Bali Work-cation: Alila Villas Uluwatu

Our recent Bali jaunt with Herr Hubby unfortunately wasn’t all fun in the sun…it actually was a working vacay – or a work-cation – for moi.Yes, working during your vacation can be a painful drag but at the end of the day, who am I to complain? I’m simply grateful and extremely humbled by the fact that people are willing to give me the opportunity to work and that I get compensated quite comfortably for what I do. And the perks ain’t half bad either, duckies…

I juggle a few working “hats”, as most of you know, if you’ve been following The Bamboo Stiletto for a while. Yes, I blog but The Bamboo Stiletto is simply what I like to do when I have spare time. Just as I like to create hand-poured soy candles, play around with scents, container jars and packaging, and sell them at bazaars. Blogging and soy candles are fun but we’ve all got bills to pay, don’t we, honey bunnies…and blogs and candles don’t exactly rake in the buckeroos.

As our favourite diva, Mimi (the eternally precious Mariah Carey) once said on MTV Cribs as she was sashaying around her fanta-bulous Manhattan penthouse apartment in her pink high-heeled fur-trimmed mules, ” Somebody’s gotta work hard to pay for this s—“. I feel you, Mimi, I feel you, girl!

So, duckies, The Bamboo Stiletto moonlights as a “wordworker” for hire, or, to use the more professional term, as a content development specialist on retainer to a select group of five-star hotels in China. Which basically means I’m responsible for any English language content they might need, from writing press releases to food and beverage promotional material to website content.

My newest major “hat” is as magazine editor for an English-language lifestyle magazine targeted at expats in south China; I springboarded to this magazine from my previous editorial post at a website, which, technically speaking, was my first break into media and incidentally, was offered to me partly because of this blog, The Bamboo Stiletto. Ha! I may not make any money out of this blog but, my dear Stiletto-istas, it has led to the most wonderful opportunities ūüôā See what I mean about being humbled and grateful???

One other major “hat” I do wear is as PR consultant for a bijou collection of extremely high-end resorts, in glamorous locations like Bali and Phuket. I work from my little home office in Casa Stiletto but essentially, I can actually work from anywhere, as long as I have my smartphone, my laptop and a good wifi connection.

The Bali work-cation afforded a perfect opportunity for me to meet and greet some of my clients who are based there. So, for one day while Herr Hubby was happily enconsced swimming, dining & drinking, and even shopping, with my gal pals, I trotted along with my boss, from Seminyak to Uluwatu to Jimbaran for a day of meetings with clients and resort site inspections.

It was a rainy day and I only had my iPhone camera but managed to sneak a few pics – here’s a look at a stunningly beautiful resort that’s a perfect blueprint as a hide-away for the rich, famous and fabulous. Feast your eyes on Alila Villas Uluwatu:

Ocean & pool view from the lobby

Ocean & pool view from the lobby

that same view...

that same view…

the incredible cliffside pavilion hanging over the edge of the ocean...a sought-after venue for weddings. imagine!!!

the incredible cliffside pavilion hanging over the edge of the ocean…a sought-after venue for weddings. imagine!!!

the sheer drop from the pavilion to the ocean down below...Uluwatu is the spectacular southern tip in Bali where the Indian & Pacific Oceans meet

the sheer drop from the pavilion to the ocean down below…Uluwatu is the spectacular southern tip in Bali where the Indian & Pacific Oceans meet

hallways leading to the restaurant...

hallways leading to the restaurant…

We had a quick look at one of the spectacular three-bedroom villas:

ok, each villa has its own private gate like this, in case you have a fleet of limos ferrying you around...

ok, each villa has its own private gate like this, in case you have a fleet of limos ferrying you around…

...and what money (or Mastercard) can buy you.View? priceless.

…and what money (or Mastercard) can buy you.
View? priceless.

view from another angle...remember that cliffside pavilion as a wedding venue? heck, you can have it right here!

view from another angle…remember that cliffside pavilion as a wedding venue? heck, you can have it right here!

I also couldn’t help but admire the tasteful, thoughtful little touches scattered around the resort, such as these:

a little floral, herb and spice vignette at the spa

a little floral, herb and spice vignette at the spa

a charming corridor

a charming corridor

beautiful driftwood installation art

beautiful driftwood installation art

I loved what they used as a condiments tray in the restaurant during our lunch...an old Balinese children's wooden game board. From my childhood in the Philippines, we had a similar one, called "sungka"!

I loved what they used as a condiments tray in the restaurant during our lunch…an old Balinese children’s wooden game board. From my childhood in the Philippines, we had a similar one, called “sungka”!

And speaking of lunch…here’s where this post ends as I’ve got Sunday night dinner at home to prepare with Herr Hubby. Let me love you and leave you with these fantastic images of Alila Villas Uluwatu in your head, to dream about for YOUR next vacay. Wouldn’t that be fabulous, dah-lings???

Toodles!!!

