book recommendations

Posted on: Tuesday, October 10, 2017

reading is one of my very favorite things to do to relax, but i often only end up picking up a book before bed. while on vacation, i pretty much spent several days just reading straight through each morning, afternoon and evening – on the boat in Greece, along the beach in Positano, on flights and trains and in cafes. i ended up getting through a bunch of books and wanted to share some of my favorite recent reads! i love sharing (and receiving) book recommendations, so if you’re into reading and feeling stuck on what to read next, hopefully this list helps. 🤗

recent favorite read (maybe ever):

a little life by hanya yanagihara // this book was ranked the top book of the year by like, every publication. truthfully, the book rocked me and it was hard to put it down once I started. the book is truly beautiful and so, so heartbreaking and sad, and the author did an excellent job developing each character, to a point where you felt close to each one. and, the book had that strange power of haunting me after reading, where I continued to think about the characters and story afterwards.

easy reads (quick to get through, engaging storyline, iconic ‘beach read’):

crazy rich asians by kevin kwan // funny and fascinating (although fictional), easy to get through — a perfect beach read!

the kind worth killing by peter swanson // if you were a fan of gone girl and/or like psychological thrillers, you definitely should read this one!

her every fear by peter swanson // after i finished swanson’s other book (above), i immediately downloaded and finished this one in two days.

memoirs/personal essays:

drink: the intimate relationship between women and alcohol by ann dowsett johnston // this book explores patterns of alcohol consumption and abuse in women, telling one woman’s personal story of recovery with in-depth, shocking research about binge drinking among women and girls.

the rules do not apply by ariel levy  // a lovely memoir from journalist ariel levy – lots of beautiful and heartbreaking parts, all woven into one book.

we are never meeting in real life by samatha irby // this was one of those laugh-out-loud books, filled with hilarious essays from samatha’s life. favorite chapter: an epic essay about her working out (in a prenatal yoga class while not pregnant and in an aerobics class for senior citizens when she’s only in her 30s)

important reads (with historical, cultural, sociological impact):

we gon’ be alright: notes on race and resegregation by jeff chang // important essays about the rise of the #blacklivesmatter movement and the different tragedies and protests that have happened here in amerca.

just mercy by bryan stevenson // this book, authored by the founder of the equal justice initiative (helping the poor and wrongfully condemned prisoners on death row), discusses death row, our (very messed up) criminal justice system and the importance of mercy and justice going hand-in-hand

evicted by matthew desmond // really loved this book – it was a fascinating look into eight families’ lives in milwaukee as they struggle to pay rent. it was a great mix of storytelling and real, disturbing facts about those living in poverty or less-than-ideal housing conditions in america.

the hate u give by angie thomas // this is actually a book aimed for a younger teen audience, but touched on the topic of teen activism after the main character witnesses a police shooting. it was easy to read in terms of understandable language, but definitely an important and loaded topic so not an “easy read” in that sense

UPDATE: hillbilly elegy by j.d. vance // this is a book I read a few months back, but a few people commented mentioning this book so I wanted to add to this recommendation list, as I really enjoyed and learned from this book. hillbilly elegy could also fall under the memoirs section in this post, as the book tells the story of the author’s family, while discussing and analyzing Appalachian culture and the white, working class population.

what’s the best book you’ve read lately? please share! my good friend rob just finished autumn by ali smith so that’s one book next on my list.  // image via

travel adventures: greece!

Posted on: Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Excited to share some photos from our recent trip to Europe! First, I want to share about the first half of our trip to Greece! We were super excited about this part of the trip because 1) we were going with our good friends Luke and Renee who recently moved to Paris and 2) the majority of the trip would be on our own private sailboat visiting different Greek islands. 💙  SO DREAMY!

We took a red-eye from SF to Athens, with a layover in Munich. The long flight was fairly painless, especially since 1) they had good movie options and 2) we booked a row of two seats together instead of having a third person next to us. Way easier to sleep that way, in my opinion! We then took an Uber to our Airbnb in Athens (more about Athens at bottom of the post) where we stayed for the weekend before our sailing trip started on Sunday afternoon.

But, since the majority of our trip was spent on the water, that’s what the majority of this post is about, plus what I have photos to share of! Here’s more info about the sailing adventures.

We booked our trip via Incrediblue, which is like Airbnb for boats. I had no idea this was even a thing, but Eric and Luke did a ton of research (thanks guys 🙏🏻) and booked our sailboat. This is the boat we stayed on and it was just the four of us, plus our captain, a 60ish-year-old quirky guy named Dimitris (who spent a lot of time in his speedo working on evening out his summer tan 😂).

We went to three different cities on two different islands during our trip – all listed below and I have a breakdown of photos from each city below too.

