Home Tour: Boo to You!👻

Disney Style, Home

DSC08971.jpgIf you were watching my Instagram stories earlier this year, you’ll know that I was renovating a new place with my boyfriend, and a couple months ago, we finally moved in!😱🏠 It only took us over a year thanks to a contractor that worked at a snail’s pace.🐌🙄 We’re still in the process of getting everything in its place and really making it a full fledged “home,” but Halloween was the perfect opportunity for me to have a little fun with home decor!

DSC08884.JPGLiving Room

This whole home decor frenzy really started after I spotted the cutest ghost pillow and throw from Home Goods! Since my boyfriend and I tend to like more monochromatic palettes, the name of the game for our couch is texture. So when we spotted a 3D grey tweed ghost pillow, we knew it HAD to come home with us! And just as if a spirit was conjured, we immediately stumbled upon a cozy ghost blanket. At that point, we were devoted to a ghost themed couch, so the Mickey Boo to You ghost pillow was a necessary spoopy purchase.👻DSC08889.JPG

DSC08922.JPGSince we still have no artwork for our living room walls, I focused on getting trinkets and decor for the coffee table to help bring some life and color into the room.  But because I went a little crazy buying anything that was cute, it’s a little bit of an odd mix.😅

One of my favorite purchases is the Jack Skellington candle holder from the Disney Store.  I love that it was actually pretty affordable ($15!), and that any kind of small candle can fit in it.  And for Christmas, it would look so festive with some poinsettias or cranberry stems coming out from the top!DSC08903.JPGThe other great and inexpensive item I picked up is a glass pumpkin jar from Target!  It’s perfect to show off my souvenir treats from Wizarding World at Universal Studios.  But once the treats are gone, it would look so magical with tiny LED lights!

One of the biggest pieces on the coffee table is a large Mickey etched glass vase from Ethan Allen.  It’s not necessarily Halloween themed, but it gave me the perfect opportunity to add some color to our mostly neutral living room.  I picked up bright marigolds from the farmer’s market that are a great contrast against all the grays and blues that dominate the living room.DSC08917.jpg

Tea Corner

Another area I loved decorating for Halloween was my tea corner!  I’m constantly drinking tea and hot water, so you can imagine my excitement when I realized I could buy lots of Halloween mugs and decor for this area!😆  One of the simplest ways to revamp this area is with a spooky sign.  I especially loved the simple typography of this Hocus Pocus sign and the obvious nod to a Disney Halloween classic.DSC08858.JPG

The other functional way to give this area Halloween flair, is with cups!  Though some are outright Halloween mugs, like a ouija board and ghost Mickey, others just have that spooky vibe.  I also like the mix of bigger, chunkier mugs with more delicate teacups.  The varying sizes make the whole mug tree look more interesting!

Bathroom

Another part of the house that was easy to update for Halloween is the guest bathroom.  During my recent trip to Orlando, I HAD to stop by Basin and pick up some seasonal soaps!  And what I especially love about visiting Basin is that you can easily find seasonal Disney soaps!

DSC09019.JPG

I usually pick out the soaps based on the scents.  Since I’m not a huge pumpkin fan (I know, SHOCKING for someone who loves Halloween so much), I picked out soaps that had more wood and citrus based scents. And to my luck, the Sorcerer Mickey soap matches nicely to my white star and moon pumpkin and the orange bats match my Little Green Alien Halloween mochi cup from Tokyo Disneyland!🎃

Another simple Halloween update are these Sally jars. They’re more festive than my usual wood or fabric containers and perfect to display my makeup and brushes on the counter. I also love that there are three separate jars so I can easily separate my mascaras, lip products, and brushes!DSC08975.JPG

Nightstand

The last part of the house I added some Halloween flair to was my nightstand! Since the light switches are far from the bed and I’m not a huge fan of lamps, this Zero nightlight is perfect for my needs — my need for cuteness that is!😆  And honestly, it’s the combination of two things I love, ghosts and dogs.😂  It also has a timer option so it can automatically turn off after 15 minutes!  And if you need another reason to love this little trinket, Zero’s ears can also double as a ring holder.💍😏DSC09052.JPG

Halloween is definitely one of my favorite holidays, so I can’t wait to improve my Halloween home decor skills for next year!  There are still some areas I’d like to spruce up some more, but for only being in a our new place for 2 months, I think it’s a great start! But I definitely need to create a seasonal inspo board over on Pinterest to really be in full swing next time!🙌🏼  Maybe I should start my holidays inspo board tomorrow.😆

ABW

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#CityDisneyStyle: 1 Sweater, So Minnie Outfits!

Disney Style, Style

DSC08609Happy Fall, one and all!  And hello!👋🏼 Sorry for my long absence.😅  No excuses, just haven’t been able to carve out time to create these #citydisneystyle posts for you all.  But I’m back💪🏼 and I have a few fun ideas I’d love to write about (both style and non-style related).  With a new season, are new beginnings, amirite?!😆

So with the start of sweater weather, I wanted to share how I styled this Zara Minnie sweater multiple ways!  And honestly by happenstance, each outfit is perfect for the different kinds of Fall weather — warm, mild, and chilly!

Outfit #1: Minnie Sweater + Embroidered Boyfriend Denim

Best for: mild Fall days

Since SF is currently experiencing mild Fall days, let’s start here! Pairing this Minnie sweater with a looser boyfriend denim is great for a crisp fall day! I loved wearing this sweater with my Siwy Minnie embroidered denim because it’s such a departure from my usual graphic tee paired with solid basics.  And sporting a bold graphic with a print has such a fun “mix & match” feel!DSC08567

To ensure this outfit looks loose rather an ill-fitting, I tucked the front of the sweater into my denim and cuffed the bottom of my pants.  Tip for shorties, it’s easy to look like you’re drowning in your clothes, so cuff your denim for a better length!DSC08630

And to dress it up a little, I added a small crossbody bag and a red lip. But for comfort, I wore my suede, beige Supergas. They were perfect for a long day of walking since they’re made of volcanized rubber, which doesn’t cave like other shoes!  I also love that it’s almost a perfect match for Minnie’s face color!😆DSC08625

Outfit #2: Minnie Sweater + Patterned denim skirt

Best for: warm Fall days

Since many of my friends live in SoCal, I had to include a warmer weather outfit option with this Minnie sweater!  Wearing a sweater with a patterned denim skirt, is a great way to “bundle up” when it’s still a little warm out.  And by “a little warm,” I’m talking high 60s AT BEST.  Similar to my previous outfit, you can easily wear a simple denim skirt for this look, but why pass up the chance to mix and match with a fun pattern or print!  Minnie obviously calls for fun dots!

