A Blessed Belated Earth Day

On a bright but rather windy Earth Day I was a few hours away from starting work and sitting there by the window inside Emporio Rulli Caffe right on Union Square. If it weren’t for the wind, I would definitely have been out amongst this central hub of San Francisco’s downtown. Also, there’s the gardens– the boxed succulents low on the ground alongside steel patio chairs and lush palms restless like they were trying to swat away at this wind. If only they could.

I used to be SUCH an enthusiastic environmentalist back in my teens. In 2007 right around the renewal of global warming awareness post-An Inconvenient Truth, bright-eyed me really convinced myself that anything helped– any little part on my behalf would add to the whole of preserving the beauties of the natural world– and I’d inspire my peers to do so, too. The true driving force I confess behind all this work was the height of going green in the late 2000s and my age. Lack of any experience– but well-read knowledge from NRDC and Change.org spammesque emails was my proof to people that just because you’re a dumpy little teenager it doesn’t mean you don’t care about important global issues. Statin the first environmental-conscious club in my high school and holding fundraisers and petitions almost every month and signing up for beach clean ups no one ever really got around to attending– I tried doing it all before I was even eighteen. Well done! is what I would say to myself back then, coming from now. But now, I do wonder what happened. Where’s my enthusiasm gone?

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San Francisco is a quintessential medium between nature and urban environments. Really swooning for Crissy Field now, where I took this photo three years ago.

I think that was the actualization of adulthood. Being a teen didn’t mean you didn’t care abut things that actually mattered– but that you could afford to without other discomforts of bills, a job, and saving on money. You don’t typically have those things as a kid, but you did have doe-eyed passions without really the support systems or connection you gain as an adult. Regardless, I’m relaxed now about saving the environment, my past goes to show that it’s never too late to get caring.

It doesn’t meant I could care less about the environment anymore either. What helps is that as I got older I wasn’t alone– especially as I moved to San Francisco. Everyone here was getting on board with going green. Also, it’s SAN FRANCISCO!! It started with the compost bins, and now it’s the norm to ban plastic bags and bike and upcycle almost everything. So I guess the load’s been taken off my back and just assimilated into the Norm.

Oaks and brilliantly-lit trails all around in the Mt. Diablo region.
Oaks and brilliantly-lit trails all around in the Mt. Diablo region.

Being from California it’s in your backbone to love nature. I grew up in a rich, fresh-scented foothill town of a brooding sharp mountain East of San Francisco. Yes, Mt. Diablo is the other mountain of the Bay Area besides Mt. Tamalpais, and just as beautiful, roaming hills of oaks and yellow mustard weeds and gorgeous weather. I do love being out here, living at home and almost like a nature retreat with a view of the mountain just from my bedroom window. Then there’s the oceans, the majestic Redwoods and cliffs that edge along Yosemite and meet the Sierras, and the starlit deserts in the nighttime with stretched out roads in miles of heat, leading into dreams and uncertainty alike. California is an amazing state in just how geographically diverse it is. Love it all; almost every day of my life has been Earth Day to some extent; just about every day there’s something naturally wonderful to be seen. The most surprising is within in a sprawling, urban environment like San Francisco. I’m so fascinated at a city like itself’s efforts in uniting green with concrete; landscaping hard rooftops with Babylonian-like gardens and transforming old lots and narrow alleys into lush and secretive forests. And Golden Gate Park. You can even go see a remarkable example of natural states existing in such a place as a cityscape at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Acquariums to a tropical rainforest contained in a dome, to a living rooftop breathing and living and maintaining life for native flora. Brilliant.

The roof of the California Academy of Sciences, consisting of plants native to the Golden State.
The roof of the California Academy of Sciences, consisting of plants native to the Golden State.

 

I leave this post with you to take note of those simple pleasures around you, the wild and free, for free. Here are some interesting links, mostly for California-based organizations, on how to really contribute in the successes of our natural world.

NRDC, Natural Resources Defense Council… Petitions and up to date on global environmental issues. Shamelessly found out about NRDC when Green Day teamed up with them. I

loved (and still love) Green Day around the same time as I went green.

Save the [San Francisco] Bay… Check out their calendar of clean up events and volunteer for healthier, pretty beaches.

The Marine Mammal Center (in Northern California)… Donate and get a photo of the dear sea lion/ porpoise/ seal you helped.

World Wildlife Fund… Donate and get a really spiffy and cuddly stuffed animal of your choice, almost on any species!

 

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Day Travels: San Jose

I don’t travel much these days. But when I do, I make the most of it, even if it’s just an hour away from home. Well fortunately, the way I get to San Jose is the long way around, via through the metro tunnels of San Francisco and onto a slow and easy Southbound ride aboard Caltrain. The journey itself is the right time away I need, it only adds to the glories of getaway.