Why Hello, Snake! Gong Xi Fa Cai, Xin Nian Kuai Le!!!

We CANNOT believe that it’s been a full MONTH and a half since we last communicated with you, Stiletto-istas…

Indeedy, we had thought that January & February would be the slow & sleepy twins. Aren’t they always. especially for those of us China ressies? Caught in between the frenzied madness of Christmas/New Year and – for those unfortunate enough to be travelling – the chaos of “Chunyun” (also known as the world’s largest annual human migration, when millions of Chinese travel home for the Lunar New Year), January & February have been traditionally regarded in the China-based workplace as a “wash”. In other words, it’s fine if your brain went out to lunch and never came back because EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING THE SAME THING.

Anyhooz, I was all set to snuggle on my couch under a cashmere blankie and for my brain to be junking out for two deliciously lazy months catching up on DVD marathons of Downton Abbey, Revenge, Mad Men, The Walking Dead and the gloriously perverse American Horror Story. Oh – and of course, the final season of Gossip Girl – because, well, DUH! – I just HAD TO find out if Chuck did end up with Blair. I mean, seriously, darlings, don’t you????

Well, snow bunnies, looks like the Snake may slither over with blessings this year because work has been FRIGHTFULLY busy! We still work from home – we ain’t considering anything else – but let’s just say, we’ve thankfully picked up a couple of mighty lucrative and highly enjoyable gigs here and there.

Chucking aside the DVDs (for now) and determined to welcome the Snake and all the good luck that the Lunar New Year brings, we switched out our Christmas decorations in favour of Spring Festival decorations at Casa Stiletto. Here’s a quick Instagram look at our efforts:

Welcoming the blessings of luck & prosperity from the Snake discreetly begins at Casa Stiletto's front door. From our local Metro supermarket, can't remember the price exactly but hella cheap.

Welcoming the blessings of luck & prosperity from the Snake discreetly begins at Casa Stiletto’s front door. From our local Metro supermarket, can’t remember the price exactly but hella cheap.

On the first day of "Chunjie" (Lunar New Year), it is traditional to have a Lion Dance bless your place of business or home. Hang a vegetable offering and "hongbao" (little red packet containing cash in even-numbered denominations only) for the Lion to gobble and he gets to keep the hongbao and you keep the veggies.  Herr Hubby & I were excited that our residential compound arranged a lion dance for residents on the first morning of Chinese New Year and residents could invite them to their home, if they wished. So, we did! And so to Casa Stiletto they noisily and colourfully came, drums and cymbals banging & crashing, two golden lions gyrating & wiggling their tails. I have to say, it was FUN :-)!

On the first day of “Chunjie” (Lunar New Year), it is traditional to have a Lion Dance bless your place of business or home. Hang a vegetable offering and “hongbao” (little red packet containing cash in even-numbered denominations only) for the Lion to gobble and he gets to keep the hongbao and you keep the veggies. Herr Hubby & I were excited that our residential compound arranged a lion dance for residents on the first morning of Chinese New Year and residents could invite them to their home, if they wished. So, we did! And so to Casa Stiletto they noisily and colourfully came, drums and cymbals banging & crashing, two golden lions gyrating & wiggling their tails. I have to say, it was a FUN spectacle!

Gorgeous red lanterns abound during the weeks leading to Chinese New Year, so how could I resist? Picked up a couple from our local supermarket and hung them at the balcony. Love them!

Gorgeous red lanterns abound during the weeks leading to Chinese New Year, so how could I resist? Picked up a couple from our local supermarket and hung them at the balcony. Love them!

One of the most charming aspects of celebrating Chinese New Year in Guangzhou are all the Spring Festival Flower Fairs proliferating in the city. Herr Hubby & I ventured out with the camera one evening & captured the colourful festive sights - more on that in another post - and also picked up this cute little good luck flower offering.

One of the most charming aspects of celebrating Chinese New Year in Guangzhou are all the Spring Festival Flower Fairs proliferating in the city. Herr Hubby & I ventured out with the camera one evening & captured the colourful festive sights – more on that in another post – and also picked up this cute little good luck flower offering.

It's also traditional to have a Spring Festival tree during Chinese New Year, much as we have a Christmas tree at Christmas. Herr Hubby & I searched for something pretty while still fairly traditional and found these little beauties at a flower market. SO gorgeous!!!

It’s also traditional to have a Spring Festival tree during Chinese New Year, much as we have a Christmas tree at Christmas. Herr Hubby & I searched for something pretty while still fairly traditional and found these little beauties at a flower market. SO gorgeous!!!

Here's how the Spring Festival mini-tree looked on our coffee table at Casa Stiletto...and as Valentine's Day this year fell in the middle of Chinese New Year, our mini-tree is flanked by a bouquet of roses, a couple glasses of champagne and a bowl of late-night chicken curry. Hahaaaa!

