Monthly Archives: March 2011


I know I should be limiting my travel lists to Asia, but I can’t help but want to put Cappadocia, Turkey on the top of my list. The stunning terrain was created millions of years ago by lava and ashes from Mount Erciyes and Mount Hasandağı.

You can actually stay in these caves! The turrets have been carved by water and wind over time, but also sculpted further in some instances by monks, priests and master stone cutters. The people here date back much further–they were mentioned in the Bible at both Pentecost and in Paul’s writings in 1 Peter.

The hotel Argos in Capadocia is built on the grounds of an ancient monastery, above a five-and-a-half kilometer ancient tunnel and an underground city connecting various mansions. The hidden rooms now house the hotel’s meeting rooms and wine cellars. I discovered this hotel on the fabulous designer Anna Bond’s Rifle Paper Co. blog.

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Chinese continue to snap up their own antiquities for a fortune.

I’m a sucker for a good attic-find-rags-to-riches story, plus it’s always kind of crazy when auction houses whose financial interest is in marking things up, get it so wrong so I think you’ll enjoy reading about some of last week’s Chinese antiquity sales. The buyers are mostly Hong Kongers and Chinese and it’s good to see a country buying back what is rightfully their own art and appreciating its own history–rather than just buying European antiquities. But you can’t help but think that for the most part art of this significance in the West is in museums, not wealthy people’s homes.

This vase was estimated at $800, but ended up selling for over $18 million US, in what antique experts are saying may have been the biggest underestimate of all time. The auction catalog dated it to the 20th century, but experts believe it was actually from the 18th century and akin to the $86 million vase I wrote about awhile back.

Sotheby’s declined comment about the two-century-plus gap in dating apart from what the press release stated, that “the estimate reflected this dating” and that “there was a healthy debate surrounding the age of the piece, with a number of collectors clearly feeling it was significantly earlier.”

“Nothing surprises me about the Chinese art market today,” said London-based Chinese art dealer Ben Jannsens, after the extraordinary sale at Sotheby’s. “My hunch is, it would be 18th century.”

An archaistic yellow jade ornament with hinged twin disks from the Qing dynasty sold for $434,500 in the same sale.

Quoted from Art Info’s article. Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.

In a separate auction last week, a giant 18th-century Chinese silk scroll painting of a military troop review sold for $30.8 million, the highest auction price for a Chinese work in France.

The work, found in a Paris attic and sold in Toulouse by auctioneer Marc Labarbe, is one of a series of four works of 17th-century maneuvers that mobilized some 20,000 men.

Both of the artworks were reportedly looted from China’s Forbidden City – the imperial palace – in the 1900s during an invasion by Allied Forces from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, US, Japan, Italy and Austria.

A Hong Kong collector, who asked to remain anonymous, made the winning bid Saturday of euro22,057,000 after a ferocious bidding war with seven others.

Story and picture AP.

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AGA polka dot stove.

I have died and gone to heaven over this polka dot cast iron stove from AGA. This special edition by Emma Bridgewater was released in 2009 so I’m a little late to the party but couldn’t help but share it with you.

AGA‘s are anything but your typical oven / stove because they are actually on all the time AND there are no temperature dials. You lift up the insulating lids on the rangetop to get to your burners. Since its always on, they permanently release a nice warmth into your kitchen.

After I posted about my beloved La Cornue oven / ranges, two people emailed to let me know about this alternate European range with a history dating to 1709. The ovens are made by pouring molten iron (at a temp of 3,272 degrees F) into molds. After being filed down, the cast iron is covered with a vitreous enamel made from molten glass, clay and pigment that is bonded onto the iron to create a super tough, glossy finish. It’s all done by hand and takes three days.

Like La Cornue, they come in a really fun range of colors… or you can even have multiple colors per oven!

Their largest model goes for about 14k. I feel like since each oven is a different temperature you would really want the bigger model… one oven you would use for cookies, another for roasting, another still for Pizza?

But they do also have their companion cooker, which is perfect for small kitchens. It still has two ovens (one more than I currently have!) and four burners so would probably be just fine for most cooks. Although not using temperature would take some getting used to–you’d really have to adapt / feel out all your old recipes. I think our circa-1950 oven gives off really inconsistent heat (sometimes I think 350 is so hot and other times it feels like things will just not cook at that temperature), so perhaps its genius is in its iron-clad consistency.

Although its a UK-based company, it does appear that there are several American distributors, including the Charlotte, NC-based AGA Thyme. And if you can’t have a polka dot stove, you can at least settle for one of Emma’s polka dotted mugs.

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Seriously, this is a store in the heart of Central. I see it all the time, but still can’t really believe it.  The names they’ve come up with are just hilarious.

There are a shocking number of lingerie shops all over Hong Kong. On the subject, GroupOn Hong Kong is currently offering the following deal:

Aroma Bust Treatment, 3 sessions
The QUADPLEX-SENO from Italy has 4 functions that offers a complete treatment, that has been long sought for ladies. It is a dream treatment with detection, negative pressure massage, intelligent electrode stimulation and frequency sculpting to get the perfect shape for breasts. Together with the fat transfer massage and natural essential oil that help to enlarge busts, a healthy, effective breast enhancement can be achieved.

Effect: Improve breast muscles, shape, volume and elasticity

Lymphatic Bust Treatment, 3 sessions (rrp. $680 / 30 mins per session)
A number of ladies suffer from lymphatic blockage, harming breast growth and health. Enhancing lymphatic circulation can not only help resolve to the problem, but also improveg blood circulation and may help to prevent ladies from getting breast cancer.

Effect: Remove lymphatic blockage and improve breast shape and volume

Eyelashes Perming (rrp. $280 / 45 mins)
Perm your eyelashes and give your eyes that bigger, fresher look!

So far 29 people have bought this deal… I can’t believe people really think they can change the shape of their breasts! Who knew this also prevents breast cancer? And what exactly is an eyelash perm? Isn’t it funny that they’ve packaged this together?

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Everything but the kitchen sink, part four.

  • Model Martha. I had no idea that Martha Stewart used to be a model… for Chanel among others. Discovered this surprising factoid on Sensibly Luxe.

  • Up. Have you seen the real recreation of the house floating from balloons from ‘Up’? It’s so fun! Spotted on Ten Thousand Places.

  • Eva Braun. Crazy, personal, never-before-released photos of Hitler’s mistress (the one who killed herself with him). Surprised to see that Hitler’s love appeared to be quite fun–and even practiced yoga!

  • Homemade bagels, croissants, goldfish, graham crackers, and granola bars! I had no idea this was even possible, until my kindred spirit Darcy starting chronicling her kitchen adventures (as well as other fun things) on her new blog Garden of Eden. Hong Kong has no good bagels to speak of (even though Press Room imports them daily from New York… it’s still a 17-hour-flight, so how fresh can they really be?) so I think I may try those first!

  • Simple chocolate cake video. Today was kind of a depressing day… after a nice day yesterday, we’re back to lots of grey. BUT this cheery recipe video from Elephantine turned my mood right around. I can’t wait to try this simple dessert! Yay for desserts without layers, frosting, or crazy multiple steps. Make sure you turn the volume up for the happy music.

Image from Elephantine.

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