Ladybird

It’s April Fools, but I think the time we’re living in is a massive joke already so there’s no need to dwell on that, right? Anyway, this was my last proper “work outfit” before I started working from home. It’s simple, so I added some interest with my ladybird pin.

And because there is nothing else in the outfit to talk about: I finally got around to watching Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women (I was reminded of it because, of course, Lady Bird is also a Greta Gerwig movie starring Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chamalet.) Maybe I’m partial to the 1994 version with Winona Ryder and Christian Bale (even the 1949 version with June Allyson and Peter Lawford isn’t bad), but I found this version kind of… boring. I appreciate the attempt to make Laurie + Amy make sense, but I’m still not entirely convinced (I’m a steadfast Laurie + Jo shipper), and I think the non-linear structure robs the story of its emotional impact. Plus I absolutely hate the costume design (just because the Marches are poor doesn’t mean they have to be dressed like a bunch of ragamuffins and running around with their hair down and their pants showing.)


SIA Inspiration: Paul Cézanne

It’s Daenel’s turn to host SIA, and she picked this painting, “The Pool at the Jas de Bouffan” by Paul Cézanne, simply because it’s outside, LOL:

Jokes aside, there are a lot of shades of green here that makes it appropriate for spring, as well as neutral colors like beige, brown, and gray. Remember to send your outfits to Daenel (livingoutsidethestacks@gmail.com) by next Tuesday to be included in the round-up. Have fun!


Russia Diary #7: Moscow part II

Our last full day in Moscow was a day of museums. We started the day at the State Historical Building (the red wedding cake-looking building on the other end of Red Square), which displays artifacts of Russian history from pre-historic times up to the end of the Russian Empire. Definitely get the audio guide (for 400RUB extra), because all the displays are in Russian, which I think is stupid, but what can you do? I was particularly taken with all the displays of the development of Russian culture from the 13th to the 16th century – after that, it became too European for me (though still interesting.)

State Historical Museum’s front facade

The front hall – the ceiling is painted with a genealogy tree of all the Russian monarchs

Yup, more neck pain

I did enjoy the displays of fashion of the nobilities though

Then, after lunch, it was off to the Kremlin. Here you have the choice of two tickets – one for the Cathedral Square (for 700RUB) and one for the Armory, which houses the treasures of the Russian Empire (for 1000RUB; you have to buy your ticket for a specific time like 10:30, 12, and so on). However, after the State Historical Museum, we decided to forgo the Armory and just checked out the Cathedral Square, which contains five 15th-century cathedrals built back when the entire city of Moscow was inside the Kremlin (“kremlin” in Russia means “fortress”, so there are many different Kremlins all over the country.)

Look how empty the Square is! You can never get this in the summer!


Church of the Dormition and Ivan the Great Belltower

Cathedral of the Archangel

Cathedral of the Annunciation

The Tsar Cannon


The Tsar Bell – the biggest bell in the world, but sadly it was broken before it could be suspended

The cathedrals are all impressive, though not as splendidly and lavishly decorated as the ones in Saint Petersburg. The ones in Saint Petersburg had all been restored, while these are left more or less untouched (though some are under renovation), so they look less polished but more authentic.

Most of the cathedrals don’t allow photos inside, except for the Cathedral of the Dormition – not sure why

Later, we went to the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics. It was fun and educational, though I was annoyed with having to pay extra for my camera (taking pictures with your phone is free), and the heat was making us sleepy (the Russians like to keep their buildings super toasty), so after poking about for a bit, we headed back.

Monument to the Conquerors of Space – the museum is located under it

Belka and Strelka, the first two dogs that went into space and returned alive (poor Laika didn’t return so her body wasn’t recovered)

Various satellites

Lunokhod 1

Space food (you can also buy something like this from a vending machine outside the museum)

If it wasn’t so freezing, I would’ve liked to check out the nearby VDNKh Park – a series of buildings intended to display the Soviet’s agricultural, industrial, and technological prowess – but we had one more place to visit, and it was my favorite, the Tretyakov Gallery.