Here’s how the Spring Festival mini-tree looked on our coffee table at Casa Stiletto…and as Valentine’s Day this year happened during the middle of Chinese New Year, our mini-tree is flanked by a bouquet of roses, a couple glasses of champagne and a bowl of late-night chicken curry. Hahaaaa!

...and check out the roses bloomin' when transferred to a vase. Looks hella beautiful on our living room console table.

…and check out the roses bloomin’ when transferred to a vase. Looks hella beautiful on our living room console table.

What about you, duckies, did you celebrate Chinese New Year in YOUR part of the world???
As we hunker down for the weekend, our dear Stiletto-istas…from the hearts of Casa Stiletto to yours, we would like to wish you a Happy, Healthy and Sizzlingly Prosperous Year of the Snake!!!
Gong Xi Fa Cai, Xin Nian Kuai Le, Happy New Year!!!

A New Year of Fierce Fabulousity for Us All!

It’s been a while, my darling Stiletto-istas, but yes, NEWS FLASH! Although on life support for the past couple months as the madness of the festive season and life in general just threatened to completely engulf us, The Bamboo Stiletto is still alive, kicking up her heels and has not forgotten YOU.

We’re determined to start 2013 fabulously right with a wish for y’all…from my heart & home in Canton, China to yours, my warmest greetings for a Happy & Prosperous New Year, filled with skedaddles of success and style, shoes and smiles and everything pure and good that your hearts desire.

Our recent travels here & there coupled with the festive season – and the curious fact that our work-at-home situation seemed to have racheted up a notch recently – kept us from blogging, peeps, but we made an effort to keep up the holiday spirit in our very own Casa Stiletto with a few little touches that, thankfully, managed not to break the bank. Taking a page from The Thrifty Decor Chick (love her blog!), here’s the results of our decorating efforts at Casa Stiletto (please excuse the poor quality of the photos, which were Instagrammed hurriedly and not really edited properly):

Let's kick off with a simple Christmas welcome wreath I hung on the front door, as well as a couple of lovely poinsettia plants I picked up for RMB 20 (approx. USD 3) each at a local market...

Let’s kick off with a simple Christmas welcome wreath I hung on the front door, as well as a couple of lovely poinsettia plants I picked up for RMB 20 (approx. USD 3) each at a local market…

Our home's entry foyer has a floor to ceiling window looking out onto our small balcony, where I hung twin red "parols" (traditional Philippine Christmas lanterns), which I made my brother handcarry to Hong Kong. Aren't they super-kyoooooot?

Our home’s entry foyer has a floor to ceiling window looking out onto our small balcony, where I hung twin red “parols” (traditional Philippine Christmas lanterns), which I made my brother handcarry to Hong Kong. Aren’t they super-kyoooooot?

Speaking of the balcony, I also picked tiny twin poinsettias, which I plonked into the backs of our balcony giraffes (right-hand side). Now, Herr Hubby swears these are not giraffes but reindeer...it's an ongoing debate in Casa Stiletto.

Speaking of the balcony, I also picked up tiny twin poinsettias while at the local market, then plonked ’em into the backs of our balcony giraffes (right-hand side). Now, Herr Hubby swears these are not giraffes but reindeer…it’s an ongoing debate in Casa Stiletto.

Herr Hubby & I are traditionalists in that we both adore having an Advent wreath at home for Christmas...an easy thing to acquire if you live in a Western or international city...not the case in Canton Town, a bit of a no man's land when it comes to Christmas decorations. What's a girl to do? DIY, darlings! Plonked in a Shanghai Tang candle holder with tea light in the centre!

Herr Hubby & I are traditionalists in that we both adore having an Advent wreath at home for Christmas…an easy thing to acquire if you live in a Western or international city…not the case in Canton Town, a bit of a no man’s land when it comes to Christmas decorations. What’s a girl to do? DIY, darlings! Plonked in a Shanghai Tang candle holder with tea light in the centre! Ta-Da!

It's always good to have sweets lying around the house during the holiday season since people are always dropping by...so I created a little dining room vignette, with a bowl of sweets & choccies which I just top up regularly.

It’s always good to have sweets lying around the house during the holiday season since people are always dropping by…so I created a little dining room vignette, with a bowl of sweets & choccies which I just top up regularly.

Each of our bedroom (and my home office) doors had a Christmas stocking...as I discovered the miracle known as Blue Tac!

Each of our bedroom (and my home office) doors had a Christmas stocking…as I discovered the miracle known as Blue Tac!

In the hallway corner outside our bedrooms, I created a cozy Christmas vignette with a tiny tree flanked by modern angel lamps and our resident polar bear, Knut.

In the hallway corner outside our bedrooms, I created a cozy Christmas vignette with a tiny tree flanked by modern angel lamps and our resident polar bear, Knut. Tree & angels by Ikea.

For the life of me, I've never figured myself as a DIY chick or a craft-sy kind of girl, but for some reason this season, the homemade candle bug bit us. Ordered a candle-making kit from Australia, sourced festive jars in China and presto! we were on a roll with our Christmas gifts...

