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Monday, January 31, 2011

Mardi Gras In Paghee?

Woohoo!!! Tepat pada masanya. Rasa macam mimpi bila dapat tahu Carnaval de Paris akan berlangsung pada Mac 6, ya masa tu saya masih di sana! Memang dari dulu asyik berangan nak tengok sendiri bagaimana perayaan Mardi Gras the Fat Tuesday diraikan. Antara sebab kenapa ketika final assessment di kolej dulu saya pilih tema Mardi Gras sebagai subject matter:

The model was my sister Diana, captured by me at Bukit Tinggi Colmar Tropicale di tengah hari panas menggunakan kamera Canon kompak 3.2 megapiksel jer. Masa tu tahun 2006 kira gempaklah digi cam ni ;p.
Bayangkan orang ramai dalam kostum dan masquerade warna warni, pelik dan menarik menari-nari di sepanjang jalan. Oh, I like! Nak tahu lebih lanjut, baca kat sini.          

Walaupun plan asal, on the 6th mungkin baru gerak from Amsterdam, tapi rasanya sempat kalau sampai je Paris terus ke Hotel De Ville before 7.00pm. Seronoknya bila dapat tengok culture orang luar di tempat asing :)

Carnaval de Paris 2011 - Musique officielle
Uploaded by macaq. - Arts and animation videos.

What do to in Madrid; An Essential List

I felt overwhelmed when I first arrived in Madrid. All those parks! Museums! Huge, old-looking buildings! I had no clue where to begin, so I ended up squandering a lot of my time walking to the wrong plaza (there are like, a bazillion) and going to museums that were undergoing renovation. Yeah, I get it really wrong sometimes - I'm only human!So here is a definitive guide of what you should do if

Pregnant in Paris

This weekend, my mom dug out a bunch of old photos from when she was pregnant with Lucy and me. They were so much fun to see. My parents had just moved from the U.S. to France, and they thought they were having just one baby (they didn't expect twins!). My mom described what the experience was like...

"When we moved to Paris, I was already pregnant and very excited," my mom told me. "We went to French restaurants every night and explored Paris and surrounding towns on the weekends. During the day while Dad worked, I would walk through Le Vésinet, a beautiful residential district, to St. Germain en Laye, where I would have tea and a croissant and write letters home. Some days I would go swimming at a public indoor pool on the way back. I had a fitted black maternity suit--very sexy and French! Once on the way home, I was craving a hamburger, so I stopped for lunch. It was delicious. As I left the cafe, I saw a poster with an outline of a horse, saying that the special of the day was hamburger a la cheval!"

"During my pregnancy, Daddy and I called the baby 'Freddie' and whenever we visited a gorgeous French cathedral--Notre Dame, Chartres--we would always light a candle for 'Freddie.' "

"In early January, I was eight months pregnant. My belly was quite big, and my doctor was worried that something might be wrong. Dad was on a business trip, so I went alone to the Hôpital Américain de Paris for a sonogram...

"I was lying on my back with the cold jelly on my belly and the technician said, 'Je vois un bébé.' I smiled, and he kept working. Then he said, 'Ooh la la! Je vois deux bébés.' I was stunned! Twins! He kept working and then he exclaimed, 'Mon dieu, je vois trois bébés!' Triplets! He was a bit flustered and wanted a second opinion so said he was going to get a doctor and left the room. I lay there thinking, 'Hmm. I only have two arms, but I am going to have three babies!' When the two doctors came back, they took another look and finally said, 'Madame, you are definitely having two babies only!' I thought, 'Only two! That'll be a cinch!' Later I wondered if they had worked some clever psychology on me..."

"When I left the hospital that afternoon, I was so excited. I passed a little shop and spotted this cute mouse doll with two mouse babies! I bought it, and when I met Dad at the airport the next day, I gave it to him. He was perplexed and just looked at it (Why was I giving him a stuffed mouse?). Then it dawned on him, 'Oh my gosh! Are you serious?' He was shocked but thrilled. The next week we lit candles at a church for 'the Freddies!' "

(Next I'd love to share a few from after we were born, if you'd like to see...:)

Happy birthday, Lucy!

My twin sister Lucy and I turn a whopping 32 today (eeps)! I wish I could beam myself to San Francisco to buy her some carrot cake.

