Wearing Yellow–It’s Tricky for Most of Us!

wearing yellow

Wearing yellow for all of us is tricky–at least it is for me. It has to be the exact yellow for most people. My yellow has to have more white in it; I can’t wear mustard or an orangey yellow. It’s got to be clear and bright like canary yellow, and even then it may not work unless I have a bit of color on my face. I declare that many of us would like to wear yellow, right? But against our faces, that yellow can turn us ill in a millisecond. Therefore, my solution for wearing yellow is to find it for my bottom half–like these yellow trousers. The yellow is very far away from my face, and I chose to pair it with a color that does work well with me, sweatshirt grey.

wearing yellow

wearing yellow

wearing yellow

I used to have the perfect yellow top. It was that yellow I was referring to–my yellow, the yellow that looks good on me. It didn’t wash me out in the least. I can remember I bought it at a super market in San Salvador–a super market of all places. It fit me perfectly too with little cap sleeves and a keyhole at the collar. Also, both the sleeves’ hem, collar, and keyhole all were piped in white. Oh, it was such a cute shirt! Why, oh why did I get rid of it? It was made of polyester; maybe that was why. I still haven’t found a replacement though for that perfect yellow tee….

wearing yellow

wearing yellow

Are you one of the lucky ones?

Is wearing yellow possible for you? Stay tuned as I attempt wearing yellow later on this month….

Boho Romper in Luang Prabang

I bought this boho romper just for my travels to Luang Prabang. I’ll often do that: buy a special outfit that I think will suit the destination for where I’m traveling. It was by chance that we happened upon a bamboo bridge that matched my boho romper perfectly. This bamboo bridge is only up for part of the year; when the rains become to heavy, they have to take the bridge down. Because this bridge is made by the local family that uses it, they charge a nominal fee to cross. I wasn’t too scared to cross the bridge–I figured if we fell, I’d be able to swim in the river. The structure of this bridge is rather amazing–check out how it’s supported by the diagonal bamboo poles inserted into the river. Our days were spent on bicycles in this cute little town–with a stop at the local Joma for an iced coffee. (And baked good of course! Scroll all the way down to see this day’s treat….)

This day’s treat along with the iced coffees was carrot cake.

Do you buy a special item to match where your traveling to?

Cooking School in Luang Prabang

For my birthday, celebrated in Luang Prabang, Laos, we all went to cooking school. It was such fun, and of course very, very delicious. Any good cooking school starts with the local market–in which we had an extensive visit. It was so fascinating, super colorful, and full of smells, both good and bad! The actual school was set in the jungle outside. Laos cooking involves two major components: a mortar for the mixing and a fire for charring. Laos food is surprisingly smokey in flavor and this would explain why. We each made our own food, so we could each decide how much spice we’d add; I usually added three red chili peppers. The food was so good as was the company. It was a really neat way to spend my birthday. And speaking of cooking school, all this week, I’m away on a school trip with 20 students in Chang Rai, Thailand for some Masterchef classes. I love cooking, so I think I scored with this school trip. I’ll try document some of what I learn. In the meantime, enjoy these colorful pictures of the market and some family fun from our trip to Luang Prabang. And if you travel there, make sure to take the Tamarind Cooking Class.

*Warning: there are A LOT of pictures in this post!

[Read more…]

Happy International Women’s Day!

Happy International Women’s Day to all the women I know out there. I just took a jaunt through my Facebook photos…. of course after living 20+ years overseas, I’ve made an amazing amount of international women friends. I can name many girlfriends from each of the countries we’ve lives so far, so for this post I thought I reminisce about a few of the international women out there that I’ve met during my life as an expat….

