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// she's only happy in the sun.
Jul 11

beware the brothel.

Hanoi, Vietnam

One of the things Dev and I were really excited about were the cheap massages in Asia. The fact that we could get an hours worth of someone pummeling our bodies for less than $10 sounded too good to be true. So everywhere we went we would scout out places to get massages and they were always fantastic. EXCEPT for this one time.

We were in Hanoi, Vietnam, staying in the charming French quarters. It was late and we were both exhausted so we decided to get massages before heading back to our hotel to sleep. We saw a neon sign for massages and blithely walked in. I guess alarm bells should have gone off when an armed guard lead us through a winding passage into the bowels of the building, but hey, we were in Vietnam, and we’d learned to just go with the flow. We finally got to a ‘reception’ desk of sorts and I asked to look at the price list so we could figure out what service we wanted, and this is where the second set of alarm bells should have tolled loudly. The ‘menu’ was in Russian on one side and broken English on the other and it wasn’t very detailed. The list was just a bunch of adjectives like this with prices next to them:


The staff looked a bit confused as I asked how much it would be to simply massage just our head and shoulders. It seemed like this wasn’t an option. I then explained that Dev and I would like to be in the same room and that seemed to confuse them even more. They lead us to this candle lit room with a jacuzzi and a giant glass shower and told us we could get the luxury package. They also insisted that we pay cash in advance. It was all starting to sound a bit complicated so we just told them to forget the shared room and that we’d be fine in separate rooms. After being ushered into tiny dimly lit rooms and told to undress, my ‘massage therapist’ walked in – a woman who looked very young, wearing a strapless red satin dress, a lot of makeup and teetering on six inch heels.

And it was at this moment that I started to get the feeling we were going to get a lot more than we bargained for.

I guess females don’t generally frequent these kinds of establishments, so since I was expecting a regular massage and had already paid, the woman did the best she could. But let’s face it, massage wasn’t really her fortè.  Plus her dress and heels made it pretty hard for her also. The whole time I was getting my awful massage, I  worried about Dev. Finally, I couldn’t really handle the situation anymore and I jumped off the table and started to get dressed. The woman seemed to understand and didn’t really protest. I then walked into Dev’s room to find him nervously sitting fully clothed on the massage table. He looked so relieved when he saw me and we both grabbed each other by the hand, and quickly exited the building. As we hurried down the street, I asked Dev what had happened and he said the entire time his ‘massage person’ was offering a multitude of ‘extra‘ treatments, and being very insistent. So after a few minutes he decided he had enough of the whole ordeal and so he told the woman to stop, and he put his clothes back on.

“So you just sat there in awkward silence waiting for me?” I asked.

“No, I showed her apps on my iPhone to distract her. She was actually really impressed with google maps.”

Jul 11


i’m quite smitten by revu – a paris based e-boutique:



Jul 11
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rice balls & sea urchins.

Nikki, Dev’s mom, has told me that she was a on a first name basis with the ER doctors in their town due to the amount of injuries Dev would get as a child. I’ve heard about the superglue in the eye, and I believe there was also an incident of getting impaled with a fondue fork, and I know there were many other afflictions that he somehow survived with all limbs intact.

And it seems the trend continues. When we were getting to know each other I remember a time when Dev was talking to me on the phone while he was at a friend’s house. He didn’t want everyone to hear him being all lovey-dovey so he went outside and walked around on the tile patio while we chatted. Unbeknownst to me, it was a scorching day and the tile was scalding hot from the sun. As a result, Dev got severe burns on the backs of his feet – not like a layer of peeling skin, we’re talking giant welts. I guess this story is romantic in a kind of gross way.

You might remember the Australian scombroid poisoning incident of 2009? And our friends May and Amy Shelley will certainly remember the mysterious infection that became an issue one night when we were staying with them in Palo Alto – luckily they have doctor friends who don’t mind writing prescriptions at midnight. Even just a few months ago as we were driving, Dev got a corn chip lodged in his nasal passage which started to get inflamed and then caused his throat to close up and for me to dig around our car for a pen to perform a tracheotomy. Luckily he was able to dislodge it with some beef jerky before I attempted hack surgery. So in conclusion, beef jerky saves lives.