I decided to wear chunky sneakers with this outfit to add a sporty contrast to my girlier denim skirt. And of course, to stay comfortable during a long day at the park.👍🏼  Instead of a usual crossbody, I went for a fun top handle Mickey bag that I bought Hong Kong! Because why not be a little extra with your Disney Style when you’re exploring an international Disney park.😆

Outfit #3: Minnie Sweater + Denim + Sleek Overcoat + Fun Sneakers

Best for: chilly Fall days

For a chilly fall day, layer, layer, LAYER! I love a timeless, sleek overcoat as it INSTANTLY makes anything you’re wearing underneath look more put together.  Honestly, try it this season, you will not regret it.

For this chilly fall day outfit, I kept it more simple with easy basics — clean cut skinny jeans, classic long coat, and comfy slip on sneakers. But of course, basic doesn’t have to mean boring! To add interest, I doubled down on that #DisneyStyle and wore my Mickey & Minnie checkered Vans, wore some fun small hoop earrings, a flashier pair of sunnies, and a red lip.  Adding small points of interest helps keep your outfit energetic and intriguing!

Processed with VSCO with al1 preset

Chilly San Francisco day at Fisherman’s Wharf!

So those are three ways I wore this Zara Minnie sweater to accommodate different types of Fall days!  And if you don’t own this sweater, these outfit combos can easily be used with any other Disney or fandom sweater you own! Or shop the links below for other fun options!

With three new major Disney movies this year, we get all the new merch! Which includes cozy sweaters! Clockwise from top left: Genie crewneckToy Story gang crewneckLittle Green Men crewneckLioness crewneckSimba and friends crewneck

So necessary for the spoopy season ahead! Left: The Nightmare Before Christmas pullover, Right: The Pumpkin King fairisle sweater

And of course, classic Mickey! Left: Mickey plaid pullover, Right: Mickey hoodie

Feel free to tag me on instagram so I can see your #citydisneystyle!

#CityDisneyStyle: NYFW

Disney Style, Style
Disney Style New York NYFW H&MxMoschino gold sequin parka Forever 21 Mickey sweater Pixar purse

Snowy hair, don’t care.

For February’s #CityDisneyStyle post, I was originally planning to share how I style a Disney sweater multiple ways.  But when I found out I was able to get small peak of NYFW during my trip to New York, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to put together a Disney Style outfit that was a little more…extra than usual.😆  And speaking of extra, can we just take a minute to appreciate the hilarity of these “smoke” photos?!☁️🤣

So let’s jump right in and break down this outfit.  And we’ll start with the most obvious piece — this crazy H&MxMoschino gold sequin parka!  I’ve been meaning to break out this bad boy for the perfect occasion.  So when I was packing for New York, I knew it would be the item that I built my outfit around.  PLUS, it’s a padded parka that was perfect for the cold weather.

But what to wear that would simultaneously compliment, but not compete with the gloriousness of the jacket? 🤔  With Ilana‘s advice to wear a Mickey sweater, I knew this cropped Forever 21 sweater featuring a dazed Mickey would be perfect. I love that the graphic stands out from the jacket, but isn’t too busy to compete with it.  And the yellow stars were such a fun way to play up the shimmer of the jacket.

Disney Style NYFW Moschino H&M gold sequin jacket parka Mickey Forever 21 F21 Pixar bagFor pants and shoes, I wanted to wear more “basic” items.  But as I mentioned in last month’s #citydisneystyle post, I like to choose interesting basics to help keep my outfits from looking too boring.  Instead of just wearing any pair of black pants and shoes, I wore these wide leg, velvet burnout pants and chunky velvet sneakers.  The patterned pants are subtle enough to not overpower the outfit, but still add texture and interest.  And the platform soles on these Supergas help give the whole outfit a more street style vibe.👟

Disney Style New York NYFW H&MxMoschino gold sequin jacket Forever21 Mickey sweater Pixar ball purseAnd of course to complete the look, I chose a fun, graphic bag!  For the shows, I actually decided to carry my Cakeworthy Mickey hand bag, but I also like how my new Pixar hard case bag looks with this outfit too!  I especially like how the star plays off of Mickey’s dazed stars.  And the tophandle came handy since the parka is so puffy.  Have you ever tried throwing a bag strap over a puffy jacket before? Not. Easy.

And as a BONUS, here’s one other way I wore this crazy sequin parka with some Disney Style flair!  After picking up this black and gold Mickey bag from the Shanghai Disney store, I knew it would look amazing with my gold parka and a sleek black outfit.  And for an extra touch of Mickey, I wore these gold Mickey stud earrings I picked up from the parks a year ago.  It was the perfect outfit for a late night dinner out in New York and SO easy to put together!

Since I didn’t get to share the original #citydisneystyle outfit I wanted to post for February, keep an eye out for it next month!  I’m going to share the different ways I like to style a Minnie sweater!🐭🎀 And since February is already over, I promise you won’t need to wait long.😉

ABW

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Travel Guide

Travel

Hong Kong DisneylandFrom Tokyo to Hong Kong!  Next in my international Disney park travel guides is Hong Kong Disneyland!  Some of these photos are from a few years ago, so please pardon the lower quality photos (they’re iphone 5 photos).😅  BUT the advice and tips are still solid.👌🏼  So here’s what you need to know about the quaint park nestled in the mountains!

