Saturday, December 13, 2008

changing it up

I made a new banner and switched the colors in my layout a bit. Thoughts?

Personally, I like this a lot more, a little more muted, good for the winter season I think. I also really like the photograph, I took it this summer when I visited the Chinatown in Los Angeles.

Now I'm off to try to find a knitting store here. Apparently they're all over Shanghai which is fine and dandy for people to tell me, but I've never been able to find one. Wish me luck!

Friday, December 12, 2008

dear blog

I have decided that I'm going to write four sentences in you once every three weeks, two of which will be me apologizing for not writing in you.

KIT in case nothing better comes along for me,

p.s. JK! I'd totally never do that to you. I LOVE YOU, BLOG!

pin-up princess says goodbye

I've really gotten into Pin-Ups recently. Err, by recently I mean since summer. So a good five or so months. I'm considering getting a pin-up tattoo near my poppy tattoo, but that would have to wait until after I get home from China (translation errors on tattoos...I don't think even I would find that amusing).

That being said, some sad news came my way today, Bettie Page the ultimate pin-up diva passed away today at the age of 85. Can you imagine all the crazy and amazing things she did in those 85 years? So jealous.

There's no doubt that Miss BP could work it, but I have to say...I'm partial to blonds. Usually of the strawberry variety. For a brunette, though, BP had it goin' on.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

adventures in salon services

I have a motto for my life here in Shanghai, which is "every day is an adventure in China" because literally, every day is an adventure.

Even the smallest task like ordering a drink at a restaurant becomes a huge deal. Oh, when you said iced coffee you meant a coffee with ice not a coffee with two giant scoops of ice cream? Oops. Want some peanuts from the supermarket? Be prepared for a surprisingly not peanut-y tasting peanut. How about some dried strawberries? Oh yeah, you just bought hawthorn, whatever the eff that is.

A lot of it is the language barrier, but it's also the cultural differences and everything else. I've learned to laugh it off because when I think about it, I'm a guest in this country so I can't really expect my host to bend over backwards to try and make me comfortable (although that would be awesome). Besides, translation errors are pretty much my favorite thing about this country, though they have gotten me into trouble from time to time.

Despite my recent posts on shopping and getting coats and dresses made at the fabric market, I have made a little bit of an effort to live more Chinese aka less American. America is a land of luxury and credit cards, China is a land of spitting in public and poorly made knockoffs. So I've tried to avoid all the tempting Western restaurants in my area and opt for more traditional (and inexpensive) Chinese fare, or I'll just cook something myself.

But there are some things a girl just can't give up. What's that saying? You can take the girl out of the valley, but you can't take the valley out of the girl? I'm not sure if that's how it goes, but this Cali chick needs a little pampering once in a while. Thankfully massages here are super cheap (10 USD for an hour!), other salon services...not so much. I've been doing my own mani/pedis mostly because it's easier than going to a nail salon, but waxing is something I can't do on my own, and it's something I always did at home that has become a staple in my beauty regime.

So, I had been here a couple of months and I really wanted to get my bikini waxed. I'm still holding off on doing my brows because seriously, a slip up with my eyebrows could make me look deformed for weeks, but I figured a bikini wax was a safe zone for a mess-up, I mean how could you really mess that up, anyway? *cue foreshadowing music*

There's a few places in my area that offer waxing services. Chinese people don't get waxed (at least not the Chinese women who attend my gym) so it caters to all of the foreigners in my area and thus charges a ridiculous price. As I was looking at the "menu" for services I noticed they had three types of bikini waxes, in ascending price order: bikini, playboy, and Brazilian.

I figured "playboy" would be my best bet because it was right in the middle price-wise and I didn't want them to just barely wax me. I didn't really know what they meant by calling it a "playboy" wax, but I figured it was in between a regular bikini and a Brazilian because I KNOW what a Brazilian is, and I didn't want that for sure. I'm not against Brazilians, but there is a time and a place for them and it's friggin' winter time, I don't need to go too crazy with my waxing choices.

So anyway, I go in, tell them I want a playboy wax, then the chick takes me to this little room and starts the service. Of course, I couldn't see what she was doing, and even though I get waxed regularly it's always super painful and feels like they're taking off way more than they really are. She used this weird putty stuff that you don't need paper for, which I actually really liked, but there was a lot more touching than a usual bikini wax because of the absence of a paper barrier.

Flash forward 20 or 30 minutes. She hands me this mirror to see the end product...and OMFG...she gave me a Brazilian!!! I was SHOCKED! The look on my face was classic, and she got really nervous because I sort of freaked out mumbling stuff about "Wait...isn't there supposed to be...wait...what?...this isn't right..." and I may have even waved my arms around a bit. Later, I looked on the salon's website, and they described the procedures like this:

  • Brazilian Waxing – removal of unwanted hair from the front, back and in-between, leaving just a 2 cm "landing strip" in front. Tailored for wearing a 'thong' bikini.
  • Playboy or Hollywood Waxing – removal of all unwanted hair from front, back and in-between. When you don't want to wear anything at all.
Obviously, it was my bad, however, every other country in the world knows that a Brazilian is the removal of all hair. Then again, China is the exact opposite of every other country in the world, so I should have known better.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

call a friend not the peace corps

I used to have this shirt with a screen printed cell phone on it that read "Don't Drink and Dial. Call a Friend, Not an Ex". I tossed it out during my "I need to minimalize my life!" phase that I went through pre-China, but it was a pretty cool t-shirt.

