Christina Kwan / tide & bloom


Portugal: Belém

It has been an insanely long time since I wrote in this blog. Definitely not for a lack of content in my life, but more a lack of words. Ben and I got married in October, so life has been moving quite fast. There’s been almost too many memories to share! From now on, anything artist-related will be posted over on my artist website and Tide & Bloom will remain more about my personal life, food, style, travel, etc. Sorry to do this, but I’m skipping over the whole wedding thing and going straight to recapping our honeymoon in Portugal. You don’t mind, right?

We landed in Lisbon after an overnight(ish) flight and went straight to our first hotel in Belém. This is an area just a short drive away from Lisbon and was a great way to ease into vacation mode. We spent the day exploring on foot, eating our first pasteis de nata and exploring The Berardo Collection Museum. It only made sense that our first pastel de nata would be from its origin, Jerónimos Monastery.

Then we stumbled upon a botanical garden which cost like only a couple euro to go in so naturally we went. Lots of ducks, lots of peacocks, lots of beauty. Perfect for our first afternoon stroll as a married couple.

So although Belém is usually only a quick stop for most tourists, it was such a lovely spot to spend our first day of our honeymoon. It was not super touristy and everything was within an easy walking distance. Our hotel, Altis Belém, was right on the harbor and the perfect place to relax. We were welcomed in our room with their own house-made pasteis, and they continued to treat us throughout the day with surprise cookies and chocolates. Our honeymoon was off to the loveliest start and it only got better from there. Next up… Lisbon!

an authentic experience

I’ve been feeling a little bit of the imposter syndrome. You know, when you start getting closer to the life you always wanted – the doubt still lingers. The questions are echoing in your mind, asking yourself if this is real or..  you just feel like somewhat of a fraud. Blog posts have been so few and far between lately because I think it’s getting harder to reveal my true self and my true voice. I’m putting myself out there much more than ever, but it’s the edited version. And my blog posts have always been real. Or at least I’ve tried to make them so. It’s also been hard with all that’s going on in the real world, to feel like any of what I say is important. But here I am, and I’m just gonna do this.

Out of every five or six new places we try, we mayyybe only are going to return to one. That’s why we’ve found ourselves in an eating out rut especially when it comes to BuHi. Can’t help that we know what we like! But the other night we tried a new (new to us) spot that Ben has had his eyes on ever since we went to Hello Chicken. It’s right next door to Hello Chicken, also serves chicken, and we were willing to take the risk for the possibility of a new treasure. As it turned out, we struck gold. El Autentico Sinaloense Pollos Asados:

Sinaloan grilled chicken, pollos asados. Very similar to the Mexican food we’re all familiar with, but with a focus on the chicken. It ended up being one of the best finds we’ve discovered in quite a long time. It was all the things that we love and cherish about Buford Highway – chock full of flavor, affordable, friendly, and off the beaten path. We didn’t know what to get but they were having a special (as you can see by the sign in the window) – buy a full chicken and get half free. So we did. Perhaps they were trying to offload some chicken? We didn’t care.

When you get the chicken, you also get tortillas, delicious (and very spicy) salsas, hot dog pinto beans, and rice. In addition to the chips and green dip that were dropped on the table when we sat down. I was able to resist the tortillas, but I did have to shovel some rice into my mouth. The chicken was DUH-licious. Slightly on the dry side but I can definitely forgive them for grilling up loads of chicken like this. It was just really tasty, tasted like I was in my family’s backyard grill party. If my family were Sinaloan. Every flavor pronounced and bright.

I will warn you, there was no AC. So we were sweating it out, with spicy salsa and sweat coming down our foreheads for this chicken. The server was really gracious and welcoming. He recommended we try these lamb tacos and goddamn, they were good. Like real good. I’m not even a fan of lamb, but I ate this all up.

