Thursday, October 27, 2016

We Have Grass! And Two Runners

This is a little update to let you know that we have enough grass in our backyard to be worthy of mowing!  

Oh sure, it's still a little raggedy but it's not bad when you look at it compared to the before pictures!
My parents wanted to make the basement more user friendly because the unfinished floor kicks up a lot of dust, so they got two long runners to put down between the door and the stairs and the washing machine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

An Okonomiyaki Meal in Roppongi

I bring to you pictures of a yummy okonomiyaki dinner I had in Roppongi in Tokyo over the weekend.  The teppanyaki masters were amazing (we had two chefs serving alternative courses for our group) and it was the first time ever that I saw a female teppanyaki chef.  All I could think was "you go, girl!"

I was really heartened when, near the end of dinnerone of the partners I was sitting next to (who lives in Japan) mused that this was also the first time he had seen a female chef owning her own grill.  And then he shook his head a little and said, "So imagine how much better she must be than her counterparts to have this job!"  I thought that was a very enlightened comment from a white man in his early 60s, not to mention, she really was amazing - she was slightly more adroit, precise, and in control than her male counterpart, and seeing them side by side the comparison was clear.

Finally, I went to a pretty good tempura restaurant with some clients the first night that I was in Tokyo, but I couldn't take any pictures so you will just have to trust me that it was an eat-until-I-am-groaning-I-might-throw-up-this-is-way-too-much-food experience.  

A tasty fresh octopus starter with Italian salad dressing:
 A very fresh salmon with mushrooms and broccoli:
 The fried shrimp - really delicious, but can we pause for a second to gawk at the fabulous sharpness of the camera image and the amazing quality of my camera?  (Diss the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note all you want, but when they get things right, they really do it right!)
 We got very juicy cuts of sirloin steak with perfectly crispy soy bean sprouts and slightly grilled sweet potatoes:
 The steak in this country is phenomenal:

 Preparing the okonomiyaki is akin to a work of art:

 Yakisoba - really really good fried noodles!
 A palate cleanser at the end a basil sorbet:
 Finally what work trip would be complete without a picture of the airport (it's all I see anyway!) and some airplane lounge reviews?
 For what it's worth I really like the Cathay Pacific Tokyo lounge it is incredibly serene and zen:

Those grapes in that fruit bowl?!  Unbelievable - seedless and yet still the biggest juiciest and most plump (plumpest?) grapes ever.  

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Whirlwind Week in Tokyo

Well the second half of this past week and weekend unexpectedly ran away from me!

I was told on Monday that I would likely be heading to Tokyo for a deal andwouldn't you know itWednesday and Thursday were lost in a whirlwind of meetings and negotiations and turning of massive documents.  

I was supposed to be back in Hong Kong on Friday afternoonbut because of the chaos and panic around the typhoon that was scheduled to hit Hong Kong at precisely that timeI ended up extending my stay in Tokyo through the weekend and doing work out of our Tokyo office.  

I tried to exercise restraint when taking pictures of my food this time around so I can only leave you with one picture -- this lovely plate of fresh sushi (my lunch) to brighten up your day!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Further Updates to the House - The Upper Units

Here are some more pictures to the house, as I realize that I have not yet provided pictures of the interior.  The house is a multi-family consisting of three separate units, a duplex on the first (garden floor) and second floor (parlor floor) and then two separate two-bedroom one-bath units above. 

Michael and I have been trolling the Brooklyn brownstone renovation design sites that are the wormholes of the interior designers' universe (pinterest, gardenista, brownstoner, curbed... the list goes on and on), and find ourselves completely enamored with the transformations of other brownstones in Brooklyn.  In truth, it would be impossible not to fall in love.  These houses are old grand dames that deserve respect and affection, which is why it is so heartbreaking to see the state of disrepair into which many have fallen.  It does not seem inaccurate to say that the house feels greater than us or the present moment, and we are merely guardians that have paid the responsibility and privilege to stay for a while.

However, fanciful waxing aside, we also recognize the importance of starting slow.  This is a big project, and New York City real estate can be like putting down all your chips on black in a shark tank, or something along those nonsensical lines.
Looking out from the main vestibule
Because the house is split into three separate units, the stairwells are common areas and each unit has its own entrance, with its own kitchen, bathroom, washer and dryer, and its own water meter, gas meter, and heater.

There is a hatch that goes up to the roof.
This is the third floor unit, after my dad painted the entire apartment with a base coat and two fresh coats of white paint. 
Door/entry way
Living room
Other wall of living room

First bedroom next to the living room
Another picture of first bedroom at the front
Second bedroom in the back, with access to deck
Washer dryer in unit
The third and fourth floor units have exactly the same layout, save for some differences in ceiling height, window height and outdoor deck size.  See more pictures at the page here.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Crazy about Mi

Michael recently bought the Xiaomi phone to replace his iPhone 5, and there is not much more to say about it, except that he is crazy about mi.  The phone is sleek and very pretty, about the same size as the Samsung Galaxy or the iPhone 6, and has all of the same capacity at a fraction of the price.

What's not to love?  With news of the Samsung Note exploding and being recalled, and iPhone 7 being sold at ever higher prices, it may be time to reconsider technology and the role that our phones play in our lives.  There is a fingerprint scanner on the back.  He bought a case for it, so it will hopefully stay sleek, shiny and bright for a long while.

In case you couldn't tell, the me/mi puns will not be getting old anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Villa Balbianello and Villa Carlotta and Some Final Pictures from Our Italy Trip

All too soon, our beautiful adventures in Italy had to come to an end. 
Here are some pictures from our visit to Villa Balbianello, Villa Carlotta, some food we ate (hint: lots of pasta, pizza and gelato), and our final bittersweet moments in Lake Como.  You will see that I went a bit overboard with the pictures, but honestly, every single moment seemed worthy and I wanted to capture it all!

On one of the days, we enjoyed a little trek through Villa Balbianello close to sunset.

The panoramas here...!!

Here are some pictures of our walk around Como.

On one of the nights, we went to a restaurant near our villa in Carate Urio.

Lenno was so charming.  We were there when these bells went crazy, clanging so loud I could not think.

Riding around the windy roads, I was so carsick, I had to get myself a double scoop of gelato to feel better. 

This is a lovely creation of Lake Como - a floating swimming pool in a lake!
Yes, please!!  One more for good measure.
This is Villa Carlotta, another villa we walked through.  It is famous for its many, many gardens.

But the house itself, with its panoramic views of the lake, is not too shabby either.

On our last day, we enjoyed lunch at a casual restaurant near the water, sipping a sparkling rose and enjoying the last of our moments in Como, before heading to the airport to make our way back to Hong Kong.

Arrivederci, Italia, until next time!