(Photo from our wedding by Max Wanger)

Gold 9·8·08

© Kramon

Pattaya International Bed Race

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Five Songs that Inspire Travel

I'm willing to bet that if you're reading this blog, you own an iPod; maybe two. You travel with it and zone out while you're on the train/plane/bus. An auditory experience can be a magical one -- songs generate very strong memories of a time and place - hence our infinite playlists, our love affair with soundtracks and an obsession for the latest tune.Every once in a while, I hear a song that

How I Read Papers

Last year I blogged about how I write blog posts. I don't really have anything to add to that, so here's some advice on how I read scientific papers - both the ones I read for my day job, and the ones I blog about.

If you read papers you need PubCrawler. It's free, and it's the best thing since PubMed, because it automatically searches PubMed for you and emails you the results. Second, you need a reference manager program. I use EndNote, but there are others, including various free ones. They're indispensable.

PubCrawler sends you lists of new papers you might want to read. A reference manager lets you to keep track of what you've read, and what you need to read in future; it lets you make notes on papers (see below), search them etc. and best of all it lets you insert them into Word or whatever and automatically generates a References list. If you're not using these tools, you're making life much harder than it should be.

Deciding What To Read: There are a lot of papers out there. My PubCrawler includes a search term for "antidepressants", which nets about 10 per day; one for "autism", about 5 per day; one for various brain regions I'm interested in, up to 50 per day, another for neurotransmitters I'm into, also 50...

So you need a triage system. I mentally put papers into 3 categories, based purely on the titles:
  1. Irrelevant - don't even click on it. I'd say about 80% of PubCrawler hits fall into this category.
  2. Somewhat interesting - read the abstract. 15%.
  3. Very interesting - read the whole thing. 5%.
Reading papers: Start with the abstract. Then read the Introduction, as it's usually a pretty good summary of previous work. I'll skip this only if I know all the existing literature (very rare). Then, head to the first paragraph of the Discussion: this typically contains a summary of the main results in non-technical language.

Finally, I'll skim the Methods and the Results. If something seems unusual, dodgy, or especially interesting, I'll go back and read these fully, but most of the time I don't bother. The remainder of the Discussion is generally just speculation, and rarely worth reading.

All that applies to original experimental articles. For review papers, if I read them at all I read them straight through; a well-written review should all be useful. A bad review is no use at all. If you start reading a review, and by the end of the first page you're wondering "But what's the point of all this?", it's probably the latter.

Making notes: This is the key to memory, for me at least. If I just read something, I barely remember it the next day let alone next month. Making notes forces you to actually understand it, and then it sticks. I make notes in EndNote for every paper, and even every abstract, I read. Once you get into the swing of it it's a natural part of reading and doesn't take much time.

Here's my notes on one recent paper:
Abstract. NRG1 --> ErbB4 promotes the formation of glutamatergic --> GABA interneuron synapses via stabilizing the PSD-95 at these synapses, but NOT at other synapses i.e. glut --> glut. Therefore, NRG1 contributes to the development of inhibitory signalling. The authors say this is interesting re: SCZ [but I think it's interesting re: autism as well!]
This makes sense, if you're me. Actually, though, I rarely ever read these notes. The point is to make them. You could scribble them on toilet paper and flush them once you're finished and they'd still do their job of boosting your memory.

Here's an uncensored extract from my notes on a paper I didn't like:
Less "medication resistant" patients did better [well that's AWESOME for a treatment that's meant to be an alternative to meds isn't it, you fuck]. They admit that the actual performance was crap NNT=12, but say it would be better if concomitant meds allowed [....well yeah either that or the effect would DISAPPEAR] and that it is equivalent to what would be expected if you gave a new drug or augmentation to this population [but you DIDN'T did you, you are referring to the literature, which is shit]. There's so many conflicts of interest it's almost tragic.
It deserved it, seriously. My comments are [in brackets], obviously.

