Tuesday, December 18, 2012

WINTER HAUL



Cold weather friends: Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion,
Lipton Peppermint Herbal Infusions Tea,
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream,
and MUJI wool scarf
When the cold winds blow and the temperatures dip down, it's best to stay warm and arm yourself with cold weather essentials. Here are my favorites right now:

1. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream - I've known and heard about this product for years now but somehow never ended up buying it. Many friends have recommended this cream to me and most recently, my friend Lezl, who showed me just how great a lip balm and all-around moisturizer this is especially in the cold and dry winter months. I love that you can use this in so many ways. I love to use it on my lips to prevent chapping, but it is also great on cheekbones for a subtle shine and if you're in Dalian (like me), it protects your cheeks against the cold wind chill burn. It's also great for rough and dry elbows, the cuticles and as an eyebrow tamer. These next winter months, it is my number one essential! 

2. Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion - This really is one of the best lotions out there! This must be my tenth bottle because my husband Marc loves it too. It's great for really dry skin and is very soothing. Contains natural colloidal oatmeal and rich emollients. Really good for skin problems, sensitive skin, rashes and if you are prone to eczema. 

3. Lipton Peppermint Herbal Infusions Tea – Aside from ginger tea with honey, I find peppermint tea very soothing and calming for the throat if you have a cough and cold due to the weather. This is a pretty good one from Lipton’s herbal range of teas and it’s caffeine-free.

4. 100% wool scarves from MUJI & ESPRIT – I love the scarves in MUJI and ESPRIT. They are 100% wool and very soft and warm. The quality is excellent in both stores and loving the plaid designs at the moment!



Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream 50g (US$19.50)
Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion 600ml.
(US$22.99) for a pack of two bottles

Lipton Peppermint Herbal Infusions Tea (US$5.99)
20 sachets

100% wool scarves from MUJI and ESPRIT


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

HOLIDAY NAILS


It’s that time of the year again when every woman wants their nails looking their very best and it’s this time when I miss my friends’ Cathy & Isabel’s nail salon, Belle & Cat, back home in Manila the most!

Jewel-toned nail polish from Dalian's Korean Market
Left to right: Deep Blue, Teal and Burgundy
I love nail polish but I've always gone down the safe route when it comes to colors over the years – classic red shades or nude/light pink shades are what I usually go for. But this Christmas season is all about spicing it up and what better way to do this than trying some holiday fall/winter jewel tones? Deep blue, wild green, teal, burgundy, dark purple and mauve are just some of the nail polish shades to look out for this season.

Jewel tones this season are inspired by the colors on my
tiny Christmas tree.
After wandering around the Korean market here in Dalian with my friend Eya, I bought a few jewel-toned polishes to try for the holidays. Having my nails painted in a deep blue color for the first time, I was surprised at how bright, festive and elegant they looked.

Deep blue nail polish with a little sparkle


Goodbye reds and nudes…at least for now!

If you’re in Manila, I highly recommend pampering your nails and a whole lot more at…


Belle & Cat Nail and Wax Studio
GF Sterling Centre, 131 Esteban corner Dela Rosa Sts.
Legaspi Village, Makati City
Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel: (632) 480-6204/ (0063) 916-6467568

Great service and great people!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

THE PERFECT GRILL


Dalian is known for having some of the finest seafood in China all locally sourced from its rich surrounding waters. One of the best places to try these so-called treasures of the sea is at arguably the most luxurious all-day dining restaurant in the city, C Grill at Conrad Dalian.

C Grill serves the freshest and most delicious seafood all grilled to perfection and in accordance to your preferences and tastes. The d├ęcor in the restaurant is elegant and subdued and the view of the nearby port and the sea beyond is breathtaking.

My favorite area of the restaurant is the open kitchen where you can actually view the amazing chefs at work as they cook your food right before your eyes down to the intricate preparation methods up to the finish line where you behold your carefully prepared dish.

Executive Chef Philippe Egalon prepared a frothy crab cappuccino soup which left me craving for more and a wonderful seafood paella which literally made me close my eyes and want to weep! That’s how good it was!

