Monday, December 22, 2008

The 'Burgh

Monday morning - December 15th - we got up early - we had a 9:55 am flight and Aunt Frankie made blueberry pancakes. YUM YUM! Carl drove us over to the airport in sub-freezing temperatures. When we got to the American concourse, we heard that one plane couldn't open the door upon arrival. We had about a 45 minute delay after moving gates and we were in The Burgh about 1:30 pm. And guess who was waiting for us at the Baggage Claim - Kate and Grandma Libbie! Can you believe it? We were surprised to say the least.

After we picked up the "Grandpa Car" - a 2009 Lincoln Grand Marquis - we sped off to Beaver and the Cafe at The Wooden Angel for a quick lunch and a short visit with Grandma Libbie and Aunt Hunsey.

Then it was off to Wilkinsburg to pick up Kate's car from the Progressive garage before the 5:45 pm close time. Can we slow down a bit? NOPE. Off to the Marriott in Cranberry for check-in, a quick stop at Target to pick up supplies for our hotel stay and a late dinner with Kate and Justin before we turned in for the night. Ugh

Day 2 in the Burgh - Lunch with the Westinghouse RRAS team in New Stanton - See the photos above - Kate was able to join us and then we discussed checking out of the hotel and moving into Laila's room at our house for the duration of our stay. So, we ran to Linens and Things in Greensburg for their Going Out Business Sale - picked up a Queen sized Aero bed and some bath towels. Then it was off to Marshall's for some queen size sheets and a blanket. We were good to go HOME. Will it slow down? NOPE.

The snow began and I missed visiting with my friends at EDMC.

Day 3 - Lunch with Regina and Denice and Kirk - Max & Erma's in Monroeville. Regina loved her Chinese gifts. Then it was cocktails with the Vintage Westinghouse procurement team at Damon's in Miracle Mile. Lots of fun.

Day 4

The doctor's visits begin on Thursday - continue on Friday and even the dentist gets into the act. Had to make another dental appointment for December 30th and blood work on Monday.

Day 5 - My Birthday
Never got my birthday cake - may wen ti! Chinese for NO PROBLEMS. Besides, it's only another day.

The Windy City

December 12th we landed in The Windy City. We flew in on an American flight that was a dream. I took a sleeping pill and slept 8 of the 12 hours airborne. The food was good and the champagne was better. Julian was the flight attendant - he's from Taiwan - and he was so nice. We were early - if you can believe it - early into Chicago and they didn't lose our luggage.

My Uncle Joe and favorite cousin Carl arrived shortly after Immigration to transport us to Palatine and the fun began.

Saturday morning we treked over to the Woodfield Mall and picked up the sweaters and long sleeve shirts we had to get to survive Winter in the US. Great sales - I'd heard the stores were discounting but they were great. If only I could get Liz Claiborne sweaters in China; they make Liz there - you just can't get Liz there - they export all the good stuff.

Then it was to the Verizon Store to activate my "pay as you go" US cell phone. Unfortunately, I couldn't get my old number and I had to buy a new Samsung phone but it all worked out.

Jet lag is my friend - I kept saying that, thinking that maybe it would be over soon but not for me or Mike. We took a nap and ended up going to Mass the next Morning. Then it was off to dinner at a really great place called Milrose with Aunt Frankie, Uncle Joe and Cousin Joan. Great meal - great wine - great conversation. Lots of laughs too. Joan recommended Melatonin and it worked. We got some sleep that night.

Sunday we ambled on over to St. Theresa's and then it was off to Joan's for a family holiday party and the Steeler game. Brother Jim and Anne showed up and a good time was had by all. Monday came way too soon.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

This Is Better Than A Drive-In Movie

Good morning,

The St. Andrew's Ball was absolutely FANTASTIC! Being from Beaver, Pennsylvania - U.S.A., I'd never been to a Ball and when Sandy suggested we all go, I thought, "Oh sure - I'll never make it with the Brits". Boy was I wrong on that count.
It all started last Wednesday when Sandy signed us up for Scottish Dancing Lessons. It was at the Blarney Stone Restaurant on Dongping Lu. Lovely little pub. Irish by nature and we had Mr. Chen take us there after work. We ordered - I had the fish and chips with a wee salad and it was great! The others had Cottage Pie and said it was good - large portions. Then Gus showed up and he began teaching. There were maybe about 12 Westerners and about 18 Chinese who were fabulous dancers. I got a little angry when I couldn't do the Dashing White Sargeant (name of the dance) because I was in the wrong position. But the Triumph (name of the dance) was a piece of cake. The Gay Gordon (another name of a dance - no kidding) was very difficult. Lots of "move 3 steps forward and 3 steps back and turn and spin the girl and polka - YES - POLKA. Can you believe it? Lots of fun - lots of sore feet.

Saturday I had my hair done and a manicure at Hair Evolution. I really like it there. Jenny did my manicure and I don't know who did my hair but the head massage was divine. I almost fell asleep. There is a hair dresser there, Neil is his name - every time I go there he always asks me, "Have you had lunch yet?" He's trying to learn English - he's got a primer and there are photos and well, learning English is as hard as learning Chinese. So I always tell him, No, I haven't had lunch yet. Denice and Kirk stopped in for a wee bit of pampering as well. Needless to say, Denice said this is a cultural thing and I need to do some more research to understand what she meant by it. I'll get back to you on that. . .

So, I figure Saturday night will be a complete disaster because there will be hundreds of people there and no one will have had the benefit of the Wednesday night lessons. I was wrong again. Yes, there were hundreds there but some of them had been there before and so it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
The first photo is one of Sandy all dressed in his kilt. The second is a photo of our group. There is Mike - Denice - Kirk - Devin - Sandy - Ned - Sophie. Ned is from England and Sophie is from Madison, Wisconsin. Sophie's got coffee in her cup - - - yeah, sure. So many nice people we've met in Shanghai.
We saw some of our dancing class friends who stopped by to greet us. The hotel is amazing - there was a wedding reception going on and we saw the groom being escorted down the aisle at the reception - he was blindfolded. He had to walk up the stairs to the stage and pick out his bride from about 5 beautiful Chinese women. WOW - didn't stick around to see if he picked the right one.
The fashions were amazing - the kilts even more so. The Scottish Lads were gorgeous but we saw some gorgeous Lassies as well. Lots of different tartans - red, green, black, blue.
I took a photo of the Guinness Girls, missed the Bailey's girls but didn't miss the Bailey's! Annamae - I even got to take a bottle home! It leaked in my purse though.
The food was interesting to say the least. The appetizer was a cold one - seared scallops with a small pastry thing holding some lettuce leaves together. Then the duck breast with a puff pastry of sauteed mushrooms and peas. Some small potatoes. There were rolls and soda bread too. Oh, and cheesecake with raspberry ice cream. The wine was free flow as was the Bailey's, the Johnny Walker Red and a bottle of red wine was on the table but no one seemed to grab that one. I took the Bailey's as I said before and Denice grabbed what was left of the Johnny Walker Red (they all toasted quite a bit - not me!). I toasted with Bailey's and took the photos. Of course, since I took the photos, there are none of me - although I think Sandy took some. Maybe I'll upload those later.
Anyway the carriages were supposed to arrive at 1 am but we grabbed a Shanghai taxi with Kirk and Denice about 12:45 am. We finally got home about 1:30 - so much traffic on the roads in the wee hours here - cannot understand that - I don't think I'm supposed to understand it.
Sunday we did another British thing - went to see Quantum of Solace - Bond, James Bond - 007. It was great. Saw it in English with Chinese subtitles. Great movie if you like action and suspense. So glad I saw the previous one. The Russian woman in this one was stunning as was the British woman who dies - ooops - sorry about that - you won't care - she's just a flash in the pan.
Have a great week - Go Steelers!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Good morning everyone!

