Something Old, New, and Blue

Since Lunar New Year lasts from one moon cycle to the next, I have spent the last two weeks observing rites and rituals believed to keep fortune on one's side. I've stuffed myself silly with longevity vegetable and shiitake mushroom noodles, feasted on a variety of round fruit and cake, cut a little strip of hair, wore red, and filled the house with assorted flowers and light. The best surprise came in the form of newfound relatives from my grandfather's hometown in China, near Fujian . They made a surprise visit to Cebu, went to where our old textile store used to stand and asked around. Quite charming in this Google-able age if I may say so. I look forward to meeting and getting to know them one day and understanding my grandfather's roots better. In the meantime, I will practice my Mandarin which I studied all my school life but don't speak enough.

In high school, I was sent to Taiwan for a summer language and culture course. Sadly, only a few phrases dangle along with tips on Chinese calligraphy and the art of paper cutting to go with memories of a bad DIY haircut and a puppy love. Instead of a social life in college, I had private tutorial sessions 3-4x a week for two years that ranged from tea ceremonies, belting out karaoke tunes, blanching bokchoy perfectly, watching soap operas, and Remy Martin and Jagermeister kan peis (cheers/bottoms up) in between intense practice on intonation, writing and conversational Mandarin.

I just dusted off my notes from pre-Rosetta Stone days at 老師(Teacher) Annie Lai's sprawling abode where giant porcelain jars stand like sentinels by the front door. Before Moleskines and crocodile leather notebooks invaded the 3rd World, we had simple Corona notebooks. Aside from always having a fully stocked bar, Ms. Lai made sure I knew
my body parts
as well as how to keep 'em primped and coiffed
lest I 'remain a spinster' forever :-)
some shop talk
as well as big words and a saying or two.

*please click images to enlarge

老師 Annie is a delightful Burberry clad character. The scent of her Alyssa Ashley musk wafting into the room is as unforgettable as her words of wisdom, humor and sage advice. She always said that:
- one must never ever resort to any kind of plastic surgery or you change your luck
- moisturize and use sunblock
- we all need a little fat
- take care of your hands so they won't look like sparrow feet
You know, sometimes this is all a woman needs to hear when dealing with hormonal issues. For the last three years, like clockwork, my system goes through the February doldrums. I'm testy, restless, unmotivated. I grow a separate head that resembles Medusa around this time of the year. Celebrating LNY and taking out family tchotchkes perked me up some. Despite stress in turbulent times and all, I am incredibly grateful for the love and support of family and friends, the amazing people who've touched my life and taught me a lesson or two, beautiful memories, experiences and everyday blessings.

The Best Is Yet To Come



Eggspired and encouraged by the retweets from friends of my tea dyed egg photo, I decided to do quick a post on my Lunar New Year project over the weekend. I obtained the recipe of Chinese Tea Eggs  from New Asian Cuisine, a great food blog I recently discovered. I varied the recipe according to supply on hand: English Breakfast tea instead of black tea, these two random TJ Maxx purchases below to substitute for the star anise, cinnamon and Sichuan peppercorn, and blood orange peel for mandarin or tangerine peel.
Following the instructions accordingly, 
I unveiled the eggs excitedly on the first morning 
of the New Year.  
The shells were just as pretty as the eggs. 
Eggs are a symbol for golden nuggets of wealth.
Each has its own distinctive character
but definitely all good eggs!  


Long Live McQueen

Anne Lubner, a Twitter and Facebook design friend, posted a wedding photo the other day which garnered some comments from our chummy group. I have come to enjoy this camaraderie that affords the simple pleasure of connecting in between work deadlines and checking off to do lists. Amongst comments about crying at weddings and all, Anne asked me what kind of wedding do I dream of? As frou la la as I am, I am pretty succinct about my dream wedding. All I want is a destination wedding with a a small group of family and friends with lots of good food, drink and merriment. Decor will depend on venue but a chandelier should come in handy for people to swing on.
Like the rest of the world, sadness flickered upon hearing the news of Alexander McQueen's death. I was hoping to wear a McQueen for the proverbial walk down the aisle. I dreamt of his extraordinary Fall/Winter 08 Collection last night which has elements of what I like to see in a bridal dress. Upon laying eyes on some of these amazing confections at the New York store, he brought to light that sweet edgy vibe I was looking for but couldn't find in most traditional wedding dresses.
love the spontaneity of tiered layers
exquisite lace
this would have been perfect if I had
curried and carried away
with A.C. from Dunedin to Delhi...
a Bollywood moment for the books
the peacocks add a whimsical touch
making my heart a flutter