Night 1: Lavrion (about an hour drive from Athens) – this is where all the Incrediblue trips begin and you spend your first night here getting acclimated to the boat, especially sleeping on the boat and seasickness.

Night 2: the town of Loutra on the Kythnos island – more below

Night 3: the town of Merichas on the Kythnos island – more below

Nights 4 and 5: Vourkari on the Kea island (our favorite!) – more below

Our typical day started with expresso (thanks, Dimitris!) and an easy breakfast like yogurt and granola on the boat. We would take off around 9-10am for our next destination, stopping at different coves to swim, lay out, nap, and just spend a few hours on the boat. We would do lunch on the boat, which was usually cheese, bread, tons of fresh fruit, olives, nuts, etc. – my type of eating!

We would arrive to the next town around 4-5pm to dock and explore the town, grab dinner and then hang out on the boat before bed. In town, we would grab provisions for the boat, like food and water for the next day.

The trip was slow and relaxing and amazing. I think I finished eight books during the trip and we played cards, water colored, journaled, and took leisurely afternoon naps every day. I’m really grateful that I felt great overall (was 20 weeks pregnant at the time) and didn’t feel sick throughout the trip, especially with the boat constantly rocking back and forth. 🙌🏼

Renee said it perfectly – that the trip was a good reminder that slowing down is good for our souls and how important it is to carry over some of the relaxation from the trip into our regular life. 

Greece was GORGEOUS and we really lucked out with amazing weather the entire trip. I really liked that we were able to explore smaller, less touristy islands and that we had an “insider’s look” of sorts at the Greek islands, thanks to Dimitris’ never-ending recommendations and “fun facts.” 🙃

A majority of these photos (the pretty non-iPhone ones) were all snapped by Renee and E snapped a few cool GoPro ones, so I can’t really take credit for any photos other than the subpar phone photos 🙃). Here’s the three different places we visited on our sailing trip!

LOUTRA (KYTHNOS): this was such a pretty town! And, the beach had hot springs so that was really cool and relaxing. We went to dinner at a super local place a little outside of the main town strip that our captain recommended to us. It had a great view of the water, right at sunset.

MERICHAS (KYTHNOS): this was our least favorite of the three cities, but it was still charming and quaint. We grabbed dinner at an Italian place (trying to take a break from our daily meal of mussels and Greek salads) and ended up getting like two types of pizzas, pastas, etc. SO FULL. Also, random, but there are cats everywhere on the islands. That was really weird and surprising to me!

VOURKARI (KEA): this was our favorite town by far, and we were super pumped we could stay for two nights. On the second day, we took the boat out and explored coves like usual, but then came back to this town to dock for the night since we liked it so much. There’s a few cute boutiques and we found cafe with good smooothies (and wifi!) and some good dinner and happy hour spots here.

As I mentioned, we only spent about 24 hours in Athens, but here’s a few photos from our quick time there. Our favorite neighborhood was Kerameikoswhere we grabbed dinner and drinks at a few different spots. It’s a little grittier than other areas but super good vibes and much less tourist-y than areas like Plaka and Monastiraki. Both of those areas were cool to walk through and explore, but would recommend limited time because they are just really crammed and crowded.

ATHENS:

Thanks so much for reading! xx

trip to the color factory!

Posted on: Monday, August 21, 2017

Last week, I finally went to the Color FactoryColor Factory is an incredible pop-up color experience here in SF. Basically, it’s an Instagram dream, as it’s a two-story interactive exhibit within a warehouse, with different rooms dedicated to different colors and materials. All of the creativity and thought that went into each exhibit and the space overall truly blew me away and we had SO much fun acting like a giddy little kids playing around in the space. In light of everything going on in the world, we kept saying how magical and special it was to spend even an hour in this space – it was like an escape from the “real world” and an epic glimmer of joy and happiness in one place.

A few highlights: the insane rainbow ribbon installation (10,000+ ribbons), the giant yellow ball pit (with over 200K balls in there!), the super fun confetti room, the scratch and sniff wall, snacks (you get a sprinkle cookie when you enter and a mini ice cream cone when you leave), and the disco ball room. Pretty much, I need a disco ball room and confetti room in my apartment asap. But truly, the entire space was INCREDIBLE and I’m so glad we went! Oh, and when you leave, you get a neighborhood map showing other fun color experiences out in the city (like rainbow stairs and fun murals) to check out.

Right now, tickets are sold out for the rest of August and September, but sign up for their mailing list in case they extend through the fall (which I hope they do, so I can go back!). For more Color Story magic, follow on IG @colorstoryco. Here’s more photos from the visit that I snapped, along with ones from my besties Ali + Aimee!

life update

Posted on: Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I have some fun and v big news to share today! We are having a baby! And whew, it feels really good to finalllly share the news publicly (I’m so bad about being secretive). 💛 Our little BB is coming in January, so he/she will share a birthday month with me!

