happy new year!

I wish you and your loved ones lots and lots of joy
and everything that your heart desires for 2011.
Have a wonderful and safe celebrations! Cheers!

a very special day



the world of the fireflies
has invaded my thoughts
(what a beautiful time!)
and a miniature heart
blossoms on my fingers.
~Federico Garcia Lorca

Today is my birthday. And it also marks my 5th year of blogging. 5 years!!! Can you believe it? I can't either. I still remember how I felt when I posted my first entry, that feeling of what am I getting myself into? and my excitement when I saw that after weeks of writing without a single reader, someone finally wrote the first comment.

So here's to my birthday and to my little blog. And here's to you, my dear readers. Thank you, thank you. This blog has changed my life in so many lovely ways and a lot of it has to do with all of you. Cheers! Kanpai!


Birthday Self-Portrait, 12.27.10

In photos above: flowers I got for my birthday + lace details of my new dress, mochi ice cream (yum!), and my birthday braids.

merry christmas!

love actually is all around

Three days ago, the most beautiful thing happened to me. I was lining up to buy tickets for the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker when a man came up to me and asked, Do you need tickets? I nodded yes. He smiled, gave me a ticket, and said Merry Christmas.

I must have embarrassed the poor guy with my excited thank you's, but its not everyday that you get front orchestra tickets from a complete stranger, so yes, I was overjoyed. It made my first experience of watching The Nutcracker so much more magical.

Have a very wonderful Christmas everyone! May you also experience the little joys that your heart is longing for this season. ♥

Photo by Nicole Jordan

all the little things

wuthering heights

Finally, it's my winter break. I don't know about you guys but I'm so glad that its here. Not even the icky weather can dampen my spirits. This time, I'm really taking it easy. I have this tendency to do so many things all at once and try to please everyone but for Christmas and for my birthday, I will give myself this gift of solitude. I need it. This school year has been pretty rough and some quiet time is definitely in order.

Other things that's making me happy:
Re-reading some classics
The Nutcracker Grand Pas de Deux
A printed fabric with the loveliest design (see picture above)
Watching a foreign film without subtitles
This mobile video of Chris Martin singing Christmas Lights

And you, my dear friends. Thank you for reading, as always. I've been an absentee blogger lately and I'm really touched by all your sweet comments. I wish you all a wonderful holidays. xx.

like wine through water


"I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind." - Catherine, Wuthering Heights

I wish I know a better way to juggle everything right now - work, friends, family, the writing life. I long for a whole day when I can just lay in bed and read to my heart's content. I started picking up Wuthering Heights yesterday and I'm excited to re-enter Cathy and Heathcliff's turbulent world yet again. God knows I have enough on my plate but maybe that's exactly why I chose this novel, it's too dark and intense that its easy to be swept away in its intensity.

It is almost my winter break and I'm taking it easy this year. And crossing my fingers that I'll have enough time to catch up with all of you.

Oh, and random note. A Japanese-style coffee shop is called kissaten. Don't know why but I love it so.

I hope everyone is keeping warm in this cold wintry season. xxo.

♥ Odessa

first look: jane eyre


It must be Jane Eyre season here because the goodies just keep on coming. And I'm certainly not complaining. Remember when I wrote about Cary Fukunaga's new film adaptation? Well, they just released the theatrical trailer a few days ago and oh my, be still my heart. It is *almost* exactly like the Jane Eyre that I saw in my head while reading the book. I had to watch it a couple of times to take it all in. The combination of dark gothic elements and gorgeous cinematography is giving me shivers. I'm also really amazed by Mia Wasikowska's otherworldly intensity as Jane, she seems perfect for the role. Ahhhh...spring can't come soon enough. Have a look at the trailer and tell me what you think.

P.S. The movie poster is lovely too. I really like the subdued colors.
Photo via Jane Eyre Trailer





I am so inspired by these autumn-themed photos from my blogger friends. We don't really get to see a whole array of autumnal colors here but looking at them is enough to make me want to bundle up and head outside, walk everywhere with a cup of coffee to go, and take lots and lots of pictures.

Photos by Sofia in France, Jo in Stockholm, Ebony in Tokyo. Thank you, ladies.

