The Best of Filipino Design and Decor at Manila FAME

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Manila FAME. I was excited because as a blogger, they let me in as media and I was able to take pictures of the beautiful things that caught my eye so I can share them with you!

1-manila-fame-2016-58-001

I haven’t been to FAME in a very long time, but I remember going with my aunt when I was younger where I would always stock up on super fabulous jewelry from Cebu. The jewelry was always so unique and eye-catching that I would be asked about it whenever I wore it. This time though – married, with my own home –  I came back with another interest: Furniture and Decor. I was not disappointed!

1-manila-fame-2016-321-manila-fame-2016-161-manila-fame-2016-09

I just want to show you the highlights – the best of the best! There was so much talent in Manila FAME that my senses were overwhelmed!

Triboa Bay Living

The fluid lines of this buffet is just beautiful! And the compressed walnut tray is only P1,500. So much better quality for something of the same price in a mall.
2-manila-fame-triboa-1

This is truly my kind of art.  This Abyss Wall Art is made of solid reclaimed mahogany wood. It comes in different colors and textures. I’m loving this yellow one.
2-manila-fame-triboa-2

The Rising Chair by Robert Van Embricqs was a highlight for me in the Triboa Bay display. I have seen the videos of this groundbreaking design since I was in Berlin. I never expected to see it first hand because the designer is from Amsterdam.

2-manila-fame-triboa-3

Kenneth Cobonpue

Of course, the biggest name in the furniture industry, Kenneth Cobonpue, had a massive display. Kenneth Cobonpue counts Brad Pitt as one of his customers. He ordered a bed for him and his former Mrs., Angelina Jolie, and a crib for Shiloh.   His signature organic pieces, inspired by nature, have a playful and fun twist.

3-manila-fame-cobonpue-13-manila-fame-cobonpue-2

Manila Precious Moments

This award winning brand makes the most beautiful decor with pineapple fiber materials and beads. These angels are perfect for the Christmas tree.

5-manila-fame-precious-moments1

These would make for gorgeous wedding decor that can also be used a giveaways.
5-manila-fame-precious-moments

Selma Vito

I love versatile home pieces like these Nova lights which can be manipulated. The wood can be folded out, or into itself to create different shapes of stars while letting out different amount of lights.

The one with the child was available for pre-ordering with proceeds going to a charity.

4-manila-fame-vinci-2

Vito Selma learned from masters like Kenneth Cobonpue when he was young. He then studied interior architecture in San Francisco, worked in Johannesburg, and took up his masters in industrial design in Milan.

Vito Selma has made waves at a Philippines International Furniture Show, where his marvelous Remini bookshelf won for Best Contemporary Furniture Design and his Nova lamps were hailed Best Home Accessory.

His designs seem fluid and in motion. I like that the look can be change according to your mood.
4-manila-fame-vinci-1

Hacienda Crafts

We saw a familiar face from our time in Germany – the Hacienda Crafts and Negros-based owners who were at Manila FAME. I absolutely love this envirosocial company because not only do they make beautiful unique pieces, but their pieces tell stories – of local tribes and artisans, environmental sustainability, and of programs for women, education and other people in need.  Isn’t that just heartwarming? The seaglass votives are especially close to my heart, because I will always be an island girl.
7-manila-fame-hacienda-crafts7-manila-fame-hacienda-crafts-001

A.Garcia / +TEAK

Filipiniana take on modern chairs in a Vitra-style showcase by  A. GARCIA and +TEAK from Pampanga.

6-manila-fame-agarcia1

Love this modern use of solihiya (traditional weave used in traditional Filipino furniture) and this stool that is inspired by… can you guess? … a champagne cork cover!6-manila-fame-agarcia2

Haute Home

Love these Haute Home plate chargers. Just brings so much oomph to the table. They are custom made and can be ordered in different colors with so many designs and matching napkin rings to choose from. If after a few years you change your color motif, you can easily have them change the color of your chargers for a fee. Awesome right?!
9-manila-fame-home-10-001

The Peacock Chair Redux display

The Peacock chair is an iconic Philippine chair and it was interesting to see how teams of different artists and manufacturers reinterpreted and modernized it. Check out the different materials and concepts!

9-manila-fame-peacock-redux-19-manila-fame-peacock-redux-buensuceso

Manila FAME did not disappoint. It was thrilling to be in the midst of such artistry, talent and craftsmanship. It was indeed a feast for the senses that the Department of Trade and Industry’s CITEM arm can be proud of. They do Filipinos proud and showcase Filipino talent at it’s best.

9-manila-fame-home-38-0019-manila-fame-home-319-manila-fame-home-17

Kiculo

These beach bags from Kiculo are the epitome of class. In my book, the perfect chic white beachbags! OMG I so wanted to buy the one- unfortunately it was just for display at the moment. Must order soon. 10-manila-fame-kiculo110-manila-fame-kiculo2

At 30mins before closing time I rushed over to the fashion hall and got myself a Filipiniana bag from LARONE (Can you believe this is only Php800 or ca. $16?) and tons of toddler-friendly necklaces from ISLAND GIRL.

10-manila-fame-laronecrafts

IslandGirlPH

I may love uniform dressing in very basic pieces but I adore my jewelry! As a new mom, I’ve missed wearing necklaces, because my little hulk always grabs it. The Island Girl rope necklaces were exactly what I was looking for! Fabulous enough for mom and sturdy enough for my toddler to play with. #WinWin

10-manila-fame-islandgirlph1

islandgirlph2-45-002

ASEAN Crafts to the World Pavilion

Master Craftsmen from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam presented innovative applications of traditional techniques and native materials. This massive yellow creation that looks like a top and a lemon juicer is a toy for kids to exercise balance.

9-manila-fame-asean1

Manila FAME 

The Philippine’s premier design and lifestyle event, Manila FAME is a bi-annual showcase of craftsmanship, design innovation, and artisanship in Philippine products. It features finely selected furniture and home furnishings, holiday gifts and décor, and fashion accessories designed and crafted in the Philippines for the global market.

Manila FAME is organized by the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), through the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM). It is the second longest-running trade show in the Asia-Pacific, and is the only trade event in the country that is approved by Union des Foires Internationales (UFI), or the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, a Paris-based association of trade fair organizers founded 90 years ago in Milan, Italy in April 1925.

Hej, Hey, HAY!

Last night I attended the opening of Design Story in Uptown Mall BGC. I usually avoid going out during rush hour… but seeing one my favorite design brands being launched in Manila is one of the few things that can make me brave Manila traffic. It’s all for the love of the beautiful Scandinavian design brand HAY. LOL.  designstory-launch-hay-ph-22

You know it’s a classy and delicious event when Gaita Fores’ Cibo di M does the food. I only needed to see her signature earthy table arrangements and homemade potato chips to know that she was catering.

designstory-launch-hay-ph-11

The launch was done with Real Living Magazine and Uptown Mall, a Megaworld Luxury Development.

designstory-launch-hay-ph-50

I’ve loved Scandinavian design before we even moved to Europe, because of the simple lines, bright and light aesthetics and highly functional pieces – minus the excess baggage or heaviness of traditional designs. In fact, one of our musts when we look for a flat to rent is that it should be all white. This is strangely very hard to find here in the Philippines, while it is the standard in Berlin.

design-story-hay-phdesign-story-hay-ph-005

I’m happy to notice that since we’ve moved back to Manila, I’ve found that slowly there are more choices for those who don’t find dark wood and too warm colors very appealing.

Truth be told, I hoarded some HAY items like my beloved gold pens and gold scissors before moving to Manila. I’m delighted that I can get my stash here without having to travel to Europe.

designstory-launch-hay-ph-23

This DLM table in white is my favorite. It’s easy to place it by the window, where it will serve as a perfect canvas for your styled IG photo of the day, or drag it next to the couch to enjoy a morning cup of coffee. The handle at the top explains why Thomas Bentzen’s table is aptly named ‘Don’t Leave Me’. Abbreviated to DLM, the little handle allows you to carry the metal side table with you from room to room, so it will always be by your side. Although it’s lightweight and portable, the three legs are very stable.

designstory-launch-hay-ph-42

I am obsessed with gold. I like to have little flashes of gold in my all white and wood home. The pale gold matte bottle opener is just divine.

designstory-launch-hay-ph-53

HAY is a Danish designer and manufacturer of contemporary furniture, accessories, lighting and rugs. Since 2002, the Danish brand has been successful in “creating durable quality furniture at affordable prices to allow as many people as possible to enjoy excellent design.”

design-story-hay-ph-003design-story-hay-ph-002

Through its furniture and accessories collections, Hay, which was founded by Rolf and Mette Hay, has always paid homage to the age of Danish Modern, where quality, craftsmanship and humanistic design put Denmark on the global map.

designstory-launch-hay-ph-48

The brand continues to explore the current possibilities in home and office design with new technologies, new materials and new ways of living with furniture. Some of its popular pieces are already part of permanent collections in prestigious art museums and exhibits, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, and Les Arts Decoratifs, Paris.

design-story-hay-ph-007

HAY’s most versatile furniture series is the About a Chair. May I have this fully upholstered, with wheels and a gaslift pretty please?!? #DiploLustList for sure!

designstory-launch-hay-ph-51

They were giving away some goodies, with About A Chair as the grand prize for the winner of their Instagram contest. My photo was nowhere near as creative as the winners. Check out more IG pics of the event at #DesignStoryLaunch.

