Hit the Road Jack

When the new year began, Ito and I hit our stride by hitting the road. It had been quite a while since our last road trip and with all the fantastic new highways that recently opened up plus the temperature cooling down a bit (and gas/diesel prices going down!), we thought there wouldn’t be a better time to do a little exploring closer to home.

While we hope to discover more new towns and rediscover some old favorites this year, we started things off with a few short trips–first we headed North with a drive up to Baguio (after way more than a decade!), then we headed South with a first-ever drive down to Lumban, Laguna. Thankfully the weather right now is perfect, so I’m looking forward to letting Ito enjoy the drive while I sit in the passenger’s side and enjoy the view!

Sharing a few of my Instagram photos on the road…

IMG_20150104_154119Beautiful–a highway with not a single billboard in sight!

IMG_20150104_112309Roadside fishponds and a view of the mountains
IMG_6454After over a decade–back to visit the City of Pines!

IMG_6463A visit to Baguio’s markets for some big, fresh strawberries

IMG_6491The all-important Good Shepherd staples

IMG_20150105_083753Enjoying the 11 degrees Celsius morning chill

IMG_6459Clear skies and a gorgeous sunset

IMG_20150116_115943Plants lining the roadside as we head South

IMG_20150116_120407A quick stop at a peaceful ‘palaisdaan’ for lunch

photo(1)Maria Makiling welcomes us with open arms

IMG_6513Visiting the town of Lumban, the embroidery capital of the Philippines

IMG_20150116_142805The stone church of San Sebastian, built in the 1600’s

IMG_20150116_144234The wide and beautiful Lumban River

IMG_20150116_160006Roadside guardian looking over us during our drive

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Happy 2015!!! After cleaning and clearing our home in preparation for 2014’s year end, and the rain that cleared the air and washed the entire Manila on the first day of the new year, the sun is shining today and everything is sparkling and feels brand new!

It’s a clean, blank page we’re facing, the pure potential of designing the next 365 days ahead of us. Our dreams, our passions, our visions, are all things we can begin to sketch out and happily bring to life. Our page is our own, and the possibilities of what we can fill it with are endless. When it comes to the future, there’s no day like today to begin discovering and creating what it holds :-)

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Inspirational Photos of the Day

It’s the end of the year, and looking back, my favorite things about the-year-that-was were the little things. We always celebrate the big moments in life, but it’s the tiny surprises that often slip by unnoticed that really bring us back into the moment and keep us there.  May the coming 2015 bring more of these everyday treasures into our awareness, and may the joyful little moments add up–a  bit at a time–into an amazingly grand year ahead!

IMG_5848Spread the love! Entranced by this woven ‘graffiti’ found on a sunny park bench

PA140260Guardian angels–looked up and saw these playful cherubs watching over us from a high ceiling

IMG_5873Music to my eyes :-) These park grills, when seen from the side, looked like they could carry musical notes

*Photos by Tippi

Chocolates, Waffles…& Sprouts?

Whew, made it…final post for 2014! Ito and I spent the final leg of our trip, and celebrated my birthday, in Brussels before flying back home to Manila. We stayed in a beautiful 190-year old art nouveau townhouse, in the stylish artist’s district Dansaert, a cobbled area filled with chic restaurants, trendy bars, artists’ shops, and just a short walking distance from the Old Town.

Strolling around Brussels, I couldn’t help but remember my all-time favorite childhood hero, Tintin with his faithful dog Snowy :-) So much of the Old Town seemed vaguely familiar from the illustrations I knew by heart, and much of the street art around Brussels is obviously inspired by Hergé’s style as well. Of course, a visit to Brussels wouldn’t be complete without indulging in its rich, decadent chocolate which we had as my second birthday breakfast at the Salon de Chocolat in the beautiful Galerie de la Reine, as well as the most mouthwatering waffles in Maison Dandoy later in the day.

