Happy New Year!

Best Wishes for a Great 2009!

Photo: People dancing on New Year's Eve (1935) at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Courtesy of: San Francisco Public Library, Historical Photos

Chanukah Wrap-Up

I hope you enjoyed your holiday! I had a fun eight days of Chanukah, but I must say I'm glad that it's over. Time to relax and take a breath.

I've enjoyed reading my favorite blogs with beautiful photos of Christmas trees and decor, so I thought I'd share a little of my Chanukah with you. We attended 4 Chanukah parties during the 8 days. It was fun seeing family and friends. The traditional meal is potato latkes, (potato pancakes) which reminds us of the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when the Maccabees rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. I guess you could say I'm "latked-out" for another year!

Glitter dreidel box by Denise Sharp

Every year I have a small Chanukah party with about 10-ish people. It's always challenging finding fun Chanukah decor since it's technically not a religious holiday and has become more commercialized since it falls around Christmastime. Other than the cardboard "Happy Chanukah" banners and party shop variety, there is not a lot of whimsical decor. I had been talking to Denise Sharp and she mentioned that she had these cute glitter dreidel boxes. I bought two of them and they worked great with my small centerpiece.

I decided on a white/gold/silver color theme with a bit of blue. I'm not a big fan of dark blue, but I actually found Chanukah party "poppers" and couldn't resist using them as table favors. I pulled out the sterling flatware and cloth napkins. That's big for me since I don't entertain much. Some white rose bouquets in small silver vases with a hint of purple flowers were on the dining and coffee tables. We served fresh latkes hot off the pan (they don't taste the same reheated), chicken, veggies, etc. Chanukah sugar cookies and ice cream, chocolate Chanukah gelt (coins), small gifts for the kids. Then there are the traditional Chanukah prayers and songs.

We lit the menorahs and there were candles lit all over the house. I must say that there is a certain amount of "Christmas-envy" when you're Jewish, with all of the traditions, decor... Christmas is magical! Chanukah is called the "festival of lights" and has its beautiful traditions as well. I decided that instead of stressing over "cute" Chanukah decor, I'm going to start collecting menorahs (I currently have two). There are so many beautiful antique and new menorahs, and they look amazing when lit up during the holiday.

My cousin has a collection of about 10 menorahs, 8 of which are diffferent wire animals. I'm going to purchase this one here.

Thanks for letting me share my Chanukah. Hope you had a great holiday! My house still smells of greasy cooking oil, but that will dissipate soon. Until next year...

A BIG Surprise!

Today my friend Kimberlee (of Edgar & Edgar) stopped by and brought me the sweetest gifts! A GIANT vintage paper mache walnut box! Before you scratch your head, there is a story behind this...

One day I was taking photos of Kimberlee's house and couldn't help but notice her great collection of vintage walnuts. This started me on yet, another collection. I bought some walnuts from Kimberlee and then started receiving them as gifts. Now Kimberlee gave me the largest walnut I've ever seen! I must add that she has quite the knack for presentation. The gifts were wrapped in black and white with her custom, Edgar & Edgar ribbon!

What a cute holiday card. She attached a pink shield-shaped card with a gold lions head. Clever Kimberlee.

Kimberlee decorated a large chocolate bar with a black silhouette bird and a large star. Beautiful!

An antique dome with my collection of walnuts

My husband bought me this "real" walnut pendant that has a little pocket knife in it. Quirky and fun. Okay, I'm a little odd.

And last, a close-up of my walnut. Thanks so much Kimberlee! I am really touched. Perhaps we'll inspire some bloggers to collect walnuts?

Advertising as Art

Paris Hotel Boutique 2008 holiday card by Creative & Co.

I am so impressed with the work of Coleen Rider, of Coleen & Company, an antiques & vintage d├ęcor retail studio located in Los Angeles. In addition to selling her fabulous wares at her studio and online, Coleen has just launched, Creative & Co., where she specializes in e-mail ad campaigns & promotions, website ads and graphic design work. I was so taken by Coleen’s e-cards that I commissioned her to design my Paris Hotel Boutique holiday card (above).

Coleen & Company's 2008 holiday card

Coleen & Company's 2007 holiday card

Coleen has an amazing eye for color and juxtaposition. It was so much fun working with her on my card. She has a unique process for developing her artwork by getting to know her customer and tailoring her design to capture your personality & viewers. We collaborated about ideas by Coleen inquiring about everything from my favorite colors to what message I wanted to convey, then translating it into online art form.

Coleen's element of whimsy is what really excited me. I told her to surprise me with the card and when she e-mailed me the draft, I was more than thrilled! The most exciting part about working with Coleen is that her artwork is one-of-a-kind and doesn’t look like a mass-produced commercial e-mail. Thanks Coleen for creating my fabulous card!