HAY is also joined by another international brand, Stellar Works, in Design Story. it’s a little bit too warm for my taste but it’s still good complimentary design for those who don’t want to go Scandi all the way.

design-story-hay-ph-004

The official launch of HAY and Stellar Works at Design Story  marks the luxury brands’ first-time presence in the Philippines. The east and west designs of HAY and Stellar Works are displayed in a single showcase. design-story-hay-ph-006

Design Story is the brainchild of partners Joseph & Stephanie Coyiuto-Tay, and Dana Uy. The Tays bring in almost a decade’s worth of furniture expertise, and are behind the uber-successful home design store Casa Bella. Design Story is the Tays and Uy’s second venture, after Furninova in New Manila, launched back in 2014.

DESIGN STORY INC

(02) 815 6022 | open everyday 10.00-22.00

3rd floor, Uptown Place Mall, 11th Avenue corner 36th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City

How to hang paintings without damaging your walls

This is a quick and easy guide using my best discovery yet: UHU Patafix Putty. It’s a renters best friend. I’ve been using to put up LED motion sensor lights, clocks, paintings, picture frames, AC remote cradles, etc! I got mine from BAUHAUS in Germany as it is a German product, but if you are interested it is also available on Amazon.com.

This amazing power putty comes in two types: PROPower or deco.

All you need are:

  1. UHU Patafix putty
  2. Weighing scale *ooops correction on image below: STRICTLY
  3. Measuring stick (so much better than a measuring tape)
  4. Level
  5. Isopropyl alcohol & tissue
  6. Someone to assist you

  
  

Almost done!

I was a little bit off on the last one, and despite being a perfectionist, experience has taught me that perfection is not worth the stress. Even if I had hired a pro, they make mistakes too… but we just don’t notice them. When it comes to DIY I try to focus more on the overall joy of doing something myself AND enjoying the beauty of the results instead of being bothered by tiny mistakes. #PerfectlyImperfect

If you can’t find UHU Patafix Putty, here is another way to put up lighter items on your wall without creating holes that need to be filled and painted over later on:

How to use painter’s tape to hang stuff without damaging your wall

//   This post contains affiliate links, but I am genuinely excited to share this wonderful product that has made moving in less stressful and simpler.  I purchased the product with my own money.  If you are interested in trying it out, would love it if you use the affiliate links in this post to help me keep up my blog. Thanks!   //

How to update your space with Lucite

Did you know that lucite is just a more fabulous name for Acrylic, Acrylic Glass or Plexi Glass? Yup, they are all one and the same. Other names are Polymethylmethacrylate or PMMAAcrylite, and Perspex.

What’s there to love about acrylic?

  • SPACE SAVING. Because it’s transparent, it doesn’t take up visual space and keeps small spaces feel open.
  • EXPAT FRIENDLY. Looks like glass but will be easier to move with because it is lighter and less fragile than glass, which means wont need as much padding and take up as much space in your shipment.
  • LUXE. Makes any ordinary object – like a stapler – into a piece of art.

DIPLO LUST LIST: Lucite Love

Below are 10 wonderful ways to update your space with lucite. A little lucite goes a long way so don’t go overboard or you will feel like you are living in a glass house. Don’t be afraid to mix them with your existing style and turn traditional into eclectic.

1. Pretty desk accessories makes mundane tasks a pleasure.
gold-acrylic-stapler

HC-4EBZ_mz

2. Book cart that would be perfect for the nursery.

Now-You-See-Acrylic-Book-Cart

3. Simple desk which would be divine for a simple home office.
hanging-leaning-grey-floor-mirror

4. Love the idea of using tablets with gold clips to hang on the wall to make a pretty cool inspiration board.

DIY-Gold-+-Acrylic-Clipboards-1

5. Clear organizers are the best for accessories so you know where everything is.4160044

6. Cube coffee tables amazing because you can change the look, by changing the contents and even do seasonal decor.

0802
7. Lucite side table for your telephone, directories and guest book.
4876ad6391f4583c7b5ef20012ac9f91

8. Isn’t this lucite bar cart divine? Practical too because it’s easy to clean and no need to worry about spills.peekaboo-clear-rolling-two-shelf9. I would love to have a lucite telephone like this. 
2c6eaac140078c89f75a84307185cd7b

10. Last but not the least a lucite designer art piece called illusion. It has a great story behind it. All Illusion tables are hand made in Germany and all are unique – not a single one is identical to another.
Essey-Illusion-100859.XL

Whether you are an urban nomad expat or have lived in your home your whole life I hope this post has inspired you to update a little corner of your home. Sometimes even little changes like an accessory can make a big difference in how you feel while doing your everyday routines. 

 

featured image via making me // diy desk accessories

all images are credited to their owners (click on images for sources)

EXPAT LIFE: When home has changed as much as you have

Manila

I can’t believe that after more than 6 years living overseas, we are finally back in Manila! I was really excited to speak the language, be back to everything familiar and feel at home. I was in for a surprise!

I never thought I would say this, but after only 3 years without coming back for a visit, Manila seems so different!

I was shocked by how much the prices have gone up. How did it get so high in 3 years? This is bittersweet. Yes it is stressful to look for additional means of income to cover the higher cost of living. (So please do support my little blog by clicking on links But it is also sweet, because it means that Manila is progressing. The prices of rent and property are going up because there are many more expats in Manila. The economy is progressing, prices are going up and hopefully the income of people are going up too!

The traffic is way worse. I always thought Jakarta traffic was worse, but I think Manila has caught up. I can complain about it, or think positive and hope that this amount of traffic becomes a tipping point, so that the movers and shakers finally see the need for more efficient forms of public transport, better city planning – wider roads, zoning and limiting of number of vehicles that can be owned – so that we don’t have too many people and cars for the capacity of roads.

Vibrant, crazy Metro Manila has grown in so many ways. The skyline itself has changed. I didn’t expect I would have any anxiety about driving in Manila, after all this is where I am from. But with so many new developments, I feel lost in certain areas where entire communities have popped up.

It was different during our four years in Jakarta, because we kept coming home every few months, but during our 2+ years in Berlin, we decided it was better to explore Europe while we were there.

As we come back home, we are much changed after living in two very different countries and cultures. But like us, Manila has also changed and grown.

I remember reading an article about expat life, when we began this crazy adventure more than half a decade ago. I’m paraphrasing here, but it said that when you’ve lived abroad, you not only feel like an outsider abroad, but when you go home, you also feel like a bit of an outsider too, because you have missed so much of what’s happened at home.

Now I realize how true this is. And that this is okay. I will just have to get to know Manila again. Expat life has taught me resilience, finding beauty and joy wherever I am, and that home is wherever my husband and our little family is.

Have you ever lived abroad? How many years were you away and what was it like for you coming back home? What changes did you notice the most? Were there things that were the same, but that you weren’t used to any more? How did you cope with these things?  Post it in the comments below and let’s discuss!

image via best expat cities | migrating miss

DIPLO PICKS: Smart and Stylish Baby Gear

Baby gear can definitely overrun your life. Your once beautiful home can become cluttered with so much stuff that can be an eye-sore with loud colors. You can also be wasting your money with multiple products that aren’t designed to last. So I want to share with you some finds, that might not be the cheapest, but work hard for your money by having multiple purpose or making babying more convenient, while staying stylish. Just because we’ve had a baby, we still deserve to be stylish and live life elegantly.

diplo picks smart stylish baby gear

 

1. Skip Hop Grab and Go Stroller Organizer

  • Stylish chevron organizer that fits different stroller bars/handles.
  • Stretchy so insulated drink holders fit most cup and bottle sizes
  • Handy Zip-off wristlet for valuables
  • Light and stores flat

2. Baby Diaper Canvas Tote Bag

  • I have a bigger, not as stylish JJ Cole Linden Diaper Bag, but there are times when I don’t need to bring too much stuff, but still want useful pockets and (must-have) insulation for baby bottle. I am drooling over this slimmer, stylish diaper bag.
  • The cotton material is not stain repellent, but it can go in the wash!
  • Zipper closure is a must for diaper bags to keep stuff secure and prevent them from falling out.
  • Tote handle + detachable shoulder strap keeps hands free for carrying baby.
  • BONUS: cushioned changing pad and stroller straps.

