Back to the Mainland

October 24, 2014

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I was in Shanghai last week end and it’s been great to go back to a city I love and above all to see dear friends. Technically Hong Kong is part of China but it still feels so different to be here that being back to the Mainland was like travelling abroad. It carried a certain degree of emotion of course after almost one year on the other side of the border, but eventually I was happy that Hong Kong was the place I was going back to.Unfortunately I don’t have great pictures to post, only a few snapshots taken here and there, on the streets, They certainly don’t give justice to the charm of this amazing city. I was with my little one so hands were often busy and my heart full of happiness.
I am in a kind of biting more than I can chew moment, starting collaborations, hopefully new projects, and an immense desire to make things work but above all to have fun and learn on the way. All this while still being very much involved with my three little ones. What a roller coaster, but it’s so worth it!

At home : what makes a family home

October 14, 2014

I recently (a few months ago already) came across a book ” Creative family home” as I was looking for inspiration to spruce up our space a bit, knowing that these days I have to be very realistic about the fact that I can’t have (and in fact I don’t want) a spotless perfectly groomed house. I suppose I have learned how to surrender to the idea that this is our home but also our children’s home and therefore it’s important to respect everyone’s right to live comfortably in a space that takes into account everybody’s needs. When it comes to think about how to decorate your home if you have kids, I like (as I usually do) a middle way approach. This means that I don’t want our house to turn into a kindergarten just because little kids live in it, but at the same time I can’t have the unrealistic expectation of everything to be in the right place at any moment of the day. Having said that I am far from having achieved the task but I am slowly working towards it.

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If I have to choose among the various brainless activities you could devote your time to when you are online, interiors browsing it’s absolutely my favorite one. You see I lost interest in fashion, I am not particularly into celebrity gossips (except for due exceptions) , and I even lost that addiction to beauty products that dominated my twenties. But when it comes to homes, although I have been flipping through interiors magazines since age 8, I can honestly say this is something I haven’t grown tired of. Internet it’s a golden mine of pretty spaces, and the more I dive into millions of house tours the more I define my style and I know what I like and what I don’t in a home which leads to the next question: what makes a family home?

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To me a family home should be:
Practical without being boring. Once somebody told me, I don’t understand why you make so much fuss for a rental house, these are just four walls after all, it’s not even your own house. Well, I could not disagree more with that point. Even as a student with no much money at my disposal, I have always done my best to personalize every space I lived in. Be it hanging or sticking things to the wall, moving furniture around, no place I have ever lived in has stayed dull and boring like the day I rented it out, this is just not me. The same applies to homes with children. Who says that just because kids live in it, the furniture should be the lowest possible quality or generally we don’t need to surround ourself with pretty stuff because there is the constant risk of them making a mess out of it? First of all it is precisely because you have kids that you need to create a beautiful space for you and for them, to teach them how to appreciate and respect the beauty around them . Secondly, I am not talking expensive furniture here, I am just saying that a family home requires a balance between beautiful (that does NOT mean expensive) and practical, but no it definitely doesn’t mean boring. There should always be a place for both useful and beautiful thing in a balance that is both harmonious and achievable.

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Neutral, with splashes of colours and textures: people who know me personally know I love white. I love the airy feeling white walls and white furniture give to a space. But white is The enemy of little hands as we all know and besides that I have grown fond of colors because their are an instant mood lifter and also are very much in tune with the spirit of a house inhabited by little kids. I also tend to prefer the natural color of wood for furniture this days because somehow it makes me feel more grounded and makes the rooms warmer.In addition to that, every house should make room for some plants to improve indoor air and create a connection to nature especially if you don’t have the luxury of an outdoor space.