Again - when I wrote these, I didn't expect to ever read them. The point is that by writing down my comments, I forced myself to make them coherent, and hence made myself remember them. This is crucial: if you only remember what the paper said, and not the fact that when you read it, you burst out laughing in disbelief, you'll go away thinking that the paper must have been fine.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Halal Direktori

Susah nak cari makanan Halal bukan alasan untuk katakan "tidak" untuk travel di negara bukan Islam. Ada je cara lain, bawak maggie cup, sandwich, roti. Tapi untuk bukak mata korang atau sebagai persiapan untuk lihat restoran Halal atau tempat menjual makanan Halal di segala ceruk dunia, tengok kat website Zabihah.com:

Search nama tempat atau kawasan yang dikehendaki untuk lihat restoran Halal terdekat. Bukan tu saja, siap ada review dan price range untuk jadikan panduan bajet korang. Sekarang lega, di Paris nanti saya dah tau jalan terdekat mana patut dituju jika perut berkeroncong!

Contohnya, di hari keempat nanti saya and the gang banyak habiskan masa di kawasan Latin Quarter. Untuk lunch saya ada pilihan sama ada ke Rue Dauphine untuk restoran Thai Halal atau Rue de Vaugirard untuk restoran Indonesia Halal. Tapi bila baca review restoran Indonesia tu tak cukup authentic. But at least, restoran Thai which is my fave masih ada. Untuk dinner pulak, mungkin ke Boulevard de Sebastopol, dekat dengan area Hotel de Ville pekena Euro Chicken yang mengikut review macam murah dan best. Selamat mencari!    

How to survive a rained-out music festival

Singapore is home to various forms of entertainment - an unending array of food, an active nightlife, and mega-malls that take the Gruen Transfer to the next level. What it isn't is a hub for music festivals. Or at least, not yet. There have been several attempts in recent years to raise the profile of this little city as Asia's musical center but they have achieved varying levels of success.So

Laneway Festival | Singapore

A review on Laneway Festival Singapore -- coming soon!

About lolita fashion origins: a contextual approach (Part 1)

Written by Valerie Fujita
Images sources : Candy Neige, Fruits, Jane Marple, sugar maple, others

In a previous article lolita fashion: long story short, part of an approach to clarify the boundaries between lolita, mori girl and dolly kei fashions, we tried somehow to summarize the origins of lolita fashion, by focusing on the elements that led to its nowadays shape, that we all know. We also chose to highlight the difference between lolita fashion in its archetypes (lolita and gothic lolita from Angelic Pretty, Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, Peace Now, Moi-Même-Moitié), and what we would call a casual lolita, distinguished by a much more traditional silhouette, but involved in the same attractiveness to the romantic ingénue adorned with ribbons and pretty prints (Jane Marple, Emily Temple Cute). We will go, this time, further, and in a more detailed way, to try to understand, from facts, the evolution of a so particular fashion.

Jane Marple, year unknown

Why having a look back at the story of lolita fashion? First, because the year 2010 has seen celebrated the 25th anniversary of one of the leading brands of the essence of lolita fashion: Jane Marple. From its beginnings, the label has turned its attention to this cute and good little girl atmosphere; the classicism it later claimed became a reference for serious fashion magazines such as Fudge, SO-EN, or Spoon. Then, because lolita fashion is certainly one of the harajuku / shibuya fashions which best entered the foreign market, raising thousands of followers worldwide; blue flower girls, dream adventuresses, and even good hearted gothic whose need of romantism wasn’t fully satisfied by the occidental gothic style. To conclude, because lolita fashion has changed so much in the space of ten or fifteen years – and there are now, abroad, young girls and young women followers of a so-called old school lolita fashion – that taking a slight look back seems justified.

Young girls fashion is difficult to place in Japan's all-business of the great 1980-1990s decade, which saw the peak of this genius recycler, when one has not been an actor, or even a simple spectator. Furthermore, nobody seems to know where from and when this term “lolita fashion” has emerged, which does not improve the readability of the birth of that movement. A date is then difficult to make up. Japan, in its post-war social and cultural revival, under the American guidance, has swallowed in a short time a great amount of elements and references from various western cultures, added to those that accompanied its forced opening to the world a century earlier; and as in olden days, it had to adapt them to its own, and somehow distort them in part, to suits its culture. This is probably due to this background noise, this avalanche and the amalgam of thousands of references in record time that is modern Japan, that lolita fashion could take form. Baby doll dresses, Peter Pan collars, sandals with straps, sailor fuku (Japanese girls school uniform since 1921), socks and other anklets, Victorian, rococo... A fashion born of convergence of modern interpretations of the image of the good girl, the doll that one loves, a peculiar passion for the English court or the splendour of Versailles... But also because we should not ignore the other movement that is gothic lolita fashion, a morbid attraction, that gave birth, in the Land of the Rising Sun too, to a gothic genre.