3. Nuna Sena Travel Bed

  • This is a beautifully made travel bed and the color is a luxe kind of gray. Really a level above most flimsy travel beds – so it can withstand the moving and travel that’s part of expat life.
  • We have the Stokke Sleepi crib but needed a travel bed for when the in-laws baby sit, and also for our move from Berlin to Manila. The heavier solid wood Stokke went in the shipment, while the Nuna went with on airfreight so we had something for Diplo Baby while waiting for our shipment. 
  • During pack up it was useful to have a bed that could go in any room we are in, a safe space for baby to play and sleep while Mama and Papa were busy.
  • Most importantly it is simple to assemble and disassemble. It needs some muscle because of the robust material, but no complicated instructions.

4. Bumkins Waterproof Wet Bag

  • Great for carrying cloth diapers, dirty lampins (muslin cloth to wipe drool and spit ups, swaddle or diaper) and clothes
  • Easy wipe waterproof fabric, stain and odor resistant.
  • I like the extra pocket in the sides for clean diapers.
  • Machine washable, but must be hung to dry. 
  • Lead free, PVC free, BPA free, phthalates free, and vinyl free.

5. Thirsties Wet Bag

  • You can’t have too many waterproof  bags for baby (especially if you use cloth diapers like we do) and travel.
  • Love that this it folds into this neat little bundle for storage.
  • Handle can be use to strap it onto stroller handles. 
  • Fits up to 8 diapers and inserts & keeps odor and moisture in.
  • Unlike other wetbags that have a waterproof lining + fabric top, this is only one layer so it dries faster.

6. Baby Björn Bouncer

  • This simple yet effective bouncer totally goes with my nursery palate. 
  • I got the soft breathable mesh fabric in Silver – perfect for Berlin summers or year round in the tropics. 
  • The most mobile rocker out there – uber light, folds flat. Easy to store and travel with. 
  • Rocking develops baby’s motor skills and balance in a natural way. No batteries or electricity required.
  • Can be used from birth!
  • 3 differen’t posisitons – baby can even sleep in it for short naps.

7. Baby Zen YoYo newborn stroller

  • Super light stroller 6kg ca. that folds small enough to carry on the plane and store in the overhead storage.
  • TRAVEL BENEFITS: 1) it’s not counted with your carry-on, 2) you get to use it during lay-overs 3) baby can ride it and the diaper bag can hang on it while deplaning via tube – which keeps your other hand free for your hand-carry trolley.
  • It’s the only stroller that folds with it’s newborn nest – no need to remove like other carrycots.
  • Once you’ve practiced a little, it easily folds and unfolds – like magic I tell you – when there are stairs so you don’t need to look for an elevator every time. If you don’t believe me check out the video below.

8. Nuna Leaf Curv

  • Finally a baby swing that fits into a stylish home. And how can I resist the color “french grey?”
  • I love that it doesn’t look like most swings/rockers with all the baby colors, cartoon characters, lights, music and sounds.
  • SUPER easy to assemble – only 2 parts. It’s not light, but it will definitely last till it’s weight limit of 60kg.
  • Eco-smart, no batteries or electricity needed. Goes back to the natural way swings worked before.
  • Grows up with your child and can be a super comfy reading chair. Many of the crazy contraptions out there are expensive – € 70-150 only up to 9 months – and aren’t even made well. I got my leaf for €180, but it will last till adulthood even.
  • This isn’t for paren’t who want the swing/rocker to do the soothing for them or to leave their baby in the swing for an hour or two. Personally I like that I need to take a break from computer every few minutes to nudge the swing with my feet and interact with baby.
  • The additional bar – though pricey – is so easy to attach and gives baby endless fun. I just wish that they already included it with the price.

9. Diaper Clutch Diaper and Wipe Case 

  • The navy chevron is so chic, you wouldn’t know it was for poop and pee changes!
  • Keeps diapers and wipes in one stylish case – the easy access window keeps wipes accessible and hassle free!
  • Grab and go for a quick change.
  • 100% Cotton, hand wash cold, lay Flat to Dry

I picked the color gray for the things that DiploBaby uses constantly, I think gray looks so chic and with mint green highlights and a mostly white room, the look is understated and elegant. Best thing about it is it’s easy to keep clean, stains aren’t easily noticeable.

Also gray is unisex (grey, light pink and white for baby girls are so chic!) and can easily be used with a future sibling, IF we decide to have another one. It’s also easy to resell because if the color is very specific, then it reduces the number of people you can sell it to.

Do you have other items to add to this smart and stylish baby gear list? Would love to hear!

DIPLO PICKS: Natural Baby Skin Care Essentials

I feel very fortunate to be in Germany, the home of the most amazing natural brands in the world, Weleda. I am a big fan of this Homeopathic brand, because they only use only the highest quality natural ingredients that agree with baby’s delicate skin and aid its healthy development.

weleda baby

Weleda is Certified Natural Baby Care. Free of synthetic preservatives, fragrances, colourants. Free of raw material derived from mineral oils, such as petroleum or paraffin, which form a film over the skin. Instead they are made from 100% natural ingredients including soothing extracts of organic calendula and chamomile, and gentle essential oils of lavender, ylang-ylang and orange – warming, nourishing and nurturing.

Natural Baby Skin Care Essentials

Midwives are part of every pregnancy in Germany – they come before baby to help mama prepare and after to make sure both mama and baby are doing well. Our midwife Anne gave us samples of the products which she and her patients love. I was surprised that there were only a handful.

waschlotion

1. Weleda Calendula Shampoo & Washlotion

Mostly I just use water during bath time, but I’ll put a dot on my hand and lather just for baby’s stinky bits when needed.

calendula cream

2. Weleda Calendula Cream

I only use this when I see the start of skin irritation. I make sure to dry the skin well before applying or it defeats the purpose of the cream.

calendula baby oil

3. Weleda Calendula Baby Oil

I put this on baby’s scalp to sit for several minutes before his bath when he had thick layer of skin that was flaking then brushed it out.  It cleared up after I did this 2 times. I also use this for extra dry patches of skin on his body and during baby massage.

white mallow

4, White Mallow Face Cream

This is for hyper-senstive skin that’s prone to itching because it also soothes irritation. I use it sparingly after I soap baby’s face, so not really everyday.

Baby Skin Care Routine

These are things we practice with Diplo Baby based on the information that I got from our German hospital and midwives. We tailored their advice to our own baby’s unique needs, and I think it’s important for every parent to know that they decide in the end.

I want to share this information because as First Time Parents it simplified things for us amidst the gazillion baby products and tips and helped manage Diplo Baby’s super sensitive skin – which he definitely got from me. (I am allergic to almost everything)

  • We only started bathing Diplo Baby after his umbilical cord fell off. This is why it dried easily and fell off quickly. We kept on asking the nurses in the hospital when we should bathe him (they only wiped him after delivery – no bathing!) and they kept on saying not yet. Finally on our 4th day I asked – when are we bathing the baby, and they told me only to wipe with moist washcloth until the umbilical cord fell off. I was so surprised and Diplo Baby remained fragrant, with smooth plum skin without any dryness or flaking.
  • We bathe Diplo Baby only 2-3 times a week. There is no specific day. We use common sense… if he has been sweating a lot or doesn’t feel/smell fresh then we bathe him.
  • On days that we don’t bath him, I wipe the stinky bits (face, behind the ears, inside ears, armpits) with Water Wipes. The crotch area gets wiped daily anyway. This is an expensive wipe, but is the purest wipe made only with water and 0.1% fruit extract – so I know it is safe to use on his face.
  • During  diaper changes we use Hipp Ultra Sensitive Wet Wipes, but ONLY during poop diaper changes. Then we pat dry with a clean washcloth (we got loads of these cheap IKEA washcloths) or you can also blow on the area till it’s dry to the touch. Then we apply Calendula Cream when the area looks a little red or irritated. So far we’ve only had a diaper rash once, and only for a day. Once we put the cream it cleared up.
  • During pee diaper changes, we just pat the diaper area dry with a clean washcloth.  The midwife told us that pee is sterile and not dirty so we don’t really need to use wet wipe.