While we were on our south-east adventure travels Devon remarkably only had two near death experiences. The first was in Cambodia. We’d been invited by a family to play music for a devotional gathering and like all fantastic hosts they were adamant about feeding us at the end of the night. There were huge piles of grilled chicken and bowls of rice so we happily ate away until I noticed Devon had dissappeared. I found him in an adjacent room, sitting cross-legged on the floor in the dark, intense focus weighing down his brow. I came to find out that Dev had swallowed a chicken bone and it was now lodged in his throat. OF COURSE IT WAS. and he was now panicking.

So we sat in the dark and tried to figure out how to dislodge it and that’s when the hosts walked in and saved the day. I guess this sort of thing happens all the time in Cambodia, because they didn’t seem concerned at all. Their remedy was to roll up a giant ball of sticky rice (think golf ball sized) and have Dev swallow it whole. Supposedly on the way down the rice grabs the chicken bone, and voila, you’re back to health and wellness.

Rice ball attempts 1, 2 and 3 didn’t work. But the fourth worked a charm and Dev was relieved of the bone.

And we all lived happily ever after until the day we had decided to take a snorkeling tour of the islands off the coast of Thailand. It was a gorgeous day and the fish were incredible – they swam up to us in their little schools and I was so mesmerized by their neon colors and flashy stripes that it took me a minute to realize that Dev was no longer swimming next to me. When I found him he was in a lot of pain because somehow he had stepped on a spiny black sea urchin. And it had shot poison into his heel. YES. of course. of course he was the only one in the entire group of 80 to stand on a sea urchin.

See those small black dots? No? Me either, but according to Dev you can’t let their invisibility fool you, because they hurt A LOT.

So we swam back to the boat where the ‘guides’ spent 5 minutes laughing at Dev’s misfortune and repeating a word that I later found out meant ‘pee’. This was their remedy – peeing on his foot. First they offered to pee on it, then they told me that as his wife, I should pee on it, and then Dev said he would manage on his own thankyouverymuch.

BUT before the pee remedy the locals said there was another important step. They didn’t explain the point of this step and I wish I had video footage of what happened next because it was pretty surreal. Dev was doing his best not to throw up from all the pain and I’m standing there watching/being supportive (read: trying not to roll my eyes) as an eager guide started smashing my husband’s foot with his flip flop. And not once or twice, but consistent smasing. The way you’d hit a piece of meat to tenderize it. And the whole time he’s hitting Dev’s foot, he’s laughing with his comrades and speaking in Thai. So, we just had to trust that whatever was going on was a necessary part of the healing process.

Here’s the guide / flip flop wielder:

Meanwhile Dev’s younger brother Collin and his friend Alan, were ahem, ‘preoccupied’ on the front of the boat.

Ultimately, the ‘treatment’ seemed to do the trick and after a few hours the pain subsided and Dev was fine.

Although he did a have bruises on his heel for a few days.

Jul 11
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tim burton is a genius. and other things you already knew.

one thing i love about this city, besides the abundance of frozen yogurt shops, is the los angeles county museum of art, or as it’s more often referred to: lacma. and of course, one of the things i love about lacma is the giant lightpost installation outside.

today we checked out lacma’s incredible tim burton exhibit and i was so.blown.away. it was incredible to see sketches tim had created as a child, and then as a teen, and then to watch his creative expertise unfold before your very eyes into its full fledged glory.

i mean, edward scissorhands. need i say more?

it’s so apparent that burton has an unbridled imagination that he’s managed to express so perfectly in his art. and it was so inspiring to see the fruits of really hard work, dedication and most of all his PASSION.

which leads me to a skype convo i just had with my 18 year old (how is that possible? she is still only 7 in my head) little sister.

i asked her what she was planning to do after highschool, because this is her final year, and she replied with a noncommittal: “i dunno”.

which i totally get. at her age i also had no idea what i wanted to be when i ‘grew up’. and so basically i just went to the university that most of my friends went to and majored in subjects i knew i’d do well in – film & english. and she’s in that exact same place – ambivalent and confused and unsure of how to figure it all out, and complacent to just settle for whatever the masses are doing.

i found myself wanting to (shake) tell her all the things i wished someone had once said to me, with the crux of it being answering these questions:

what do you love?

what are you excited to talk about?

what are you passionate about?