Transportation

HKD is located on Lantau Island, so depending on where you stay, the transportation time may vary.  I’ve stayed in both the Mong Kok area and in Discovery Bay on Lantau Island.  If you’re not staying on Lantau Island and not too strapped for money, I would suggest just getting a taxi to the park.  Taxis are pretty affordable for the most part (from Mong Kok, I believe it was less than $30 to taxi to the park).  But if you do take the metro, Disneyland has its own stop near the gate entrance making it easy for guests to find their way.  From Mong Kok, the metro ride was around 45 minutes to an hour outside of rush hour.

If you stay on Lantau Island, most, if not all, hotels should have complimentary shuttles that can take guests to the parks.  Just be mindful of the departure times!

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel Hidden Mickey ShoefieWhere to Stay

Where you stay should be determined by how you are structuring your visit.  I would say if you are only doing HKD, then a hotel on Lantau Island might be best. Hotels on the island are surrounded by lush greenery and if you’re visiting during the hot season, it’s almost like a mini tropical vacation!  However, that kind of natural beauty isn’t necessarily cheap. 💸

But if you’re planning on exploring and visiting HK on your trip, then I would suggest finding a hotel in Hong Kong proper or on the north side of Hong Kong Island.  And for an easier commute to the park, try finding a hotel that is close to a main metro hub!

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel Crystal Lotus Disney Dim Sum Olaf Baymax Toy Story Little Green Men AlienFood

Probably the most infamous food at HKD isn’t actually in the park.  Located at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel is Crystal Lounge, where Disney Dim Sum is served!  The hotel is walkable from the park entrance, so if you’re doing multiple days at the park, you could easily have dim sum in the morning at the hotel and then walk over to Disneyland for a fun day at the park. The menu changes slightly every season and I believe you’ll need a reservation at least a few days in advance to tell the restaurant what dishes you’re wanting to order.  So be sure to call if possible!

 

Can you spot the Mickey head boba?!🐭

Inside the park, probably by far the best food find is…MICKEY SHAPED BOBA.  Not Mickey shaped jellies…BOBA.  This flavored soda boba drink is sold at various places around the park and is served in a souvenir sippy cup! (Yes, they call it a sippy cup!😆)  The boba itself isn’t especially flavorful, but the novelty of it is worth it!

Also stop by Clopin’s Festival of Foods!  Cleverly named after “Festival of Fools” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, this cafeteria style “restaurant” in Fantasyland is where you can find more Asian influenced dishes that are great for lunch or dinner!

Hong Kong Disneyland Baymax Disney MugMerchandise

Merchandise in HKD is pretty similar to the parks in the states.  I excitedly bought this Baymax mug a few years back without knowing it was available stateside.🤦🏻‍♀️  The other souvenir I was really excited about finding at HKD is a Mickey face watch that was sold out when I visited Disneyland Paris that same year.  But if you are compelled to bring back a souvenir, I would suggest picking up an umbrella! HKD sells tons of umbrellas because of the unpredictable tropical rains. I especially love the compact umbrellas because they’re easy to pack for rainy travel destinations!

Hong Kong Disneyland It's A Small World Disney ParkPeople

Guests and cast members are for the most part, friendly.  However, efficiency is their M.O., so cast members can be a little short with guests.  But I think that’s the nature of Hong Kong communication and culture in general — not necessarily rude, just efficient and to the point.  But similar to my advice about communication in my TDR travel guide and Shanghai solo travel tips, just be sure to carry a park map in both English and Chinese.  Even though most cast members in HKD understand a fair amount of English, it’s always smart to have a map in a cast member’s primary language to help make communication easier!

Hong Kong Disneyland Mystic Manor Disney Dark RideUnique Rides/Attractions

Hong Kong Disneyland feels smaller than Disneyland, but there are some unique park rides and attractions that you definitely need to do when you’re there!

Ride Mystic Manor!  Albert, the monkey is all you need in life.  Also the building is GORGEOUS and reminds me of SF’s Victorian houses.  It’s a tracklass dark ride and is HKD’s “Haunted Mansion” if you will.  Guests embark on a tour of the house and watch Albert get into all sorts of fun trouble.

Hong Kong Disneyland Iron Man Experience Disney MarvelThe Iron Man Experience is probably the newest attraction at HKD and it’s definitely a great addition to the park!💥  It’s the same ride format as Star Tours, but instead of touring the Galaxy and saving the rebel spy, you soar around Hong Kong with Iron Man and help him save the world!

 

Fantasy Garden is unique to HKD and has LOADS of photo spots, which I guess shouldn’t be too surprising as it’s sponsored by Kodak.📸  But here is where you’ll find lots of fun whimsical places to get “not so basic” park photos!

HKD also has Toy Story Land!  But now that we have Toy Story Land in Orlando, it isn’t as much of a novelty.  But it’s still worth walking through if you don’t find yourself in Orlando often!  I especially loved seeing Toy Story Land during Halloween!  Many of Sid’s toys make an appearance to make the area feel spoopy!  And if you love Toy Story merch, make sure to shop at Andy’s Toy Box!

Hong Kong Disneyland Disney Mickey MinnieOverall Thoughts & Suggestions

HKD is probably the smallest of all the Disney parks.  Therefore, I wouldn’t advise making a trip out to this park unless you intend to also visit and explore Hong Kong or fly to the other Asia Disney parks afterwards. But HKD definitely has it’s gems that are worthy experiencing!

You could do most of the highlights in a single day, but if you want to thoroughly enjoy every aspect of the park, I would suggest visiting for at least a day and a half.  For me, one day is usually enough!  And pro tip, try to visit the park during a “holiday” season!  I’ve visited during the Lunar New Year and Halloween seasons, and both times the park had extra decor up to celebrate. I guarantee it makes the park visit that much more magical and special, so definitely try to go during a fun time of year!

I hope this short guide helps you plan your first (or next) visit to Hong Kong Disneyland! Tag me @abitwong so I can live vicariously through you!😆

ABW

#CityDisneyStyle: Rock The Dots!