For the life of me, I’ve never figured myself as a DIY chick or a craft-sy kind of girl, but for some reason this season, the homemade candle bug bit us. Ordered a candle-making kit from Australia, sourced festive jars in China and presto! we were on a roll with our Christmas gifts…

...and here's the gifts waiting under the Christmas tree. We searched the local market high & low for this tree & while she may look a little scraggly (and decorated hastily), as you can see, she's potted...so we're keeping her, take care so she stays healthy all year on our balcony so her beauty will grace our home again next Christmas!

…and here’s the gifts waiting under the Christmas tree. We searched the local market high & low for this tree & while she may look a little scraggly (and decorated hastily), as you can see, she’s potted…so we’re keeping her, take care of her so she stays healthy all year round on our balcony and her beauty will grace our home again next Christmas!

How did YOU decorate your home this season, duckies??? We’d love to know! Do email me at bamboostiletto@gmail.com, I’d love to hear from you! Till then, STAY GOLD!

Canton Fair 101: The Olympics of Bargain Shopping

The Canton Fair, the world’s biggest trade fair, which happens in Guangzhou every year for 3 weeks from mid-October until early November, finally ends today. For the past 3 weeks, we’ve tried to avoid going out as much as possible since everything, restaurants, bars, the train stations/airports, shopping malls, hotels, and indeed, traffic in the city, has been frenzied. It was ri-DON-culous trying to get a cab to go anywhere!

It was The Bamboo Stiletto’s first Canton Fair, so we were determined to experience it all for the first time and document accordingly. The Canton Fair is the mother of all bargain shopping experiences so for the benefit of those die-hard shoppingeras/shoppingeros out there, I’m sharing my experience here, in the spirit of, let’s call it, “best practices.”

How exactly do you navigate the¬†Canton Fair? You are not an import-export wholesaler, trader or buyer. But you live in Guangzhou and rumor has it among your expat friends that shopping bargains can be had when the world’s biggest trade fair is happening at your doorstep.

The good news? The rumors are true. The bad news? The Canton Fair happens in three phases roughly spanning three weeks and individual shopping bargains can only happen on the last day of each of those phases, when traders are getting ready to pack up their goods and may be looking to offload their inventory of samples to save on shipping costs.

So, one of the first things you need to do is identify which products are being traded on which phase. For instance, home decor/furniture, gifts & toys may be traded during Phase 2 and fashion/clothing & shoes/bags may take place during Phase 3. Ask around, read the newspaper or check on websites like City Weekend Guangzhou (plug, plug:-). You absolutely have got to get the dates right for the items you like.

Once you’ve got that down, just like any elite athlete, you then have to¬†prep big-time because the¬†Canton Fair¬†is like the Olympics of bargain shopping!

The next thing you need to do is¬†obtain a Canton Fair overseas buyer’s pass. Never mind that you are a Guangzhou resident and that the only things you’ve bought lately were milk and eggs from the Corner’s Deli. Prepare to bring your passport, an ID photo, a business card and RMB 100 (about USD 16). You can apply for your pass at any of the overseas buyers’ registration counters at most five-star hotels in town.

Can’t find any of these counters? Head over to the Canton Fair venue itself, at the Pazhou Exhibition Center, and follow the clearly marked signs indicating the spacious and airy hall for “Overseas Buyers Registration.” Friendly, smiling trade fair staff, all speaking perfect English, will be on hand to efficiently assist you with forms and payment, provide you with a Canton Fair guide map and within minutes…voila!¬†You are now an overseas buyer. The cool thing is, the pass is good for a lifetime, so if you want to return for more bargain shopping expeditions in future Canton Fairs, better keep your pass safe.

Officially registered to spend some shopping money!

Now that you have your pass and can sling it around your neck – like all the real buyers do at the Fair – you then plan your transportation strategy. Going there is a no-brainer. You can take the Guangzhou metro, cab it or see if you can swing a ride on any of the free¬†Canton Fair¬†shuttle buses proliferating at any of the major five-star hotels in the city. No, going there is not a problem at all…it is your¬†exit transportation strategy¬†that you should be carefully planning. If you don’t have your own, preferably very spacious, vehicle, then our recommendation is that you splurge a little bit and hire a mini-van with a driver. ¬†Make sure you’ve got the driver’s mobile handy and remind him to stay alert, for when he needs to pick you up (with your vanload of purchases) at any of the exits afterwards.

Lastly, before you actually enter the hallowed halls of the Pazhou Exhibition Center, do a mental checklist of your clothing and equipment. You must have your¬†Canton Fair¬†buyer’s pass and guide map in hand. Wear the most comfortable walking shoes you own. Don’t tote one of your heavy designer handbags; this is not the day for showing off your latest “It bag” purchase to your girlfriends. Carry cash – lots of it, if you can. Don’t forget your mobile – essential for communicating with lost friends and the aforementioned exit strategy driver. And¬†bring a large suitcase or large shopping trolley – with wheels.¬†

Gurlfriendz, at the Canton Fair, we’re gonna need bigger trolleys than these!