C Grill's elegant decor

The open kitchen view from outside the restaurant
The private dining room has the
best view of the open kitchen.

The Crab Cappuccino

The Seafood Paella with Dalian's freshest catch
C GRILL
2/F, Conrad Dalian
31 Renmin Road East, Zhongshan District
Dalian, Liaoning 116001 China
Tel: (86) 411 86776666



SEASIDE PROMENADE

One of the best sights to see in Dalian is Xinghai Square, a city square known as the biggest in Asia and with a total area of 1.1 million square meters! Its sheer space and perfectly manicured greenery is impressive to say the least! But even better yet and by far my favorite is the natural beauty that awaits you right at the end of the square…the ocean promenade overlooking the waters of Heishi Reef Bay meeting the Bohai Sea. The smell of the ocean, the salt in the air, the breeze and the calm waters remind me of home in the Philippines and this has quickly become my favorite place in Dalian.

Here are a few photos from my seaside walks…










Friday, November 9, 2012

BLAST FROM A RUSSIAN PAST


Lately, I have found that walking around China’s modern, cosmopolitan city of Dalian is ironically like taking a peek into the past. The old and the new both exist in beautiful harmony. Dalian came under Russian territorial control from 1898 until 1905. Back then, the city was known as Dalny. Within those short seven years, the influence of Russian culture is still so amazingly seen and felt in the city today, especially along Dalian’s oldest street, now simply called “Russian Street.” Eight of the existing Russian buildings here have been renovated including the Russian Dalny City Hall, which is more than 100 years old.

I decided to take a look myself and walk back to the past…

The tops of two Russian buildings
Russian Street, Dalian

A building converted into an inn

The street has become a tourist destination
with lots of stalls selling Russian trinkets and souvenirs.

Russian Street stretches around 300 meters.

At the far end of the street lies the former Russian City Hall of Dalny
built in 1900.
This photo: Wikipedia Public Domain

My street souvenir: Dark Russian chocolate...yum!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

DHC's Olive Magic


I always feel like kicking myself after discovering a great brand of products for the first time despite years of seeing it around and just passing it by..especially after getting to know the amazing wonders of DHC.



DHC is Japan’s number one direct skincare company with a legacy of over 30 years. All of their high-quality products are based on the healing principles and natural benefits of olive oil. Everyone knows olive oil is good for you in more ways than one – rich in vitamins and antioxidants, neutralizes damaging free radicals, and helps skin balance its moisture levels. DHC uses Olive Virgin Oil (Flor de Aceite) – from handpicked organic Spanish olives, cold-pressed to preserve its nutrients.

Photo credit: Pawel Kryj, pawel_231, sxc.hu

My two favorite DHC products right now that I highly recommend trying:
(Prices indicated are not the exact exchange rate. Products are more expensive in China.)

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil - 218 Rmb (US$28)

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
This is DHC’s most popular product and a really amazing cleanser. I like to cleanse my face with this at night. It has a great soothing, natural olive scent and washes away dirt, excess oil and makeup without drying. I love how soft and hydrated my face feels right after! Main ingredients are olive oil, vitamin E and rosemary leaf oil.

DHC Olive-Corn Body Scrub & Polish
178 Rmb (US$17.50)

DHC Olive-Corn Body Scrub & Polish
I read somewhere that body scrubbing in the shower during the winter is really beneficial as it increases circulation, promotes body heat and keeps you warm. Compared to all the body scrubs I’ve tried before, this body polish is on a whole other level and I am now obsessed with it! The small granules of corn cob powder gently exfoliate the skin, are light and soft (non-irritating), and very soothing on the skin. The olive oil is so moisturizing that after stepping out of the shower, I sometimes skip applying body lotion altogether. Main ingredients are olive oil, vitamin E, corn cob powder and lavender oil. Really worth trying!

Other great DHC products:



DHC is available in most department stores here in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and its home country Japan. It is also available in the United States and in London, UK at certain retail stores and by ordering online.

