Friday, September 30, 2011

Dinner at Sadko in St. Petersburg

beef stroganoff with mashed potatoes

We wanted to experience the local dining scene in St. Petersburg so we asked our friends at SPb Tours to recommend something local but not touristic. They recommended a place called Sadko, and mentioned in passing that we'd like the ambiance. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

SPb Tours in St. Petersburg

 The fountains at Peterhof

I was very excited when I looked over the itinerary of our Baltic cruise. Except for Copenhagen, I hadn't been to any of the places on the list: Warnemunde (Germany), Tallin (Estonia), St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm.  I immediately went on "trip-research mode" starting with  From  the discussion groups on that site, I learned that the only port where a tour guide was needed was St. Petersburg.  The rest of the ports are supposedly easy to navigate on our own either on foot or with the hop-on, hop-off transport in the cities.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

E. Murio Furniture Sale

This beautiful chinoiserie chair, which I featured in this post,  is made by E. Murio.  Many of my friends have E. Murio pieces in their homes. I really don't know where E. Murio is located, but I know they hold sales in Urdaneta Village park once or twice a year. 

The first time I went to a sale a few years ago, I was actually disappointed because most of the pieces had a label taped on it--"Reserved BEA". It turned out to be my friend Bea who was furnishing her beach house. She had beat me to the sale by one day. Not that I was going to buy all that she bought--I just wanted one little trolley, and they were all gone by then. I ended up buying serving trays, one of which I use as my letter caddy at home.

E. Murio is having their usual sale this weekend, so if you're looking for nice rattan furniture, desks, chairs, side tables, trays, and many other things, head over to the Urdaneta Friendship Hall starting Friday. I have to warn you though that my friend Patty happens to be furnishing a beach house now, and I overheard Bea telling her about this sale.  Better get there before Patty does.

As for me, I'm being generous with this information only because I don't need anything more for my house. In fact, I did end up buying a trolley from them the next year, but guess what--I realized rattan furniture doesn't fit the look of my segunda-mano, wanna-be-european (flea market) house. I might have to sell it, but I won't compete with the E. Murio sale.

E. Murio Furniture Sale
Friday, September 23, 1.00pm – 6.00pm
Saturday, September 24, 9.00am- 6.00pm
26 Urdaneta Avenue, 
Urdaneta Village, Makati City

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Study Room, Before and After

Let me interrupt all these travel posts with a quick interior design post, which also relates to travel in a way. I'm just so thrilled that the study room is finally, well 95%, finished. I still have to clear some shelves and hang more frames on the wall.  The inspiration for this study room came from a picture similar to the one above. I'm attracted to globes, and the eclectic look of old furniture.

This room gave me so much grief.  Not only was it irregularly shaped because part of it was under the stairs, it also had these annoying angled areas where the ceiling meets the wall because of the c-joists used to lay the second floor. I was always so irritated in this room because of all the uneven shadows cast by those angles, but I also didn't want to install a drop ceiling because it would make the room seem smaller than it already was.


Friends of ours who had grade-school kids advised us to create a study area on the ground floor because school bags were going to get heavier as the kids got older, and bringing heavy bags up and down the stairs everyday was going to be a major hassle. That was good input because our kids were still in preschool then and heavy schoolbags weren't  part of the planning and designing equation.

So how do we make this room interesting enough so that the kids would be enticed to study? 

A year back, I searched the internet and found some inspiration and wrote up this post. Yup, it did take me that long to get my act together. But I have perfect timing--G is now just learning about hemispheres, longitude and latitude in Grade 4, and C is learning about Philippine geography in Grade three.

I made a rough sketch of what I envisioned and hired a carpenter and a painter. I squared off those "cornice angles" into false beams and installed halogen fixtures on a dimmer. Then I closed off the space under the stairs. Oh my, what a major improvement! I was now motivated to add some finishing touches. 

I could finally install the world map that was languishing in my bodega. I had ordered the world mural from here, and had it shipped to my forwarder in San Francisco, Manny Espinosa of Bayanihan Cargo. Manny just throws whatever he receives for me into a container that's leaving, and it eventually gets delivered to my house, door-to-door about 3 weeks later. A fabulous service and the reason I'm confident to order things online.

I hovered over the painter while he put up the map, making sure the panels aligned properly. There are three ways to install the map: Asia centered, US centered, and Europe centered. I thought long and hard on this one, and in the end decided to install it US-centered because that would put Europe (my favorite destination) on the upper right part of the wall, where I can easily see it. This puts the Philippines and the rest of Asia to the left of the black office chair.

Unfortunately the map was a bit wide and we had to trim 3 inches off the sides, losing a bit of middle China and Russia. I also had to trim about a half a meter from the top, removing Greenland and other northernmost islands of Canada.

The room was close to what I envisioned! All the desks, chairs, file wagon and crystal cases on top of the girls' desks are from Officebusters, a surplus store of office furniture from Japan. The pink chair was a last-minute addition because it appeared in Officebusters. I'm a big fan of Reduce, Re-use, Recycle!

I closed up that hole under the stairs with cabinet doors, creating a useful storage area, and painted the wall with blackboard paint I got from Home Depot. I installed black egg-shaped cabinet pulls which blend right into the blackboard.

On the right wall is a blown up Philippine map, custom-ordered from EZ Maps which I had mounted on plyboard. I also put up our diplomas and I'm still looking for our medals to hang. I do know I want to have more globes in this room. It's a nice collection idea, don't you think?

The room is  finally getting a lot of use. The girls like to hang out here with their friends, even on weekends. For me, I'm now very happy and comfortable in the room. How can I ever be irritated if I'm surrounded by maps, making it easy for me to visualize my next trip? 

Look at how a globe is made!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Animals Down Under

One of G's best friends when she was three was a little Australian boy named Edward. On her 5th birthday, Edward and his brothers (yes, he already had 2 younger brothers when he was only five) gave her a very cute book with a very Australian theme--Possum Magic by Mem Fox. Lita, who's G's ninang and often sends her little stuffed (Australian) animals, would get a kick out of this book.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Buzz Bistro, Fortitude Valley

 Tasmanian salmon on potato roesti with horseradish cream and basil oil

We had a quick lunch at Buzz before checking out of the Emporium in Brisbane. The place was full so we just got the next empty table outside on the sidewalk. I wasn't expecting anything special so imagine my surprise when our food came and it was incredibly delicious.  The taste, the texture--the combination of the ingredients was perfect.

Emporium Hotel, Brisbane

When we reached our Brisbane hotel close to midnight, after a long day of flying, I was a little worried. The hotel sign was in neon and the lobby glowed pink from neon stripes on the walls. I haven't seen neon in a hotel in a long time, and didn't expect an elegant boutique hotel to have a pink lobby. I was half expecting the hotel to have a casino on the premises.


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