Posts in China
Small Style, China Style


I got this dress in China and have been counting down the days until it was really warm enough for S to finally wear it. I love the bold, contrasting patterns, the covered buttons, and the Mandarin collar. Stella loves it too, declaring it very "itty."

Miss Stella is talking up a storm these days. Well, maybe more of a breeze. A year ago, she was barely babbling. I mean, she started with the ma-ma-mas and the da-da-das and the ba-ba-bas just sometime around her first birthday. And I was silently freaking out because OMG DELAYS and WE'RE IN JAPAN! I CAN'T GET SPEECH THERAPY for my child IN JAPANESE because THE ONLY WORD I KNOW is pee-pee. And then, suddenly bababababababa.


Now, she's stringing words together, making senteces, telling stories. She calls herslef bebe Della. And I'm not sure where that came from.

Stella's still using a mix of words and sign, some of them real (apple! elbow! bus! this way!) and some made up (bo = bread abobo = avocado and my personal favourite amam = food / eating {dir. nom nom nom}). While she's getting the hang of a lot of words, my girl is not a fan of leading consonants. Shoes are oose. Clothes are othes. And who really knows what the hell owwwww is.

I've been seeing a chiropractor, so we talk a lot about the Ahhhhhh! ::points finger in mouth while saying ahhhh:: which, obviously is a doctor. Because that's just exactly what docotors do, say ah!

The other day at breakfast her Papi asked her, "What are you going to do today?" and her response was, "Bebe Della! Go! Play!" When I told her that no, the park wasn't possible because it was raining, immediately launched into a stream of "Go! Bus! Downtown! Baby Della! Downtown." Which is proof that not only can she tell stories, make requests and communicate her needs, but she's capable of reasoning and logic and persuasive argument. So, basically, GENIOUS! But we all knew that was the case anyway, didn't we.


  Stella Wore:

Itty Dress - Tang 'roulou

ooes - See Kai Run 


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Beijing Furniture Market {or, a bunch of pictures of stone things}

I'm still reveling in my recent trip to China. And despite Mr. Chef's admonitions that I not talk too much about China on this here blog for fear of invoking his own Sino nostalgia, I'm going to indulge myself once again. Because, whatever, this is MY internet.

Stella and spent a sun-drenched afternoon at the Beijing Furinature Market with our Beijing friends. A massive space, full of trinkets, and curios along side stone lions, goddesses of mercy, and Buddhas by the billions. If you happen to be in the market for a two-story high stone pagoda, well, this is your place. Merchants spread their antique Communist propaganda and "antique" porcelain on tarps in the middle of the market grounds. Further into the inerior there row upon row of permanent stalls where you'll be badgered to part with your money in exchange for silk skirts from Southern China, little Chinese shoes, bracelets, taxidermy sparrows, plastic toys, and strange rocks that sound like a cat when you strike them in just the right way.  It's packed on the weekend, mostly with Chinese tourists, rather than their foreign counterparts.

The atmosphere was something to behold. Shouting, and good-natured insults, bargaining in that particular Chinese style, and the promise of discovering some hidden gem. It was magical. Stella was the star of the show, obviously, being the only foreign kid there. And, thank goodness for that, because I did keep her about about three hours beyond naptime, and it was only the promise of sprinting free amongst the stalls to elicit fawning attention from the shopkeepers that kept a massive meltdown at bay.

If you're in Beijing, this place is a definate must visit. 

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Image credit for above photo: My one-year-old.


Yeah. That one. Who gets picked up and loved by every stranger we meet.

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Shanghai Street Life

What I love best is girt and steel. Gleaming monuments, steel and glass and straight edges, design that makes you think that you might have gotten on a subway train and emerged in the future right along side grunge and noise and chaos and people getting their breakfast at a street stall, two bao zi steaming  in a flimsy plastic bag, and men looking for work, or the lucky ones earning a few honest dollars in the street selling sundries or fixing your bike, or carrying away what the rich don't want. That's Shanghai.

