Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the pros and cons of being a blogger


QUICK DISCLAIMER: This is going to be long so if you have the time to get through it all, thanks for reading, if not, well, I don't expect you to get through a mountain of text sans photos. I'm trying really hard to not go into aesthetic theory so if there's something you don't understand, ask and I shall try my best to explain myself.

As a few of you may know, I've been floating around the online fashion community for a while starting with places like Livejournal and The Fashion Spot then switching almost exclusively to Chictopia once it was created. I'd always been wary about balancing life with an "actual" blog so instead of heading that way like my fellow peers, I opted out and continued to observe from the sidelines. Sometimes I wonder where I'd be now if I had started a blog like this back then. Would I have the same type of exposure and opportunities that many of my blogger friends have now? Would I really desire those things to begin with?

I'd love to pride myself on being a simple person living a simple life but things are much too complicated to call it just that. I am, after all, human just like everyone else, therefore I fall prey to the same human vices and temptations. Everyone wants to be successful. Everyone wants to stand out. You observe blogger X's success and you try to convince yourself that it's just as easy to replicate it. If X can do it why can't I? So you try and hope for success, but really, how do you measure this? By page views or the number of comments? By recommendations or write ups? By the amount of free products you receive?

I dislike reducing something as entertaining as blogging to a set of stuffy values that should only be found in a math or science course but the truth is, as long as we're serious about it and setting goals, that's the direction we're heading towards. Here we find ourselves facing yet another dilemma: how do you reach this desired value when dealing with something as subjective as fashion? Or rather, to make it even more centralized, how do you gauge the subjectivity of personal fashion? If we're talking page views, well, obviously this involves a desire to appeal to as much of the masses as possible.

And there, there's the rub. The ever complicated relationship between subjectivity and the masses. Yes, yes, you will always hear the endless echo of “FASHION IS SUBJECTIVE” wherever you go or whenever someone does not agree with you. Of course sensory perception varies based on the experience of the individual but with the expansion of the internet and close interactions with similar peers throughout the world, how personal is your opinion? Without a doubt, you will find your judgment influenced by others as long as you interact with people on the internet and you will choose to either agree or disagree. Yes, there is that choice, but what about the subtle influences which affect the molding of your thoughts without your realizing it?

Fashion will never be objective because there will never be a set mathematical or scientific formula which governs it. Two plus two will always equal four but not everyone will agree about a certain trend no matter how many people are into it. What if I argue, however, that the internet allows us to get as close as we can to a type of subjectivity which inevitably mimics a sort of objectivity? Now back to the question of measuring a blogger’s success: can we now say that there is a loose formula or standard that one may follow to attain the same success as X or Y? Will following this guarantee the same result?

And here, here we reach yet another obstacle. The same type of aspiration which governs the need for success also controls another facet of human behavior: the desire to be different, or as a reader of blogs, the desire to see something diverse. Obviously this disproves my previous statement that a certain formula is present but what if I claim that these two things coexist in a way that compel people to simultaneously try to find a way to stand out? Isn’t that a formula of sorts?


Therefore, how personal is personal style in this environment? Of course I believe in the positive aspects of interconnectivity via the internet: the simple access to inspiration and ideas for your own taste of choice is extremely helpful when you can’t come up with something on your own and need a little push. Nevertheless, at the same time, this aspect is a double-edged sword: it’s so easy to find and mimic these ideas that there is an inevitable trend towards turning against these same things once they are considered overdone or too mainstream. Unless you are some saintly entity free of material attachments (which I doubt you will ever be if you are a part of this blogging community) you are very likely to fall into this tendency of fickle behavior in some way or another and in varying degrees. We are, after all, human.

So then, how do my blog and personal manners come into play given these topics of discussion? I am not going to pretend to be some higher being who, in understanding and observing aesthetic theory and its ramifications, can transcend these tendencies and loftily distance myself from those who do fall into this. No, I wouldn’t be able to lie to you. I buy into trends as much as the person next to me does while avoiding others. I cannot act condescending towards anyone who seems to be mimicking everything X does nor will I put down someone who is going too far (by my own personal standards) to be different from everyone else. Regardless of the influences or mimesis involved, personal style remains personal thanks to a little something known as individual choice. You choose to follow or go against trends. You choose the clothing you buy and wear. Your neighbor may be doing the same but he or she is choosing so with his or her own right. A choice may or may not seem original to the masses but the conscious (or even subconscious) act of choosing is singular in its own right.