I just found this video today and I think it’s so cool that the tips and advice were exactly what the nurses and midwives in the hospital advised us.

Imagine my surprise when our health care practitioners here in Germany told me that it was best to bathe baby with only plain water. I had to repeat it just to confirm that I heard correctly. And the obsessive compulsive had to do a little research just to be convinced.

When a baby is born, the skin is protected with its own natural oils and it is important not to strip these from the skin when cleansing. Gently bathing with plain water is recommended for babies skin in the first month.  – Weleda

Baby Skin Care Nice-to-Haves

konjac

Konjac sponge

This hypoallergenic and fragrance free sponge made with from natural konjac potato is so soft, yet gently exfoliates skin.

I started using it at around the 2nd month, in places that accumulate dead skin or dirt like around the neck or arm pits, etc. This hardens when it is dry so make sure to soaked till very soft, before using.

where to buy: amazon.com | amazon.de | I’ve seen this in bio company & rossmann

 

teebaum

Primavera Tea Tree Essential Oil

This is my all around go-to skin care troubleshooter for myself and now also for Diplo Baby. It has antiseptic/anti bacterial properties so I dilute it with coconut oil or other natural oils for pimples, wounds, to sooth itchiness, and so much more. I

‘ve tried different kinds but love Primavera the best because it’s so potent that very little goes a long way.  

where to buy: amazon.com | amazon.de | most bio stores

coconut oil

Coconut Oil

We use this only when we need to apply Tea Tree Oil to rashes. This is not necessary, because you can also place mix one drop of tea tree oil with a little of the White Mallow Cream.

I always have this at home, because I use it for my face, body, lips. It’s amazing for skin irritations and to mix with essential oils – the good quality ones are too potent to use on their own.

My favorite brand comes from the grocery section of any bio/organic store because it’s used for cooking: Bio Planète Bio Kokosöl.

where to buy: amazon.com | amazon.de | most bio stores

 

 

DID YOU KNOW? Not many organic or natural products can be sold in Germany because they have VERY strict certification standards for natural and organic products. In fact the famous Mustela, only gives priority to ingredients with natural origins, but would not be sold in a bio (organic) store here. Many “organic” and “natural” products from other European countries are not fully organic, but only have a percentage that is organic – some as small as 3%. In Germany this simply will not do. Look for the certification seals for truly natural products that are made with the highest standards.

There are two kinds of Weleda baby products: 1. Calendula and 2. White Mallow. To figure out which products suit your baby’s needs best, this is a helpful guide.

 

all images are credited to their brand or owners

Safe and Stylish Baby Nests for Co-sleeping

One of our big decisions before baby arrived was: Are we co-sleeping? We wanted the benefits – convenient breastfeeding in the middle of the night among the many – but we naturally had concerns: Are we going to roll over baby? Will baby get tangled in our blankets or wedged into the middle of the bed. I hear this is totally normal, especially for #FirstTimeParents or FTPs. Ideally when co-sleeping, baby is in the side of the bed that is against the wall, but this was not possible, so we found a solution with baby safely in the middle of our German bed: a baby sleeping nest!

Did you know? Germans beds are typically 2 single beds put together, instead of one big bed, so there is a crack in the middle where things like our mobile phones and remote controls disappear.

More reasons I love nests:

  • They don’t take up floor space like bassinets/moses baskets.
  • Can be placed in the crib, making baby feeling snug,  secure and easing the transition to sleeping in the crib.
  • Doubles as a travel bed. No need to bring heavy folding travel cots or request for a baby bed in the hotel. (This sorta freaks me out – are they really clean?)
  • Easy to breastfeed or soothe baby to sleep without getting out of the bed.

Whether you are looking to save or splurge on a nest, below are modern stylish baby nests that give FTPs peace of mind and beautifully blend into home interiors.

CocoonaBaby by Red Castle

This aptly named cocoon, by French company Red Castle, was what we purchased. It is very compact (fits between us on our 180 cm width bed) and a truly ergonomic nest. When we first saw it in BabyKorb we were impressed with the high quality materials and simplicity of the design. We hesitated a while before we bought it, because it’s a bit pricey (cheaper to get in Europe of course) but, boy, were we glad we did when Diplo Baby popped out! Worth every cent.cocoonababy red castle

He loved sleeping in it as a new born, because it let’s babies lie in a semi-fetal position, similar to how he was in mommy’s tummy. He looked so cozy! Because of it’s robust and strong (yet airy!) structure, we could move Diplo Baby from room to room without waking him. This especially convenient on the first few weeks when babies sleep most of the day.  Diplo Baby went from the bed, to the sofa and we never had to worry about him falling, because he was securely strapped in.

As parent’s we loved it because it places the baby in a higher level while with us on the bed, reducing the chances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). We slept better and deeper during our short snoozes, confident that our baby was safe.  It comes with a washable cover and safety strap.

WHERE TO BUY: amazon.com | amazon.de | babykorb berlin

 

Happy Dots Cozy Nest by Done By Deer

Danish design company Done by Deer creates colorful children’s things that adults actually like and wouldn’t mind having strewn around the house. Attractive graphic designs with Scandinavian color themes that babies love, yet stylish additions to the home, instead of eyesores to hide when guests arrive.  I know I wouldn’t mind having this around the house.

done_by_deer_nestchen_f_r_babybett_dots_grau

With the drawstring, it’s adjustable and double sided – simply flip for a different look.

WHERE TO BUY: smalleable | kleinefabriek berlin

SwaddleMe By Your Side Sleeper

Currently the #1 New Release in Nursery Furniture on Amazon, this sleeper has cushion covered metal frames that protects baby from parents rolling over and mesh sides for good air circulation.  It has a removable, washable pad and folds for easy storage and travel.

SwaddleMe By Your Side Sleeper 1

Personally, I prefer not to have metallic components on my bed, but this is more for my personal comfort. This basic sleeper is definitely a more affordable co-sleeping option.

WHERE TO BUY: amazon.com 

Sleepyhead or Dock A Tot

This is on the high end of the spectrum because it is produced with the highest quality materials and standards in Sweden.  It goes up to 8/9 months and can be used as a play pen and support for tummy time. It takes up more space than the CocoonaBaby so I think it’s best if you have a huge king-sized bed. 

dockatot deluxe04_02

It took me a while to realize that Sleepyhead and Dock a Tot are one and the same so, if you are in Europe, look for Sleepyhead and DockaTot is for the US. I am thinking of getting the DockaTot/Sleepyhead Grand for when DiploBaby is older. Stay tuned for a full review!

WHERE TO BUY: dockatot usa | sleepyhead eu

Parting thoughts

When buying a nest, I recommend buying one early because you stop using it when baby starts to push up or roll-over. You might ask, why buy it at all?

As parents, the quality of the little sleep you get is so important, don’t you agree? I wanted to be able to go back to sleep easily after feeding. TD and I also take turns getting up to feed baby so having baby in between us was a must. If we had to get up to go to the baby’s bassinet, this wakes the body up and (if you have sleeping problems like me) you might not be able to go back to sleep as easily (if at all).

In the end it’s all a matter of personal choice based on our unique situations,. What do you think of using a baby nest for co-sleeping? Yay or nay? Any other nests that you would like to recommend?

all images are credited to their respective brands

Best Tips for Morning Sickness and Nausea

I’ve always been a – forgive the term – “puker.” As a child I would get sick whenever I was too nervous, scared, happy or excited, but none of it prepared me for terrible pregnancy morning sickness!

This is why I want to share with you  the tips that worked best for my morning all-day sickness and nausea in the first trimester. There will be not so diplomatic terms in this post which comes with the territory when talking about anything pregnancy and baby related. You’ve been warned!

1. Order your Sea Bands early.

You may or may not get morning sickness, but when it happens, you want to have Sea Bands on hand. My OB prescribed pregnancy-safe nausea medicines, but they did not work on me. Even if they did, I wanted to avoid medicines, because I was already taking several medicines for hereditary conditions. Sea Bands use acupressure on the wrist to control nausea.

morning sickness nausea tips sea bands

DiploTips: If you don’t get morning sickness, keep the sea bands for controlling nausea when you travel. Also there are no sizes, so it started out too tight for me. I put it around a jar for a day or two to loosen, before I could use it daily.

Where to buy: USA | Germany 1 & 2

2. Try to eat fresh-tasting and healthier food.

I thought pregnancy would be a chance to indulge in some of my guilty pleasures, but believe it or not I couldn’t eat chocolates, Cheetos and my favorite instant noodles (Japanese beef ramen and Lucky Me instant pancit canton), because they made me vomit after. It was my body telling me that these were not good for me and the baby. bolognese1

I ended up craving Bolognese pasta, pesto, strawberries and oranges. And these flavors didn’t make me sick. Sometimes I would have my favorite bolognese 3 times a day. Variety is overrated, when it comes to morning sickness. Stick with things that you know don’t make you sick and the higher in nutrients the better. 

