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Tag Archives: gifts

Valentine’s Day in Beijing

21 Feb

Referred to as “Ai Ren Tian” – which literally translates to Lover’s Day, the Valentine’s Day celebration in China is a fast growing trend. In fact, they have already learned to jack up the price of roses by 100% or more at every flower market in town.   Heart shape chocolates line the shelves of most markets (not just the western ones) and restaurants advertise Valentine’s Day specials. Though unlike New York – you don’t have to make a reservation 2-months in advance! Unfortunately though, my personal favorite – the classic pink velvet heart shape box of chocolates by Russell Stover (found at any local Duane Reade in NYC) is a NO show in the Old Peking. Although on a positive note: Dove, Toblerone, and many fine European chocolates make a strong showing.

Valentine’s Day happened to fall on the day after we arrived home from our trip to the states. Needless to say – jet lag played a big roll in our decision to avoid the crowds and have a nice night at home.  I surprised Brett by dressing myself and our dining room chairs up as Cupid.  I think it is a pretty clever use of red feathered wings…

 

Valentine’s Day Table Decor

I also decided to get a little more creative with my centerpieces in order to avoid the crazy mark up on roses. I used bundles and bundles of baby’s breath (a filler that I don’t typically like) to create the look of a giant fluffy snowball.  It was really cute…and really cheap!  Not to mention the fact that Valentine’s Day was over a week ago, and the arrangements still look just as fresh as the day I created them.

 

Fluffy Baby’s Breath Arrangement

I also surprised Brett with one of his favorite meals: creamed spinach and a Wagu beef filet prepared rare.  He surprised me with 66 beautiful red roses!

 

A Treat from My Valentine!

I give our Valentine’s Day in Beijing 5 Blondes out of 5!  Of course if you happened to spend it with someone who you don’t particularly like…the score could be much lower.

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Miracle on Xiang He Yuao Road

28 Dec

Christmas Tree Lot - Beijing Style

The title of this blog might be a bit of a stretch.  I don’t mean to insinuate that either of us defended the existence of Santa Claus within the Chinese court system (although best I can tell – the court system here has one simple step: a payoff).  I do believe; however, that we did have a little miracle of our own here on Xiang He Yuao Road (our street). It all began with our first Chinese Christmas Tree…

We were thrilled to learn that our favorite flower market was selling live Christmas Trees of a respectable size.  It was Griswold time – Charlie Brown style wasn’t going to cut it for our first Christmas away from all of our family.  I wouldn’t say that a glow of heavenly light surrounded the glorious pine – but we were both instantly drawn to the same 3 meter douglas fir with an endearing floppiness to it.  While the tree keepers cleaned and trimmed our chosen tree, we headed inside to buy lights and other trimmings.

Our Griswold Tree - It Hits the Ceiling!

The selection of ornaments and garlands was staggering.  I was actually expecting to have to decorate the tree with my collection of bangles – but no need.  We bought tons of twinkle lights, balls of every color and size, oversized bells, crystal ice cycles, and meters upon meters of garlands.  But the highlight of the day was finding our over the top tree topper – a flashing red light reading Merry Christmas – so tacky it was cute.  Of course it wasn’t intended to be a tree topper – so we convinced the electrician on call (as if such a thing existed  – it was a sales clerk) to rewire it with a cord long enough to read the top of the tree.  In retrospect this was our dumbest idea ever.

The tree was delivered about an hour later (still with its roots in a giant barrel mind you…making it quite a bit taller and quite a bit more Griswold than we anticipated). With It’s A Wonderful Life on in the background, we strung our lovely tree with hundreds of twinkle lights and decked it with glittering ornaments.  Then, we snuggled up on the couch with a glass of champagne each to admire our work.  It was lovely.  A little scrappy – but lovely nonetheless.

Sheng Dan Liwu - Christmas Gifts

We dozed off at some point – lulled to sleep by Christmas music and the sweet glow of our tree.  Somewhere between falling asleep and total dream zone I awoke to a loud pop.  I could tell something was different about the room…and then, it hit me like a Mack truck. The lights on the tree blew out.  I woke Brett to give him the bad news that we would have to start all over tomorrow.  Oh well…we both agreed.  Worse things have happened.  Actually, worse things were about to happen.  FIRE!!  The entire surge protector (some protector, right?) was engulfed in flames rising quickly up the cords just centimeters away from torching the curtains, the wall, and obviously the entire tree.  I ran to get a big blanket to snuff it out while Brett carefully pulled the cords away from the wall as best he could.  Luckily, he put it out before it caused any major damage.  But we definitely learned our lesson…don’t Clark Griswold your tree.  (FYI – I went to IKEA the next day and purchased extra cool, energy-saving lights…I wasn’t going to take any chances. And, although the topper remained in place, it was never turned on again.)

Christmas Eve at Jaan - 1920's Style. BTW- I am going to incorporate wrist corsages into my daily life. Love them! FASHION: White Iisly Bunny Fur Shrug with Silver Sequined Trim, Black Strapless Ted Baker Silk Jersey Gown and Feather Headpiece

Other than the tree fiasco, we had a lovely Christmas, just the two of us, here in Beijing.  We started the festivities with a Pre-Christmas Eve dinner at the Kunlun Hotel’s Summit Club.  It is on the top floor, and we were able to see all the lights of the city which actually included a lot more Christmas lights than one might think.  On actual Christmas Eve, we went to Jaan, a French restaurant with beautiful art deco decor in the Raffles Hotel downtown.  They did such a lovely job. We enjoyed a five-course meal in a 1920’s themed setting with 2 different live musical performances.  First a string quartet and then a jazz band with a saxophone player that oddly bore a resemblance to Stevie Wonder and Jon Hamm as “Sergio” in the SNL Digital Short: “Cursed”.

Yes...we realize we look dorky. FASHION?? Matching Red Waffle Print Long Johns from Red Envelope

On Christmas morning, we feasted on chocolate muffins, sausage, and champagne while we played Santa in matching red long johns.  Unfortunately, the majority of those pictures (any showing us from the waist down) are not suitable for my blog.  I will just say that long johns look hilarious – and very Cousin Eddy.

Of course we wish we could have been with our families and loved ones for the holidays – but I think we found the best thing Beijing had to offer this Christmas…time with each other.

Merry Christmas!  Sheng Dan Kuai Le!

From Beijing with Love

31 May

The shopping in Beijing is amazing and at times completely overwhelming.  And believe me – it takes a lot for a shopping excursion to overwhelm me.  In fact, if retail therapy was considered a sport… I would be an Olympic team member.  I love to haggle, and I love the thrill of a bargain.  All of that is to say that I am currently working on A Blonde Buys – a shopping guide to Beijing (and other places in Asia) to include on the blog.

In the meantime, I will include a picture of Brett’s favorite Beijing purchase to date.  It is the most perfectly inappropriate souvenir for friends back home.  Craig, this is just the look for a new dad of a sweet baby girl.

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