i'm back.

tulum

How are you guys?  Did you like the inspiration posts?  My trip was great, though I'd have loved for it to be longer, 4 days is definitely not enough.  And I'm still kind of pinching myself that I was really there -- it was all a whirlwind of wedding events, eating, sightseeing, and taking pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures that I still need to download and sort through.  The photo above is a preview of the Mayan ruins in Tulum.  Such a beautiful archaeological site overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Hope everyone is doing well. 

today's inspiration: mori girls

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Ever since I heard about them 2 years ago, I've been really intrigued by the mori girls. Mori means forest in Japanese and according to this blog, "the mori girls (森ガール) belong to a subculture of girls who look like fairytale forest wanderers in their loose dresses, vintage prints and quaint accessories. Mori girls choose to live their lives on their own terms, stopping to appreciate the little things that others overlook amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life."

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"In her own quiet way, the mori girl is an individualist. She does not care that the world may live differently from her. She lives consciously and chooses her own lifestyle. When she shops, she buys something based on how it makes her feel, rather than on how fashionable or expensive it will appear to others. While she may enjoy the company of others, the mori girl loves her own company and indeed has embarked on many of her most memorable adventures alone."

Isn't this such a lovely way of living and looking at the world?

Read more about mori girls' fashion and lifestyle here.

today's inspiration: fudge magazine

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There's nothing sweeter than spending a sunny weekend reading at a seaside café with the view of the ocean in front of you. This is exactly what I did 2 weeks ago -- brought my favorite issues of Fudge Magazine and spent the entire Saturday morning browsing its glossy pages while intermittently writing, staring into space, or gazing at the water.

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Fudge is a Japanese magazine that I buy regularly from Kinokuniya. Eventhough I can only read about 5% of its contents (if I'm lucky!), I love their photography and unique styling and it makes me want to recreate some of the outfits with my own clothes. Their January issue makes me swoon, especially this ballet-inspired photos. Sigh.

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P.S. You can see more gorgeous magazine scans from Fudge here.

today's inspiration: point reyes


Its funny how the weather is always the polar opposite every time I go to Point Reyes -- either very cold and foggy that you can hardly see a thing, so cold that your lips quiver and your fingers are numb, or very bright and sunny with unbelievably glorious light. I love it either way and its one of the first places that I go to when I'm feeling sad, in need of inspiration, or both. I come here and all is right in the world again.

Here are some of my adventures in and around Point Reyes:

The very first photos I took of the headlands, circa 2007.

A magical sunset at Dillon Beach.

Creek-wading along the way.

Tomales Bay with a disposable camera.

Finally, a Poet's Loft of my dreams.

How about you?  Where is your special place?

(Photo of me taken by Holly)

today's inspiration: the vagabond by colette

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"Vagabond, maybe, but one who is resigned to revolving on the same spot like my companions and brethren. It is true that departures sadden and exhilarate me, and whatever I pass through – new countries, skies pure or cloudy, seas under rain the colour of a grey pearl – something of myself catches on it and clings so passionately that I feel as though I were leaving behind me a thousand little phantoms in my image, rocked on the waves, cradled in the leaves, scattered among the clouds. But does not a last little phantom, more like me than any of the others, remain sitting in my chimney corner, lost in a dream and as good as gold as it bends over a book which it forgets to open?" -- Renee, from The Vagabond

Few writers can touch me to the core the way Colette can. Especially in The Vagabond. How she described the internal struggles of being a woman, that paradox of wanting to be independent and yet bound to someone at the same time, that longing for solitude versus togetherness, she captured those with such poetic precision and sincerity that takes my breath away.

The book's heroine, Renee, is probably the one literary character that I can relate the most, as I'm sure a lot of women, not because of her personality or experiences, but because of the way Colette had written her with such understanding and patience of a woman's heart. Its a truly enchanting piece, one that continues to inspire me (and make me want to move to Paris!) even more than the first time I read it. 

Have you read this book,or any of Colette's work? And if so, what did you think?

P.S. You can read more on The Vagabond and Colette here.

(Photo by Ann He)

playa del carmen

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I'm leaving for Playa del Carmen, Mexico to attend my friend Monica's wedding. I have so much to do before my trip, so posting will be light here for awhile. But don't worry, I scheduled a couple of posts while I'm away. Basically, it's an Inspiration Series -- literature, places, and other things that inspire me. Hope you will stay tuned for it in the next few days.

Please feel free to share your inspiration, too. See you later!

