cait +tiff

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T / all the breakfasts

I think it’s my favourite meal.  No, I know it’s my favourite meal.  I document it fairly regularly.  It’s a ritual for me.  There’s a reason why I hauled a waffle iron back to Cambodia.  And went to look for a transformer just so I could use it.  I might also search high and low for the best eggs menemen in Istanbul.  It took me about 20-ish years to accept the fact that my parents ate rice for breakfast.  But when I finally moved continents and understood why, an entirely new world of options opened up to me.  And when I got to invade Cait’s life in LA, we made sure a morning at Sqirl (and Dinette!) was a priority.  The meal is a goddamn institution for me.  I’m also more than a little bit annoyed that I didn’t discover sausage gravy and biscuits until I was 30.

I get that a long sit-down meal at the crack of dawn isn’t quite what people have time for.  Heck, I have pre-made breakfast smoothies and cold slices of quiche for five out of seven days of the week.  But for the two days I actually get to enjoy the meal, I go a little bit nuts. Particularly when I get to make it myself.

So I assembled the greatest hits for you.

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

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T / happy monday / just do it already

Photo Credit: Alice Gao

I am constantly urging myself to take risks and try something new.  I usually defy my level headed, even-minded Libran self for the daring Sagittarius.  What winds up happening is that I’ll choose to take a nap instead.  But I’m feeling itchy again.  Not the kind of itchy that involves high tailing it outta the Penh and into radically different climes (last year it was Turkey and Russia in the middle of a political hoopla).  This time it’s artistic risk.  And to me, that feels like even more is on the line.

What I’m getting to is that I really want to get into video.  Like super badly want to figure it out and produce something.  But the issue is what?

Which means I’m looking for inspo and of course the first place I’m heading to is Alice Gao.  I’m a huge fangirl and even though she’s known as a photog, she’s dabbled in the moving image as well.  These sumptuous little videos of the city are swoon worthy.  I wonder if I could paint this little corner of Southeast Asia in the same light.

And of course, these little guys involve coffee and wine.  Happy Monday, folks.

En Rose from Alice Gao on Vimeo.

Derek Lam 10 Crosby – Silent St from Alice Gao on Vimeo.

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T / i dream of berlin

Photo Credit: Felix Brüggemann

As I’ve mentioned before, my partner is German, schnitzel and all.  And I have this unfortunate tendency of putting his native land into a box of currywurst, castles and beer.  But it is so much more than its crazy long European history that involved defeating the Romans and all of those unfortunate children’s stories that involve deep dark forests. It is the land where type and graphic design were not only first developed, but also where they are still doing the coolest things.  Did you know that a German company actually owns Trader Joe’s?  Also Angela Merkel is killing it on the world stage these days.

And lately, I’ve been in a German deep dive, and I’ve mostly got my eye on Berlin.  So I thought I’d start there.  I’ve only been there once.  A few years ago and only for a couple of days.  But from the moment I stepped foot in the Kreuzberg I knew I had found my Toronto.  The place I could see myself perhaps spending more than a few days some day.  Let’s call this Day 1 of my Berlin Strategy.

Let’s start with visiting Berlin. A quick browse on Airbnb and you’ll find no shortage of intensely hip, minimally decorated apartments for short and long stays in the best neighbourhoods.  Bri found the perfect one, and you can see all of her favourite fun and colourful Berlin things here.

Hip things aside, Berlin’s also got a rich history in culture.  I’m looking at you architecture, techno and a whole lotta weird.  Have you ever been thrifting in Germany?  The treasures are beyond.

Or maybe you’re one of those people who likes to really get to know a place.  You know, not just for a weekend.  Katie spent a couple of months here and found all the places you would never have stumbled upon during those quickies.

I have my eyes firmly set on Berlin right now.  But I don’t exactly have plans to get there yet (unless someone wants to send me there!)  Thankfully, German TV is going through the renaissance we’ve been waiting for ever since all those Nordic murder mysteries started showing up.  And a couple of these series are even set in Berlin.  Clearly a sign, right?

