Venice in Pictures

I found this draft post, tagged with photos uploaded and the works scheduled for March 1st... 2017! What is even worse is that these photos were from my trip to Venice in 2013!!! So here they are 5 years later. and although they are not the best quality (yay for improving photography skills) let's just say this post is for closure.

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A Porto AirBnB for Three

The problem with blogging about my travels is that I take FOREVER to blog about my travels.

But better late than never right? I want to share more about my trip to Europe last summer, the trip that happened before my sudden move to Los Angeles. Lets start with my Porto Airbnb!

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My partner, his brother and I stayed in this cozy and eclectic apartment (Ai, Porto - Family & Friends) on the top floor of a typical residence near the University of Porto. Although the climb to the top is as grueling as the steepest of Porto's streets, the balcony and view from above was worth it.

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Our hosts obviously took a lot of time decorating, and I particularly appreciated the lush plants everywhere, gifts of port and chocolate, and the design magazines throughout the apartment. The only possible downside to this spot is that there is no kitchen, but considering how much amazing food Porto had to offer this was not a problem for us at all.

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All in all this was an place to write home about and made our time exploring Porto that much more memorable.

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The Real Reason I Left New York City

I don't think I have shared why I left New York City last year and moved to LA. And no one other than close friends has really asked... It is easy to say the weather and to be closer to the beach, but those things don't get to the heart of why.

I am not going to trash talk my hometown in this post. I love New York, there truly isn't anywhere else on earth like it and to be completely honest I consider very myself lucky to have been born there, gone to school there, and spent most of my twenties becoming an adult there. But just because a place is incredible, it doesn't mean it is for you. And that is why I left.

 The view from our window look over at New Jersey

The view from our window look over at New Jersey

2017 was a big year for me. I turned thirty, and as that milestone crept up I naturally thought about my future. What I wanted my 30s to look like. The picture was pretty unclear. That is until March when my partner and I visited LA to escape the NYC cold. The trip was nothing special from the outside, but for us, it opened our eyes to a whole different way of living. Surf, ease, friendlier people; I learned on this trip that the stereotype I detested, that New Yorkers aren't friendly is indeed true especially when compared to southern Californians.

That vacation sold us, we decided in the next year or two we would start preparing to head out west for a taste of that easy living.

In April I tried the 100 Day Project for the first time. I choose to do 100 Days of Mindfulness to really up-the-ante on my intentional living aspirations. I had no idea how much I would grow nor how quickly in these few months. By the time I had finished the 100 days I had consumed so much information, reflected on desires and talked with my partner about our values of slow, simple and easy living so much that I didn't really feel as at home in New York anymore. Not that we couldn't live our values anywhere, it was just that the city is a hard place to slow down.

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We spent the summer making the most of NYC. I think we really were trying to convince ourselves that we could make it work. Every weekend we spent on the beaches of the Rockaways or taking weekend trips upstate and out of town. And then September (my birthday month) rolled around and we took a 2 weeks vacation to Europe. This was the tipping point.

 Turning 30 in Seville, Spain

Turning 30 in Seville, Spain

We spent a week in Spain with my partner's brother and his girlfriend/my good friend, and another week in Portugal. There is something about Europeans, particularly in these countries, that reminds me of what a good life really looks like. They remind me just because you are capable of working hard and producing a lot doesn't mean that you should. A good life is one where you can comfortably enjoy the company of the people you love and doing the things that you love. Yes, there will be work that you needs to be done that you'd prefer not to. But what if you can design your life to maximize the things that you love (good weather days on the beach, more hours at home in the evening with your partner, more creative space for your hobbies) and minimize the things you don't like (not more months of freezing temperatures, fewer hours in the office, less time fighting crowds at Trader Joes!). I don't know when exactly, but sometime on that trip we decided as soon as we got back to NYC we would start figuring out how we could move when our lease was up in December. We had no idea how but figured we try.

The next 10 weeks are when shit really went down. I hope to write a whole separate post on the logistics of how we did it. In short, it was a lot of emotional and psychological willpower and a ton of good fortune that got us here. And then once we landed we hit the ground running to find a home, set it up, get a car, and start new jobs. But we did it. We said goodbye to a life that would have been a lot of other people's dream. Two stable salaries and good jobs, a beautiful apartment overlooking the river in downtown Manhattan, calling the greatest city in the world our home... all very impressive things that made us proud and pretty happy. It was a dream, but not our dream.

 The day after Thanksgiving leaving for the airport...

The day after Thanksgiving leaving for the airport...

So that is the real reason I left New York. The city I love so much. And I am so happy I did. So this year in honor of those amazing 100 days that helped lead me to such an eventful 2017 I will be doing another 100 day project! And who knows where I'll end up in 2019 ;)

 
A Minimalist's Thoughts After a Trip to the Flea

This weekend I went to the Rose Bowl Flea Market for the first time, and while it was meant to be just a day of good fun (which it absolutely was), I also had a lot of mixed feelings throughout the day. Some of my big takeaways, aside from the little one I bought, were:

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1. There is just so much stuff on this planet.

The vastness of the flea market is so much bigger than what you can comprehend from the map they give you as you walk in. Everywhere you look there are racks upon racks and table upon table and row upon row of things. So much stuff all in one place out in the open, not separated by buildings or walls, really makes an impression. And when you think this is just a portion of the selection of just a couple (thousand) vendors in this tiny part of the world, then to think of all the stuff that each one of us owns in our own home, and all the stuff that was previously made owned and thrown away! It is enough to make my head spin.

2. I love seeing so many people buying second hand.

Despite being a little overwhelmed by the amount of stuff, it was very exciting to see the prominent and enormous vintage and antique sections of the market. I am a strong believer in "Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle" (and whatever iterations of this phrase), so buying things that already exist instead of increasing demand for new items of the same is excellent whenever possible.