After a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at the Renaissance Yangtze, I'd like to share some great photos with you.

Left to right -

The first photo is Mr. Chen and his lovely wife, Li and their adorable son, Haotian. He really liked the pizza and the sushi. What a combination! The second photo is of me and Mr. Cui's beautiful daughter, Yijie. She is 9 years old and I saw her eating the strawberries off of the dense chocolate cake. The third photo is of David and (l to r) Hyde, Hattie and David's son, Yongqi. He wanted to leave his coat on throughout dinner and was not happy when his mother won that battle; but he finally "warmed" up to us and he liked all the fruit, pears and watermelon - all familiar things to him and to China. By the end of the night, he was running around with Hyde and having a ball.

We so enjoyed meeting the drivers' beautiful wives and children. Haotian greeted Denice and Lucienne with "Happy Thanksgiving". It was absolutely precious!

On behalf of the Westinghouse PSS Team, I'd like to thank everyone for participating in our Thanksgiving Celebration last night. We are so thankful for having each other here in Shanghai. This is a great team and we all get along very well. Last night, Mark gave the "blessing" and summed it up perfectly and of course, it brought me to tears. Thanks John for letting us put this altogether!

We are extremely thankful for our Chinese family and it was so nice to have them with us. Without these wonderful people, this power plant just couldn't happen. They are instrumental to our lives here; whether Mr. Chen, Mr. Cui and David are driving us to work or shopping or whether Maisie is coordinating everything or translating for us - we could not be here without them. I'm sorry Tony and his daughter couldn't make it - we'll have to have another party soon.

The food was great. So many different varieties. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and the cranberries were warm and were rather good. I sure hope Kate is buying up the Ocean Spray Orange Cranberry Sauce for me on Giant Eagle shelves - I want 3 at least. I really miss it. It's the closest to Mike's mom's recipe I can find.

I also want to say that I'm thankful to the Chinese government for giving us the opportunity for this cultural experience. Everyone we've met has been most supportive and kind and thoughtful. From the staff here at Shama where we live, to the security guards to the staff at Best Buy.

So today we are grateful and thankful for all of them and for the sacrifice they make for us each and every day. The Chinese work long hours - some of them work 7 days a week. They are amazing and I'm happy to be here.

BUT, on another note - I'm so happy to be going home - home to family, friends, colleagues, neighbors. We leave Shanghai in 14 days and we'll be back in The Burgh in 17 days.

All I want for Christmas is The Burgh! But I want the cake on the front of the December issue of Bon Appetit for my birthday! Kate, we'll go buy the ingredients. . .

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Time for Giving . . .

Good afternoon all,

Well, I'm gearing up for my trip home, and I've been out shopping as well. It's not nearly as cold as it is in The Burgh - it was 59 today - very overcast but the sun did come out for a little bit.

Today I purchased some of the gifts for my Giving Bag. I needed to do this because the bag is due to be returned tomorrow.

In America, we'd call this - our Angel Tree gifts.

This bag is a program of the Shanghai Community Center in Partnership with the Shanghai Charity Foundation. The children who benefit from these gifts are migrant workers' children. They go to a migrant workers' school. I know that my friend, Jane was looking to volunteer to teach in a migrant school. I don't think the government supports these schools.

As I understand it, in China if you are a migrant worker and your family moves with you, your children cannot go to the local schools. The school across the street from Shama is where children who are residents of Shanghai attend. I think the migrant workers schools are pretty far out in the suburbs.

If you don't want to shop, or can't shop because you are too busy OR if you are afraid to shop, then you can give the coordinator 150 RMB and they will do the shopping for you. I was afraid to shop until I talked with my Chinese friends here at Shama. They helped me a lot in what to buy.

The migrant workers' children are poor children. I understand that migrant workers perform some of the jobs that we see everyday on the streets of Shanghai. Maybe the street sweeper or a cleaner in a store or a restaurant. I think that migrant workers might also sometimes be ayis (pronounced EYE EES) too; which is what we would call a "maid" in the US. Lots of my friends here have ayis. Mike and I do not. We live in a "serviced apartment" where they come every day like a housekeeper in a hotel. I wanted to shop and cook for us myself.

I have a girl whose name is Wu Ling. She is 14 years old and she weighs about 110 pounds. She is about 4 feet, 9 inches tall. She wears a size 24 shoe.

So, I bought her a winter knit hat (black/white/purple), similar to the ones the skiers wear in the US. I also bought her some black gloves and some socks. I also had some shampoo and soap and a shower scrubbie so I tossed them in too. Then I bought her a pair of red (because red means good luck in China) Converse All Star tennis shoes. Tomorrow, I'll run by the Pearl Market to pick up a sweat suit.

When I see Converse All Star tennis shoes, all I can do is think of my cousin, Ellen. A little story about this.

Many years ago, I was visiting my Chicago cousins and my cousin Ellen was a star runner on her high school track team. She so wanted a pair of running shoes and my uncle told her he would run downtown to Maxwell Street in Chicago to buy her a pair of shoes. I knew she didn't want the black high-top shoes that my uncle was suggesting. She wanted a pair of sleek shoes that would enable her to run faster and leap buildings in a single bound. So, when I saw these shoes, Ellen is who I thought about.

Anyway, Wendy at the Concierge Desk said I did a good job. I put the hair things in some little bags and tied them with red ribbon. I hope she enjoys these items. I just hope she gets all the items I put in there.

Also, today - I took the minutes at the November American Women's Club meeting. I called Malone's American Pub two days ago and tried to explain to the young lady there that the American Women's Club would be there at 9:30 am this morning. She kept telling me that the restaurant didn't open until 11:30. Of course, I knew that but Lisa, the former recording secretary, told me to let them know a few days before the meeting so I did call them. When I wasn't sure they would be prepared for me, I asked one of the concierges at the desk downstairs call them yesterday. He told me he would take care of it. This morning when I arrived at 9:15, they were all ready for me. With coffee and everything!

I set up the laptop and Kathy and I waited for the others to join us. Usually these meetings take about 2 hours but today there was a skeleton crew and we were done by 11. I had asked our driver to come for me at 12:15 but I had to call back and request an earlier pick up time and a change of location. Kathy and I walked over to The Ritz Carlton Hotel and had a Starbucks there. You know, I don't know what I'd do without him. The laptop is so heavy and I just knew I couldn't carry it all around Shanghai with the other errands I had to do today.

He dropped Kathy off at her place and then we were off to the Fabric Market to talk with Ball about the skirt I had made. Guess who I saw there? Yep, you guessed it - Margaret and Lisa. Margaret helped me convey my concerns to Ball about the skirt. Poor Ball - she thinks I'm 25 years old! I told her we needed to lengthen the skirt considerably and she will have it ready for me on Friday. She also said she can drop it off at my hotel (giggle) so we'll have to see if that happens. She has a friend in our neighborhood so it is not a problem - Mei wen ti! Then we stopped by the lady who has silk scarves and met a lovely Chinese / American family from New York City. We also met a lovely British woman who only had Pounds Sterling on her. She was wondering where she could get her money changed and we had to give her the bad news that she needed her British passport to do that at the bank - any bank. She would have to go back to her hotel to get it. It has been suggested to us many times to keep your Passport or a copy thereof with you at all times. The authorities have the right to ask you for it. I keep a copy as I'm so afraid of losing the original thing. Especially after Jane had her purse stolen. But I digress, again. . .