Disney Style, Style

dsc08653Happy National Polka Dot Day!  And say hello to the first #citydisneystyle post!🙌🏼  If you follow me on instagram, then you already know that this series is an idea I’ve been toying around with for the past month.  After getting all your great feedback, I’m finally pulling the trigger!

I hope that each month I can tell you more about how to put together a Disney Style outfit that suits your city life.  Instead of following one format, I’ve decided to focus on one topic each month. I’m planning to write up step by step guides, how to style one item multiple ways, and hopefully showing you how to easily transition at-home Disney loungewear clothes into a pulled-together errand outfit!🏃🏻‍♀️

This month, I decided to provide three tips on how to wear one of the most timeless prints around — Minnie polka dots!🔴⚪️⚫️🔴⚪️⚫️

dsc08665Tip 1: Choose interesting basics to pair with your dots.

I love a good pattern mix, but for easy city dressing, I usually pair a pattern or print back to interesting basics.  What do I mean by interesting basics?🤔 It sounds like such a contradiction, Alisa. Well, I’m talking about basic pieces with an unexpected point of interest.  Basics with an intriguing detail that makes them NOT so basic.

Notice in this outfit, that the points of interest in my black coat are the longer streamlined silhouette, slim collars, and distinct pocket details.  For my bag, the mixed metal buckle feels unexpected. And blue tinted aviators actually pick up on the blue in Donald’s hat. These kind of small details help to elevate your basics from literal “basic clothes” to stylish staples that stand the test of time.

dsc08659Tip 2: Mix different styles into your outfit.

Mixing different styles is something I often think about when putting together a #citydisneystyle outfit.  As much as I prefer to have a predictable life and schedule🙄, I try to go for an unexpected mix in my outfits.  And when it comes to styling Disney pieces, mixing fun and bright with more refined items easily transforms Disney clothes into city clothes.

Since I based this outfit on my flouncy Cath Kidston dot skirt, I decided to pair it with more structured items to get that nice mix of feminine and sleek.  Again, my black jacket instantly adds polish with its sharp silhouette and my earrings are minimalistic and streamlined. Both give a nice contrast to a flowy skirt and that contrast is what taps into that “je ne sais quoi” cool city girl mood.

dsc08697.jpgTip 3: Tuck it in!

It’s such a simple styling “hack,” but it has so much pay off.  For skirts or pants that sit at your waist, try to tuck in your top.  Not only does it help keep the shape of your outfit, but doing a French or half tuck will also help you channel that cool Parisian city vibe.  I mean, it’s called a French tuck for a reason!👩🏻‍🎨  Tucking your shirt in ever so slightly will instantly read as effortless and more polished.

Minnie dots are such a playful and timeless print to wear and I hope these three tips will help you wear them with confidence around the city!  Minnie may be girlie and sweet, but she’s also strong and independent. So to style an outfit that speaks to different sides of Minnie’s character was fun and meaningful for me.  And to share this outfit and these tips on National Polka Dot Day is just the icing on the cake!🎂

How do you like to wear your Minnie dots?  Let me know here or over on instagram!

A Holiday Outfit with Disney Flair

Disney Style, Style

DSC08525We’re a week out from Christmas, so trees, lights, and festive holiday outfits are in full swing!  In past years, I would wear the usual lace or sparkles, but this year, 🎶to save me from tears, I’ll give ‘fits some Disney style!🎶

What I’m trying to say with my horribly forced Christmas pun is that this year, I thought I would add some Disney flair into some of my holiday outfits.  I figured that would be a good way to help get me into the Christmas spirit, since I’m usually more of a Halloween ghoul.👻😆 I mourn the loss of fall weather and Halloween candy for a month.

DSC08534Since most of my Disney pieces are casual, I decided to pair a casual shirt with a satin, silky skirt to dress it up.  The mix of casual and dressy gives that cool, city girl vibe that I love.  But part of the fun in dressing for the holidays is also being a little kitschy.  Enter adorable Christmas light earrings!🎄  And since I have two ear piercings, I obviously had to capitalize on the opportunity and wear two pairs.😏  For this outfit, the green and gold pairs were the perfect accent colors.  BONUS: The earrings are less than $5 on Kmart right now!

DSC08543And even though I only intended to wear one piece of Disney apparel, I ended up wearing three.😅  Since the weather was gloomy, as it usually is during this time of year in San Francisco, I threw on my favorite oversized camel coat, which conveniently, features Mickey.  And to carry my essentials, I opted for my small Minnie Coach bag; also adding that perfect dash of Minnie style.🎀🐭❤️

DSC08527All in all, this was a perfect outfit for my afternoon work holiday party last week.  Dressy enough to be party appropriate, yet still laid back, fun, and festive!  And another bonus for ya…it’s an easy, comfortable, and cute outfit to wear for a visit to the Union Square tree!🙌🏼

I love that I was able to incorporate some Disney flair into my holiday outfit this year.  My usual holiday go-to’s are red, black, lace, or a dress of some sort, so it was fun to think out the box and incorporate some of my favorite mouses.🐭🎀🐭

What do you like to wear for holiday parties? Comment below what you’re going to wear for your holiday festivities or let me know over on instagram!

ABW

90 Years of Mickey, the True Original!

Disney Style, Musings, Style

San Francisco Disney Style Mickey Mouse True Original Levi's Golden Gate BridgeToday’s the day we’ve all been waiting for!  It’s Mickey’s 90th birthday! And you can bet I’m not just celebrating today.  I definitely celebrated alllll year long by buying into the many Mickey True Original collections that released throughout the year. 😆  Opening Ceremony, Forever 21, Cakeworthy, Vans, Target, and most recently H&MxMoschino and Levi’s — just to name a few.  So thank you, Mickey, for turning 90!  I have a closet full of amazing Disney Style pieces thanks to your birthday.  Unfortunately, my wallet doesn’t thank you so much.😅

A few months back, Disney Style asked me to share how I liked to style a classic Mickey tee and why I think Mickey is timeless.  For me, Mickey stands the test of time not only because his love for life, friends, and new adventures never goes out of style, but also because in everything he does or wears, he always makes it his own.  And that’s some life inspo I can get behind.

