Sustainable Outfit


What is your oldest clothing item in your closet?

Mine happens to be over 20 years!!!  It is the denim skirt I bought for myself in my high school years, and for some reason, I have a difficulty getting rid of it.  Each year, I decided to purge my closet and faced with this particular clothing item, I am paralyzed.  Typically, I can make decisions fairly quickly and decisively; however, when it comes to this ITEM, I am stuck!  While having a conversation in my head about why “I need to keep it for one more year, just in case” talk, I inevitably end up keeping it each year.  I suppose my need to “keep it for one more year” reasons could be varied:  sentimental value, style coming back, and also the ego boosting quality about the item, I CAN STILL FIT into the clothing item I wore in my high school years!

A couple of weeks ago, before the Canadian winter happened, I was going through my annual “what to chuck” this year, and faced with the same decision of the ultimate clothing item in the closet.  Instead of my usual, “maybe I can keep it for one more year….Just in case,” I decided to take it out of the closet, and thought about  what to wear with the skirt to make age/career appropriate outfit.  Well….it It did not take much: dark sweater, dark tights, and one very important item: BELT!

Wearing this new-found outfit with tailored winter coat completely changed my perception of the gazillion old, high school clothing item, and gave me an idea to think about how to use an ancient item that can be reused  in new ways, rather than getting rid of them.  It is strange why I did not think about recycling component of clothing since I deal with sustainabilities issues all the time in my professional life: reuse/recycle construction materials. With this new economic and “green idea”  knowledge, I think I will hit my closet more often to shop rather than going to the mall, which brings  the vicious cycle of spending, paying, feeling bad….we have all been there before.

What is your oldest clothing item?  Why are you keeping them?



old & new

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I What is my favorite building in Toronto?
It is definitely NOT the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) building (  My architecture style leans towards more clean lines and “site specific” buildings, which translate as buildings that correspond to surrounding area.   When I start working on designing the buildings, my first instinct is to think of the building and how that building will work with the neighbouring area. However, the ROM seems to “ignore” all the surrounding elements: old existing stone building coming right next to new building, triangular piece of building jutting out to sidewalk, random shape of windows pointing to many different directions, etc.

However, something happened a couple of days ago, which made me change my mind about the ROM(which does not  happen often).  I was passing by the ROM building at night in contrast to daytimes, I had seen the building in the past.  Maybe it was the lights around the building, holiday lighting decoration on the trees, or even some of the colorful lights coming from the ROM….whatever the reasons happen to be; the building looke stunning!  The seemingly “ignoring” elements I did not care for during the daytime seemed to work at night: pointy building pieces, old stone building next to new aluminum panel with diagonal joint lines, part of new building roof(?) cutting into the existing ROM stone building all seems to work, or at the very least the new pieces seem to enhance the old part of the building.

I have to admit the idea of “fitting” into surrounding area is not as great as “enhancing” the surrounding area:  the ROM not only can stand on its own as iconic Toronto building, but it definitely helps to enhance the great part of Toronto.

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Extreme Prepration: love of bullet points


Everyone knows that I love bullet points.

When I say “everyone” I meant everyone who knows me: work collegues, personal friends, family members, friends of friends…you get the picture.  The idea of using the bullet points rather than describing something through writing is so much easier, quicker, and to some extent, even makes stronger point.  Of course what is better than using bullet points is crossing off those points(tasks) with my beloved thick red pens to put the check marks next to them:  COMPLETED!

However, there is one major problem with using bullet points in one area of my life: writing.  It is difficult to convey ideas just with points (although I had tried that with my friends in the past which drove them crazy) when I need to describe or  explain.

Yesterday, the work meeting got finished earlier than the schedule, I decided to drop by the bookstore, indigo ( –another source of love) to kill time before the next meeting to run to.  The book, “Extreme Productivity” ( caught my eyes- the word, “extreme” certainly peaked my interest.  Flipping through the Table of Contents, WRITING EFFECTIVELY chapter made me stop and look for that “forever impossible, and quiet spot with one empty chair” in the bookstore.  Figuring that there will be lots of secret pointers I need to learn, I took off my coat, sweater,  gloves, scarf,  hat….(this happens in Toronto weather), and then I took out my pen and notepad.  I WAS READY!  Ready to learn all the secrets of writing effectively. My acquaintances would be finally free of receiving numerous lines of those bullet points!

