Caught in the Middle | I'm Going to Asia!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

My month-long Asia trip is only a few days away! I'm extremely unprepared and still have tons to do. I thought that it may be fun to share a few of my thoughts and feelings about this trip before I jetset off with my Grammy (aka my PoPo/maternal grandmother).

My Grammy (PoPo & I) in ~ 1994
Being Canadian is as much a part of me as my Chinese heritage. My parents were both raised in Canada to immigrant parents - then had my siblings and I - three, non-Mandarin or Cantonese speaking, 2nd generation Canadian-born Chinese children. We're kind of as CBC as it gets - like what other Chinese 24 year-old has "Spencer" as their middle name? 

"When's the next time you'll go back home?" My 1st-gen Chinese friends would ask me, referring to the motherland. "Erm... I've actually never been there."  

"Oh really?" They would always respond, completely perplexed. "You're so white-washed!" Others would say in disbelief. 

Me, Syd & Mattie with our Mah Mah
Confession: November 2017 will be the first time I've ever been to Asia, except once when I was a small toddler. It's going to be definitely a culture shock. Besides my Father's side of the family, who still keeps up with many Chinese/Cantonese traditions thanks to my Mah Mah (paternal grandmother) - I really know nothing about what to expect on this trip. The lens I will see these countries in will differ greatly from my 1st-gen friends - and even the people who raised me. As much as I was encouraged by older relatives to speak Chinese, I always reverted back to speaking English. Turkey was always served at Thanksgiving instead of a mish-mash of Chinese food like my other friends' families, and if anyone were to call me by my given Chinese name (that's nowhere legally registered, by the way) - there's no doubt that I wouldn't respond, not that this situation has ever even happened. 

"But where are you really from?" Douchey guys at the bar would always ask me in the first ten-seconds of meeting me. "I have a friend of a friend who loves Chinese food..." They would continue, leaving my large eye-roll completely un-noticed.  This has always been really. fucking. annoying. Especially when I would be later accused as some sort of "snowflake" or social justice warrior" after correcting them. Wow, thank you for mansplaining my culture to me. I tooooootally understand how interested you are in my chinese-ness now. 

In Canada, I know that my appearance will always trump my nationality. People will always wonder what my ethnicity is, and always associate my identity with it. This, I have accepted. But inside, I can't help but feel caught in the middle. 

What I really mean is: I'm too Chinese-looking to ever be "Canadian" to the some people, and too Western-acting to be considered "Chinese" to others. It's a weird thing. 

Let's face it. All the people in Hong Kong Taiwan or China will know I'm not "one of them". I completely know I look like a full-blown North American tourist. If it's not my broken, pathetic Chinese that's a total tell, it'll be the way I dress, the way I do my makeup, or even just the way I act. 

It's one hell of a feeling to feel like you don't belong. 

I'm proud to be CBC, even though it sometimes leaves me confused. But ever since I started YouTube , it has really given me the space to be my authentic self, and show people what it's like for me to be in "The Middle". And with this Asia trip fastly approaching, I think it'll be an even more fascinating experience for not only myself, but to share it with all of you. Let's do this!! 

Love Always, 

Rachel, 黃詠芝

Long Weekend Outfits & Fun!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sunglasses: Ray Ban, Top: Fairy Season, Shorts: Fashion Nova, Purse: Gucci, Star Choker & Horn Necklace: Romwe

Happy long weekend! I haven't written on this blog in a while, and I figured to get back into it by sharing what I've been up to for the last couple of days. It's been super busy as some of my friends are jetting off to new adventures, so we wanted to get the last bit of summer in before they leave (funny thing is that all three of them are in this suuuuper easy and totally casual thing called med school). 

Anyways, here is my photo dump of the weekend. I'll try my best to include all my outfit details. Let's do this! 

Glasses: Ollie Quinn, Dress: Shein, Bag: Vintage Roots, Sneakers: Jack Purcell Converse
Dylan & I ran into this little guy while I was trying to take an outfit photo in Edwards Gardens. We suspected a lot of people are feeding him because he was super friendly. Please don't feed wild animals!! 

I decided to wear this dress because it's really flattering and a nice day look. You really can't go wrong with shirting stripes & white sneakers. It's one of my fave go-to looks when I can't decide what to wear. 

Island Vibes Swimsuits: Shein, Shorts: Fashion Nova, Sunglasses: Shein

We headed over to Cabana on Saturday with my friend Nicole! This long weekend is also hectic in the city, especially downtown. N & I actually ordered these bathing suits for our trip to Punta Cana, but they didn't come in till after our trip (bummer). 

Headband: Shein, Jeans: Shein, Top: Zara 
Sundays spent with Doug. Was at my cousin's house for the greater part of the afternoon so I kept it pretty casual. Luckily for me, headbands are making a comeback and I think will be a great staple for Fall. 

Hoodie: NA-KD Clothing, Denim: Fashion Nova 

And yesterday, we hung out with our former Roommate & bff Jonny. It was a very instagram-worthy day thanks to Gusto 101 and Graffiti Alley only a short walk after that. As you can tell, I'm absolutely obsessed with these sunglasses that I just got. They really complete a look and are cheekier than the norm.