San Francisco Disney Style Mickey Mouse True Original Levi's Golden Gate BridgeThis is also why I loved all the Mickey True Original collections so much.  Each collection retained the brand’s DNA.  Forever 21’s collection was fun and spunky, Opening Ceremony was unconventional and funky, Rag & Bone was ultra cool.  Each brand that released a collaboration took Mickey as inspiration, but made the collection unapologetically their own.  And it inspires me to approach personal style in the same way.

San Francisco Disney Style Mickey Mouse True Original Levi's Golden Gate BridgeSo to take a page out of Mickey’s playbook, I KNEW I had to make this Disney Style Canadian tuxedo my own.  Obviously, I wanted everything from all the collections, but I knew I absolutely needed these Levi’s Mickey decal jeans and matching sherpa jacket for a few reasons.  It’s probably obvious by now that I’m a sucker for denim and an adorable classic Mickey.  But Levi’s was and still remains an integral part of San Francisco’s heritage.  The company was born and raised in San Francisco!  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?😏

You might wonder why I’m sometimes overly aggressive about declaring San Francisco as my home. I can’t tell you the number of times someone has asked me “Where are you from?” and they don’t actually want to know what city.  Many POC and WOC can probably relate to this.  Sometimes, I keep telling them San Francisco until they ask me the actual question, “What race/ethnicity are you?”  Additionally, a good handful of people assume I wasn’t born here.  You would think at this point in our lives, someone wouldn’t be so shocked to learn that you were born here just like your own parents. 

San Francisco Disney Style Mickey Mouse True Original Levi's Golden Gate BridgeBut as a third generation San Franciscan and with Levi’s significant ties to SF, I obviously had to pair this denim set with a San Francisco, City by the Bay graphic tee.  The simple, yet strong font pairs nicely with the classic Mickey decals.  Laid back round sunglasses and practical, yet polished flats finish off this outfit and lend that perfect touch of city ease and California cool.  And of course, I added a little extra flair with a pin from the Disney Store’s new Mouseketeer collection!

DSC08389So here’s to you, Mickey!  Thank you for 90 years of laughter and magic!  You look good for your age, but I reckon it’s because you’re young at heart.  Just another life lesson that you’ve taught millions of people, including myself.  I can’t wait to see the countless number of amazing people you’ll inspire for another 90 years to come!  And of course, I know you’ll do that with your own unique flair. 😉

ABW

These Paintings Are My Everything: Highlighting Women of Color & Female Empowerment at the Asian Art Museum

Musings, Spotlight, Style

asian art museum san francisco mithila painting feminismThe Asian Art Museum is devoted to connecting art to life.  And with their latest exhibit, Painting Is My Everything: Art from India’s Mithila Regionart and life collide to highlight the strength, power, vulnerability, and resilience of Mithila artists — who, of course, happen to be…MOSTLY WOMEN!  As an exhibit that features women of color, I was ecstatic to partner with the Asian Art Museum to further accentuate the brilliant work and lives of these amazing artists.

3110-2018-0228431696152443144227This domestic art tradition, that has been passed down from mother to daughter for generations, was confined to the interior walls of the most intimate rooms in Mithila.  Word of these intricate murals spread beyond the region and during a severe drought in 1966, Pupul Jayakar, a director of the All India Handicrafts Board, saw an opportunity.    She arranged for women to learn how to paint on paper, enabling those women to sell their own work and gain economic independence — something many women from this region had never experienced.  Jayakar’s plan not only empowered village women, but ultimately sparked the economic resurgence of the region.  Moreover, the newfound artistic and financial success of these artists inherently breaks the boundaries of gender and caste norms.

On the other side of the world, we’ve seen a surge of female empowerment apparel in fast fashion.  Consumers can now physically show their support for gender equality every day while feeling cute and fashionable.💁🏻‍♀️  To emphasize the powerful and unique stories of these female Mithila artists and the subjects of their paintings, I’ve styled female empowerment pieces that coordinate with the exhibit’s colorful and feministically charged paintings.  From almighty deities, to the emotional life stories of the artists, Painting Is My Everything, showcases a myriad of female stories and perspectives that celebrate the resilience and strength of women.

Asian Art Museum Mithila painting feminism Target Vital Voices

Hindi deity Kali, is a fierce mother goddess and represents the force that controls time and divine wisdom that ends all illusion. She is the personification of creative and destructive powers of time and could be interpreted as a representation of women’s assertiveness and power.

One company that recently created feminist apparel in collaboration with Vital Voices is Target.  And in line with the collection’s raison d’etre, Vital Voices “supports fearless women leaders around the world to amplify their voices and increase their impact in their pursuit of economic empowerment, public and political leadership, and the protection of all human rights.”  Each design was created to celebrate the passion, strength, and undeniable power of women.

Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting Target Vital Voices

Artist Mahasundari Devi depicts children painting on sheets of paper instead of on walls, suggesting the shift to personable salable art.

Aside from the power of economic independence, Mithila artists also found power in using painting as a means for personal storytelling and reflection. The artist’s personal perspectives and life experiences often serve as the subjects for their work, which allows their stories to be heard and validated. Through painting, their voices became important narratives rather than being easily dismissed.

Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting Shanilee Kumari Target Vital Voices

Shalinee Kumari pays tribute to the “great goddess” Devi and celebrates women through her use of composition and symbolism.  Here, Devi is shown holding various objects, which are usually associated with other deities. Wielding these various objects conveys Devi’s immense and numerous powers and is position as a mighty goddess that embodies the power of women.

One artist whose paintings are greatly influenced by personal perspective is Shalinee Kumari.  Originally studying geography, Kumari decided to start painting after discovering colorful Madhubani paintings. When she headed to women’s college, she heard about the Mithila Art Institute and applied to be admitted into the program. She is now one of the young female artists who is pushing the boundaries of Mithila painting by using the centuries-old style for personal self-expression.  Her work often focuses on global, personal, and community topics such as climate change, terrorism, and gender equality.

