3.05.2015

Office Design Inspiration

After about five months, I have finally accumulated and gotten rid of any furniture I wanted or didn't need, and now I'm starting to see my apartment come together in a single cohesive design. Now if I could just muster the energy to finish scraping and painting the few walls I have left... 

Anyhow, I decided my extra room was going to be a closet-home office-guestroom type deal with my clothes spread out and arranged like decorations. One of the girls who left had a floor couch that rolls out to be a pretty lovely bed for a guest, and one of the guys who left had the perfect, white Ikea desk. Now that I've managed to move myself away from my main room couch and floor desk, I thought I'd start looking into creating a more cohesive design. My colors are black, gold, and white, with maybe a little bit of red. I need my office space to be both inspirational and productive (aka a pretty way for me to indulge in my list making habits). Here are some office design inspiration that have got my DIY-creativity wheel turning.
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Love the gold legs and the world map painting!
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diy-decoration
  office-accessories
Um, perfect! Plus, sometimes the answer to this is the exact opposite of what you should do.


What do you think? What do you normal look at for office design inspiration and what colors would you want?
[Image Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

3.04.2015

Big Eyes 2014

big-eyes-2014
Do you watch The Hollywood Reporter round tables on Youtube? They're amazing. If you ever need an hour of sheer inspiration, put on one these. Since I'm not big in the movie circuit (I always hear about movies after they've long been out!), I only just discovered Amy Adam's latest effort with Big Eyes via the 2014 actress round table. Interestingly, all of the actresses were playing real life people, which may be an indicator of where good cinema is headed. Let's hope for less sequels and more real stories! 

Anyhow, Big Eyes ibased off of the life of Margaret Keane. The movie begins with Margaret fleeing from her first husband with her young daughter for California. She doesn't know much of the world, and, from her own admission, she hasn't belonged to herself her whole life. She can paint, though, and her paintings have a distinct doe-eyed appearance. It is when she is trying to sell her abilities in the park that she meets Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), a charming, charismatic man who sweeps her off her feet, promises her the world, and marries her quickly. He claims to be a painter himself, having studied in France. He tries to sell Margaret's paintings and when one misunderstanding points him as the artist, he convinces Margaret to allow him to sell her paintings under his own name.

The real story is so crazy, it's hard to believe it hasn't been made into a proper movie before now. Better yet, none other than Tim Burton directs it! Adams really does disappear into her character (actually, has anyone noticed how good she is at doing that? Compare Catch Me if You Can to Enchanted to American Hustler to Big Eyes), and the rest of the cast is amazing. It's a movie that reflects the real Margaret Keane--quietly strong. The ending will leave you more than satisfied (as will the real story).

3.03.2015

How to Book a Hostel the Right Way

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The view from my hostel in Krabi, Thailand. Yeah.
Knock on wood, but I have never stayed in a bad hostel. Between a mix of being insanely prissy/ pretty chill and pretty cheap, I have spent many a day searching through hostel websites and travel blogs to find the best choices for the best price. I have paid over $30 per night maybe once, and that was at a motel in Seoul. And it had a waterfall shower head. I'd call myself lucky that I have managed to avoid bad hostels, but it's also a lot of research and knowing what I want. The only time luck played in was when I had nothing to do with booking accommodations, but even then my friends who did were as organized as I am. I admire people who can drop in a city and find a place to sleep all in the same night the same way I admire backpackers. I love their stories and their spirits, but I will never nor do I have a desire to ever be that person. I'm a planner, and I like lists, Pinterest boards, and highlighters. Here's how I book hostels and land pretty amazing ones! From my college study abroad travels through western Europe and my recent travels through Thailand and Cambodia, here are some tips:

Know Yourself 


What are the little things that make you squeamish? What are the things you can do without? Are you on the prissy side or the chill side? How do you feel about being barefoot? How do you feel about air conditioning/heating? These are silly things to know, but they factor in to how you're going to enjoy a hostel. I need my toilet to be clean and working well, but if I can't flush the toilet paper all the time that's okay (aka every place in Thailand except the train). I don't like smelly bathrooms, so if that's even mentioned more than once, I'm out. I'm also okay with not having a specified shower area. I don't care about my feet being bare and leaving my shoes outside, but if it's humid, I need air conditioning. 

Try to Stay in Private Rooms


If you can afford it, try to stay in a private room. By yourself or with one or two other people (depending on who you're traveling with). Obviously when I was dirt poor living in Spain, I couldn't really be picky with the euro. However in Thailand and Cambodia, with a salary, I could afford to spend a few extra dollars (and really, sometimes the difference is $5) to give myself a little more privacy. If you can, go for it. And if you can't, get it as private as you can. I don't think I can stay in a huge, 24 person mixed dorm. I could do an 8 person mixed, preferably female, dorm provided there's some security measures in place.

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Entrance from the inside of my hostel in Bangkok

Ignore Hostels with Ratings Below 80-85% or 4/5

Don't do it. It's not that much cheaper, and I have yet to hear of a good experience with people staying hostels with low approval ratings. People are giving negative reviews for a reason, and if it's enough to get it below 80%, it's not worth your effort to then make sense of the reviews.