You are now ready to go shopping!

Once inside the Fair, give yourself a couple of minutes to get your bearings and simply gawk. The sheer vastness of the trade halls, the mass and diversity of people from all over the world are overwhelming to the senses. Yet everything is well-organized, with clearly marked signs for directions. Cafes and restaurants offer refreshments and meals, courier companies vie for packing and shipping services and bathrooms everywhere are well-stocked and clean. To get from one trade hall to another, there are covered walkways, with carpeted “sidewalks” for those on foot and “lanes” for those riding in comfort on little electric trams that shuttle back and forth in between trade halls. Try not to get run over by an over-eager shuttle and stay safely on the “sidewalk” instead.

Study the map, figure out which trade hall you want to hit, then attack.

In the beginning, you will probably browse slowly among the stalls because you will be so overwhelmed. The quality of most products at the Canton Fair is simply superb, truly export-worthy and world-class and the sheer number of gorgeous items all in one vast place is visually staggering.

Some traders cannot be bothered to sell to individual shoppers and some of these traders already have makeshift signs posted outside their stalls, saying: “No sale.” This means that unless you’re willing to buy in volume quantities, don’t even bother them. Some traders who are willing to sell, have signs saying so, “Sale” or “Stock sale”. However, not everyone willing to sell posts signs, so, if you do see anything you fancy really badly, it is still best to ask. Simply walk into the shop, quickly point at the stuff you want and say outright:“Mai, bu mai?”¬† (buy, cannot buy?)¬†After a while, you will be amazed at how swiftly you can do this at so many shops and how much ground you’re able to cover in minutes.

Keep a watchful eye open for stalls whose staff are already busy clearing the stall and packing their items into wooden crates as they will usually be more amenable to giving items away at hefty discounts, or if you’re especially lucky, for free. This usually happens in early afternoon, right after lunchtime.

By early afternoon, after two or three hours at the Fair, you might find that even your large suitcase or shopping trolley will not be adequate for your purchases and you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to transport everything outside the trade hall to the exit gate.¬†Make sure first, at the last stall where you’ve made big-ticket purchases (like, a piece of furniture) that you are issued a gate pass so that you can exit the trade hall with all of your purchases without being questioned by security.

Just as the Fair slowly winds down, you will notice an army of ayis (literally, aunties, in China, to mean, older ladies or maids) pulling flat wooden trolleys with rope, wandering the halls. Hail one of these ayis and negotiate in your best Chinese for her and her friend to load up their trolley with your items and take you to the nearest exit gate, in exchange for a small fee.

Once at the gate, it’s a simple matter of calling your driver to pick you up and load up all your new goodies in the car.

Exhausted but triumphant, The Bamboo Stiletto & fellow Stiletto-istas looking like a bunch of bedraggled garbage ladies, surrounded by our purchases as we wait for our driver at the Fair’s exit gate.

And, duckies, you must be wondering what on earth got our stilettos into a twist at the Fair…here’s a peek at what we picked up (after 2 hours of shopping – we were too dizzy to continue any further):

Blue Tray (free)

Scored the darling blue tray for free from a hastily departing trader…now it’s part of a charming vignette in the guestroom.

Red tray (free)

From the same trader, also scored this beautiful red tray for free…now it makes a striking bar tray in a corner of the dining room.

Red Eames Chair (RMB 120, approx. USD 20)

This lovely red Eames chair, now sitting in a corner of the living room, was selling for only RMB 120 (roughly USD 20), can you believe it???? Trader, who specialized in modern mid-century furniture (my absolute LOVEZ!), was in a hurry to get out of town & just wanted to get dump his samples. Was dying to get my hands on an Eames rocking chair but wasn’t “chop chop” (hurry, hurry) enough…someone snatched it up from right under my ¬†nose!

Metallic Chinoiserie Stool
Inspiration Scenario: Lobby, W Hotel Singapore

Since I spotted these metallic chinoiserie stools in design magazines, browsed vintage versions on Etsy.com & spotted them IRL (in real life) at the W hotel, Singapore (lobby pictured here), I’ve been harbouring an all-consuming lust.

Metallic Chinoiserie Stool (RMB 400, approx. USD 66) & Lime-Green Tray (free)
Actual Scenario: Casa Stiletto 

I was beside myself with excitement at the Fair when I spotted the silver chinoiserie stool (foreground) & the trader agreed to sell it to me for RMB 400 (about USD 66). He had a gold one too, but I knew the silver would be perfect in our living room at Casa Stiletto, as a side table ideally serving as a perch for coffee or a drink, the occasional book or magazine, next to our Eames lounger & ottoman. Oh, and btw, that lime-green tray you see on the purple ottoman? That’s a freebie too ūüôā

Congratulations to moi…we’ve successfully navigated our first¬†Canton Fair!!!¬†¬† Now, life in Guangzhou can, hopefully, get back to normal.