P.S. And you, how does this season look like in your side of the world?

do you write?

There's a very interesting article from the Wall Street Journal about a recent research study that shows how writing by hand engages the brain in learning. The study shows that not only does it help with learning letters and shapes, it also improves idea composition and expression and may aid in fine motor skill development. And its not just children who benefit from the physical act of writing but also adults who are learning to form new symbols (i.e. learning how to write Chinese characters).

I work as a therapist in the schools and often deal with children with handwriting and fine motor difficulties and this article really made me happy. Especially because there are times when parents question why we still need to work on penmanship when we live in a digital age anyway and almost everyone is using a keyboard or a handheld device these days. It begs the question: does handwriting still matter?

My answer to that of course is a resounding yes. Regardless of the theoretical or neurological reason behind it, I personally feel so much more connected to what I'm writing when I'm using paper and pen. Which is why I keep a journal and have tons of little notebooks and word cards that I carry with me everywhere. There's something inherently personal about seeing your thoughts and ideas translate on a piece of paper versus a computer screen. And it may be cumbersome to have all these paper trail but I really like it that way.

How about you? How often do you write by hand? Do you have a preference between keyboarding versus using paper and pen?

music monday: james blake


Every once in awhile I come across a song that completely blows me away. This was how I felt when I first heard James Blake and his remake of Limit to Your Love, one of my favorite songs by Leslie Feist. You can't really compare the two, but I must say that James Blake's version is haunting in its starkness and I can't help but be drawn to his voice. And the bass in this track is just out of this world. Have a listen.

Photo via Telegraph.co.uk

vintage perfection


Candice Lesage

I literally swooned when I saw these photos. They were taken by Candice Lesage, a 19 year-old Parisian blogger and photographer. She found this 1957 edition of Jane Eyre at a flea market for only 1 euro! Isn't it just gorgeous? I am so in love with the color and the typography. And how her caption says "Reader, I married him". This is also one of my favorite lines from the book and it makes me want to pull out my own copy and immerse myself in Jane's world yet again.

today's inspiration


Found this via The Drifter and the Gypsy. Isn't it just lovely? How there's so many words to describe a certain feeling and circumstance. I've always loved the word saudade and the feeling of longing that it evokes, especially after I found Lorca's poetry. And of course, there's gigil, pronounced as gheegle, a Filipino word that I often use when I have this uncontrollable urge to pinch or hug someone. Like seeing a bunny or a newborn baby or your favorite person doing unexpectedly sweet things and you can't help but squeal inside.

I think if there's a word for that feeling of utter joy you get in that moment of doing something that you love the most, I'd like to know that word. Bliss? Happiness? Love? I'm not sure they quiet encompass that inspired moment. Like being able to take a picture that you already saw in your head. Or finding the right phrase for a poem that you're writing. Or doing one perfect pirouette after hours and hours of practice. I would really love to find that word. What do you think?

hello, it's me

It's been a long time. And no I didn't fall off the grid. All is quiet well in my corner of the world. I know some of you are wondering, I even got a few "what's going on?" messages in my inbox. Thank you so much for asking. I also did not anticipate to take a blogging hiatus but things happened. Let's just leave it at that.

It may sound cheesy but I really do miss you guys. I miss this little space where I can write my incoherent thoughts and talk about everyday things that inspire me. I miss visiting your blogs, sharing ideas with kindred souls, and being inspired by you. And yes, I promise I won't take off without prior notice again. Pinky swear. *smiles*

Three weeks ago, my friends and I went hiking at Marin Headlands. The view from up there is absolutely breathtaking and I took a video to share here. So even if its a little late, here's a short clip from where I was sitting. And know that I'm still thinking of you. Hope everyone is doing great. ~Love, Odessa

P.S. In case you're wondering what we were talking about in this vid, the Blue Angels were practicing for their annual show that day. Unfortunately, my camera doesn't have a power lens to capture their awesome stunts but someone took a great video of the actual show here.


I want one. And now the want has intensified a thousand times over when I saw this picture of Ebony's new mamachari in Tokyo and this line from Holly's blog post:

"the part they didn't tell you about riding off into the sunset—how beautiful the light would be falling on your handlebars..."

