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Tag Archives: Champagne

A Naked New Year

28 Dec

Did I say, “naked”?  Clearly I meant NUDE.  How about trading in that black or shimmery silver for a knock-out nude.  Don’t you remember how much Mr. Big liked it when Carrie wore it?   And by the way – it doesn’t hurt that it will match your champagne.

Here are a few of my favorite “birthday suit” looks.

Dinner with Friends

Rachel Zoe Pre-Fall 2012

Erin Fetherston Pre-Fall 2012

Cocktail Party

Blugirl by Blumarine Spring 2012

Herve Leger by Max Azria Spring 2012

Antonio Berardi Spring 2012

Black Tie

Reem Acra Spring 2012

Reem Acra Spring 2012

I think dressing like your favorite “bubbly” on such a bubbly heavy holiday is brilliant idea!  Happy New Year!

Images courtesy of http://www.style.com

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A Bride in Beijing

17 Feb

A Kiss at the Carlyle

To say that we kicked off our 2-week trip to the States during Chinese New Year with a BANG! is a major understatement.  Within 4-hours of landing in NYC, Brett asked me to marry him…and I said YES!

So for all the romantics out there (but mainly for our friends and family – and who am I kidding, I want to have all the details in writing!) – I would love to share the story of how my wonderful new fiancé popped the question. Apparently, unbeknownst to me of course, his process began in late October when he started a search for the “stone”.  Props to Chris Carioti of Carioti Jewelers in Columbus, Ohio who managed to find exactly what Brett was looking for from 6800 miles away.  It took several months of back and forth via email (Brett only saw the ring in person for the first time just minutes before proposing) but by December Brett knew the ring would be ready in time for our trip to the States – so he put his proposal plans in motion.  He started by giving me two nights in a suite at the Carlyle Hotel, a New York institution and home to Bemelmans Bar – where we met, in my stocking on Christmas morning.  This was one of his ways of throwing me off the scent! The sudden increase in the number of “ifs” when referring to our future was another tactic…which (btw Brett) I could have done without!

 

I said YES!

Brett continued planning for the big night with the incredible help of Fred Petry, manager of the Carlyle.  I just want to say that Fred and every employee of the Carlyle from the concierge to the elevator operators were absolutely spectacular in every possible way.  Even upon arrival (looking like homeless rag-a-muffins and smelling like plane after our 14-hour flight from Beijing) we were greeted with the utmost respect.  Albeit – possibly because the comedian Elaine Stritch (a longtime resident of the Carlyle) was collecting her mail at the check-in desk while we were checking in, and she sarcastically wished us good luck “staying in this dump”.  The look of fear on the staffs’ faces  – unsure if we knew the famous comedian or not was a bit entertaining.

 

When we made it up to our room on the 33rd floor – I was in awe.  It was beautifully decorated

The Living Room

in classic upper east side style, and it felt like a real apartment.  We even had our own kitchen – stocked with amazing snacks, beautiful stemware, and a surplus of diet coke!  Of course, I immediately began to hoard the precious soaps and chocolates embossed with the Carlyle Crest

From silverware to pillows...everything was marked with a C

as I explored the room  – but Brett wanted nothing to do with it.  In fact – he was noticeably rushing me…something that he just doesn’t do. Mainly because he is a sweet and patient man – but probably also out of defeat that it doesn’t really work.

 

After getting fancied up, I suggested we enjoy a pre-cocktail hour cocktail in the comfort of our darling living room overlooking Central Park.  He apathetically agreed and then proceeded to drink his as if it were a shot.  Needless to say – I was seriously confused.  We had been planning to make this a “date night” for weeks knowing that the next day would commence our world wind trip of trying to see every single person possible all across the country.  I finished my drink faster than normal (trying to keep up) and we headed downstairs to Bemelmans.

Welcomed with a charming jazz quartet playing old standards – we instantly entered the world of MADMen.  Surrounded by whimsical murals of scenes from Central Park painted by Ludwig Bemelmans himself, this bar exudes classic Manhattan. The room was buzzing for a Monday night.  I noticed immediately that the exact two seats where we had met 20-months before were reserved.  I looked to him – he flashed a big grin – letting me know that it was his handy work.  Even then – I didn’t see what was coming. Possibly because on our last visit, almost a year earlier, we tried to sit in the seats but the two guests before us hogged them all night – never allowing us the opportunity.  It wasn’t until we sat down and ordered a drink that I began to realize what was happening…

Sweet treats in the room!

