Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happy July 4th Giveaway!

Happy 4th of July everyone!  To celebrate this holiday, I'm giving away an Ermenegildo Zegna toiletry bag!  This sleek black toiletry bag is perfect for traveling or for gathering all nicknacks in one single place.  Great as a gift as well!

Please note: apologies to my international friends - I wish I could extend these giveaways to you but legal restrictions prevent it. Thanks for understanding. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Takashi Murakami + Vans = Love!


This past Saturday had been one of the busiest day for sneaker heads across US.  Apparently two collaborations decided to drop on the same date: Yeezy for Adidas and Takashi Murakami for Vans.  Naturally both were sold out instantly online and in stores.  I thought one can only get Murakami for Vans in stores so I had planned out which ones I would go to first.  But later I found out that they were also being sold online from various outlets!  Wish I had known!!!   

There were a total of 6 designs for women and men.  The shoes were unisex.  But basically they have two distinct patterns.  One is smiley flowers and the other is skulls.  The flower ones came in multi-color, blue, and silver on white.  The skull ones came in yellow, blue, and gold on white.  He also did three different skateboard decks: skulls, smiley flowers, and self portrait.  Additionally, there is three different t-shirts and three different toddler shoes.  Sounds like tons of stuff to buy!   

I found there were only three stores in SF bay area that had them.  And only the Berkeley store carried the skateboard decks.  I made the decision to go to the SF ones instead because the Berkeley one did not carry silver flower on white vans which is the one I wanted the most.  Although I would be very happy to settle for a pair of blue flower or multi-color flower.

I got to the store about 15 minutes before opening.  There were about 15 people in front of me so I was a bit nervous... thinking they may ran out of shoes.  Apparently some of those people were there to pick up their Yeezy shoes and not Murakami for Vans.  When I got into the store, they were sold out all the flower t-shirts (which I'm not sure I wanted one anyway) and self portrait t-shirt (only S left).    I was pretty sure I wasn't going to fit into the S so I let it pass.  They also sold out of multi-color flower vans.  I was able to get a pair of silver on white flower shoes in my size (woohoo) and a pair of blue flower shoes a half size bigger than I would normally wear (hurray).  Apparently that was the last pair of blue flower vans they have left. 

As I was leaving, I saw about another 10 people waiting in line.  I hope they get what they were looking for.  I did ended up trekking to Berkeley to see if they had anything left.  They were wiped clean and had only a pair of yellow skull vans (but a size too small for me) and a pair of blue skull vans (a size and a half too small for me).  I did see them put those two pair up the following day online which of course they were gone in a nano second.

I checked on Ebay and apparently that's where all the shoes went.  Although honestly they must have released very few pairs at each store as I checked for my size, there really isn't that many available.  The skateboard decks turned out to be the hottest item on Ebay as I expected they would be.  Most of them are selling for around $600 a deck at the low end (retailed for $80 each) and the most sought after multi-color flower ones are trending around $1000!   

Friday, June 26, 2015

Not another review of the Apple Watch?!


Well, I had one since like forever so I figure I should write something about it.  haha.  I got it at the end of April and honestly, I can't say everyone should run out to get one.  I think it's one of those working in progress type of thing that eventually it will be one of those must have item.  I'm one of those people who do not read manuals so my watch can probably do a lot more than I know of right now....

Pros:

The packaging.  I'm not one of those who go on youtube and watch other people unwrap their Apple phone so when I got mine, I was blown away by the presentation.  I know Apple is good at packaging since I have ipad, imac, macbookpro, iphone, etc etc but I guess the Apple watch packaging really takes it up a notch.  I was sooo impressed by the thought that went into packaging Apple watch.

Talk on the watch.  So while I was in my hotel room, all of a sudden my watch started to ring.  Turned out that I can talk to people on my watch! Very Inspector Gadget!

Give directions.  So the day after I got my watch, I traveled to Spain for the first time.  I input my hotel address on my iphone and put the phone away in my pocket.  I was surprised that my watch started to give me directions!  This is a big plus for me as I think it's more convenient to look at my watch than trying to read off a bigger screen while crossing streets.

Receiving and sending texts.  For the longest time, my watch wasn't receiving texts like I thought it would.... but all of a sudden once I returned to US, it stated to receive texts few weeks later.  Not sure what that's all about.  But I do find reading a quick text is easy off Apple Watch and replying is also very easy.  I just speak to my watch and it will either send a voice text or a written text.  So far, every time I speak the text, my watch had gotten every single word correct!  Very surprised since my iphone had not been able to!

Activity Monitor.  This thing has been somewhat cool.  I like that it tells you how many calories you had burned doing move, exercise, and stand.  It even gives you an hourly breakdown of calories burned which I think is helpful.  I don't have a fitbit so one of the reason I bought this watch is to keep track of my activities.

Remote control.  The watch can be used as a remote control for you to take selfies or turn on music on your phone.  If you take a lot of selfies, this is very helpful. 

Friends and family tab.  You can have 12 close friends and family tab.  The cool thing is you can hand write doodles to them. 

Cons:

Talk on the watch.  I have to say the quality of sound isn't that great and had I been walking on a busy road, I doubt I can hear much. 