Then we went to the Commodities Market over by Yu Yuan Garden. This place is AMAZING! It's got a little bit of everything and a lot of anything you'd like; Christmas decorations, jewelry, clothes, socks, hats, hair ties and barrettes. We had 50 minutes to look around and purchase everything we needed or wanted - as Margaret says. Needless to say, it was my second time there and I could not find the cards for the places I had been to before. Thank goodness I still have my wits about me and was able to remember the general vicinity of the second floor. I purchased some more jewelry items so now I am good to go!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Hello again,

The title of this post is Guanxi. You pronounce it Gwonshe. It means relationships.

The Chinese people are big on relationships. Business relationships are what we find everywhere we go here. But the business relationships turn into friendships - at least that is what we are finding. We really like the people we do business with.

When we had our two-day cross-cultural training, the Cartus relocation people spoke about it quite often. But you really don't understand it until you are here for a few weeks and then it finally sets in.

When you go to the markets you realize that the Chinese people really do remember you. They see Western people and remember who you are or what you bought at their shop.

When I go to the fabric market, my friends Ball (who makes my suits and pants) and Miss Shi (who made our coats) recognize me. I introduce each of them to more of my friends. Well, because that is what you do when you find a good tailor and they do good work - work that meets your expectations. The fabric is nice, the seams are straight and the lining is silky. AND the price is right! It's the BEST FRIEND price. The more friends you bring to them, the better the price and the better the price, the more things you get made because they do a fabulous job! Sometimes they'll give you a tangerine or a bottle of water. Other times, well, they deliver - like Domino's. . .
Last Friday, Mike was on his way upstairs from the gym after his workout and he sees Ball in the lobby of Shama, our apartment building. She was here to deliver some clothes she made for a friend of ours. Now, that is good service.
Another example, last week, I had some chinos made by Ball. She charged me a great price and when CeCe saw how nice they were and how great they fit - NO FITTING either, she had her make two pair for her. Then Mike saw how nice they were, he wanted two pair made.
Now Mike is a different story because you all know how tall he is. BUT she gave him the same price as me and that so impressed us. AND because he wanted a different fabric, we went to look at fabric around the corner behind the scenes; and he got to choose his fabric which was a little bit heavier than mine.
I love these pants - they fit great - and the fabric is so comfortable. When we went back to get Mike's pants on Sunday, they needed a little tuck in the waist and lengthened a wee bit - just about 1/2". Ball also made Mike's coat and he really likes it. It's long enough and he says it fits great, even with a suit jacket underneath.
Everyone is happy - CeCe and I are happy because we got new pants and Mike is happy too because he'll get new pants at the same price and they look just like the Dockers he bought back home at twice the cost!
Ball said she's got a gift for me next month - a cashmere scarf - gee, I cannot wait. . .

Shanghai Street Scenes

Good morning all,

I was out walking around with CeCe and we decided to stop and have a Frappacino at Starbucks around the corner just taking in the sights!

Everywhere you go there are amazing things to see. Whether it be architecture or people. I find Shanghai soooo interesting. Yes, Italy was beautiful and amazing in itself but Shanghai, well, it's just China -

Check out the photos of the people on bicycles I've uploaded. The man with the empty bottles of water must be on his way to the recycling plant. You will also see men on bicycles with FULL bottles of water too, just like this. I don't know how they get around - the full ones are so heavy. We have a huge bottle of water in our apartment. That's the water we cook with each and every day. I go through one of them about every two weeks. It costs us about 20 RMB which is about $2.85. It goes in one of those dispensers and you can get hot or cold water at the flick of a wrist.

The Chinese are very big on the environment. Their country is so huge and they realize the need to clean up the place. All over town, you will see people with these huge plastic bags that have recyclable items in them like plastic water bottles. On the Bund the little old ladies will walk by you as your are finishing your water, hoping that you'll give the empty to them. Some of them rely on this to supplement the money they receive from the government.

Every so often you'll see little men on bicycles with huge piles of cardboard broken down. They are taking them to the recycle plant too. I wish we had people in the US that are as environmentally conscious as the Chinese. We talk the talk but don't walk the walk. . .

The Chinese people are very proud but they realize the need to make a Buck - or a Yuan. I so admire them for that. In the US you don't see many people on welfare getting out there to help themselves. That's a shame but that's another story for another day.

Check out the man with the plants. I cannot figure out how he gets around. He's not a very big man but he manages to get those plants to where they need to be. He must have powerful legs, maybe that's why he's so thin. . .

In the evening, maybe about 6 pm, you'll see men and women who are riding bicycles with floral baskets, filled to the brims, on them. I think they come from the flower markets and try to sell the leftover flowers on the street. I sometimes pick up some calla lillies or some carnations. The jasmine smells divine! On the way to the subway, there is always a little lady sitting on the ground creating jasmine bracelets. We've talked about buying them - maybe we'll do that this week. The Hongqaio Flower Market is one of our favorite places to go. They don't just have flowers and plants there.

The Chinese love their gold fish - koi - I think that's what the term is. There are lots of vendors there who sell koi and fish tanks and food. At one vendor last week we saw a huge lizard - makes me get chills each time I think about it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Well, it's over!
Thank Goodness! No more political ads - no more robot phone calls!

I'm not happy about this election but from what I've heard in the last 30 minutes, I think President-elect Obama WILL reach across the aisle, choosing capable individuals to head up his Cabinet. It looks like he will work with competent, educated men and women who know their business.

He'll need all the help he can get! Only time will tell but let's just hope and pray that things look UP! It can't go anywhere but UP as far as I'm concerned.

I've been checking the election results in Allegheny and Beaver Counties and it looks like the other people I voted for have won their seats - Jason Altmire, (when will Melissa Hart give up?), Tom Corbett, Tony DeLuca. Yes, there are two Democrats and a Republican - I cannot vote straight party - it should NOT be an option for any American - I don't care what you say Miss Y!

I spent this morning at the Hilton Hotel where the American Chamber of Commerce and the American Women's Club hosted a party for Americans in Shanghai. Check out the photos! I saw many Chinese here too. Lots of women which is what I expected because we are always up for a party; but there were many men there too who I assume decided to play hooky and share their political views with others. McCain and Obama showed up - check out the photo above!

The Hilton is a beautiful hotel - this was my first time there. Lovely lobby and of course, they won me over with the calla lillies and the hydrangea.

They had Blue and Red M & M's so that was fun. AmCham provided some cheap US Flags and some cute hats too. The McCain and Obama buttons were plentiful and I think the Chinese enjoyed the excitement, as well. The US Consulate Public Affairs Department provided some really great handbooks to help the Chinese understand the election process. I grabbed three up for our drivers and staff.

I saw lots of babies and elementary school children whose parents thought it would be great for them to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event first hand. And there were lots of college students whooping it up.

We watched CNN as the polls closed and I was amazed that Pennsylvania was called so early. Way too early as far as I was concerned - I'm sure Wendy hadn't even closed the District One poll at Plum High School. The turnout in Allegheny County was very high. I think it was high all over the country.
I just checked Allegheny County records and Plum has yet to provide all results. I bet District 19 - also at the High School -couldn't close their poll - they have trouble every time!
Do I miss being in Pittsburgh for this election? NO WAY. I don't miss the phone calls because I'm getting them here. I don't miss the TV commercials either because I'm watching Slingbox here. AND, I don't miss the mud slinging one bit.
As I said above - time will tell - and we still have two more months of George W.
God Bless Us All!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Career Changing Decision Made

Good morning,

Well, after CeCe and I journeyed to Pudong last week, we've decided NOT to pursue pearl stringing as our next career move. As you can see, this is a strand of cultured pearls. It is NOT finished and it probably won't be unless I travel to the Pearl Market and ask my friend, Alina to fix it for me.