Deutschland 83 was the one that set it all off.  Yup, set in the middle of the Cold War and that wall is still up.  And a year later, The Same Sky showed up on Netflix.  Both shows involve Eastern spies over Western walls, but each tell such incredibly different stories.

And on the modern side with fewer subtitles, there’s Berlin Station.  More spies.  But this time, there’s iPhones and ISIS are involved.

I’m also uber-excited for Dark.  Germany’s answer to Stranger Things perhaps? Probably darker, less cute and will probably get under your bones a bit more.

The thing I love so much about Berlin is its diversity.  Despite the tough central European exterior, it’s radiates a warmth that has attracted people from all walks and places over the last two centuries.  Just check out its history and you’ll see why.  It is basically not a mystery why the place is hemorrhaging with the cool kids.  It’s an epicenter for creativity basically.  I can dig a place that gets over being cut in half by war, then resurrects itself as the birthplace of techno.   Also, it’s almost too easy to find very good Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese food in Berlin.

Check out all of the stories on Freunde von Freunden.  Not only are these guys based over there, but they’ve got 300+ creatives profiled for your deep dive down the rabbit hole.  Get a taste of what everyone’s eating over at Munchies.  And make sure you make Berlin Food Stories your guide upon arrival.  And get your butt to the Markethalle Neun stat upon arrival.

Photo Credit: Marta Greber

There are also a couple of wonderful ladies making the most delicious things (both in Berlin!).  Luisa Weiss (aka The Wednesday Chef) knows how to make all the classic German desserts.   And Marta Greber is capturing every single one of her crazy gorgeous breakfasts (as well as telling you where you should eat).  Also make sure you check out her Instastories.  Her accent is the cutest.



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T / happy monday / a little trippy

Photo Credit: Tiff Tsang

Line ups are bummers.  Mostly when they’re at the bathroom.  But even more so when you think your creative minded group of road trippers thinks they’ve stumbled upon something amazing and only they will be at on a weekday afternoon. But then it turns out that a hundred other people also wanted to see it at the same time as you.

This year, Desert X sprouted up in the Coachella Valley as part of a certain music festival that I’ve told myself I’m too cool for.  And our trip back to LA from Joshua Tree meant we had to make a stop.  With 17 artists and their installations spread across a very large and dry piece of land, we had to prioritize. Cue our design maven: Jane Heng!  One of our final stops was supposed to be Doug Aitken’s Mirage.  Looking over Palm Springs, this little ranch style bungalow was supposed to play with light and your minds.  Except a bunch of other people had the same idea as us.  So after some deliberation, we didn’t exactly get to see it (but check out that killer view!).  And then I stumbled upon this little video.  Same thing as seeing it for myself right?

Lesson learned: sunrise.

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T / a little bit of freedom…sort of

Can you tell I have an icon?

I keep saying I’m funemployed.  But I’m really not.  There are clients.  There are deliverables.  There are thousands of photos.  But I just get to decide when I work, and how I work.  That morning post-workout coffee is no longer limited to 15 minutes!

Since leaving my not-so-fulfilling full time in-an-office consulting gig last week, I’ve been feeling like Will Ferrell encountering New York City for the first time in Elf.  Except that I can work my way around Photoshop. I’ve been feeling more responsive.  I’m feeling so much lighter (because sitting is the new smoking).  And I am back to my slightly frantic self (see Muppets: Animal).  Cue George Michael, RIP.

But also like there’s a fire under my ass again.  Because for the past 6 months, I’ve more or less been plotting, Dr. Evil style, of my return to the freelance environment.  There are websites that need to get updated.  Portfolios that need to be shared.  The hustle is real and it is so back.  I have plans that need to get manifested.  I even just drafted something called the Berlin Strategy (doesn’t that sound like a sequel to Homeland?).

