Vote for your favourite Earth, Wind & Style pic and get 20% off!

My very talented friends, photographer Tina Graham and makeup artist Nicola Ingram, worked their magic a few weeks ago on a photo shoot for my boots.  I thought I would share the results below.  Vote for your favourite pic and get 20% off your purchase at Earth, Wind & Style till Dec 24th, 2012!

girls fighting over boots

ankle boots

boot tug of war

Ankle boots with leggings

shorts worn with boots

convertible boots worn with dressboots with shorts

dress worn with boots

Vote for your favourite pic below and receive 20% off on your purchase of a pair of Earth, Wind & Style boots or handbags till December 24, 2012!

Fulfilling Big-City Ambitions in Kuala Lumpur

Normally when my husband and I travel to new places, we spend most of our time seeing the sights and visiting the cultural attractions that particular location has to offer.  We also do a lot of eating and tasting of local food (eating seems to have become one of our biggest passions).  So on our first trip to Kuala Lumpur – a comparatively larger city than the one in which we are currently living – after living in Malaysia for almost 10 months, we did fully succeeded in fulfilling our requirement for eating.  And any shopping-itch I had was most definitely scratched!

Miri has an unquestionable mall-culture, but nothing prepared me for the malls to be found in Kuala Lumpur (KL, now that we are acquainted).  It is almost mind-boggling the enormity of the shopping centres in KL!  Really, I found them almost overwhelming (perhaps because it has been many, many months since I stepped foot into a western-sized mall.  I’m so deprived!).  We don’t suffer at all here in Miri, but we are somewhat limited in choice when it comes to both food and clothing, particularly of western origin or style. The sheer volume of options may have been what made me a little unsteady in the gigantic KL malls.  But, I recovered for the good of my wardrobe and persevered in exploring the interior of several shopping centres.

KLCC Shopping Mall at the bottom of the Petronas Towers

If you are into Haute Couture, KL is the place for you!  At KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre) shopping centre, located at the bottom of the Petronas Towers, you will be able to shop a good many of the well known fashion houses, such as Prada, Armani and Versace, as well as mainstream brands such as Zara and Top Shop.  If you tire of shopping, you can go to the movie theatre, aquarium or to the music hall. Or go up the impressive Petronas Towers for a 360 degree view of the entire city from 360 meters (almost 1200′) above ground.

Petronas Towers at KLCC

My ant’s-eye view of the Petronas Towers

The Pavilion shopping paradise boasts a ‘Couture Pavilion’ within its 1.37 million square foot (!) space, which also encompasses high street fashion, as well as plenty of eating options in its ‘Gourmet Emporium’ and at its sidewalk-style restaurants.  Or you can choose to cruise Tokyo Street or go for a relaxing session at one of the available spas.

If you are more in the market for a deal, Jalan Petaling may be more your speed.  Here you can get a knock-off just about anything, but be warned – they look like knock-offs!  You will have to dig deep and ask the right people to pull out the more masterly copies if they have them. They most certainly aren’t on display.  Regardless of your purchasing requirements, it’s a colourful street and worthy of a stroll through if you are in the Chinatown area.

Jalan Petaling, Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur

Jalan Petaling in KL’s Chinatown

Foodie (husband) wanted to hit a good cook shop that had been recommended to us by friends, so we made our way out to Bangsar Shopping Centre one afternoon, which was a little out of the way, but it was worth it – it was an epicurean dream!  Never mind the cook shop, as we walked in, we were confronted with the most glorious food store I think we have ever seen.  Jasons Food Hall has it all and then some.  My favourite section was the oil and vinegar section where we were poured a taste out of the cask of our choice, which may contain one of a couple of dozen or more amazing olive, pumpkin seed, or nut oils or aged and flavoured balsamic vinegars.  Our purchase was then decanted into a lovely glass bottle of our preference by a smiling staff member and sent home with us.  We need something like this place in Miri!

Oil and vinegar section at Jasons Food Hall, KL

The glorious selection of oils & vinegars at Jasons Food Hall

So we failed miserably on the sight-seeing in KL (though we did go up the Petronas Towers, honest!) due to our need to devour big city offerings after being on the island for such a long stretch, but we know we’ll be back and cultural sights will definitely be on our list of things to do next time. After we eat and shop, of course!