Art, pictures, and music filled: kids love to see themselves in pictures and it is lovely to remind them of the nice moments you have shared with them. I believe for a child seeing himself in a picture is a way to reinforce his sense of identity and always always makes them smile. I have to do a better job of this because although I have millions of pictures they are all not very safely stored on my hard drive…As far as art and books What can be better for a child than be surrounded by creativity and being encouraged to knowledge? And about music and laughter, do I really need to say more? I try to make a point of playing some music everyday for the children to enjoy and dance as they please.

A family home MUST have a big table and an open kitchen The big table is essential for all the activities that revolve around it: eating, drawing, crafting, talking. And I love it when the kitchen is open and blends seamlessly into the rest of the living area. Makes everybody feel invited to join what’s happening in there.

Mostly, though, a family home needs to be respectful of everybody space and right to live comfortably in it and it needs to have a big heart because above anything else a house, for me, must be open

When I was younger a friend of mine asked what the life I envisioned for myself looked like. And I remembered replying I saw myself living by the sea, in a house full of light and children. All the children it could contain. Mind you, they don’t have to be all mine! I always had this dream of having my children and my children’s friends playing , walking around, opening the fridge, taking whatever they fancied from there and just feeling like they were generally happy to hang out at my house. A home must be warm, open and generous.Inclusive and not exclusive and when I say it I cannot help by thinking about this song.

Of course, this is only my personal vision , now I would really love to hear what do you think? What makes a family home?
First picture by Mariella Amitai the other two are via desire to inspire, ,
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Lately

October 8, 2014

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It was Noah’s first birthday lately and we celebrated at home with a simple chocolate cake, a happy birthday song and a blue birthday crown we recycled from another birthday party.That sounds awful I know but it wasn’t it actually was very sweet.There was something simple and intimate to it that I really loved. The idea was to have a real party later but don’t know if that’s gonna happen. When you get to the third child and you have a total of three small children in the house, that’s already plenty of partying.Plus he enjoyed his cake which he ate eagerly and being at the center of attention which he truly was because we weren’t distracted by other people. Our little one is also joining the growing up too fast crew and I have truly no words to describe how cute he is and how much joy is bringing everyday to this family.
Meanwhile on the other side of town, students were occupying the streets of Central,Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mongkok. They protested peacefully but their voices were loud and clear. These have been such an intense two weeks for us living in Hong Kong.As usual when something really deep and momentous happens around me I find it hard to continue to publish posts that have nothing to do with it. I have this weird habit to retire and sort of try to digest whatever is happening, it’s almost like if with my silence I am trying to show respect for things that are in reality much more important than this blog.
I was walking along Saikung seafront on Sunday, somebody was singing a Chinese song I recognize and love but whose name I can’t recall. I suddenly wondered about the future of this city, and this country. Well aware that these could be the last years of Hong Kong as we know it.

Week 39, a summary

September 26, 2014

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There we go, this week’s summary. Not much has happened in terms of online explorations but lots has happened in real life. It’s been a busy full week and the week end will be even busier as we have friends coming over to stay for the next three nights. We had playdates, had friends over and cooked together and celebrated Rosh Hashana which is the beginning of the Jewish New Year. As you might know I am not Jewish myself but my husband is, so as a mixed family we try our best to incorporate traditions and festivities from both our cultural heritage. It’s actually a lot of fun. I often get asked how do we deal with it and my answer is always the same, we double the party! We have 2 new years, 2 passover (easter), we have Hannukah around Christmas time, so basically we really kind of just double the celebrations. Because that’s the right thing to do. I think my children are quite lucky to be honest, coming from a mixed culture family means that they are enriched by two cultures’ heritage and living in a third country means they are gonna absorb somehow a third one. Which is kind of amazing and basically a dream come true for me that I have always been interested somehow in other cultures and oddly enough dreamed from an early age of living surrounded by people from all over the world. I hope that growing up it will be natural for them to know that it is possible to celebrate different holidays and still love each other. People tend to focus more on the exclusive aspect of it.Will they celebrate this OR this, will they believe this OR this? As a family we are not religious so faith is not really an issue, but when it comes to tradition and culture it’s important for me that they are well aware of their roots. Which is why we chose the inclusive approach that basically means to celebrate this AND this. It’s important for me to teach them that there is no culture that is better than the other but it’s possible for both to live under one roof and be respected equally.And I hope they will grow up just as respectful of other people and cultures as they are of their own parents’ ones.
On another note, I also gave a lot of thought to the direction I want to give to my blogging experience.I somehow feel a change is needed but I am not sure where or how. I found particularly inspiring this space transformation and I thought about the fact that many of the blogs I love have gone through some kind of change over the years being it their name or looks or whatever. Perhaps being willing to give the blog a new direction means more than I need a new direction that is so hard for me to take at this moment. Anyway…food for another post I guess.
I just know this is the moment I probably loved this space the most. Its looks, its content, I feel there is something missing but for the rest I feel like it’s finally a faithful representation of who I am right now and I don’t really wanna spoil that…

