Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Palm Springs: Meet me at the Parker...

Isn't there something iconic about saying.  "I'm at the Parker...".  Exactly, we thought so too.  So off to the Parker Palm Springs we went (interestingly enough, we were also at the Parker Meridien New York just a couple of weeks ago as well, not realizing they were related). 

The hotel is definitely an experience - it took us a while to get the vibe down, but once you know what to expect, it's a pretty "groovy" set of digs.  I told that to my parents and they asked me what we meant by groovy, and were we smoking up there in our spare time.  Anyway.  The rooms and property have this weird retro feel you can't put your finger on - like you're anachronistically caught in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie or guest starring on Mad Men.  It's a place were you could wear white go-go boots and not look out of place.  Cocktail classics and Brazilian samba are on constant din in the background, and the Jonathan Adler designed property is full of little surprises everytime you turn the corner.

Because diplo-baby was in tow, we ended up eating quite a bit at the hotel which turned out to be a good thing - cuisine is solid through and through, and DB constantly charmed the wait staff for additional smoothies.  Concierge super helpful even if general staff can be on a sleepier ("groovier"?) pace sometimes.

The hotel was California's original Holiday Inn so if you're in the main buildings you'll definitely feel that once you put two and two together, giving a whole new meaning to one of our favorites songs, Chillin' at the holiday inn (which you might recall we applied to the Weisses Rossl).  And as icing on the cake, the grounds are gorgeous - truly one of the best gardens I've see on a property.  Now that we know the drill, we just have to find a reason to go back.  It could just be the perfect place for an anniversary party.

Top photo from Hello Amanda, all other photos from the Parker Palm Springs.

Sick leave...

I'm full of stories and posts to share from Exotic California but please be patient as I get posts up and running.  While in Exotic California, I seem to have come down with some exotic pneumonia.  Boo.  I can't be 100% certain but I'm about 100% certain this is directly due to some nastiness we picked up from a visit to the pediatrician's office right before we left.  How's that for irony? Come in with a healthy child for well baby exam and leave with a sick child and as a special two for one offer, you can also get sick! Great success!

And why this healthy to sick shift? For all the pediatrician's visits we did in Austria we never had this problem - probably because Austrians are meticulously freaky about organization and selection.  When we entered our doctor's office, there was a room to the right if you were healthy with one set of toys and books etc, and a room on the left that you went to with a mirror set up if you were there with a cold or other illness.  Basically, there is a whole lot less cross-contamination - genius if you ask me. Now I'm also a proponent of children neeing to be exposed to build immunity and not being sheltered etc etc etc, but given the last few rough days we had, I think this is one exposure we could do without.  There's a differerence between healthy exposure and foolish contagion.

My mother is actually a pediatrician so I was had some super human immunity growing up since we were exposed to a lot of what she brought home, but I appear to have weakened in my old age and I am regretting it today as I pound down antibiotic elixirs and suppresant cocktails.  Looks like I won't be leaving the bed any time soon but hoping to get caught up on posts shortly!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

We're off to Exotic California!

So I had these grand fantasies of getting caught up this week on blog postings, and very cleverly and proactively setting up scheduled posts to entertain in our absence.  As it quickly becomes later and later as I wrap up work projects, and departure loomers closer and closer without nary a restaurant reservation or packed suitcase, the chances of that happening are slimmer and slimmer.  I will do my best but no promises! And with that we are off to exotic America for a little (finally!) r and r, as well as with a proper family Thanksgiving in San Diego.

I'll see you when I get back with a tan next week!

Poster Image via Modern Design Interior.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Object of my affection: Bal d'hiver by Inge Morath

It's right around that time of year where we come up on Thanksgiving and then it's seemingly on holiday event after another after another.  I love the holidays and holiday parties, and while we're alwasy grateful for friends and family and every invitation that we recieve, I need to figure out how to get invited to a party like this one. I too want to wear ball gowns and frosted twig headpieces!

The photographs above are a diptych available through 20x200 (love those guys) by Inge Morath, taken in 1955 from the Bal d'Hiver in Paris.  Perhaps unsurprisingly I'm drawn to her all the more since she is Austrian, though I've loved her pictures even before I knew that.  They come in all different sizes ranging from $100 to $500 for the pair, so definitely affordable when it comes to art, and all editions come with a certificate that are signed and numbers (i.e. they're not just posters).  And for those feeling particularly flush this holiday, it also comes in a silver gelatin edition that's available for $1500.  Swoon.  Definitely wouldn't complain if that was under my Christmas tree. 

Monday, November 14, 2011


Let's just say I won't be eating these again for a long while.  We headed off this weekend for a little jaunt to the Eastern Shore - a beautiful trip with beautiful fall weather and lots of good pictures to celebrate 11 months of diplo-baby. 