The Pearl Stringing Class was a nice thought. Oh, we met Valerie who told us she used to work for DeBeers in marketing and public relations. She is originally from Hong Kong and she recently moved here from there. She took up Chinese jewelry making as a hobby and now she teaches expats to do it.

She's very talented. She had on a beautiful strand of sea pearls - both black and white that incorporated Chinese silk cords. I thought it was beautiful. And her watch was made with freshwater pearls and it was beautiful as well.

She provided all the tools and supplies necessary for the class

CeCe and I have decided that we are not cut out to do this type of jewelry making. You must place a knot between each pearl and you must be precise and well, we just don't have what it takes to complete this project.
For those of you who have pearls, please take a minute to read what I've added below. This is the handout Valerie gave us and I think it will help you take care of the pearls you already have. I learned some things at this class I didn't know, like the perfume and cooking information. I will be more careful going forward.
Six factors determining the quality and value of a pearl

1. Color – intensity of color
2. Luster – surface brilliance. Luster is determined by nacre quality.
3. Surface quality – amount of imperfections
4. Nacre quality – the thicker, the more luster and the durability
5. Shape – roundness of the pearl
6. Size

Although size plays an important role in the evaluation of a pearl, color, luster, shape and surface quality are of primary importance. There is no international standard grading system for freshwater pearls or cultured pearl as in the case of the diamond. Each jeweler adapts his own system.

How to differentiate genuine and fake pearl

1. Imitated pearls are glass, plastic or shell beads dipped in ground fish scales and lacquered with the pearl appearance, such as Majorca Pearl and Swarovski Crystal Pearls. When putting pearl stimulant and pearl together, you can see that cultured pearl has an inner glow, but pearl stimulant has only surface shine.

2. Try the “Tooth-test” – if you run the pearl along the biting edge of your tooth, the genuine pearl will give you a gritty feel, but the fake pearl has a smooth surface.

How to clean and care for your pearl jewelry

1. Use a soft cloth to wipe your pearls after wearing and put a drop of olive oil on the cloth to help maintain the luster of the pearls.
2. Only use jewelry cleaner that is labeled “safe for pearls” to clean your pearls.
3. Never use an ultra-sonic cleaner to clean your pearl jewelry.
4. Avoid using any chemicals such as perfume, vinegars and lemon juice to come in contact with your pearls. That means put your perfume/cologne on before adding your pearls and certainly be careful of using these items around your neck, ears, or wrists.
5. Take off your pearl jewelry when applying make-up, perfume, hair spray, cooking, showering, swimming or exercising.
6. Never put your pearl jewelry with other gem jewelry to avoid scratching and keep them in a jewelry pouch.
7. Dry air can damage pearls so do not store them in a safe deposit box or wall safe.
8. Restring your pearls once a year if you wear them often to avoid breakage.

What is a cultured pearl?

Nearly all pearls sold today are cultured pearls. Cultured pearls are a product of nature with the help of technology. A nucleus is implanted into the mollusk to stimulate nacre (mother of pearl) production and over a few years, the nacre builds up layer by layer ultimately creating the pearl.

Types of Pearls

There are two main types of pearls: Salt water cultured pearls and Fresh water cultured pearls.

Akoya Pearl

A saltwater pearl comes from the Akoya oyster. It was first cultivated in Japan by Kokichi Mikimoto in the early 19th Century. It is round or near-round in white or cream color with overtone of rose, silver and cream. Japanese Akoya Pearl is used to be known as the hallmark of classic quality and grace. With the improvement in technology, today Chinese Akoya pearl is as good as the Japanese pearl. In fact, most of the small size (below 8mm) Akoya pearls in Japan come from China and are “assembled” and marked “Made in Japan”.

South Sea Pearls

South Sea Pearls are saltwater pearls found in the South Seas which encompass an area around North Australia and Southeast Asia). Pearls are silver or gold in color around 10-20mm in size.

Tahitian Black Pearls

Tahitian Black Pearls are gown in the waters of French Polynesia. They are saltwater pearls and they come in gray to black colors with red, green or blue overtones. They are also found near Cook Island, Fiji Island, Tonga, the Philippines and sometimes near Panama and The Gulf of Mexico in the Western Hemisphere.

Mabe or Blister Pearls

Mabe or Blister Pearls come from Japan, Indonesia and Australia. They are half spherical cultured pearls grown on the inside shell of a mollusk. The blister pearl that is produced is cut from the shell and the follow inside is filled with wax or glue. A mother of pearl backing is often added.

Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater Pearls come from freshwater mussels and are produced in Japan, China and in the United States. The most famous type of freshwater cultured pearl is a Biwa Pearl which used to come form mussels grown in Lake Biwa, near Kyoto, Japan. Because of the pollution, production has stopped. Now, over 20 different species of freshwater mussels are commercially harvested.

Today, China is the largest producing country of freshwater pearls.

Furniture / Rugs / Art

Good morning everyone!

First off, I'd like to thank all those who DO send me emails telling me how much they enjoy the Blog. I enjoy writing it. I AM having a good time here. I know Mike has to work very hard and the language barrier is always there. It can be frustrating! I do think he's enjoying himself too. He's playing golf each week - last Saturday he played 18 holes - he didn't do as well as he wanted but he had fun. And again this Saturday, he's going to play another 18 holes of golf.

Today I got an email from my friend, Beth Marko Fox, Class of 1972, Beaver High School. She asked me for some photos of some fabrics and some cloisonne. I have bought some cloisonne items - not much but I will include them in a future blog. Tomorrow I'm going to the fabric market - again. I need to pick up some slacks and have a fitting for a silk jacket. Mike went to have a fitting for his winter coat last Sunday.

If you've got special requests like Beth's, please let me know. A request forces us to make a field trip and my friends are always up for a field trip - today we're going on the Jewish Ghetto Tour on The Bund. CeCe and I have to be in the lobby here at Shama at 8:30 so her driver, Skip, can take us on the cross-town journey during rush hour. It should be very interesting. More about that next week.

The weather here is pretty good still. Yesterday; however, it was dark and gloomy all day and it drizzled for a while so my friends, CeCe and Ellen and I went to the Furniture Street. It isn't too far from our house and it is close to Ellen's house - but I didn't take my camera with me. I think the best way to describe it is this: It's a street with some furniture malls on it. We went into one Mall that had four floors of furniture stores in them. We stopped in at a carpet store too - beautiful carpets - no, I didn't take any credit cards - I'm leaving them at the apartment - but I did see some beautiful rugs.

These malls remind me of a huge Wickes store. Remember Wickes? Each store had a theme - either leather, contemporary, futons, children's furniture, kitchen, family rooms, some very interesting "Gone with the Wind" furniture and much, much more. We saw things we liked and things we walked right by.

We saw Natuzzi, La-Z-Boy and another brand I cannot remember. I know that Suzi has a chair and ottoman made by these people. It is a Scandinavian brand and the chairs are leather or suede. CeCe's husband, Brian wants one of these chairs in the worst way and they run about $5,000 back in the States. We figured one of these chairs here would run about $1,900. So I'm sure she's taking him over there to check it out.

We also saw some traditional Chinese furniture - some absolutely beautiful things. I will try and go back to take some photos of what they look like. There was some contemporary Chinese furniture that I didn't like too. Some stores don't want you to take photos because that might mean you're stealing their designs. You and I know that I can't steal designs - I can only appreciate them. I'm not talented in that realm - I just recognize great beauty! You know - your child's first crayon sketch, the American flag, the Grand Canyon, a Pittsburgh skyline? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I like what I like.

