Thursday, July 30, 2015

Battle of the Birkin Bag

Jane Birkin, courtesy of
British actress and singer Jane Birkin, the namesake behind one of the most iconic and sought-after handbags in the world (waiting lists have been known to be up to six years long in the past!), have asked Hermès to remove her name from their crocodile bag.

Birkin's request to the Parisian luxury house came after she saw a graphic PETA video documenting the cruel and inhumane methods of killing reptiles at crocodile farms Padenga in Zimbabwe and Lone Star Alligator Farm in Winnie, Texas (a subsidiary of Padenga since September 21, 2012).

This 2014 fuchsia Birkin 35 with 18K white gold and diamond hardware was sold
last month for a record HK$1.17 million (US$222,928) at Christie's in Hong Kong
"Having been alerted to the cruel practices reserved for crocodiles during their slaughter to make Hermès handbags carrying my name... I have asked Hermès to debaptise the Birkin Croco until better practices in line with international norms can be put in place." - Jane Birkin
Warning: The cervical dislocation in this video is gruesome!

Hermès responded to Jane with this statement:
"Hermès respects and shares her emotions and was also shocked by the images recently broadcast.  [...]  An investigation is underway at the Texas farm which was implicated in the video.  Any breach of rules will be rectified and sanctioned.  [...]  Hermès specifies that this farm does not belong to them and that the crocodile skins supplied are not used for the fabrication of Birkin bags.  Hermès imposes on its partners the highest standards in the ethical treatment of crocodiles."

How did Jane Birkin become the muse of this Hermès bag?  It was 1981 when Jane sat next to Hermès' CEO, Jean-Louis Dumas, on a flight from Paris to London.  When Jane placed her straw bag into the overhead compartment, the contents of her bag fell to the floor.  She then commented to Dumas on how it was a challenge to find a leather weekend bag she liked.  Subsequently, Dumas created a supple black leather bag for her in 1984, called it the Birkin bag, and a star was born!

This has been the biggest, most controversial news involving the fashion industry in a long time - it's potentially game-changing!  Unfortunate that this news comes in such terrible context, but at the very least, it has generated worldwide awareness for the ethical treatment of crocodiles, alligators, and hopefully other animals killed for this industry as well.  Moreover, this event pushes leading luxury manufacturers to be more consciously aware of their business practices and hopefully this will trickle down to other retailers to follow suit.  So companies beware!  More than ever, this is a conscious consumers' market and people today are resourceful and LOUD!

Nearly eight years ago while at FIDM, I wrote a paper on corporate social responsibility (CSR).  I argued that,
"CSR is gradually transforming from merely a corporate responsibility into a business necessity."
Well, the time has come and in the case of Hermès, the audience has reached the top of the luxury handbag chain.  The notion of companies reexamining their business practices to ensure social responsibility is no longer a corporate discretion.  Companies who fail to adopt socially responsible business models risk lasting damaging exposure.

Take Action
Write to Hermès here.  Over 69 thousand people have already done so, including myself.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Happy National Lipstick Day!

In honor of National Lipstick Day today, I thought it would be fitting to write about my two all-time favorite lipsticks from Shiseido (above) and Clé de Peau Beauté (below).

For Day...
Shiseido Shimmering Rouge in 'Stiletto'
I like a pretty pink, but I'm really particular about this color.  It cannot be a peachy-pink.  Rather, it has to be a lavender pink, but still more pink than purple, if that makes sense.  In the case of Shiseido, my favorite lipcolor is no. PK407, called 'Stiletto' - How appropriately named, combining two things I love: the color pink and shoes... think Christian Louboutin So Kate in Rosette!  This is the most flattering pink that does not look too Barbie-doll.  As the name suggests, it is a shimmering lipstick so it contains shimmer, but they are micro-fine shimmer that adds iridescence to the lipcolor and are never gritty.  This would be my everyday lipstick, but I run through tubes of these like madness, given its ounces below, making Clé de Peau Beauté a better deal!
Shiseido Shimmering Rouge, 0.07 oz.: $25.00

For Night...
CDPB Extra Rick Lipstick in 'Dark Red'
I love a deep red.  It cannot have any coral tones in it.  It has to be a blue-red, and the darker the shade, the better!  Unfortunately, my beloved R1 lipstick from Clé de Peau Beauté called 'Black Baccara' (inspired by the black baccara rose) has been discontinued.  This Vitamin A Acetate lipstick adds a rich layer of color and intense moisture with each application, like Loro Piana cashmere for your lips!  Luckily, when I bought mine, I bought two.  My cardinal rule of shopping: if you absolutely LOVE it, buy a second one!  That should last me a while until I find a worthy replacement.
CDPB Extra Rich Lipstick, 0.14 oz.: $65.00*
*Refill $40, lipstick holder $25 (It's gorgeous!)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Russell Jew's 1st Annual 29th Bday!