Tretyakov Gallery’s entrance (with a statue of Pavel Tretyakov, the man who started the collection, out front)

This was near our apartment, and it was open late on Friday, which was why we saved it for last. Finally, I was in my element. Not that I wasn’t in my element at the other museums, but this was where I could solely concentrate on the artworks and not get distracted by the interior (like at the Hermitage.)


Some of my favorite works – “The Rider” by Karl Bryullov and “The Unequal Marriage” by Vasili Pukirev

Detail of “Portrait of Princess M.V. Vorontsova” by Sergei Zaryanko – just look at that lace! And that satin!

“Portrait of an Unknown Woman” by Ivan Kramskoi

“Golden Autumn” by Isaac Levitan

“Girl with Peaches” by Valentin Serov

We had half a day left in Moscow, and it was time for some souvenir shopping. Having done my research and with tips from our walking tour guide, we headed to the Izmailovsky Market on the outskirt of Moscow (you can take the Metro there, but remember to get off at Partizanskaya Station, not Izmailovskaya Station. Confusing, I know.)

The Izmailovsky Kremlin, where the market is located

Here you can find the same souvenirs – Russian dolls, fur hats, amber jewelry, etc. – for a fraction of the prices of the shop in the city center. On the weekends, there is also a flea market selling everything from old clothes and toys to books, records, and silverware (I got two beautiful old pewter mugs from one of these sellers.) Bring cash and prepare to bargain – the sellers agreed to our prices so readily that we suspected we could have gone even lower. If we hadn’t run out of cash and time (and luggage space), we would’ve stayed for much longer.

Old Soviet pins

You can also find more than the traditional Russian dolls (see Putin and other Russian leaders up there?)

We absolutely lost it at these dolls – the smallest one is smaller than a pea!

Finally, after a frenzy of packing and 1.5 hours sitting in Moscow traffic (we had a lot of luggage so we had to take a taxi to the airport instead of the much-quicker Aeroexpress train), we were on our way home. Goodbye, Russia. It was a whirlwind of a trip, and I was exhausted – exhausted by all the traveling, by the extremes of weather, and by all the beauty – but left wanting for more. I still haven’t fulfilled my Trans-Siberia dream yet, so I’ll definitely return one day!

And on that note, I’m going to end the post with this video of a musician at the Metro – you don’t get much more Russian than this:


SIA: Arnolfini Portrait

Welcome to another week of SIA! Just to remind you, our inspiration this week is Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, so let’s get to it!

First up is Mike, who combined black and green in his outfit, and even found a drapey curtain to take photos next to:

Nancy went for more of a blue shade rather than green, but the pleats of her skirt and the details on the shoulder of her sweater mimic the woman’s dress very well:

Our co-host, Kim, went in a slightly different direction – she chose a military jacket with a peplum to echo the gathered waist of the woman’s dress, paired with a teal top to mimic the blue underdress. Very cool!

Our other co-host, Daenel, admits that she rarely wears green, but she did find the perfect draped top, IMO:

Kezzie evokes the painting in her dress and accessories – how adorable is her outfit?

And finally, here’s me:

Big thanks to everybody for participating. Remember to check back next week for a new inspiration courtesy of Daenel. Stay safe and healthy!


Wedding Portrait

My interpretation of this week’s SIA inspiration, Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, is a little different. Sure, it has most of the colors of the painting (green and black, with a touch of brown), but the print of my dress makes it decidedly more futuristic – usually, I would try to echo the feel of the painting if I can, but I see this print as my way of mimicking the intricately pinked trims on the sleeves and the pleated front of the woman’s dress in the painting. I also added my brooch because it reminds me of the mirror on the wall behind the couple.

More importantly, I was going to wear this to a wedding last week, which I thought would make it appropriate for the theme of the painting. Unfortunately, the wedding was canceled due to the pandemic (“pandemic” is a word I never thought I’d type for a real-life situation. Usually I only read it in sci-fi books. But such is the time we’re living in.) The couple decided to have a very simple family affair instead of the big reception they’d planned, and my hat’s off to them for sacrificing their big day in the name of public health and safety. Anyway, even though I didn’t get to wear it to a wedding, I thought, why waste a perfectly good outfit? So here we are.