From the stunning Grand Place with its gilded edifices boasting chocolate shops in nearly every corner, to the winding alleys filled with the delicious scents of freshly-made waffles in the Old Town, to the fresh seafood on display in many of the restaurants & bistros in our area near Sainte-Catherine, food was never far from our mind as we explored the city (brussel sprouts notwithstanding). We tried the local favorite, moules et frites (mussels and fries) washed down with some Belgian beer, as well as catch-of-the-day seafood specials of lobster and sea bass with some sparkling wine. It’s a good thing there were as many things that we could feast our eyes on, without the added calories!

L1150669Flowers bloomed at the Grand Place, the resplendent centuries old market square in the center of Brussels

L1150856The splendid square held court and glinted majestically in the sunlight

L1150707Alleyways filled with the scent of freshly made waffles

IMG_5906Birthday breakfast that started with an orange pressé  in the well-appointed art nouveau breakfast room

L1150679The ornate, glazed 19th-century shopping arcade, Galerie Royales Saint-Hubert

L1150745Pretty cafés lined the Galerie de la Reine, or Queen’s Gallery

L1150756Got our chocolate fix (and second breakfast) after we walked around the square

IMG_5919Rich, dark and silky-smooth, just the way I like it :-)

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L1150788Street art depicted the street that it was located on–clever!

PA160273Walked around and reminisced about my favorite childhood comic

L1150806Seafood galore in the market square that fronted Sainte-Catherine’s church

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L1150824Celebrating with some delicious off-the-menu seafood specials at a chic little restaurant in the artsy Dansaert district

IMG_5929The stunning Hôtel de Ville de Bruxelles was a sight to behold at night

IMG_5931The Grand Place was all lit up and bustled with activity

IMG_5925Even the metro stations displayed different styles of artwork–this one was lined with large format photographs

L1150821Ended our trip with a visit to the unique Atomium, created by the architect André Waterkeyn in 1958

*Photos by Ito

The Spirit of Bavaria

When Ito and I arrived in Munich at the tail end of Oktoberfest, we immediately headed out to commemorate it amidst revelers in Marienplatz, the beautiful city square, with a Bavarian brew. Our next few days would be spent exploring Munich beyond its traditional beer festival, trying out its delicious food and fresh produce at the Viktualienmarkt, visiting its museums, and walking around its numerous expansive parks (the famous Olympic stadium and Olympiapark alone were massive!).

Between the day we visited the behemoth, tornado-inspired BMW Welt & museum and the weekend we found the inspiring, up-close-and-personal Richard Avedon exhibit, Ito was in his element (while I learned a little more about automobile design as opposed to fashion design, LOL!). We also wandered around the city and spent a sunny afternoon enjoying the open spaces of the Englische Garten (or English Garden) and discovering Universität–the university belt–where we came across interesting little shops & cool, hole-in-the-wall coffee joints.

On our last day in Munich, before we left on the final leg of our trip, we walked through the palatial Residenz and felt full with the spirit–and the brew–of Bavaria.

DSC_0916The lovely city square, Marienplatz, has been the site of festivities, jousts & tournaments since the middle ages

L1150369The moon rose over Munich in the middle of the day

PA110229Relaxed under a tree in one of Munich’s numerous parks

L1150331Enjoyed the verdant, rolling landscapes of Olympiapark

DSC_0917The Old Town Hall, Altes Rathaus, was straight out of a children’s picture book!

L1150441Looked out over a pristine Neoclassic style inner square

L1150297Checked out the art cars & learned about a different kind of design at BMW Welt

DSC_0837BMW’s museum was where all the boys went to be inspired!

DSC_0788I hate wires, but this funky installation/window display I liked!

DSC_0793Stumbled upon this small and incredibly well preserved German Baroque church, Asamkirche

PA140264Marie Antoinette would have felt right at home with the beautiful, over-the-top opulence of Residenz

L1150412Inspired by the lovely grillwork, pastel shades and pretty details!