My Top 10 do’s & don’t’s in KL

  1. Don’t get in a cab unless they agree to run the meter.  Fares are really inexpensive, but will fluctuate greatly without the meter running.
  2. Don’t shop on Saturday afternoon unless you like hordes of crowds!  I mean hordes.
  3. Do shop during Ramadan. Discounts galore including great prices on hotels.  Remember Ramadan moves during the year, so check dates if you are planning a shopping trip to KL.
  4. Do check out Jalan Alor (aka Jalan Kejora) for cheap & cheerful local food with great street ambience in the evenings.
  5. Do visit neighbouring Jalan Changkat Bukit Bintang for higher-end ‘expat’ food, bars & whiskey bars, etc
  6. Do check out Central Market (aka the wet market) on Jalan Hang Kasturi in Little India for Southeast Asian handicrafts, art & textiles and for a break from the heat – it’s air conditioned.
  7. Don’t overlook hotel dining. In SE Asia these may be some of your best meals!
  8. Do book your tickets to go up the Petronas Towers, then head into KLCC shopping mall while you wait for your scheduled time (time slots may sell out, so arrive early if you would like to choose when to go).  Do a bit of shopping or have lunch while you wait. You can store your bags for free after you go through security and before you go up the towers.
  9. Do be cognisant of your attire if you travel during Ramadan.  It’s respectful to cover your shoulders at the very least.
  10. Do buy a ‘myrapid’ transit card. They are only available at the ticket kiosk at KL Sentral station, but can be topped up anywhere.  For RM12, you will get a RM10 credit, which allows you to travel on the LRT (Light Rail Transit) and Monorail systems allowing you easy access to most key areas of the city.

My top dining experiences in KL (well researched by my very foodie husband & myself despite how it looks by their close proximity!  Listed in no particular order): 

  • Hanare Restaurant – This is Japanese food at its best.  We have a serious lack of good Japanese restaurants where we live and had been salivating days before our arrival in KL for some of the good stuff (so much so that we ate at three sushi restaurants while in KL!).  Hanare offers a fresh sheet of sushi that has been flown in from Japan that morning (which doesn’t remotely support my low carbon footprint beliefs, but it was a special occasion – it was sushi!). It was delicious, fresh, amazing.  And the Wagyu beef is something everyone should try once in their lives.  Incredible!  In the Doubletree Hotel building on the corner of Jalan Ampang & Jalan Tun Razak (Ampang Park LRT station).
  • Ciccio Ristorante – Ahhhh, Ciccio!  Glorious meatballs, fab Tuscan red by the glass and excellent service.  I only wish I had gone to this restaurant with a better appetite! I’ll be back.  Found on Changkat Bukit Bintang.  Book a table or be very sorry.
  • Makan Kitchen – If you want a taste of the multiple cuisines available in Malaysia in a  more upmarket atmosphere than found on Jalan Alor, try Doubletree Hotel’s all-you-can-eat buffet on Saturdays and Sundays. For RM48++ (plus, plus equals taxes and service charge) you can sample excellent Malay, Indian and Chinese food. Corner of Jalan Ampang & Jalan Tun Razak (Ampang Park LRT station).
  • Tanzini on the 28th floor of the G-Tower Hotel offers very successful Italian Asian fusion cuisine with gorgeous views.  This Canadian girl was very impressed with the scallop dish.  I love a good scallop! After dinner head to the basement of the hotel to catch the excellent three-man cover-band (Fridays only) or hit the 30th floor View Bar for a night cap overlooking the Petronas Towers. On the kitty-corner of Jalan Ampang & Jalan Tun Razak from the Double Tree Hotel (Ampang Park LRT station).
  • Frangipani – definitely not the least expensive restaurant we dined in, but worth the money if you have the budget.  Great wine list and delicious French cuisine in a really lovely setting.  Start your night on the outdoor patio with a glass of bubbly and some oysters.  Yum!  Located on Jalan Changkat Bukit Bintang.

Where are your favourite spots to travel, eat and shop?  Do you try local food when you’re away from home or do you stick with what you know?

Steamy style in Laos

As I type this entry it is about 40 degrees and crazy humid in Luang Prabang, Laos. It makes me realise that I am seriously lacking in appropriate summer clothes (particularly ridiculous considering I live in the perpetual heat!), however I’ll save that for another post.