If you haven’t sent me your outfit, you still have until tomorrow! And don’t forget to come back on Wednesday to see other interpretations of this classic painting!


Russia Diary #6: Moscow part I

Saying goodbye to Murmansk, we returned to city life with our last destination – Moscow. Although we were tired after an early morning flight, the sun was shining, so we took advantage of it by walking to Red Square. You don’t know how much you’d miss the sun until you don’t see it for days on end – in Saint Petersburg we only had 6 hours of daylight each day (and it was barely light, as the sky was overcast most days), and in Murmansk even less, while in Moscow we actually had nearly 9 hours of daylight. What luxury!

Anyway, my first impression of Moscow is that it is a livelier and more urban city than Saint Petersburg – as fitting its status as the capital – despite being nearly 600 years older. Also, it feels more Russian than Saint Petersburg, which has more of a European feel. This is probably because Moscow’s architecture is more traditional Russian, especially around Red Square. As it was a bit late to go into the Kremlin, we just strolled around looking at all the colorful buildings and popped into GUM Department Store to warm up and try its delicious ice cream (made with the same recipe since Soviet time!)

Classic view of Red Square, with the Kremlin on one side and St. Basil’s Cathedral on the other

Lenin’s Mausoleum – it’s free, but we didn’t check it out. We have our own mummified leader, thank you very much

GUM’s facade is being taken over by a Winter Festival, which will be up until March (they love their Christmas celebration here)


GUM’s interior and its delicious ice cream – caramel and chocolate are two of the best flavors

A wedding photoshoot outside GUM

Moscow River

The very Russian interior of Varenichnaya No. 1 restaurant

I highly recommend visiting the Red Square at night as well – it got all lit up and was exceedingly pretty.

The next day, we went on another walking tour. Though we’d walked around ourselves the day before, it was still fun to learn more about the city from a local guide. For example, he advised us to lower our expectations for the interior of St. Basil’s Cathedral – because it’s a series of chapels built next to each other, it won’t be the large, grandiose church inside. For that, he recommended the Church of the Savior, which is free to enter (we ended up going to neither, since we’d had our full shares of churches in Saint Petersburg.) We also got to see the Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which was great fun (though I felt sorry for the guards, having to stand there in the cold for an hour each day.)


Two of the many churches of Moscow (near our Airbnb)

St. Cyril and St. Methodius – the ones responsible for the Cyrillic alphabet


Murmansk’s “Hero City” plaque and one of the Kremlin’s towers

The Changing of the Guards (too bad the monument itself is under renovation)

After lunch, it started snowing quite heavily, so we took refuge in the famous Metro stations of Moscow. Armed with a map, we simply traveled around the circle line (which has the most beautiful stations) and stopped at whichever station that caught our eyes. A ticket costs only 40RUB and you can change lines as much as you want (as long as you don’t exit the station), so this may be the best and cheapest thing to do in Moscow.  I was blown away by the level of workmanship and artistry at each station. Each is truly like a mini palace. We didn’t get to see them all, but we did get a good glimpse of them before the rush hours started and we had to head home.

Prospekt Mira station


Novoslobodskaya Station with its stained glass windows is my favorite

Krasnopresenskaya Station

Arbatskaya Station


Kievskaya Station

Ploschad Revolyutsii (Revolution Square, aka Red Square) Station – rubbing the dog and the rooster is supposed to bring you luck

Stay tuned for the last installment!


Holding On To Winter

I don’t have a lot of new outfits to post these days, as I’ve been working mostly from home in the past month or so due to the coronavirus (yeah, Vietnam has closed schools and canceled events since February to prevent the spread of the virus, and everything is still fine over here, so for those of you whose countries are only beginning to shut things down – don’t worry, you’ll be OK.)

Thankfully, I still have a bunch of backlogged outfits from way back in January, which is why you’ll find that they’re a lot more appropriate for winter than spring, especially in their colors – like this outfit, for example. But then again, traditional spring colors like pastels and bright colors don’t look good on me. I’m much more of a fall/winter (both in terms of my coloring and my preference), so I’m holding on to winter as long as I can.