Speaking of beauty, we also saw an art street that had some good and some bad art. I'm taking Mike back over there because I saw some great Chinese calligraphy and some beautiful watercolors. My Gunny - we called my maternal grandfather that name when we were kids - was a fabulous artist. My Aunt Frances is a fabulous artist herself but she has grandchildren to have fun with now so she doesn't dabble anymore. Sure wish she did though -I've been trying to get her to draw/paint/sketch me something for many years. My cousin, Tommy New is also an accomplished artist. God grants certain gifts to each of us. I can type. . . that's my gift!

Anyway, back to Gunny - my mother gave me two paintings he did that were in her dining room for years. They need re-framed but as all good art. They are currently at her house because I didn't want to put them in the storage facility. Yesterday, I saw some nice pieces that I'd like to buy for our apartment here and they will complement my other pieces at home too.

We also stopped by a porcelain store that had ginger jars, bowls, vases and the most amazing sinks. Yes, sinks. I saw some of the same thing last weekend at the Hongqaio Flower Market. I went there with John while Mike was golfing. The woman at the Flower Market told me that the plain sinks (usually one color) are about 150 RMB - about $20. The more detailed or those with lots of color range from 180 RMB to about 300 RMB. I will definitely be bringing back one or two of those. I will try and get some photos of those too. You won't believe how gorgeous they are.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mail - Ma'am - I've got mail for you!


A little over a week ago, I was talking with Mary Louise on Google Chat and then I called her in Clearwater, Florida. We were discussing China and she asked me what I missed most. Well, after my family and my friends, I have to admit I miss my magazines the most. I would get all kinds of great dinner ideas from them. I've been reading them online but it is just NOT the same.

SO **************************************************

Mary Louise Cookson (Diogardi) sent me SEVEN - count them 7 magazines in a big envelope last week and they arrived today. It only took 7 days to reach me and they are in great shape. Better Homes & Garden, OK, People, US Weekly, SELF, Bon Appetit, and Southern Living (yes, Cris - I'm so excited to read it). I'm in heaven now! The concierge was amazed and now I have to share with him too so he can practice his English!

CeCe and I went to Just Grapes, a great wine bar and small cafe down the street and took the Better Homes and Garden - there are crock pot recipes in it and I'm going to do sauerkraut and pork tomorrow in CeCe's White/Westinghouse crockpot. I tried to buy one at Best Buy but the model she has is out of stock. They are ordering me one but God knows when it will be here. This model has Chinese markings so she has to give me the English translation so I don't do anything rash but hey - my house will smell so good tomorrow. I cannot wait. Kate, I know your mouth is just watering. . . don't drool sweetheart!

I am the envy of all the American women in my building and elsewhere in Shanghai. I hope to look through them all before I lend them out! Wait until Mike gets home tonight!

Mary Louise - you will never know how much I appreciate this. It probably made our whole week!

Tomorrow CeCe is getting her sea shipment so she's going to be in heaven tomorrow - today - well, TODAY - it's my turn!

The British are Coming! The British are HERE!

Yes! They have arrived. The British department store, Marks & Spencer opened their Chinese flagship store here in Shanghai on October 2nd. Mike and I went after Mass last week and we had a great time. They have "large" sizes for regular Western people and great food! Check out the roasted red peppers, the horseradish sauce and the free trade coffee! Such a find!
Last week was a good week. We met Mae-Ling Tien, a lovely young Chinese American housewife from California. She and her husband have a 7 year old son. CeCe, Ellen and I went over to Anfu Lu to meet her at iiiiT which is lovely cafe in a gated community called The Summit. Very nice atmosphere. Then we dined at the Cafe Montemarte. It was lovely restaurant in the French Concession. We stopped at the Hu & Hu sofa store and found some great buys on Chinese furniture (I've been looking for tables) and some lovely sofas that Marybelle Hu can make up for clients in no time at all. Neat fabrics - colors you'd never imagine and some neat accessories too!
Saturday, Mike and I did a romantic thing. We grabbed a taxi and journeyed out to Hongmei Lu. We jumped out in front of the Pearl Market and dashed across the street to the Movie Store - yep, that's the name of the store. I had bought some great DVDs there a week or so before for 16 RMB which is about US $ 2.50. I cannot understand why they are so cheap especially when the quality is first rate. We've seen some pretty poor movie quality from some other stores but this store has 3 floors and it is absolutely amazing. I think I'll buy the MASH series for 64 RMB the next time I go out there. I would love to watch all those old MASH reruns. The problem - you cannot take them home with you. It is not legal to take them back to the States - I can understand why but the quality is first rate. Maybe they buy in such quantity, do you think that's why the prices are good? So we bought some CDs so Mike could download some music to his MP3 player - I stored all our other CDs - I wasn't thinking when United Van Lines came to pack them. And we bought The Kite Runner - I cannot wait to watch it. Read the book and read about the movie.
Then we went to Mexicolindo, a cute little Mexican restaurant on the Hongmei Pedestrian Street for dinner. Margarita and shrimp fajitas for me and a margarita and taco platter for Mike. I think it cost us about US $45. Not bad for a nice dinner and a seranade by the local Rolling Stones band. We didn't get there in time for Happy Hour but we were happy!
I still haven't been to Walmart yet. I don't have any plan to go either. Just thought I'd let you all know that. . .
Today I picked up a sweet baby gift for Miss Karina and Rob's new baby boy. I'll send it off this weekend after I get some wrapping paper at Taikang Lu on Friday. CeCe's driver, Skip will take us there on Friday. This Saturday is a golf marathon with the Westinghouse guys - they are playing 18 holes so I'll be alone all day. It's a shame - I'll have to get a manicure or something.
Today, one of our friends was sick so Skip took us to a Chinese pharmacy. I was expecting roots and bugs and stuff and guess what we found there? Tylenol Cold for 25 RMB which is about US$3.50. Enough for ten days. It's just up the street and they had Robitussin there too. I was amazed. It was so clean and the clerk spoke a wee bit English. China amazes me every day!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On A Magic Carpet Ride!

Good morning everyone!

The American Women's Club had a fundraiser - they call it "Shopping for a Cause". It was last Saturday evening and Mike and I went along with Kirk, Devin and Sandy. The event was a Carpet Auction and it was great. Denice missed a good time and I bet she would have bought one - We DID! We won one too! It was the Luck of the Irish!
The cause was the Starfish Foster Home Foundation. Amanda is the director there and she was in attendance at the event. Their web page is listed below - check it out - but be ready for some tears - it's very hard. You must realize that these beautiful children have basically been abandoned because their parents cannot afford to take care of them. They have been born with some disfigurement like cleft palate or spina bifida. Amanda is known for her kindness and these children somehow find their way to her. She arranges for the much-needed surgeries that the children need - the surgery that gives them a second lease on life. You will see that she brings these children to Shanghai for these surgeries and it is quite expensive. Some of the doctors donate their time so if you know of a doctor with these special skills - please refer them to her.
So click on her webpage and check it out.
The event was supposed to be held at Shama Luxe at Xintandi which is the upscale Shama property near Xintandi - the South Side Works of Shanghai. Mike, Kirk and I took a taxi over there and were amazed at the lovely location. The apartment building was beautiful but the Clubhouse that all the apartment buildings in that gated community building share was breathtaking. When the carpet company arrived at Shama, they realized that there would be too many carpets AND the group of people who had RSVP'd was growing by leaps and bounds so they had to move it to the Clubhouse - it was a great idea!
I didn't take my camera so I don't have photos of the property but the carpets - the one on the left is the one we won - it's about 2' by 3.5' and is mostly maroon and grey (Beaver Bobcat colors) while the one we bought, which is about 4' by 6' is gold and green with some red in it. It looks love here in our apartment (OR it will once the housekeepers help me re-arrange the living room Thursday afternoon). We have the smaller one in the hallway leading to the bathrooms and bedrooms. The larger one will look wonderful with our mossy green sofa and love seat that is now in storage in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania.
The food was great. Little nibbles that consisted of small shrimps sitting on a lettuce base in a remoulade sauce. Sauteed mushrooms on a puff pastry shell. There were little pieces of chicken in teeny pita pockets with cheese and a mustard sauce. There were many other things too numerous to mention. The cheesecakes were yummy too - blueberry and chocolate. The wines were great too.
The CARPETS - well, I had no clue what to expect. None of us knew what to expect, but the gentlemen from the carpet company in Singapore were excellent. I found maybe about 14 that would have worked for us. There were some huge ones as well.
Edmund started began the auction explaining what was expected - reasonable bids - and then of course, when people bid low, he would attribute that to the world-wide recession. Some of these carpets retailed for upwards $15,000 and were going for $5,000. We were very pleased that ours was much, much, much cheaper than that because it was much smaller and because Mike was sitting quite close to me holding my arm down!
Each attendee received a book so we'll know what to look for next time. It talks about the care of your carpet and how to hang it on the wall should you want to do that. There were also some points to make on the history of knotted carpets and where they come from. It is very interesting and I intend to sit on the balcony some morning in the sun and digest it from cover to cover.
They did pull about four carpets that did not elicit any bids and then the prizes were awarded. My friend, Sharyn pulled my number and I won the little carpet. I was so surprised. Very happy and surprised. Mike was able to carry both of them home in the taxi. Needless to say, we will go again next year and try and coerce other couples to go as well.