Let me know how your weekend was! 

Love Always, Rachel

I Tried Meditating for 60 Days & Here's What Happened...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Disclaimer: This blog post will be talking about my experience with panic and anxiety. This topic may be sensitive for some. Please take my advice/experience with a grain of salt and always consult your doctor first.

In all honesty: My anxiety and panic journey is far from over, but I'm proud of how far I've come so far. I've been feeling really vulnerable sharing this with you all, but I'm also grateful that I have. If you have caught my other mental resilience posts, then you might know that a small, daily meditation is how I've been starting my day. I passed the 60-day milestone last week, and I figured it would be a good time to share my current experience with meditation.

The April Edit | Spring Fashion Faves

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Confession: I'm not sure if I can ever attain a small, lovely capsule wardrobe because of how much I like fashion. However, the more that I curate my closet, the more I realize how much I can do without. After divulging into the world of minimalism YouTube videos and reading "The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up" over a year ago, I was inspired to take a look at my clothes and really only keep items I love.

It's been a process that I've tried to document on my channel and the blog, but I don't think I ever really talked about it much. I want to keep writing about it, and I definitely want to expand on this soon! Creating a well-curated closet is definitely not an overnight project; it's taken me over a year to truly get to where I'm at now. I'm happy to say as of April 2017, I finally have a wardrobe that truly brings me joy. Out with the clutter, and in with pieces that I love.

Over the past few months, I finally bit the bullet and bought some investment pieces that I can wear all season. They will definitely be a part of my "Most Worn" list, and I wanted to share them with you!

Anxiety & Panic Update: 3 Months Later

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Disclaimer: This blog post will be talking about my experience with panic and anxiety. This topic may be sensitive for some. Please take my advice/experience with a grain of salt and always consult your doctor first.

Hey everyone! It's been almost three months since I had my first panic attack in January, and about a month since I first wrote about my panic/anxiety on this blog. It's been quite the journey and I'm really grateful for all of your positive words & sharing your stories with me. I wanted to share this update on how I've been, and also follow up with what's working for me. 

It's really important for me to have an open dialogue when it comes to mental health. When I first started researching panic disorders, I often became discouraged at the resources out there on the internet. I hope my journey can help you with yours, and that my blog can be something that can help you relax too. 


Friday, March 31, 2017

Slides became super trendy last summer thanks to Rihanna's furry Fenty slides! I keep seeing them everywhere from so many designers, and thought that this would be a great, saavy DIY. The look is super attainable and you can completely make them your own.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

To be honest I thought that the lace-up trend was over and done with. However much to my surprise, it's still going strong! A few months ago I created this fun DIY on how to make lace-up denim. It was really easy and turned out great. Even though this video is kind of an oldie, I decided to bring it back again after seeing so many celebs wearing their own lace-up pants in the past few months! I think they look great dressed up or even casual with just a crewneck sweater. It's a pretty inexpensive DIY (cost me around $40 for supplies + a $7 pair of thrifted denim) compared to the celeb's version that will set you back at least $200.

12 Items = 30 Outfits | Capsule Wardrobe for Casual, Dressy & Work

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

And the capsule wardrobe strikes again! I shared a few days ago on how I really love the idea of a more simple closet, and am doing some hardcore research into what pieces work for me. It was requested from my wonderful subscribers to do a lookbook featuring a capsule wardrobe... so I challenged myself to the task!

The 12 items I use in the video is really similar to the ones I mention in my last post, and I was totally shocked at how many looks I could create with these pieces. Although I have more than these 12 items in my wardrobe, this video really proves that I could do a ton with a lot less. Having a limited amount of items that are versatile is also really helpful when it comes to traveling (can you imagine travelling with only 12 clothing items in your suitcase? What a dream.)

How did I make 12 items work for 30(!!!) different looks? See here:

Capsule Wardrobe Basics that are Worth the Investment | The Lazy Fashion Girl’s Guide to Saving

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Even though it may not feel like it currently in Toronto, Spring is (apparently) on it's way! I've been really into spring cleaning and decluttering lately, and trying to get into better organizational and cleaning habits. As a result, having a capsule wardrobe is starting to really appeal to me. I find myself wearing the same outfits all the time, and consistently going to certain pieces. I think the idea of having go-to outfits and just dressing it up with accessories sounds a lot more effortless, plus also just the idea of know what's in my closet at all times. 

I think this may save me a lot of trouble when it comes to shopping. I tend to gravitate towards the same things all the time, but if I really curate a wardrobe that I know and love, I can stop myself from buying things that might as well be duplicates (ie. My gray turtleneck collection is enormous). 

Over the years, I’ve downsized a lot, and have managed to fit everything in a six-drawer dresser and a small closet (summer and winter items)! But it can’t hurt to get rid of more, which is why I just opened up my instagram sale!  This probably sounds over-the-top, but I’m always striving to have a well-curated selection of clothes, and a wardrobe of ONLY well worn, quality things I love. Way easier said than done.  You can see what my closet looks like in my most recent wardrobe tour:

I would love to get my items down to about half of what I own. But like I said before, this is REALLY daunting. Much like my “How I Style” videos, I’m considering planning outfits for seasons and seeing if that works for me. That way, I know exactly what I have, and exactly what I need to attain these looks.