DiploTips: Not only is bolognese sauce delicious, but it’s one of those things that tastes better the next day and freeze well. Cook a big batch, freeze in smaller bags and defrost for a quick and easy meal. Bolognese doesn’t always have to be eaten with pasta, you can also make sloppy joes, tacos, use it as a dip for nachos or top it on baked potatoes or pizza.

3. Eat many small meals instead of 3 big ones.

Start with some some saltines and water before getting up from bed. Place by your bedside at night and have a small nibble before getting out of bed. Getting up immediately after waking, without this pre-breakfast snack can cause dizziness.

crackers1

Then have small plates of not-so-rich foods throughout the day – I had 5 small meals. Try not to eat until you are completely full, because this can also lead to getting sick. Because of these smaller (and healthy cravings) I was actually slimmer during my pregnancy than before or after. Breastfeeding makes me SO hungry!

4. Peppermint Essential Oil is your best friend.

Carry a bottle in your bag to sniff, when there are nauseating smells or you are feeling dizzy. I also had a mini diffuser like below in my bag and it was useful in hotel rooms when we travelled or in the car.

Mini-Duftstein

My BFF Jenn taught me another trick with Peppermint essential oil, which I never heard of before, but was really helpful for me. Put a drop or two into the toilet water right before you hurl. Taking a few seconds to do this before you hurl is worth the effort because the strong fresh smell makes this unpleasant deed just a little more bearable.

DiploTips: Not all essential oils are made equal and I learned this by trying different ones. When buying any type of the essential oil, keep in mind that many products out there aren’t actually pure. If you can apply the “essential oil” directly on skin, then it’s not pure. Pure essential oil is too strong to put directly on skin, so it usually comes with instructions to mix 1-2 drops with another oil, like almond oil, before applying on skin. My personal favorite is this brand.

5. Diffuse water with natural flavors to make hydrating more pleasurable!

It’s common sense to increase fluid intake when pregnant, but even for someone who loves water like me, I got “sick” of plain water after 2 months. So I had to find ways to make water more pleasant and refreshing to drink. For people who don’t like water, this can be a lifesaver during pregnancy.  Staying hydrated is especially important when you have morning sickness because you lose a lot of water. lemon-water

My favorite was to add around 2 tbsps of Apfelschorle to a big cold glass of sparkling water (my favorite is this brand). Apfelschorle is a popular sparkly apple drink here in Germany and it is made with natural apple juice, not artificial flavors. No Apfelschorle? No problem! Just add a little of your favorite juice to sparkling water too make it taste more refreshing, minus all the unhealthy sugar that comes with drinking pure juice.

Another thing you can do is put slices of lemon or cucumber in your water carafe. You can also use slices of orange, strawberries, etc. and even some fresh herbs, like mint. Prepare and leave in the chiller overnight and the water will be nice and flavorful the next day. You can refill multiple times – feel free to muddle it – a until there is no more flavor. Doesn’t this flavored water recipe look refreshing? I didn’t even like cucumbers before!lime-mint-cucumber-water-recipe

What other tips can you add? What helped you with pregnancy nausea and morning sickness?  If you are pregnant and you need these tips, the good news is that, statistically, it is a good sign for your pregnancy. YAY! source: Expecting Better 

Here are more comprehensive advice on pregnancy nausea & sickness:

12 ways to ease morning sickness in photos

Natural remedies for morning sickness

Help and treatment for morning sickness and nausea

images: sea bands | bolognese | saltines | mini duftstein | lemon water

10 Stylish Space-saving Umbrella Stands

Who says umbrella stands have to be an unsightly necessity that’s best hidden behind doors? Who says they have to be round? Here are some chic and out-of-the-box space-saving designs that can protect floors from wet umbrellas, are easy to clean, light and easy to move around, yet stable enough to hold umbrellas upright. Which one would you pick from the drool-worthy#DiploLustList?

Click on the names to find where you can order them. It’s mostly Amazon and Rakuten, so (usually) ships internationally.

1. AKI Umbrella Stand by B-Line

Though it comes with a Japanese name (AKI is the Japanese world for Autumn) it comes from Italian design brand B-Line. This umbrella stand is simple and slim yet very easy on the eyes. It can fit behind any door, but doesn’t have to because of its clean modern design.  aki umbrella stand b-lineaki umbrella stand b-line 2

2. Smart Umbrella Stand by Yamazaki

The Smart umbrella stand, from Japanese company Yamazaki, is really very cleaver. It organizes full-sized umbrellas and small folding ones tidily with an closed from and open back. Small umbrellas are as easy to reach as the tall ones. The open-sides make it easy to dry and a removable base an easy clean.

yamasaki smart umbrella stand 1Smart Umbrella stand

3. Oval Umbrella Stand by Yamazaki

I’ve seen an mitation of this on Amazon and the complaint is that it is too small and topples over with a full-sized umbrella, but the original from Yamazaki should be able to carry full sized umbrellas, as well as folding ones, as pictured. I only wish the base were white instead of black.

yamazaki oval umbrella stand

4. Tosca Umbrella Stand by Yamazaki

This Yamazaki stand is so pretty and practical at the same time! I can imagine it in a Japanese zen style or a Scandinavian style all white home.

yamazaki tosca umbrella stand

5. Brick Umbrella Stand by Yamazaki

Another gorgeous one from Yamazaki (last one I promise!) is the Brick Umbrella Stand. Clean and geometric, this is the very definition of store and display. Functional art pieces like these are a pleasure to  use and to look at. yamazaki brick umbrella stand

6. Poppins umbrella stand by Magis

No need to worry about placing dripping umbrellas in this durable glossy injection moulded plastic. Because of it’s triangular shape, it’s perfect for corners, but it can also standalone without a wall. It comes from Italian design company Magis, the makers of many functional art pieces like this iconic piece.


magis poppins umbrella stand 2magis poppins umbrella stand

7. Splash Umbrella Stand by Plus D

This rubber umbrella stand by Japanese company +D is small but holds up to 12 umbrellas because you can put them inside and outside for dry. If you have a lot of visitors or just a whole lot of umbrella’s then this small but hardworking umbrella stand is a great buy.

 

splash umbrella stand Dplus 3splash umbrella stand Dplus

7. Square Splash Umbrella Stand by + D 

Also from + D, is the Splash Square, which has the added feature of being able to hold a folding umbrella upright, unlike it’s predecessor. Like the original Splash, it comes in many cute colors and small but holds many umbrellas. It can hold up to 9 full sized umbrellas or 5 full-sized and 1 folding.

splash square plus d umbrella stand splash square plus d umbrella stand 2

8. Antenna Umbrella Stand by Sieve

Space-saving yet totally chic is this Antenna stand by Sieve, another Japanese brand. It is super functional with 1) water receiving tray with non-slip lining. 2) 2 posts to hang up smaller umbrellas and 3) a sturdy steel base that wont topple despite the light airy design. sieve antenna umbrella stand sieve antenna umbrella stand 2

9. Layer Umbrella Stand by Yamazaki

Another winning Japanese design from Yamazaki, the Layer Umbrella stand combines form with function. Its sleek, steel, space saving design can carry approximately 6 umbrellas.

yamazaki layer umbrella stand

10. Yamazaki Angle Umbrella Stand

Another minimalist Yamazaki design that is modern, space saving and very stable.  It comes in black and brown base and can cold up to 5 full sized umbrellas.

yamazaki angle umbrella stand

It’s no surprise that many of the umbrellas in this list are from Japanese companies, because with how limited space is in Japanese homes, they have come up with practical, space saving umbrella stands without compromising style.

#DiploTips: As expats we move a lot and we don’t know how small or big our next apartment will be. For urban nomads and today’s modern, mobile lifestyle here are some great criteria that I find useful when choosing things for our home:

  • Is it well-made and sturdy enough to survive “furniture stress” in our moving container
  • Does it take minimal physical and/or visual space?
  • Is it modular or flexible to fit with different spaces?
  • Will it look good with the rest of my furniture?
  • Can it be disassembled and take up less space in our moving container?
  • If not, then is it made of sturdy material that will not need to be protected by layers and layers of bubble wrap?

If you don’t have access to online stores or shops that carry these, you can also use a beautiful vase! Look for one that is heavy so it wont topple over with long umbrellas, like this gold terracotta one I had  in Jakarta. Go to a

All images are accredited to their owners/brands. This post may contain affiliate links.