SO. This is now officially on our list of BuHi must-try spots. ALL this food cost like $25 and we had enough chicken left over to eat for another meal. It’s not the perfect experience, but for the value it’s insanely good. There was soccer on the TV and Ben got to have his favorite Jarrito soda. What more could we have asked for? It may be too hot to come here too often in the summer, but we’ll definitely be back very soon. I forgive them for no AC, and there are not many restaurants I’d say the same for.

sarah dodge’s bread is good pop-up

Not sure when I first discovered who Sarah Dodge was. I’m assuming it was when she was creating the insanely delicious cinnamon buns and biscuits at 8arm, but I’ve been enjoying her pastries before that too (when she was at Little Tart). It’s so exciting to see someone with culinary talent change and grow. Once I saw Sarah making bread on her instagram, I was on HIGH alert for any announcement that would mean I’d be able to eat her pastries again.

Well, she answered my dreams. Sarah is doing a breakfast pop-up at Queen of Cream every weekend with a rotating menu. It immediately shot up to the top of my to-do list and I went for a rainy Sunday with Ben even though I already had brunch plans. I went before brunch.

The whole experience was a delight. Believe it or not, I had never been inside Queen of Cream! I’ve eaten the ice cream from the carts, but never gone inside the shop. Now I’m so glad I did – the whole thing made me feel like I was back in Montreal, eating a casual breakfast sitting in the window of a simple shop eating delicious food. There’s nothing better than these little moments of life.

I had to resist getting the predictable thing, cinnamon bun and a biscuit. I know these are amazing because duh she made the ones we know and love so well at 8arm. Instead I took a risk and got the spaghetti squash hash with a fried egg on top… and I was not disappointed. Spaghetti squash needs to go on every brunch menu from now on. It’s such a great carrier for savory flavors! Ben got the waffle with a scoop of ice cream on top, which is funny because I thought he was only ever going to be able to have ice cream for breakfast at home. It was a good morning for both of us.

SO. What you need to do is put this on your calendar ASAP. She does run out of supplies so don’t dawdle – make it a priority! Also I’m so happy to see so many others in the Atlanta community coming out to eat her food. She deserves the spotlight she’s getting and I hope this means I’m going to be eating her food for a very long time…

brunch at bar mercado

I think  at some point after I got into a serious relationship (like maybe two-ish years in), brunch somehow slipped off the table. Brunch in your early 20s was fun, carefree, and probably what you were looking forward to all week long. Then you start to realize you need to be practical. You gotta save money, you gotta run errands. Time becomes precious and you let go of the possibility of brunch, due to the sheer logistics of it all.

Last weekend, three girlfriends and I decided we were going to brunch. Not only that, but we committed to going to brunch at Bar Mercado, a new hot spot in Krog St Market. I looked forward to it all week long.

The vibe was HOPPIN. I was like oh dang, this is a spot to see and be seen. I didn’t know brunch was gonna be such a party. I almost wondered if I didn’t look good enough to be at brunch but then I remembered that IDGAF now that I’m older. But I imagine it’s a really great date spot, a really great bar spot at night. I got there earlier than my friends so I ordered a cadiz punch brunch cocktail (anything that sounds vaguely tropical is up my alley). The rainy weather had my lady dates trickling in one by one; we each ordered a cocktail. They were bright and fun, appropriate for the setting.

We started off with this seared banana bread that comes with whipped goat cheese butter. It was slightly burnt, but very rich (can you see how oily it is?) and definitely needed to be shared if you don’t want it going straight to your ass. I would probably skip it in the future; too indulgent without enough payoff. 

Our main brunch dishes were overall really good though! The grain bowl and my eggs benedict were pretty delicious. The grain bowl had beautiful textures and was hearty without making you feel heavy. My benedict was a surefire hangover cure – really salty and buttery, best things in life. The avocado toast came with this sort of marinated egg  on top which was a surprising delight, but there wasn’t as much avocado as we thought there should be. But we were pretty happy with our choices and even happier to just be allowing ourselves to enjoy a slow morning over a nice meal together. 