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As the train departs from the San Francisco station, just a block away from SF Giants’ AT&T Ballpark

Caltrain is first of all, the way I wish ALL of the Bay Area would use to get around. Having rode BART my whole life in and out of the East Bay, I’ve only come to discover BART is faster– and less concerned about the comfort and cleanliness of the experience. In stunning contrast, Caltrain is more unique and relaxing, like actual train traveling but in the same distance of travel for commuter purposes. The best parts of Caltrain are being able to eat/drink on it and single seat, mezzanine seating on the upper level. Yes. Some quick notes I wrote down being upon Caltrain:

1. Add butter peppermints into our chai latte. It’s SUPER.

2. Especially on night trains, or any public transit form, no one judges you after 6PM.

3. The Peninsula has the best all-around quintessential downtown areas.

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Caltrain has introduced me to cities I never would have known about. And for one, the Caltrain culture of each city’s train stations ensures that the slow mode of Caltrain warrants laziness– go to the café next door to the ticket machines, sit down and have a coffee or chat with friends as you wait for the train. Time stands still on the peninsula, it’s definitely unlike the fast-developing East Bay.

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Coffee house of choice: Crema in Santa Clara is exceptionally spacious and eclectic, obviously converted from an old house into a low-ceiling and rich menu of gelato and coffee beverages.

Is it weird to think in some ways San Jose is like Southern California? I guess because of how spread out the whole place seems– on top of how many cities are clustered together and interchangeable with each other. No matter Mountain View, Saratoga, or Almaden, it’s all San Jose to everyone here. It’s almost like San Jose has much to offer, because each city contributes something.

Inside look at the soft colors and lovely details of the chapel altar at the Mission Santa Clara de Asis, right at the center of Santa Clara Univeristy, where my friend Giuliana is a first year law student.
Inside look at the soft colors and lovely details of the chapel altar at the Mission Santa Clara de Asis, right at the center of Santa Clara Univeristy, where my friend Giuliana is a first year law student.

San Jose was almost like my childhood. My dad had an exceptional sports memorabilia store in Eastridge Mall and when I wasn’t in school I was there in the backrooms of the store playing in the old dressing rooms that were former shells of the previous store, or watching Totoro on the big screen in the back. I got to wander around the mall with my mom and watched SuperBowl Sundays there in the middle of the artificial baseball diamond my parents set up for live in-house batting– and SJPD officers, who became good friends with my dad, would swing by and bring food and watch the games in their uniforms on their shifts. I remember San Jose back then as shopping malls, lots of Asian communities, and thinking the freeways there that intersected were the end of the roads in California.

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Lift helps when getting around for late nights out. And did I mention some drivers will give you lollipops??

I’m now making new memories from this place, finding my own way around a new environment, getting excited about a place so close and so glamorized as the heart of Techlandia that I know nothing about. And I’m finding out the things that make San Jose exciting to me. In the way that the South Bay is so sprawled and up and coming, you can really feel it out here, just the abundance of activities and places to see. I am pinpointing these places with my friends from college who are from here or now reside here for law school and work. Some places to note are the many mini golf courses, Raging Waters with their epic pod slide that drops the floor below you, Santana Row, and Pinkberry, EVERYWHERE. How green it is down here is also breathtaking. The hills out in the Almaden region are more luscious and jagged than those here at home, taller too. I always see them from the fields where Matt, my boyfriend, constantly runs his soccer teams’ practice sessions. These hills seem to be everywhere, and I’m always happy to find them waiting whenever I join Matt on the field to sit in and watch.

Santana Row's Pinkberry.
Santana Row’s Pinkberry.

All I can really say about my days away in the South Bay is that traveling is best whenever you can. Stepping out of your shell does the best writing, and even if it’s somewhere you can get to in forty minutes.  San Jose happens to be a great spot, adding onto why I love California and showing that in the Bay Area it’s not all about the skyscrapers and monuments and crazy nightlife of San Francisco. Get out and get writing; you shouldn’t wait for those stories to come to you when you take that two-weeks vacation abroad. It’ll hit you when you get moving, because traveling is where the writer and story meet right in the middle. I may not get out much now, but I definitely won’t let time pass for that right inspiration, especially in new places.

downtown San Jose is less dense but has a great nightlife feel
Downtown San Jose is less dense but has a great nightlife feel. La Vic is great for Mexican food after midnight with a killer secret sauce.