China Website: www.dhc.net.cn
U.S. Website: www.dhccare.com
UK Website: www.dhcuk.co.uk




Monday, October 22, 2012

KASANRIN'S SOAPY BLISS


Sorry for not posting for awhile. The past 2 weeks have been like a mad rush - getting to know a new city while being overwhelmed by the many fascinating discoveries, amazing sights, and interesting information I’ve been gathering around me.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the coming winter season and high-quality bath and skin care products have constantly been on my mind. Most women at this time of year focus solely on thick creams and rich lotions for moisturizing dry skin. But good-quality, moisturizing soaps can also make a huge difference by starting your day with silky, soft skin the moment you step out of the shower.

Over the years, I’ve tried many bath soaps and bath gels, but somehow nothing has compared to the luxurious feeling of showering with natural handmade soaps. If you can get your hands on trying a good natural handmade soap, it can be really beneficial for your skin. So you can imagine how happy I was to chance upon KASANRIN Natural Handmade Soaps at Friendship Shopping Mall here in Dalian.

Just some of KASANRIN's natural handmade soaps
at Friendship Shopping Mall, Dalian
KASANRIN soaps are all handmade, and of 100% pure natural ingredients (plants, herbs, flowers and fruits) and effective essential oil formulations. No chemical and synthetic ingredients are found in any of their products. Aside from natural handmade soaps, KASANRIN also sells other personal care products such as body care and skincare products.

Top to bottom: Almond Honey Soap 100g. (US$9.50) and
Classic Supreme Rose Soap 100g. (US$15.50)
Two of their most popular soaps are the Classic Supreme Rose Soap (formulated with deeply hydrating and soothing properties of rose essential oil-one of the most expensive in the world) and the Almond Honey Soap (made with sweet almond oil, honey, bee pulp and natural honeycomb) for deep nourishment and anti-bacterial effects on the skin. Both are great for dry, cold weather. I must admit the prices of the soaps are quite steep with the Classic Rose Soap at 98RMB (US$15.50) for 100grams and the Almond Honey Soap at 60RMB ($9.50) for 100grams. But I can assure you that after trying the Rose Soap, it is well worth it just to lather your skin everyday in its moisturizing, soapy bliss.  

The Classic Supreme Rose Soap
as seen on www.kasanrin.com
So far, KASANRIN soaps are listed as available in certain department stores in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Dalian, Shenzhen, Zhengzhou and Nanjing.

If you are living in any other city in China, you can still purchase the soaps online through Taobao.com at discounted prices: Kasanrin in Taobao





Tuesday, October 9, 2012

DONGBEI STYLE


I had not an inkling of an idea of what Northeastern Chinese cuisine would be like until moving up north. But as it turns out, the food (just like in southern China) is right up my alley…which brings me to my favorite restaurant of the moment at the Hilton Dalian: Dongbei Street (Northeastern street).

The dumpling station
Dongbei Street's dumpling station dining area 

Dongbei Street captures you from the moment you enter the place because of its unique design. The restaurant was inspired by the ancient markets and streets of China where the people would gather in outdoor tables and chairs as they dined on freshly cooked fare. This is evident in the restaurant’s wide open corridors and market-style display of food.

The hotpot station
Wide corridors resembling that of a street in ancient China


Described as an “interactive” restaurant, Dongbei draws you in at first glance with their skilled chefs preparing food in a live kitchen setting. My favorite part is that there is not "one entire menu". Customers are encouraged to pick out and shop for their food. Once you choose from the fresh or frozen fish, array of raw vegetables, various meats, dumplings and fresh & dried noodles available, you can then select whether you want it steamed, boiled in a clay pot, or grilled to perfection. There are also a wide range of sauces (sweet, spicy, salty) to choose from. I decided to have some freshly made noodles with fresh dumplings in a hot soup with some spicy sauce, one of my favorite meals to have in China. It was delicious!

My hearty noodle soup with freshly made dumplings
The noodle station with freshly made and dried noodles
A selection of fish and meats
Raw vegetables to choose from
So what exactly is Northeastern cuisine? Much of the food in this region is based on hearty fare (always a plus!) due to especially cold and harsh winters. Pickled cabbage (suan cai) is very popular and traditionally made by most households. Other common dishes are wheat noodles, steamed buns, pork & chive dumplings, “suan cai” hot pot, cumin lamb skewers and congee. Raw vegetables and raw seafood are also enjoyed in the coastal areas. Here in Liaoning province, the cuisine is described as colorful and strong-tasting with many flavors (especially sweet and salty).