Final thoughts: Bar Mercado is a fun place to enjoy with a group of girlfriends. The music was lively and the atmosphere had us wanting to keep going… (and we did! We moved to Ticonderoga Club right after for another drink) The service was a little on the slower side, but I think that’s okay for a lingering brunch. I’d definitely come back here, but I’d probably try completely different items than this first time. Their patio looks quite inviting so once the weather is warm again, that will take it up a notch! Have you been here yet? Where’s your favorite brunch spot?

8 fears you’ll face in your 20s

Do you ever feel like you’re 22 going on 35, yet you’re nowhere near “having it all”? Well, that’s pretty much been the summary of my existence for the last five years. I’m not sure where this originated, but I’ve always thought that women in their 30s were the most beautiful, most pulled-together women I knew. They are confident, successful, still growing, and know what they want out of life. The problem is that to get to your 30s, you have to go through your 20s. Well, how does it happen? How do we become who we want to be? overcome

What I think (hopefully I’m right) is that your 20s are for growing out of the expectations of life that you developed in your teenage years. You expect life to be grand, to be fulfilling and revelatory… to matter. And yes, they can and will be all of these things. But just not in the way you expect them to be. To be able to see that, to truly see the beautiful life set before you, you will have to overcome the fears built by your expectations. So I’ve come up with a list of these fears, the ones I’ve felt made the most impact in my own experience. It’s something I continue to revisit because I’m constantly battling in a struggle to overcome them. Hopefully they’ll resonate with you as well.


This will be the decade of the most notable change, mostly emotional. Naturally we all want to hold onto the things that we know best, but this can hinder us from envisioning better futures for ourselves. Change is inevitable and the only solution is to embrace it, to allow it to carry you like a wave under a surfboard. Ride that wave.

taking risks

It’s scary as shit to uproot your life and move to a new city or start a new job. Part of becoming an adult is knowing that you can jump, fall, and it’ll be okay. Actually, we learned this as children but somewhere in our adolescence we re-learn the fear of falling, metaphorically that is, and it keeps us from going after the things we really want. Don’t let this happen! Jump. And don’t look back.

missing out

In college, when everyone goes out, you go out too! In this social media driven world, we are feeling more pressure than ever to be a part of things. If not, then we’ll see it on Instagram or Facebook and feel like we’ve missed out on a great time or that our relationships will suffer because of it. But it’s not true. Missing out on random social outings can be a good thing. It means you’re prioritizing, figuring out what and who is most important and most valuable to you. Make all your moments count and only give mind and time to the people who really matter to you.

speaking up

You go through school being taught that you need to listen and follow rules to get ahead. The professional world is quite a different place. Confidence plays a huge role in getting what you want. If you aren’t able to voice your opinion or stand behind your decisions, it comes off as wishy washy, indecisive, and immature. You need to know why you do the things you do and you need to be ready to defend yourself and your worth. Allow yourself to be strong. It’s not bitchy, it’s not delusional. Believe in yourself and give yourself the respect you deserve. 

shapeless coats

Call them boyfriend jackets, cocoon coats, car coats, or throw-ons… whatever the name may be, I’m having a serious crush on shapeless coats right now. I know, I know – it goes against some pretty major fashion rules. It is no doubt a tricky thing to pull off and not everyone’s cup of tea. But I think if done right, it looks effortlessly chic.

shapeless chic


What do you think of this baggy look? Yay or nay?


I’ve been blogging for well over a year now and the show I have up at Octane is the first time I’m displaying my work, in any visual form, here in Atlanta. So it may be time that I owe you a full explanation on how this came to be. Like anything else, it’s actually a pretty simple story. I wouldn’t say “it happened overnight,” because my creative growth has been a gradual process, always evolving.

Flora 7 by Christina Kwan

But in this case, I have to give credit to Instagram for my more recent exposure; I received my very first smartphone ever this past Christmas and since then I’ve been instagramming up a storm. In doing so, I’ve been able to connect with a lot of local creatives and bloggers which have been key in motivating me to move forward. And if you can believe it, it was through Instagram that I was presented this inaugural exhibition opportunity. Liz of Sunday’s Best, followed my account (we had never met in person) and thus became familiar with the floral pattern work I’ve been developing. One fine day, she commented on one of my photos asking me if I’d be willing to exhibit work at Octane. I was floored. Thrilled. Ecstatic. All of the above. And it was her motivation, support, and her amazing graphic editing that helped me make these prints happen.

