Category Archives: Domesticities

Say it better with flowers: Ellermann opens.

Everyone loves getting flowers, except for when they suck. Do you know what I mean? You go to this effort and expense… and your friend gets a dozen browning carnations. I hate to say it, but it happens a lot in Hong Kong because the Chinese will cut any corner to make a buck. Introducing the two-week-old Ellerman Flowers in Sheung Wan.

I discovered the shop just wandering down an alley with a friend the other day… it was founded by a long-time HK expat who simply felt she couldn’t find quality arrangements here without insane expense. And she is seriously clever. I love all their bird-centered arrangements–whether they be birdcage-focused or bird-adorned teacup centered. I mean, who would think to put an orchid in a teacup, but it is brilliant! They also have the most amazing terrariums.

The one on the left if you can’t read it says ‘I dig you’ and then there is a little metal shovel. Now, seriously people: could this be more adorable? And it’s an arrangement that will last. I see no reason why you wouldn’t attempt to DIY this for an anniversary or just because… but if you want to purchase one pre-made head over to Ellerman at 36 Tung Street, Sheung Wan, 852.2291.0388

Kitchen conversions.

The truth is I’m not very good at math. That’s why I went into writing. And here in HK, most things are still sold in UK measurements. So a stick of butter here is about 7/8ths of a cup… I’m constantly getting out my little scale to measure things. But then there is the issue of converting grams into tablespoons and that’s where the wonderful app Kitchen Pro comes in. I highly recommend it. It’s great even if you’re Stateside and are unsure of how many pints are in a quart (2 by the way).

But if you’re looking for a more decorative solution to measurement conversions, check out these amazing kitchen conversion towels and posters from Etsy shop Sweet Fine Day. I found them by way of Lost in Cheeseland‘s by way of Lola’s Cookies post.

I am thinking of ordering the poster for the back of my kitchen door and I think the tea towels would be an awesome shower gift.
By the way, if you’re like me and are constantly looking up conversions while simultaneously Googling things like “do I really need to peel peaches for cobbler,” and are lucky enough to have an iPad, the Elago P2 Stand is terrific. It has nice, clean and simple lines and holds it at just the perfect angle for my sticky fingers to tap away on it. Mine was a sweet gift from the Mr. and it is now a very favorite kitchen gadget!

Signature ribbon: Angela Liguori

My Aunt Steph has two or three signature ribbons… the paper may vary, but I can spot her ribbon from a mile away. And sometimes less really is more. So I decided to try to find a signature ribbon of my own this past holiday season.
I met Angela Ligouri at the National Stationery Show last May. The buyers for Anthroplogie were swooning with me over her cotton Italian ribbon… personally I prefer the loose weave (below) to the tight weave (above). I love how Angela uses a tiny pin to secure the loose end on the roll–it works so well!
I actually found that the neutral color goes with just about everything so I may have found my signature ribbon, although red is also very versatile and festive. The great thing about buying ribbon in bulk is that although you have to fork up some cash up front, you’re saving loads of money compared to last minute drugstore purchases of a far inferior product. Angela also loves vintage stamps and included some in my package as a thank you… and she ships internationally!

Unrelated: check out my interview today with Ann Gardner over on the Minted blog.

Time for Corned Beef!

St. Patrick’s Day may still be three weeks away, but if you want to have homemade corned beef… now is the time to get it going!

I wanted to do the full, traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage, but was worried about where I would be able to find corned beef here–and then if I did find it I was sure it would be a fortune. So, I decided to make my own. Which is quite easy… all you need is to make a quick brine by boiling water and adding salt, sugar, and some herbs to it. Then you add the beef brisket to a pot that contains it well (I sliced my meat in half and put it in my crock pot) and then covered it in brine. Place in the fridge and flip the meat over every day or two. The hardest part about it is sacrificing fridge space. Two weeks later you’ll have corned beef!

In theory or if you live in the States, this should be a major money saver as brisket is an inexpensive cut, but we bought this at Grate where it wasn’t cheap, but it will feed a lot of people! I will report back on how our turned out. I used a combination between this recipe and Martha’s, depending on what herbs I had on hand.

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!

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.)

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)