left: MILK and Jane Marple, 1998 - Right: MILK,1998

left: Jane Marple, 1997 - Right: cardigan MILK, 1998

left: total look, Comme des Garçon, 1998 - right: unknown

By not sticking to preconceived ideas, nor rhetoric, and by searching so diligently in the story of pioneer brands – without making any confusion between the date of creation of these companies and the emergence of a lolita fashion – we can date with some twenty years the real first design attempts that have outlined its shape. Nevertheless, the silhouettes and confections in those days have little to do with what made popular lolita fashion outside of Japan, when for most of the foreign girls and young women, lolita fashion is almost an integral part of visual kei. For the genesis of a movement, its evolution is a bit more complicated, participating in a long process of appropriation of various concepts and canons… The long, slow building of lolita fashion, through numerous references – the early childhood motifs, the fairly-plain inspirations from 18th and 19th centuries, the gothic and punk subcultures, etc. – explains that currently we can differentiate many tastes in what we would call, on the whole, lolita fashion; tastes that have sometimes only vaguely in keeping with each others.

Where mass culture references, Japanese business culture, subculture and fashion meet.

In the 1970s, there are two mangas that surely have aroused curiosity for yesteryear western fashion. The Rose of Versailles by Riyoko Ikeda, published in 1972, flares up for the History of France and the Court of Marie-Antoinette, and overflows with a rococo fashion made of pastels, frills and other typically feminine details. The manga was so successful that the Japanese producer Mataichiro Yamamoto (Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters), and copyright holder of the manga, appealed to the French director Jacques Demy (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Donkey Skin) and ordered him a filmed version of the story, in a 1978 Franco-Japanese co-production, Lady Oscar, made with English actors. Follows in 1979, the animated television series. In 1975, the character of Candice "Candy" White Ardlay, heroine of the manga Candy Candy by Kiyoko Mizuki and Yumiko Igarashi (followed by the eponymous animated series in 1976, and the novel in 1978) fits to the image of a 19th century lolita. In the eyes of the country taste, another movement which developed in the late 1980s, in the meantime with lolita fashion, one could also say that this second fictional character has definitely laid the grounding of a fashion with a ring of romantism. The candour of Candy and Marie-Antoinette characters has also participated, without any doubt, in the construction of the identity of lolita fashion.

The rose of Versailles, Riyoko Ikeda, 1972

Candy Candy, story by Kiyoko Mizuki, drawings by Yumiko Igarashi, 1975

In the mid 1980s, the DC Brands boom (DC for Characters & Designers) is on the increase. The idea probably comes from the fact that, at the time, the management strategy of Japanese fashion companies is to loudly knock in a dynamic and competitive market with a good potential, but in which one should strike with precision to acquire a faithful clientele. Through DC brands, the strategy of Japanese design and fashion companies is to associate to a brand a specific image (character), to touch the heart of customers. Thus, behind each brand begins to emerge a strong concept. This concept of Designer & Character, it’s typically what people like Rei Kawakubo, for Comme des Garçons, develops. Therefore, brands concerned to emerge would specify themselves on a given market; and our future brands, stamped as “lolita fashion”, are no exception.

Together with, we see the development of the Japanese idols phenomenon, idols who also carry references for fashion. Among the most beloved is Seiko Matsuda, princess of the 1980s pop music, nymphet in little dress with frills that many young girls across Japan would begin to imitate. Between the late 1980s and the early 1990s, a duet of young girls is noticed for its style: WINK plays on a more theatrical look, with a great many dresses with panniers, and tinged with a somewhat oddness, amplified by the expressionless faces, like almost frozen, of its two female singers. To be honest, Sachiko Suzuki and Shoko Aida have a real doll-like feeling. In the middle of idols boom, for her title jûnana sai, Chisato Moritaka’s album cover shows an illustration of the singer in an eccentric outfit which call to mind of a doll in a manga; her cosplays then gets more and more numerous, as the figurines made in the image of jûnana sai cover.

