SIA Inspiration: Spring In Chicago

You read that right. It’s summer now, but Erin found this beautiful photograph of her old apartment building, so she decided to use it for this week’s SIA:

Even better? It was taken by her friend, Vinod Kalathil. You can see more of his photos here or on his official website. Now, I have no idea what I’m going to wear for this (bringing out my tulip-printed wrap skirt again, perhaps?) but I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with. Remember to email your outfits to Erin ( by next Monday, July 31st!

Adventure In Sketching

It’s been a while since I dabbled at coloring with watercolor, and I’ve missed it, but the whole thing has become so much of a hassle – finding the drawing, printing it out, and tracing it – that I didn’t feel like getting back into it. I briefly contemplated buying those adult coloring books (they’re all in the Vietnamese equivalent of the 99-cent bin now – told you guys it was just a fad) and a box of pencils, but it didn’t really appeal to me. So my art supplies just languished in my drawer for nearly two years.

Lately, though, I’ve been itching to paint again. Inspired by my blog friend, Mike, and several Instagram accounts I’ve been following, I wanted to try actual, proper watercolor painting, not just coloring. There’s another reason, too: I’ve been really busy this summer, but the work is so tedious that my mind was constantly wandering, and I found it difficult to concentrate. I knew I needed something to relax my mind. So I dusted off my brushes, dug out my watercolors (which, thankfully, are still good), and whipped up two quick sketches:

They’re pretty clumsy, but considering I haven’t touched a brush in two years and haven’t painted in even a longer time, I think they’re OK. They took me about an hour, and I felt so much freer with these quick sketches than with the coloring. I don’t have to worry about the techniques, and I can experiment more – I did watch a few Youtube tutorials, but just to get myself in the zone. Plus I had the brilliant idea (if I do say so myself) of basing the sketches on my photos (these are from my Euro trip last year) so I won’t be short of subjects. Let’s see how long I can keep up this new burst of inspiration – I get bored and distracted so easily – but for the moment, I’m enjoying it.

Black And Copper

For this week’s SIA, inspired by this steel wool photo by a young Italian photographer, I knew I wanted to wear all black with gold/yellow accent. The black outfit came together very quickly (sorry it looks so wrinkled – that’s what you got for wearing a cotton t-shirt and linen pants around the house), but I couldn’t figure out what the accent would be. My fringed yellow scarf would be perfect to mimic the color and the sprays of the steel wool, but wearing a scarf in this weather is out of the question. In the end, I opted for my circle necklace – the color is more subdued, but I think it worked quite well.

Don’t forget to check Jen’s blog for other outfits inspired by this photo!


As much as I love to spend my entire day in my pajamas, there always comes a time when I feel sick of looking like a schlub. Well, friends, this is that time. After nearly a month of working from home, I just want to dress up for no reason at all, so I did. Although, I didn’t exactly dress up for no reason – I did wear this to see Spider-Man: Homecoming. And yes, I was kinda coordinating my color scheme with the red-and-blue scheme of a Spider-Man costume. At first I was only going to wear the t-shirt, but then I noticed this lace collar and thought, Hey, that kinda looks like spider web, so I added that too. This looks like something I would wear about five years ago – I haven’t worn a Peter Pan collar in so long – but I quite like it.

I quite liked the movie as well. It’s definitely the first movie that manages to make Spider-Man seem like an actual teenager and capture his smartass humor (The Amazing Spider-Man made a stab at the humor too, but Andrew Garfield ended up more smug than smartass. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man didn’t even try.) On the flipside, it also means that the movie is more like a high school comedy and less like a superhero film, but that’s OK. At least it’s not another freaking origin story.