One of my closest friends of 14 years recently turned the big three-oh, and to celebrate this milestone, we had a party last Friday night at the Drake.

I  don't remember how exactly we became friends, but I remember we met in Mr. Tanisawa's math class at Westmoor.  I sat right behind him and observed how he would not remain in his seat for more than five minutes without making his rounds around the classroom starting conversations with everyone.  That was Russell, then and now, a real people-person.  The teacher eventually gave him the nickname, "Wandering Jew."

Before I knew it, we became best friends.  I remember leaving school every day in his old Caddy; it was his parents' wedding car.  Russell was also my shopping companion.  He is one guy who never complained about too much shopping, even through all those semi-annual sales!  He also gave me my first Chanel item - Chanel Chance (I have kept the empty bottle and box in pristine condition after all these years).  One time we were walking through the cosmetics department in Nordstrom Stonestown, we passed by the Chanel counter, and I briefly mentioned that it was my favorite fragrance.  It was Chanel Chance's debut year and I instantly fell in love with the scent, the color, and all of its marketing, but for whatever reason, I did not think of treating myself to it.  Months later, he surprised me with my very own bottle for my birthday.  I did not expect him to remember or to have even paid attention to my fleeting comment!  He is truly one of the most thoughtful and generous person I know.

So when I asked Russell what he wanted to do for this birthday this year, he said he booked the entire second floor of the Drake and wanted to spend time with all his friends.  I really wanted to make this the most memorable birthday for him.  I helped him with the catering, sourcing the vendor and placing the order, but what makes something memorable and special?  Personalization!  Without his knowledge and only a week to put together a stylish Sanny-type-of-soirée, I designed a golden 20-pound birthday cake, ordered 150 adorable caricature cookies of his best smile, and had his photo and birthday messages printed onto colorful classic M&M chocolates.  #OnlyForRussell!

As he called it his "1st Annual 29th Birthday,"
here are some highlights from the event:

It's the sweet life

10" custom almond cake made with vanilla Swiss meringue
buttercream and fresh peaches (May through October only)

The gracious folks at Parker's Crazy Cookies worked
with me draft after draft to combine these two photos:
To create these one-of-a-kind treats!
There's enough of Russell to go around!

Setting up this martini tower was nerve-wracking!
Even watching it afterwards gave me anxiety!

Personalized Russell M&M's in light blue, platinum, and silver

Gorgeous chandeliers and ambient lighting at Drake
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

Making perfect crêpes double time!
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

Even though everyone had dinner before coming,
who can resist crêpes?!
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

Makings of a savory galette: smoked salmon,
sour cream, and green onion
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

Roasted butternut squash salad, prosciutto melon wraps,
and bacon wrapped stuffed dates
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

Cucumber herb and hummus avocado tea sandwiches
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

Another round for the birthday boy!
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

Bottoms up!
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

All 30 candles at once!
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

Flame's too bright!
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

Huffin' and puffin' but I can't blow it out!
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

There you go (cheater)!
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

The happy dance
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

Oh snap!
Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

Photo credit: Glass Art Photos

May your birthday bring you
Many More Incredible Milestones

Wishing you the very best,
Today and Always!

| Venue: Drake SF | Cake: Pretty Please Bakeshop | Cookies: Parker's Crazy Cookies |
| Martini chocolates: My M&M's | Fresh crêpes: Brittany Crêpes | Small plates: Whole Foods Catering |

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Favourites

  1. The Devil's Tears

  2. Share Your Air

  3. Take Your Time

  4. Alien

  6. Photo credit: Slufoot

  7. Photo credit: Danny Lamas

  8. Photo credit: Michael Burns' Pin

  9. Photo credit: Live + Move
  10. Photos
  11. Didn't have time to get my nails done this past week, so I did it myself!

  12. A friend took me stargazing.
    It's not every day you can see thousands of lightyears away!

  13. My loot after waiting 1.5 hours in line
    at the Hello Kitty Cafe food truck at Santana Row!
  14. Happy Earth Day 2015

  15. My first attempt at fruit bento.
    I call her Usagi Strawberry Queen!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Dinner Served, via

Since my boyfriend is away this week and I will be dining alone (I'm not the type to sit at a restaurant alone), I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to finally try the online-ordering system for chef-cooked dinners brought right to your door via - read on for a $20 code!

