Monthly Archives: February 2011

Anthroplogie kitchen accessories.

Anthropologie has the cutest kitchen accessories! And they ship to Hong Kong.

I know, I know Easter is still two months away… but why not plan ahead?
The petite grapefruit sugar bowl on the left really reminds me of the Lladro parrots I posted about awhile ago.
My measuring cup/spoon obsession continues. What lovely little shower or hostess gifts all of these items would make!

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Nesting.

So, no, I’m not pregnant, but I do undoubtedly have a strong nesting instinct. And I want to know where it comes from? The Mr. certainly does not have the same insane desire I do to make whatever space I am in feel like home. He does not, like me, put away all of his clothes when we get to a hotel room for even just a night. He does not like to lay out his entire dop kit on the counter, put his toothbrush and toothpaste upright in a cup, or line up his shoes in a neat little row.

(Image from She Wears Many Hats.)

Last year I went on 58 flights… yes, on one particularly long flight recently I actually went through and counted them all up. So I wonder if whatever nesting instinct I would have normally is intensified because I pretty much spend more time away from home than at home… and my home now looks and feel nothing like the one before it–and is, of course, a world away. Other expats reading… do you have a stronger desire to nest abroad than you did at home?

For me, nesting basically means this: when I get back from a trip, I literally do not want to leave the apartment–to the point where I so don’t want to leave that I would prefer to order take-out than go to the grocery store. I take on random projects (organizing closets, sorting the linen closet, cleaning out the baking supplies, making chicken stock, starting scrap books, framing pictures, etc). I swear to myself and others that I will never, ever get on another plane again. When my need to socialize finally trumps my need to nest, I send out party invitations to have people over; nothing makes me feel more at home than entertaining.

In a NY Times story about how pregnant women with big careers have taken nesting to a new level (major remodeling projects), they had this to say about nesting during pregnancy:

Obstetricians have long observed a deeply felt urge among pregnant women to focus on preparing the home for offspring. As with many behaviors associated with pregnancy, this one seems caused at least in part by hormones — specifically, oxytocin, which is thought to be responsible for maternal attachment. Without it, mammals do not bond with their young, or prepare nests for them. Women are just dripping with this hormone in the last part of pregnancy,” said Dr. Louann Brizendine, a neuropsychiatrist and director of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California at San Francisco.

So it turns out that even though I’m not pregnant, I have a much higher level of oxytocin that the Mr. does. Oxytocin also fluctuates with your cycle so it could be that my “nesting” urges correlate to that time of the month… but even that was not enough to satisfy my need to understand why I feel this intense urge… so I kept googling and I did come up with this:

Humans more or less respond to things generally the same way rats do… and a team of scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital found that offering stressed-out rats nesting material (sticks, leaves, etc.) helped them to heal from wounds just as much as administering oxytocin (by injecting them with the hormone) did.

When I came across this study, I suddenly felt like my crazy was defensible–which probably really makes me sound like a total nut job, but all of this googling got me really interested in oxytocin. The blog Neurootopia did a great series of posts about all that oxytocin does–I would seriously recommend reading the entire thing, but here is his summary of all of the things oxytocin is responsible for: “contractions during labor, sexual arousal, lactation, orgasm — in both male and female, trust, facial recognition, influences memory formation, pair bonding, and probably there’s more.

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Mr. Porter launches.

Mr. Porter, a new men’s fashion site (an obvious male take on Net-A-Porter), just launched today and they ship to Hong Kong so I thought it might be worth giving their site a review. The UK-based company sells a lot of higher-end designers–like Burberry, Gucci, Lanvin–plus. ready made items from Saville Row tailors, with the occasional more affordable item, like Converses, thrown into the mix. They will soon sell J. Crew, which would be awesome for us Hong Kongers.

My favorite way to browse the clothing was through the “view by outfit” button. Each item has a video, so you can see the model walk onto the screen, turn, and walk off, which is really helpful.

Even if your Mr. is like mine and refuses to spend more than $40 on a shirt, they’ve done a really fun job of adding tons of editorial content offering lots of advice and help on how to dress well that I think would apply to any budget. I like their list of the 36 essentials every man’s wardrobe should include… I can tell you right away that my Mr. would never go for a knit tie or a Louis Moray bracelet, but all of the other 34 items I agreed with.

The site has an address book of their prestigious style counsel’s reccs in various cities around the world… their HK reccs are obvious, but not off.