Internet wise, the only other notable thing of this week has been the studio tour of photographer Yuriko Takagi, over at the Selby. What a wonderful, inspiring space!

Have a great week end everybody x

Photography: The childhood diaries

September 18, 2014

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I had planned a post for today, and then another…but both of them required more time than I actually have right now, to articulate my often very complicated thoughts. So while I was trying to write, I got lost and gave up. Today not a good way for words, but thankfully a picture can come to the rescue. This is part of a project (one of my too many too ambitious ones) I called the childhood diaries, a series that intends to capture the spirit of childhood, in a fresh unassuming way. I find there are many pictures of kids around. Way too many, but sadly what I often see and what children are often asked to is to pose like a sort of replica of the grown ups. To dress up like them, to smile like them in that kind of self complacent way that should not be natural to a child. I’d like to capture children in their own element, when they are at the peak of their concentration during their play time, or when they are running wildly with their red cheeks , when they’re reaching to the sky from the top of a tree. Or when they’re are simply looking at the sea far and wide , lost in their thoughts. Childhood is a fascinating thing, I am telling you, and deserves to be celebrated , over and over again. I am not saying I will succeed , but I will do my best to try.

Art: Leon Yan- 师傅

September 16, 2014

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Heralding from Shanghai, China, Leon Yan is a multi-talented artist who writes, directs and edits films. Leon’s work is cinematic in nature, and each scene he captures seems to carry a story or reflection within.”-VSCO

China is a country that, for better and for worse , has meant and continues to mean a lot to me. So much of my life has been linked to this country and so many things have happened here that the only word that comes to my mind when I think about it it’s 缘分 which sort of the Mandarin equivalent to serendipity or fate.I have been through many phases in my relationship with China, the falling in love of the student years, the hardships and the excitement of the working years and finally the contradictions I witness constantly in the contemporary Chinese society. Some of them make me smile, some of them make me frustrated. One thing is for sure, China is a fascinating country.
I particularly enjoyed seeing the “Motherland” through the eyes of mix media artist Leon Yan, an artist and videographer whose works spans from writing and editing of videos to photography. I love his photographic work especially the Shanghai series and the Huangshan photo series.Some of these pictures remind me of the classic Chinese ink paintings and bring me back to that quiet and stillness of the countryside that it’s in such big contrast with the fast paced way of life you will find in any big Chinese cities nowadays.
Leon is part of the new creative way of underground Chinese artists based out in Shanghai and was one of the recipients of the
“Artist initiative” a scholariship funded by Vsco, awarded to 16 young creatives.