In Daughters are for Others, Kumari comments on social roles of Indian women as daughters, wives, and daughters-in-law. The painting’s title evokes the perspective of the girl’s parents and hints at the emotions of loss and resignation. The tight arrangement of the yellow and orange footprints, which reference the Hindu marriage rite of circumambulation of the sacred fire, feels like an impenetrable wall and creates a domestic space. Confined inside the space are two women whose conjoined form recall images of powerful goddesses. Though the true meaning may not be entirely known, Kumari cleverly combines decorative qualities and serious content to create a tension that makes this painting impactful.

Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting

Devi makes use of a style that was traditionally employed only by members of her caste. It is distinctive for its linear bands filled with dots and for its paper that is coated with an auspicious cow dung wash that recalls a mud wall.

One of the most educated and continually innovative artists among the lower-caste Dusadh community (aka “untouchables”), is Shanti Devi.  Many of her works depict everyday subjects, but she beautifully injects them with new meaning.  In Pregnant Cow, Devi surrounds the cow with blooming flowers, sprouting buds, and multiple bees to convey nature’s bounty and fertility.  In her intention to depict a common subject, Devi has instead instilled powerful meaning into it.

Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting Phenomenal Woman Target Vital Voices

In 1976, Devi traveled to Washington DC to participate in the Smithsonian’s annual Festival of American Folklife.  She subsequently created several paintings that document her experiences through personalizing and transforming iconic monuments such as the Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, and Arlington National Cemetery.

Sita Devi is perhaps one of the most phenomenal women amongst Mithila artists.  She was one of the earliest village artists to paint on paper and her work immediately attracted attention in the 60s. Her paintings received government and private commissions, won national awards, and warranted solo exhibitions.  All of which brought wide-spread attention to Mithila paintings and paved the way for other Mithila artists.  Over the course of her life, she worked tirelessly to develop and uplift her village and community through education and economic empowerment.  She paved the way for many, if not all, the amazing artists featured in this exhibit.

Asian Art Museum Mithila painting female empowerment

Reflective of Bihar’s electoral landscape, female supporters are shown at the bottom of the painting.  In recent elections, women have turned out the vote and are thereby influencing policy changes in the state.  In this painting, Devi shows the powerful influence of the female vote in India.

Dulari Devi is another artist that lived in extreme poverty until she became an accomplished painter.  She worked menial jobs, but her unhappiness with her life began to change when she started to visualize everyday occurrences as paintings.  And with a with a stroke of good fortune, Devi began working in the house of a Mithila artist who would host artist trainings.  Fascinated by the paintings, Devi eventually asked if she too could be trained to paint and thus was the beginning of her new life.  And when strong women unite, the possibilities are extraordinary and endless.

Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting

Baccha Dai Devi’s The Hindi deity Shiva in half-male, half female form, Ardhanarishvara is the combined form of Shiva and Parvati. The right half shows Shiva in his male form and the left represents the female aspect, Parvati.  Ardhanarishvara represents the combination of masculine and female energies of the universe and the unity of opposites. And despite being opposites, the two are inseparable.

The sheer desire to create saleable paintings in and of itself is a powerful act of independence for many of these Mithila artists.  Many were living in extreme poverty and had little to no control over their own lives, so wanting to produce art is a defiant act against strong gender and caste norms.  And whether Mithila artists are painting otherwordly deities or day-to-day life, painting has given them opportunity, choice, freedome; painting has given them everything.  And I felt so honored to help tell their stories and be inspired by their pieces.  It was everything. 😉

Painting Is My Everything will be on display at the Asian Art Museum through December 30, 2018.  For more information about the exhibit and upcoming exhibit events, visit AsianArt.org.

Asian Art Museum Shanilee Kumari

Artist Shalinee Kumari is second from the right wearing a yellow dress standing in front her painting, “Daughters Are For Others.”

Female empowerment shirts partially provided by:
Kidd Bell & Inkcourage

Photographed by:
Colleen Lem

 

Tokyo Disney Resort Travel Guide: Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea

Musings, Travel

Tokyo disney resort disneyland disneysea style travel outfit mickey international

In 2016, I had the amazing opportunity to visit all 6 Disney parks within a year thanks to a close friend who encouraged me to do it with her.  And even though it’s been a quick (read “LONG”) minute, I’ve heard your cries on Instagram and am finally writing up reviews of each international park and hopefully answering your questions on accommodations, transportation, food, and more!  To kick it off, I’m starting with Tokyo Disney Resort!

japan tokyo disney resort mickey mouse disney style

Transporation

Transportation to the parks from on property and nearby hotels is easy and convenient.  Many hotels provide a shuttle that will either take you to the park or take to your closest monorail station. Disney-sanctioned hotels will even have the cute Mickey shuttle buses!

The monorail, unlike Disney World’s monorail, charges a fee.  But tickets are fairly cheap and if you know how many days you will be using the monorail, then you can buy multi-day passes which are a better value.  The monorail tickets can be bought at kiosks at the monorail station and they usually have cute seasonal Disney designs!

If traveling to the parks from Tokyo, you can take the metro (called the JR or Japan Railway).  It usually takes an hour to travel to the resort depending on where you are staying in the city and how many transfers you need to make.  But find the Keiyo Line or the Musashino Line, which both lead to Maihama Station.  Maihama Station lets you off at Ikspiari, which is like Downtown Disney or Disney Springs.  You can then board the resort monorail that takes you to the parks!

