Thursday, April 26, 2012


As much as I love trying out new flavors and experimenting with Chinese food over here, especially with the enormous variety of food I have yet to discover in this huge country…I’m just gonna go ahead and say it…sometimes, you just gotta have a pizza!! Yup!! Bring me a pizza please!! Nothing compares to a mouth-watering, cheese-oozing, hot slice of pizza!

Although not the healthiest of snacks, it is certainly one of the tastiest. It’s deadly delicious and supremely addicting. I just crave pizza sometimes; I’ve dreamt about it, I’ve gotten so excited about it at times…so I know for sure it has some addictive qualities somewhere hidden in that pizza dough.

Here in China, Marc and I are on the constant hunt for really good pizza because believe me…it’s not easy finding a real winner here! Western food is still quite new to Chinese taste buds. Because of this, pizzas are often adapted to fit the Chinese taste preference: which means a bit sweeter and with weird toppings you’ve never even heard of. 

In the megalopolis of Shanghai however, pizzerias are aplenty. Unfortunately, most cost an arm and a leg at fine dining Italian restaurants in the city. But a few casual pizza chains make pretty decent pizza worth coming back for whenever you’re in need of some comfort food here in China.

Our favorite new discovery is Pizza Marzano, the international Italian pizza chain that has come a long way since opening its first restaurant in La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain in 2001. In Shanghai, China, Pizza Marzano now has three restaurants for casual and relaxed pizza dining!

I never used to like sparkling water and now I can't get enough of it!
The perfect pizza accompaniment: A shared big bottle of
San Pellegrino sparkling water
Marc's delectable cream of mushroom soup
Pasta Arrabiata

Pizza Milano with yummy Italian sausage

Pizza Marzano (Xintiandi)
Xintiandi South Block, Lane 123, 
Xingye Lu (near Madang Lu), Shanghai
Tel.: (86) 21 5383 3999

Pizza Marzano (Shanghai Centre)
Shanghai Centre, 1F, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu 
Tel.: (86) 21 6289 8733

Pizza Marzano (Surpass Court)
Surpass Court, 1F, 570 Yongjia Lu 
Tel.: (86) 21 6467 8898


The 1997 Aerosmith song “Pink” is no doubt a catchy and fun tune and one of the songs I love to replay on my IPod. I can almost hear Steven Tyler hum the lyrics.…"pink, it’s my new obsession…pink it’s the color of passion…cause today it just goes with the fashion.”

Pink is definitely a much celebrated color. Time and time again, it returns into fashion and in my opinion, just like black, it never really goes away. For this reason, it is one of my all-time favorite colors. Pink is cheery, happy, flirty, hip, chic and incredibly feminine. It has many facets to it. It can be light and subtle or hot and bright, where it suddenly transforms into a statement color that begs to be looked at. I don’t think anyone can go wrong wearing a touch of pink. It’ll liven up any outfit and surely bring a smile to your face. This spring in China, all shades of pink are sprinkled in the air and I hope to celebrate this fantastic color with all of you.


Sakura trees in Harrogate, United Kingdom
Photo credit: Sakura trees by Petr Kratochvil
CC Image Pink Rose by Soller Photo on Flickr 


Here I am wearing a few of my pink-inspired outfits. 

I love the pastel color combination on this shirt!

The scarf-like print on this blouse is really great!
Motivi Basic Tunic  259rmb (€29.95)
I've had this pink cardigan forever! It's still a big favorite!


Here are my favorite pink beauty picks right now. 

Barefaced except for a fantastic pink lipstick called...
Pink products I am loving right now:
Garnier Age Lift Revitalizing Smoothing Mask ($2.50/2 pieces),
Bichun Nail Save in No. 21, 6.50rmb ($1.00),
Fresh Rose Aromatherapy Oil from Ilog Maria Honeybee Farms (available in the Philippines)

Saturday, April 21, 2012


The Roaring Twenties are back in fashion with the flapper look being the hottest trend this spring. Designer collections like Gucci Spring 2012, Ralph Lauren Spring 2012, and Marchesa Spring 2012 are just a few that showcased this style at the New York, Paris, Milan and London spring runway shows. The 1920s evoked a spirit of modernity and elegance where women transformed their way of dressing into more liberal, sexy and chic looks.

Just like the West, 1920s China was going through a similar change as well, as the traditional Chinese garment, the “qipao” (pronounced chi-pao in Mandarin) or cheongsam (in Cantonese, as it is widely known in the West) was getting a more stylish, tight-fitting and body-hugging change. Originally, the qipao came about during the Qing Dynasty when China was under Manchu rule as the traditional Chinese dress for Manchu women. The old qipaos hung on the body loosely (similar to an A-line long gown) covering most of the woman’s body, just revealing the head, hands, and tips of the toes. Then, prosperous and dazzling Shanghai (known as “the Paris of the East”) roared into the 1920s and fashionable women from high society started seeking a more modern form of dress which was slender, form-fitting and flattering…eventually emerging as the newly designed tight-fitting qipao. 

in a blue Qing Dynasty qipao
In the past decade or so, there has been a revival which resulted in an enduring popularity of the qipao in China, which many women now wear as a beautiful and elegant ensemble at style functions, events and parties. 