I was both happy and surprised that I did not have to read long chapters, or that I took any lengthy notes from the book.  In fact, one big idea behind the “writing effectively” is the same as any other projects all of us deal with everyday; in my case, starting with a clear written list of completing an architecture project with projected time frame.  Of course, objectives and scheduling change as the projects develop (especially due to financial reasons), however with the clear objectives written (in my case, in bullet points), the projects stay in course to completions.  The author, Mr. Pozen states that in order to write effectively, it needs 3 clear steps: 1st,brainstorm, 2nd, categorize, and then the 3rd,OUTLINE.  After spending sometime going through these steps, one can start the process of writing.

Green Crush: importance of investment coat


Having over 50 coats?

I recently read an article about a fashion editor who loves buying coats more than any other clothing items:   shoes, bags, jewelries, etc.    It is a sentiment I completely understand since I have that same feeling towards buying and collecting coats and jackets.  In fact, I have my own code name for this activity, “acquisition.”  Like developers acquiring their real estate properties, or car collectors buying another car, I take my “acquiring” process seriously; first with a quick mental calculation on how many times I will be wearing the item, and then comparing to the price I will be paying, and why it is a good idea (not always) to buy that one importance piece of a clothing items.   When I cannot justify/ explain/ validate the reason for buying one more coat, I once had given myself the permission to say, “You cannot have too many coats in Toronto”

However, my recent “acquisition” of a dark-green coat came from much more solid footing:  importance of looking professional.   As any professionals in design industries know(mine-architect), it is typically not necessary for us designers to dress in formal suits…except in the situation of meeting clients for the first time.  A few days ago, I showed up at a client meeting (not the “first time” kind) to go over some design changes with the client and the contractor with my recent “acquisition” on.  The first comment I received from the client was that if I was going to some big meeting afterward, and the reaction I received from the contractor after the talk of design changes has been an unusual one; he did not give me his usual reason why the change is not good, and how it was going to cost more to make the changes.  The meeting was so easy…I did not get to spend time discussing/ convincing the contractor why the design changes were absolutely necessary.  He agreed with me on the changes, and he even offered some innovative ways to execute those changes.  I was floored….Although I did not probe into the clients “big meeting” comment, and the contractor’s pleasant demeanor, I had a suspicion that it had something to do with that green coat, and that idea of “looking professional”.  Just this time around, I can safely say my “acquisition” has been a truly valuable commodity I needed to invest in.




Perfect VOID


One of the most unexpected, but wonderful tours happened two days before leaving Seoul, Korea:  the walkway at the Ehwa University.  It is a well-recognized women’s university in Seoul, and my initial plan was to check out the school, and do some shopping around the campus(always!), as well as hanging out at some cute coffee shops I heard so much about from the people I met in Seoul.

Of course, that plan changed drastically when I walked into the main entrance of the university.   I saw IT!  The stunning VOID space right in front of my eyes:  the walkway connecting students from the main entrance side to the other side of the campus.  Not only the walkway/ ramp seemed like a practical way to travel the campus, but also the most appealing way to experience the “whole” campus.  Like the students, I started walking down the path, and experienced the surroundings on every side of the walkway:  glass enclosures on both sides, majestic stairways on opposite end, and as well the clear blue sky above.

After spending a couple of hours more than what I had initially planned at the campus, it was clear I was not going to be able to do both shopping and the coffee shop expeditions….the shopping won!  Combining my two favorite activities – shopping and walking around the cities-and running into a beautiful spot made it as the best travel day during my Seoul trip.ImageImageImageImage

Vertical City


This is the very first view I had when I walked into the hotel in Seoul, Korea: view from the 39th floor overlooking the entire city!  Although, I was too tired from the 13-hour  flight / one hour on the taxi from the airport to the hotel, I had to take these pictures. It was important to capture that particular moment for me to remember for years to come: my tiredness from the trip, and how that feeling matched the gloominess of the city at the moment. 

Seoul is known to be a dense and populous city, however, seeing the density from the 39th floor  gave me a whole different perspective: people working out and  hanging out on green roofed buildings reminded me of the word, “vertical city” I had learned years ago. 




Seoul Trip


After going through crazy work schedules due to a couple of different projects throughout the summer, getting an invitation to join my sister to her conference in Seoul, Korea sounded like an amazing opportunity: while she attends her law conference, I get to explore the city I have not been back since 2008! This photo is taken while I was waiting to get into the plane at the Pearson Airport while jotting down my to do list for Seoul, Korea trip.