Le Cheile - It looks French BUT It's Irish!

And it means - together! Of course we all know the Irish know how to party and Party We Did a few weeks ago over on Tao Jiang Road.

Most of you know Mike and I were married on St. Paddy's Day - our 30th Anniversary is next year and we are most excited about it. However, we'll be here in China and so we had to investigate how we will celebrate.

My friend, Kristin, author extrordinare, told us about this Irish group here in Shanghai.

O'Malley's is a wonderful Irish pub close to where we live. Before I got here, Mike and the team would go there on Saturdays and watch some "football" - you know the European style. . .
But for this party, we went with some of our Westinghouse team and the Corning team jumped in the van and traveled to O'Malley's. The food was great but the people were even better.

When I walked in and saw the band, they were singing "Whisky in the Jar" and I shed a wee tear. It reminded me of the many St. Patrick's Day Parades we went to with the Doheny's and the Koehler's. There was lots of Guinness and another Czech beer that Sandy said was a very popular beer in the Czech republic. So Michael Stay - check it out! I've posted a photo of the label from the beer.

And we met Sidney who is Czech and he was dancing up a storm. Denice learned how to play the harmonica - move over Bill Slaman - and we had a great time. The food was spectacular - small burgers - grilled outside and they were just the way I like them - medium - and Irish stew with carrots and potatoes in a rich beef gravy. Mike like the grilled oysters and that made him smile.
We joined this club and now we'll be able to party with them whenever there is a reason - which should be quite often.

A good time was had by all!


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Korean Folk Village

This was a real treat for us. There were tons of Korean kids in matching outfits denoting their schools running around everywhere. They were absolutely adorable and we enjoyed their greetings and their requests for our photos - YES, they asked if they could take our photos with their cell phone cameras! We were touched.

We met a nice young man who is a teacher at one of the schools. He's from Connecticut and he was extremely proud of his students.

Then we met another young man who was from Los Angeles, California who was visiting Seoul for a conference. He was waiting for his friend to text him the score from the Pittsburgh - Baltimore game. When he got the score - it was not to our advantage and I was so worried about what the end of the game would bring. Kate went to the game and she must have fallen asleep without texting the final score - we didn't know for two days that we WON! Hey Mr. Rooney - you need Alan Faneca back!

I'm adding quite a few photos here - I still haven't mastered posting photos - in the right order as you can see from the previous posting but hey, I know you are all smart people and you'll find the right photo and match it with the right paragraph.

There is a photo of a woman who is spinning silk. And a photo of a woman who helped me in the gift shop. I bought a lovely wallet and some magnets for Kate and Katie Mo's refrigerator. I hope I remember to bring them home with me.

You'll also see some photos of the farmer dancers who have drums and these really neat. Then we went to a Traditional Korean Wedding ceremony. It was very interesting. The groom has blue on and the bride has little red dots on her cheeks. She is pictured here with her attendants. Then they put her in a really neat box that some groomsmen carry. Her new husband rides alongside her on a horse. In that photo, Mike and I are standing in front of the groom -he's behind us on his horse. It was so wonderful.

I think Mike really enjoyed me meeting his Korean friends. I so liked them all - I wish I could have seen DY and met his wife, Okhee - he is such a gentleman. DY - Get Well Soon!

Land of the Morning Calm

Hi Everyone!

It was Golden Week in China last week. A national holiday, so Mike and I jumped a plane and took a little trip to Seoul, South Korea. Mike used to travel to South Korea in a previous capacity at Westinghouse and he has friends there. So, he thought it would be great for me to meet them. He was right - it was a great trip!

We took a China Eastern Air Bus to Seoul on Monday evening, September 29th. It's just a short flight - one hour and 45 minutes. It was smooth flying and landing in the Land of the Morning Calm. Here's Mike beside a huge Korean folk drum.

Immigration was easy and fast so after we grabbed some cash (Korean Won) we jumped on a bus we thought was going downtown to the Korea Air Terminal. It stopped at every telephone pole and hotel/apartment building so when we got to the Ramada, we hopped off and grabbed a taxi. Kate got us a great rate at the Renaissance Seoul and we were very impressed. The lobby is spacious and well appointed and the best thing about it was we could drink the water from the tap in the bathroom! We decided to grab something to eat so we went to the Trevi Lounge where there were three Fillipino singers belting out some great tunes, a good club sandwich with a great glass of Savingnon Blanc!

Tuesday morning, Mrs. Yun Hee Lee and Mr. O. H. Park from the Westinghouse Seoul office arrived to take us to the Korean Folk Village before 9 am. We quickly crossed the street to Dunkin Donuts to get an iced coffee and a Boston Creme donut - can you believe it? Another great thing - (I still think about YOU - Jeff Abraham every Friday - this is a little hint only the EDMC staff will know about).

The Korean Folk Village is south of the city about one hour. The roads here are amazingly good. Lots of traffic but nothing like Shanghai. All very orderly and clean. The taxis all have GPS and TV screens in the front of them so you can watch Korean TV. It was cool! The Korean Folk Village reminded me of Williamsburg, Virginia - all the staff were in their traditional Korean costumes and there were different types of houses that you would find in different parts of Korea. I will write more about the Folk Village in another blog. Stay tuned.

Then we went to Itaewon which is a street near the US military base in Seoul that has lots of bars and Western restaurants and little stalls with Korean souvenirs and silk goods, celadon pottery and jewelry stores. Mr. Park and Mrs. Lee took his to a shop in the basement of a building. The woman who owned the shop is going out of business and Mr. Park wanted to buy his wife a Christmas gift. Mike bought me a lovely amethyst pendant, earrings and ring. All are set with an emerald cut stone and the color is amazing. Amethysts are recent finds in Korea - probably within the last twenty years. A man found a mine and didn't know what the purple rocks were. So he sold it and the second man kept it around for a while and then sold it to another man and woman who have now made a killing on the stones.

