present joys

Kimberly & Nancy Wu


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Kimberly & Nancy Wu

Kimberly and Nancy Wu are sisters, designers, and co-owners of the beloved brand, Building Block. We've long admired the pair’s discerning taste and ability to navigate their business in a way that feels ever true to themselves. It's always a treat to get a glimpse into the BB world, so we're delighted to share a few of Kim and Nancy’s joys below.

Meals for RiRi

Having a 1+ year old means cooking a lot with limited time/patience. So I try to make things as fun for myself as they are for her, without too many expectations. Little joys like colors and shapes on her plate, or a mini scoop of homemade strawberry ice cream. 

The Backward Vendor

The molding techniques and handmade details from this leather workshop are so charming and inspiring to me. I love the way each piece seems to tell an amusing story.

Sea Stephanie Fish

We very recently went on a group trip just north of Santa Barbara, and on the way picked up seafood from Stephanie Mutz who catches everything she sells. That night we feasted on a big Vietnamese seafood boil, all of us huddled around talking, laughing and eating with our hands. It was the best meal I’ve had in a long time :-)

Nancy Wu of Building Block at home with her dog
Matilija Poppies

Most of my backyard consists of a sloping hillside that, for most of the year, looks the same. Though every summer matilija poppies that are dormant underground shoot upwards to 6 feet+, and cover the hillside with giant “fried egg” poppy blooms. The flowers change the energy of the garden completely, bringing buzzing bees and floaty large white petals that are cartoon-like in their size. I inherited the poppies when I moved in 10 years ago (so don’t get to brag that I put them there) and love that every year they spread more and more (they’re technically invasive but in my case are welcomed). This year they are especially abundant and tall, elbowing their way in front of the sage and rosemaries that have been steadily growing all year. In a month or so, their petals will have all floated away, the stems will dry up, and the pods will go to seed. I’ll cut their tall stems back soon after and wait for them to wake again the next year.

Oblique Strategies

Oblique Strategies is a deck of cards created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. The cards were first published in 1975 and intend to encourage alternate, creative ways of thinking. Every once in a while I’ll use them like Tarot cards. I pick one of the many dilemmas floating around in my head, shuffle the cards, and flip one over, in which almost always leaves me saying “HA!”, “A-HA!”, or “AH!”

Kaki-gori at Tonchin

I'm biased with my shaved ice and regard Taiwanese shaved ice as the only style one should enjoy their fragments of ice. There is nothing like fresh mango generously served on top of snow ice when it's 99 degrees and humid out in Taipei. But the Kaki-gori at Tonchin LA on Melrose hits the spot and is really worth driving to Larchmont for. It has real Mango syrup, the softest pillowy ice, and is topped with a light honey cream that is both refined and refreshing!

A few more joys from Joyce and Michelle...

I ate this incredibly delicious Algerian crepe called mahdjouba while in Marseille and I wish I could have it everyday as an afternoon snack or with an egg for breakfast.

Travel Apps

Been enjoying using trippin and amigo for help in researching different places to visit while traveling. It’s can be a bit hit or miss, but I have found some gems like Livingston (Marseille), Lille (Copenhagen), and Spitalfields (Dublin) on there.

Annie Ernaux

This year has been my year of reading French author and Nobel laureate Annie Ernaux. I love everything I’ve read of hers including “A Woman’s Story” and “Simple Passion”. I just started in on “Look at the Lights, My Love” this week.

Underwood Family Farms

Had an incredibly wholesome Fourth of July spent picking fruit, veggies, and lavender at Underwood Family Farms.

Set Vase

I recently purchased a vase from the "Set Vase: 組器" collaboration between WAKA WAKA and Karimoku. It's been a nice weekly ritual to refresh it with a new stem.

Tea Cake

This recipe epitomizes the phrase "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." The ingredient list is curiously unassuming, but it bakes off into the most satisfying cake that's endlessly adaptable to whatever fruit you fancy.

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