This is exactly why I cannot stomach anyone who would dare to put someone down for individual choices. I cannot stop people from passing and displaying judgment since that is a choice in itself but I can express my own personal distaste for unnecessary negativity. A facet of maturity involves a (somewhat fatalistic, I know) recognition that life is governed by these principles and that you are no better than the person next to you just because you believe yourself to be beyond these things. Chances are, the person next to you thinks the same thing and there’s nothing you can do but accept it. Again, I hate being fatalistic but delusion is a much worse path, in my honest opinion.

Now, back to the issue of measuring personal success and how I deal with it. I’ve come to the conclusion that, for my own sanity and well being, this blog will be, as it has been in recent weeks, more of a lifestyle blog which gives you a glimpse into my world and thoughts rather than just a blog focused on fashion (although outfit shots will still be an equal part, don't worry). Will this make me impervious to the tendencies I illustrated above? No, of course not. I shall still continue to read and comment on other people’s blogs and thereby be somewhat influenced in my personal choices. However, in my own case, I’ve realized that writing about more than my style helps me become more in tune with myself and my own private aspirations. By treating my individual sense of fashion as a certain, but still crucial, part of my life, I’ve been able to be more introspective about my needs emotionally and physically. I know this sounds quite cheesy but lately I feel I’ve been able to be more myself not only in my actions but also appearance.

I don’t want to ever feel like I need to impress anyone on the internet or in real life; it’s too much pressure. I want, like everyone else, to leave a record of myself while still standing out in my own right. I don’t want to feel forced to update out of a fear of losing readers because, once I’m coerced into doing something, it’s not longer fun and I feel I can no longer be true to myself. I just want to show everyone who I am, who I choose to be, and who I may be in the future. I am extremely grateful for anyone who continues to come back even with my terrible blogging habits and it’s reassuring to know that someone out there finds my quaint little life interesting :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

homemade breakfast sandwiches

my favorite

Let me preface this by saying that I have no idea why these photos came out in black & white. I'm really pissed off at Walgreens for continuing to mess up my photos every time and this is the last straw. So many amazing colors lost! Anyway, the other morning Brent prepared these delicious egg, bacon, and muffin sandwiches with a side of potatoes for breakfast. When he first told me about wanting to do this I laughed and called them "gourmet egg mcmuffins" to tease him but quickly took it back before he could change his mind about making them.



Brent's original intention was to make the potatoes into a sort of patty, flip it over, and bake it in the oven. That didn't really work out so he just continued frying them in the fresh sweet cream butter that he bought from Cheese Board the day before.

pouring the egg

The eggs! To get the desired round shape which fits nicely in the english muffin, we poured the scrambled eggs into these round dishes and microwaved them. Yes, we microwaved the eggs. They actually come out quite cute and fluffy but still taste as good! I'm sure you can also find a mold and fry it, but that's just us.


in the oven

When it came time to cooking the bacon, my health conscious freak of a boyfriend (just kidding chu, ilu!) refused to fry it in its fat and instead opted for baking it. The bacon was still surprisingly good even with the fat melted off. Okay, I'm not going to lie, I was pretty hesitant about it at first and almost had to beg him to fry it but it all worked out in the end, right Pika?

oh, bacon!

the spread

And here's our final spread before assembly! To drink we had bottled milk and valencia orange juice, well, he bought the milk just for me since he doesn't love it as much as I do. In addition to the potatoes, eggs, and bacon, Brent picked up an heirloom tomato for me and sharp cheddar from Cheese Board. Tomatoes and milk, he knows me so well.

fresh english muffins

All of you non Bay Area readers must be wondering what the hell this Cheese Board place that I keep ranting about is. It's this really superb pizzeria/store owned by its workers where each member is an equal shareholder. It's right by Brent's wine shop in North Berkeley so it's easy for him to swing by and pick up a couple freshly available items. These english muffins were baked and purchased the day before but still just as fresh and delicious!

assembly pt. 1

assembly pt. 2

See how cute the eggs came out? It fit perfectly in the toasted muffin, followed by two pieces of bacon torn in half, sharp cheddar, and a tomato slice for me. These were some seriously hefty sandwiches and I'm pretty sure neither of us was able to eat any more meals for the rest of the day after that. Excessive? Maybe, but totally worth it.

side by side

the bite

shades of gray

vintage top, ksubi jeans, thrifted flats

I haven't updated in over a week? Oops, my bad. Obviously my schedule has a lot to do with it but there's also a broken camera involved. Something is wrong with the lens and it seems like 30-40% of the time it works and the rest of the time it just gives me a giant headache. Is this a sign that I should get my slr? Blegh.

