Monday, December 30, 2013


Happy 2nd Birthday, to our beloved tormentor, Olive.

Mommy and Daddy love you.
Even if our faces suggest otherwise.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Inspired. (Click to tour Faye Toogood's home. It's gorg.)

In case you haven't heard, a couple months ago, I started a new venture: REFUGE Design Build
So it's official. I've got a logo design in the works (thank you, Aileen Cheng), which makes this entire venture that much more real.

Inspiration behind the look of Refuge - as was dictated to Aileen by yours truly:

A sneak-peek at the fabulousness that Aileen concocted for me 
(just one of many concepts she had up her sleeve):

Goofing off with cardstock options. Ooh, the possibilities!

As much as I've denied the label, I've become an interior designer. What-what?!? Yes, who would've thunk?
I'm currently working on five projects and I can't wait to share the rad end results with you all.

Bears hugs and slobbery kisses.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Supermodel, Work

New perspective.
Taking a moment.
Olive and the nectarine.
Death of the nectarine.

The talented Emily Ulmer photographed my nugget a couple weeks ago.
Above are a few of the magical images that resulted.
I gasped when I saw them...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Identity Crisis

Out of respect for other people's eyes, I actually put thought into what I put on in the morning. Like most people, I don't enjoy looking like poo. But my intentions are often lost in my execution, resulting in me leaving the house in kaftans, silk pajama pants, overalls and muumuus. The 30s are a confusing time for me - style-wise. I can't decide who I want to be, so I end up looking "Bohemian Lumberjack Waiter Gone Nautical." Hmm.

My father thinks everyone should adopt a uniform of navy and gray. I took this piece of advice back in college and was mistaken for a sales person while browsing goods at Barneys. My mother thinks one can never go wrong in a twinset. A lovely fashion tip if I were trying to blend in with the senior citizen set. And if the nugget could speak, she'd probably suggest a pink tutu.

As the old saying goes, it's what's on the inside that counts, but fact of the matter is, how I look on the outside affects how I feel on the inside. Lately, my insides have been feeling confused. And so, next week, my always-impeccably-dressed friend Sophie is coming over to help curate my closet over Thai take-out."* Every item that hasn't been worn in the past two years is being donated to Vietnam Veterans of America and Thredup no matter how beautiful the item looks on the rack or how much I remember paying for it. If it looks like shit on, it's gone.**

Clients of mine hire me to renovate and design their homes because I (supposedly) have acceptable taste and good judgment. I offer suggestions regarding what to salvage and what to demolish, and *gasp* they listen. They trust that I have a vision they don't, and their cooperation makes the final outcome that much better. Next Tuesday, I will trust Sophie and her vision. I just hope she doesn't toss my collection of East sider appropriate flannel and hole-covered jeans...

* Yes, I actually used the word "curate" as if to suggest my closet has items worth curating. I think I just "pulled a Paltrow" - as in Gwyneth Paltrow. Don't hate.
** Mantra for the remains of 2013.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Plain and Simple

You don't need much to draw.

I have a new website in the works, and am all sorts of excited to share it with you. It has always been my hope to showcase my illustration work more professionally; however, seeing that my tech savviness can best be compared to that of a great-grandmother, I decided to call for back-up. I sought out the talent and good taste of my friend Aileen Cheng. Because of this brilliant designer, I will soon be able to display my work with pride. Aileen runs her own studio and specializes in branding. Her work can be seen HERE and HERE. It's been a real treat working with her. If you're ever in the market for some design work, give Aileen a ring. You won't be sorry.

Anyhow, I was asked to take a photo of my workspace for the site, and I found myself feeling torn. Should I be honest to all ten readers of this blog and share an image of the space I actually work in? Imagine an uninspiring desk buried deep in discarded paper, eraser shreds, kitschy souvenirs and chupa chup wrappers. Then imagine a makeup-less me in mismatched pajamas squatting behind it all. Yikes. Not a pretty sight. 

If you're anything like me, you probably don't surf the web to look at ugly homes filled with real people stuff. Aspirational images. Curated vignettes. That's what peeps are into pinning nowadays, yeah? For the sake of your eyeballs, I present you the minimalist me. The me I wanna be. It really doesn't take much to draw a picture... some minor lifestyle editing, and I just might achieve the dream.

Mission Accomplished

Ceiling light fixture has been ordered, but that one detail aside, the peanut's room is finished.
Clearly, this little boss is pleased with the performance of her intern.

The peanut inspected her new digs with a critical eye...