We found out we were pregnant when the baby was about 5 weeks and now we’re at about 16 weeks! At first, and especially during the first few weeks, it felt surreal and didn’t quite sink it that yes, we are having a kid. A few weeks ago, we had an ultrasound where we felt and heard the baby’s heartbeat and saw he/she moving (dancing) – it was so cool to experience and really clicked like THIS IS HAPPENING.

This is obviously a totally new phase of life for me/us and there’s a lot of unknowns but I’m trying to remind myself that so many other life phases were unknowns too – moving across the country, getting married, etc. And, I figured out those new phases out and learned a lot along the way. And I will do the same with this whole pregnancy/mamahood thing too!

Thank you to everyone for being so supportive and encouraging and amazing and kind to us! My support system is truly one of life’s biggest and richest gifts and words can’t quite explain how much I appreciate the advice, kindness, celebrations and love from our family and friends. ✨

And, I happen to think Prince Jack will be the cutest big (furry) brother. 💛 What do you guys think? 😉

In case you’re interested, here’s some random updates about my pregnancy so far!

FEELING (PHYSICALLY): overall, really good! Fortunately, I haven’t been sick at all (🙏🏻), but I have been super, super tired. Like, must-take-an-afternoon-nap and still go to bed at 9pm tired. Since I work remotely, my schedule is fairly flexible, so I’ve been waking up earlier to start work at 7/8am and then taking an hour or so nap in the afternoon and resuming work in the afternoon/evening. The tiredness was especially true/all-consuming during the first trimester, but like clockwork, I’ve started to get my energy back after hitting 13 or so weeks. Whew! I’ve also been feeling a lot more soreness in my lower back/hips/obliques. Not surprising, of course, since my body is obviously going to expand, but still kind of painful. My Saje pain release essential oil has been a lifesaver! Oh, and my acne realllllly flared up at the beginning, which has been a not-so-great (but apparently common) pregnancy symptom. Oh and one more not-so-glamourous and pretty gross physical thing — the first few weeks I was super gassy. It wasn’t great. This symptom wasn’t one I heard about a lot so…maybe people just keep that super private or maybe I’m the only one who experienced this symptom. 😂

FEELING (EMOTIONALLY/MENTALLY): When I first found out, I was a mix of happy and panicked. This happened a lot faster than we expected, so I guess I was just thrown off guard a bit! The all-encompassing emotion I felt especially in the first 5-9 weeks was just overwhelmed. By 8-9 weeks, I had told my family and inner circle of friends and I felt immediately better. Their support and encouragement really helped me shift towards more excitement over fear and stress. It was also stressful for me to keep this huge life thing private, especially when in social situations (aka – after saying you aren’t drinking after a few times, it’s just kind of obvious). I think a lot of this stress and overwhelmingness came from 1) being bombarded with lots of medical info and ‘worst case scenario’ doctor stuff about testing, etc and 2) feeling a little bit like a loner in the mom department. I don’t know a ton of moms/families in the Bay Area and that felt startling and difficult- how was I going to do this?! Thankfully, a lot of those feelings have subsided when I was reminded, over and over, that I have so many supportive and loving people in my life (moms and otherwise) both in the Bay Area and all over and everything was going to be okay. More than okay!

READING: Bringing Up Bébé, Mindful Birthing and allll of the MOTHER articles

WEARING: I still fit into all my pre-pregnancy clothes, but have been wearing less jeans and more flowy dresses/casual leggings + tshirt combo. I don’t really want to purchase a ton of maternity clothes, so going to try to work with what I have for the most part (said while I’m still fairly small and haven’t grown a ginormous belly *yet*) But, I do have my eye on the Storq leggings, jumpsuit and tank dress and I’ll probably get the Madewell maternity jeans too. Any other cool maternity brands/clothes you guys know of/recommend?

FITNESS: I’ve been continuing to work out 5x/week, mostly yoga and Pilates, plus a few SoulCycle classes. Other than making some modifications to different poses/moves, exercising has been pretty much the same since pre-pregnancy. Working out (as always) has been super beneficial both physically and mentally. I know this routine will likely change as my pregnancy progresses/I get much larger, so if any of you have recommendations on pre-natal friendly workouts, send my way!

FOOD AVERSIONS/CRAVINGS: I haven’t really had any aggressive aversions. I miss sushi. I’ve been craving cold and fruity, so have been making a lot of smoothies (but that’s pretty normal for me). I’m also drinking tons of water.

VITAMINS: Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamins and Silver Fern Probiotic Vitamins (which I’m convinced have really helped clear my acne and help boost my immune system)

Thanks for reading! More photos below – and thanks to Lisha Wang for snapping these photos of us in our apartment!

 

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