what do you do that makes you feel happy/energized? (the answers to this can range from the big: ‘helping others’, to the small: ‘running my fingers along the bark of tree trunks’.

because the truth is, that your work can be based around the things that you love. it can be an occupation that matters to you, and something that you don’t dread applying yourself to everyday. and sure, if that’s not a standard occupation it might take a little bit more work/experimenting to figure it out, but the reward is spending your life doing what feels true to who you are, rather than being a ‘fill-in-the-blank’,  just because the salary is safe.

so i gave her my best ‘you really need to figure out your blueprint’ speech, and then she disappeared, because i’m sure YouTube was far more entertaining than whatever i was saying.

and i know that a lot of people consider it unfair or a luxury that i get to do what i love every.single.day and i realize that sometimes we have to take on far-from-dream-jobs to make ends meet, but i hope that whatever you’re doing or striving for, it’s bringing you a deeper level of satisfaction and wholeness.

Jul 11

our (mis)adventures.

good news: my hard drive has been recovered/restored/revived. so now i have photographs of our adventures and i can share some of the highlights, which were actually more like low lights (at the time). but the thing is you don’t want to hear about the perfect white sandy beaches, the glistening waves, the abundance of amazing food, the $6 an hour massages, the exotic temples etc. because what you actually want to hear about is:

1. the time that we mistook a brothel for a massage parlor.

2. the time that dev stood on a sea urchin and was injected with poison.

3. the time we all ate at a restaurant called ‘happy pizza’ which resulted in a 48 hour psychadelic mushroom trip.

4. the time (as in all the time) when i had to be the organized-holder-of-the-passports and stand up to scary customs officials intent on bribing us as we tried to enter cambodia.

5. the time when one of our group got dengue fever and sweated violently for 4 days straight on an island where the only mode of transportation to the hospital was a wheelbarrow to the port where you may, or may not, find a boat willing to take you on the choppy 3 hour journey to the mainland.

you might think i’m exaggerating, but no.

so over the next few days i’ll try to recount some of the details of these ‘experiences’. i’m sure my mum will be justifiably concerned/horrified but the good news is we are all back, safe and sound – although alan has acquired a parasite, and dev is convinced he’s suffering from whooping cough, but besides those ailments, we are all doing really well. and i still have a great tan.

Jul 11


every now and then i get an email in my inbox from a name i don’t recognize. the emails are from people all over the map (mostly women) that somehow stumbled upon my blog. usually, it’s by way of seeing our wedding on etsy or green wedding shoes or ruffled, and occasionally someone is trying to figure out who else is behind-the-scenes of soulpancake, but either way, they get to this little patch of cyberspace and then decide to write to me, sometimes after many months of reading my blog.

the first part of the emails is always something along the lines of “i don’t want this to sound stalkerish, but i read your blog daily”. and the thing is, that’s not stalkerish in my book. stalkerish is if you creeped around outside our windows, or started sending me locks of your hair in the mail. or your fingernail clippings. ew. but taking the time to write me a sweet email is not part of the ‘stalker’ catergory at all.

and i don’t always have time to respond to every email and sometimes people ask for advice, and i feel fresh out of words of wisdom, but i wanted you to know that your emails are always read, and often shared with dev, and it really means so much to me that perfect strangers  get some value from my sharing little glimpses of my life and the things that inspire me. so thank you for letting me know. and thank you for not being creepy and stalkerish.



Jul 11

what ends up mattering.

photo taken in new york city. may 2010.

i had an incredible phone call with one of my bests last night. it’s so refreshing to talk to someone who has no hidden agenda, no desire to get close to me just because i know certain ‘people’ or because i happen to be close friends with the person they have a crush on. with your real friends there is no fraud and no fakeness. no ambiguity and no pretense. hallelujah for real friends.

during our conversation we discussed priorities and how they change depending on your context. i was talking about our trip to southeast asia and how (besides tokyo), i paid such little attention to what people were wearing. it was redundant. insignificant. and yet the second my feet touched american soil i stood in the customs line and unconsciously made a mental checklist of the girl’s outfit in front of me. sam edelman clogs. check. prada bag. check. etc. it suddenly mattered. i guess because it suddenly meant something.