Coleen & Company studio in Los Angeles

If you want more info and rates about Creative & Co., contact Coleen Rider at 310-839-2908 or e-mail, info@coleenandcompany.com.

All photos courtesy of Coleen & Company and Paris Hotel Boutique

The Lovely Package

Oh no, yet another blog to add to my reading! I stumbled upon this blog, while reading d. sharp journal. I've spent most of my morning looking at all of the lovely packaging. What fun gift boxes at Maison Bertaux in London (above), designed by Harriman Steel. "Shop at Maison Bertaux, it’s where fashion meets cake." How cute are these? If you are in London, I'd definitely purchase something there, just to present someone with one of those boxes!

I'd love a bottle of St-Germain, designed by Sandstrom Partners. “St-Germain is an artisan French liqueur made from hand-picked wild elderflowers." An elegant bottle for your to serve your guests with!

The vintage-style imagery & quirky humor is great on these mints by Red Dog Candy, box designed by Moxie Sozo.

Okay, now you can see what I've been doing this morning. Check out Lovely Package-- "the leading source for the very best that package design has to offer."

Photos courtesy of lovelypackage.com

J. Crew and the Liquor Store

I was excited to read MA Belle's post about the J. Crew men's shop in New York City. J. Crew's first menswear-only boutique takes the place of the former Liquor Store Bar in Tribeca. The store was designed by Andy Spade and his business partner, Anthony Sperduti.

The vintage decor looks phenomenal with its dark paneling and antique displays, leather club chairs, old books and more. They even carry a new line of Red Wing boots, so worn that they look like you've worn them for a lifetime. Old school pieces such as vintage Timex watches add a touch of vintage. It's refreshing that they didn't "modernize" it and kept all the original fixtures such as the bar and fireplace. Now this looks like a fun place to shop!

I love the black and white theme with the old liquor signs...so chic!

What a great idea to use the bar rail to display ties. The hatstands are great!

Such a great juxtoposition of style. Love the old fireplace and lady portrait above it!

Andy Spade's advice for cultivating personal style; "Go back to your history and where you came from. Research things that are special to you and not available to everyone."

All photos courtesy of J. Crew and Brian Berman

Malapascua Diving Spot, Philippines

Just off the north coast of Cebu, Philippines nestled another unspoiled idyllic paradise island ideal for those tourist looking for best destination in the Philippines. Its name literally means "Unfortunate Christmas”, Malapascua, boasts its name as Philippines’ perfect vacation destination for all tourist and beach lovers. Malapascua is a beautiful sleepy island with white sandy beaches cover with green palm trees and surrounded by blue clear waters, which is one of the best in the Philippines. The island’s exceptional long white beach stretches around the south-east coast of the island facing Cebu, Leyte and Biliran.

Malapascua also called "Logon" is located about 8 km. northeast of Cebu mainland and 25 km. west of Leyte. In the island you cannot see cars and most buildings are only one floor high that makes Malapascua Island seemed to be a lonely planet and labeled as new Boracay but without the crowds. But behind that silence laid the natural beauty of the island that will certainly keep your day busy.

Malapascua’s main attraction are the beaches that is best for diving and snorkeling that often ideally located at the west cost of the island. With its wonderful place to dive most visitors are divers or backpackers, making Philippines as their destination for newest diving spots. Diving at Malapascua will make worth of your stay to enjoy with thresher shark sightings in the world, seasonal hammerheads, white tip sharks, mantas, mandarin fish, pygmy seahorses, cuttlefish, beautiful coral gardens and a huge diversity of marine life that well-preserved.

As for those who love to feel the nature, Malapascua’s white sand beaches would be ideal to take a walk around to see the local villages and feel the natural breeze along the shore. The island is small that it only takes about 3 hours to walk around and witness the fantastic views over from the lighthouse that is open to the public will surely worth your visit.

The island is suitable for families and young children too. There are resorts in Malapascua with swimming pool ideally for family vacation and relaxation. If you want to completely unwind massage services are also available around the island. When you are in the island you will not feel your stomach to be empty. Malapascua has some excellent restaurants with excellent quality, and is generally a mix of Filipino and European dishes. The next time you seek for best white sand beach and diving spot in the Philippines consider Malapascua.

More on Philippines' best tourist vacation destination.

Vintage Bus Signs

Vintage Bus Signs from parishotelboutique.com

I just adore vintage bus signs! The provenance combined with the old typography makes them extra special. And, they are great pieces of art. I have one in my dining room and people seem to be intrigued by it. It's sort of one of those quirky, unexpected pieces that add a spark to a room.

