Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Year in Review

With 2013 coming to a close, I look back to a wonderful year I had.  My business reached a new height.  Thank you to all my clients.  Without you believing in my vision for your home/ office, I would not be where I am today.  Thank you to all my readers for keeping up with this blog.  I know readership for blogs has gone down year over year as people's lives had gotten more and more busy.  So I appreciate you still stopping by.  I am thankful for the good health my family has because without it, life can be miserable.  Lastly, I am grateful for the freedom I enjoy.  Having just visited a few communist museums in ex-communist countries in Europe, and watching the movie 12 Years A Slave, made me grateful for living in this country in 21st century.

I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store for me!  May your 2014 be a healthy and prosperous one.  See you next year! :)    

Monday, December 30, 2013

Machedron chandelier by Bec Brittain

How gorge is this chandelier?  It looks like a meteor!  The light is very retro looking... reminds me of something came out of 1970s.  But at the same time, it also feels very now.  I can't quite explain it but I just think it's the chicest thing I have seen in awhile.  I can totally see an installation of this down a large hallway... like five of them in a row.  It would be the coolest thing.  This light would look great in a super modern setting but I think it would also juxtaposition quite well against a traditional interior like a wood paneled library.  Light comes in 24", 30", or 42" configuration.  It would also look very cool if you put all three sizes together say in the foyer area and hang them at different height.  Get your fix at Roll & Hill.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Jannis Brevet at Ikarus Restaurant

Ikarus is a restaurant in Salzburg that invites top chefs all around the world to come and be a guest chef for a month in their kitchen.  It has one Michelin star.  But as you can imagine, quality of food varies from month to month.  Luckily for me, I got Jannis Brevet on my trip to Ikarus.  He's one of the most respected chef from Netherlands.  His restaurant, Inter Scaldes, has two Michelin Stars.  And yes, the food I had at Ikarus was definitely a two Michelin star quality.

Here was my menu with non alcoholic drink pairing (indicate below with *)

Egg with cauliflower, smoked eel and basil sabayon

Langostino with a cream of onions, granny smith, sea banana and lavender vinaigrette *Cucumber sour

Dutch caviar with a brandade of sturgeon and white grapes *Grapes chai

Luke warm potato salad with black truffle, radish and parmigiano reggiano *Quince bitter

Cream of Peking ducking with popcorn foam and fig chutney * Carrot fennel

Atlantic turbot with fennel, pumpkin seed oil, marinated vegetables and mace broth *Soothing pear

Anjou pigeon with epoisse cream, carrots and white truffle *Soya cabernet

Relief construction, cardamom, blueberry, caramel, tomato *Cassis shake

I have never seen any non alcoholic pairing with any food before in any restaurants.  This is a first and I'm a fan!  The food was so delectable.  Let's just say next time when I go back to Netherlands, I'm stopping by his restaurant!!!  Btw, Ikarus restaurant is in Hanger 7 which stores Red Bull's owner's "toys".  What I mean toys is fast cars, planes, etc.  It was cool to walk through the museum.  The service at Ikarus was very formal and exact; no complaints from me for sure (unlike Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas...Just saying...).

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

F/W 2013 Sale Round up!

Merry Christmas!  

It's that time of the year again.  Sale sale sale!  So many things to buy and not enough money to go around.  But at least everything is marked down so you can get more bang for your buck.  Here's a list of places where you can find your guilty pleasure at:

Ssense: Some of the stuff are already at 70% off.  This is the best place to get the best bang for your bucks right now.  But be aware that sometimes for one item or two, Ssense will price it higher than other stores so I would check around to make sure you are getting the best deal.

Neiman Marcus: It's up to 60% off.  Key words "up to".  That means most of the stuff you want will probably be more like 40-50% off.  Still not a bad deal but just not that 60% off deal in the headline.

Saks: Now it's also up to 70% off.  But the discount differ from brand to brand.  I saw Brunello Cucinelli stuff are only 40% off while a prada iphone 4 sleeve is marked down 65% off.  Don't forget to enter "Holiday" for free shipping and as always go through sites like Ebates to get additional 8% rebate back.

MatchesFashion: Up to 50% off but most of the more desirable stuff are only 30% off.  I say give it some times before everything hits 50% off.  Most of their listing prices are 10-20% off other retailers already from the get go so I give it some slacks.

Lanvin: Its ready to wear were marked down 50% off few days ago when I checked.

Bottega Veneta: Same as Lanvin, this venerable brand has most of its F/W 2013 collection marked down to 50% off when I check few days ago. 

Marc Jacobs: As always, MJ never cease to amaze me at their 70% off sales.  Rarely does a high street brand cut their prices so low on their own website.  Only MJ does it.  The markdown had been going on for awhile.

Missoni: Again 50% off.  What's there not to like?