Gah. I want a bike so bad but its just not practical for me right now. First because my studio is too small that there is nowhere to store it. And second because I live in a very hilly neighborhood that biking to work would probably take all my energy and I won't have any left to deal with my very active students. Of course, if/when I move to Japan...now that's another story.

Watch this adorable video of Japanese mothers and their mamacharis, picking up their kids from kindergarten. My cheeks hurt from smiling too much, especially since I can understand some of the words that they're saying.

P.S. I actually just spent most of my Saturday afternoon in a dentist's chair, had 3 fillings and all that good stuff so I'm quiet loopy right now, which may explain this sudden desire to own a bike. :)

(Photo via Hello Sandwich)

dreamers & believers


Dreamers & Believers is a Sydney-based art collective by artists Dinta Jakile and Stacia Hadiutomo. I am so in love with their styling and I want one of their sweet pompom necklaces. Aren't they pretty? Do head on over and check out all their dreamy projects.



(Photo via The Finders Keepers)

on solitude


I am here alone for the first time in weeks, to take up my "real" life again at last. That is what is strange - that friends, even passionate love are not my real life unless there is time alone in which to explore and to discover what is happening or has happened. ~May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

Photo taken last weekend at Los Vaqueros Reservoir.

green apple books, circa 2008


Looking at this photo makes me smile. My friend Dae sent it to me a couple of days ago with a caption that says "Your Happy Place". It was taken at one of my favorite used bookstores in the city. A lot of things happened on this day, beautiful things. We also met a certain guitar-strumming boy for the first time and our lives will be never the same again after that. So here's to friendship and found old photographs.

(Photo by Dae. You can visit her new blog here)

summer is late, my heart


Summer is late, my heart: the dusty fiddler
Hunches under the stone; these pummelings
Of scent are more than masquerade; I have heard
A song repeat, repeat, till my breath had failed.
As flowers have flowers, at the season’s height,
A single color oversweeps the field.
-- Stanley Kunitz, The Collected Poems

I love this stanza so much that I can probably recite it in my sleep. It has also turned into a theme of sorts, especially since San Francisco summers are always always late and I am catching up with the sun, taking in as many late summer afternoons as I can, reveling in that golden hour between sunset and twilight.

Unfortunately, I've also been such a busy bee lately that I have neglected this little blog. Starting a new school year is always a challenge but hopefully I can get everything organized and will be back to my regular posting here. For now, here are pictures that I took while hiking along Land's End and spending some time reading at Baker's Beach just in time for sunset. The beauty of this place never fails to astound me. Enjoy.






P.S. I miss you guys. How have you been?

have a magical weekend.

What are you guys up to for Labor Day weekend? I plan on catching up on my sleep and reading some poetry. We are also taking a long drive up the coast with no destination in mind. Hopefully we'll end up somewhere around Tomales Bay, where I took this photo three years ago. Its still one of the most magical sunsets that I can remember.

Happy weekending. xx.

virginia woolf

This blows my mind. The only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf's voice from a BBC radio broadcast in 1937. I am currently re-reading Mrs. Dalloway and she really is a genius. Her words are so rich that sometimes I find myself wanting to read some sentences over and over again.

P.S. You can read the transcript of this interview here. Enjoy!

same skirt, different seasons

This photo was taken back in February in Carmel Valley. Bottom one was taken last week at the Golden Gate Park. Though its the same skirt, I'm not sure how the colors came out so different. Summer versus winter light?

I'm trying to clean out my closet and sort my clothes between keep, resell, give away piles and trying to embrace the "less is more" mentality. It's a daunting task especially since I've grown quiet attached to some clothes that doesn't even work for me or my style anymore. So far, here's my to keep criteria:
  • If I can come up with 3 outfits using the said piece of clothing. Like the summer skirt above, which I can wear all year long because I can easily "winterize" it with tights and boots and because of its neutral color goes well with a lot of tops.
  • Function vs. emotion. If its been sitting in my closet unworn for months then I need to get rid of it no matter how much I think I love it. Because if I really do love it, then I'd wear it, right?
  • Fit and style. I'm a sucker for sale items and most of the time I end of buying something just because its on sale, never mind that it doesn't fit with the rest of my aesthetic or its a size too big or too long for me. Either I have these items altered or just re-sell it.
  • Practicality. I have multiple capris and shorts that I kept for those days when I feel like lounging around. But since I live in San Francisco and you can hardly wear them because its often cold here, then I only really need to keep 2 of each.
Any other tips or advice? I'd really appreciate it. Arigatou.