"After a trip to India, the designer worked like a fiend for months in his studio, with images of Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington, and the Indian Empire running through his mind. They were transformed into ballerina-length multi-flounced dance dresses, each more insanely exquisite than the last: A miraculous red-feather-fronted number turned to burst into a froth of creamy frills in back; another came covered in baby-fine knitted lace; a third had a pair of peacocks—again fashioned from cutout black lace—with their tail feathers fanning out over ivory tulle petticoats." ----style.com

daintiness personified
the right kind of rough around the edges
shrug perfection
these two looks would be perfect for rehearsal night
dressy but relaxed

"Interspersed were rigorously cut military tailcoats with taut pants detailed with military frogging, and slim brocade and cloque pantsuits with crisp white high-necked shirts. Then there was a stately parade of imperial-red and velvet jackets bedecked with millions of dollars' worth of antique Indian diadems and diamond neckpieces, and yet more incredible rich Empire-line saris and wispy dishabille transparencies. These were followed by a sequence of gold-encrusted, ermine-coated glory, echoing the heyday of Norman Hartnell and Hardy Aimes' fifties British couture as worn by Elizabeth II."---style.com

The headdresses and jewelry are stunning. A simplified one would make the perfect hair adornment. A few friends have worn glittering diamond tiaras for their weddings and even if they were beautiful, I veer towards the uncut and jagged stones that radiate natural and raw energy. I really have no royal qualms about myself. Perhaps just a napoleonic tendency when it comes to jewels :-) McQueen's genius in bridging cultural, iconic and historical influences together make it current and even wearable for a simple girl like me.

Fall/Winter 2008 video


Doubly Auspicious

Aside from picking through early memories, I went through my travel/design files for a little inspiration for tomorrow's Lunar New Year and Valentine's Day celebration. What a doubly wonderful way to welcome the Year of the Metal Tiger, it can't get any redder and more auspicious! I found these photos from the Air France Magazine the last time I went to Paris in 2007. 

The entrance of Hotel Cote Cour Beijing   
located in the district of preserved hutongs .
The boutique hotel centers around an old style square courtyard.
Its understated rooms were decorated by owner,
Shauna Liu with silk and linen bedding, 
traditional and modern artwork adorn the walls.
restaurant and art gallery 
in a reconstituted 16th century temple
 a restaurant with private rooms and retro-chic decor
I checked their website and 
a more muted color makeover has taken place.
This particular photo made me think of
very sexy and glam 'radiant in red' chairs,
perfect for a romantic tête-à-tête.
Speaking of hutongs, this is the entrance to Hutong,
one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong.
Please view the website for its fantastic photos.
photo by Food Man Chan (please see his post for more pics and food review)
On the 28th floor of One Peking Road
overlooking the harbor and vibrant cityscape,
one doesn't get a better overall sensory overload.
photo credits 1,2,3 (food reviews too)
Its spectacular neo-traditional Chinese interiors enhances
 the taste of Northern Chinese cuisine presented artfully.
Their signature dish,crispy de-boned lamb ribs, is unforgettable. I've had consistent meals here throughout the years. I'm thrilled that it has garnered a one Michelin star since the Snug partner and I had our dinner date there a year and a half ago. I highly recommend making a 745pm reservation since the city light show starts at 8pm.
interiors by Philippe Starck
a baroque-kitsch look with more than 300 paintings on the ceiling
Upon perusing the website, the interiors have changed some too.
The Chiavari chairs have been repainted,
 furniture reupholstered, and areas rearranged.
You must be redded out by now so hope these calming images
of the tea lifestyle will relax you.
furniture designed by owner JinR
exterior of Green T. House Living 
inspired by the architecture of Zhanguo period

Now that I've whetted my appetite, I am off to complete my grocery list for tomorrow's celebration.
Happy Lunar New Year 
or as we say in Fookienese dialect,  Keong Hee Huat Tsai!!