More info here: https://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/en/tdr/access.html

tokyo disney resort celebration hotel alice in wonderland disney style japan

Where to Stay

I’ve stayed both on and off resort and depending on how you want to spend your time in Tokyo, that is how you should plan where to stay.  If you are planning on visiting the parks for three days, I would suggest finding a hotel “on property.”  And I say that with quotes because similar to other Disney resorts, there are hotels within the vicinity of the parks, but aren’t necessarily associated with Disney. And these are great for those looking for cheaper rooms! But if you only have one chance to visit, I would recommend the Celebration Hotel! It’s one of the more affordable Disney hotels if you’re able to split the costs with a few people. I LOVED it! There are so many cute decor details (like bread and butterfly decals outside the room doors) and our room had the Joey Chou Alice in Wonderland mural along the wall.  SO MANY PHOTO SPOTS!

If you plan on visiting the parks for only one or two days and seeing Tokyo the remainder of your stay, then I would suggest finding a place in the city.  Even better, if you can find a hotel or airbnb near the Keiyo or Musashino JR Lines, it will cut down the number of transfers you have to make and get you to the magic that much faster.😉

japan tokyo disneyland resort mickey mouse disney food eats style cape cod

Food

TDR food is on another level.  Most, if not all, things are adorably cute.  However, I will say some of the food tastes a little processed.  Whether that’s good or bad is a different question, but do not expect to find fresh sashimi.  It still is after all, a theme park.

One of the more famed restaurants that is unique to TDR is the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall.  It is a cafeteria style restaurant that surrounds diners with the intricacies of Wonderland.  The signature dish is the Queen of Hearts hamburger patty, which is a fun heart shaped patty topped with a cheese crown.  However, since beef isn’t a super common meat in Japan, unlike the US, don’t be surprised if it tastes more like meatloaf.

japan tokyo disneyland resort sea disney style food eats stitch lilo hawaii curry popcornSome of my favorite TDR foods include the Mickey hand bun (Disneyland, Toontown), chandu tailchandu tail (Disney Sea, Arabian Coast), and Mickey chicken nuggets (DL, Tomorrowland Terrace but I like getting them in DS at Cape Cod Cookoff in American Water).  Other TDR foods that guests love are the different flavored popcorn and the Mickey shaped churro!  PS: Disney Sea has wine at Cafe Portofino in the Mediterranean Harbor area.🍷 Gotta thank the Nakajima sisters (Ayano & Natsuki) for helping us tourists with that one!😉

jack skellington disney sea style merch japan tokyo disneyland nailart nail art nightmare before christmas
Merchandise

I feel like there really isn’t much to say here because I think most Disney fans know that TDR merch is THE BEST.  Everything they sell is so much better than any other Disney park.  But aside from the ears, sunglasses, and apparel, I also really love TDR’s snack souvenirs!

Japan loves little packaged snacks.  And at both TDR parks, you’ll find whole sections of stores devoted to snacks and candies.  Even better, many of the snacks are cased in souvenir tins or containers.  So after you’ve eaten everything, you still get a fun case or tin as a souvenir!  I personally like bringing back the snack souvenirs as gifts for friends and coworkers.  But I always buy some for myself because it reminds me of my childhood.  My family was frequently in SF’s Japantown.  Preschool, summer camp, basketball leagues, piano lessons…it was all in Japantown for us. So growing up, we loved going to the Japanese markets to pick out whatever snack we wanted as our afternoon treat.  And now seeing some of my favorite childhood snacks wrapped up in fun Disney packaging just makes the child in me scream with joy!

japan tokyo disney sea resort disneyland disneybound disney style
People

Part of the reason why this one of my top Disney resorts is because of the people.  Guests and visitors are not only polite and nice, but they’re trustworthy.  Japan in general has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and it’s because everyone respects one another.  Not saying you should leave your stuff around willy nilly, but if for some reason you left something behind, you have a good chance of getting it back.  Granted, there’s probably not much crime or theft that happens in Disney parks, you just get that extra reassurance that your belongings won’t be lost forever.

Tokyo DisneySea Disneyland Disney Resort Disneybound

Natsuki (left) & Ayano (right) 💖

Not many people there speak English.  So if you’re not knowledgeable in Japanese, be ready to charade your way through a conversation.  There are English maps and most signs have English translations.  Worst case scenario, have your map handy and point to what you’re looking for.  And better yet, also have a Japanese map with you so the cast member can read it in their own language instead of having to try to guess what the English map says.  But at least know “hello” (kon’nichiwa) and “thank you” (arigato).

japan tokyo disneyland sea resort disney style monsters inc university pixar

Unique Rides/Attractions 

Tokyo Disneyland is pretty similar to Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. But they do have some rides and attractions that are unique to Tokyo! And of course, DisneySea is a completely different park, so everything they have can’t be found at any other Disney park. But if you only have a limited time, here’s what I would strongly suggest you try to ride in each park!

Disneyland park: Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek

DisneySea: Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, Magic Lamp Theater, Aquatopia, Nemo & Friends SeaRider

japan tokyo disneyland disney style park sea resort walt mickey mouse international park

Overall Thoughts & Suggestions

TDR is by far one of my favorite Disney parks.  I love the mix of Japanese culture and Disney magic, but overall it’s just a well-rounded resort.  Fun rides, easy transportation, various hotels, instagrammable food, and of course amazing merch.  But what really captures my heart are all the small details in the park.  The soap in the bathrooms are dispensed as mickey shaped foam, ramen egg yolks are also mickey shaped, and one time we swore the camel statue in Arabian Coast smelled like actual camel poop smell. They’re THAT dedicated to details.

To fully experience the parks, I would suggest a three day stay.  However, two days will still allow you to enjoy most of what the parks offer.  And I would probably spend a little more time in DisneySea versus Disneyland.  Only because DisneySea is completely different from any other Disney park.

If you’ve been to TDR, let me know what you love most about it! Or if you have extra tips, leave them here to so others can learn more too! And stay tuned for the next international international Disney park travel guide!🐭✈️

ABW

There is a place in New Orleans – AHS Coven Tour

Musings, Spotlight, Travel

New Orleans walking tour american horror story coven LaLaurie Mansion American Horror Story Coven Witch

Who’s the baddest witch in town?