His nerves were the biggest give away – and it was really cute.  In those next few moments, he told me that from the first time he saw me sitting in that very seat as he walked into the bar, he realized that life as he knew it was about to change.  He told me that he never imagined finding such a perfect fit – that he had hoped for a love like this, but wasn’t sure that he would ever find it – and then, the biggest smile I had ever seen spread across his face, he pulled the ring from his pocket and said, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Morgan.  Will you marry me?”  To which I replied, “Of course not.”  JUST KIDDING!  Of course – I said YES!  (For the traditional ladies out there – he didn’t kneel right then as the bar stools are really high – but later, he reenacted the moment and took a knee.  It was sweet.)

 

Countless hugs and kisses later (not at all creepy like Michael Scott and Holly during last week’s PDA episode of The Office) the celebration began with pink champagne and mini burgers.  After filling me in on all the details of his planning process, we headed back up to the room for “more surprises”.  While we had been toasting and calling family at the bar – the engagement elves had filled our room with hundreds of candles, pink roses, rose petals, chocolate treats, and a bottle of 1980 (the year of my birth) Dom Pérignon that Brett special ordered.  So thoughtful, right?

Our Special Champagne

 

We stayed up into the wee hours of the morning (it was easy with the help of our jet lag) talking, planning, and toasting to our future.  And in the morning – the only appropriate thing to do was to continue the celebration with room service.  It was a perfect night.  I am an extremely happy and an incredibly blessed lady!

And, obviously…I forgave him for rushing me!

The Morning After Breakfast...Everything Frette!

Miracle on Xiang He Yuao Road

28 Dec

Christmas Tree Lot - Beijing Style

The title of this blog might be a bit of a stretch.  I don’t mean to insinuate that either of us defended the existence of Santa Claus within the Chinese court system (although best I can tell – the court system here has one simple step: a payoff).  I do believe; however, that we did have a little miracle of our own here on Xiang He Yuao Road (our street). It all began with our first Chinese Christmas Tree…

We were thrilled to learn that our favorite flower market was selling live Christmas Trees of a respectable size.  It was Griswold time – Charlie Brown style wasn’t going to cut it for our first Christmas away from all of our family.  I wouldn’t say that a glow of heavenly light surrounded the glorious pine – but we were both instantly drawn to the same 3 meter douglas fir with an endearing floppiness to it.  While the tree keepers cleaned and trimmed our chosen tree, we headed inside to buy lights and other trimmings.

Our Griswold Tree - It Hits the Ceiling!

The selection of ornaments and garlands was staggering.  I was actually expecting to have to decorate the tree with my collection of bangles – but no need.  We bought tons of twinkle lights, balls of every color and size, oversized bells, crystal ice cycles, and meters upon meters of garlands.  But the highlight of the day was finding our over the top tree topper – a flashing red light reading Merry Christmas – so tacky it was cute.  Of course it wasn’t intended to be a tree topper – so we convinced the electrician on call (as if such a thing existed  – it was a sales clerk) to rewire it with a cord long enough to read the top of the tree.  In retrospect this was our dumbest idea ever.

The tree was delivered about an hour later (still with its roots in a giant barrel mind you…making it quite a bit taller and quite a bit more Griswold than we anticipated). With It’s A Wonderful Life on in the background, we strung our lovely tree with hundreds of twinkle lights and decked it with glittering ornaments.  Then, we snuggled up on the couch with a glass of champagne each to admire our work.  It was lovely.  A little scrappy – but lovely nonetheless.

Sheng Dan Liwu - Christmas Gifts

We dozed off at some point – lulled to sleep by Christmas music and the sweet glow of our tree.  Somewhere between falling asleep and total dream zone I awoke to a loud pop.  I could tell something was different about the room…and then, it hit me like a Mack truck. The lights on the tree blew out.  I woke Brett to give him the bad news that we would have to start all over tomorrow.  Oh well…we both agreed.  Worse things have happened.  Actually, worse things were about to happen.  FIRE!!  The entire surge protector (some protector, right?) was engulfed in flames rising quickly up the cords just centimeters away from torching the curtains, the wall, and obviously the entire tree.  I ran to get a big blanket to snuff it out while Brett carefully pulled the cords away from the wall as best he could.  Luckily, he put it out before it caused any major damage.  But we definitely learned our lesson…don’t Clark Griswold your tree.  (FYI – I went to IKEA the next day and purchased extra cool, energy-saving lights…I wasn’t going to take any chances. And, although the topper remained in place, it was never turned on again.)