First up, there’s El Salvador. Oh, Katia! She was the first El Salvadoran friend I met. She was so kind to me. I can’t even remember how I met her, but I know that she took me in as a friend even though I was not from her culture. Katia owned her own hair salon; this was back in 1997–in San Salvador! (It was a classy spot, and I can remember serving as a hair model for her. I did end up with very short, very red hair, but it grew out!!) I was proud of this woman who was able to maintain a successful business in a not always successful economy. To this day there’s something I’ve taken from Katia’s visits to my house. When she’d arrive, she’d always put her bag on a dining room chair. Once dinner was set on the table, I’d remove the purse and put it on the floor. Nonchalantly, and every single time, she’d lift the handbag and put it on the sofa, counter, anywhere off the floor. Out of curiosity, I finally asked her: Why do you always do that with your bag? She told me if you leave your purse, clutch, wallet, or whatever is holding your money on the ground, the money will go. She told me to start keeping my purse elevated and see. I did and it worked! Superstitions….this one I got from Katia. And if I ever have picked up your handbag to put it up above, now you know why! You don’t want your money to go!!

In Saudi Arabia, I met a very special colleague who actually became a librarian with me. Shannon was passionate as I was about children’s literacy. We would book talk one another up and down! In the end we decided to attend the two year librarian program at the University of Washington together. It was such fun! She was an excellent classmate. I can remember how appalled we both were at some of our peers. They’d show up to class in sweats; this never made sense to us. See, Shannon is one classy lady, both inside and out. I have a silver bangle that she gave me, and I never take it off my right wrist. I wear it as a reminder to always be classy–or try anyway. Shannon is one of those people who is both kind and beautiful; one look into her pretty blue eyes and you see it all.

In Venezuela, the entire family made a friend that would last forever: Mary Kelly. To me she was my girlfriend, to Kevin a colleague, and to the kids a tia–that means aunt in Spanish. As girlfriends Mary Kelly and I had many rituals: cafĂ©citos at Malabar, shopping excursions to all the different malls and markets, and trips to the beach with our family. For Kevin, Mary Kelly was an ideal teaching partner; matched with the same intense work ethic, these two made a great team. Tia Maisy, her third role for my family, has always been one she’s taken very seriously. MK is always there for my kiddos, always curious about how they are, and continually supportive of their upbringing. Yep, this gal, she’s a friend for life!

I’m the big sister, the oldest of five. I can remember at times wishing I had an older sibling–preferably a brother. In high school I let my cousin David take on that role. It wasn’t until my 30s in India when I would get a big sister. Caron is my big sis. She has always supported me while pushing me to be my best. She says it as it is, and there have been many times where she’s had to tell me to just grow up. I listen to her, and then I (attempt to) behave. Like a big sister, her opinion of me is held in high regard. I know she loves me, but I love her for pushing me to be a better woman. Even though I miss her greatly, her words of wisdom ring in my ears often–from parenting, to well being, to style, what she would say or do are a constant reminder of how I would like to be.

I was blessed with a second chance with Sandy. We worked together in Bombay and we were friends there, but it wasn’t until working together in Beijing where we became very close. Sandy is fun and full of energy; in fact I call her Petite Turbo. We spent a lot of time together whether it was afternoon walks along the river, cooking on Friday evenings, or shopping with brunch on the weekend. Sandy has so many funny stories, and at the same time she stops to listen to my own. I know all about her family members–she comes from a very large one just like me, and she knows about all of mine. Sandy and I have a habit that we must get back into: we write emails simply filled with bullets. It keeps the note short and sweet while updating at the same time. I think after I click publish, I’ll be sending Sandy some bullets!

Maureen is a double friend, and she’s a very important friend. Maureen is why we are here! I know Maureen from Venezuela; I was her librarian for her language arts students. When we talked about librarianship, I always encouraged her to become one. When she left Venezuela for Hong Kong, shortly after she did indeed become the middle school librarian here. When we were filling out our applications for Hong Kong, I wrote Maureen on that Sunday night. We got interviews the very next day! Maureen and I may be opposites in many ways, yet at the same time we have a lot in common: a love of reading, a love kids, and a love of fashion. I see Maureen about five times a week; we talk about the usual library stuff, but then we always get into the good stuff–the best beauty products, new trends, what’s in our shopping bags, etc! I love seeing Maureen every single day.

