Monthly Archives: May 2014

Our little Hong Kong apartment

May 30, 2014

terrace-intro

Happy Friday!! Today I thought I would share with you guys (as promised) the outdoor tour of our little Hong Kong apartment. This space was really the reason why Diarmuid and I fell in love with the place. It’s rare to even have a balcony in Hong Kong, let alone a terrace the size of your entire apartment that offers a lot of privacy. We immediately started calling it “Tropical Paradise.”

terrace-cat

There are two doors that open up onto the terrace space — one from the living room and one from the bedroom, which is great when having guests over since they don’t have to go tramping through your bedroom to get outside. In the warm months in Hong Kong, we love to sit outside in the morning, have some coffee, maybe bring out the old laptop and get our dose of Vitamin D for the day. (You may have noticed, but we don’t have a kitchen table inside… only a coffee table! It’s pretty terrible. The charms of a small apartment, ha.)

terrace-seatingarea-vertical

Our dining table and chairs are from Ikea, along with the wicker chairs. The great wooden privacy fences were already installed when we moved in, and we love them. The trees, too, offer a barrier from the shiny office building across the street. I bought our fun lantern (we had to add some Chinese touches, after all) for $2 at garden shop in Hong Kong when Chinese New Year was winding down, and they were having a sale. And the outdoor pillows are from the Japanese homestore Muji.

terrace-threeladies

I call these guys the “three ladies.” I peered through the slats of the fence one day (as you do sometimes, ha) and saw our neighbor had the most beautiful macrame plant hangers. I wanted one desperately after that and looked everywhere in Hong Kong. But alas, no one sold them… so I took to the Internet and found them here, and they were shipped from the U.S.

terrace-lookingup

We live one floor up (on the second floor, technically) but have many more floors above us!

terrace-seatingarea

And here’s the reason Diarmuid really wanted the apartment: The Chinese Coca-Cola sign! It was his pièce de résistance. Unfortunately, the restaurant below us switched owners recently, and they took it down, though :( R.I.P. my friend.

terrace-plantstand

As you can see, my love of gold has spread outside, too. I got this whimsical plant stand from the Hong Kong flower market for about $15.

terrace-plants

I also adopted the Hong Kong practice of tying everything up with thick plastic. If you buy a vacuum, for instance, the shop won’t give you a bag, but instead will tie plastic bands to it to make it a box-to-carry. Although, in truth, I used these plastic ties because Diarmuid had taken WAY too much from Ikea, and I couldn’t find any twine at the time. I can sometimes be impatient to get decoratin’ ;)

terrace-littleplant

dinnerparty

Diarmuid’s parents and aunt came to visit us last October, and let us put our table to good use. There’s just something about dinners by candlelight… and since we’re on the corner of the building, and across the street from a park that’s only a few blocks from the ocean, we always get a nice breeze passing through.

dinnerparty2

They were even kind enough to celebrate my birthday with me and get me a cake! Speaking of birthdays, I’m hosting a birthday party for Diarmuid and one of our friends tomorrow on the beach. A beach birthday BBQ, where we’re going to roast bratwurst, veggies and potatoes and have birthday ‘smores, of course.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

☁ -kristin

Where to stay when you wind up in Saugatuck

May 28, 2014

quickguide-michigan

Hi friends! So today I wanted to share with you all an impulse purchase I made last month: A Living Social getaway to Beechwood Manor Inn & Cottage in Saugatuck, Michigan. It’s only a two-hour drive from Chicago, and I had never been to Michigan or had even stayed in an adorable B&B. So why not?!

It also helped that Living Social was providing me a deal, inclusive of wine and chocolates… so whatever came over me, I purchased my two-night getaway for “Ethel’s room” and let my boyfriend Joe know I was planning a small trip for us.

michigan-joe

That Friday after work, Joe and I rented a car and set out on our road trip. Before we really got anywhere, we stopped and split a lamb burger and a milkshake (and salad, don’t worry, ha) and bought a slack line from REI. Have you heard of those? (Here’s the basics.) The weather ended up being too cold to put it to use, but I know this will provide us some great future adventures in the park in Chicago. Once I get the hang of it, I might even post some tips and tricks! ;)

michigan-beechwoodmanor

Beechwood Manor turned out to be a gem. The owners were sweet and friendly and took really good care of their guests. They also provided awesome restaurant and sight-seeing recommendations and were fantastic chefs! Everyday you filled out a breakfast card, and when you went downstairs in the morning, a gourmet feast was magically awaiting you. Harry Potter-esque perhaps?

