Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kayu Good Gifts

We're all guilty of committing the Christmas shopping crime sometimes. That is to be distracted by all the pretty things for ourselves instead of checking the almost endless gift list for our loved ones. Well, if you're feeling a little guilty about bursting your budget and yet still haven't found the perfect gift for that special gal, a classy Kayu clutch may just be your guilt-free solution.
My absolute fave Jen clutch made of straw with a turquoise clasp. Lovely palette good for day or night. Perfect arm candy at a beach lounge.

See Jacquetta Wheeler rock the Denise clutch at London Fashion Week!
Not just beautiful and versatile, this stylish selection will take you right up there on Santa's Good List. “Each bag is handcrafted by women’s cooperatives in Asia using traditional techniques, and are made out of sustainably sourced straw and shell.” quotes San Francisco based Jamie Lim, CEO of Kayu. The brand name which means "wood" in Malay, reflects Jamie's love for the outdoors and nature and also her childhood years spent in different parts of Asia, including Malaysia.

The cycle of a Kayu product is just so inspiring. Being made of eco-friendly material and helping the poor by providing a source of income for the women artisans are not enough for this socially responsible label. To stretch the sustainability cycle wider, for every Kayu handbag purchased, Kayu donates one backpack and school supplies to a child in Cambodia.

If a clutch is not quite the perfect gift for your gal pal, Kayu also offers a selected range of handcrafted sunglasses made of bamboo.
In fact, the shades were Kayu's initial launch product and were featured in US Vogue, In Style and Elle. What a feat for a new brand and deservingly so. These sunglasses give back by funding one sight-restoring surgery for every pair sold. Kayu's goodness and coolness just doesn't stop. Oh yeah, have I mentioned that it was showcased at London Fashion Week this year?
Jamie shares that their next handbag collection will feature sterling silver clutches and I can't wait to see them! Kayu is available in selected retailers across the USA, Europe, Brazil and Australia. Not yet in Asia but you can ring up the brownie points at its online store that ships internationally.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Of Wine, Whales and Penguins

Cape Town is a great place for a road trip. With the help of a GPS for this navigationally challenged duo, we headed to the winelands as soon as we touched down. Devon Valley which sat serenely on the edge of South Africa's famous Stellenbosch made a very good start to the hols.


Loved the extra touch of rose petals and celebratory champers

You probably know by now my husband and I can't get enough of animals so off we went to Hermanus for one of the best landbased whale watching in the world. We must've seen more than 50 Southern right whales pass by. We didn't opt to take a closer look at the whales from a boat in fear of disturbing these gentle giants. Although boats are supposed to be at least 50m away from the whales, watching them from the low cliffs was more than good enough. This piece of news could signal that too much attention is unwelcomed.
We took hundreds of photos but never caught a good breaching shot. Here's a high five instead.

Balcony of Whale View Guest House

And how can we miss the penguins at Boulders Beach? A short 40 minute drive from Cape Town you get to see...

Even the penguin is screaming for me to stop moonlighting as PR for Tourism Cape Town so ok, lemme just squeeze in a few more pix.

Table Mountain

Camps Bay

Does anyone know what's this? It looks like a cross between a sheep and a llama.
A cutie running by the beach

He's set on not missing out on the good weather!

 Ok ok, stop already!

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Place in Cape Town

Having my honeymoon a few months after the wedding gave me many days to scour Trip Advisor and writing enquiry emails to explore desert dune camping and a cheetah sanctuary in Namibia, Mnemba in Tanzania and other African gems. My husband and I tried avoiding the obvious choice of Cape Town thinking it must be awfully touristy. We gave in eventually and aren't we glad for the many friends who protested "Oh, you MUST GO!"

To start, let's talk about this quaint owner-run guesthouse we stayed in called Blackheath Lodge.
With co-owner Antony
Delight awaits pass this door

Wall decor on the left made from repurposed telephone cables. "Hunting trophy" made from clay.

Originally built in 1890, the house was refurbished and redecorated by Antony and his biz partner. Eclectic and personal, it felt like living in a house torn off the pages of Elle Decor. Not much of a morning person but I was rise and shine, happy and hungry for their breakfast savoured on the sunny terrace.

Fruit crumble was crunchy yummylicious goodness

Like Singita posted previously, Blackheath Lodge has a nice programme for the wellbeing of its family of staff. Their children are aided by way of school fees, uniforms, stationary, application assistance and other necessary areas to ensure that they get a solid education. Siba (11 years old), Yidwa (6), Yolanda (14), Aden (6), Tanya (21) are able to attend better schools in the city with this support.
The children's achievements are the pride and joy of Blackheath

Guests can chip in as well. Antony shared, "The Blackheath Lodge Education Fund started as a result of a real need to improve the standard of education for children in South Africa. We, at Blackheath Lodge started back in 2006 on a small scale and now through very generous support we now fully fund all our staff's children’s education. "
Local crafts
An insightful coffee table book at the hotel about the way of life in South Africa seen through recipes.

Sunset view on our walk to dinner nearby
Tips are shared equally among staff which is by far the fairest system since people working behind-the-scenes play as big a role to make a comfortable stay. Try to ask for this arrangement on your next hotel stay if it is a smaller, more flexible establishment.

This post is loaded with pix already so will keep the rest of my Cape Town adventure for the next. Having acquired a fondness for the local tea, Blackheath Lodge is just my cup of rooibos tea for a memorable stay.

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