Seiko Matsuda, 1980

Chisato Moritaka, album Hijitsuryokuha Sengen, 1989

WINK, album Velvet, 1990

It is in this particular era, that MILK, company founded in 1970, takes an interest in designing outfits for Japanese idols. From the late 1970s, MILK sees some of its designers find new ways, through the creation of new entities. Rei Yanagawa starts his own company, Shirley Temple, in 1977, through projects ranging from designing clothing for newborns up to teenagers until sixteen. In 1988, he chooses to separate his teens’ line by creating the label Emily Temple (Emily Temple cute, which focuses on a more adult audience, will only be created in July 2007). In 1985, the designers Kuwasawa and Yasuhiro Narita found the company Saint Mary Mead, throughout which they manage two select shops; LENE in Tokyo and Maria Teresa in Osaka. Jane Marple is officially established in 1989, with a first store in Laforet Harajuku. In 1995, Jane Marple dans le salon is created under the direction of the designer Megumi Murano. MILK, Jane Marple and Shirley Temple are the first brands to use motifs and patterns associated with early childhood, which has seen them qualified as lolita fashion – although these motifs are still not used with excess, and although the brands are not yet into the lolita spirit as we know it.

On the music culture side, at that time, groups that will lay the basis for later visual kei, in the late 1980s (we consider here the release date of albums and not the date when group were formed), as X-Japan or Buck-Tick, have already started their career. But their look still shows the influence of American and British bands’ styles, such as hard rock from Kiss, or metal from Black Sabbath or Judas Priest. A fairly classic cyberpunk vision and a dash of glam rock – almost certainly inspired by David Bowie’s character of Ziggy Stardust (especially for X-Japan) – and probably interpreted under the influence of manga or animé culture, perfect the so Japanese silhouettes of these rock bands. As for the gothic movement, it had developed since the early 1980s, influenced by British bands like Bauhaus, influence that would give birth to Japanese gothic and punk subcultures, led by artists such as AUTO-MOD (GENET, the leader of this band, is the organizer of Tokyo Dark Castle events). Japanese gothic fashion, compared to these old days western gothic fashion, let appear only very little skin, and merges straight into something that has a certain elegance. Visual and gothic icons of the 1990s, like Malice Mizer, its Victorian austerity, as its romantic side, probably began to influence a part of the Japanese gothic movement. In 1994, for their album memoire, the band appears in a Japanized gothic: beyond the expected classical gothic look (mostly black with a white touch), the musicians are showing in women's clothes – this phenomenon is possibly due to a cultural element that is the onna-gata in Japanese theatre (kabuki), the interpretation of female roles being played by men. But the album Merveilles and the single Gekka No Yasoukyoku perfectly embody the mixture between gothic, romantic, and rococo and a theatrical vision of fashion, from which lolita fashion would mature over time. It’s afterwards, in the late 1990s more likely, that some kind of merge is operated between the gothic genre and the lolita genre, giving rise to gothic lolita fashion, under the strong influence of Mana, Malice Mizer’s leader and his own brand Moi-Même-Moitié.

Made Lane Revue, label distributed by Jane Marple, mid 1990s

MILK, mid 1990s

Jane Marple, from left to right, and top to bottom: 1993, 1995, 1995, 1990, 1996

Malice Mizer: memoire, 1994 and Gekka no Yasoukyoku, 1998

Friday, January 28, 2011

Premature Brain Diagnosis in Japan?

Nature has a disturbing article from their Asian correspondent David Cyranoski: Thought experiment. It's open access.

In brief: a number of top Japanese psychiatrists have started offering a neuroimaging method called NIRS to their patients as a diagnostic tool. They claim that NIRS shows the neural signatures of different mental illnesses.

The technology was approved by the Japanese authorities in April 2009, and since then it's been used on at least 300 patients, who pay $160 for the privilege. However, it's not clear that it works.

To put it mildly.