Vintage Trolley Sign from parishotelboutique.com

I currently have some for sale on my website. This extra special trolley bus sign (above) is from Bournemouth, a large coastal resort town on the south coast of England. Cricket, Tennis, Circus, Carnival, Pageant...it doesn't get better than that! I've never seen a sign like this before. The town of Bournemouth hosted many events of the Festival, hence all the activities on the sign would make sense. Upon research, Bournemouth sounds like a great tourist town with lots of history, great beaches, culture and a professional football club, too!

Bus Roll Sign Photo from Desire to Inspire

Bus Roll Sign Photo from Desire to Inspire

I love these photos from Desire to Inspire's blog. They add that perfect touch of whimsy!

Surfing Capital in Ilocos Norte, Philippines

Aside from Siargao, the Philippines treasure, for being acclaimed as surfing capital in the world nestled another place in the northern part of the Philippine archipelago that every surfer would love to visit. At the coast of Pagudpud, northern tip of Ilocos Norte a new paradise quietly laid Kapuluan Vista Resort. This resort is a leading-edge destination in the Philippines for tourist backpackers and surfers. Kapuluan Vista Resort distinguished itself by combining natural beauty, a diversity of activities and events, and delightful accommodation. Kapuluan Vista Resort apart from other resorts is that one will indulge more than just comfort but also adventure. It endowed with not just a comforting breeze but of those also breathtaking cloud nines that every surfer will be delighted which corroborates from its location. Who says that the best surfing capital in the archipelago is in Northern part of Mindanao only? Here in the upper north of Luzon, Philippines also rest a new found surfing capital that will surely invite more tourists to visit the place.

The resort’s location is approximately one hour and thirty minutes from the Laoag International Airport. If you are from Manila, Pagudpud can also be reached by land via air-conditioned bus or if you want to rush to savor your moment reaching the place you can take an air travel to reach Laoag International Airport. The International Airport in Laoag serves as the main gateway to the Ilocos Region. Airline flights schedules are regularly available via Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines. For a delightful accommodation Kapuluan Vista Resort offers pickups to its visitors from Laoag to Pagudpud and vice versa.

So the next time you want to enjoy the best tourist destination in the Philippines try Kapuluan Vista Resort.

More on Philippines' best tourist vacation destination.

Philippines' Chocolate Hills, Bohol

Chocolate Hills Preview

In the Philippines Bohol is the place that one must also try to visit. Aside from its beautiful white-sand beaches but the place is magnificent too because of its signatured landmarks. The Chocolate Hills are Bohol’s most famous landmark for tourist attraction spread over the municipalities of Carmen, Sagbayan and Batuan.

The world-renowned cone-shape Chocolate Hills is Bohol’s expression of its natural beauty. Most people are can hardly believed that these hills are not man-made landscape. These natural beauties consist of not less than 1268 hills though some claim it as the exact number. The chocolate Hills got it name after not only of its uniform shape but because it turn into chocolate brown at the end of the dry season seemingly endless rows of chocolate cones. Most hills are approximately 30 to 50 meters in height. Though in the hills are associated with a chocolate color it doesn’t imply to be as it at all since before the dry season it is covered with grass thus; every hill also looks green.

The Chocolate Hills is not only covered by beauty but also with romance and mystery. Legend has it that when giants lived with mortals, Agoro a gentle giant fell in love with a village girl named Aluya. Formed centuries ago by tidal movements, the hills are considered as a National Geologic Movement. Right now the highest hills have been developed and provided with facilities such as a restaurant, hostel and view deck.

Getting into the Chocolate Hills
When you plan to get there plenty of tourist guides and tour operators are ready to transport you to the Chocolate Hills, whenever it is a special trip or as part of your day tour. However if you want to feel more of adventure you can reach it by your own. From Tagbilaran you will have to go to integrated bus terminal in Dao and catch a bus going to Carmen. There is no need for you to feel a complete stranger in the place you won’t have much hard time to find one. But in case you find it hard the people in Bohol are friendly that they will surely give you the right direction. When you aim for the bus much better if you’ll catch the first one to leave and ask the driver to drop you at the Chocolate Hills complex, just about 4 kilometers before the town of Carmen. As you will reach the place it takes you a 10 minute walk winding up to the complex.

To get back to Tagbilaran, you will have to take a walk back to the main road. From there you’ll wait for a bus to pass. The last bus from Carmen will leave at 4 pm going to Tagbilaran. For alternatives you can also take some drivers For-Hire service vehicles intended for tourist and local visitors that includes motorbike, taxi and “haba-habal”.

If ever you came from Tubigon, Bohol via a ferry from Cebu, a few bus go to Carmen daily. But from there, sometimes, you have to take a little more patience to fill up the bus with passengers. Upon arriving in Carmen, you can catch the next bus or jeepney in the direction of Bilar, Loay or Tagbilaran, or look for a 'habal-habal' driver to get you into the Chocolate Hills Complex.

More on Philippines' best tourist vacation destination.