Wait though! This is simply six international women that have impacted my life. There are so, so, soooo many more! I actually feel bad writing this post because there are more than a dozen women along my international life that haven’t been mentioned: Christiane, Debbie, Mariana, Kathy, Jane, Heidi, Khush, Charlotte, Priyanka, Shabbi, Vinky, Rhonda, Kim, Pam, Norbyah, Lauren, Amy…the list goes on, and I haven’t even touched on those female students who have touched my life: Taina, Hannah, Simoneil, Devika, Karishma, Fabia…another list that could go on and on. Perhaps I have a designated post for every March 8th!

Happy International Women’s Day to all the women out there!
Who are some of the special women in your life?

I’m Lucky! A Reflection on Travel


I’m lucky, very lucky. I’m lucky in travel. When Kevin and I met, travel was definitely a common denominator for both of us. We met in Italy–I always add to this statement that even though we met in Italy, my husband is not Italian. When we fell in love, it happened fast. After just one month he declared he loved me through a kazoo on the top of the Pink Palace in Corfu, Greece. I said it back! Then the rest of that time in Greece we daydreamed about how we could travel together. What could we with our lives to allow for travel?


After that junior year abroad, we did return home to the States to finish our schooling. The traveling started then: I finished university in Seattle at the University of Washington while Kevin finished in Spokane at Gonzaga University. We flipped flopped back and forth all that last year always avoiding our parents’ homes, and yes we did get busted a few times sneaking around to see one another.


Fast forward past some life experiences that I’ll save for another post. We both went back to school to become teachers. One day, early on in our schooling, Kevin saw a flyer for an international educators fair. Upon some further research and absolutely no convincing, we signed up for the fair. I did have one concern though: I wasn’t going to move overseas with him without being married. We were engaged in November and got our first international job that February. We planned our wedding, got married on July 25th of 1997, and moved to El Salvador five days later. We’ve been traveling ever since!


We don’t actually have travel plans for our upcoming spring break–which has me a bit bummed, but it’s ok. I know how lucky we are… We were just in Laos, before that Cambodia and Thailand, and before that the Philippines. That’s a lot of travel in past six months, and I leave on a school trip to Thailand this upcoming week. I am so lucky with travel! I don’t want to take it for granted, but it might be possible that I do. I love to travel though, and I love this life of travel that Kevin and I dreamed into being. It is safe to say that travel and traveling with Kevin is an integral part of our relationship.


Can you guess what prompted this reflection of travel? My new Laos skirt purchased from our recent travels! When I bought it, it was more of an apron. Then the shop tailor cuts off all the white bits of the top and the white strings that tie the apron together. He cuts down to the black and closes the seam adding elastic to the waist. I had to add the belt to give myself a waist–poof on poof at the tummy section is never a good look! Wait till I post pictures from Luang Prabang and you meet Baby V…. this is definitely my Baby V skirt!


Do you enjoy traveling? Or are you more of a homebody?
Come summer, when we hit our cabin, I definitely turn into a home body!

Attention Travelers: Check the Dresscode!

This is an attention notice for all travelers: you must check the dress code of the destination for where you are traveling! I don’t often get opinionated on Kremb de la Kremb. It’s not my nature to stir up arguments, but from what I just witnessed on my recent travels, I can’t help but write about this topic. It is essential to research the cultural norms in anticipation of a trip.

Recently we traveled to Luang Prabang, Laos. Not only is this quaint little French/Laos town charming, but it is highly religious. Buddhist monks are everywhere and there is a temple (or more) on each block. In order to enter a temple, a woman should have her shoulders and knees covered. That means a BIG no to spaghetti straps, and an even BIGGER negative to butt cheeks escaping out of jean shorts. Yes, during the day it is hot, but there are clothing styles that keep one cool and modest even in the heat.

Enter culottes and the breezy blouse. This was my uniform for the trip. On the days when we’d be visiting temples, I made sure to be covered. I was completely comfortable and felt stylish while respecting the Laos Buddhist culture. I was incensed by some of the skin I saw from my fellow female travelers. I wanted to reprimand them for not respecting the ways of the Laos people. These strong thoughts brought me back to my Saudi days….