Except I might choose to catch up on 12 episodes of Supergirl instead while editing photos I took 2 years ago.

I first came across creative accountability in one of Katie’s posts.   And she’s totally right.  We have our clients that keep our work accountable, but as creative entrepreneurs, who keeps us moving forward?  I’m not exactly a start up with a venture capitalist that wants to see returns.  Nor am I actually in school and have classmates to commiserate with.  And a career coach isn’t exactly in the budget. I needed someone else, in Phnom Penh, who was on the hustle, with clients and personal goals and learning to pursue too.  And all I had to do was ask her out!  We meet for regular coffees, look at each other’s work, bounce ideas off of each other and see how each other are doing on that road upwards.  Doodles may be involved.

This all helps to keep that fire under my ass lit, under control, with enough heat to keep me on my toes.  But I also have some time for myself, to feel bored and find ways to get out of it, and to fail, or figure out a whole new set of things I can do (I see you, coding).  The doors are wide open now and I get to pick which one I go through.  Come on baby, light my fire*.

*Oooh cheesey, but I like it.

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T / happy monday / visual meditations

Photo Credit: Rich Stapleton for Cereal x Gap

If you asked 22 year old Tiff about meditation and mindfulness, she probably would have stared at you and said “I don’t exactly have time for that.”  In the background, her mother would have said “Tiffany’s been high strung since she was 2.”  This was a fact until this Tiff sailed past thirty.  End of third person monologue.

As a freelancer, I’ve been starting and stopping for the past six years.  When I was younger and nearing the end of a project, my heart would race a little.  Panic and some sort of crisis would set in.  Especially if there was no project on the horizon.  These days, I’ve learned that there is always a project on a horizon, even if I can’t see it.  Sometimes it’s there whether I want it or not.  Or most recently, the thing I needed but didn’t really want.  And in the best times it turns out to be the thing I needed and wasn’t necessarily looking for.

What on earth does career anxiety have to do with meditation?  Basically, I’ve come to terms with uncertainty.  There is no doubt about the help I’ve gotten from my 10 minutes of daily calm.

But sometimes I get my calm from looking at something.  Actually that happens quite a bit.  Which brings me to these little videos from my favourite minimalist biannual mag, Cereal.  They’re so simplistically photographed.  And while the soundtrack isn’t quite “fire crackling in the wind” or “babbling crook,”  the beat is entirely calming.  I could just stare at these and feel my amygdala get smaller. Happy Monday.

Y U K O N from Cereal on Vimeo.

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T / 3 brands

Artwork Credit: Maria Jia Ling Pitt for ManRepeller

The Internet is a funny monster when it comes to brand building.  They come and go.  As fast as you can tweet apparently.  One day everyone’s talking about the newest post-pedicure sandal, and the next we’re up in arms because a skin brand turns out to be a Ponzi scheme.  So last month, I entered the US with my credit card, and a tiny bit of trepidation.  I hadn’t stepped into the land of epic shopping for years.  The majority of these new brands don’t ship outside the US in their baby years, so the chance to get hot of the presses goodies was a little too much for me.  I ordered everything I’ve had my eye on and am so happy to report that they live up to the hype.

Let’s start with my face.  And how Emily Weiss and her quest for saved it.  Indie beauty brands, even those that get $10 million in VC, are still completely new to me.  Compound that with the fact I’m new to the whole minimalist make up deal.  Little did I realize how far down the rabbit hole I would go.  And not only that, these guys don’t melt off my face in this tropical heat and humidity.  The Phase 2 Kit gets me all the flagship Glossier goodies: let’s just say I didn’t exactly realize I needed concealer.  Or my brows needed to get boy-ed.  The Cloud Paint cream blush is so fun!  I had no idea I could mix them all up on my cheeks.  And my favourite discovery has been Glossier’s Haloscope highlighter.  It’s like always having a cup of coffee in your blood stream…except on your face.  You put it on at 6pm and it’s like you just woke up and did a hundred burpees.  It’s a good thing.  Oh right, really great customer service too.