The thing is I like oysters - a lot.  And we were by the water, and they were fresh, and in a very reputable establishment, and in a month that ends with R, all very enticing.  But it only takes one to make you wonder what you were thinking.

Photo via myrecipes.com

Friday, November 11, 2011

Notes from the Field: Hong Kong High, Part II...

High-rise condominiums in smaller outlying islands, a typical setup
due to the lack of space. Park Island, Ma Wan.
 As promised, here is the second installment Notes from the Field on Hong Kong.   Mrs. Diplomat, who runs a blog of the very same name, continues with her tips and tricks.  I especially love that she calls herself a "dress-slippers-handbag kind of person".  Love it - and I definitely need more slippers.
Be sure to check out Part I from yesterday in case you missed it!

Three things you can’t live without at post?Private staff, isopropyl alcohol and fluffy pancakes, in that order.
One thing you thought you couldn’t live without but have had to?Hong Kong is a right-hand-drive territory, opposite to what we have back home, so we miss having the option to drive if we do not feel like taking public transport. The good thing is that the train system is very efficient, and the iPhone map has Chinese translation to help you get around via cabs.
What’s your daily uniform? I am a dress-slippers-handbag kind of person. If I am meeting up with Mr. Diplomat, chances are I have backup heels inside the handbag as well.

You’re having guests over on Saturday night, what’s on the menu?If I tell you now that we are going to serve our specialties, we will end up with only spaghetti Bolognese and penne Alfredo with diced tomatoes. We have to settle for catered food for now.

Dream post for next assignment? Why? I do not have a particular country in mind, but it would be nice to get posted once in each continent we have posts in.

One thing you wished someone had told you before arriving?  When we signed our 2-year lease, we were not aware that we had to tell the landlady to exclude the property tax from the rent so that we can apply for a tax exemption. Ouch!

Parting thoughts? This place has its way of growing on people, so be prepared to find your self planning to come back, either for food or for good.
Tsing Ma Bridge, the largest double-decked suspension bridge,
connecting Tsing Yi and Ma Wan islands.

Sunset at Deep Water Bay, another expat enclave.

Suburban village apartments and villas for those not fond of the hustle and bustle of
Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula. Silvermine Bay Beach, Mui Wo.

Tian Tan Buddha, the tallest outdoor, bronze,
cross-legged seated Buddha in the world until 2007. Ngong Ping.

Baked bun with barbecued pork of Tim Ho Wan, the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred
restaurant. The restaurant opened two other branches in Sham Shui Po and
Hong Kong Station, the most convenient one. Tim Ho Wan, Mong Kok.

Drum beats during the 22nd Discovery Bay Dragon Boat
Races and Carnival. Tai Pak Beach, Discovery Bay.

All photos by Mrs. Diplomat.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Notes from the Field: Hong Kong High...

Very excited to share this installment of Notes from the Field with you! Written by the ever-diplomatic Mrs. Diplomat, who runs a blog of the very same name, this diplo-spouse gives us the ins and outs of living in Hong Kong.  She's great about practical how-to advice - including how to navigate the HK health care system, especially as she prepares for the birth of her "diplo-brat #2", and where to catch the best meals, and the 101 of being a diplomat's wife in Hong Kong.   And she shares with us some of her very best pictures to paint a full picture of what life is like - kind of making me put this on our list!

Check back tomorrow for Part II!


Diplo-mat or Diplo-spouse?

Current Post:Hong Kong

Three words to describe your current post:Vertical. Efficient. Dynamic.

Best thing about your current post:What Hong Kong offers to residents defines quality of life. Residents get low income tax, no sales tax, subsidized education and healthcare, and for this year, a share of the government’s fiscal surplus. Diplomats get to enjoy all that except for the fiscal surplus, and we need not worry about tax exemption for most part.

You have visitors in town for the weekend at current post, what does the weekend look like?We get guests every month, so it is difficult for us to tour all of them around. Hong Kong is a well-signed place though, and as such, the detailed itinerary I made, complete with MTR exits and snippets of tour-guide spiels, should get them around with ease. We treat them in a Michelin-starred restaurant for dinner, queue permitting. Postpregnancy, I would like to try taking them on a dinner on a junk, another icon of this place.

If you’re in current post, you must try:Line up for a taste of Tim Ho Wan, the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, and eat to your heart’s content at HKD20 or less per item on the menu. The new branch at Hong Kong Station has slightly higher prices though.
Hong Kong also has an excellent heritage of British tailoring so have a bespoke suit done in Tsim Sha Tsui. Try W.W. Chan & Sons Tailor if you can manage to.

