Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 2009 Trip to Tokyo and Hong Kong

Can you tell by this photo alone which country I'm in?
The cuisine of a country can say it all. My trips back
to Hong Kong and Tokyo allow me to visit with friends,
visit old haunts, eat wonderful food and of
shop until I drop.

The first leg of my trip was in Tokyo and I stayed with
two friends. The first friend I stayed with is my friend
Jon whom I've known for a very long time. Originally
from California, he's spent almost 10 years in Japan and
has decided to make it his permanent home.

Jon prefers small neighborhood haunts like this one where
one can go for great food and drinks in the evening. He's
been here so much that he knows the family who owns
the place pretty well.

The others laughed at me when I took this photo but
it's to show how clean they keep the kitchen. The
Japanese are insanely clean people. Believe me, I
have no complaints about that. Years ago, on one
of my first visits to Japan - my friend Jon caught me
taking a photo of his toilet. If you saw the toilet, you
would have taken a photo of it too!

Father and daughter.

Jon and Taki

This is the family the owns the small but warm place.

In the winter, the Japanese eat something called Oden
(pictured above.) It has different ingredients like tofu
and daikon (white radish) that is steeped in broth. My
favorite is the white radish.

Favorite place to shop? Harajuku
and Shinjuku hands down. There's
a reason why Gwen Stefani is obsessed
with this place!

On this trip, I traveled with a friend named Lindsay. Of
course the first place we hit was Harajuku. I had TONS
of bags going home - always a chore when I finally remember
that I have to lug it all home. This was literally our only
nice day out of the entire trip. The rest of the trip was filled
with rain and a typhoon no less. Lindsay was smart enough to
stay home on the day of the typhoon. I ventured out to see an
old friend I hadn't seen in a while and half of the trains were

Because I got a new camera, I was determined to try it out.
Although I wasn't able to take many photos outdoors because
of the weather, we did our best. Here's me in a Harajuku
cafe in the middle of the crowds and the shopping.

Here's Lindsay.

And I particularly love this photo
of her since it was so natural.

A fun photo in the train.

Lindsay had never been to Nikko so I took her on a short
excursion to Nikko. Nikko is a wonderful 2 day/1 night
trip from Tokyo and is about 2.5 hours away. The round
trip train tickets cost about 5200 yen ($50-$60) which
is very reasonable. I always stay at a minshuku called
Rindou no Ie (family run Japanese style inn or their version
of the hostel or bed and breakfast.) It's owned by a wonderful
couple who have been running it for years. Look up Rindou
no Ie if you ever plan to visit Nikko.

Nikko is a national park as well as a Unesco World Heritage
Site which has many shrines including the shrine and grave
of Ieyasu Tokugawa (who was the founder and first Shogun
of the Tokugawa dynasty during the Edo period.) It is an
absolutely gorgeous place to go during the changing colors
of the autumn leaves. The best time to see the leaves in Nikko
are the end of October and the beginning of November.

We paid for dinner at the Minshuku and look at the
feast we got! In traditional Japanese style with little
plates of fish, tofu, pickled vegetables and more.

I thought this was an interesting function on my camera
that I found where you can overlay exposures into one
frame. Funky.

In Hong Kong, we were also hit with rain. I managed
to get some photos in before the rain set in (the rain
often comes and goes quickly.)

I bought a lens to go with my camera (the D300) that has
really great bokeh (the blurriness in the background) which
is really awesome for taking photos of subjects or portraits.
Here's Lindsay in the foreground with a gorgeous bokeh in
the background.

A little earlier in the day (like 20 minutes) where I was
using my wide angled lens which I also love.

It's amazing the angles you can get with a wide framed lens.

Here's a typical street market in Hong Kong.

Always busy busy.

Lindsay totally cracked me up. She had previously lived in HK
for about half a year as an exchange student and had loved an
eggplant dish that she had practically eaten every day when she
was there. Only she didn't know the name to the dish...The two
full days we were in Hong Kong, Lindsay literally ordered every
eggplant dish she could in hopes of finding it. On the very last
night of the entire trip, when it was pouring, I cornered the waiter
and asked him if he had an eggplant dish that had salty fish in it.
Lo and behold, Lindsay finally got to eat her favorite eggplant dish
before we left. Things worked out after all. Being able to converse
in the local language has its perks. Linds chowing down.