the beautiful thing about leaving your day-to-day context is that it reminds you what is actually important. what wooed me in cambodia/vietnam was that families seemed to always be eating together – sitting on upturned crates on the side of the road. semi-clothed toddlers mischievously grabbing for treats from their elder siblings. old men playing checkers under street lamps. it was evident that family was the priority. and the simplicity of what happiness means in those countries was intoxicating.

and i’m so grateful for that reminder. all the gadgetry and fashion and dramatized hype over the most amazing next ‘new’ thing can’t ever make up for the feeling of peace i have next to the ocean. or the feeling of surrender you can only get staring into a star splattered sky. or the feeling of wholeness i have when i’m near the ones i love.

and the awesome thing is that if you really internalize and celebrate what actually matters you can take those things with you to any place you go, or any place you might be right now.

Jul 11

life in a day.

last night dev and i were invited to an advance screening of the YouTube/Ridley Scott film: Life in a Day. i’ve been to a bunch of movies lately but nothing has really wowed me. and yes, i’ve seen Tree of Life, and honestly? besides the exquisite photography i thought the film was really self-indulgent and monotonous. i know that’s blasphemy to say out loud amongst hipster circuits, but there you go.

life in a day was a project that YouTube launched where on july 24th, 2010 people all over the world submitted a video of their day. something like 80,000 hours of footage from 190+ countries was received, cataloged and edited together into this incredible menagerie of what the world ‘looked’ like and experienced during those 24 hours. it’s breathtaking, poignant, humorous, authentic and SUCH a powerful example of how people are beautiful in their diversity and yet we are still so obviously one.human.family.

if you get the chance to see it on the big screen (it opens in the US in two weeks) i highly recommend it.

Jul 11


i really don’t like ‘pretend’ plants and fake flowers. i don’t care how realistic they are supposed to look – they are just frauds. dust gathering frauds.

however, real flowers, i love. they don’t need to be fancy exotic florist purchased ones. i’m easily made content by wild flowers or a bunch from trader joes.

right now i have a vase full of flowers to my right with hues of purple and yellow, green and bright bursts of orange. it’s so happy. there’s also something about fresh flowers that reminds me of my parents. saturdays were unofficially deemed family gardening day so while my brother mowed the lawn, i would be weeding, or stacking wood, all the time vigilantly avoiding spiders and worms and snails and getting dirty in general. i wasn’t really ‘at one’ with the outside elements in my teens, as i much preferred being holed up in my room reading. i used to get so bored at the nurseries while my parents decided between different strains of roses and admired the shrubery, but now, i find myself doing the same thing. gazing at beautiful vines sprouting purple flowers, and picking lavender from the side of the road, and oohing at organic produce, and just being a garden-enamored geek in general. i don’t know if it’s because our landlord won’t allow us to have plants but now i have this ardent desire to have a garden. to sit under the shade of a tree. to lie in dewy grass. to grow my own herbs and vegetables.

so just add idyllic garden to the ever-growing list of the things the next new abode needs to have.

Jul 11
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today’s happy makers.

1. a collection of heart hand polaroids.

2. knowing Q is within tea-having reach.

3. curling up on our couch and reading for the first.time.in.ages.

4. persian cucumbers peeled, sliced and sprinkled with coarse sea salt.

5. memories of our recent adventure.

6. two upcoming summer weddings.

7. making new acquaintances. hi marianne!

8. crushing up ice. limes. maple syrup. and mint.

9. cleaning out the physical and metaphorical clutter from my world.

10. sweet ash bringing over the prettiest macrons from bottega louie.

Jul 11

because he needs his own sitcom.

this is the rooftop oasis that i’d like to move into. ok. thanks.

today my landlord decided to measure the filter needed for our a/c unit.

first of all, calling it an a/c unit is wishful thinking. this contraption looks like it’s one hundred years old. it is the sort of thing that you’d find in a hipster store as decoration because it’s so ironic. i’m sure it would make for a good display for vintage sunglasses or something, what with its wood paneling and giant silver knobs. it definitely doesn’t function efficiently so we rarely use it. one time we turned it on and smoke started coming out of it. so it’s not really top of our priority list but today i guess it hit the top of our landlords list, because there he was. standing at our door. measuring tape in hand.