Next is boobs.  Yup boobs.  Mine are ever changing.  And I started looking at my underwire bras with the disdain that comes with anything that’s gone past their prime.  So when Lively came along, I was a little skeptical.  This was too good to be true.  But my lingerie deep dive (read: a bunch of boudoir shoots) opened all the possibilities.  My boobs (and body) really like to change up on me.  It’s like hello Betty! one morning and good night Kate moss the next.  And wireless bras breathe with your boobs.  They’re not just for the “smaller than B” cup class either.  These babies go well into the DDs and a 38 inch band, with thicker straps to boot.

So as a life long Lululemon devotee, I was a little bummed when I noticed a quality decline.  So my eyes (read: credit card) started wandering.  And there was this new kid on the block. With roots in Austin and arms in New York, I started to like what I saw.  Especially those colour pairings.  But could gear from Outdoor Voices stand up to a few litres of sweat, another hundred box jumps and all of the weights?  The answer is yes.  Absolutely.  And your coach will notice your new gear at the same time (true story).  Start off with one of their Kits!  And then fill your entire wardrobe with athleisure.  Because that’s what all the cool kids are wearing anyways.

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T / HBD-C!

Photo Credit: Tiffany Tsang

So last month, I got to shoot Cait in her natural environment.  Frolicking in the desert that is (see above).  Just look at her!  In full Cait!  And I couldn’t stop taking the photos.  And it reminded me about why I love her so much.

Loyal to a fault.  With the best taste.  And honesty that knows no bounds.  And magnetic.  She draws you in and spreads her good mood even when you’re in the thick of it.  She has every single quality in a best friend a girl could ask for.  And I haven’t even gotten to gushing about how talented she is.  I have so many favourite pieces that she personally designed for me.  And I don’t think I have the space to expunge on how she’s my photo muse (see below).

I’m so happy that a series of fortunate seating arrangements brought us together…and a roll of Hello Kitty duct tape…over udon noodles, in Phnom Penh.  And I can’t believe it’s been nearly five years.

According to Google, we are 13,191 km away from each other these days.  Not 4km.  While we’re not exactly happy about this, I know she’s always there, and up for a gush fest on everything from Gloria Steinem to Issa Rae, Glossier, and this little piece of the Internet we’ve built ourselves.

We set out on a journey together nearly three years ago.  And we’re still on it.  And I never want to get off of it.

So if you see her today.  In person. On the Internet.  Or however one sees another these days. Give her a big hug and wish her a happy birthday.

Happy Birthday Cait!!!

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T / happy monday / sometimes you need a little paris

Photo Credit: Alice Gao

Maybe it’s because I’m in a little travel withdrawal.  Or perhaps a little annoyed that The XX decided to be in LA while I was San Francisco, and in San Francisco while I was in LA.  And that we missed Nicolas Jaar in Joshua Tree by a day.  Not cool. I also probably have a little bit of travel envy (care of this lady).  In any case, I miss seeing live music.  I’m in the middle of a massive craving and I haven’t managed to squeeze in a Rhiannon performance yet.

So I had to do a good solid binge on La Blogotheque.  They’re Take Away Shows (this is a fave) have been on my deck for the past few years, sometimes for a little taste of the City of Lights.  And this year, they unleashed their Soirée de Poche catalog, otherwise known as a series of Pocket Sized Evenings.  And I cannot believe they’ve been hiding years of acoustic live shows in intimate venues around Paris.  If you’re missing this kind of experience, and I know a few who are, then this is worth a binge.  Beirut, Vampire Weekend, Father John Misty.  All the favourites.  I can’t even begin to describe how happy these medium sized pieces of music make me.  Here’s a morsel.  You’ll also get a jolt and perhaps an addiction to Paris as well while you’re at it.