This leads me to my next topic: basics. Although I have a lot of fun pieces in my wardrobe, my basics are needing some desperate TLC. I pretty much wear the same pair of jeans all the time and they’re starting to look a little tired. So since I’m looking online already, I thought I would share a few of the items that I’m considering! Here’s my prospective shopping list (and a few fave basic pieces that I already have in my closet):

Natural Bath & Skincare Haul

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Since putting more of my focus on my wellness, I have a newfound love of researching natural beauty products. If you've read my personal essay on why I'm revamping my beauty routine, you already know that I'm trying to make the best choices for myself on all things makeup and skin.

And this leads me to my latest haul! I was running really low on everything in my shower, as well as all my skin products, so this haul was much needed. My friend Sam recommended the site Beautypedia to me last week, and I am HOOKED. It has every product out there plus an expert review, which helped me a ton when trying to choose products that were on the more natural side.

I've only tried these products a few times, but I'm quite happy with them so far. I can't give a full review just yet, but I will chat a little as to why I chose each one! Let's do this (from left to right):

5 Ways to Get a Better Sleep (tested by me)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Tossing around, having mini existential crises, and overthinking plague me at night, especially when I'm anxious or overtired. Since college, I've learned that my stress manifests into insomnia. I find myself wired beyond repair, often up till 6 am humming and hawing about what I should eat for breakfast tomorrow, did I drink enough water today, and when will I ever go to freakin' sleep?!

The Beauty Choices I Make

Friday, March 10, 2017

If you know me personally, you also probably know that I truly can't be bothered doing my makeup half the time. I find it overwhelming, plus it took me SO long to find a routine that actually looks good on me. I know that so many girls can relate to this, so sharing this part almost feels cliche. But when I was first experimenting with makeup in high school, it's true - there weren't that many Asian girls in my glossy pages of Teen Vogue, or on my favourite TV shows in which I could emulate their beauty routine, and the ones that I happen to stumble upon looked completely different than me.

I grew up with a gorgeous mother that marked every box of the "ideal" Asian beauty checklist (fair, thin, a slim projected nose and wide eyes), and then there was: me, her darker, hairier, squishy-nosed daughter, my equally as dark, hairy, squishy nosed sister, and my baby brother. May I stress this - my mother never made me feel this way. She always embraced my skin tone and never made it feel like it was a bad thing to be a little darker than the average Chinese girl. Through my childhood and well into my adolescence, distant Chinese relatives (or even just random Chinese people in restaurants) would approach me, throw their head back, laugh and ask "why are you so dark?!" in a joking manner, but really implying that my darker, olive skin was not beautiful.  One time in middle school, someone told me "your nose looks like Rihanna's" and that it's weird I looked "blackinese", with a tone that heavily suggested my darker skin tone and flatter nose was a bad thing.

Mental Resilience & How I De-Stress

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Disclaimer: This blog post will be talking about my experience with panic and anxiety. This topic may be sensitive for some. Please take my advice/experience with a grain of salt and always consult your doctor first.

Hey everyone! I decided to write this post to my latest video, where I get candid about my anxiety and panic for the first time online. Like I said on YouTube, I’m a pretty anxious person – but since graduating, taking on Shop Spenny + Rach Speed full time, and finally being in one place for an extended period of time, my already-out of control worrying manifested into full blown panic by January.

That’s when I experienced my first panic attack. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but by the end of the week, I was experiencing them every 20 minutes on a constant loop – with a feeling that nothing could calm me down and that I was never, ever going to be okay again. It was definitely a rough start to 2017, and as the days rolled on I became increasingly lethargic and started to experience moments of “derealization”, which made me truly feel like I was in a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from. It made me feel like I was unable to be present in the moment. 

A Quick Trip to Montreal (Where We Stayed, Ate & Explored!)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hi everyone! Thought I'd share a few photos from Dylan & my quick weekend trip to Montreal. We stayed for three nights, and really just took the time to relax, spend time together and eat goooood food (more on that later). We stayed at Omni Mont-Royal, and completely loved it. The staff was really nice and the location is really great (right in the middle of downtown), which is walking distance to all the shops, and a ton of restaurants.

10 of My Favourite YouTubers (that you may have not subscribed to yet!)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hey everyone!

I thought it would be fun to share some of my fave YouTubers of the moment. Being on YouTube myself, it's been a really fun journey and I feel like I've grown a greater appreciation for people who share their lives on the internet. I'm always on the lookout for new vloggers to watch (as I'm sure you are too, if you've stumbled across this post!). Here's a short little post on some people that I love to watch on YouTube:

.... To be honest there are SO many people that I love to watch, it was hard to narrow this list down. I tried to make this a list a mix of already well-known YouTubers as well as a few faves that may have not crossed your recommended page yet. I'll definitely do another instalment of these if you'd like.

In no particular order....