sunday morning walk

My neighborhood has a lot of steep hills and secret stairways. Sometimes it makes me dizzy just climbing up and down these steps. But it is so worth it because of all the beautiful gardens and windows along the way. Not to mention, it's also a pretty darn good workout!

hug a cloud

Ever since I posted this Rebecca Miller photo some months ago, I've been secretly wanting a cloud installation in my apartment. Well I think I may have found a perfect alternative to my wish in this little pillow from Etsy:

Seriously, how adorable is this? I love the dotted tights and those dainty Mary Janes. And its handmade too. You can check it out here.

Hope you are all having a lovely weekend. xxo.

inspiration: poet's loft

My heart skipped a beat when I saw this (via A Cup of Jo). Truly. And then I almost fainted when I learned that it is a rental house in Point Reyes (I was just there two weeks ago!). Private deck with a hot tub. Gorgeous view. A perfect writer's retreat. To know that such a place exist less than an hour's drive from where I live makes me happy somehow. One can always dream, right?

ii tenki desu ne

This means "it's beautiful weather, isn't it?". After wearing tights and sweaters for most of June, July, and August, our summer is finally here and I've been out and about enjoying the sunshine. Here is a picture diary of what I did last Sunday.

9:00 A.M. Laundromat, washed and folded clothes.

11:00 A.M. Bought some cut flowers for my apartment.

1:00 P.M. Ocean Beach with a friend. Bubbles, bubbles!

2:00 P.M. More of the beach, chasing waves.

4:00 P.M. Loving these pastel-colored houses by the ocean.

6:00 P.M. Early dinner with another friend at the Yerba Buena Gardens.

8:00 P.M. At my neighborhood park, view of the city skyline after sunset.

P.S. How are you? I hope you are also enjoying the last days of summer.

young hearts run free

Every since I saw the movie Once, I've always loved this duo from The Swell Season. They made a great film, fell in love, won the Oscars, eventually broke up, but they still remain close friends and continue to make beautiful music together. I just love how their voices compliment each other so well.

Here is one song of them that I found from the Levi's Pioneer Sessions series. Levi's teamed up with musicians to do a remake of songs that influenced them as artists. The duo chose the 70's disco hit "Young Hearts Run Free". Click on player below to listen:

You can also download the song for free here. My other favorites from this series are: She & Him, The Kills, Passion Pit, and of course, my boy Jason Mraz. Enjoy!

P.S. What are your plans for the weekend? I've been nursing a cold so no big plans for me, just sleeping in and resting as much as I can. And if I'm lucky maybe I can watch this movie on Sunday. Have a great one.

deconstructing an outfit

Inspired by your lovely comments about my dress from this previous post (thank you!), I decided to share the rest of the outfit. Here is a full-length photo of me with the foggy Point Reyes coastline in the background:


I'm not exactly sure what is up with my head tilt, I guess I tried to do a hand-on-hair pose like a good fashion blogger, only to realize that my hair is tied back. Ha! I've got to give it to fashion bloggers, posing in front of the camera is haaaaaard. I don't know how they do it on a regular basis.

Anyways, this dress has an interesting back story. I bought it full price at Anthropologie, felt guilty and returned it, couldn't get it out of my mind so I stalked and stalked it online until it finally went on sale months later, and managed to snag the last petite dress in my size. Yes, I'm crazy. But I really do think its worth all the stalking. It's white and strapless with a very full skirt and stripes at the bottom, I can mix and match it with almost everything in my closet -- what's not to love?

Outfit details:
Dress - Anthropologie
Jacket - Forever 21
Headband - Anthropologie
Hair clip used as a pin - H&M
Wool scarf - old flea market find
Boots - Seychelles, on sale at a local boutique

*Photo of me taken by Holly