3. I am not my things.

This is what I want to elaborate the most on today...

Probably the biggest feeling I felt throughout the day was that of want. I am not a super minimalist (or spartnaist), I still like to have things around me that inspire me or make my life even just a tad more comfortable or beautiful. But I have gotten pretty good control on my consumerist impulses to buy anything that I like. I am usually very deliberate when I go shopping with precisely what I want or need in mind and will leave empty-handed if I don't find just what it is I came in for. I tell you all of this because yesterday at the flea all of this was thrown out of the window. The excitement of all of the interesting and unique things brought to me a lust I hadn't felt in a long time. I wanted to take home so many things! Fortunately, my rational brain knew I had no space in my life for another basket, rug, denim jacket, or bulb vase and that feeling subsided. But that feeling it again bothered me enough to make me think...

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Last year I read Fumio Sasaki's Goodbye Things: The New Japanese Minimalism. There are so many wonderful ideas that Sasaki shares from his own personal experience, but the one I was reminded of yesterday was when he asked himself the question, "Why do we own so many things when we don't need them?" He believes it is our way of conveying our own worth to others, using objects to tell the world who we are. He later shares an example of this in his bookshelves.

"I used to have books piled onto bookcases that took up all of the space in my narrow hallway. Yet I could barely remember reading any of them... It's clear to me now why I kept these books laying around... even though I knew I was never going to read them. I was desperate to convey my worth through these books. They were there to communicate the message: I've read a lot of books to date. As anyone who looks at my bookshelves can see, my interests are diverse, and I'm very inquisitive. I know all about these different topics if only in name... Perhaps I can be described with an intellectual with depth."

When I first read this passage I laughed at loud because I could think of many areas in my life where this must be the subconscious message on repeat. And yesterday I realized that similar dialogue sparked up. "I must have all these beautiful things to show the world how stylish and eclectic my taste is." Again, I am not saying having things to express one's personality is bad. I am just reflecting on my own uncomfortable impulses of yesterday. Then this morning, in my 5 Minute Journal, I found the quote of the day to be a perfect reminder:

"We don't really want things. We want the feelings we thing those things will give us." -Gary Tan

And the beautiful thing about that quote was that I reflect again on the day what stands out most it how much inspiration I got looking at all of the things made by people over the years, how much fun it was exploring with my partner, and how many times we told each other what a great day it had been, and those were the feelings I can hold on to.

 
Weekend Getaway: Palm Springs

This past weekend was my partner’s birthday and to celebrate I wanted to take our first weekend getaway to Palm Springs. As we have only been in LA for less than 2 months (and most of those months were packed with the apartment hunting, furnishing, buying a car, job starting, and end of year holidays shenanigans), my guy was a bit resistant to planning a trip for his special day. But after my insistence and incredible sale of a place I'd never been he gave in 😉.

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As part of the deal I promised him a super chilled out and easy weekend, and that’s where I delivered. We left our house around 9am with a short 2 hour drive a head of us. Given that in LA it takes 2 hours to get from our apartment to downtown during rush hour, I knew this would be a piece of cake. The drive was more scenic than expected, much of it you are nestled within mountains and vast empty landscapes as you approach the desert. We both absolutely adored it and cruised along in the carpool lane the whole way.  

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Our very first sight was a wind farm just outside of Palm Springs. For an easy vantage point you can stop by the Amtrack station (PSP) to take in all the spinning turbines. Beware, it is very windy when they are all on! After a bit of train spotting, windmill watching, and photo taking we headed to our hotel.  

 

 STAY

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I booked a night for us at V Palm Springs Hotel. It was a toss up between the famous Sagauro, Ace and V hotels when deciding, but in the end I took a chance on the V hoping it would be the quieter of the three on this particular weekend. And it was just quiet enough without feeling desolate. Our room was super efficient, clean, and comfortable, equipped with cozy bath robes and a swinging chair on the balcony overlooking the pool and out onto the mountains beyond. Honestly, I could have skipped all activities and spent the entire weekend right here.

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Hands down the best part of the stay was lounging by the pool and relaxing in the hot tub. After checking in early we lounged here for hours, riding bar snacks and turning over every so often to get an even amount of sun!

 

EAT 

There are quite a few restuarants I wanted to try out in Palm Springs, but there are but so many meals in one weekend! Fortunately I know I have many more weekends ahead here. These are a the few I will certainly return to... 

  • Elmer’s Reastuarant; a classic diner well worth the wait. The German pancake may look wierd but it is not to be missed.

  • Evzin; a Mediterranean spot that feels more like a chic gallery than a restaurant. And save room for their only dessert, it was better than expected. 
  • Lappart’s Ice Cream Shop; try the date and caramel ice cream and thank me later...
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DO 

Aside from lying pool side and eating, we were able to squeeze in a few other activities. On the way into town we checked out the wind farm. After checking out of the hotel on Sunday we made our way downtown to see the Palm Springs Art Museum. First stop the architecture and design center which was in between exhibits, but the docent was kind enough to give us a history of the building. We walked 15 minutes to the main museum which has two lovely sculpture gardens. And then we popped in and out of shops along the main drag until we decided to check out some mid century home in the residential area. On our next visit I'd like to do more of this beacuse the houses are just so inspiring. Never have I wanted to own property more than after seeing these super efficient and minimalist homes. Ginally, just as we were leave town we stopped off to check out the great Cabazon Dinosaurs. They are such a quirky attraction (the world's biggest dinosaurs!) but a must see for us nonetheless.

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Before we knew it we were home just after sundown getting ready for the workweek ahead and with just enough time to unpack and Netflix and chill on the couch. All in all a perfect first getaway and lovely weekend! 

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