(Photo by Yosigo)

ノルウェイの森 (Norwegian Wood)

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My nose has been buried in this book all weekend. Ever since I read Tien's post about its upcoming movie adaptation, I could not get the visual images out of my mind and know that I just had to read it, like now. I've always loved Murakami, there's something about his writing style that draws me in, calms me, and makes me want to write too. And this book is no exception. I'm more than half-way done, I want to savor it and read just a couple of pages at a time but its so hard, I can't seem to put it down.

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How does one translate a Murakami book into a movie? I'm not quiet sure either. But if these breathtaking stills are any indication, I think the filmmakers did a pretty good job in creating that feeling of the surreal and tragic beauty that I often get while reading his books. It also stars two of my favorite Japanese actors, Kenichi Matsuyama and Rinko Kikuchi (from the movie Babel), so yes, I am very excited to see it.

P.S. You can watch the international trailer here.

on a rainy day

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I am in love with these minimalist photos by Yosigo. Especially his umbrella series. So perfect to look at on a rainy day like today. I'm still coughing and sniffling so I plan to spend the rest of the day catching up on my sleep, eating lots of soup, and maybe read some Murakami. I want to be 100% well for my trip next weekend.

How about you guys, how is your weekend going so far?

vivez la langue.


This video for Live the Language makes me want to spend a year in Paris so bad. Its not exactly the best kept secret that I love all things French but this short clip just solidified why. Now I want to switch from learning Japanese to French. Ha! So fickle.

Seriously, if I had to pick 3 other cities to live in my lifetime, it would probably be Paris, Tokyo, and Stockholm/Barcelona (still undecided on the third one).

How about you? Dreams are free, right?

(video via Black Eiffel)

that golden hour

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Last week, when we had our almost-summer weather, my aunt Carmen and I took a short trip down the coast to Half Moon Bay and drove by a field of yellow flowers -- just in time for sunset. My favorite time of the day is always that golden hour before and after sunset and this one really took my breath away. One of those moments you keep in your chest of happy memories, you know? And I guess it was also providential that we both randomly wore yellow on that day.

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Sending some golden sunshine your way. xxo

a cupcake saves the day

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It's one of those days. But a cupcake (topped with vanilla frosting and sprinkles) plus a cute dreadlock boy greeting me a Happy V-day yesterday made me happy. Oh and congratulations to my giveaway winners Gretchen, Maya, and Irish! Please e-mail me your mailing address so I can send you the goodies. Cheers! xxo.

happy heart's day.

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And some movie stills from Amélie. Just because.
♥ 
 However you spend this day, I wish you love. Lots of it. xoxo.

en français

I'm learning French so I can propose in French, he said.
His voice breaking as if he couldn't believe he
just admitted his plan to someone else.

She smiled. Looked at him in the eye and asked,
How does it feel? To love 
without holding anything back? 
Isn't it scary?

He nodded. Hugged her close next to him.

They kept walking on the empty street. The night is quiet.
Streetlamps stood solemnly on both sides, lost in their thoughts.

He linked his hand in hers and whispered: Your hands
are cold, we need to get you some tea
.

what are you reading?

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I've been sick for the past two days (yes, on top of my knee injury..boohoo) and pretty much staying at home today. On the upside, it also means that I can catch up on my reading. Lately I've been such a bad reader, I'd pick up a book, read a chapter or two, put it down and grab another one -- repeat, repeat. I think the last novel that I read from cover to cover was A Book of a Thousand Days, which was last summer.

Poetry books are a different story altogether. I always have one in my purse, on my bed, in the bathroom, everywhere. They are my lifeline, the ones I go to when I'm feeling overwhelmed or just need to breathe. There's always a poet who can help me make sense of things. These days I'm taking Naomi Shihab Nye's Fuel with me everywhere. It is such a goldmine, everyday I find a new poem or phrase that I fall in love with. For instance, reading this poem is like retelling my childhood, especially these lines:

What this town has not given her
the book will provide; a sheep,
a wilderness of new solutions.
The book has already lived through its troubles.
The book has a calm cover, a straight spine
.

A wilderness of new solutions. I love this very much.

P.S. How about you, what are you reading?

most beautiful winter day

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The Bay Area had a record-breaking heat over the weekend so we decided to drive down the coast to Big Sur.  Just exactly what my stressed self and injured knees needed -- driving along winding roads, crossing old bridges, blue blue skies, all that nature.

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Two of my favorite road trip buddies - my cousin Bill and his sweet little dog Red. Our trips often include random singing in the car and eating junk food (mostly Cheetos).

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We found this hippie-bus-turned-roadside-store along way and I had to take pictures. Right behind this bus is a river and there were a bunch of women with colorful skirts hula-hopping and dancing. It looked straight right out of a Summer of Love movie.