beechwood-manor-menus

michigan-breakfast
^^Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cranberries and Maple Almond Butter. Not pictured: stacked fresh berries and fresh coffee and OJ.

ethel-room

michigan-chocolate

Situated on the Kalamazoo River, we found a surprising amount of activities to do during our time in Saugatuk. We explored the half-frozen tundra of Oval Beach, climbed 302 steps to the top of Mount Baldhead, went beer tasting and touring at Saugatuck Brewing Company, and shopped in the cute downtown boutiques on Butler Street. Also, one of our restaurant highlights, apart from our gourmet B&B breakfast experiences, was dining at Everyday People’s Cafe; their food was seriously delicious. #nomnom

beach-saugatuck

Overall, it was a really fun and relaxing trip, and I would definitely recommend it to Chicagoans looking for a weekend getaway. A typical night at the B&B will cost you $189-$209 for a double room, and they offer package deals as well.

☁  -mary

His & Her packing guide for a weekend away

May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day to all you fellow Americans out there. With Diarmuid and I just back from our weekend trip to Singapore, we thought we would put together a summer guide on what basics to pack when heading away to a city for only 36 hours. What do you like to pack?

weekender-her

//1// Sunnies from NastyGal //2// Watch from Nordstrom //3// Yellow dress from ModCloth //4// Polka dot dress from Topshop //5// Denim dress from Topshop //6// Geometric scarf from Nordstrom  //7// Black Ecco sandals, via Amazon //8// Bose headphones //9// Kindle Paperwhite //10// Bert’s Bees Chapstick, available at most local drugstores //11// Cardigan from SheInside

I like to pack, you guessed it, dresses. They can fold up so small and one dress = outfit complete. Plus, they fit the bill for being able to be both casual and dressy if need be. In the past, I’ve had an issue with packing too many shoes, and really, you really need only one or two pairs. I sometimes pack sneakers, but when going away for such a short time, you probably won’t have the time/energy to work out (despite the best of intentions).

I also like to make sure that everything in my bag is mix- and match-able. My scarf, for instance, can go with all three of my dresses, as can my sunglasses and watch. And, for me, the most important item to pack are comfortable sandals. I’ve found it’s worth investing in a pair of high-quality leather sandals (I love ones from Ecco) that could also be worn as flats on a night out about town.

The extras (not pictured):
*my phone (a Samsung Note II)
*tights/leggings (to pair with a dress in case you are flying … and hence, are freezing)
*body lotion
*a nail file
*Airborne capsules (in case you feel a cold coming on)
*a small pill organizer of vitamins
*travel socks
*inflatable travel pillow
*a bathing suit (if there’s a jacuzzi/pool at your hotel)
*anti-frizz hair serum

The necessities (not pictured):
*pajamas
*undergarments (don’t forget these, ha)
*makeup bag
*deodorant
*contacts/glasses

weekender-his

//1// Wooden aviators by Shwood //2// Vintage Casio watch //3// T-shirt, via Etsy //4// Plain T by 8ball //5// Hipster PBR can T-Shirt, via ScoutMob //6// Shorts by River Island //7// Jean shorts by River Island //8// Grey sweater by River Island //9//  Leather sandals by FitFlop //10// Limited Edition Bose headphones //11// Kindle Paperwhite //12// Sunscreen, via the drug store closest to you //13// Sweater (or “jumper”) by River Island

D loves a good and reliable Casio watch. He also is always the designated sunscreen-carrier (hey, he’s Irish). This guide is really for the casual weekend trip to a city, but if you plan to go anywhere fancy, you may also want to pack a pair of closed-toed shoes just in case.

The extras (not pictured):
*D’s phone (a Samsung Galaxy SIII)
*a bathing suit (if there’s a jacuzzi/pool at your hotel)

The necessities (not pictured):
*pajamas
*undergarments
*deodorant
*contacts/glasses

Wow, men really do pack less.

At any rate, we hope this helps you get organized for your next weekend trip away!

☁ -kristin (& diarmuid)