YANGON: Lunch with a Panoramic City View

One unforgettable restaurant in Yangon was on the 20th floor of the Sakura Tower, called Thiripyitsaya Sky Bistro.

yangon-thiripyitsaya-sky-bistro-restaurant-002yangon-thiripyitsaya-sky-bistro-restaurant-009yangon-thiripyitsaya-sky-bistro-restaurant-012 yangon-thiripyitsaya-sky-bistro-restaurant-010 yangon-thiripyitsaya-sky-bistro-restaurant-011

The food wasn’t great, an eclectic mix of cuisines, but we already knew we were coming for 1) the panoramic city view and 2) the ice cold beer!

yangon-thiripyitsaya-sky-bistro-restaurant-001yangon-thiripyitsaya-sky-bistro-restaurant-008 yangon-thiripyitsaya-sky-bistro-restaurant-015

You can see all the way to the Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon’s iconic pagoda. It was nice to spend a relaxed lunch in a higher and cooler altitude from the hot, dusty streets below.
yangon-thiripyitsaya-sky-bistro-restaurant-013yangon-thiripyitsaya-sky-bistro-restaurant-016

I can bet it’s beautiful to see the city lights come alive in the evenings here too, with a glass of ice cold local Myanmar beer. yangon-thiripyitsaya-sky-bistro-restaurant-004

It’s not the cheapest place, but might be worth it for a chillax downtime and free WIFI.

yangon-thiripyitsaya-sky-bistro-restaurant-017

Thiripyitsaya Sky Bistro

339, 20th Flr., Bogyoke Aung San Rd. (Sule Pagoda Rd.), Yangon, KTDA 11182, Myanmar
+95 1 255 277
tripadvisor | facebookfoursquare

BAGAN: Weather Spoon’s Burger

After eating local food for days in Myanmar, we were really craving some western food. Luckily we were in Bagan and a friend told us about Weatherspoon’s delicious burgers.

weatherspoons-burger-bagan

Weather Spoon’s is a small family-owned place by the side of the road. It is ranked #1 in Bagan restaurants not because of the ambiance, but because of the quality of their food. I have to agree… we ate in more expensive, nicer, air-conditioned restaurants with nice views, but the food here is good old comfort food served by the very friendly owners.weatherspoons-bagan-restaurant-burger-003

Young Win Tun, the owner of Weather Spoon’s Bagan, served us ice cold Myanmar Beer, and told us that he spent some time in the UK studying balloon piloting and, though his place is not related to the UK pub chain Wetherspoon’s, he was inspired by his time in the UK to put up a pub in Bagan that served decent burgers.

weatherspoons-burger-bagan-002weatherspoons-bagan-restaurant-burger-002weatherspoons-burger-bagan-001

The burger was heaven after days of local cuisine. The patty was thick and juicy with generous veggies, and the beer battered fries amazing. I wish we had time to come back and try out the Thai and other dishes that people are raving about in the other reviews. As you can see the walls are filled with scribbles of happy customers.

weatherspoons-bagan-restaurant-burger-006weatherspoons-bagan-restaurant-burger-005

It was a quiet night when we went, and I wonder if you will find it this quiet nowadays that its ranked #1 on tripadvisor?  weatherspoons-bagan-restaurant-burger-007

I want to share with you a cautionary tale. This is not to turn anybody off from eating in Weather Spoon’s but rather a cautionary tale for anyone visiting Myanmar and wishes to prevent an upset stomach.

The evening we were in Weather Spoon’s there was a blackout (Does this still happen in as often in Bagan till today? I’d love to know!) and to apologize for the inconvenience Win Tun gave us a big bowl of fruits for dessert. He was being so nice, but because it was dark we did not notice that the fruit pieces (even the banana slices) had been washed and were swimming in water. Had there been enough light then we would have noticed. So we happily ate the fruits and it gave us the very worst… let me put it delicately… food poisoning ever. Our theory is that the fruits were washed with tap water and not with mineral water. This would really explain it because locals are able to drink tap water which comes from the river, but tourists have not built up a tolerance to their river water and it is not recommended to drink anything but bottled purified or mineral water while in Myanmar.

If I were to go back to Bagan, I would still love to go back to Weather Spoon’s, but I will stick to my rules of refraining from raw fruit or vegetables that is swimming in water. And eating mostly cooked items to prevent any tummy upsets. These rules apply also to the more high end restaurants in Myanmar and even in places like Jakarta where the water quality isn’t great.

weatherspoons-bagan-restaurant-burger

 

Have you ever eaten in Weather Spoon’s Bagan? Drop me a line, I would love to hear your favorite dishes there! 

 

Weather Spoon’s Bagan

Restaurant Row, Yarkinthar St, Nyaung Oo, BaganMyanmar map
+95 9 430 92640
open everyday 09.00 – 22:00
tripadvisor | facebookgoogle+ | lonely planet
featured image via

TRAVEL DIARIES: Most Memorable Myanmar

myanmar pagodas bagan-006

Myanmar is one of the most exotic places I’ve been to. Going there in 2012 was like going back in time 20 or 30 years. I am sure that since it has opened up, many things are different now. For example when we arrived we had to make sure to bring all our money in cash. Barely any place could accept credit cards, nor were there any ATMs to withdraw from. Only very few had cellphones or internet access. If you wanted to buy a SIM card (without the phone) you had to pay $750. Yikes. A colleague of TD who was based in Yangon and our wonderful hosts for our visit said that a year or so after they were finally able to get internet access – though not fast – because it became affordable. When we went they also did not have enough hotels to accommodate the growing number of tourists. Our choices were very limited and either the prices were extraordinarily high or the hotels very old. If you decide to visit Myanmar nowadays, you are very lucky because there are more value for money options to choose from!

Here are 5 of my most unforgettable experiences in exotic Myanmar.

1. Gem Shopping in Yangon Market

As a someone who is passionate about jewelry making and design, this experienced has made it to my list of favorite travel experiences in Asia! Myanmar is so rich in gems and semi precious stones, that they are still affordable to buy, if you know where to look in the Yangon Market. Once you get past the produce rows and rows of bling await! Going with someone knowledgeable about gems and jewellery is highly recommended.

yangong gem market shopping-003

The stores in the main hall pictured below are expensive.

yangong gem market shopping-004

We were taken to a small store that was on the second floor. The priced difference was very big.

gemstone-shopping-yangon-marketyangong gem market shopping-001

I never knew pink sapphires, yellow jade and many other unusual gem colors even existed? Spinel, which is even rarer than rubies and sapphires, are sold by the packs. The ones sold in packs are not perfect stones, but the price is so unbelievably low – if you know where to look.

yangong gem market shopping-002

My MIL went crazy for jade at Heyday’s shop. He even taught us the secret of Chinese of how to put very small jade bangles through your hands.
yangong gem market shoppingjade-shopping-yangon-myanmar

2. Bagan’s Pagoda Forest

Though only 2000+ still exist of Bagan’s 10,000+ pagodas it is still A LOT. With the world’s largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas, and other ruins it is no wonder our tour guide said that Bagan is a “Pagoda Forest” because everywhere you look there is a pagoda as far as the eye can see. There are so many different varieties of pagoda interior and exterior designs – big and small. It boggles my mind to imagine how they constructed them in the 11th to 13th centuries!

#DiploTips: Make sure to bring a lot of wet wipes because in all temples you must go barefoot – not even socks are allowed.

myanmar-pagodas-bagan-001 myanmar-pagodas-bagan-003

They discovered a Buddha within a Buddha in this temple.myanmar-pagodas-bagan-004

Beautiful pagoda pool reflection!myanmar-pagodas-bagan-005 myanmar-pagodas-bagan

3. Traditional Lacquer Making

I never appreciated the traditional art of lacquer making until we were shown around a workshop in Bagan. The usual lacquer items you see in cheap stalls is not the same as the “traditional lacquer,” which takes hours upon painstaking hours to create. Every step is manually and patiently labored over. Especially the colored ones, because each color layer is carved out one at a time. One small bowl can take 5 months to complete. It is no wonder that traditional Myanmar lacquer pieces are not cheap because each one is a lovingly made work of art. A traditional lacquer piece is a unique keepsake that you can treasure and pass down to your children.

