Lamb, leek and artichoke stew.

We just got back from Sundance and the ALTitude Design Summit. Whew! 15 hr jetlag with a wee one is not for the feint of heart. While I was in Park City trying to decide what to make for dinner, I was inspired by this beautiful artichoke tureen in my parent’s china cabinet. It ended up being a great thing to serve 16 of our friends visiting for Sundance as I was able to make it in the morning in between FX’s naps. The lemon and leeks play beautifully off the lamb, which is cooked until very tender and until it has lost any hint of gaminess–making it quite a crowd pleaser. The recipe is pretty simple: you brown the lamb, remove it, cook the onion and leeks and herbs together in the lamb juices, return the lamb, add stock and simmer for a couple of hours. Add lemon juice and artichokes (I used canned hearts in water) and simmer a little longer. And you’re done! I served this with risotto, but egg noodles or potatoes would also work well. I’m definitely adding this to my list of great make-ahead, crowd-pleasing, winter dishes! See this post for more great lasagna alternatives.

Oh and here’s a picture of the lil man in the official Sundance onesie!!

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Amazing shot of HK by Sam Gellman.

Sam is the man!

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Marleen Molenaar raincoats and pjs.

There’s not much in life cuter than mini Morton salt girls… am I right?

I think the perfect gift is always something you wouldn’t get for yourself, but that you will actually use.

That’s why I was so happy to have found these yellow rain coats and hats by local Hong Kong pajama and outerwear designer Marleen Molenaar.

Marleen has a studio / office by appointment only in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong. You can make an appointment to go through all of her lovely, whimsical clothes or you can also shop online: she ships all over the world. Marleen has worked in the clothing industry for decades, including for Esprit. She has really crafted a nice niche for herself… it’s so nice to buy something that you know isn’t ubiquitous, but it still the highest quality design and craftsmanship.

I really like her simple blue and white branding. It’s very light-hearted and elegant, just like Marleen herself. Marleen hails from Amsterdam, but has been in HK for years.

In addition to the raincoats I bought for all my favorite little ones this holiday season, she also has a wonderful collection of classic pajamas.

How adorable is my godson in his cozy robe?

I couldn’t resist getting these fish PJs for the HK bundle… he’s still way too small to fit into it, but I’m looking forward to the day when he’ll be big enough to be my little fisherman!

MARLEEN MOLENAAR:
Room 502, Tak Woo House
1-3 Wo On Lane/17-19 D’Aguilar Street
Central, Hong Kong

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Efficiency in the New Year.

I’ve read a lot of great posts about the many, many resolutions people are attempting in 2013. I’m very inspired just thinking about what everyone (else!) hopes to accomplish. While I don’t have any new earth shattering ambitions for the New Year, (I am still just trying to keep all my usual balls in the air PLUS take good care of the HKBundle, thank you very much) there are a few tools I’ve been using to help me attempt to ‘do it all’ with the end goal of being really present with the little man, as generous with my friends and family as possible, and a good contributor at work.

  • Wonderful Day App. I’ve been trying to do three things every day for the past few months and this app gently reminds me every day of these goals and let’s me check a green or red box (very satisfying for us Type-As) if I do or don’t complete them. For me they are: exercise, wear my retainers and write a note to someone I care about.

  • O.H.I.O. One of my professional idols and mentors is Elizabeth Mayhew (she’s an author, editor and her stationery armoire was written up in the NYTimes, need I say more?!) and she endorses this acronym (as do others I’m sure) but it stands for Only Handle It Once, whether it be an inbound email or a letter in the mail, you have one chance to touch it. She really manages to do it all… amazing mother and career… and I think this practice must be a big part of her success. So if you’re not ready to reply to that long, lovely email from a friend, don’t open it up! And when you sit down to open the mail, you better be ready to sort it. It’s really encouraged me to stop making endless piles and then re-making piles. Instead, I need to file, scan or toss! I have taped this up onto my monitor to remind me to stick to it.

  • My Tomatoes. Studies have shown that our maximum ability to focus, really focus is 25 minutes.  The Pomodor0 technique encourages you to do tasks in 25-minute blocks with five-minute breaks. This website helps you do that with timers and then gives you space to record what you did in each block. It is really, really tough to self-motivate to get work done or to stay on top of personal email while working from home with an adorable little baby. This site has gone a long way to helping me stay focused and instead of just logging hours upon hours at my desk with nothing to show for it, I now have a nice little list of what I’ve accomplished, which feels really, really good. And when that timer goes off and the truth is I’ve gone down an internet rabbit hole for the last 20 minutes and have nothing to fill in, I feel like crap about myself and really want to do better during the next tomato! Speaking of which, the clock on this post is almost up! I hope maybe these tools help you get on with your New Year resolution.

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Amigo Mansion: A Hong Kong institution.

Restaurants in Hong Kong are here one day, gone the next. Hong Kongers love anything new and shiny.

Amigo is very shiny, but not at all new. This Happy Valley institution has been open for over 40 years. It was started and is still run by  Yeung Wing Chung, the man behind iconic children’s toys, like Cabbage Patch Kids!

Amigo is a fantastic mix of childlike fantasy and extreme pretense. Even though it’s named Amigo (Spanish for friend and Chung’s wife’s idea: easy to pronounce and remember), it’s a French restaurant. Here the silver is solid, waiters wear white gloves and each lady is presented with a rose at the end of the meal. Butter is also served in a rose mold and each guest gets an elegant sticky note pad favor embossed with your name and a nod to Chung’s toy business… Some how my name ended up ‘Matashi’ The misspelling is also proof that the restaurant doesn’t cater to ex-pats, but rather the big tycoons and their friends. You’ll see lots of big whigs here with their i-Pad toting off-spring–again not surprising that a toy tycoon’s pet restaurant is exceptionally child- friendly.

The food is very traditional; prime rib, lobster bisque, escargot, filet mignon with a sorbet inter-mezzo, of course. For how up-market and good the food is, it’s surprisingly reasonably priced.

While visiting over the holidays, we tried their grand marnier and almond soufflés. Both were out of this world delicious. After so much fusion and gastronomy, it’s quite nice to go back to the kind of dining Julia Child would approve of.

AND save some room for AFTER dessert. They server up ice cream bon bons on little Amigo sticks that must be made in the toy factory. They are served in a silver dish with a false bottom and giant ice cube underneath. Lastly, don’t forget your rose in your taxi home so you’ll be able to remember your romantic meal for another week or two!

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