Luang Prabang is a laid-back town full of shiny gold temples (thirty-something the last I heard from a well studied Monk) and Monks who are spotted and dotted throughout the city in their saffron coloured robes.

There is no question that Laos maintains a culture of deep traditions, but it is this along with the mix of Colonial heritage and an obviously blossoming tourism industry that really makes the country so great to visit. It’s chilled. Relaxed. And cool – despite the immense amount of heat being pumped out of the sky on a continual basis. It’s easy to get around and the people are very friendly.

There is an abundance of eating establishments serving a selection of food covering the Laos and European spectrum, with French food playing a key roll – mostly in the form of crepes, though there a few fancy French restaurants too.

But Luang Prabang also boasts a fantastic number of shops and shopping opportunities. Boutiques, markets, stalls and kiosks will sell you handicrafts from small local villages, beautifully designed textiles, silver jewelry, Buddha images and Laos coffee to name but a few of the eclectic items on offer.

There is something really special about buying a silk scarf from the woman who not only dyed the thread with which it is made, but who also spent two or three days weaving it.

I find myself repeatedly trolling the night market stalls looking for interesting items (I’ve always loved a good market!). I’ve purchase some squares of fabric that are hand stitched and embroidered. I have big plans for these so stay tuned.

Below are some snaps of my few days in LP. It has turned out to be one of my favourite holiday destinations.

20120501-000644.jpg Weaver in a small village outside Phonsavan, Laos

20120501-000813.jpg Satri Lounge, one of many shops along the main strip in Luang Prabang

20120502-083429.jpg Anakha boutique selling high quality clothing

20120502-083005.jpg Pack Luck, an elegant wine bar serving the most delicious complimentary peanuts with fabulously cold wine.

20120501-000835.jpg Luang Prabang’s night market on Sisavangvong Street

20120502-084305.jpg Luang Prabang at night

Where was your favourite holiday spot?

Big feet. New business.

As a consumer I have often found it difficult to shop.  Unlike many of my amazed fellow-females, I have never really enjoyed clothes shopping as a recreational activity.  The thought of trying on piles of clothes sends shudders down my spine.  I blame my genes for this as I’m quite sure it has something to do with the fact that I’ve always been tall and have big feet.

For plenty of my growing up years, my social life was crippled by the flood pants I had to wear.  And hip shoes in my size were simply unavailable.  My youth was marred by the shudder-inducing piles of clothes I took into fitting rooms in hopes that maybe, just maybe, some designer somewhere had heard my plight and lengthened those super cool stirrup pants so it wouldn’t look like my crotch was located somewhere down around my knees.

Perhaps the whole teen shopping experience scarred me.  But I came from good shopping stock (my mother) and have persevered and I now find it a reasonably pleasant experience given the right set of circumstances.

Enter the blissful creation of the online store – no messy fitting rooms, no crowds during the holidays, no line ups at the till.  One of my favourite ways to shop, and all from the comfort of my desk.  This came about out of necessity since we have travelled extensively and lived overseas for a number of years.  It has allowed our favourite products to be delivered right into our hands (local post office willing), making our lives much more comfortable and enjoyable.  All praise the world wide web and co-operating mail men!  And a special hallelujah for a good return policy.

So I suppose it is fitting that I launch a web based business selling boots in generous sizes (read size 11‘s!), as well as for those with feet in more common proportions, and women’ handbags.  It is important to me that buyers can be assured of quality products and their deliver-ability directly into their post boxes when they purchase through our website.

One of our many unique pairs of boots

Hawkboot for women

Currently the Earth, Wind & Style team consists of Joyce, who is living in Canada and doing the shipping bits as well as some marketing, and myself.  I’m in Malaysia.  Our beautiful products are designed and created in South Africa.  It’s kind of a long story, but it works. We’re new to this, so we won’t be perfect at it, but we hope to make people happy with both our service as well as our gorgeous and unique boots and African game skin bags.

The Chelsea Springbok handbag

So coming to you from Malaysia via this blogging venue, I aim to provide a few fashion and design bits and pieces that will hopefully act as inspiration to you, my fellow consumer and wearer of fashion.  Fashion and design after all is about expressing our individuality and unique way of living, dressing and being – no matter what our shoe size happens to be.