A Week In Buon Ma Thuot

I just got back from a week-long trip with my family to the city of Buon Ma Thuot, the biggest city of Vietnam’s Central Highlands. It’s in the same region as Da Lat, but it’s less of a touristy place, which was why we chose it as more of a getaway destination for some relaxing time rather than a place for dicovery. Plus, we were traveling with my niece and nephew, so a slower pace is much better for them. I appreciated it as well – I had the misfortune of getting sick right before we left, which means I spent the first three days being high on cold medicine and the next three days coughing my lungs out, so the slower pace allowed me to at least enjoy myself to some extent.

Just because Buon Ma Thuot isn’t a touristy place doesn’t mean that it’s short on sights. Within the city, you can visit the Dak Lak Museum (Dak Lak being the province of which Buon Ma Thuot is the capital city) with its awesome architecture, the hunting lodge of the last emperor of Vietnam, and the various Roman Catholic churches and Buddhist temples. Most of these are designed to mimic the traditional “longhouses” of the Central Highlands ethnic people, so they’re really cool.

The central square of Buon Ma Thuot

Dak Lak Museum

The hunting lodge (an art class was having a field trip there on the day we visited)

An ancient camphor tree on the museum’s grounds

The outside and inside of a Buddhist temple

The bishopric of Buon Ma Thuot

Some traditional houses in the suburb

Outside of the city, there are more natural sights. There’s Buon Don (‘buon” means village), well-known for its domesticated elephants and the Srepok River, there’s the Dray Nur waterfall and Lak Lake, the second largest fresh water lake in Vietnam. You can hike around, or just pack a picnic and enjoy the cool shades by the water, which is what we did.

Srepok River

Dray Nur waterfall

A corner of Lak Lake

Another thing Buon Ma Thuot is famous for is its coffee – it’s known as the “capital of coffee” of Vietnam. Unfortunately, I don’t drink coffee, and we were there in the wrong season to see the plantations – they’re best when the plants are in bloom (around March) or when the coffee cherries are harvested (around November). On the other hand, if you want to see the waterfalls, the river, and the lake, the rainy season is better. The weather was super nice anyway – the rain mostly came at night; during the day, it was clear and sunny – so I didn’t mind.

And finally, as is the tradition, let me end this post with a photo of a local cat:

SIA Inspiration: Steel Wool

Thank the gods for SIA, because otherwise, I would have no content to post these days. I’m starting to think that I should run my blog according to the academic year and just put it on hiatus in the summer. Anyway, in the meantime, here’s this week SIA inspiration, courtesy of Jen:

This cool “steel wool” photo (so called because the sparkles were created using some steel wool; you can Google “steel wool photo” for tutorials if you’re interested in photography) is the work of a young Italian photographer Jen found on Pixabay. It’s simple but quite striking, and there are a lot of ways you can interpret it. Black and gold seems like a no-brainer, and Jen also suggests polka dots, which can be interesting. Just remember to send your outfits to Jen at by next Monday. Have fun!

SIA: On The Road

It’s a late SIA round-up this week due to the Fourth of July (hope my US readers all had a fun and safe celebration), but here we are. As a reminder, this week’s inspiration is one of the “On the Road” GIFs by Chinese artist Oamul:

First, we have Jodie, her mom Charlotte, and her stepmom Nancy, from Jodie’s Touch of Style – three very different outfits, but each of them has some elements from the inspiration (love Jodie’s floral blazer!)

Next is my co-host, Jen, who not only found the perfect shirt dress to mimic the painting, with its Asian-inspired floral print, but also found the perfect backdrop with a blooming rhododendron bush:

My other co-host, Erin, chose to mimic the flower seller’s outfit rather than the entire piece, and she, too, found the perfect background at her local farmer’s market:

Like Erin, Mike opted for the more neutral look of the flower sellers. He wished he could’ve taken photos at the local community garden, but for now, these plants will do:

Kezzie has two submissions this week – one of herself and one of her husband (steathily snapped while he was sleeping because he wouldn’t keep still for a proper photo!) – both featuring awesome bicycle prints. How cute!


And finally, here’s me:

What a fun SIA with a lot of variety! Great job everyone, and remember to check back next week for a new inspiration courtesy of Jen!