Activity Monitor.  I wish I can wear this watch when I swim to monitor my heart rate.  Also this watch gets in the way when I lift weight and wear a glove.  The round circle nub on the side of the watch keeps on getting pressed by my glove when I lift weight and the watch would constantly goes on and off as I lift.  I ended up have to loosen up the strap so that my watch doesn't get activated constantly.

Remote control.  Doesn't work nearly as well as a selfie stick.  You will have to station your phone somewhere and prop it up to take your selfie whereas a selfie stick can take a picture of you at any angle you want... but then you have to carry a selfie stick.

Friends and family tab.  The downside is they have to have an Apple Phone to receive the doodle. 

Habit.  I have stop wearing a watch several years back.  So it's a bit odd to be wearing one again.  I find myself wanting to unstrap my watch when I get home so that doesn't help if I want to keep track of my activity monitor.  While the watch is quite light, perhaps few generations out, it'll be so light that I would not mind having it on my wrist constantly even at home.

Overall I think it's a good effort on Apple's part.  Do I think it's the best thing ever?  Far from it. But do I regret getting it? Definitely not.  I got the Sports version as I figure they will most likely be updating it yearly... no point of getting the more expensive version IMO.  I may want to switch it out a few years from now.  The way I see it is this watch is costing me about $1.20 per day if I get the newer version in a year or $.60 per day if I get a new one every other year.  Sure, I don't need to spend that money but at the same time, I don't think I'm being extravagant.  And who knows... 50 years down the road, I may be able to sell this watch more than what I paid for it.  haha. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Meissen, the grand dame of European porcelain


Meissen has been around since 1708.  It is the first European manufacturer to figure out how to produce true porcelain.  Before the discovery, Europeans did produced white-colored porcelain.  However, it was soft by nature (hence the name soft-paste porcelain).

It's hard to believe, but porcelain in early 18th century is literally worth its weight in gold.  During this time, there were a lot of trials and errors.  Thus production was very limited and only upper classes can afford to have them.  Hence during early to middle 18th century, porcelain were given as diplomatic gifts among kings and queens.

The most well known pattern by Meissen is called the swan service (schwanenservice).  This service was ordered by and made for manufacture's director Count Heinrich von Bruhl.  Swan service was so large that it took 7 years to make and the result was more than a thousand pieces ranging from center pieces to plates and cups.  The molds still exist today and this pattern is still being actively produce by Meissen.  Most of the original pieces from swan service are in museums but occasionally one can find them at auction houses such as Christie's or Sotheby's. 

Another interesting offshoot of Meissen porcelain is called Hausmalerei which means home painting. During 18th century, entrepreneurial artists would buy blank porcelain, paint them, and sell them at marked up prices.  Thus they are partially original and yet partially not.  Today, they are actively sought out by collectors who specialize in collecting Meissen Hausmalerei-ware.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Alex Katz for everyday use

Nope, Alex Katz can't be your daily personal slave!  But you can buy his collab stuff from Barney's New York.  Alex is collaborating with Art Production Fund and BNY to create a limited edition collection of houseware and clothing accessories.  The home goods range from candles to napkins.  And accessories rang from scarf to tote.  All proceeds go to Art Production Fund which is a non-profit organization dedicated to commissioning and producing ambitious public art projects, reaching new audiences and expanding awareness through contemporary art.  I am all for creating art and I can't think of a better way to purchase fabulous stuff while supporting this great organization! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Twirl away! The newest playground for your kids in Alameda!


With budget cuts left and right for education, art classes are always the first one to go.  But fear not, Twirl in Alameda has you covered!  This new art laboratory boutique that just opened a month ago is the best thing that happened to your kids.

This 3000 sqft play space is the ultimate fun place for your little ones to can frolic to their content!  There are tons of art supply at the space where your kids to be creative and learn.   They also offer up a private party room for your children's birthday bash where he/she can invite up to 17 of his/her closest buddies for a day of art fun.  And if you want to catch a romantic dinner on Friday night in downtown Alameda, drop off your kids in one of their evening classes and have a great date night alone just between two of you.  Did I mention those classes book up really fast....

   

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

2nd markdowns at department stores are the best!

Because usually there is still plenty of selections around while most of the stuff are at least 50% off. 
Case and point, this motorbike inspired Balmain Varsity jacket from Ssense is marked down from over $5k to $2k. While $2k isn't pocket change, but it's better than spending $5k!  ;)
When was the last time you buy something from Bottega Veneta with a price tag sub $200 mark?  Here's a lovely silk blend scarf from MatchesFashion for $165 from $330. 
Or this pair of classic Lanvin trainer from Bergdorf Goodman.  This gray color shoes practically goes with any outfit you put on.  From $580 to $289.  Best of all if you don't live in NY, it's tax free!
Or this Valentino bracelet from Saks Fifth Avenue.  This studded wrap bracelet will surely give your outfit an edgier look.  From $395 to $177.75.


Oh and when you are ready to travel in style, don't forget to bring your new tomato red leather (because all other colors are just so boring) Serapian carry-on from Barney's New York.  The workmanship is exquisite.  Marked down from $1695 to $679.