DONGBEI STREET
2/F, Hilton Dalian
1 Gangpu Rd. Zhongshan District
Dalian, Liaoning 116001 CHINA
Tel: (86) 411 86770000

Monday, October 1, 2012

PHILIPPE LE BAC CASHMERE


Last week, on the way to Dalian and on a quick stopover in Shanghai, I spotted yet another article in a Shanghai magazine about the high-end European cashmere maker, Philippe Le Bac, offering great selections of stylish and luxurious 100 % cashmere clothing ranging from sweaters, cardigans, blouses and scarves both for men and women at crazy wholesale prices. My eyes widened with shock and disbelief. Something like this is almost too good to be true. 

Philippe Le Bac store at Taicang Lu, Shanghai
But after reading numerous comments on the Internet the past months from consumers and extremely satisfied returning clients all around China about the fantastic and affordable cashmere being sold at the six different branches all around Shanghai, I couldn’t resist anymore and hightailed myself all the way to the nearest store. As soon as I stepped in the beautiful boutique in Taicang Lu, I knew I landed in cashmere heaven and I never wanted to leave. 



All the cashmere at the store are sold and calculated by weight at 2.5RMB/gram (US$0.4/gram). Cashmere hats start at 100RMB (US$16), 100 % cashmere scarves range from 250-400RMB (US$40-64), 100% cashmere shawls range from 460-700RMB (US$73-110) and 100% cashmere medium-sized sweaters for ladies are 457RMB (US$73). When a 100% cashmere sweater elsewhere in the world normally retails at US$250 and up, this was an unbeatable bargain for fine quality cashmere. With the amazing range of colors and styles, I went dizzy trying to choose inside the beautiful and chic boutique. Eventually I settled on a baby blue sweater and light green scarf. 



But the question still remains…how on earth does a company like this sell cashmere at these prices? The answer is in their production scale. Since 1932, the company has been manufacturing sweaters for top luxury brands and private labels leading to a huge and vast production scale. Because of their enormous production, the French company Philippe Le Bac can sell clothes to regular customers at wholesale prices in Shanghai where the clothes and designs are manufactured.


My purchases: 100% Cashmere baby blue sweater (US$73)
and 100% Cashmere light green scarf (US$40)
So if you find yourself in Shanghai one day looking for great quality cashmere without draining your wallet, don’t miss this great opportunity.  

PHILIPPE LE BAC 
Cashmere & Co. 
(all located in Shanghai)

893 Nanjing Xi Lu (near Tai Xin Lu) Tel: (86) 21-52049699
3719 Hongmei Lu (near Yan An Xi Lu) Tel: (86) 21-54177018
319 Huashan Lu (near Jing An Hilton Hotel) Tel: (86) 21-32201608
264 Taicang Lu (near Tian Zi Fang) Tel: (86) 21-62223333
273 Huangpi Bei Lu (near JW Marriott Hotel) Tel: (86) 21-53019279
741 Fuzhou Lu (near Raffles City Shopping Center) Tel: (86) 21-63510108






Sunday, September 30, 2012

THE BIG MOVE

Hi everyone! I apologize for not updating for quite sometime. The last two weeks have been quite hectic and crazy filled with packing and arrangements as Marc and I prepared for our big move to the coastal city of Dalian in northeast China. Marc got a new post in the city and last week we said goodbye to the city we've been living in for the past year, Hefei. We are now about to embark on new adventures, new food trips, and take a closer look at the culture and landscape of northern China. I am excited to explore new discoveries and hope you will continue to follow me as I continue my amazing journey in and around China. 

For now, here are two snapshots I'd like to share with all of you from my walk around the city yesterday. The weather in the city was a wonderful 18 degrees Celsius, sunny and filled with blue skies. These are some old early 20th century buildings taken in Zhongshan Square, Dalian.