New Orleans.  Food, jazz music, Mardi Gras celebrations…but I came for the AHS filming locations.😆  American Horror Story: Coven, the third season from the American Horror Story franchise, was actually the first season I ever watched.  I remember seeing commercials for season one and definitely thought it was way too scary for me.  But when commercials for Season 3 started airing, I was strangely drawn to it.  Some AHS fans felt season 3 was too “housewife-y,” but I honestly thought it was great to see a story focused around women and their relationships with each other within the “horror” genre.  I especially loved the show’s focus on the temperamental mother-daughter relationship.  And THANK GOODNESS we also get to see how race, class, and age play a role in those relationships. Like…yes, Ryan Murphy, YES.👏🏼

After doing some research, I found a gem of a walking tour — the unofficial American Horror Story Tour.  Mostly in the French Quarter, the tour is the perfect mix of AHS fandom and historical facts.  Bea, the tour guide, is also just amazing.  She is super knowledgeable about what parts of the show are based on New Orleans history and what parts were embellished or fictional.  And to my surprise, she knew those prime instagram spots AND was willing to help us stop to take photos.  What more could you ask for?! Thank you, Bea!!

New Orleans French Quarter LaLaurie mansionOur first stop was the LaLaurie house.  Not only infamous for being the residence of Madame LaLaurie in the show, but a bonafide haunted mansion and the site of LaLaurie’s torture “chamber.”  In Coven, we are slowly introduced to Madame LaLaurie’s fascination with blood and the human body.  She was filled with “childlike curiosity.”  And that was not a far departure from the truth.  Bea explained how Madame LaLaurie was accused of over-punishing her slaves, but since she had friends that were city officials, she was able to escape any serious charges.  But one time, the evidence was undeniable.

While hosting a party, the kitchen, which was in a separate back annex of the house, caught fire.  After rescuers extinguished the fire, they found a 70-year-old woman chained to the stove.  She later revealed that she started the fire to escape Madame LaLaurie’s torture and then led authorities to the attic where other slaves were imprisoned and tortured.  The evidence and testimonials were overwhelming.  So much so that her and her husband fled New Orleans shortly afterwards.  However, in Coven, the family’s disappearance is due to Marie Laveau’s revenge against LaLaurie. Below is the green iron gate where Madame LaLaurie and Marie Laveau first meet and Laveau’s plan for retaliation is set into motion.  In the show, it is shown as the front gate to the LaLaurie house, but is actually part of the neighboring building.

American Horror Story Coven LaLaurie Laveau Voodoo Kathy Bates Angela Bassett

New Orleans French Quarter American Horror Story Coven Witch

Even though the two women never met IRL, they lived within walking distance of each other in the French Quarter.  Marie Laveau, aka the Voodoo Queen, was renowned in New Orleans and obviously was included as a character in Coven.  She was the first practitioner to popularize Louisiana voodoo.  And honestly, learning more about Marie Laveau was probably my favorite part about this tour.  In the show, Marie is almost positioned as a villain against not only the Coven’s Supreme, but also Madame LaLaurie.  Both white women.  But hearing about Laveau’s real story, I was amazed to learn that not only was she a healer in the community, but she was also devilishly smart.

Accurately shown in AHS, Laveau was a hairdresser.  And she would occasionally offer her healing “powers” to clients.  Afterwards, she would simply tell clients to pay what they felt her help was worth.  She knew satisfied patrons would usually overpay because they were so grateful for her services.  Slightly Godfather-ish, but so admirable for a woman of that time to be so business savvy.  And though it’s not thoroughly shown in the series, we do see glimpses of Laveau’s business acumen.

When Laveau had daughters, she would give them her name, Marie Laveau, with different middle names.  The daughters looked just like their mother, so when the daughters were out, Laveau ensured that they were in different parts of town.  When townspeople asked who they were, the daughters of course replied “Marie Laveau.”  Baffled, people began to believe that Marie Laveau was actually getting younger!  And since Laveau and her daughters were never in the same place at the same time, no one knew otherwise.  This urban myth is also written into the show as LaLaurie and the Supreme meet Laveau in the hopes of obtaining her secret to “everlasting life.”

For Marie Laveau to build such a reputation during that time in history is impressive and inspiring.  Complete #girlboss behavior.  Granted she benefited greatly from the Code Noir, Marie Laveau found a way to make herself a legend.  If I ever have to answer that icebreaker question about the one person I’d like to meet or have dinner with, Laveau would definitely be at the top of my list.

New Orleans Saint Louis cemetery Marie Laveau American Horror Story Coven

Saint Louis Cemetery

Our walking tour also took us to the Saint Louis Cemetary.  Not only the site of Nicolas Cage’s semi-outrageous pyramid-shaped tomb, it is also home to Laveua’s tomb.  Upon visiting her tomb, it’s evident how influential Laveau was.  To this day, people still visit her tomb to make a wish.  If the wish was granted, they revisit her grave and mark a triple X as proof.  And if you see a lonely hair-tie or bobby pins, do not take them.  Those are gifts left for the hairdresser, Laveau.

Our last stop was the street where the infamous witch’s walk takes place.  It definitely didn’t feel as eerie as it seemed on the show since there were tons of tourists and cars around, but I made the most of it and strutted my witchy self up and down the sidewalk a couple of times.  And now I understand why all the girls of Miss Robichaux’s Academy For Exceptional Young Ladies complained so much about the heat.  Yeah, it’s hot and humid, but wearing an all black and mostly covered ensemble IN the heat is an entirely different story.

New Orleans French Quarter walking tour American Horror Story Coven Witches walk

If you haven’t watched AHS: Coven, please set up a fort in your house and watch it ASAP.  I personally love that it’s rooted in New Orleans history and shows the relationships, successes, and struggles of powerful women and women of color.  It is a treasure trove for exploring the intersecting identities of women.  And if you ever find yourself in New Orleans, please book this tour!  You get to learn more about one of the most kickass women in New Orleans history and grab yourself a few insta worthy shots…there’s really nothing to say “no” to here, ladies and gents.😏

ABW