An Instagram Morning at Casa Stiletto

When Instagram first became the latest social networking plaything, I remember registering for an account right away and then…nothing. For the longest time, my Instagram account languished, unused, while I stuck to my usual social networking tools.

This morning at Casa Stiletto, since I had no appointments to go to or assignments to work on for once, I thought it was the perfect time to play with Instagram! I was SO relieved to find how easy & user-friendly ¬†this app is, even for a newbie like me. Here’s a look at some of the fun this morning at Casa Stiletto, as captured on Instagram:

The view from my home office window. Yes, Stiletto-istas, this is what I feast my eyes on while contemplating my thoughts for you & putting ’em down into words on my laptop. Sometimes if I’m lucky, there’s an occasional piece of eye candy of the male persuasion lounging around, for additional visual inspiration ūüôā

A “cornerscape” in our foyer where we dump keys, the occasional pair of sunglasses & my beloved trusty tennis racquet. Little red table with door (used for storing slippers) is vintage, which I found dumped in the bin of my old apartment building in Manhattan; I rescued it & lugged it 5 flights of stairs to my walk-up. Silk lamp is from Saigon, Vietnam (where Herr Hubby used to live), the wooden warrior puppet with sword is from a market in Chiangmai, Thailand. His name is Krishna (we name all puppets, teddy bears & ceramic animals in Casa Stiletto) & he guards our foyer. Sandalwood chair with Chinese silk fabric & embroidered “good fortune” cushion from landlord.

I tried my hand at “tablescaping” in the dining room by putting together these random pieces from our former homes in China & the US: “his & hers” stainless steel espresso cups with porcelain saucers from American designer Ross McBride’s Anamorphic series, silk-screened floral Chinese tea pot, cup & saucer in one (all elements are separable) a gift from our life in Beijing, China, pair of inscribed ceramic-bottomed wine glasses from a divine shop in my old Upper West Side neighborhood in Manhattan: Our Name is Mud. The wine glasses remind us that:” Life’s too short for bad wine.” Round wooden tray from Ikea.

These inspirational words from our collection of fridge magnets are what greet us first thing in the morning when we grab our milk out of the fridge. Kinda like a real-life version of a Pinterest board! Aren’t they hella cute???

In the guestroom, a little Mexican hand-painted wooden chest which I picked up in a Manhattan flea market provides extra room for storage while some of our collection of culinary & beverage books make a nice prop for a hand-sketched fun cartoon of Herr Hubby & myself by a South Korean artist during a memorable “mini-moon” in Jeju Island.

Soft early morning light filters through the sheer white curtains framing a view of palm trees from the guestroom. Wooden sailboat, tiny lighthouse & cottage (partially seen) are mementos of a trip to the coastal town of Svenborg, Denmark while white cotton curtains, hand-embroidered with tiny flowers (can’t be seen clearly in photo) are from France, provided by our landlord.

Isn’t Instagram FUN, Stiletto-istas??? This is totally our latest addiction, haha! What about you, have you been Instagramming too?

If you’d like to share some fun Instagram-scapes of your interiors and home decorating efforts, I would LOVE to see them…and I’m sure your fellow Stiletto-istas will too! ¬†I will make sure to ask your permission first before posting them online and give photo credits where it’s due. And don’t sweat it, if you would like to remain anonymous but would still love to share your Instagram-scapes, ¬†you can do that too! We absolutely respect our readers’ privacy here at The Bamboo Stiletto. PLEASE, PLEASE, pretty, pretty please email The Bamboo Stiletto with your pics and privacy preferences at bamboostiletto@gmail.com.

My email inbox is quivering with anticipation! ūüôā

The Far-Off Philippines ‚ÄĒ Dream Escapes

 

The Philippines as interior design Inspiration – from Apartment Therapy. Bamboo Stiletto hearts!

 

GASP! The Bamboo Stiletto’s favourite time sink – Apartment Therapy – has Filipino roots! Who knew? It was an absolutely delish surprise to see this post about design inspiration from the Philippines in our blog reader inbox this morning. We’re avid fans ourselves of the capiz shell pendant lamp and of course, the rattan “Voyage” bed by Kenneth Cobonpue, a super-talented young furniture designer from Cebu. Here’s a shout-out of pride for Kenneth and our hometown, y’all. Yay!!!

 

Jonesing for Jute Rugs

jute rugs work for every room

Lately at The Bamboo Stiletto, our home decorating has been so focused on our walls, framing prints, paintings and photos and preoccupied with the business of hanging them, that we’ve almost forgotten about our floors. Isn’t it easy for all of us to forget about our floors? We seldom let our gaze linger downwards when we’re home…

Yet, a lot of us may not realize that it is what we put (or do not put) on our floors that anchor and define the spaces we call our own, for living, dining, sleeping, playing, relaxing.

