Summer Floral

We are still in the grips of a heatwave, so here’s a simple outfit for this week’s SIA, inspired by a piece of Spanish embroidery. Since I’ve worn a very similar outfit for another SIA challenge, I decided to switch it up by pairing this floral T-shirt with white jeans and adding my green heels to mimic the green scroll at the bottom of the piece. I have to admit, the shoes are kind of an afterthought and I’m not entirely happy with them because they are a bit formal and don’t really go with the rest of the outfit, which is more casual. If I had built the outfit around the shoes, I would’ve worn my embroidered blouse instead. But it was too hot to think anyway, so here we are.

Don’t forget to send your outfit to Daenel (if you haven’t already) and check out her blog on Wednesday for the round-up of all outfits inspired by this work of art!



We’re having the first heatwave of the summer, hence my simple and breezy outfit. I know most style guides would advice you to wear dresses or shorts in the summer, but I actually find a loose-fitting shirt and pair of pants work better for me. You won’t have to worry about thigh rub like you would in a dress, and with long pants instead of shorts, you won’t have to apply so much sunscreen and there is less surface for the bugs to feed on too. I always recoil in horror when I see tourists wandering around in shorts and tank tops (yes, I’m aware that I’m technically wearing a tank top too.) Cover up, people! There’s a reason people in Vietnam dress like this when we go out.

Book Reviews: June 2018

I’m kind of indifferent to all of this month’s read, but here we are:

Word by Word by Kory Stamper:

It’s interesting how all of the books on language I’ve read so far all have the same sentiment: language changes, so despite how you feel about them, even words like “irregardless” have their places in the dictionary. This book, which revolves around the author’s time as an editor for Merriam-Webster, reinforces this more than anything else. It’s quite funny and reveals some interesting things about dictionaries as well as the persons behind them (actually I never even thought about the writers and editors of the dictionaries at all, but now that I think about it, dictionaries, like any other book, need to be written by someone). 4/5

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevallier:

I took this with me on my trip to Da Nang. Since it’s a beach trip, I figured a book about two women hunting for fossils on the beach of England in early 19th century would be appropriate. It’s too bad that the book itself is boring. There are some interesting bits about fossil hunting and the way women are written out of history, but none of those really pans out. I don’t connect with either of the narrators (Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot), and I hate the fact that when they have a falling-out, it is because of a man. So much for feminism. 2/5

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco:

I saw the movie adaptation of this a long time ago, and all I remembered about it was Sean Connery and Christian Slater in funny haircuts solving a series of murders at a monastery. The book is so much more than that. In fact, the murder mystery part is only incidental to the book. It is mostly a book on Christianity, philosophy, history, and much else. However, it is the murder mystery part that I’m interested in – it’s basically medieval Sherlock Holmes (the main character’s name is William of Baskerville, and in the movie he even says “It’s elementary.”) So I admit, I skimmed through a lot of the other parts to get back to the mystery, which becomes frustrating after a while. Just as the mystery is getting interesting, it is interrupted by a long discussion about the poverty of Christ or a description of an altar or a hallucination or something like that. And of course, being only incidental, when the mystery does get resolved, it feels anticlimactic. I’m not saying it has to be some stupid conspiracy like The Da Vinci Code or something, but I wish the murder mystery could have been a little more intergrated into the whole thing. 3/5

SIA Inspiration: Spanish Textile

It’s Daenel’s turn to host SIA, and here is the inspiration she picked:

This is a fragment of embroidered Spanish silk from the 18th century, and Daenel chose it for the pretty, summery floral pattern, which is feminine without being too girly. This one should be a no-brainer, right? In fact, the outfit I wore for SIA a couple of weeks ago would be perfect for it, which means I have to come up with something else… Anyway, just remember to send your outfits to Daenel ( by next Tuesday, July 3rd. Have fun!

A Week In Da Nang

It has become kind of a tradition with my family to take a week-long vacation in early summer. Since most of us work in academia, it’s the most convenient time (later in the summer we would be busy preparing for the upcoming semester); plus, the kids won’t have to wait too long for their vacation.

This year our destination is Da Nang, a city in Central Vietnam best known for its beaches. Most travelers skip it altogether or only use it as a transition point between two more popular destinations – the ancient capital of Hue and the old town of Hoi An – but we’re all about avoiding the crowd, so to Da Nang it is.

