Monday, February 25, 2008

Vintage Chairs & Retro Clock

Here are our two new vintage chairs we bought this weekend off an internet site similar to craigslist. I think they look really cool. It is hard to find anything used or vintage here, since only brand new items are desired. I am unaware of any vintage stores. There are some antique stores, but they sell super expensive stuff--not the junky stuff I like.

When we went to pick up the chairs, I spotted this cool clock and bought it also. It is not vintage, but has a cool, retro feel. We hung it over the hallway entrance.

For the main living area, the only items we still want are a sideboard for under the large mirror and a rug--we're getting there.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New Favorite Restaurant

To reiterate, our apartment is on top of the train station and a mall, called Elements. There are several restaurants in Elements, and we are working our way through them. One Chinese restaurant always has a line outside, no matter what time of day. A few weeks ago, we finally decided to see what the fuss was about, and now we are hooked! We went there again this weekend. The restaurant makes homemade noodles for its noodle soup, and as expected, noodle soup is what most people order. The “type” of soup you order only varies by the add-in which is served in a separate bowl. This time Erik ordered a soup where the noodles were stir fried before adding the broth. I ordered bean curd skin and mushrooms—the same as I ordered last time. I love bean curd skin! We also ordered vegetable dim sum. Overall, the food is very simple and tasty at this restaurant.

Line to get in:

Making the noodles:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Shopping Success

I am thrilled with my two new purchases made on Sunday; a new wallet and new duvet cover. I have been searching for a new wallet since mine was stolen at the beginning of December. The one I chose was designed by Taiwanese illustrator Jimmy Liao. (Click here to see his children's book on Amazon.) I love his work, but many of the wallets were too childish, which is why I love the tree design of this one. Additionally, the wallet is good quality; made of leather and has nice compartments. Often, I struggle with purchases, because I gravitate towards whimsical and child-like things, but worry they are not age appropriate. There is a fine line between having a unique/creative style and looking silly/unprofessional.

The second purchase was a new duvet cover for summer. We have a lovely down comforter and flannel duvet cover for winter. For the summer, we have been using a light-weight comforter from West Elm (love their stuff). Even though it is less than three years old, it needs to be replaced. There are many small tears made by Olive's nails and it has a few stains. Also, I think it will be too heavy for the extreme heat here. I have been searching for new bedding since I arrived in Hong Kong, and I was beginning to give up hope and was debating about ordering something from a US company and bringing it back with me in March, but I didn't cherish the thought of lugging new bedding. This is why I was so thrilled to find something this weekend. It is 100% cotton and very soft. The main color is cream with light brown accents and embroidered gray "flowers". I put flowers in quotes because they are very abstract and organic. The package included the duvet cover, two shams, and a fitted sheet. European style bedding is prominent here, using no top sheet, just the duvet cover. The whole kit was only HK$999 or US$130. Once I buy a thin comforter for it and put it on the bed, I'll post a picture.

Hot Pot

I finally had my first hot pot experience. Hot pot is a type of restaurant with simmering pots of broth in the middle of the table and you cook your own food. It is extremely popular here. There was a variety of seafood, meat, and vegetables, with thinly sliced beef being the most popular choice. In a way, it is similar to fondue. It is a very social way to dine. We went with other Gore folks after the cocktail party on Saturday. I am fairly certain Erik and I were the only Caucasians in the place--we like that.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Back to Normal

Happy Valentine's Day! After all the Chinese New Year excitement, this week was back to normal. Erik and I are celebrating Valentine's Day tonight, Friday, since we both had classes last night; Chinese and yoga, respectively. Tomorrow we are attending a party from 6-8 p.m. Is it odd to go to all the effort of hosting a party that lasts only 2 hours? I think, yes. The party is inconvenient for us, because it will take over an hour to travel there, so we'll spend more time traveling then partying. The host is an important business leader at Gore, so we feel obligated to go. Sunday will be the standard cleaning, shopping, errands, relaxing day.

March is shaping up to be a very busy month for us due to Erik's crazy travel and work schedules, and my trip to the US. These next two weeks of February will be enjoyed for the relative peace they bring.

The weather has been so cold here for an extended time. I just looked up the facts: "it is the second-longest cold spell since 1885". It has been below 12C (52F) for 22 days straight. I am sure those of you on the east coast with recent temps near zero, don't extend any sympathy to us, but remember there is no heat anywhere in Hong Kong. Thus, our apartment is about the same temperature as outside. We wrap up with the down comforter from the bed to make TV watching bearable. Restaurants, shops, and work are all cold too, although some are a bit warmer than outside due to heat generated by people and appliances. All the space heaters have been sold out. Note to self: shop earlier next near.

