Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
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
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. . .
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
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
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
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.
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.
Friday, September 26, 2008
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.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
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.