Amazing advice if you ask me. I've never been the type to drink and dial, mostly because I don't drink, but I have been known to do "drink and dial"esque things while under the influence of sleeping pills.

My drug induced stupors usually include rambling Tweets, finishing the Power of Now, an occasional long-winded text message to someone I barely talk to, trying to help the dorm students bake a cake, or applying to the Peace Corps. I guess that's better than other things I could be doing while on sleeping pills, like, um, actually sleeping or something.

very merry unbirthday to me!

A lot of things suck about being away from home. Probably the most noticeable for me right now is my upcoming birthday. In the States, my birthday is a friggin' event. It's not even a birthday, it's a birthmonth.

When you're in a new place surrounded by new people, though, change is inevitable and sadly my birthday is one of those changes.

It will be the second birthday Twin & I have spent apart which is lame, but I hear she's going to try to take Disneyland up on their offer of free admission on your birthday, so I'm happy for her.

I'm planning a smallish party with some graduate school friends and some work "buddies", but it's not like these people are my REAL friends, y'know? Like, friends that have actually attended a birthday party for me in the past.

Either way, this is the dress I bought for the event:

When I travel, I really like to immerse myself in the local culture, so I purchased this at H&M. All their stuff is made in China, right?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

strawberry's beauty gift guide

Cheez-its, Christmas is only three weeks away! WTF, when did this happen? Being in China has really effed up my whole sense of reality, and by reality I mean my sense of American holidays.

In the spirit of the season, I've compiled a list of beauty must haves that would make great stocking stuffers. Stockings are my absolute favorite part of Christmas. Well, that's sort of a lie, I love everything about Christmas, but I do think that stockings are super awesome.

Strawberry's Beauty Gift Guide

Bare Escentuals Flawless Radiance
This isn't a blush...and it's not a's just a light shimmer that makes your skin absolutely glowing. Even after a rough night of grad school homework, a quick brush of this in the morning makes me look bright eyed and bushy tailed. I'm really into blush, but I like to add this on top and on my nose and forehead for a subtle glimmery look.

Burt's Bees Watermelon Lip TintIf I forget this at home for some reason, I usually have a mini-panic attack, especially if I'm somewhere sightseeing and taking photographs of myself and various Chinese landmarks. I'm not the biggest fan of lipstick, but this color is SO adorable. It's a light pink with just the slightest shimmer. I absolutely love it. And of course, it has Burt's Bees signature minty fresh feel. Mhh, mhh, mhh!

Murad Perfecting Skin LotionI've been using this product since before it was re-marketed as an "acne" lotion and have always loved it. During winter my fair skin can get super dry, and applying Skin Perfecting Lotion at night feels like my skin is getting a tall drink of water. There's not much more satisfying than feeling your face hydrate after a long day, and it helps me to relax and get in a calm mood for bed. This product is so light that I wear it under my sunscreen every day, and my skin has never looked better!

Benefit Brow Zings Eyebrow Tint
I used to think it was weird to color in your brows or tint them in any way, until one day in high school when my normal waxer was out sick and the lady they put me with insisted on dyeing my brows. WOAH. Seriously, it makes such a huge difference! My hair is so light that my brows sometimes are hard to even see, this is a good thing when, say, you're living in China and haven't found a good waxer yet and thus have not groomed your eyebrows in three months. But, if you want to really look put together, eyebrow tint is the one product that really does it for me. A little color goes a long way to frame your face and really pull a look together. I don't usually wear eyebrow tint every day, mostly because I'm too lazy to apply it in the morning, but if I want to look really sharp and professional, Benefit eyebrow tint is a make-up must.

Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Abricot PerfumeThis is the one gift I have consistently purchased for myself every year since I started using it. The large bottle lasts me a whole year, so it's pretty convenient to get it for myself every Christmas (if I'm lucky I can convince my mom to drop the $80 bucks on the bottle). Anyway, I was hesitant to even share this with all of you, because it's sort of my personal beauty secret weapon, but I figured I should share the wealth and spread the joy and let you all in on the mimi (secret in Chinese). Fellas absolutely ADORE this scent. It smells like cotton candy or fresh baked cookies or vanilla and sugar or jawbreakers...I've gotten all kinds of "it smells like..." when I'm wearing this perfume, but one thing all people agree on is that it smells delicious and wonderful.

moments in teaching

From a writing quiz I gave to my 10th graders, the topic was "What is an obstacle you have had to overcome in your life?":

"One day my mom said I must go in China to study Chinese for 3 years. At the first I was hungry, but at the last I accept."

Bahaha, I'm pretty hungry, too.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

chinese efficiency at its best

I saw this man rolling his overpacked cart along the street outside of my school. If I could sum up all of my experiences in China over the past 3 1/2 months in one photograph, this would be the photograph.