Then we went to a lovely restaurant called Korea House. Here we met Mr. J.K. Yang for dinner in a small dining room. It was lovely - there were some things I didn't care to try - like the eel - but for the most part, I tried lots of different things. I had some vegetables and bulgogi (bar b q beef), pumpkin porridge, rice (of course) and some great sweetened pecans and sesame appetizers. Then we went to a large auditorium to see some traditional Korean musicians and dancers. Their costumes were truly beautiful and each dancer was more beautiful than the next one. They were all very graceful and the men dancers were very talented. We couldn't take photos here but I did send Kate and my mom and sister some postcards. Please see Mike and I above with the Korean dancers!

Wednesday - October 1st was the Korean National Day. There were military parachutists into the Olympic Stadium about a mile down the road. There was also a martial arts exhibition which reminded me of the Chinese drummers in the Opening Ceremony at the Olympics - complete and utter precision of hundreds of military men and women who performed board breaking and concrete breaking movements. It was very impressive. Then there was a parade of hundreds of military men and women and military equipment down the street in front of our hotel.

On Wednesday morning, we ventured out early after our second Dunkin Donuts experience and walked down the street to the Intercontinental Grande Hotel - Mike used to stay at this hotel during his previous stays in Seoul. It is right next to the Hyundai Department Store that was very nice - although the prices were high and there wasn't anything there I could wear - I won't buy designer fashions and really, I've lost quite a bit but I'm not a size 2 yet! They had a grocery store in the basement of this store and a food court with all kinds of interesting items - wine - chocolate - bakery items - coffees and teas. Very classy place.

Mike made dinner reservations for us at the Sheraton Walker Hill. I know, we've crossed from Marriott to Hilton to Starwood properties and well, you have to see them all to appreciate how lovely they all are.

I truly wanted to go to see Walker Hill. Back in the day, when I worked at Westinghouse for Bill Thornton, he would travel to Seoul quite often to negotiate contracts and when he would return, he would go on and on about the Sheraton Walker Hill hotel. Good food AND a Las Vegas Revue! The dinner was lovely - it was a package deal and it cost us $300 for the dinner and show - yes, it was exorbitant but hell, I'm worth it! Mike and I both had a lovely scallop and salmon appetizer, a nice salad, a fabulous filet that was done perfectly and tasted divine and then a lemon cheesecake for dessert.

And then it was "Onto the show!" It consisted of some traditional Korean dancing - much like the ones we'd seen the day before and then the beautiful show girls. I had to work hard to keep poping Mike's eyes back in their sockets!

There was a magician, and a weird sort of South American guy who had long hair and used some kind of metal balls on strings that he twirled around and hit the floor with. Odd sort of thing, he was. And there were the five Brazilian motorcyclists who road their motorcycles in a metal ball - all five of them at once. It was amazing.

Thursday we went to the DMZ. And for those of you who are young and naive - that is the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. It is a strip of land about one hour north of Seoul that is a "no man's land" with barbed wire and lots of Korean soldiers who patrol. I felt very safe on this tour. There are 153 families who live in this area farming and selling their local produce.

We boarded a bus about 7:30 am with Jason Kim, our tour guide. (I don't think he was related to John Kim - this is a hint for my former Westinghouse colleagues). Then we drove to Imjingak park where we disembarked and got on another larger Greyhound-type bus for the ride to The 3rd Infiltration Tunnel in the administrative district of Panju. This is one of 4 or 5 tunnels that the South Koreans found that were designed to serve as a path for 30,000 North Korean soldiers on their way to Seoul during an invasion. This tunnel is just 52 km away from Seoul. It is 1,635 meters in length and 2 meters in height and width. Mike descended into the tunnel - I chose to stay up. It was hard because he is taller than 2 meters and it was pretty steep.

Off to the Dorasan Station which is a train station situated at the northernmost international train station in South Korea. It was designed to be the symbolic place of division but also the completion of the Seoul-Sinuiju railroad line. After the South Koreans built this beautiful train station, the North Koreans decided they didn't want to play anymore - they would not accept any trains through their country into Siberia where they could link up with other countries - China, Russia, Mongolia and move people into eastern Europe. This is also where sometimes relatives from the North meet their families from the South - those who they have been estranged from due to the Korean conflict.

Then onto the Dora Observatory where we could see over the abyss into North Korea. There were those high powered viewers that you could use to see but you could not take any photos - except from behind "the yellow line". See the photo of Mike and I with a smoggy North Korea in the background. . .

Thursday evening we enjoyed a wonderful Hot Pot Dinner with Yun Hee Lee, her husband, Mr. Park and their lovely 8 year old daughter Rebecca. See photo of us at dinner. . .

Friday was another lovely day - 70's and lots of walking. We decided to go visit the Buddhist Temple near the Intercontinental Hotel. I know you will agree with me that this is a beautiful temple - the colors are so vibrant.
By and large, our short trip to Seoul was both wonderful and truly a pleasure! I'm so glad I went and I'm so glad I finally got to meet the wonderful people in the Westinghouse Korea office in Seoul.
We're back in Shanghai now - living the life and counting down the days (70) until we can see you all again in Chicago - DePaolis cousins (December 12th) and in The Burgh (December 15th). Rita Gismondi has already scheduled Happy Hour for Tuesday the 16th (for me). Mike will stop by the K of C - Penn Allegheny Council 4242 for some much-needed catch-up.
I hope all my EDMC friends can stop by - place to be determined but I bet it will be the Renaissance Hotel (Kate's place) on Sixth Street. I am so looking forward to seeing you all and share some Christmas Cheer! It will truly be a blessing to be back in the Burgh with family and friends.
Until something else exciting happens. . .

Friday, September 26, 2008

Shanghai Botanical Garden

Good evening!

A few weeks ago, my new friends, Lynne, Denice and Jane and I took a field trip to the Shanghai Botanical Gardens. It was over 100 degrees that day and we walked the paths. They had a lovely lake by the conservatory and check out the orchids in the lovely blue pot!

As I've told you before, I really have a thing for the blue and white pottery. We saw this table - it's in two parts - at the tea house at the Botanical Gardens. It was sitting in the middle of a deck with those plastic white chairs surrounding it. I pushed them off to the side so I could take this photo. Then, the other day we went to the Flower Market and there was a gold fish bowl that was for sale. If we were allowed to have "pets", I'd pick that up in a heartbeat. But, here at Shama - no pets - no kitties, no doggies, no fishies.

We've been pretty busy here the last few weeks. Most of the expats have returned from their summer vacations and I have to admit that I'm still wearing white and it's way past Labor Day. I hope my Beaver girlfriends are not embarassed by that. I'm sure Kate is crawling under a rock right about now. But she knows that fashion here in Shanghai is a whole new ballgame. People wear the oddest things here. Like pyjammas! Yes, they even spell it like that! I went on a tour yesterday and the tour guide, a lovely Aussie woman told us that the Chinese wear pyjammas because they are well off and they can! It means that if you are Chinese and you can afford pyjammas, you wear them outside on the street. So sometimes you see cotton and sometimes you see silk. No robes - just pyjammas.

Mike and I went to the Expat Show here in Shanghai with our friend and colleague Jacques from Belgium. It was basically your typical expo that showcased various vendors of healthcare (hospitals and clinics), restaurants and gelato purveyors - yum yum, travel agencies, car rental companies and furniture companies. Beautiful antique Chinese furniture that is breathtaking. Very expensive and one-of-a-kind pieces.

The best thing about this show was the Dutch cheese. The vendor, Beemster had maybe six different varieties of cheese and it was selling like hotcakes! We bought a chunk of their classic Dutch cheese and their garlic cheese. I cannot tell you how great this was. Maybe because the usual cheese we get is Land O Lakes and a few miscellaneous French pieces (Brie and Cammenbert) so this was a real treat for us.

