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Christina Kwan / tide & bloom

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co’m vietnamese grill

I could really eat Vietnamese food every. single. day. Perhaps that’s because I really did eat Viet everyday while I was growing up. I can’t say that hasn’t influenced my culinary palette, but you just can’t deny the beautiful rainbow of variety Vietnamese cuisine has to offer. The flavors are fresh yet full-bodied, and never leave you with the stomach pangs you associate with Chinese take-out. Sure you know about pho and bánh mì, but did you know about co’m? In other words… rice!

com-vietnamese-grill-atlanta-6aAt most Vietnamese restaurants you’ll be able to find some simple co’m dishes, any various assortment of grilled meats with “fragrant” or “broken” rice. Since I’m not expert on cooking technique, I can’t tell you what makes this rice different than regular jasmine rice. All I can tell you is that it’s delicious.

preserving your significance

The universe, in some sort of weirdly choreographed routine, has allowed me to spend days on end in bed with my computer, a sketchbook, and the remote control. To some, this sounds like a paradise. Nowhere to be, no one to see, nothing to do except be at peace with your thoughts and have the room to create. On the contrary, it’s led me to asking myself some important questions about my role. That’s right – you read right – my role. As a person, an artist, a blogger, you name it. After being removed from active participation in the world, I’m left wondering what is it I do for the world anyways. Like with any other dilemma I’ve had recently, the roads lead me back here to figure it all out.

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I want to discuss the importance of preserving your own significance. It’s one of many in the myriad of mid-20s lessons everyone (particularly women) needs to learn, but I don’t think there is a formulaic solution. It’s a quiet conflict that happens within us and can bear greatness and determination as easily as it can surrender and settlement. 

flared layers

I’ll admit it.. I’m a little bit obsessed with flared jeans. I wish they were more popular than the contemporary skinny standard, but every now and then I just don’t even care. I love them! My favorite pair is surprisingly from Target. Yeah, I said Target. They have the perfect amount of stretch and don’t look too retro. They go great with anything and today I pair them with one of my new favorite tops from Anthro. Flared top with flared jeans? I say yes.

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view from chattanooga: part two

As if the beautiful vistas weren’t enough, Chattanooga holds all those delightful little wonders typically entwined with old Southern culture. Like your random tchotchke shop on the side of the road. The “quilts, fudge, moccasins” sign was all we needed to hit the brakes!

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creative masters: jacob van loon

When I first began this interview series, I had no idea what I was in for. I thought it could be a fun side project that would push me to connect with other creative individuals and provide a platform for the inspirational voices of others. It indeed does those things, but I couldn’t have predicted how important it would become to me, to my own journey. The opportunity to ask a question and have it genuinely answered with thought and care, is a joy I truly cherish now. To think that people I admire would generously give me their time and a piece of their mind… well, it just really humbles me and motivates me.

interview with artist Jacob Van Loon

I can say without a doubt that this interview is one I’ve anticipated more than any other. Why is that, you ask? Well, it’s a multitude of things. Jacob Van Loon is an artist I’ve admired via tumblr for a while now; I stumbled upon his work organically and have been a fan ever since. Watch the video below and you’ll understand why I’m so enraptured. The infrastructure he builds with pencil and paint is complex and layered, existing somewhere in-between creation and destruction. I’d like to think (maybe hope is the better word) that the universe I draw within could maybe be a neighbor to his own. But enough words from me. Van Loon is the 27-year old sage here and his words are the ones I want to share with you.

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bánh mì love: quốc hương

Sometimes I find it quite difficult to explain how or why I love certain places. After initiating a restaurant into your regular rotation, you rarely think about those things anymore. It just becomes a part of you, a part of the things you like, and a part of your regular experiences. Remarkable things turn into habit, almost like eating a bowl of cereal. Growing up on home-made Vietnamese food myself, I took for granted how great it is until I left home and couldn’t have access to it anymore. Luckily, I ended up moving to a city that is more than plentiful of places serving the exact things my inner child craves.

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Quoc Huong has been my go-to place to knosh on the beloved Vietnamese treat known as the bánh mì sandwich. Its ingredients are so simple yet so satisfying; nothing really beats a warm crunchy french bread loaf paired with marinated meat and pickled vegetables inside, right? I mean, right.

amicalola falls

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When you live inside of screens and lenses, you can start to forget the beauty that exists in your own backyard. Within just a short drive of the southern metropolis I call home, there are wondrous views and unforgettable experiences. All you have to do is be willing to explore; thankfully my family always wants to do just that.

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composing a gallery wall

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I’ve always loved a great gallery wall, especially given the fact that most of my art is of a smaller size. But when you’re staring at a huge blank wall with a pile of frames on the floor, the task can seem a bit daunting. Where do you begin? How do you choose what goes where? Do you map out a diagram or do you just wing it? There’s a few different answers to these questions and it really all depends upon what your style is. The awesome thing about gallery walls is that you really can’t go wrong. I’ve seen them done well in so many different ways – asymmetrical, monochromatic, with found objects… you get the picture. So don’t afraid to jump in! Composing a gallery wall is much like composing a painting and you won’t be able to envision the final picture until you’re knees deep in the process. Here are some steps to help you get closer to creating your masterpiece.

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