And was most impressed by this TGIFridays-inspired gallery wall...
This display ignited a string of enthusiastic oohs.

More photos of the space to come.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Little Miss Sunshine

Remember the munchkin room makeover that I began but *AHEM* never finished? That's right. I'm a sucky mama. Since taking the above snapshot, I've had curtains installed and her crib moved in, but I never did get around to hanging artwork or light fixtures up. Lucky for Olive, I've spent these past two weeks swimming in a sea of fixtures and finishes for other projects, and ooh, I came across this lovely being:

Feast your eyes, folks. Isn't this Cord Pendant lovely? Simple, but luxe. My incredibly talented friend, Brendan Ravenhill, designed it, and I think it'd look crazy-sexy-cool hanging in the middle of the nugget's room.

Miss Olive has a photo session with THIS too-cool-for-school photographer on Sunday, and I'm hoping I can pull my poop together by then. Miracles happen, you know.

Abstract-expressionist work I'm looking to frame and display by my nugget.
Isn't the bite mark bananas?

The bashful artist.

Monday, September 09, 2013

A Little Out There

Strolling with pops on the grounds of Cabot Cove in Kennebunkport.

Olive, you're barely a toddler, yet I'm already imagining how exciting it's going to be the day you're of age to attend summer camp. Your aunt Cindy and I attended day camp as kids (nothing fancy, just the YMCA), and the memories we have from our summers together (elaborate friendship bracelets and disgustingly stinky feet) are ones we will treasure forever. Gosh, peanut. If only you can be so lucky.

From Iceland to France to England to the East Coast of the United States, this summer you clocked-in some mayjah mileage. Camp Mama made sure your days abroad were packed with activity; and while you probably won't be remembering any of it, I have plenty of photographic evidence proving that you were well-entertained and living life to its very fullest.

With the passing of Labor Day, I'm rushing to post snapshots from your final days of summer 2013. You were a little out there. Perhaps too much so? Your grandaunts won't stop pointing out your toasty skin tone, but hey, you're a California girl.

You dislike hats, but seem to like Mama's.
Clam Shack, Kennebunk ME

 Last summer, you couldn't get enough of this stuff.
This summer, you only wanted fries.
My little foodie, no more.

 Like your mama, you get excited when in the presence of baked goods. 
Congdon's Doughtnuts, Wells, ME

 Admiring some whoopie whilst clinging on to a donut hole.
You know your priorities.
Congdon's Doughnuts, Wells, ME

 You do not share Mama's love for antiquing and thrifting.
You prefer running through parking lots - under the careful watch of daddy.

 Like father, like daughter.
Yours was an Icelandic yogurt-filled summer.

 You have a favorite word.
All that goes on top of your head, Naked juice caps included, instantaneously become, "Hat."

 Gaga doesn't wear pants.
You don't either.

 There's so much more to Maine than lobster rolls,
but your father and I don't care.
Lobster Shack, Cape Elizabeth, ME

Why so serious? 

 Happy duo.
Boston Children's Museum, Boston, MA

Family time with your adorable cousin, Paul.
Unintended bubble bath.
Boston Children's Museum, Boston, MA

 You made it out to the 'bu.
Malibu, CA

You soared like a bird with the help of auntie Mai.

 Lady & the Tramp. (Mama's the tramp.)
Consuming beach-appropriate food that your daddy would never give you.

 All in all, I think it's safe to say that you had a lovely summer.

Now this blog was never supposed to be all about you, rather about mommy's stupid doodles. See blog title? Yes, Mama's a bit of a narcissist. But seeing that you are my greatest source of inspiration, these entries are more relevant than you think.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

No Trees For Me

Everybody is a genius.

But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, 

it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. 

Albert Einstein

Thank you, Pinterest, for this food for thought. 
Ma' belly will stay full on these words alone - until like, lunch.

Friday, August 23, 2013


Photo of the cottage we'll be staying in at Cabot Cove
The one we stayed in last year was booked when I last looked, so we were left with this ugly ducking. 
I'm kidding. Isn't she like, way-lovely? I'm so very excited. 

When the peanut was 8 months-old, we took a family vacation to Maine. Remember THIS? And THIS? Remember when I mentioned that le huz and I enjoyed the memories we made there so much that we got to talking about making a family tradition of our trips there? (Of course you don't remember. You have a life.) Well, whether you're a diehard stalker or not, fast forward to today, I'm packing the fam up and heading East! That's right... us Huangs mean what we say. Watch out, Maine. A weird Chinese family is headed your way.