Christmas Eve at Jaan - 1920's Style. BTW- I am going to incorporate wrist corsages into my daily life. Love them! FASHION: White Iisly Bunny Fur Shrug with Silver Sequined Trim, Black Strapless Ted Baker Silk Jersey Gown and Feather Headpiece

Other than the tree fiasco, we had a lovely Christmas, just the two of us, here in Beijing.  We started the festivities with a Pre-Christmas Eve dinner at the Kunlun Hotel’s Summit Club.  It is on the top floor, and we were able to see all the lights of the city which actually included a lot more Christmas lights than one might think.  On actual Christmas Eve, we went to Jaan, a French restaurant with beautiful art deco decor in the Raffles Hotel downtown.  They did such a lovely job. We enjoyed a five-course meal in a 1920’s themed setting with 2 different live musical performances.  First a string quartet and then a jazz band with a saxophone player that oddly bore a resemblance to Stevie Wonder and Jon Hamm as “Sergio” in the SNL Digital Short: “Cursed”.

Yes...we realize we look dorky. FASHION?? Matching Red Waffle Print Long Johns from Red Envelope

On Christmas morning, we feasted on chocolate muffins, sausage, and champagne while we played Santa in matching red long johns.  Unfortunately, the majority of those pictures (any showing us from the waist down) are not suitable for my blog.  I will just say that long johns look hilarious – and very Cousin Eddy.

Of course we wish we could have been with our families and loved ones for the holidays – but I think we found the best thing Beijing had to offer this Christmas…time with each other.

Merry Christmas!  Sheng Dan Kuai Le!

How Much is that Turkey in the Window?

23 Dec

In Our Turkey Day Aprons

Well…I never thought that buying a turkey would stress me out financially – but then again I never thought that a generic frozen turkey could cost over $100…and I have bought turkeys in NYC!  The truth is – turkey is quite a commodity here in China. But I wasn’t about to cook a Thanksgiving Dinner for Brett and all of our expat friends sans gobbler.  So – I forked over the money to the sweet lady working at the supermarket who giggled and said, “Tai gui le” – which means too expensive.  To which I replied, “Wo tong yi” – I agree.

With the turkey in hand (or in the trunk) I began the search for the other accoutrements.  Corn, potatoes, shallots, even finding butternut squash was a cake walk – but endives, chestnuts, canned pumpkin, and fresh cranberries?  Forget about it.  5 stops later – I gave up all together on the cranberries (eventually I just threw some craisins in a pot of hot water and plumped them up as much as possible before using them in my spicy cranberry relish).

One of my favorite things about the shopping excursion(s) was running into every other

Sharpening His Carving Knife

expat “homemaker” (I can’t believe I just called myself that…although a spade is a spade) out and about in search of all the same things.  I actually exchanged email addresses with a few of the other turkey day trackers, and we are now friends!  One of the markets swarming with expats is called San Yuan Li.  This local market was established years ago to cater to all of the embassies in Beijing.  So – if you can’t find what you are looking for at Jenny Lou’s or April Gourmet – San Yuan Li is the next stop.  I would have gone there for everything – but it is outside and therefore cold, and they do not have champagne, wine, or bourbon – all of which are necessary ingredients for the type of Thanksgiving I like to host!

The Menu

Because The Mayflower did not stop in China on its way to the US of A, Thanksgiving is unfortunately not a Chinese Holiday.  So – we decided to celebrate on Saturday when no one had to work. I began the preparations on Friday by making the items that would keep: butternut squash soup, creamed corn, 14 miniature pumpkin pies (one for each of us), and the chocolate torte.  This left a lot for Saturday itself – but I had a plan.  I knew that my alma mater would be playing its number one rival that day at 3:30 AM Beijing time.  So, with game day bells on, Brett and I arose before dawn to cheer on The Crimson Tide and cook a Thanksgiving Feast.  To Tom and Donna – you did an amazing job with Brett.  He is such a great helper in the kitchen!  He carved out all 14 baby pumpkins (we used them as bowls for the butternut squash soup) while I prepped the turkey and made the oyster dressing.  He peeled the potatoes while I popped green beans, and he poured the Maker’s Mark into our Diet Cokes when it was late enough in the day to not feel like total degenerates! (I mean how do you watch SEC football without at least one bourbon and diet coke?)

Turkey Day Table

With the place settings, candles, and fresh flowers (from our wonderful and freakishly cheap flower market) on the table – we were ready for our guests to arrive.  There were 14 of us in total with representatives from England, Russia, Canada, and America – specifically: Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, California, Texas, D.C. and Virginia.  Surrounding ourselves with so many wonderful new friends helped ease the pain of being away from our families, and it made giving thanks especially easy.  How blessed we are to have celebrated the most American of all holidays in such a far away land.

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