even though i was on the phone and dev was also on a conference call, i let him in and followed him to our bedroom as he muttered under his breath. his list of complaints for the day included that we have too many guests staying at our place. he informed me that our guests can’t stay longer than one week. the second thing he grumbled about was that we have worn through the hardwood floor varnish in the bedroom and the dining room. i told him the floors have always been in this condition but he’s vehement that we did all this damage. then he motioned towards the sink in the kitchen where some of the tile had fallen off last week and reminded me not to sit on the lip of the sink. he doesn’t seem to care that i’ve NEVER sat on the lip of the sink, that i don’t generally sit on sink ledges, that i TOLD him specifically that the tile fell off in my hand as i was standing there talking to shabs in my kitching. this is all irrelevant. in his head, i sat on the edge of the sink, and the tile fell off and that’s just how it is.

but it was his final complaint that really took the cake today. as he was leaving our apartment he turned to me and said, with the most serious and grave tone you can imagine “you have too many chairs”.

blink. blink.


i thought maybe i misheard him.

“you have too many chairs with too many legs. the legs are damaging the floors of the apartment”

it took all my determination not to burst out laughing. i smiled sweetly and slowly closed the door on him.

LOCO i tell you. lo.co.

which is just confirmation that we need a new apartment come september. an apartment i can FILL with chairs. obviously.

Jul 11
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still wooed by weddings

even though my wedding was over.a.year.ago, i can’t help but spy creative/unique/clever wedding ideas that i’m enamored with.

this approach in lieu of a guest book is FANTASTIC. such a great idea to use fingerprints, easy to display, and really adorable.

Jul 11
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lately, i’ve been in nesting mode.

this mode does not suit renting an apartment because you can’t completely make.it.yours. especially not with a loco-landlord like ours. i’d love to paint accent walls, and refinish the hardwood floors. i have dreams of installing beautiful white flowing blinds that brush the floors and sail into the room whenever there is a big gust of wind. i would plant roses and a small herb garden. i would also knock out some walls and add some new ones and i’d make a zipline to ash & melody’s house. but,  none of this is going to happen. except maybe the blinds, because i don’t think i need the landlord’s OK on that. or at least, you’d hope that would be the case.

we are currently looking for a new apartment/house, but we’re also a bit reluctant to leave our current abode. besides the landlord and the horrendous parking, our place has a lot of charm, a ton of light and is really suited to what we do – work all day out of our dining room within arm’s reach of our refrigerator and coffee maker.

in the meantime, i’m just gathering ideas and a giant wish list for future habitats using the ever-so-handy pinterest.

and if all else fails, i’m considering building one of these in the woods.

Jul 11

a short list of things that make me happy. in no apparent order.

1. my lenny kravitz mug, thanks to nina.
2. facebook conversations between me, evbeff & the price girls.
3. strawberries that taste like strawberries should.
4. evening walks with ash around the reservoir.
5. cool, crisp, clean, white sheets.
6. vast cloud littered skies.
7. wildflowers.
8. bookshelves.
9. really excellent cheese.
10. dev’s impromptu songs.
11. lists.
12. hand holding.
13. going to the movies.
14. small acts of kindness.
15. big acts of bravery.
16. cozy nooks.
17. vespa riding.
18. holding something made with care.
19. the ocean.
20. having choices.

i’m not about to get a tattoo, but this one is quite beautiful, no?


Jul 11

this engagement photo shoot must have leaked out of my brain.

i mean, can we talk about how amazing these GIANT animal heads are?

i’m smitten. kudos to the creative (aussie!) photographers.

Jul 11
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considering a new abode.

at the end of august our lease ends which means we can leave our pretty little habitat if we so choose. there are so many reasons i’d stay here:

+ the light in our house is incredible. it floods in all day through antique paned glass and creates dancing rainbows all over the place.
+ it’s warm and cozy, inviting, and feels ‘lived in’.
+ there are many nooks where i can stash antique clocks, oddities and treasures.
+ our ‘office’ is within arms reach of the refrigerator #ohsoconvenient
+ we can walk to some of our favorite eateries and we share the neighborhood with some of our most favorite people
+ i’ve NEVER encountered a spider or a mouse. i don’t know if it’s because LA is so polluted that even insects and rodents find nicer places to live, but it’s pretty comforting never having to shake out your shoes for fear of a spider bite (i’m looking at you australia!)
+ we’re already here. if you know the hassle that comes with moving you will appreciate the sentiment that sometimes it’s just nice to stay put. i’m exhausted just considering packing up and moving to a new place.

but there is one very good reason why we would leave:

+ our landlord is crazypants.
+ oh, and parking sucks. which is still overshadowed by loco-landlord.

we’d like to stay in silverlake/loz feliz. but we might be lured to echo park, eagle rock, mt washington if the perfect little house shows up for rent.