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beautiful restaurant overlooking the ocean

Our final destination was this restaurant perched high on a cliff in Big Sur. The view from there is absolutely amazing -- you can see both the redwood forest and the ocean.  Definitely worth the visit even just for the view alone.

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Sunset along the Pacific coast...ah, so beautiful it makes your heart ache.
I will always, always love this side of California.

confession tuesday: ballet pink

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Is it silly to cry over a pair of shoes? Because I did just that, cried over an old pair of ballet shoes, the sight of it all stretched and dirty, flashback to a year of pliés and jumps and standing on my tiptoes. I had a feeling it was coming, I've been lamenting over my painful knees and the fact that I had to take time off from dancing for some time now, but when it came I was even surprised at the ferocity of my heartache.

Just last week I had a potential disaster with my passport but thankfully all that is fixed now so I can travel at the end of the month as planned.  But the thing is, I was even more distressed about the thought of not doing ballet than my passport problems.  I tried to blame it on work stress and erratic sleeping hours but if I have to be honest with myself, I really, really miss ballet. It's only been a year since I started taking classes but I guess that's more than enough for me to love it so. And now even a certain shade of blush pink makes me sad.

I don't know yet what's going to happen with my knees. But I do know that I will try my darnest to make it better, if only so I could dance and jump again.  There's something so wonderfully ecstatic about jumping with your toes pointed in the air and then feeling the wooden floor beneath your feet when you land.  I want to feel that joy again.

P.S. Its been so long since I posted a Tuesday confession here and I had forgotten just how freeing it is.  So if you have something to share, anything at all, email or write a comment below. And thanks for reading...much love to you. xx.

(Photo by Tim Evan Cook via oh happy day)

sacred mornings

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As the world shrinks, imaginative space becomes more important.
~Jeanette Winterson, Home via le projet d'amour

I've been missing this lately. I juggle so many things at once, between work, classes, spending time with friends -- not to mention technology and social networking.  Even when I'm quiet, I'm seldom really "quiet" because there's that constant hum of my phone whenever a text, e-mail, or Facebook message comes in.  Its becoming a habit, that compulsion to glance at my phone or surf the internet whenever I can.

Don't get me wrong, I love the internets and is constantly inspired by all the creative people that I've met through the blogging world.  But at the same time, I also really need to be mindful of how I spend my time while I'm on it.  Be more selective with the sites and blogs that I visit, so to speak.  Do any of you feel like this lately?

So this is my little act of love for today.  To set aside a quiet space for myself, that space of emptying, and to let inspiration take over.

happy, happy friday! and a giveaway.

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I have a co-dependent relationship with pretty Japanese office supplies and spent a ridiculous amount of time at Kinokinuya Bookstore. Lately I've been obsessed with these patterned washi tapes and even made some pencils as a holiday gift for my friends last December. They are made of 100% recycled HB pencils and washi tapes, though I call them happy tapes because they make me smiley-happy.

So, as part of my Lunar New Year intention and my thank you for reading this little blog, I'd like to give a set of DIY pencils + some Japanese office supplies to you. Drop me a line at the comment section and I'll let my students pick 3 lucky winners from a hat. You have until next Friday to do so and if you're still shy, you can also e-mail me at oalpuerto(at)yahoo(dot)com instead. International readers are welcome. Cheers! xoxo.

let's do this again


And everyday I'll try
to do one thing I like
in memory of being happy.

Today is the Lunar New Year. We had Korean noodles at my favorite joint and took silly pictures by the Victorian houses in Alamo Square. I wore my new striped coat that I got on a super sale. Its my first clothing purchase so far this year as I'm trying to buy only those that make me absolutely happy, which obviously this coat does. And yes, I do need something to be excited about as the last few days (weeks) were really rough and at times overwhelming.

But there are still little (and big) things to be grateful for. The fact that we are enjoying an almost-summer weather when the other side of the country has a major snowstorm. The opportunity to help a relative in crisis. Friends checking up on me and making sure I took care of my knees. A sweet e-mail from my ballet teacher saying that they missed me in class. Fangirling over this show and that man. Beautiful grainy pictures from a cheap disposable camera. Long walks around my neighborhood. Falling in love with film photography all over again.

I'm hopeful about February and the rest of the year. I've decided that today is a new beginning, just in time for the lunar year to start anew. And inspired by a poem by Franz Wright, my intention is this: try to do one thing I love, everyday.

So it begins. For those of you who celebrate Lunar New Year ~ Gong Xi Fa Cai, Akemashite Omedetou, Happy New Year!

がんばってください!