Find Leon’s work on Vsco and Tumblr, Instagram

All photographs above are ©Leon Yan

At home: autumn decluttering

September 15, 2014

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They call it spring cleaning, but never mind the season, I came back from summer holidays in serious de-cluttering mode.I have a notorious difficulty in part my ways from things as I have the tendency to have feelings and irrational attachment to anything belonging to the past. Their first socks, the mobile on the cot, toys they have played with , a dress I wore in a particular important day…consequently I have a nasty tendency to accumulate. I don’t do it for selfish or greedy reasons, only for purely sentimental ones. As the family grows and houses becomes smaller and smaller I am afraid I can’t carry on this way so I took the very hard decision to give away lots of things especially in babies and children department in the hope to give our humble abode a bit of fresh air to breath in.When I am in my house all I see is stuff. wherever I turn my eyes there are copious amounts of papers (magazines, bills leaflet, business cards, piles of clothes and such) that are the ban of my existence and honestly lately I feel like I can’t breathe.I am not an advocate of minimalism because , although a fascinating concept , realistically I know it just doesn’t fit with my lifestyle and to be honest I love homes that are “lived in” and give that feeling of harmonious chaos. But …clutter is different. Especially in bedrooms it is proved to seriously interfere with a good night’s sleep which is why I am even more determined to start this fierce battle. It seems ever since we moved I didn’t have the chance to change things around I just left them as they were because lack of time and very busy days didn’t allow me to properly think about it . Inspired by this serious of posts on Jodi’s blog, I decided to start my very own step by step de-cluttering and cleaning process, starting from our balcony/entrance , and going through every single room of the house. Small problem war to clutter has been declared since we are back but I yet have to find the right time to start.
Now one questions: mothers with children, how do you organize your homes? What are the best tricks to keep a home if not tidy at least pleasant? I’d love to hear!

Resources for a cleaner home: THE OVERACHIEVER’S GUIDE TO SPRING CLEANING, SPRING CLEANING SHORTCUTS FROM THE EVER RELIABLE REAL SIMPLE, already mentioned: Jodi’s guide to spring cleaning. Plus, do you know beeswax candles are the best to purify air together with these indoor plants?

Spring or Autumn, if you’re in the middle of a home de-cluttering I wish you good luck. I know I’ll need it.

Week 37, a summary

September 12, 2014

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This week has been full of ups and downs just like this last chunk of time since we came back.Lots of mood changing, lots of weird thoughts , it seems to me like I have just been through a super sensitive phase, in which everything that happened around me including other people’s mood or behaviours just stuck on my skin and lingered around for a while. I don’t know if you are familiar with that feeling but it’s not necessarily a pleasant one. Anyway being the source master that I am I still managed to find some interesting bits and bobs.

I loved the vibe of this Sidney house the fact that is in front of the beach is only a plus if you ask me

I read about the purpose paradigm for the first time and suddenly it all made sense. I also read this article about screen time for kids and found it was particularly in line with my new screen (better no screen) policy.

I lately watched both Grand Budapest hotel and Moonrise kingdom and fell again deeply , madly in love with Wes Anderson way of telling stories.

Discovered: the beach, in all its glory. Now that I am more and more confident at driving no Saikung beach will be a secret for me anymore.

Learned: things might stick to your skin, but being able to shake them off it’s easier than I thought and that’s all part of that amazing process we call growing up.

Have a great week end!

Afternoon light

September 11, 2014

I had planned a photo essay for today or at least to share some of the deep thoughts that are running through my head at times (and if you have followed for a while, you know what I mean). Truth is I have yet to finish arranging the pictures from Italy and anyway there are always the archives to delve into. So much life there that hasn’t seen the light of the day…slowly slowly on days like this…

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Food: Kraut-kopf

September 10, 2014

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So there is this new blog I discovered a few months back whose link I shared already on twitter, called Kraut Kopf , and authored by a Berlin based couple, Yannic Schon & Susann Probst.At first I was mostly drawn by the beautiful photography since the words were only in German, but I see they now also have an english version of the website which is brilliant because I can finally understand the content and even book mark some recipes.Vegeterian based,with some dairy free , gluten free options included, this looks exactly like the kind of food you would like to cook on a day to day basis. I particularly enjoyed their post about the first private dinner they held back in July. What a beautiful setting, and gorgeous photos! Find out more here

Images © Kraut-Kopf