Look for Common Themes in Bad Reviews


I also edit the review section to put all the bad reviews together. Sometimes reviews seem negative, but they only say positive things, so you can throw those out too. Over all, look for common themes and intelligent reviews. Obviously, super prissy people can be nasty, but if multiple people in recent months are commenting about cleanliness, location, noise, etc, than they're probably on to something. I always look for cleanliness, any bathroom issues, security, helpfulness/friendliness of the owners, and chances of overbooking.


Make Sure Reviews are within the Past 3-4 Years


Obviously, a hostel has had changes since 2006! Make sure your reviews are fairly recent. It's silly to spend time reading reviews from years ago when hostels change over time. I'm sure wi-fi wasn't as common as it is now a decade ago.


E-mail Hostel with Any Questions Beforehand


Don't hesitate to e-mail your hostel with any questions before you book. Even little things, like, "Do you have towels?" or "How far are you from...?" Good hostels will have reliable contact information, and they will be helpful and friendly and fairly quick in their response. 


Sites I Use:

  • booking.com
  • hostelbookers.com
  • hostelworld.com
If you want, you can get really saavy and check all three of these for different deals. I do get a little lazy, and whichever of these sites pop into my head first tend to be what I stick to for all my searching.

Hostel's I've Stayed At:


*For hostels I'll stay at even when I'm rich!

Over to you guys! Do you have any hostels you absolutely recommend? Or on the flip side, hostels we should avoid like the plague?

3.02.2015

[Book Club] Shanghai Girls

by Lisa See

I'll be truthful, I know very little about Chinese history in the United States. I vaguely recall mistreatment over the building of railroads and Angel Island. I actually only learned about Angel Island because it was a small blurb in a ninth grade vocabulary book. You know, when they want to use the words you've learned in context, so they come up with paragraphs for you to find the words in. (Actually...how awesome would that job be?) I picked up Shanghai Girls from the leftover books one of the teachers leaving here left, mostly because the spine was pink, and I was curious about the mystery promised in the summary.

BASIC SUMMARY: The book spans the lives of two young women, Pearl and her younger sister, May, from their early adulthood in the thirties to middle age in California in the sixties. See takes us from the glory of Shanghai to the Japanese invasion to immigration to living through discrimination in the US. It's written more for young adults, and it's written more to showcase the long journey Pearl and May take than to focus on specific moments. After all, it covers about 20 years in roughly 300 pages. Gone with the Wind covers 10 years in 4x that amount. It's not necessarily a happy story either, but it's not totally tragic and there's hope within the moments that are. 

THOUGHTS: Because I have very little understanding of Chinese-American history, and I have no ancestors to ask, I found this book fascinating. See has very clearly studied her roots, and this book serves more to explain the C-A history than as anything else. In terms of knowledge, it's the perfect introduction to encourage more study. In terms of book hangovers and being emotionally rewarding, I did find it a little lacking. Although one might argue, the brisk pace and tonal neutrality from the narrator enhances the horror of the events, I did not find it to be so. Pearl explains family loss, forced marriage, rape, injustices, suicides, and so much more in such a brisk way that I didn't have a lot of time to absorb her emotions before a few years have passed and something else happens. 

Definitely read the book, though, and see for yourself. I'm also the kind of person that relishes long paragraphs spent observing minute moments.   

2.27.2015

A Newbie New Yorker Guide to New York City

So, remember Darcy from The Boss Life? Well, I picked her brain for sort of guide to New York City, from an insider's perspective. Of course, in her own words, she has yet to be a full blown New Yorker, only having been in the city for a little over a year, but that's a year a longer than most people! Here's a quick run down of what to do, eat, see, and more in the Big Apple.
FAVORITE EATERIES:
  • Pigalle (their brunch is amazing)
FAVORITE PLACES TO VISIT:
My favorite place to visit will always be Strawberry Fields in Central Park. I also will never grow tired of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 
PLACES TO AVOID:
Times Square late at night… (I feel like that’s self-explanatory) 
WHAT TO WEAR: 
Right now, L A Y E R S! Wear several layers, something that will cover your ears, a thick scarf, and mittens. Recently, I've seen a lot of black (although that’s not out of the ordinary) in addition to heavy fur coats. 
BEST PLACES TO SHOP:
May I add Barnes and Noble to this list?! Their store on Fifth Avenue is gigantic and all sorts of perfect. Saks Fifth Avenue, Zara, Free People at Rockefeller Center, and I’m going to say Macy’s because it’s quite the experience…
FAVORITE TOURISTY THINGS TO DO:
I love going to Broadway shows! If they weren't so expensive, I would go to one every weekend. So far, I have seen Romeo and Juliet twice, Les Miserables, and Phantom of the Opera. I plan on saving up for more! 
BEST NEW YORK MOMENT:
The night that my roommate and I moved into the city, we went to a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. I had never been to a hockey game before and I still wasn't familiar with the city, and the experience of going to one of the games and being in Madison Square Garden was the first time it sunk in that I was officially living in New York. 

What do you think? Have any to add? What else would you like to see in travel guides? Look out for more in the future! Hope you enjoyed this guide to New York City!


P.S. Check out Darcy's new blog