Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Happy Holidays (A Thanksgiving and Holiday Decor Post Rolled into One)

 This year for Thanksgiving we organized a group potluck with a bunch of friends. 

I made a roast chicken.  Here it is, just as it is being popped into the oven:
Here are the finished birds - the chicken:
and the turkey: 
Our friends who were making the turkey, stuffing and gravy came over earlier in the day to cook with us.   While the food was cooking, and the skies opened to dump buckets of cold rain, we sat around and played a board game that Michael and I had never played before, called The Settlers of Catan.  The huge number of pieces and interlocking honeycomb board and multiple series of cards were intimidating at first, but it's actually really easy and really fun.  Much like pioneers settling a new land, your objective as a player of Catan is to earn and deploy as many resources as possible, to help you build as many settlements and roads as possible.  That's it.  But because of the way the board is set up, no one can get all the resources, and because of the die, luck plays a role.  You have to barter with your fellow players, and beware the person who has built up a monopoly on brick or hay!  Having grown up on the very traditional diet of Scrabble, Monopoly and Life, I am loving these innovative and creative board games that I've been learning as of late.
Then, before we knew it, it was time for the party and our guests were arriving.
We decorated the room with autumnal flowers and gold votives and candles:
 Here was my plate:Dessert was a cheesecake and a delicious pumpkin pie:

 Here was the aftermath of dinner:

One of our friends brought Michael a sherry cask whiskey, which he happily opened (while our other friend's dog looked on with curiosity):
 Then the poker chips and cards came out... and the night went on way, way too late.  Oops!
Also, now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it's that time of year again! The Christmas trees are going up all around town, even though the skies are blue and the air is balmy and the palm trees are a-swaying.  We are in the final stretch where 2016 is racing to an end.  Christmas music is blasting, and all the stores and malls have put up their holiday decor.
 Landmark has outdone themselves again with this incredibly lavish, fully moving, song and dance and light-show filled "display."
 Everywhere you go, you see tinsel and ornaments, including between escalators (a first for me).
 Hong Kong is not at all politically correct when it comes to Christmas decor - it is all about the Christmas tree, and nothing else. 
My office building has also jumped into the holiday fray, per usual.

 Finally, the tree in the lobby of my work building gets weirder and brighter every year...
Happy holidays all!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Drinks at Ozone - the Highest Bar in the World

I said in my previous post that this was the highest bar in Hong Kong, but a quick peek on the internets seemed to indicate that it is actually the highest bar in the world!  Ozone is located on the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in the ICC (International Commerce Centre), a magnificent skyscraper that dominates the Kowloon side of Hong Kong.

It was an ear-popping experience to get up there (we took a super high speed elevator and then switched again into another elevator).

This was the view when we pulled up to the hotel front entrance.
In the elevator going up up up!
 Switching elevators in the plush reception lobby on the 103rd floor.
 We then took the special elevator to Ozone.
  The bar is all about the blacklight.

 Michael was carrying all of the goodies and raffle prizes from the HKSPC gala - it was a lot of stuff!

 We wandered outside for a bit - the outside area is essentially a glass box with floor to ceiling windows that give you a view of the city and harbor below your feet.   Hope that glass holds, because otherwise it's a long way to fall!
 While most of it is glassed in, the top is open and let me tell you - it. is. windy.    We stood outside getting wind-whipped for less than a minute and quickly scurried back inside.
 Thanks to our fancy gala wear,  the club gave us a plush little banquette to sit on instead of relegating us to the standing-only bar.  As you would expect,  the drink prices are just as stratospheric as the location.
I'm glad we checked it out,  and it was a fun experience to be so high up,  but I don't feel the need to go out of my way to come up here again!

Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Elements, International Commerce Centre (ICC)
1 Austin Rd West
Yau Ma Tei Hong Kong

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Footloose and Fancy Free at the HKSPC "The Never-Ending Story" Gala

This past weekend, Michael and I attended a charity ball for one of the oldest charities in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children.  They host an annual fundraising gala and we attended this year.  We also invited a few of our friends.  It ended up being a really fun night!

 The event was hosted at the Glass Pavilion at the KITEC center in Kowloon Bay, and was full of food, alcohol, a live auction, a dance floor, and performances from children and adults.
 The decorations were crazy-over-the-top and all about the magical fairytale theme, "The Never-ending Story. "

The food was pretty tasty for a huge event like thus but the dessert (it has to be said) was all form over substance.  Given that Lindt was a main sponsor, I was surprised they didn't just opt for a rich molten chocolate cake.

There were two bags full of raffle prizes under the table, ensuring that every participant at the table "won" something.  I pulled an Ascot Chang belt for Michael, which was a stunning stroke of luck because not three hours prior to leaving for the event, he had mused that it was time to upgrade to a new belt.   Michael pulled a cute little coffee mug and saucer set from Julius Meinl (the logo which will never fail to remind me of my time spent living on Bosworth Avenue in good ole' Chicago!) which I immediately claimed for myself.  We also donated to a charity raffle which resulted in my winning the Elie Saab Le Parfum, to which I have already grown attached.
Here the boys are holding up their placards for the auction, conveniently for table 10 (or is it a score of 10 out of 10?)

After all the prizes and a little bit of dancing, we went to the skybar (Ozone) at the Ritz, the tallest bar in Hong Kong.  Those pictures to come in the next post!