And speaking of floors – I’ve just been jonesing for jute rugs. Such a tropical touch! And a perfect accessory for bringing summer right into our homes – without breaking the bank. The golden brown colour and rough-hewn texture would be ideal with the smooth wooden floors of our living room ¬†at home as well as with the dark brown slatted wood floors of our balcony. For the living room, I’d layer a massive jute rug underneath our smaller soft, shaggy, grey-brown carpet ¬†(so that the carpet is framed by the rug) while letting the rug go solo to define a dining space in the balcony.

I played around with muzy.com this morning to create this photo collage to show how jute rugs can work in just about every room in your home! Isn’t it fun???

For more photos and tips on how to enhance decorating with jute rugs, visit Tuvalu Home, a coastal-inspired decorating blog we were delighted to discover recently. Photo collage images courtesy of Tuvalu Home.

What about you – have you got the jones for jute rugs too?

Snuggle Up: 8 Cozy Cottage Bedrooms to Inspire You

summer lovin’…

Buenos dias, Stiletto-istas! I absolutely love lazy summer weekend mornings, waking up to the sound of birds chirping, soft breeze and gentle morning sunlight caressing the trees outside, cup of coffee in hand and having all the time in the world to browse through the latest on my blog’s Reader (which aggregates posts from blogs that I follow). This morning, this is what caught my eye…

Bedazzled: The Jade, Pearl & All Kinds of Bling Markets

Over the weekend, Herr Hubby was stuck at work, frazzled with their upcoming hotel opening, so we took the opportunity to grab a couple of our GZ gal pals for a bit of Saturday morning retail therapy at what I call the “Bling Bling Markets”.

Our girlfriends, whom we shall call “Bisous Bisous” (from France) and “Ochan” (from the United States), are expatriates in Guangzhou who speak fluent Mandarin – so I felt extremely confident in this company that we wouldn’t be taken for a ride while at the markets. Both of them also work extremely hard and even though they have lived in Guangzhou for quite some time, Ochan for a year and Bisous Bisous for two years, they had not yet visited the Jade Market, the Pearl Market or other “bling” markets. They were itching to rectify this and I was only too happy to oblige and tag along, so it was obviously a win-win situation for all! ¬†Don’t you love it when the stars align and you and your girlfriends can shop together???

Our first stop was the Jade Market in Liwan district, a massive building of about four storeys with interior areas marked into sections A, B, C, D.The entire building was all about one thing: jade. Jewellery from rings, pendants, earrings, bracelets and more jade stuff than you can ever imagine e.g. home decor, Buddhas, animal figurines, statues of all kinds of Chinese celestials, all shapes and sizes and in varying degrees of quality…you name it. A quick peek at the narrow alleys behind this building revealed that there were even more stalls outdoors all selling jade.

Entrance of the Jade Market on Chang Shou Lu in Liwan district…JADE.COMA.

Ochan was very friendly and chatty with the locals and according to one elderly gentleman, one can tell the quality of the jade item by their location within the building. So, all stores in section A were selling the best quality, the “purest” jade, section B’s jade had slight defects, section C had “processed” jade while section D…you don’t even want to go to section D. Like plastic, he said. Of course, the old guy could have been perfectly biased, given the fact that he was the proprietor of a shop in section A selling, among other costly things, a statue of China’s mythical monkey king for over RMB 800,000 (approx. USD 130,000 plus) – or, he could have been simply telling the truth.

pssst! wanna buy some jade?

you can get pretty jaded pretty fast in here…

We walked around and Bisous Bisous got her jade necklace fixed and while at it, decided to buy a lovely jade ring for her mother. We took the elevator upstairs and was amused by this very earnest-looking elevator sign:

please smile when make video

And upstairs, also spotted this – so that old guy may have been right after all:

real or jiade (fake)? step right up & find out!

After a while, we crossed the street to a huge pink building which our little guidebook had identified as the Pearl Market. We thought the Jade Market was huge? This Pearl Market was RI-DON-CU-LOUS-ly massive!!! Also, in spite of its name, the merchandise was not limited to pearls. I mean, there were pearls – miles and miles of ropes of ’em – and some oh-so-beautiful ones with some very scary-looking price tags to match. ¬†But this market also had container loads of other precious and not-so-precious but still so-pretty-to-look-at gems. Bling central, indeed!

the bling bling market for the ultimate material girl!

diamonds (& PEARLS) are a girl’s best friend

not pricey but pretty all the same…Brazilian agate by the strands

I tell you, we must have trawled through that entire market until we were cross-eyed from gazing at jewelry and gems and until we couldn’t ignore the rumblings of our grumpy stomachs any longer. But of course, we didn’t leave without making a few bling purchases of our own.

So, here’s our loot…ta-da!

put a ring on it, gurl! aren’t they fun???

my summer turquoise accessories set…earrings not from the market

Bisous Bisous was tres jolie with her tres chic turquoise set! very Ralph Lauren-esque summer collection…

the jade ring for Bisous Bisous’ maman…& a fun ceramic ring flank the turquoise & silver bracelet

macarons not included! (sorry, we were at brunch already when I was taking photos…too hungry!)