While living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, I was guilty of not fully following the dress code. I did not cover my hair nor face. I did wear the black abaya, but sometimes I rebelled and wore it open. By the end of my second year there, my abaya turned into a black tunic that did expose that I had a crotch. This was a direct violation to Saudi’s cultural dress code–especially wearing pants. It’s funny to think how opinionated I was on this recent trip, yet years ago, I used wearing pants as a form of rebellion. It’s all rather hypocritical of me now isn’t it?

The thing is my dress code changes constantly. When I go home to Idaho, USA, I do not dress anywhere near to the way I dress in Hong Kong. Even in Seattle, Washington I change my attire. I can remember the shift in my wardrobe from Venezuela to India: cleavage is the norm in Venezuela. Those shirts I wore in Latina land were scandalous in Mumbai. Thank goodness I noticed my sartorial faux pas early on and adjusted rapidly. Even while living in Beijing, where it was very cold and grey, I could identify a shift in the color of my wardrobe. Yes, it was grey!

The point of this post is to simply voice my opinion: when traveling we must adapt to our surroundings. If we do not know the expectations of dress for the upcoming destination it’s our job as the traveler to research this information. It was not hard for me to easily find that Laos–and in particular Luang Prabang–is a conservative town. Within moments I learned that it would be disrespectful to show a lot of skin. Now…. if I ever get to travel to Rio de Janiero again (we brought in the year 2000 there!), I’ll find that showing skin is the norm–as I did when I was in Rio!

There will be more posts from Luang Prabang, but as an aside, I’d like to mention the hotel where we stayed. We had a lovely and perfectly large room at the Sunset Villa by Burasari. Finding a spot that fits the four of us is starting to become a challenge, but one for Kevin to conquer. The Sunset Villa is a four bedroom villa just a ten minute bike ride outside of the main old town. They offered bikes, so we rode everywhere. We’d leave to explore the old town after a decadent breakfast and then come home for a chilly dip in the pool in the hot afternoons. (Currently it’s hot during the day but cools off drastically at night.) By late afternoon, we’d set back out on those bikes for dinner and more site seeing around the ever so charming Luang Prabang.

Staying Warm AND Stylish–A Fab 40s Post

staying warm and stylish

Staying warm and stylish. I don’t know. I am finding it very hard to stay warm and remain stylish this winter. It’s like I’ve lost any style sense. I mean, when looking back on these pictures, the first thing that comes to my mind is bag lady. I mean what was I thinking?! Yet, as a Zara devotee (Yes, I’m not just limited to Forever 21!), I love looking online through their editorials for style inspiration. Does anyone else do this? Here’s a sample: just look at these three women adorned in vibrant colors, rich textures, and an abundance of bohemian luxe. During this particularly colder than normal Hong Kong winter, I’ve been dressing so oddly. I’m attempting Zara editorial, but I’m not quite sure I’m coming anywhere close! In my opinion, staying warm and stylish is pretty tough.

staying warm and stylish

staying warm and stylish

staying warm and stylish

staying warm and stylish

staying warm and stylish

But wait a minute…the Fab 40s are staying warm and stylish with ease. I think I need to take a cue from my blogging buddies here, and try to keep things a little more simple. Take note on the following very stylish women who are obviously warm and cozy at the same time.

I can’t remember which hashtag on Instagra led me to Ashley, but I was immediately smitten by her. I spent a bit of time on her blog, Fancy Stuff and Pretty Things; it was when I read her FAQ page that I knew I had to invite her to join us this month. Like me, Ashley pays her 14 year old to take her pictures. Sound familiar!? I love it!! I’m not the only momming blogger out there bribing my kid to take my pictures. I was laughing out loud at this point. I could really relate to Ashley. Plus, I love her statuesque style. Her cropped hair, classic suiting yet casual ease, and yes the Joan Cusack look alike, had me hooked. Well, and red boots too. Am I right?!

Suzy Turner became a permanent member of the Fab 40s this month. She was Jennie’s guest last month, yet we all wanted her back for more. Suzy’s natural beauty is so refreshing. She’s raw and pure. It’s like those light eyes of hers exude an old soul kindness and serenity. I always appreciate Suzy so much; she’s usually one of the first to comment on my posts which always makes me feel so good. I was so happy that everyone agreed that Suzy should join us on a monthly basis.