I'm not sure if I explained this yet but when I purchase an item of clothing that I'm 100% infatuated with, I end up wearing it at least three or four times within a week of buying it. I've worn this top in at least three different variations and here's one which I managed to photograph in this photo with my boyfriend. Today's version strays away from my usual black + white combo light gray jeans instead (I refuse to admit where I got them, though). Okay, they're Brent's but in my defense, they were always way too tight on him and they're still pretty loose on me.

new favorite shirt?

Wait, where was I going with this? Oh, the shirt. Here's a cute little story: the whole time I was holding on to it at the store wondering if I should buy it, I thought to myself "This would be ten times better if I could roll up the sleeves..." Lo and behold, upon further inspection a couple hours later at home I discovered buttons midway up the sleeves and, oh my, inside straps to attach to said buttons. As if the lightly printed leaf pattern wasn't already enough to sway me, here's something even better! I deserve a sugar donut for this.

sugar donut

Friday, September 18, 2009

insalata caprese

insalata caprese

insalata caprese

insalata caprese

insalata caprese

insalata caprese

I may be an inept fool when it comes to cooking and depend on my boyfriend for those types of things, but as long as I stay away from the stove (and even microwave in some instances) I'm set. I'm pretty sure this series of photos should suffice to understand how to easily put this together. I used grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, (keyword: FRESH, sans preservatives and all), and basil from my local organic market, Berkeley Bowl. That place is definitely poisonous to your wallet but oh so heavenly to your tummy. Did I mention that I paid $4.99 for the Kewpie and found it for $1.50 at another market? UGH. Anyway, for the salad, cut everything up, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, and top it off with salt and pepper. It's so easy even a child could do it. Oh wait, you can't let a kid handle knives; hell, I shouldn't even be near knives...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

cleaning out my closet

09-16-09another shot
vintage dress, vintage etienne aigner oxfords

Busy, busy day. Spent the whole day going to class, cleaning out my closet, taking pictures and updating a separate blog for things I'm selling. Yep, I caved and created SHOP BLUSHING AMBITION. Most of the things are vintage finds that I've acquired over the years so it's definitely worth a look. Right now I have a couple sweaters, cardigans, blouses, and blazers for sale. Here's a navy blazer with gold buttons that is up for grabs:

vintage two button navy blazer


Oh, and today I finally ventured out to my local overpriced *ahem* organic market and realized how much I hate to love it. For lunch I made a toasted onion and poppyseed bagel sandwich with slices of smoked ham from the deli, havarti cheese, a couple grape tomatoes on the side, and the best mayonnaise I've ever tasted. I have a crazy obsession with mayo which is strange considering that Pika has a mayo phobia. I guess that's just one thing we'll never agree on, hmph. Not going to lie, I picked up the bottle of Kewpie just because it was from Japan and ridiculously adorable but its taste blew me away. It's even better than homemade mayo! I heard it's because of the MSG... oh dear.

bagel sandwich

bagel sandwich

kewpie mayo

Thursday, September 10, 2009

simple pleasures

in the kitchen

Ten things I really enjoy at the moment:

01. My newly cleaned kitchen. I hadn't touched it in weeks.
02. All-white ensembles. Currently wearing a vintage J. Peterman skirt and H&M tee that I cut.
03. Not brushing my hair. It makes me look edgier than I really am. Maybe a little crazy? That's not a bad thing.
04. Looking forward to Fridays with Pika in the city after a long week of classes. Tomorrow needs to come sooner.
05. Waking up to the Katamari soundtrack playing on my phone. Ohh lonely rolling star~!
06. Having my hard work pay off and getting A's on unnecessarily difficult Latin quizzes.
07. Watching the sunset over the bay from my window. I miss my 7th floor dorm room sometimes.
08. Having more money in my bank account than I had originally counted on. Time to go shopping.
09. Spending way too much time at cafes with friends while completing a minimal amount of work.
10. Receiving emails about the blog, be it from fans or major companies. I'm bursting with news!