My share of the loot (for 6 rings & 1 bracelet) came to a total of RMB 240 ¬†(USD38). Can y’all believe that?
So, do you think we had a productive Saturday morning??? Did you like our loot from the “bling bling markets”…WHICH piece do you like best, DO tell?

I managed to convince Herr Hubby to come and window shop with me at Phinns Casa, a high-end lifestyle store in Guangzhou specializing in premium antiques, quality furniture, home accessories and fine art, simply because I had heard so much about it. Once I spotted a flyer in our residential compound’s clubhouse, I thought, that’s it, I’m dragging him kicking and screaming out there.

I thought I had a pretty clear idea where the shop location was, but we still ended up getting lost and after a half hour of asking for directions, we finally found the (well-hidden) shop. Yay!

facade of the Phinns Casa showroom in the Yangcheng Creative Zone. be warned: this place can be hazardous to your bank account! ūüôā

For all his initial reluctance to go, Herr Hubby ended up enjoying himself as much as I did. One thing we do share is a love for artfully mixing an eclectic combination of Western interiors and European-designed furniture (especially Italian & Scandinavian) with Chinese and other Asian furniture and accent pieces.

Meantime, I was beside myself with excitement! Once we entered the cavernous Phinns Casa showroom, a young lady emerged and handed us a form with a pencil. This was in case we spotted anything we liked, then all we had to do was jot down the item number. How thoughtful! I hated disappointing her since we were only there to browse…

And browse we did! Their showroom sprawled out over two storeys. On the first floor, amongst the jumble of furniture, treasures and knick knacks, they had carefully curated and “staged” sets showcasing their furniture, home decor and accessories collections, e.g. a living room, a dining room, a study, a bedroom, a child’s bedroom, etc. ¬†Very clever. You could so easily imagine the “sets” in your own tropical home (or, beach house) that you simply wanted to buy the entire set! Oh, desire and longing magnified…!

On the second floor were more jumbles of furniture strewn about but what surprised me was some wooden furniture were simply left out in the open (a section of the second floor had no walls) and were completely exposed to the humid Guangzhou air and ferocious sunshine!

Then, we stumbled upon an enclosed room with a sign that said:” Collectors’ Items”. Here they had stored all the majorly SERIOUS items; I guess these were all genuine Chinese antiques. All were labeled meticulously, mostly 18th century, in beautiful woods such as elm and oak and with stratospheric prices to match, ranging from USD 10,000 per piece to USD 20,000 per piece and even upwards. You couldn’t help but touch these pieces reverently.

Photography was not allowed in the showroom, including the Collectors’ Items room, but I took a few surreptitious snaps with my iPhone anyway (couldn’t help it!):

Downstairs, Herr Hubby had his eye on this handsome bar counter below- which I must admit would look really good in our Guangzhou apartment’s dining room, where we’ve already placed our wine refrigerator and bar cart trolley, and this could do double duty as a buffet sideboard:

I was absolutely tickled by this gorgeous, French country style wooden writing desk below which had a NAME! And guess what it’s name was: DIANE. Yes, isn’t it just insanely apt???

the Diane writing desk. uh, in case anyone out there is feeling generous, my birthday is in December…Tiffany antique lamps optional.

By far the most astounding piece we saw in there was this eye-catching Chinese bridal carriage:

madame, your carriage awaits!

Get a load of the intricate carvings on the doors:

Then, when the doors are opened…voila! The bridal carriage does not contain a nearly-suffocated bride but actually transforms into a very unique bar, with shelving especially made for storing bottles:

Here’s what the bridal carriage-bar looks like in someone’s living room (I swiped this photo below from the Phinns Casa catalogue). Although the carriage exterior is slightly different from the one we saw in the showroom, we can still see what a striking conversation piece it makes. According to the catalogue, one of my neighbors in our compound (who obviously has a lot of dough to drop) actually has this thing in their friggin living room, can you believe it?

I’d probably be a bit freaked out though if I had that sitting in my living room, especially at night. I’d always be imagining some poor ghost bride trapped in there just waiting to jump on me and scare me to death!

Anyway, so that capped off our highly imaginative and entertaining visit to the Phinns Casa showroom. Here’s how to get there: the showroom is located inside the Yangcheng Creative Zone, a funky but somewhat dilapidated art and design area in Tianhe district. Just get on Huangpu Dadao and head off in the direction of Metro supermarket and the B&Q big-box store. By cab from Zhujiang New Town, expect to pay RMB 30 or thereabouts (about USD 5). The Guangzhou metro does not go that way at all; there are numerous buses from what we saw but we didn’t explore that option.

The Yang Cheng Creative Zone entrance is sandwiched between the B&Q and a gas station. The first thing you will see is an Acura car sales showroom (funny thing to have in a creative zone, but well…). You will also see this sign:

So…will you be checking out Phinns Casa anytime soon? What will you buy???

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