It’s obvious to me that without this blog and without social media, I would not be as close to finding happiness as I am right now. I’ve got a helluva long way to go, but I actually feel like it’s within my reach.

I cannot stress enough how important it is that you surround yourself with people who see your potential more clearly than you do. These people are the ones you will lean on when you feel down on yourself. These people will be your cheerleaders and spread your work farther than your own voice can carry. I owe all of these people (hopefully you know who you are) in my life so much.

scott antique market

Say hello to yet another awesome Atlanta must-see to add to your bucket list: Scott Antique Market. I’m actually a bit embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to see it. Since it only happens the second weekend of every month, it can be easy to miss it unless you’re specifically gearing up to purchase some cool doodads or furniture. Though I myself am not in the market, you know I’m always down for looking at collections of fascinating objects.


There’s really not much more to say here. Ben and I went on a Sunday so a lot of the larger furniture dealers were packing up already by midday, but I still feel like we got to see a good amount of things. It can be easily overwhelming if you don’t have patience or the desire to really browse; most notable for me was the array of cool prints and old book pages. If I had the wall space and the money, I could easily snatch up hundreds of pressings, drawings, and random clips from old periodicals. But, alas, I exercised control.


In addition to the two ginormous expo centers, there is an outdoor market where you can find a plethora of rustic decor and knickknacks. Again, this is a circumstantial heaven; if I were an interior decorator or if I was opening up a retail or restaurant space… this would be the place to go for supplies. But even so, it’s just a half hour drive south of the city center so all you need to do is make a day of it! Allow yourself time and keep your mind (and eyes) open for a possible treasure.


atlanta street fashion

It’s less than a week away from our little debut show at Octane, but it just occurred to me that I need to share with you the awesome work of my co-headliner! Cameron Adams has been blogging over at Atlanta Street Fashion for about four years now and I’m embarrassed to say that I had never met him in person until we started talking about this exhibition opportunity.

Atlanta Street FashionAtlanta Street Fashion

Cameron’s photographs will live beside my floral pattern works and hopefully strike a harmonious chord that you’ll want to take home with you. He has a way of finding (and unabashedly approaching) the coolest Atlanta characters wherever he goes, kind of like hunting for treasure.. except his treasure is notable style. Can you blame him?

Atlanta Street Fashion   Atlanta Street Fashion

Atlanta Street Fashion is like a time capsule filled with unique personalities and Cameron’s steady and straight-forward blogging style is admirable to say the least. I cannot lie, I’ve been crossing my fingers that he’d come up to me some day and snap my photo at a random event… but now he has no choice.

Atlanta Street Fashion   Atlanta Street Fashion

So if you’re planning on joining us for the reception, see it as an opportunity to get decked out in your favorite pieces and start your night off with a bang! Maybe you’ll end up seeing your face on our blogs soon. 🙂

Atlanta Street Fashion   Atlanta Street Fashion

[ all photos via Atlanta Street Fashion ]


… a print exhibition of work by yours truly. Uhhh yeah, you read that right. I can barely believe it! I’m so excited to be doing this and even more excited to share it with all of you! A little while ago, I was asked by Cameron Adams (of Atlanta Street Fashion) if I would show my floral patterns alongside his fashion photography. Long story short, it was a 100% yes from me and now, here we are. If you live in Atlanta, then I best be seeing your butt at the opening reception. Join us at Octane in Grant Park on Friday, October 3rd from 7pm – 11pm!


On my days off I’ve been trying super duper hard to really push myself and make work regardless of how tired I was. I was able to finish juuust enough patterns for the show and I (almost) love every single piece. I hope you do too. All of this is the reason why I haven’t been able to blog as much, but it’s so worth it. I’ll be selling prints of each piece at the show for a special price and I hope you’ll grace me with your presence. If you do go, please don’t hesitate to come say hi!