NIRS is Near Infra-Red Spectroscopy. It measures blood flow and oxygenation in the brain. In this respect, it's much like fMRI, but whereas fMRI uses superconducting magnets and quantum wizardry to achieve this, NIRS simply shines a near-infra-red light into the head, and records the light reflected back

It's a lot cheaper and easier than MRI. However, the images it provides are a lot less detailed, and it can only image the surface of the brain. NIRS has a small but growing number of users in neuroscience research; it's especially popular in Japan, for some reason, but it's also found plenty of users elsewhere.

The clinical use of NIRS in psychiatry was pioneered by one Dr Masato Fukuda, and he's been responsible for most of the trials. So what are these trials?

As far as I can see (correct me if I'm wrong), these are all the trials comparing patients and controls that he's been an author on:
There are also a handful of Fukuda's papers in Japanese, which I can't read, but as far as I can tell they're general discussions rather than data papers.

So we have 342 people in all. Actually, a bit less, because some of them were included in more than one study. That's still quite a lot - but there were only 5 panic patients, 30 depressed (including 9 elderly, who may be different), 38 eating disordered and just 17 bipolar in the mix.

And the bipolar people were currently feeling fine, or just a little bit down, at the time of the NIRS. There are quite a lot of other trials from other Japanese groups, but sticking with bipolar disorder as an example, no trials that I could find examined people who were currently ill. The only other two trials, both very small, were in recovered people (1,2).

Given that the whole point of diagnosis is to find out what any given patient has, when they're ill, this matters to every patient. Anyone could be psychotic, or depressed, or eating disordered, or any combination thereof.

Worse yet, in many of these studies the patients were taking medications. In the 2006 depression/bipolar paper, for example, all of the bipolars were on heavy-duty mood stabilizers, mostly lithium; plus a few antipsychotics, and lots of antidepressants. The depressed people were on antidepressants.

There's a deeper problem. Fukuda says that NIRS corresponds with the clinical diagnosis in 80% of cases. Let's assume that's true. Well, if the NIRS agrees with the clinical diagnosis, it doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know. If the NIRS disagrees, who do you trust?

I think you'd have to trust the clinician, because the clinician is the "gold standard" against which the NIRS is compared. Psychiatric diseases are defined clinically. If you had to choose between 80% gold and pure gold, it's not a hard choice.

Now NIRS could, in theory, be better than clinical diagnosis: it could provide more accurate prognosis, and more useful treatment recommendations. That would be cool. But as far as I can see there's absolutely no published evidence on that.

To find out you'd have to compare patients diagnosed with NIRS to patients diagnosed normally - or better, to those randomized to get fake placebo NIRS, like the authors of this trial from last year should have done. To my knowledge, there have been no such tests at all.


So what? NIRS is harmless, quick, and $160 is not a lot. Patients like it: “They want some kind of hard evidence,” [Fukuda says], especially when they have to explain absences from work. If it helps people to come to terms with their illness - no mean feat in many cases - what's the problem?

My worry is that it could mean misdiagnosing patients, and therefore mis-treating them. Here's the most disturbing bit of the article:
...when Fukuda calculates his success rates, NIRS results that match the clinical diagnosis are considered a success. If the results don’t match, Fukuda says he will ask the patient and patient’s family “repeatedly” whether they might have missed something — for example, whether a depressed patient whose NIRS examination suggests schizophrenia might have forgotten to mention that he was experiencing hallucinations.
Quite apart from the implication that the 80% success rate might be inflated, this suggests that some dubious clinical decisions might be going on. The first-line treatments for schizophrenia are quite different, and rather less pleasant, than those for depression. A lot of perfectly healthy people report "hallucinations" if you probe hard enough. "Seek, and ye shall find". So be careful what you seek for.

While NIRS is a Japanese speciality, other brain-based diagnostic or "treatment personalization" tools are being tested elsewhere. In the USA, EEG has been proposed by a number of groups. I've been rather critical of these methods, but at least they've done some trials to establish whether this actually improves patient outcomes.

In my view, all of these "diagnostic" or "predictive" tools should be subject to exactly the same tests as treatments are: double blind, randomized, sham-controlled trials.