Mary! She’s in pants!! Overalls even. It’s not often that Mary goes casual, but here’s proof that she’s still super stylish with her weekend vibe going on. I can understand why she’s not in a dress–wearing them is chilly unless there are layers of trousers underneath. Mary, I wish I had your TargĂ© jacket; I have the matching pants!!

Now this is how to wear a faux fur leopard coat. I am taking serious note Jennie! Like me she has tons of texture going on so Jennie looks so chic and very luxe. Simple, with the black monochromatic styling, is what works here. Jennie isn’t trying hard at all. In fact she’s effortlessly cool. Yes, I am indeed taking note!

I do believe Sheela is in New York for New York Fashion Week in this shot. How cool right?! Going to NYFW is on my bucket list. I must go one day in my life. Just admire Sheela. She totally looks like she belongs there. Of course she does. She’s our fearless Queen She. And with a pink faux fur and thigh high boots, she’s not warm, she’s HOT!

Ok, here I am. I will attempt to explain myself here. I do have heat technology underneath plus velvet leggings. Those two layers are keeping me warm along with my faux fur leopard coat. The hat was not really necessary, but I’ve been loving all the berets this winter season; plus I needed some bling. The tunic, well I needed it to cover the tight turtleneck and leggings– I’m never wearing those on their own! Cowyboy boots? Why not! And two bags? Sure.

I don’t know. It’s definitely a bit much. Was I warm? Yes! Stylish? Hmmm, no hard feelings if you don’t think so!! Hahah! This winter I’ve been going for bag lady style! Hahah!

I Love Hong Kong: Mong Kok

If you know me by now, it’s pretty obvious that I am a devoted Forever 21 shopper junkie. I may be twice as old as 21, but that sure the heck doesn’t stop me. Pretty much over 80% of my wardrobe very well may be from Forever 41–op 21! It used to be when I needed a day to chill out, I’d head down to Causweway Bay (20-30 minutes away) and hit the 6 story Forever 21. With that vacated, if I want my fix, I must head over to Mong Kok for the three story Forever 21 that remains in Hong Kong. That’s ok. I love Mong Kok, and even though it’s a little over an hour away, it’s always fun to head to the chaos.

Mong Kok, a neighborhood on Kowloon side that’s even crazier and busier than any neighborhood on the island. But I love it. I love Mong Kok! I did something very, very different this time around for my I love Hong Kong series: I just brought my camera along with me and simply asked strangers to take my picture. That’s right! I’d walk up to people and ask them to take my picture. Hong Kong folks are pros at the selfie, so it didn’t even phase them when I asked.

I will say that this Forever 21, with its three stories, and despite being in the highly dense Mong Kok, is an amazingly calm Forever 21. I have never had to wait for a dressing room, there’s always space to move about, and even though it’s further away, it’s a very manageable shop. The folks over there even know me!

After a thorough look around my store, I head across the street to check out another favorite of mine: NYX Cosmetics. Again, the girls here are so kind. They always help me find something to buy! (I don’t think it’s too hard. I’m definitely easy bait!!)

Now for some of the cultural and very fun bits of Mong Kok. These are the red packets meant for lai see at Chinese New Year. Let me translate–money! Given to anyone younger than yourself. So, if I were a celebrating CNY with my family, I’d be doling out all the cash! I’m the oldest of five with six nephews and nieces; I’d only receive packets from my folks….

These stores, filled with the goods needed at Chinese New Year, are found all over–all year long. Lai see is also given out at weddings too.

Lots of peeps….

I seriously need to ask someone what these tripods are all about, but this is my guess based on what I witness every time I walk down this street. I think there may be two purposes. First, some of the vendors take pictures for people. But this activity seems rare compared to the next. Tons of people, I mean tons, simply sing their own little karaoke hearts out. It’s rather hilarious–without being disrespectful of course. And some of these folks must have true fans because there are always audiences. I’ll have to investigate a bit more to see if my two theories are correct. Hey, maybe I should try a gig of singing. Just kidding! I’m tone deaf.