L1150439Played around while touring the museum grounds

L1150393Created our own favorite itinerary of wandering around…

L1150408…and people watching

L1150569Art students sat around sketching buildings in the middle of the square

L1150566Watched and observed the hipster scene, Munich style

DSC_0891Our weekend brunch was followed by a museum date

DSC_0871Enjoyed a leisurely afternoon at Museum Brandhorst

DSC_0883Loved the museum’s ultra cool façade

 *Photos by Ito

Drizzly Day in Dresden

Continuing on…

Before Ito and I left Berlin for the next leg of our trip, a day trip to somewhere-we-never-thought-of-beforehand beckoned, and the German city of Dresden fit the bill perfectly. When we had searched our map and researched online to decide on where to pop in for the day, we found the picturesque city of Dresden which was only a (slightly over) 2-hour train ride away.

It was a drizzly day when we set off, but the gray skies did nothing to diminish the beauty of the “Jewel Box”, as the city center of Dresden is known. Situated a short walk from the Dresden Central Station, we found a beautiful city center ‘encrusted’ by Baroque and Rococo style buildings and monuments, with the majestic River Elbe (close to the Czech border) running beside it.

Despite the wet weather, Dresden was definitely an enchanting sight to behold…

PA080197Walking around the city–view from under my umbrella

L1150134The city has a long cultural and artistic history…

DSC_0622…as it was the capital and royal residence for the Kings of Saxony

DSC_0627Too bad many of the outdoor cafés by the gardens and the River Elbe were closed due to the wet weather

PA080203We came prepared for walking in the rain…

L1150126Dresden Castle has been the home of kings for nearly 400 years

DSC_0634The breathtaking Fürstenzug is a 335 ft outdoor artwork made of 23,000 Meissen porcelain tiles!

*Photos by Ito & Tippi

Inspirational Photo of the Day

One of the best things about being an artist is having a home filled with art that you didn’t just collect, but that you created yourself. This stag head piece, made of reclaimed wood and bits of wire, was in the home of a German artist who had left his driveway open for people to freely come in enjoy his work (unfortunately, I seem to have lost the card I kept with the artist’s name on it, ugh!). I loved the almost folkloric feel of this piece along with the whimsy of it, which somehow also made it feel very modern. In an increasingly hi-tech and digital world, unique art and designs reawaken our senses and bring us back to the amazing, tactile beauty of handmade work.

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From West to East

Over the span of more than a few days, and with the help of our unlimited transportation passes, Ito and I criss-crossed our way through and around Berlin. In our neighborhood, we visited the inspiring Museum für Fotografie, Helmut Newton’s museum, which happened to be just a few stops from our area in Ku’Damm, known as Berlin’s Champs Élysées. We browsed and ate at KaDeWe (the city’s premier department store with the craziest gourmet food floor) and hung out more than once in Bikini Berlin (the hippest design concept mall overlooking the Berlin Zoo).

Exploring further down, we visited the haunting Jewish Memorial and walked around the historic Potsdamer Platz down to Checkpoint Charlie, which marked the infamous divide between the former West and East Berlin. We wandered the vast green spaces in Tiergarten (which is bigger than Central Park!) and enjoyed the beer gardens, relaxed to the live classical music that played by the Konzerthaus, and enjoyed the beautiful grounds of the Kulturforum and Museuminsel.

We also took to stepping off in unfamiliar stops and visiting neighborhoods said to be the stomping ground of the more creative, non-traditional types. In the areas surrounding Kreuzberg were many pop up galleries, open air markets, underground bars, and industrial-turned-conceptual spaces that were continuously evolving (sometimes on a daily basis). On our way to crossing the Spree River and visiting the former East Berlin, we even stumbled on a veritable ‘institution’, Bürgermeister (the best burgers in Berlin!), housed in a former public toilet under an overhead railway track. Go figure!

On our last night in Berlin, we discovered that the days had gone by way too quickly–but it’s a good thing one of the joys of traveling is planning the return!