A beautiful pink qipao
CC Image QiPao courtesy of hto2008 on Flickr and

If you’re a foreigner living in China like myself, the search for the perfect qipao becomes an endless mission to have this must-have item in your closet. After losing a beautiful qipao I once bought a few years ago in my misplaced luggage while traveling, I am now on the hunt again for this iconic and elusive dress. 

Traditional red qipao 
CC Image QiPao courtesy of hto2008 on Flickr
made available under
Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license

Short qipao styles are popular like this fuchsia dress
CC Image 旗袍 courtesy of VelvetMomoKo on Flickr

Where to buy a qipao:

Shanghai is probably the best place to buy a qipao because of the variety of stores, tailors and shops available in the city. This also goes for the high-quality of fabrics and silks available. Here is a small list of the best places to buy a qipao in Shanghai:

Maoming Road (French Concession)

Maoming Road in the former French Concession is known for its more than 15 high-quality qipao shops where you can choose from off-the-rack or custom-made. Here, you have an endless array of choices when it comes to qipao styles: long, short, elaborately designed fabrics, and different colors and textures.

South Bund Fabric Market

If you are on a tight budget, the South Bund Fabric Market is the perfect place to shop. You can have a beautiful qipao tailor-made here for as little as 150rmb (US$24). Remember, bargaining is the key!

Tianzifang (Taikang Road)

Tianzifang, also known as Shanghai’s art street, has a few ready-to-wear qipao shops for your browsing and shopping pleasure.

Shanghai Tang (Xintiandi shopping complex)

Last, but not least, Hong Kong luxury fashion brand Shanghai Tang is probably where you can find high-end, superb quality and intricately designed qipaos with an array of dresses, tops and blouses to choose from, with designs inspired by bright colors, and a mix of traditional elements of Chinese dressing and modern society.

Happy shopping!!

Friday, April 13, 2012


Spring has sprung upon us over here (unfortunately, it is a short season in China!) so I’m making an effort to take full advantage of the beautiful greenery and floral abundance around me. I love flowers and lucky for us women, they are also the source, ingredients and inspiration behind many beauty products. In order to celebrate spring, here are just a few of my favorite floral-inspired beauty products:

Brighten up your skin with Avalon Organics Lavender Renewal Facial Serum--it contains organic Lavender, grape seed polyphenols, and hyaluronic acid. 100% vegetarian ingredients. US$ 21.99;

Avalon Organics Lavender
Renewal Facial Serum

I slather my face day and night with Chinese brand, Dr. Magic Rose Whitening Moisturizing Cream. Rose essential oil and herb extracts soften and hydrate skin. I love the subtle rose scent! US$ 26.67; at drugstores in China

Dr. Magic Rose Whitening Moisturizing Cream

Never thought anything could tame my thick, unruly hair until I found Phyto Anti-Frizz Botanical Hair Relaxing Balm. This natural balm contains zero chemicals and is rich in chamomile, ferula extract, horseradish and sage to condition, soften and protect hair.

Phyto Botanical Hair Relaxing Balm
Biolane Skin Freshening Fragrance from French baby care brand Biolane has me hooked with its uplifting notes of honeysuckle and sweet pea. This mild baby cologne is alcohol and paraben-free, with pro-vitamin B5 to moisturize skin.
GBP£10.00 in the UK;

Biolane Skin Freshening Fragrance

Gucci Flora Eau Fraiche was a gift from my father-in-law. It is a light, sparkling perfume. Described as a fruity-floral aromatic fragrance, enjoy the bursting top notes of peony, mandarin, lemon, bergamot and kumquat, heart notes of rose and osmanthus, and base notes of sandalwood. I just love it!
US$ 65.00 (50ml.);

Gucci Flora Eau Fraiche 50ml.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


April in Hefei is in full bloom this spring with lots of green, lots of sunshine and the temperatures climbing. At Hefei Botanical Garden, the varieties of flowers surrounding the park have turned it into a colorful wonderland. I immersed myself among the peonies, magnolias, pink and white cherry blossoms and hyacinths. But my favorites by far were the more than 120,000 tulips from over 40 varieties of tulip bulbs blossoming before me. A rainbow of colors in red, yellow, violet, pink and fuchsia called out to me…and there was nothing else to do but bring out my camera!

Bright fuchsia tulips bloom at Hefei Botanical Garden
Red tulips with yellow tips
A bed of pink tulips with white tips
Purple and pink! Just love these colors!
Yellow and red tulips
I love the orange colored ones!