This is an example of a building under renovation. The entire site will have bamboo scaffolding built around it. This is a very, very common sight seen all over Hong Kong. For such a modern city, the bamboo scaffolding is always a surprise; but hey, if it works, it works!

There you have it: Mong Kok.
Yes, it has one of my favorite stores, but even so, I love going there anyway. There’s always something new to see and learn about Hong Kong!

Angkor Wat: Day 2

One day at Angkor Wat doesn’t suffice. In fact, Vincent and Kevin went back a third day on mountain bikes just to cruise around. Unfortunately on our second visit to Angkor Wat Gigi wasn’t feeling well–at all. She was such a trooper, continuing on, but by the fourth temple, she lost it. Literally. We had managed to see three though which was plenty for me. I immediately returned back to the hotel with my sick little Gig while the fellas stayed on. Momentarily, I got sick approximately 8 hours later. It was a nasty but quick flu–thank goodness. But boy, Gigi was such a trooper. In any of these pics you will notice how pale and non Gigi-like she was.

See that hole in the middle–that’s where the bamboo pole would go. In this way two people were able to take either side of the bamboo pole and transport the bricks that were used to build these temples. Amazing, huh?

This is a regular market scene. It actually could be anywhere in Southeast Asia!

We had two really great tuk tuk drivers both days. They were so sweet with us. There was this older guy, and then a younger one that I really wish I had captured. I guess I must go back….

See how totally ill Gigi looks. She couldn’t even smile her real self into the occasion. I felt so bad after she got so sick!

Again, it just isn’t the real Gig.

Gigi isn’t the only photographer in the family. When Gigi allows Vincent to borrow hers, he takes some pretty good shots too. Hmmm, his birthday is in May…

Once I sweated my way through this cute blouse with just a touch of yellow–yes, you will see me trying to attempt this spring! I bought myself an “I <3 Cambodia" tee which after this trip is completely true! Again, we will be back....

This is Kevin’s blogger pose. Pretty good eh?

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year

It’s the Year of the Dog! Happy Chinese New Year!! Remarkably, one of the best things from living overseas (for over 20 years!) has been experiencing all the wonderful festivals and holidays around the world. With three years in Beijing and our sixth year in Hong Kong, we’re on our 9th CNY! It’s such a fun holiday too. First the house gets cleaned and household becomes orderly. What’s not to like about some spring cleaning!? The holiday celebrates new beginnings, so it’s best to start off in a clean way–so to speak. Good health and wealth are the wishes for every year–basically everyone desires a good year. I can agree with that. Family time is the most important; the eldest in a family hosts everyone. Games and candies are out for everyone to enjoy–a majohng table is always going somewhere in the house. (I learned last year and experienced some serious beginner’s luck!) Finally lai see, red packets, are shared. The youngest receive the red envelopes filled with money. These special packets are wide spread since usually someone is usually still the youngest until they are the patriarch and matriarch. There’s usually an aunt or uncle out there though that might still be older than grandma and grandpa–I say this because a recent older taxi driver told us he still gets packets! He was definitely in his late 60s, maybe even 70. Regardless of the money, Chinese New Year is a very special holiday. Happy Year of the Dog!!

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

Yes to red! It’s an auspicious color for the Chinese, so it’s seen everywhere. I do a lot of shopping after the Christmas and New Year sales. When I saw a table of berets at Niko and … (a super hip Japanese clothing and home store–the Japanese are amazing marketers, click the link), I wasn’t sure which color to go with. There was grey and black, a khaki version, and then a red one on the table that when I put on said, “Go with me!” I couldn’t resist this bright beret, and happily I’m wearing the heck out of it (also seen here in Lan Kwai Fong). This year’s Hong Kong winter has been cold enough for some sort of head topper each day, and I’ll go ahead and admit I’m enjoying all the hat wearing!

Chinese New Year

Do you celebrate Chinese New Year?
Kung Hei Fat Choy!

PS I’m realizing now that this would have been the perfect post to highlight my pooch, Rani! I’ll save that one for another time…