"Little by little, one travels far." - J.R.R. Tolkien
The peanut likes to copy her daddy who's often on the road for work.
Here she is trying to steal a suitcase from the Disney store.
 Daddy doesn't have a Little Mermaid suitcase, Olive.

Looking forward to the lobster rolls, whoopie pies and wide-open greenery. And ooh, did I mention that we'll be swinging by Boston as well? Olive will get to hug her sweet cousin Paul. Aww.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Knock, Knock

Maltman's exterior is in dire need of a facelift. Once her guts are dealt with (foundation, plumbing, and what-have-you), I will be dealing with her curb appeal - or lackthereof. A coat of paint is always a quick and easy fix, and where better to make a strong impression than at the front door?

Farrow & Ball paints are pricey, but the depth of color their product provides is simply cray-cray. The color changes with the light. I certainly can't afford to coat the building in this stuff, but the front door? Perhaps.

Farrow & Ball "Down Pipe"

Farrow & Ball "Hague Blue"

Farrow & Ball "Light Blue"
Farrow & Ball "Chinese Blue"

Farrow & Ball "Polly Green"

This magnificent shade of green which I'm still trying to pinpoint is also quite lovely.
Benjamin Moore Kennebunkport Green? Wild guess.

And ooh, should I choose to get dramatic, there's always the dark side.

House: Farrow & Ball "Off Black Exterior Eggshell" 
Door: Farrow & Ball "Blue Ground Exterior Eggshell" 
Windows, Frames & Fence: Farrow & Ball "Wimborne White Exterior Eggshell"

And before I forget, The "BEFORE" shot.

Yes, I'm so ghetto I didn't even bother to remove the MLS stamp.

Rub a Dub Dub

The previous owner of Maltman (what I've named my duplex), was an artist. This explains her choice of a turquoise bath set. It's actually really nice. Very Peter Dunham. I like her mix of textures! Unfortunately, due to deferred maintenance (think water damage, mold, and rats) in the unit, it's time for a fresh start.



While the home was built in '67, it doesn't offer all that many character details to suggest that she was built then. As is the case with the kitchen, I'm thinking of going bright and airy - white with black and chrome detaililng. There isn't an abundance of natural light in most of the baths, so I'm going to have to work with color and reflective surfaces. 

While I love me some white subway tile, Carrara hex and porcelain pedestal sinks, I am fearful that Asta's baths will end up as boring as the baths I am forced to install in my flip jobs. That said, I've been searching for inspiration - just little things - that can elevate what would otherwise be a generic bathroom renovation. I know there's always staging, but I prefer that the room be able to stand on its own!

Classic but luxe hardware. This wide-set faucet is from the Harry Winston of bath fixtures, Waterworks. Mmm... Waterworks. Set against that soapstone counter, omigosh, I die. 
(By the way, that soapstone topped console retails a hefty $8000. 
Um, yeah. I wasn't kidding about the Harry Winston comment! 

 This wider-than-usual pedestal sink could work great in the master bath.
And that floor. By taking the time to plan out the border on the hex floor, this bath avoids becoming completely generic. And had that wall behind the mirror been painted something other than white? Lovely.

See what I mean? I bit of paint in a white bath never hurt anybody.
 Dark brown paired with brass - a mixture of metals, really - is so luxurious feeling. 

Classic finishes. Do they bore you? 
Not me. I know the cost of Ann Sacks and Heath tile (OUCH!) and have learned to be perfectly happy hanging in my classic finish zone.

 Black trim around the mirror and windows adds so much more interest to the room.
As decorator Jan Powers put it, "Every room needs a touch of black, just as it needs one antique piece."

 Loving the charcoal tub with hex. (Love that even the legs are charcoal!) 
But since Maltman's neither a Craftsman nor Cape-cod style home, 
I'll probably be passing on the siding. 

Subway tile is made fancy with black trim pieces. 
I also dig that striped floor. 
Very dramatic. 

 Love that the designer has tiled around the window. 
And that black paint along the window makes a world of difference.

 Charcoal, brass and white. 
SO GOOD. That hex and the solid piece of slate on top! 
This look is a definite contender for Maltman's baths.
Perfect mix of old and new.

A very pretty bathroom with gray stone tiling on the wall. 
This bathroom is more contemporary than I'd like, but that pedestal tub!
I loving that tub. Must install.

 A classic bathroom. 
This layout will work perfectly for the small baths in Maltman's lower unit.

Time for me to get working on the actual specs for these babies. Will share when done.


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