Jul 11

tokyo takeaways.

i’m beginning to conquer jet lag. by that i mean that i’ve stopped waking up at 3am and feeling like i could run a marathon, or at least manage the affairs of a small village. now i wake up at 6am and curse the lack of curtains in our room which means that the light floods in and there is no option other than  extreme awakeness.

yesterday i had decided to start editing my photographs from the trip and post them on my blog complete with elaborate tales about our adventure, and that’s when my beloved macbook pro decided to stomp all over my good intentions. i turned it on in the morning to find a gray screen with no signs of life. not even the iconic spinning wheel of nuisance or a cursor. dev did some investigating and thinks that the motherboard is fried. i don’t know what this means, but i do know it’s not good. especially because dev just discarded my laptop in three pieces on my desk and told me to use the ipad until we figure something out.

so this is what you get, two photos of tokyo. until i salvage the rest from the hard drive that is currently in a time out.

it’s impossible to describe tokyo without mentioning the order, precision, efficiency and the cleanliness of the city. everything is in its place. i was taking a walk on the morning that the neighborhood trash pick up was happening and i was mesmerized by all the neat bundles of ‘waste’. the streets were carefully lined with neat bundles of cardboard flattened and tied together with twine. all the bottles stacked in crates according to color and the plastics in their own module. i know this sounds crazy, but the trash on the streets looked like an anthropologie art installation. it was so neat, so tastefully presented and with such care and diligence. it made me think about the way we handle ‘other people’s jobs’ here.  i’ve never seen anyone go out of their way to make the garbage collectors job any easier and less taxing. so often, the pervading attitude is ‘that’s someone else’s job, not mine’.

and let’s take a moment to just admire the japanese. their sense of style is matchless. the way they handle themselves and their affairs is admirable. they display such grace and poise and dignity. everyone is treated with respect. i mean, people are bowing at you. all the time. and smiling and being gentle. i mean, i’m sure that japan has its fair share of irritable, impatient, discourteous people, but i didn’t meet any of them. the people i met were the epitome of hospitable.

tokyo also gets bonus points for:

being able to order meals using a vending machine!
a spotless and timely public transportation system.
bathrooms that make you feel like you’re being transported to the future, complete with a button you press so the toilet makes a flushing sound to give you privacy, and a seat warmer!
its fashionistas. i saw so many original outfits that so perfectly pieced together.

tokyo gets a few negative points for:

offering ‘cat hostesses’. yes, you can rent a private room with a cat. i don’t understand this. i don’t think i want to.
expensiveness. we could live for a week off what we spent in one day in tokyo. holy-i-can’t-afford-anything-batman.
low ceilings. this wasn’t a problem for me, but the guys had to keep ducking or slam their foreheads into doorways. i guess that’s slightly inconvenient.

we were only in the city for a measly 38 hours before our flight to bangkok, but in that short time we all fell for japan (well, collin fell for the japanese women, but that’s another blog post). we’ll be back, i’m sure of it.

Jul 11
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dear photograph

this site was brought to my attention by cool huntress, ash, and it’s right up my alley.

basically it’s photographs of photographs in front of the original setting for the photo. confused much?

the site explains it better than i do: “take a picture of a picture from the past in the present.”

here are some gems:

they are looking for submissions, so if you’re inspired – send one in!

Jul 11
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and we’re back.

yep, even though my body refuses to act like i’m back in pacific standard time (go to sleep!) our sojourn to thailand/cambodia/vietnam/japan has come to an end.

it was incredible. and exhausting. and adventure-packed. and hilarious. and it was the best reminder that away from this desk, there is an incredible earth just waiting to be explored and it’s filled with color and vibrancy and beauty and children whose smiles melt your heart, and skies so vast and water so turquoise blue that you can’t imagine ever wanting to be anywhere else.

i can’t wait to tell you all about it. but first, i need to catch up on sleep and ninja kick my inbox into submission.




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