I  first heard about this new service perhaps a couple months back from receiving one of their mailers with a $10 coupon code.  Intrigued by the idea of locally-prepared meals by professional chefs delivered to you just in time for dinner, I went onto the website to have a look.  Each day is an entirely new menu with entrees, sides, desserts, drinks, and even a selection for the munckins (aka kids).

It appears that Munchey services weekdays only so the order I placed on Sunday is for Monday delivery.  I was impressed and excited about Monday's choices more than what I have seen offered before.  So without further ado, my two-course dinner is as follows...

Certified Angus Tri Tip steak grilled medium rare served with a mushroom risotto fritter, parmesan creamed spinach and Chef Steven Levine's own housemade version of A-1 Steak sauce - it has been awhile since I have had a hearty steak!
Grilled Tri Tip Steak - $11.95
mushroom arrancini, creamed spinach, steak sauce

A light, flaky cream biscuit filled with a fresh strawberry and rhubarb jam compote, Meyer Lemon curd and brown sugar whipped cream - because strawberry season is here again! ☺
Strawberry-Rhubarb Shortcake - $5.95
meyer lemon curd and brown sugar whipped cream

A delightfully flavored almond milk with whole vanilla bean, lightly sweetened with dates - as an almond-anything fan, this sounds too decadent to pass up!
Vanilla Almond Milk - $7.95
almonds, vanilla bean, dates

So, if you ask yourself, "What's for dinner?" and have no idea, are feeling uninspired to cook, or simply are too tired, consider giving a try!  As a new customer, sign up here for an instant $20 off your entire order, no minimum.  Redeem by 04.30.15.
Bon appétit!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving have always been a big deal.  For the last five years ever since I moved back from college, I have always spent Thanksgiving dinner with my godmum and her group of 40+ family and friends (with the exception of last year when my family and I went to London together).  I am not much of a cook, but I am great at decorating and my area of expertise is definitely in presentation.

This year was my first Thanksgiving at their newly renovated home.  So naturally, I wanted to do something extra special with the table décor.  That is when I looked to Pinterest for inspiration.

After scrolling through hundreds of photos, I took this...

Photo credit: 20 Centerpiece Ideas For Fall Weddings

Plus this...

Photo credit: Martha Stewart's Vine and Leaf Carved Pumpkin Centerpiece

And made this:

Pretty good for first time, right?!

Step I
Carving an opening wide enough to fit a glass cylindrical vase inside.
Afraid of knives, I enlisted the help of my dad for this risky procedure.
Thanks, Daddy!

Step II
Gutting out the pumpkins, scraping it as bare and clean as we can.

Spray roses were from,
eucalyptus painted in purple and dipped in gold were from Safeway,
and accent floral bunch were from the local farmer's market.

Step III
Cutting the vine and leaf patterns out from the three printed sheets of paper and attaching it together as it should align on the pumpkin.  Then taping the pattern onto each pumpkin and tracing the vine and leaf pattern by puncturing small holes along the design.

Step IV
Using a ¼" ceramic clay hole cutter to puncture holes on the pumpkin along the pattern.

Step V
Using a v-shaped linoleum cutter to meticulously flesh the designs onto the pumpkins.
I knew this was going to be hard work, but geeze louise, was it tedious and tiring!
Each pumpkin took about two hours to carve!

I  could have done this during the week to save time, but since I knew I was not going to preserve the pumpkins in any way, I needed them as fresh as possible so I did it the night before.  After arranging the bouquets in each pumpkin centerpiece, I didn't sleep until 3:00 am!  The results were worth it though, in my opinion!

Dinner was at 6:30 pm and I was done setting up all four tables by 3:30 pm.
Feels good to be ahead of schedule!

For dinner we had turkey, prime rib, ham, baked yam, Brussels sprouts with walnuts,
green beans with almond and cranberries, sweet potatoes with marshmallows,
stuffing, and a mixed veggie platter with a creamy lemon dill dipping sauce.

For dessert we had apple and pumpkin pies, and as always, my godmum's wholesome pumpkin cake.  (Obviously, the center island could not fit all the food we had.)

All the placecards were designed by yours truly!

And we ended the night playing the infamous "party game for horrible people."

Great minds think alike!
Thanks for taking the photo, Karen!