The base for each item is layers upon layers of wood strips wound on top of the other.

myanmar-lacquer

A small lacquer bowl from start to finish with the different materials used.  myanmar-lacquer-003

The men do the basic drawings while the women fill in the smaller details inside. myanmar-lacquer-001 myanmar-lacquer-002 myanmar-lacquer-005

Each detail is carved by hand and so precious!
myanmar-lacquer-004

This video will show you the traditional lacquer making process in Bagan:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E04RffkCXKg]

#DiploTips: So if you have the chance to visit one and buy one of their beautiful works to support the remaining  workshops, I would highly encourage it. There are so few of these centuries old arts that remain in their original setting today. Sadly the decline in tourists and rise of resin has caused over two-thirds of Bagan’s lacquerware workshops.

4. Sunset on top of a Pagoda

There is a pagoda in Bagan where you can witness one of the most unforgettable sunsets of your life.

#DiploTips: Go early to get a good spot and climb the pagoda – barefoot of course! And be careful climbing up.

sunset-on-top-of-a-pagoda-bagan

The view of all the pagodas extending to the horizon is absolutely breathtaking. Pagodas as far as the eye can see!sunset-on-top-of-a-pagoda-bagan-002

I feel so lucky to have this once in a lifetime experience!

sunset-on-top-of-a-pagoda-bagan-001

The sun sets dramatically between two magnificent pagodas, behind a mountain. It gives me goosebumps just writing about it!sunset-on-top-of-a-pagoda-bagan-003sunset-on-top-of-a-pagoda-bagan-005sunset-on-top-of-a-pagoda-bagan-006

 

5. Shwedagon Pagoda

Of course no visit to Myanmar is complete without going to the Shwedagon Pagoda of Yangon. The riot of colors from the flowers, lights and people’s attire will astound you. At sunset it comes alive with multi-colored lights that somehow seem fitting in such an ancient structure. It is a place where locals hang out and pray. I was surprised to learn that the locals all drank from communal cups that are attached to dispensers/watertanks containing river water. I’ve never seen anything like it in all my travels.

#DiploTips: The best time to go is before sunset so you can see it by daylight and marvel at the lights coming on as dusk descends. Midday is too hot and the direct sunlight isn’t good for photograph-taking. Bring your own bottled water and perhaps a fan to beat the heat. Oh and always make sure to take note of the entrance you came in. The Shwedagon is immense and had a hard time figuring out which gate we came from – our meeting point with our driver. At that time we had no mobile phones!

shwedagon-pagoda-yangon-myanmar-001 shwedagon-pagoda-yangon-myanmar shwedagon-pagoda-yangon-myanmar-003 shwedagon-pagoda-yangon-myanmar-002

Other places in Myanmar I would love to visit

We were only able to go to the capital, Yangon, and Bagan. I would have loved to go to Inle Lake and Mandalay (especially Mogok, where the most valuable gems in the world come from). A friend of mine who gave us Myanmar travel tips highly recommended us to include it in our itinerary. Our problem was that at that time it was very hard to book a hotel if you were only booking a few months ahead. It didn’t matter how much you were willing to pay, everything was fully booked. The hotel we stayed in Yangon was not very clean but it was the only one we could find.

Nowadays visitors to Myanmar have more options, like chain hotels with international standards and reasonable prices.  TD and I like to stay in international hotels because we know we can expect convenience, nice rooms and good hygiene and sanitation.  If you want to travel to Myanmar (or other exotic Asia-Pacific destinations) this summer, I am happy to give you a tip! You can enjoy up to 40% off on trusted hotels like Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Mercure, Ibis via the AccorHotels Super Sale.

Accor Super Sale-1000x1000

TD and I go through a lot of effort to travel comfortably on our limited budget. We always look for sales like this so that we get more bang for our buck. Imagine staying in a nice hotel for almost half the price? Be sure to check out the AccorHotels Super Sale to book the best deal. Happy summer travels!

Have you been to Myanmar? What were you most memorable experiences? Drop me a comment!

 

On Being Interviewed by Tala Ocampo for #TrailingSpouseStories

I have wanted to join the #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl ever since I was asked by two bloggers and fellow trailing spouses, Tala and Didi. They came up with this brilliant concept: a venue for trailing spouses to dig deep, sharing their personal stories and connecting. Each month they explore a different theme that resonates among trailing spouses.

trailing spouse stories the diplomatic wife.02

It took me a while to finally join in, but I am so happy that I did. Tala has been my BFF for over two decades and I can always count on her to ask questions that aren’t the easiest to answer, can make you feel uncomfortable and provoke self-reflection.  Don’t get me wrong. This is good. Our deepest truths don’t always reveal themselves so easily and it can be scary to bare yourself emotionally!

I was hesitant, afraid of being misunderstood or sounding ungracious, but with Tala’s help, encouragement and reframing, I felt free to answer the very first thoughts that popped up. Tala has this innate ability to draw people out and reveal personal transformation and growth. This is what makes her an AMAZING life coach and me the luckiest BFF!

So while I choose to talk about my passions for travel, design, style and food on my blog, I’d like to invite you to take a deeper look into my life and thoughts as a Filipino, a diplomat’s wife and a trailing spouse.

On Tala’s interview post, entitled Freedom To Be Our Own Filipinas, I explore my own sense of national identity and how it shows in my day-to-day expat life.

 

Check out other #TrailingSpouseStories in this month’s blog crawl:

Clara of The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide says that although she has travelled extensively all her life and lived in many different countries, she has never felt anything but British through and through in Why I Have Always Felt British All My Expat Life.

Didi of D for Delicious discovered that when she lived outside the Philippines, she learned to embrace the entirety of her Filipino-ness – the good, the bad and the ugly in #TrailingSpouseStories: Embracing Filipino version 2.0.

Liz of Secrets of a Trailing Spouse shares how her view of her home country has changed in the four years since she left in What Is This Place I Call Home?

Tala reflects on her own rediscovery of being a Filipino abroad in The Personal is the National.

Yuliya of Tiny Expats shares that sometimes, what your national identity represents is not exactly what you would like to represent in At War With National Identity.

YANGON: Chic and Cozy Acacia Tea Salon

When we visited the Philippine Embassy in Yangon in 2012, our lovely hosts B and L (with their sweet daughter) took us to this gorgeous colonial-style tea salon, patisserie and restaurant. When you enter Acacia Tea Salon, the heat, dust and hustle and bustle of Yangon disappears and you are transformed by the tranquil serenity of the space.

acacia-tea-salon-yangon-myanmar-023acacia-tea-salon-yangon-myanmar-024

It was a treat to be able to choose from the different parts of the house and different salon seating.

acacia-tea-salon-yangon-myanmar-021acacia-tea-salon-yangon-myanmar-017 acacia-tea-salon-yangon-myanmar-019

The table setting was so pretty and chic in pale greens and whites. Food presentation was excellent.

acacia-tea-salon-yangon-myanmar-005acacia-tea-salon-yangon-myanmar-008acacia-tea-salon-yangon-myanmar-007

The highlight of the meal was tea, of course! It was a treat to choose from the patisserie.

acacia-tea-salon-yangon-004

Their selection of teas was impressive.

acacia-tea-salon-yangonacacia-tea-salon-yangon-001acacia-tea-salon-yangon-myanmar-011 acacia-tea-salon-yangon-myanmar-012

YUM! This smile explains it all. What a lovely spot in Yangon. It was so cozy and relaxed that you want to spend the whole day lounging on their comfy couches and chatting with friends. This is exactly how tea should be.

acacia-tea-salon-yangon-myanmar-013

Aren’t the interiors just gorgeous?  Perfect for entertaining guests or a ladies lunch! Thoughtfully designed spaces are so inspiring and welcoming don’t you agree? I love discovering spaces like this on my travels because it inspires me when I am decorating my home. acacia-tea-salon-yangon-003acacia-tea-salon-yangon-myanmar-014 acacia-tea-salon-yangon-myanmar-015

This colonial-style tea salon, patisserie and restaurant occupies a chic whitewashed mansion. There’s a takeaway section stocking all the lovely cakes, biscuits and savouries made here. For an indulgent time, treat yourself to one of their afternoon teas. – Lonely Planet

Acacia Tea Salon

Saya San Road, Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) map
+95 1 554 739 | info@acaciateasalon.com
Mon to Sun: 08.00 – 22.00
tripadvisor | facebook | foursquare | lonelyplanet

Nursing Nook Interior Design Inspiration

So I’m on my last trimester and I’m totally nesting. We’ve been in a whirlwind of purchasin our basic gear (carseats, cribs, strollers, etc) and assembling stuff for the nursery. One of the things that I want to have, because I plan to breastfeed, is a comfortable and serenely decorated breastfeeding corner or nursing nook. My nursery colors are shades of white, very light gray and pale mint green accents. I wanted to go for something neutral and not just the typical blue because it’s practical and saves money in the long run, IF we decide to have another baby in the future and it’s a girl. We can reuse all the stuff! Here’s what’s on my wishlist and inspiration board…

TDWdesigninspiration-Glam-Nursing-Station

 

  1. Soft organizers to hold breastfeeding and pumping necessities.
  2. Splash-proof easy to clean speakers to play lullabies, classical music or ambient sounds.
  3. Water carafe for fruit infused ice cold water to rehydrate while nursing.
  4. Comfy poof to prop my feet up.
  5. Luxuriously low comfortable lounger that will support my postur through hours of nursing.
  6. Beautiful sidetable so my entertainment (i.e. kindle or books) and water are easy to reach
  7. A carpet will prevent my parquet floors from squeaking and waking up the baby.