Monday, September 7, 2009

first date (or something like that)

vintage romper

Technically Brent and I never did have a first date since what one would count as such started out as a shopping excursion which then turned into a mutual consensus of "hey, let's finally start dating after a year or so of crushes overshadowed by a mask of friendship." Luckily with a boyfriend like him, even the laziest of days sitting around and doing nothing can be special, but in any case, it's always fun to spice things up with cute little dinner dates like these. Today we met up at Corso in North Berkeley after he got off work early where I wore my favorite vintage floral romper.

pasta with braised beef and pork
duck leg risotto

We started off with a caprese salad and a lemonade for me and campari cocktail for him. Brent had been here before and chose the risotto with duck leg while I went for what he usually gets, a savory pasta with braised beef and pork. Not bad for a cute little date! It's funny to think that just a few months ago we were wrapping up our little shopping date while maintaining awkward small talk over lunch at some sandwich place on Fillmore. Now our conversations range from possible names for a puppy (preferably a miniature dachshund) to our hypothetical babies and how cute they would be (hah). Nope, not awkward at all... although it does feel like we've been dating much longer than we actually have. Probably because we were friends for so long before this and could have started dating much sooner if one of us had made a move.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

saturday in the city


After a stressful week like the past one, weekends like these are a blessing. My boyfriend doesn't usually have Saturdays off so today was a treat! We started the day off with a nice brunch at Boogaloo's down the street. Mmm, omelet! I like savory breakfast foods most of the time but next time I'm definitely going with something sweet.

huevos rancheros

Pika got the huevos rancheros, his roommate Chris went for the chicken ranchero with a chicken cilantro soup, and as I stated earlier, I had custom made omelet with swiss cheese, tomatoes, and ham. Delish!


Next stop of the day: Dolores Park in the Mission. Met up with more friends for card games and other silly things. I guess this counts as an outfit shot? Wearing an Acne shirt over an H&M tank, Lux shorts, and thrifted lace-up booties. Not sure what I was doing in the first picture but Devin and Megan's deer ears are cute.


Final stop: some Mexican restaurant for pitchers of margaritas and other tasty appetizers. Unfortunately, I was the only person there under 21 so I was unable to partake in the debauchery. Why are the last few months before your birthday always the most unbearable? Hmph. Oh, and here's my Pika wearing my red American Apparel pocket cardigan over a Sabatino striped tee. I love these colors together! I'm probably not going to get that cardigan back but it's okay since that just means I can steal his.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

school life and more


Second week of school: still stressing about getting into classes while balancing the work that I'm required to put into them. From my Virgil professor who loves putting the class on the spot with surprise "quizlets" and bare Latin passages sans notes to my Ulysses professor who warned that his class should be first priority above all our others, I can tell this is going to be a fun year. Honestly, it sounds tough but all I can to do is stay on task and be two steps ahead of everyone. I'm a huge fan of leading a structured life with organized notebooks and meticulously planned days (with the occasional surprise here and there, of course). It's a little boring but it works, in my case at least.

So of course it's only fitting that my go-to school bag happens to be a bag with multiple pockets for the organized placement of specific articles, right? The leather on my vintage Frye backpack is faded and completely beat up, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I plan on using it until something legitimately breaks and by legitimately I mean anything that cannot be saved by duct tape, sewing, etc...

school supplies

On another note, I have a huge soft spot for school supplies and stationary. Last weekend I took a trip to Kinokuniya in Japantown and bought these little notebooks and .28mm pens. Yes, I'm also very meticulous about my writing, both in terms of content and what I use to write and also what I write on. Hmm, I should just label this post "a glimpse into my OCD lifestyle" and end it here. Thankfully I have soft serve ice cream to mellow me out and make me feel less crazy! Okay, that was a terrible transition, I'm sorry. It's almost 1am here and I can't sleep before my 9:30am class. For relevance's sake, these two last photos were taken around the same time and I wanted to squeeze in just this last photo in because, damn, I love soft serve ice cream.

ice cream