Stay warm and have a good weekend.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More CNY Stuff--Decorations

This is the last post about CNY. Here are some pictures of the traditional decorations that all have special meaning, but I am not sure what they all are. Most public buildings were decorated with cherry blossoms, mandarin/tangerine trees, red lanterns and gold banks. The lobby of our building was very representative.

Most mandarin or tangerine trees are groomed into a columnar shape except for this one on the floor of my office. It is bigger than me and so beautiful.

CNY is all about money; giving it, getting it, wishing for it, etc. The "red pocket" the main focus. It is a small, decorative, red envelope that you fill with money and hand out to people. There are lots of rules about who gets the red pockets and how much money they receive. Any single people, especially children who wish you Happy New Year, get a red pocket. If you are a boss, you should give them to those you manage. We prepared a bunch of red pockets for all the service people in our building: security guards, door men, concierge, etc. Each red pocket should contain HK$20-100 (US$2.25-12.00) depending on how close you are to the person or how helpful they are. It is a pretty good system because you just give money and there is no effort in shopping for gifts. We do not tip the door men in our building even when they carry the groceries. The red pocket is like the year's tips.
There were traditional lion dances all over and this one was in front of our building.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chinese New Year's Eve

Wednesday night, February 6, was Chinese New Year's Eve, and we decided to go to Victoria Park, which is the traditional thing to do. It is a little like going to Times Square in New York, in that most people do it just once, or rarely. Victoria Park is a huge park set up with lots of vendors selling stuff for Chinese New Year, in market style. It has a carnival atmosphere. Wednesday night, after the big family meal, is the time to go, because it is the last day for the market and the vendors will discount their merchandise as the night goes on. We were told, some people stick around until 2-3:00 a.m. We went around 10 p.m. which was prime time. There was no choice in where to go because the crowd pushed you along--literally body-to-body. Many vendors sold toys for kids, but the main attraction are flowers that are a big party of CNY and represent the coming of spring. Here are some pictures:


Nice to see how other countries perceive the United States. This was the only thing we saw with a USA theme.Large, cut, cherry blossom trees sold just like Christmas trees:These are all forced daffodil bulbs that are placed in bowls of water.These are mandarin trees--another very popular part of CNY. We just got a bowl of fresh mandarins, which are totally delicious.Victoria Park is in an area of the city called Causeway Bay, and it is always busy. The crowds on this street are pretty typical. Note: it was close to midnight when this picture was taken.Thursday was the biggest day of Chinese New Year, the day when most things were closed. The tradition is to visit with family and have a big meal. I didn't want to be totally focused on party prep, so I made a nice meal for us including homemade egg rolls. They were a tad greasy, but super yummy. Yes, I am having a martini; it was at least 6:00.

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Kung Hei Fat Choi = wishing you prosperity in the new year. It is the greeting used during Chinese New Year. The party was a huge success! Everyone had a great time, and the food turned out great. The fireworks were amazing. It really couldn't have gone better. This post will talk about the party details, and I'll do a separte post or two discussing some Chinese New Year traditions and photos and how we spent the rest of our weekend.


Shrimp Balls: these shrimp balls were SO amazing, but labor intensive. We bought live shrimp from the market, and I made Erik carry the bag home because I couldn't take the wiggling. At home, I put them in the collander to rinse, and they kept jumping out of the collander into the sink and onto the floor! I was screaming and laughing. I didn't have the nerve to decaptitate them live, so I put them in the freezer to kill them. It took a long time to de-head, peel, and devein all those shrimp. Then you grind them in the food processer with a few other ingredients. Next, you form them into about 80 balls and coat in panko. Then you deep fry. They were well worth the effort.

Flowers are an important part of Chinese New Year, especially spring flowers since the new year welcomes spring. Here we have pussy willows and red gladiolas--red is the lucky color.Fireworks were totally amazing:Late night, when most people had left except our good friends: Erik and Pinky playing a dice game with Tony and Paul.Amy & Pinky playing Wii. My friend Wenny on the couch.Amy & TonyPaul & Tony

On Saturday, we did absolutely nothing. I was a bit hungover and we were both exhaused. We watched about 5 movies on HBO.

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, February 4, 2008


This weekend, we started the party prep. We did most of the shopping, which was a lot. Also, I made the vegetarian dumplings. Erik helped stuff them. We made over 80, and it wasn't too difficult. I froze them and will steam just before serving.

Say what?

I think we may have a translation problem. I received this bag from a street vendor selling Chinese New Year decorations. Note the cutesy cartoon charaters and sweet phrases, but there is one that is out of place.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

End of an era

My beloved coffee mug has finally died. Erik broke it this weekend while doing the dishes. He was so upset. The mug was a Christmas gift from Erik. He gave it to me before we were married, so it is at least 13 years old. I have drunk my coffee out of it every day since he gave it to me. Good buy favorite mug :-(