We also visited many wine stalls - French, Italian, Californian. There was one vendor that showcased a very interesting new way to deliver the wine. It reminded me of the wine "cellar" at The Westin Convention Center in Pittsburgh. Every glass is fresh - I just don't understand how they do it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Good morning friends,

Well, last week was very busy. Lots of expats are returning to Shanghai after their summers abroad or home, as the case may be.

Every week we are meeting new people and making new friends. Last Wednesday we had coffee in Xintandi and took a walk to the Antique Market. I didn't know what to expect but it is basically a Chinese Flea Market that is so cool. We saw lots of interesting things. I bought some Cloisonne hair pins for Christmas gifts for friends with long hair (I hope you all like them) and some porcelain bracelets too. There were lots of odds and ends to check out.

We met lots of pets along the way too - a lovely German Shepherd who nuzzled me for quite some time and made me shed a few tears for my Snowball. I wonder how she is. And a tiny kitten not much bigger than Kate's kitten was when she got her.

The thing that is so funny when you go shopping in China is that the sales clerk will tell you she/he will give you "the best price" or "best friend's price" or "the-first-sale-of-the-day-price".

We met a man whose family - cousins, uncles, aunts - own different stalls. He's been highlighted on CNN - he told us that was important to him. He had a lovely corner stall that featured pottery and porcelain. Denice bought a lovely translucent bowl and he asked her not to share the price with her friends - us. At another stall across the street - owned by the same man - I bought a blue & white tea mug with an infuser for loose tea. His niece sold silk goods close by.

Then we all walked to a great wine bar - yes, I know you are all wondering about the wine - I'm not drinking it - it is just that the best restaurants are those where good wine is sold too! :) Great lunch - Chicken sandwich on a baguette with tomato, lettuce, basil.

Another day we went to the Pearl Market again and I bought a lovely traditional figurine. My friend, Debbie told us that she has a collection of these figures. She explained that you can tell which women are aristocrats because they have dangle earrings that look like they are made of jade. The peasant women have circle earrings and portray women who live or work in the countryside. I bought a woman playing a traditional Erhu (it reminds me of a violin - see it above) and Denice bought one that has chickens at the woman's feet. They are all lovely and there were many different women - there was one feeding some fish, one with ducks, one with some sewing items. I liked them all (of course) and the price is right and affordable so maybe this will become the start of a collection for me. As you can see, the dress is lovely and the colors are amazing. Debbie displays them at her home in Philadelphia.

Friday we went to the Fabric Market. I wanted to take two dresses to be altered and pick up my linen shells I had made. My shells fit perfectly. Our friend, Debbie is having a dress made there for her niece's wedding in November. She wanted something classy but not something that everyone else would have. It has royal blue silk with some black chiffon and lace overlays. It will be beautiful after it is done. She needed another fitting and it should be ready this Friday. My dresses will be done then too. I saw some beautiful green silk that I want Elena to make me a blouse with. I went online to the J Jill and Coldwater Creek webpages and will take her some photos of what I'd like to have made. After we were done with Debbie's fitting we went to some of the bridal shops nearby and watched Debbie try on gowns for her daughter's wedding next May. We had a great time.
Over the weekend, Mike and I went to the Hongmei Lane Pedestrian mall - it's a walkway with lots of restaurants near the Pearl Market. We ate at The Big Bamboo - a western restaurant with very bad service. The food was good - the service was bad. I think that sometimes the young waitresses just don't have the command of the English language and of course, we don't speak enough Chinese yet to order so you have that language barrier.

Then we walked across the street to the Pearl Market and Mike got some cards for the golf store where he bought his clubs and I bought some pashminas and some tea. It was a nice way to enjoy the day together. He did see the figurines at that shop I told you about above. He liked them. I hope to get more. . .

Sunday we went to Mass and to Enoteca for breakfast with some church friends. What a great breakfast we had there. I had French scrambled eggs with thinly sliced apple, pear and orange, a warm baguette with butter and French jam, some brie and emmenthal cheese, fresh squeezed orange juice and Italian coffee - only 75RMB which is about $10. Then it was off to the Antique Mall so Mike could see what I had experienced earlier in the week. I bought a lovely vase at the "friend's price" from the man highlighted by CNN. And another tea mug for Mike so now we have 2 - maybe I'll get more . . .
This week is proving to be very busy as well - every day we have something else new and exciting to see and do. Stay tuned. . .

Friday, August 29, 2008

Whine Wine

Good morning!

It's Saturday morning and you know that means GOLF in Chinese! Mike played 18 holes yesterday at the Shanghai Country Club and today he is participating in a Westinghouse/Shaw golf tournament at the Hongqaio Golf and Tennis Club. He's a lucky man! The reason he's lucky is that he got a great deal on Callaway clubs at the Hongqaio Pearl Market. Yes, I said Pearl Market. They call it the Hongqaio Pearl Market because its in Hongqaio, a lovely "village" (as Mr. Chen our driver likes to call it). I call it a suburb - like Plum or Mt. Lebanon. I don't know why they call it the Hongqaio Pearl Market except that they do sell lovely pearl jewelry there (that's where I bought mine) but they also have Coach, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and you-name-it-you-can-get-it bags there. They have silk, cashmere, iPods, you name it - they've got it.

Anyway, this is where he got his golf clubs. Got a great deal - bag, clubs, drivers, woods, and travel bag too! Woo hoo - he IS a lucky man. His game is getting better. He sunk a 40' putt yesterday - amazing his friends and himself. And his scores have gotten better too. He's pretty consistent now. So Eric and Bobby and the rest of the K of C better watch out.

Another plus about Hongqaio is that they have a Flower Market there. Mr. Chen has taken me there twice now and I think I'm going to have to make another pilgimage out there again next week. My orchids have died! They were beautiful while they lasted - I cannot grow them here - in the Burgh or probably - anywhere. They need tropical heat and humidity but we need the air conditioning turned on here so it just doesn't work. I can go to the Flower Market to see them and admire them but I'll just dream about them.

Hongqaio is also the area near the Carrefour (French grocery store) where we go because we're foreigners. It's in Gubei. And there is a huge City Shop (the other western grocery store) near there as well. The best Israeli / Mediterrean restaurant and bakery called Haya's is on Hongmei Road - we so enjoy going there too. They have great hummus.


Today I'm talking about - oops - whining about wine! I told you the other day that we had a wine tasting the other night with Jack from Vin. I was pretty disappointed this week as he only brought one wine I thought was any good. Last month he brought some very good ones and we bought two. This time, we bought only one bottle from South Africa for our cavernous wine cellar. Please see the photo so you can see what a wine cellar looks like in China!

This week Denice and I investigated an Italian Wine Shop down. John Mallory told us about it. We followed his directions - took the long way around and realized it is close to - catty corner to the Shanghai Stadium which is right down the street from us about 4 city blocks. They did have quite a few Italian wines there and some liquor as well. The prices for liquor were decent - better than City Shop. Denice found a red and I bought a white wine.

We were chatting with some women at the American Women's Club who mentioned that sometimes the Chinese even pass fake Absolut off reducing the price. One woman told us that a friend of hers put Absolut in the freezer and it FROZE! Imagine that?

I'm not going to talk politics on this Blog. There is no sense in doing it. It will only rattle some people and they will wonder what kind of rice wine I've been drinking. So, politically speaking - make up your own mind - vote your own conscience and don't complain about it once it's done on November 5th. Wendy Painter will be the only person who knows who I vote for - she's the Judge of Election at Plum High School and I'll make a point to key her in. . .

Have a great Labor Day everyone! We don't get to celebrate it here but we'll be celebrating the Autumn Festival on September 15th. Then we hope to be jetting off to Seoul for a few days on the 29th.