Street food is the best!

When I was trying to pack all of my contraband in Japan,
my friend Satoko whom I stayed with most of the time in
Japan helped me pack. I have this habbit of going to the
supermarket for a shopping spree in most countries I go to.
Not only can you find wonderful souvenirs there, but you
can foods you can't easily get home. She thought it was so
funny the stuff I bought that she made me lay it all out and
take a photo of it. So there you have it - magazines, teas,
Japanese wooden slippers, food products, etc.

And This is my dollar shop contraband. That's right, who
else can come out of a dollar store having spent $60. That's
right, that would be me. Cosmetics, bags, portable slippers,
ceramics, eye glass pouches, containers and bottles, pouches
for loose leaf tea...and the list goes on. Believe me when I say
that I identified with the book "Confessions of a Shopaholic."
Did I mention that I came home with 9 pairs of shoes (three
pairs of long boots, 2 booties, 1 pretty chic pair of rain boots,
1 pair of gladiator sandals, 1 pair of lace pumps and my first
pair of purple pumps.) I literally came home with another
suitcase and to weigh both of them to make sure I wasn't
overweight. It's not difficult to exceed 50 lbs!

Where do you like to travel? If you were to go to a place
like Hong Kong or Tokyo - what would you want to do
there? Nature? Hot Springs? Shopping? Culture? Food?
I'm curious.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Gorgeous Rustic San Franciscan Loft - Ken Fulk Design

I've always thought industrial lofts were very very cool spaces.
This loft in San Francisco has a lot of wood in it giving it a rustic
feel. It is designed by San Franciscan design extraordinaire
Ken Fulk
who is the designer of choice to many tech moguls in
San Francisco.

A kitchen complete with a full counter dining space.

The kitchen is outfitted with a very glossy
modern red look. The wooden barstools
soften the space with a natural element.

A second table that can be used as a meeting
or working space that is open to the rest of
the living space.

Here's another look at the table from another angle.

I especially love the look and feel of the sofas and
the coffee table made from reclaimed wood.

The loft has a fantastic view and the sofas look like they
were made to snuggle up in. I imagine that the sofas would
be very comfortable to sleep in as well as they are very deep.

A canopy bed was used in the bedroom.

Crisp white sheets and a clean white duvet
make the bed look modern and inviting.

The guest bedroom off of the main
living space also offers beautiful views.

I certainly wouldn't mind staying in a guest bedroom like this.

Another look at the guest bedroom.

A makeshift bars space with rustic accents.

Isn't the space fun in an eclectic rustic sense?

Would you live in a loft?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

10 Fabulous Bedrooms - Color and Texture Inspirations

The bedroom is The Sanctuary. The place where you go to
hide from the world...Where you go to rest.
Here are 10 fabulous bedrooms that will hopefully brighten
your day and give you inspiration how you can spice up your

We start with this gorgeous turquoise room. Talk about color,
texture and layers. It's got it all.

I especially love the delicate floral patterns in this room.
Where can I find such a gorgeous duvet cover. Making
two panels and covering them with a gorgeous wallpaper
or fabric makes a great headboard. What's neat is that
the panels are vertical while most headboards are tall
or horizontal. A pair of old and ornate doors would also
make for a gorgeous headboard.

Who says wallpaper is out? It doesn't have to be.

The wallpaper is too busy for my taste. However the color
palette and the room arrangement are spot on. Can't go
wrong with a symmetrical look.

I love how romantic this bedroom feels. It's
got a vintage feel to it in a feminine way.

A close up of the nightstand area.

A tufted duvet cover adds instant luxe and romance.

Here's a clever way to use stencils to frame the
bed. It gives a much needed focus on the wall.

This would be a wonderful guest room.
Gray is so very soothing. I've really come
to love the color Gray.

The butterfly stencils are so fun. This is certainly
a fun and modern bedroom with Zen lines.

I have to admit that my obsession with plaid makes me
Adore the flooring in this room. It really gives the room
some extra pizazz and reminds of Ireland and the UK.

Which bedroom is your favorite? What color and style
is your bedroom? There are so many colors and styles
I love that it's hard for me to choose.

Photos from Ideal Home Magazine