To shake things up, we also decided to take the train instead of flying. Sure, the trip takes 15 hours instead of 1,5, but it’s fun to sleep on the train (we had an entire compartment to ourselves), and you can catch some epic sunrise and sunset too.

Sunset over Thanh Hoa

Sunrise on the way to Hue

Another great thing of train travel is you get to go through the Hai Van (Sea Cloud) Pass, the most beautiful coastal road of Vietnam (called “a ribbon of perfection” by Top Gear). You can’t get views like these from a plane:

Our first glimpse of Da Nang from the train

In Da Nang, we rented an apartment right by the beach. It’s in a newer part of town, so we had the beach almost to ourselves. To avoid the sun, we only went to the beach very early in the morning (I’m talking about 5 AM early) or late in the afternoon.

The beach in the afternoon…

… and in the morning

If you go early enough in the morning, you can see the fishermen coming back with their catch in distinctive basket boats. You can even buy their fish – it doesn’t get fresher than that!

A fisherman’s motorbike and his gear

A make-shift fish market on the beach

You can also see a lot of wedding photo shoots

My niece and nephew’s beach combing haul

Of course, being so close to the famous old town of Hoi An (it’s only 30 km away), we had to take a day trip there as well. However, it wasn’t easy with two kids in tow, so I didn’t get to see as much of the town as I’d wanted. I’ve been there once before, but that was years ago and I didn’t remember much of it, except that it was very pretty. It’s still pretty now, like a more compact version of the Old Quarter of Hanoi, only with Chinese and Japanese influence on the architecture rather than French. Unfortunately, it was also very hot and insanely crowded. Otherwise, I would’ve gone back there by myself to really explore the place.

Typical Hoi An scenes

Two of the many Chinese temples and assembly halls of Hoi An

There are also plenty of day trips and hikes that can be taken from Da Nang, but I was feeling lazy, so I just wandered around the waterfront area of the city, which isn’t far from our apartment. It’s a great place for people watching, and when Da Nang’s many bridges, the most famous of which is Dragon Bridge, are lit up as darkness falls, it is quite an impressive sight.

Dragon Bridge during the day

… and at night

Our answer to Singapore’s Merlion

Da Nang’s skyline

All in all, it was a good trip. I still prefer the “discover and explore” type of travel, but it’s fun to just relax once in a while.

SIA: Blue And Gray Acrobats

Welcome to another week of SIA! Our inspiration is Picasso’s “Two Acrobats with a Dog“, and we have a lot of fun and surprisingly similar outfits, so let’s check them out!

First up, our co-host Jen and her husband, Sam, are in matching outfits with their argyle tees, reddish jeans, and slip-ons. How cute are they?

Up next is Bev, who looks lovely in a blue dress and blue shoes. Check out her post for close-ups of her necklace, which also mimics the colors of the painting:

Kezzie also has the same idea as Bev about the blue shades and the leggings, in a cute tank top and beautiful silk skirt:

Our co-host Daenel is in the middle of moving so she doesn’t have access to all of her clothes, but she did a great job with what she has.Apparently she and I had the same idea about wearing plaid pants:

Finally, here’s me:

And that concludes another fun SIA challenge! Be sure to tune in next week for a new inspiration courtesy of Daenel!

One Klutz With A Dog

This is my outfit for this week’s SIA, inspired by Picasso’s “Two Acrobats with a Dog”. I’m the furthest thing away from an acrobat as you can imagine, hence the title. As for the dog, I couldn’t get mine to pose properly, so I had to make do with a photo of her from the back (maybe she’s camera shy.)

The outfit is self-explanatory, as you can see – blue, gray, and plaid in place of the harlequin pattern. I also tried to mimic the same pattern in my triangle necklace. I was only a little bummed out  when I realized that I’d forgotten about the touch of tan/yellow in the painting. My tan oxford heels would have been perfect… but then again there are black diamonds in the harlequin pattern too, so maybe my black pumps aren’t so bad after all.

If you haven’t sent me your outfit photos, you still have until tomorrow. Otherwise, remember to come back on Wednesday for the full round-up. See ya!