ResearchBlogging.orgCyranoski, D. (2011). Neuroscience: Thought experiment Nature, 469 (7329), 148-149 DOI: 10.1038/469148a

Reader Question: Melbourne and Perth

One of our reader's, Winnie, will be spending a semester in Australia from February to July and would like some tips for those on a limited budget in Melbourne, and recommendations for what to do in Perth. Here are my bite-sized responses!Melbourne:Get an eagle eyed view of Melbourne from the Eureka Sky Deck, before taking in the gilt and glamour at Crown Casino nearby. Explore Brunswick Street

Have a fun weekend.

My lovelies, what are you doing this weekend? Alex and I are going to Upright Citizen's Brigade to see some improv comedy. Amy Poehler sometimes performs, I'm crossing my fingers! Meanwhile, Toby's new thing is to sit around holding his feet, like this guy. :) Hope you have a wonderful weekend, and thank you again for all your sweetness this week. Here are a few great posts from around the web... xoxo

Like every other blogger, I'm swooning over Steven Alan's spring lookbook.

Puppy love.

French striped baby pajamas.

Iceland wanderlust.

Grilling a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich? Why didn't we think of that sooner!

Bubbles around the world.

Vintage scribble dress.

Yummy, the Minimalist's 25 favorite recipes.

These make me want to play tennis or smoke.

Cutest duck booties.

Plus, a cute video about finding a roll of film in Brooklyn. (Thanks, tvmom)

P.S. Many lovely readers email me for advice on magazine writing or blogging or starting a business, and I'd love to recommend Oh Joy's services. Joy is warm and wonderful (as you probably know from her blog) and can offer genius expert advice on branding your business or growing your career. I'd definitely recommend her if you'd like a little guidance! xoxo

(Photo credit unknown)

Friday giveaway!

Today's giveaway is from Nell's Compass, an amazing candle company run by a mother-and-daughter team in California. I love how the beautiful scents of their soy candles were inspired by their favorite places: South takes you to an aunt's flower garden; East transports you to an Italian hillside orchard, West is a masculine candle inspired by the great outdoors, and North is romantic for the winter, as if you're cuddling by a roaring fire. Alex and I were lucky enough to get these candles as a Christmas gift and love them; the scents are pitch-perfect and truly transporting, and they make the whole apartment feel cozy.

One winner will receive a full collection of Nell's Compass candles ($140 value). For a chance to win, please visit the Nell's Compass website and online store, and leave a comment below. Good luck, my sweets!

Update: Jacqueline B. is our lucky winner. Thanks for playing. xo

Two pretty things

Oh, my darlings, thank you for all the sweet, sweet comments yesterday. A big kiss to you all! I don't know what I'd do without you. :) On a cheerier note, have you seen J. Crew's spring line? I'd love to nab that dress on the right for springtime picnics...
And wouldn't you like to curl up in this super rad bed? The headboard is made of solid walnut. Stunning.

Hope you're having a good day and have some fun plans for the weekend! xo

Standing in line for BBQ pork jerky - PH

PhotoHunt theme : Standing

This shop in Chinatown is famous for its BBQ pork jerky, especially during the last 2 weeks before Chinese New Year. It's incredible! You can see their customers standing in line for hours to buy limited boxes of BBQ pork jerky at S$50 a kilo.

I prefer to spend the time shopping for other festive goodies.

By the way, the prices of almost everything have gone up ..... burning a huge hole in my pocket. sigh

But we still must celebrate Chinese New Year, I hope this coming rabbit year will bring us lots of joy, good health and prosperity!

First Commenter -

Singapore's Best Italian Restaurants

I have previously waxed lyrical about my love affair with Italian food, so it should come as no surprise that even in Singapore, my friends and I spend a substantial amount of time sussing out the best Italian joints in town. Of course, everyone seems to have differing opinion on how al dente pasta should be and who does the best tiramisu, but suffice to say that there aren't a lack of options

"Yesterday"This Mornings Coffee Run New York City (iPhone)

© The Sartorialist

Thursday, January 27, 2011

London Fashion Week SS 2011....Rowie

Ms Rowan Lewis.

Who has waited so patiently for these photos.

Who now has a kick-ar*e internship with Matthew Williamson.

Who just looks beautiful in everything she wears.

Who has a crazy good smile and laugh.

Thank you Rowie for letting me take these photos of you :)

Milan Fashion Week SS 2011.....Alejandra

Alejandra Alonso after Just Cavalli....soooooooooooo hooootttt!