What do you think? i can so picture having it beside my massive bay windows and built in shelves. Any other decorating tips for a nursing/breastfeeding nook?  I’d love to hear it!

Next for me is gathering the breastfeeding supplies that I need. I found these simple to follow articles online:

Breastfeeding station: 10 Essentials | How to Create | How to Set-up

What do you think? I would love any other tips or advice! And another thing that I am wondering about is… is a eat, sleep & poop log (like this or this) really a must? Help please!

MEDAN: Cemara Asri Buddhist Temple

This is a photoblog on the second most impressive Buddhist Temple’s I visited while we were in Indonesia. It is located at Cemara Asri in Medan. (In my opinion this was the most impressive.) Though Medan is a small city, if you find yourself there, this temple might be a place you would like to visit. It is the #5 on Tripadvisors things to do in Medan.

Maha Vihara Maitreya

Percut Sei Tuan, kawasan Kompleks Cemara Asri, Indonesia map
tripadvisor | foursquare
medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre-medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--001medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--002medan cemara asri buddhist centre -022

The size and scale of the place is just grand. And the intricate details of the design had me in awe.medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--003medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--004medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--006 medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--008medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--007medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--005cemara-asri-medan

We loved sitting by the pond. It is a relaxing and serene place to be. And not without a sense of humor. Can you spot the cute statues of kids – one with shades and the other with a dog pulling his pants? medan cemara asri buddhist centre -020medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--009medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--012 medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--010medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--013medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--011
We mistakenly went to a smaller temple before finding the Vihara. But it was a nice visit because even if it was small, it was beautifully kept and maintained. I was impressed with the detailed carving of the posts outside. 
medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--023medan cemara asri buddhist centre -021
medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--014medan cemara asri buddhist centre -019 medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--024medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--018medan-cemara-asri-buddhist-centre--025

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of this exotic location. Other impressive religious structures that we were able to visit in Medan was the Grand Mosque and a Catholic Church unlike any I’ve ever seen before.

If you find yourself going to Medan, I can highly recommend this hotel and enjoying all the pork you can. This was best Babi Merah I’ve ever had and we also like eating in this warung.

Florence’s Quirky Vintage Boutique Nadine

If you love quirky vintage design and style, you will love Boutique Nadine in Florence. I found Boutique Nadine on the Unusual Florence catalogue and went to visit their 2 stores. I prefer their Via de ‘Benci store, which is the one featured on this blog post, to the store near the River Arno on Lungarno Acciaiuoli because the one in Lungarno Acciaiuoli is more clothes than lifestyle.

boutique-nadine-firenze-006

I love the mix of fashion and lifestyle in the Via de ‘Benci store (pictured). Here you will find both new and vintage items, presented in an interesting way.

boutique-nadine-firenze-003

Fabulous accessoriesboutique-nadine-firenze-002

Paper and supplies
boutique-nadine-firenze-005

letterpress stampsboutique-nadine-firenze-008

Vintage trunksboutique-nadine-firenze-007

In the back are the curated vintage clothes and bagsboutique-nadine-firenze-015

They also have vintage home items and a cute sleeping cat to boot!boutique-nadine-firenze-012boutique-nadine-firenze-013

They also carry Aqua Flor Firenze parfum products.boutique-nadine-firenze-011boutique-nadine-firenze-009

These are my top picks from Boutique Nadine during my visit to their store.

  1. Statement cuff and ring
  2. Geometric tray in mint green
  3. Beaded bib necklace
  4. Vintage trunks

Diplo-Picks-Boutique-Nadine

What do you think of my picks? You can find Boutique Nadine in the 2 locations in Florence below and they also have an online shop, if don’t have any trips to Firenze planned in the near future.

boutique-nadine-firenze

Boutique Nadine

Via de ‘Benci, 32r Florence 50122, Italy map | +39 055 24 78 274
Mon 14.30-19.30 | Tues – Sat 10.30-20.00 | Sun 12.00-19.00

Lungarno Acciaiuoli, 22r Florence 50123, Italy map | +39 055 28 78 51
Mon 14.30-19.30 | Tues – Sat 10.00-19.30 | Sun 12.00-19.00

info@boutiquenadine.com | shop online

FLORENCE: The Olive Oil Shop in Florence

A specialty store on all things olive. Here you will find products using different parts of the olive tree from food and beauty to kitchen products. I absolutely loved this store and could have stayed for ages!

la-bottega-dell-olio-florence-001

Oil or fat gets a bad rep because of the outdated believe that fat makes us fat. In reality there are good and bad fats. Olive oil is one of the good guys and I love using olive oil in our food AND in my beauty products.

Olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, is a major component of the Mediterranean diet. Populations from that region have longer life expectancies and lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, compared with North Americans and Northern Europeans. – Medical News Today

la-bottega-dell-olio-florence-004

You can find not just olive oil, but also skincare products made with olive oil and kitchen accessories made from olive wood.

  1. Olive tree wood is very hard. It is used to make furniture or items for everyday use.
  2. The leaves of the tree have some medical uses. It is said that the leaves have a calming effect. They are good for people going to sleep. They are also good for the immune system and to bring down high levels of cholesterol.

la-bottega-dell-olio-florence-005la-bottega-dell-olio-florence-003

I loved all the bottles and serving ware for olives and olive oil. la-bottega-dell-olio-florence-006

Servingware for bread and staples served with olives can also be found.
la-bottega-dell-olio-florence-002

These were my favorite picks from La Bottega Dell’Olio:

Diplo-Picks-La-Bottega-dell-Olio

  1. Bread warmers. Heat and place inside your breadbasket to keep bread warm.
  2. Washable paper bags. Use them to hold bread, fruits, plant pots and just about anything else you can think of!
  3. Soap dishes with carvings to keep soap from being immersed in water.
  4. Cute spouts for oil and vinegar dispensers with wooden olive tops.

la-bottega-dell-olio-florence

La Bottega Dell’Olio

Piazza del Limbo, 4/R Firenze 50123 map
+39 055 267 0468 | info@labottegadelloliofirenze.it
google+ | lonely planet

Luxurious Gifts by La Confetteria Firenze

la-confetteria-firenze-014

While walking through Firenze we stumbled on the loveliest shops. I was really excited about La Confetteria because it combined 3 of my favorite things:

  1. Luxurious interior design
  2. Beautiful and clever packaging
  3. Chocolates

la-confetteria-firenze-003

The concept is brilliant! They have the most amazing flavors of candy covered chocolates that they can wrap in very luxurious custom packaging – perfect token gifts when you are throwing a party or want to make Christmas shopping simpler. I wish I had this option when I was planning my wedding. Don’t they look divine?

la-confetteria-firenze-011

You can get the chocolates in pearl colors (white, ivory, blue, pink and green) or custom order them in silver or gold. I would love to see it in gold!
la-confetteria-firenze-001la-confetteria-firenze-016

You can also have bigger boxes of chocolates if you want to give someone a special gift. 
la-confetteria-firenze-008

They have so many interesting flavors like limoncello, bergamot, watermelon, eggnog, chili, whisky, sfogiatella, ricotta pear, chesnut,  and even flower flavors like rose and violet! This counter is for tasting – with over 55 flavors to choose from it was difficult to decide which to try!la-confetteria-firenze-017

Among the dizzying display at La Confetteria below were my favorites!

Diplo-Picks-La-Confetteria

  1. Mini clear boxes with a bow color of your choice. Love the metallic silver treats.
  2. Pillow packages of chocolate with pastel colored bows – perfect for baby showers!
  3. Swarovski-pendant-topped boxes. Chocolate and jewelry in one precious package.
  4. Gold chocolate packs are divine for weddings.

If you visit Firenze, these would also make such lovely gifts or pasalubong for loved ones back home. 
la-confetteria-firenze-007

La Confetteria Firenze

50125 street, Via dello Yoke, 12, Florence, Italy map
+39 055 238 1950
yelp