some periwinkle items. 

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a weekend.  And I’ve been trying (and failing) to plan a trip to Kampot for ages.  I just want to hang out with these amazing ladies again and learn all the things from them (yes this means a future interview of course).


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for that spending spree.


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T / happy monday /

Photo Credit: Lucie Rie.

Sorry for the inconsistent posts, guys.  Apparently, I really liked being on vacation.  And that 13 course meal.  So in addition to getting back to it, doing all the burpees (see: 13 course meal) and shooting all the things like brand spanking new babies.  Which (so weird), is what I haven’t really been doing for the past month.  The break was nice.  I missed my cammy cam.  So I’m back at it and looking for all the inspiration.

Thank goodness for the guys at The Creator Class.  I’m so visiting when I’m back in Toronto.  I’m in search of doing some new things.  Hopefully they’ll show up on le blog soon.  In the meantime, at least I can be aspirational. Zahra Saleki is amazing.  She’s an Iranian-Canadian photographer who actually makes real all those visions she has in your mind.  Something actually I need to start doing. I hope this gives us all some hope and drive to create.  


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T / unsolicited TIFF

Photo Credit: Haubitz + Zoche.

Okay, it’s that time of year again.  Whether you like it or not.  At this point, I’m surprised I don’t have a gambling addiction.  Last year’s winning pony was Moonlight.  This year, my bets are on a Norwegian psycho-sexual drama.  The festival started last week, so I’m a little late on this year’s selection.  But here goes…



So about that Norwegian psycho-sexual thriller.  It’s called Thelma.  Which I initially thought was going to be a family drama set in Oklahoma.  Nope.  Instead it’s Scandi-minimalist possibly sci-fi nuts things.  I just can’t wait.



When I first went through TIFF’s programme this year, I was really disappointed to see that it’s larger budget played it a little too safe.  Meaning: historical and very white (there are more than two WWII movies and too many period pieces), and where it wasn’t so white, it was Denzel Washington.  Enter Guillermo Del Toro to save the day.  I like a little bit of whimsy and this is not unlike when he dropped Pan’s Labyrinth at the festival over a decade ago.  The Shape of Water is all childlike in its wonder and the trailer is just gorgeous.  Also: Octavia Spencer.



Call Me By Your Name is sumptuous in its coming of age sexuality.  It says summer love all over it and who doesn’t enjoy Americans in a slow simmering affair?  Get me to Aix en Provence, stat.



I’m always looking for new narratives from voices that we don’t always get to hear from.  My small size foreign film selection this year comes by way of the Philippines, whose culture is not so indistinct from our own in the West.  When I lived in Manila, I couldn’t get over how familiar it was.  But when you step outside your affluent enclave, you couldn’t be further from the truth of what’s really happening in Duterte’s Philippines.  And perhaps that’s what makes Dark Is the Night so terrifying: that I can see it happening in all of my backyards.



This year’s Midnight Madness programme at TIFF veers towards the ridiculous.  Which I love.  But I’m also a fan of the classical horror film set in a haunted house and involving children.  Enter The Lodgers. It had me at “Shirley Jackson-esque.”  Cursed, orphaned twins in a haunted house.  I just saw It last night so naturally I’m picking this one.


I’m playing it terribly safe this year with my TIFF picks.  But maybe it’s because I’m looking to getaway from everything that’s happening around the world.  I even hear there’s a meteorite coming at us.  So perhaps my TIFF picks are a little more skewed towards the fantastic this year.  But if you’re interested in a variety of perspectives on the world, check out the TIFF master list.  I guarantee you’ll find something that will be exactly what you’re looking for.  By the way, I’ve also got a tiny little Greta Gerwig feature in my crosshairs and I couldn’t be a proud Asian-Canadian if I didn’t also tell you about Mina Shum’s latest.


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T / a little activism

I think the best forms of activism are the most subversive ones.  They require a little creativity an maybe a paintbrush.  They’re the ones that happen overnight or under your feet, and when they get released, it roars louder than the tweet that got the ball rolling in the first place.  And aren’t big wide walls just asking for it in the first place?  So when I was in San Francisco this past spring, my partner really wanted to check out Clarion Alley in the Mission District.  It’s a community in a city where the voice of increasing social inequality and the fight against gentrification and the whitewashing of neighbourhoods is really taking hold.  Where better to smack some sense into your compadres than on their commute?  I’m always so incredibly impressed by the people who can synthesize their feelings into beautiful acts of activism.  And social media these days means that these messages can get spread far and wide.  Just look at all of the responses to the tragedy of DACA just hours after its announcement.

What a week it’s been, right?  The world is on it’s toes and the anxiety and anger are bubbling towards something.  Good I hope.  So I thought I’d share some snaps I took of Clarion Alley today.  And I hope the dreamers, the creators and those most seriously affected by this week’s everything get a wall of their own.



All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for paint stains on your new jeans.


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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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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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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.


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T / happy monday / i’m a vulture

Photo Credit: ME! (in kenya 2015)

I was about to board a plane to Siem Reap last Friday (more on that later this week!) when Cait called me with the news.  She’s a wombat.  And a few seconds later, we discovered I’m a vulture.  I would like to add at this point that I’ve decided I’m not a wrinkly turkey faced vulture. I’m Canadian and prefer a good coat.  Aesthetics aside, Cait is right, YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY DO THIS, IT IS TOTALLY ACCURATE.

Except I have not read all of the romantic books.  I have not read ANY of them.  But thank you very much, I am an opportunist (that seat at the bar is MINE).  To the point that I might go a little Tracy Flick.  I’m also extremely happy to know that Phil Hartmann lives in my fellow soul zoo.  Yeah, I just called it that because it sounds great and weird.  So yes, please do this

Anyways, flash forward to Monday and I’m a bit of a hot mess of missed posts, a sore throat, burst pipes and flooded kitchens, and a variety of other things we decided that need to get fixed in the house, stat.  And I’m eternally grateful to Erin for this post she shared last week.

At least I can dream about Bangkok.  Favourite of Asian cities.  I see you in three weeks.  Okay, end of jumbled messy head, not vulture-like at all post.  Here’s a gorgeous video about Bangkok.  You should visit.  It’s delicious.  And on that note, here’s a gorgeous little video from the guys at NOWNESS. Michélin starred French chef meets.  Bangkok.  Graphic love making ensues.

Happy Monday and I hope you don’t have any summer time sniffles.

Chef Bertrand Grébaut in “Paris to Bangkok” by Jérôme de Gerlache – NOWNESS from NOWNESS on Vimeo.