By Your Side: FINALE

Here are the final words to my short story, By Your Side. Brief, short, and even Noah wishes that there will hopefully be more in this tale for him. Find the full story here.

 

HE’S ALONE, squatting on the rustic fire escape three stories above the snow.

            Between puffs of his Marlboro he’s thinking of everything they had. What he should have now and where he ought to be.
            Fingers are cold and stiff, without the touch of tanning oil that smells like coconuts.
            Noah flicks the cigarette down to the street in hopes that the snow and everything with it melts. He wishes somehow for this puddle to be wide and shallow enough to run across back to her on the poolside.
            He hates it here now. Someday, Noah sighs, after one last hit, someday will turn out to be the end of the day, when I can drive from work on that hog to that pool and just be by your side.

 

 

Product Story: The Birthday Collection at Paris K Studio

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As much as I enjoy bringing life to my stationery through watercolors, I really get excited about the challenge that arises when creating from scratch materials such as assorted color paper, ribbon, little jewel embellishments, washi tape, and glitter. These are external tools that guide you in the right direction of crafting, but not necessarily on where to begin. They all look and sound fabulous in theory, but jumbled onto a scrap of paper you won’t exactly get that “pretty” you’re aiming for. So during this week, as the end of March fell alongside the heavy rain and thunderstorms that came to the Bay Area, I took the time off I had to piece together exciting and beautiful stationery, but ones that were unlike anywhere else, that took these craft essentials and made them one of a kind and true to my dreamy  inspirations.

Not long after I launched Paris K Studio did I know that special greeting cards would be next in line for design. I just didn’t want to create standards. Plus, I have a very minimal stash so that I don’t get over the top with my designs. And yes, I had these things and I really didn’t know how to begin or what vision. At first I was simply creating one card in mind for a friend’s birthday, and then I realized after looking at the design of the card that as pretty as it was, this particular card was bulky. So not only uniqueness was kept in mind, but practicality. A card has to be nice but convenient, able to fit into an envelope for mailing. And then I came up with this:

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Square knot detailing. Gold metallic ink is used for HAPPY BIRTHDAY! right onto the tape!

I haven’t really seen anywhere else with a card like this. This is my signature square knot, striped present design for my first birthday card, Gracious Gifting. It shows layers and fine detailing, but it’s still slim to fit perfectly into an envelope. I was truly excited when I made this into a reality, to actually touch this card in all its lovely detailing and sturdiness that this was It, the first It for this birthday collection. The washi tape really made this card work since it was less of a mess trying to glue or tape paper on. Washi tape is genius and multi-functional. It’s a great starter piece for crafting supplies because, well, you see!

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The second design in the collection is a spin on that aforementioned friend’s birthday card. I love working with rosettes because they translate onto so many aesthetic levels the same sense of wonder; they can feel like actual flowers or give a pop for a sparkling firework feel. And I know she’s one fancy, oustanding lady who is very deserving of a card with this much attention. In fact, that’s who I imagine receiving these cards, wondrous and selfless people who deserve some time to themselves to get away from their hard work and everyday life challenges for celebration, especially in just a single small card as these two.

Uniqueness, romantic, and opulent details are what I want to capture most in my cards. I try to decorate based on these sentiments, like this upcycled jewelry bird cage!
Uniqueness, romantic, and opulent details are what I want to capture most in my cards. I try to decorate based on these sentiments, like this upcycled jewelry bird cage!

 

I wouldn’t recommend the Rosettes Postcard for mailing, however, as the rosettes are small enough to just fit the card into the envelope, but it’s still bulky.

Rosette detailing.
Rosette detailing.

These are also postcards, as specified in the shop, NOT FOLDED CARDS. Don’t you ever feel that folded cards are a huge waste of paper? There’s all that awkward blank space and excess paper you don’t have time to fill up or fiddle around with in flipping to the next side. A card should  be something beautiful to hold and see that draws immediate attention to your birthday or congratulatory sentiments. Postcards do the trick!

I really am excited to have my birthday collection out and ready for whichever friend or sister or brother you are whose amazing words are all you have to offer, in which written memories or wishes are the perfect present in itself, and where my cards are simply a platform for you to place them onto. The Birthday Collection is meant to inspire, resonate that sense of an amazing day to let go of stress and just celebrate! A sucker for romantic and opulent party details, it’s a triumph for myself to finally bring forth those inspirations onto these cards, and hoping to continue that aesthetic into the rest of my work that follows onto the Studio shop!

Bunting is another love of mine for party details, which I use to decorate my bedroom nicely.
Bunting is another love of mine for party details, which I use to decorate my bedroom nicely.

I wish you well in sending your love and thoughts to that recipient, just as special as these fresh designs!