IMG_5681Enjoying the cultural and historical sights in the Kulturforum

DSC_0306In Potsdamer Platz, the hi-tech Sony Center guards a relic of the past–the Kaisersaal (Imperial Room) encased in glass

DSC_0432The city has numerous picturesque, tree-lined canals, in addition to the beautiful wide open spaces of Tiergarten

DSC_0550Trees all aflame in the areas surrounding the Reichtag building

L1140836A sunny picnic by a medieval church in an open air organic market in the cool neighborhood of  Kreuzberg

DSC_0591Delicious brunch followed by a walk through the galleries in Moritzplatz, Berlin’s hub of creative cool

DSC_0596Fresh vegetables, rustic bread and a killer chorizo omelette  served on a slate slab

DSC_0595The best fresh blueberry pancakes topped with glazed peaches and smoked bacon

L1140820An interesting assortment of antique door handles at a weekend flea market

DSC_0477Kids in full swing at a lively outdoor street fair

L1140894The Oberbaum Bridge spans the Spree River between the former West & East Berlin

L1140897The East Side Gallery is a 1.3 km long open air gallery featuring artworks by various artists painted on the Berlin Wall

L1140849This bridge is a historical landmark built in 1896 that now signifies the reunification

L1140841Taking a break by one of the hundreds of murals lining the Wall

L1140953A train speeds by and a full moon looks down over Berlin

*Photos by Ito

Fashion Tips: Learning to Travel Light

A light and savvy packer I am not (although I try very hard to be). I used to travel with more than five pairs of shoes and numerous bulky items–various coats, bags, etc.–for a two week leisure trip, and while that’s not a lot for some people, I’ve recently been learning to whittle down the items I take whenever I travel.

I’ve learned that NOT over packing for a trip, especially in the colder months when weather & temperature shifts can be drastic, takes a little extra effort and more than a few styling strategies. It’s almost like planning a small collection (only the accessory pull-outs are from your own closet, LOL)! Last year I even obsessed about it enough to sketch out what I would pack for a three-week trip, just to make sure that each item in my suitcase could be mixed & matched at least three other ways! The sketches turned out to be useful for other trips too, with a few items/styles being changed around for variety.

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So what are some of the things I’ve learned that have helped me pack light(er)?

-Layering is key. Packing lightweight items in natural or blended materials like cotton, cashmere & silk allowed me to dress for different weather conditions/temperatures while creating new looks for different days as well.

-Pack with a color scheme in mind. To make the most out of fewer clothes, I stuck to a limited color scheme so that everything worked with each other & layering was a no-brainer. Black-white-grey, or brown-khaki-cream, or navy blue-pale blue-white…then I just contrasted with textures and played with accessories.

-Think slim. Instead of packing a lot of big, bulky coats, wearing thin, temperature adjusting thermal inner wear under my clothes allowed me to bring more streamlined styles.

-Mix in dressy separates. My lace shirts, cigarette pants and velvet tops didn’t remain in a separate ‘night out’ pile, but got paired with denim and layered over, or under, other pieces for double-duty during the day. Needless to say, I chose to design dressy pieces that weren’t too heavy and ornate.

-Bring samples! Sample toiletries make the best addition to a cosmetic kit (my favorites were Cetaphil and Shu Uemura’s cleansing oils)! They’re small, light and can just be disposed of afterwards.

-Stay light on your feet. Personally I prefer dressier walking shoes that don’t take up much space like ballet slippers, loafers, or brogues. But I also packed a pair of lightweight Converse hi-top sneakers in case it rained or we went hiking somewhere damp. For winter, I bring thermal socks/tights and ankle boots.

-A statement bag is okay to use in transit, but I usually pack another durable, lightweight bag for days when I will be walking around a lot (which is often). My 16 year-old black, nylon Prada backpack has been everywhere and carried water bottles, travel books, snacks and numerous flea market items, while conveniently keeping my hands free.

I’d love to know, what are some of your tricks to lessening your load while traveling? :-)

Inspirational Photo of the Day

Traveling by train in the fall is truly a visual study in transition. Watching the scenery continually unfold while catching the season as it goes through its shift is the perfect reminder of how transient everything is. Despite the illusion of permanence, life is continually evolving and changing tracks, bringing us new experiences. Creativity is all about embracing changes and moving with the times :-)

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