My favorite section–and one that I hope they continue to develop is an organized style advice Q&A between readers and editors. I excerpted a few of the ones I found most helpful and interesting here for you:

Question
How long should my tie be?
Answer
The front blade shouldn’t fall lower than the top of the trousers and, if you are wearing a casual outfit, it should be a few inches shorter than that. It might prompt a few funny looks but a knitted tie looks really good when the front blade is a bit shorter than the rear blade. Don’t worry how long the rear blade is – you can always tuck it into your trousers.
Question
What is a cummerbund for, and do people still wear them?
Answer
The reason the cummerbund has been largely abandoned is because it is now pointless. Originally worn under a dinner jacket as a lighter alternative to a waistcoat (this was in the days when an exposed waistband was considered bad form) it has been rendered redundant now that we’re unperturbed by the sight of a waistband. However, if you do want to hark back, go the whole hog and get a horseshoe-shaped double-breasted waistcoat, which is far more stylish.
Question
I can’t work out what it is about Italian men that makes them look both stylish and relaxed. How can I steal a bit of their elegance?
Answer
First, let’s remember that many Italian men want to dress like idealised Englishman. Second, you’re not alone – it was precisely this question that inspired The Sartorialist to start his blog. Extreme conservatism plays a major role: the men you admire have been dressing the same way for years or even decades, so you’ll need a high boredom threshold. As a function of this, clothes are bought for the long haul, and are more likely to be better made to start with and then altered for the perfect fit. Beyond that it’s about subtle colour combinations, which frequently involve brown, grey and navy, and immaculate presentation. As Charles Eames once said: ‘The details are not the details. They make the design.’
Question
How do I tell if a suit fits properly?
Answer
While the prevailing silhouette is as tight now as it ever has been, suits still have to fit – stretching and pulling remain unflattering even if a jacket is cut like a second skin. Ideally the jacket will be as wide, but no wider, than your shoulders, the collar will sit flat against your shirt collar, the back will fall in a fairly straight line from the shoulder blades, the armpits will be quite neat (because otherwise the jacket will restrict arm movement), the buttoning point will be on the same latitude as your belly button, there will be enough shape to give you a waist, and it’ll be close – but not tight – around the stomach.
Question
How often do I need to clean my suits?
Answer
Not as often than you think, but that doesn’t mean they don’t require maintenance. Unless a suit is visibly stained it probably shouldn’t be dry cleaned more than twice a year, provided it is well looked after. This involves keeping it neatly folded on a proper hanger, hanging it up somewhere it can air for 24 hours after you wear it, not wearing it more than once a week, brushing it with a clothes brush after each wear, and storing it in a place with enough space for it not to be creased.
Question
Does it really matter what I wear? It is surely reasonable to expect the people I meet socially to judge me on my behaviour, and the people I meet professionally to judge me on my results, not my ability to buy the right shirt.
Answer
Mark Twain said: ‘Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.‘ We can’t improve on that.
(All Q&A and images from Mr. Porter.)
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Shanghai in 20 years.

It’s hard to believe that a city could change this much in 20 years. From Skyscrapercity.com (via Rolfe Winkler via Business Insider.) Apparently, this is abuzz in the twitersphere today.

1990:

2010:

Shanghai is bisected by the Huangpu River–the Western side or the “Puxi” area is where the historic city center is. Across the river is the newly developed Pudong–and you can really see just how new that development is from these pictures. The financial district called Lujiazui is also on the new Eastern side.

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Everything but the kitchen sink, part three.

  • Cake Cutter-and-Server-in-One. I do always find it a bit clumsy when you are about to cut a beautiful cake and you have to get out a big knife and a server, which is where the Magisso Cake Serve–it’s both in one. Check out the video here. I’ve ordered one to test it for myself and will report back. I am wondering if moist cakes will want to stick to this little device–and then how do you wipe down the inside? Design Story–a new design centric–flash sale site is selling them for $15 through the 23rd.

  • Egg Waffles. Speaking of extraneous kitchen gadgetry, Hong Kong is so hot that even Williams & Sonoma is trying to ride the wave with their Egg Waffle Pan. Check out this article if your HK kitchen won’t bear another kitchen device and you’re looking for a good place to get ’em on the street.

  • Mapkins. I love maps. I love napkins. How perfect are these?! Now I wish there was one for Hong Kong! They would be awesome for a going away party. Found on the always lovely Subtle Revelry. (By the way, Victoria is started a new mag soon!)

  • Oysters away. Not sure how this is possible, but a major oysterapocalypse is under way and most of the remaining reefs are in the US. Eater has a map of the best places to get your shuck on in the States. Found on ten thousand places. I can personally vouch for all three SF locales (Swan’s Oyster Bay Depot was right next to the Mr.’s apt and their raw seafood bowl is the best way to start the day… here we are visiting with his sis Deirdre last spring. If you are ever in SF you have to go!)

  • Christian Dior for girls. Every designer is smartly going after the little-ones market and Christian Dior is no exception. You know they’ve nailed kids when you want them to make the clothes in your size. I couldn’t agree more with Full House, where I found this, that Target needs to copy this, stat! Images are from and clothes are available through Children’s Salon.

  • Google Art Project. Where won’t Google go? They’ve now gone to art museums all over the world and made them available to everyone, which is really pretty cool. You can actually walk through a museum, stand in front of a painting, and then zoom into areas of interest. I am hankering to go to Russia, so I just took a jaunt through the Hermitage… Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son is pretty awesome. And try zooming in on all of the little critters on this peacock clock. And, yes, this confirms that I do need to go to Russia… I think previewing museums through this new tool ahead of time is a great way to plan your attack.

(Image: Telegraph)



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