123 East Huanhu Road, Shushan District
Hefei, Anhui, China

Friday, April 6, 2012


I love travel freebies! When traveling, most likely, you’ll find yourself doing two things: staying at a hotel and shopping. Believe it or not, these are the best playgrounds for finding awesome travel freebies worth snatching and taking home with you. From my travels in China, I’ve managed to find the best travel freebies that are worth your while and incredibly useful. Here are my favorites:

Beauty Product Samples
Who doesn’t love getting free product samples? When shopping at cosmetic counters, don’t be shy to ask the sales person if you can get a few product samples, especially after you’ve bought something. Usually, they are happy to give product samples to keep customers like you coming back for more. Beauty product samples are great for short out-of-town trips and for times when you just don’t want to bring that huge makeup bag and all your heavy skin care products.

Beauty product samples
I managed to get from Sephoras around China

Honey from the complimentary breakfast buffet
If your hotel room includes complimentary breakfast, you are in for a real treat. At the breakfast buffet, I always get 2-3 sachets of honey to take with me, or better yet, if you find tiny complimentary honey and jam jars at your table, take the small honey jar home with you. Honey is one of nature’s best moisturizers and is extremely beneficial to the skin because of its healing properties. Spread a thin layer of honey over your face for 10-15 minutes then rinse with warm water. See your skin glow!

A tiny Bonne Maman Honey jar
from the InterContinental Nanjing's breakfast buffet

Tea Sachets
Most hotel rooms give free coffee and tea sachets. The tea sachets sometimes come in interesting flavors and blends and very good brands. If you’re a tea drinker like me, go ahead and grab a few sachets to take with you and add to your tea sachet collection at home.

A black tea sachet I snatched
from my hotel room in Shanghai

Tiny lotions
Hotel toiletries are some of the best amenities available. As much as I love the shampoo and conditioners, I always end up using them up since my hair is long and thick. So the tiny lotions are really the only ones worth taking. Small lotions are extremely handy because of three things: you can never have enough lotion, you can put them inside the tiniest bag, and you can take them with you wherever you go.

My collection of lotions
 from various hotels around China

Hotel postcards and pens
I love collecting postcards from my travels, so I automatically take the postcards if they are available in a hotel room. When it comes to ball pens, not all hotel pens are particularly nice or even write very well. I’ve had some where the ink lasted a day! But if you find a good quality pen, it can be a really good souvenir. 

A postcard from Crowne Plaza Nanjing and
an InterContinental Nanjing pen

They say the best things in life are free. Hugs and kisses, leisurely strolls through a park, giving and receiving a smile, and.…who knew? Really great travel essentials too! Bon voyage!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm, and I don’t discriminate at all when it comes to books. I love to read all the genres. I love the classics (Jane Eyre is one of the best). In high school and college, I went through legal thriller years with John Grisham novels, and a vampire/gothic obsession phase with Anne Rice novels (I still think Interview with the Vampire is one of the best novels of all time). Later on, I went on to read great love stories from Nicholas Sparks and laugh out loud at Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic. I also have a constant love for non-fiction and biographies of famous historical figures.

Since I’ve been in China, I now find myself gravitating towards memoirs or novels with a little piece of Chinese history in them. It just adds to the atmosphere of being in China and helps me learn certain intricate details from this enormous country’s 5,000 year history and culture. 

Here’s what’s been in my library lately:

LOST ON PLANET CHINA by J. Maarten Troost

This funny travelogue on globe trotter, J. Maarten Troost’s three-month expedition and hilarious adventures around China in 2007 captures the true meaning of “culture shock”, the feeling of extreme confusion and wonder that almost any Westerner entering China for the first time abruptly faces when encountering a culture so opposite theirs in every imaginable way. Troost travels through China’s famous cities and historical sites, including an expedition through the mountainous region of Western China. At times scathing and perhaps a wee bit exaggerated in his observations of modern China, his stories and experiences are still sprinkled with lots of laugh-out-loud moments. 


From bestselling author Lisa See, this novel is a tale of two beautiful and modern sisters, Pearl and May, in 1937 pre-war Shanghai whose lives take a sudden twist of fate which eventually lead them to leave Shanghai for 1930s Los Angeles. There, they encounter life’s hardships, old rivalries, tough choices and many uncovered secrets which test their friendship and sisterly bond through an incredible journey for the next 20 years. 

Of course, being in China, I have to have continuous back up in learning the language. Here are some life savers!


This handy guide to basic Mandarin phrases is so easy to read and understand. The phrases are extremely useful and can be used everyday. I love this book so much; I even bought the bigger one (with more detailed aspects of learning Mandarin).

My favorite phrase when trying to save people
from my awful voice at a karaoke (a constant pastime here):
"Wo buyao chang ge!" Never works though.
Karaoke in China is inescapable.
MANDARIN by Lonely Planet Phrasebooks

This tiny pocket book has helped me in so many countless situations. It has almost everything you need to know on learning basic Mandarin. 

The best part? The 3,500 word dictionary at the back

Happy reading!!