Most difficult about living in current post:It seems that nobody else knows about the ID they issue for the consular corps except for the Immigration Department and the police, rendering it of limited use beyond immigration lanes. This means our diplomatic passports are staples in my handbag.

Biggest adventure at post?We have this goal of riding all the possible ferries interconnecting the islands of Hong Kong and the neighboring territories, and braving all the hiking trails. We have crossed out six ferry routes and two hiking trails so far.

When did you realize you were far from home?When I craved for some Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme and there was none at hand. We crossed the border to Shenzhen for some Dunkin’ Donuts, but it was not the same as the ones we are used to.

What’s the most important thing about re-creating your home at post?More than anything, we strive to give our diplobrat(s) more or less the same childhood memories, traditions and values we had: Sunday masses, beach getaways, summer lessons in sports or the arts, Christmas dinners…
We also started acquiring paintings of home-grown artists to d├ęcor our place with. We intend to bring these along as we move from post to post to expose our children to a part of our culture.

Waterfront bars and restaurants along
Stanley Main Street, Stanley
, an expat enclave.

Octopus, a common street food.
Haiphong Road
, Tsim Sha Tsui.

The Family Trail linking the Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan villages in Lamma Island
one of the many hiking trails for the outdoorsy.

Boats housing some fishermen and their families amidst the high-rise condominiums of Aberdeen and
the landed houses of The Peak. Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island.

Jade animal charms near Man Mo Temple, my favorite giveaways for the Chinese New Year.
Hollywood Road
, Sheung Wan.

Rugby Sevens after-party by the bars and restaurants of Lan Kwai Fong, Central.

All photos by Mrs. Diplomat.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I won! I won! Maroma here we come!

Remember when I posted about this cute little video from Orient Express, introducing their new slogan of "Journey Like No Other"? Well...when I was researching a bit, I found that OE was hosting a contest on twitter, asking followers to describe their own journey like no other in, of coures, 140 characters or less. I decided to throw in my lot even though I never win anything - here was my entry:

" a sky that shelters, a landscape that thrills, crystal that clinks, and a companion who laughs, a journey like no other."
 And guess what? I WON I WON!!!!! WAAAAAAAAAH! I seriously never win anything  - so excited for this little getaway.  Number one, the prize was a stay at the Maroma Resort and Spa on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico which is gorgeous and arguably one of the best properties in this hemisphere from one of my favorite hotel groups.   And number two, ooo we needed this.  The thought of sunshine, ocean, and a whole lot of nothing to do but to explore and enjoy with the diplo-husband sound like heaven right about now.  This couldn't have come at a better time.  Thank you Orient Express!
I can't wait to go and of course will share a full report once we get this all scheduled but here's a preview of what's to come!

Disclaimer, while I am incredibly grateful for this prize from Orient Express, the post above is my own and not written out of obligation.  I am just THAT excited!!!
All photos from Maroma Resort and Spa.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Object of my affection: The shoe is back...again!

This time, via Tory Burch, who rounded the toe instead of extreme point, but kept the chunky heel (instead of vice versa in the J Crew Version.  I'm not as crazy about the velvet versions but that black satin/gold cap one is a pretty cool twist on this.

J Crew also already did the flat so have we exhausted all possibilities with this one?

Here was the original, from Louis Vuitton:

And the Tory Burch versions, at $350:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Object of my affection: Bucks and Cuffs...

Spotted in last week's Ceci Style, which was full of lovely alpine inspiration, albeit amongst some geography confusion.  Is there any more perfect Landhaus mode jewelry accompaniment? The question now is how can I work this into my corporate wardrobe? Too much? Maybe better saved for brisk walks with gluwein!

Cuff by Fenton Fallon at Barney's.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Shots: You know it's a Texas Bride when...

Congratulations Ashley and Brian - so proud and happy to have been part of your day!

Photo by The New Diplomat's Wife via iPhone.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

On the road: Brussels by iPhone (Part II)

I knew I still had more pics of Brussels! Who says I didn't see anything?

Mannequin pis en chocolat.

Mannequin pis in a beer.

The home of Leon mussels.

A chocolate display.

Truffles! Truffles! Truffles!

Cafe du Vaudeville.  What a great name.

Tin Tin the Movie Hits Brussels.

Tin Tin Mania.

Riding the Brussels Metro.

The Treasury.

Dinner one night, with a name like this, who could resist?

The Subway Franchise is must be very successful in Brussels, I think I saw at
least half a dozen during my walk, all full of people.

I haven't seen a Chi Chi's since I left Fargo.

Just my speed.

All photos via Instagram by The New Diplomat's Wife.
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