Mr Porter: The day of instant 50% off sale are gone.  They torture you with 30% off with some whatever brands at 50% off.  It's no longer exciting to check Mr Porter anymore.  Other websites like MatchesFashion and Ssense give better discounts IMO.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest

With plethora of luxury hotels in the world, one of the hotel that consistently ranks in the top 10 in Conde Nast Traveler magazine is Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace in Budapest.  I can see why.  Like all Four Seasons Hotel world wide, you get top notch services but this particular one, really go out of their way to make you feel cuddled.  I really felt cared for when I stayed here.  Without a doubt, I would rank this as one of the top three hotel I have ever stayed at.

First, the hotel is absolutely gorgeous.  Unlike most Four Seasons Hotels around the world, this one is special as it's historical in comparison.  I believe it was built during Art Nouveau period and it definitely looks it.  While I appreciate other Four Seasons Hotels like the one in New York city that was designed by I.M Pei, there is just something more special about staying at a 'palace'.

Second, the food is top notch.  I would say the bar food I had was just as good as the ones I would get at any other Four Seasons hotel.

Third, the service was just unbelievable.  They really go out of their way to make you feel special.  Every night they leave several petite fours as a night cap when they do turn down service.  These petite fours are restaurant level not some stale day old left over from their restaurant downstairs.  The night before I checked out of the hotel, they left plastic zip lock bags for my toiletry.  I have never seen that before in any hotel stay.  While it's only a plastic bag, but it felt they really thought about all their guests' needs.  Budapest also is known for theirs thermal baths around town.  This Four Seasons hotel gives out free prep bags with various amenities such as slippers, towels, lotions, etc. for their guests to take to baths.  How thoughtful is that?!

If you visit Budapest and stay here, definitely make sure you pay the extra bucks to face the Chain Bridge side of the hotel.  I see some of the rooms face side streets or interior courtyard.  Personally I feel if you are flying all the way across the world to go to Budapest, you might as well stay in a viewed room.  Interestingly, the hotel has a mezzanine floor so if your room is on the 1st floor, that means it's actually on the 3rd floor (in American term since 1st floor in Europe is American second floor).  My room was on the 3rd floor which means it's actually 5th floor.  With double pane windows and french doors, even though I was facing the busier street in front, my room was rather quiet.    

Friday, December 20, 2013

How to wear a starchitect on your toes?

Don't believe me?  Well, you can..... if you can pony up a pretty penny.  This pair of shoes designed by Zaha Hadid for United Nude is absolutely incredible.  United Nude's design director, Rem Koolhaas (another fellow Starchitect) said "Zaha consistently reinvents the program with her own ideas and interpretations. Her visionary creations are often unexpected, yet reinforce their origins.  I could not resist the challenge to work with Zaha. We gave ourselves the greatest degree of experimentation and used the latest digital design and manufacturing technologies to create one of the most innovative shoes ever produced.”  Get your limited edition (100 per color with three colors available) shoes here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

There is tape dispenser and then there is Cube Tape Dispenser

Another great and affordable Christmas gift for that someone who has everything is Cube tape dispenser from Georg Jensen.  Pretty much everyone has a tape dispenser or two in their homes, but how many of us can actually be proud of the tape dispenser we own?  I have quite a few from OfficeMax and Scotch.  All of them are hidden in a drawer.  After all, they are not pleasant to look at so why would I put them on top of my desk?  But if I have a Georg Jensen Cube tape dispenser, 99.9% chance I would have it proudly displayed.  So if you have a love one or a friend who has everything, I think this will be a perfect gift for them because chances are, their tape dispensers are aesthetically challenged. You can purchase the said dispenser on Georg Jensen's for $65.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Another gift idea for someone who has it all

I always love stationery items.  Not that I write that many letters these days.   In fact, I don't think I have written any letters since high school.  I guess writing a letter is more or less a thing of the past.  However, I always feel there is certain amount of romanticism when one sends a letter versus an email or a text.  Somehow it just doesn't seem very personal the way we do things today.

I got a catalog from Louis Vuitton couple weeks ago.  They always send me these delicious catalogs that I just wish I can afford everything in it.  Anyhoo, upon turning onto the last page, I saw an inkwell.  I'm like there is no way Louis Vuitton makes inkwells.... this has to be a prop.  I look on the price list, sure enough, there it is.  $1290.

It's not cheap for sure.  But for someone who has everything, I think it may just be one of those perfect little gift (if you can comfortably afford to give it).  Wouldn't you love to receive one of these goodies?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Damien Hirst for Christmas stocking

Well, as we inch closer and closer to the holidays, one question typically pops into my minds is "what am I getting for that so and so who has everything?"  I think I have found just the right solution for that art loving so and so:  A Damien Hirst butterfly mug.  He has been using the butterfly motif since 1991 and it's one of the most recognizable DH "signature" in his oeuvre.  Plus this mug is less than 15 pounds shipped to US... and you thought you may have to break your piggy bank.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Marc by Marc Jacobs Dreamy Graffiti scarf giveaway winner!

Drum roll please!  The winner of the Marc by Marc Jacobs Dreamy Graffiti scarf is Emmy S!  Please contact me with a week with your US mailing address.  Thank you everyone for entering and have a great holiday season.