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While I was in Beijing, my friend, who happens to be expecting her first baby, introduced me to a lovely kids' shop called Tang' Roulou. She asked me if I minded stopping in. And if minded that she was taking so long selecting her treasures. MIND!? Not at all. I was totally captivated. Such lovely little things constructed in accordance to traditional Chinese patterns, but using lovely modern cotton printed fabrics. Little padded jackets. Mini qipaos. Colourful necklaces. Sweet little home deco touches. Gorgeous bedding. Tiny little hooded blankets.

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Traditional yet modern. Sweet and whimsical. Designed by a French woman and man based in Beijing.

These items are not yet available outside China, but plans are afoot for international shipping. I'll let you know when the shop goes up. If you are in China, they do have a Taobao shop.


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Small Style, China Style

Excuse me while I revel just a little longer in the memories of our China trip. Can you tell that I had, like, THE BEST time evah? 

Life in Japan is quiet and unvaried and somewhat cloistered. There are days when my most  thrilling experience, my most intense and rewarding social interaction (I mean, outside of that with my child) is the transaction with the cashier at the grocery store, whom I do not even understand. 

So going to China, I returned to where where I have real life human friends, where I lived thrill, and excitement, noise, and passion, and dirt and craziness, fireworks, and near-death taxi rides, good food and bubbly. It reminded me of myself, of who I was before Japan. I mean, I even went out! Without my kid! In the evening! To a bar! And drank the hell out of three beers! And smoked a cigarette! And talked to people! I worried that I had forgotten how. But it turns out, it's like riding a bike. 

So I feel new, and fresh. Like these pictures, which, obviously because their clarity and sharpness, were taken in Shanghai by Emily.

IMG_2482_SSduo2_smThere's some serious ton ton toning gong on over here.

My generous and kind child is obviously GIVING a toy to Jackson. And not taking it from him. Nope. 

Side eye, you crazy baby.


And then this happened. Which is why she was so warry.


I on the other hand, am loving ever minute of baby kisses.


Stella is wearing a skirt that I bought in the furniture market in Beijing. It's made in the traditional style of the Miao, and ethnic minority who live in the South Western part of China. The real skirts are typically made out of richly patterned silk and are stunningly beautiful. This one is woven, and quite cute, I must say.


Miss S, the budding clotheshorse, is now demanding that she wear skirts all the time. On the weekend, she may or may not have insisted that I take off my skirt and let her wear it. Because pants are totally unacceptable. 

Stella Wore

Skirt - Beijing Furnature Market

Top - Target

Cardi - H&M

Jacket - Baby Gap

Socks - Smartwool


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Beijing Hutongs

I first arrived in China in August 2006. It was hot. The air was stagnant and nothing moved. It wasn't until evening that we got out to explore and as we rounded a corner in our taxi, people came into view. A community of people on dining room chairs, dragged out of still-gaping front doors. A semi-circle of people, formed around a man-made lake, as people ate, gossiped, and stared. In China, life is vibrant, loud, passionate, and in your face. And it's lived outdoors in the streets, where you can get a meal, a shoe-shining, or a haircut.

I spent three years in China, and then moved to Japan. Now, after being away from almost two and a half years, it was time to go back. So we did, my girl and I, to Beijing and then Shanghai.

Beijing hutongs offer a glimpse into this outdoor community. While the hutongs have suffered the ravages of central planning and development, and the ones that still exist are overrun with tourists, mostly Chinese, there still clings a sense of real China around the edges.

My girl and I spent a long time wandering arond hutongs. This is what we saw.


Hutongs are full of mystery and atmosphere, life and noise, food and clatter. The center streets are bustling with tourists, food stalls, young men standing around, and grannies walking kids home from school. Side streets are empty and quiet, but hanging laundry and leaning bikes, and the clatter of a pot and in some deep and distant kitchen and offer hints as to the life behind closed doors.

For more on Hutongs, read The Last Days of Old Beijing. It is a truly wonderful tale of a vanishing way of life.

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Day 6


Photo 2

We waited for a taxi for an hour, arms waving with increasing fluster. Yet, somehow, despite the laws time and of gravity and limitations of my girly chicken arms, we made it across town, through the train station and onto our bullet train. With this mountain of luggage in tow. Oh, right, and my one-year-old. 

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Day 7



Our lovely hosts in Shanghai. You couldn't ask for a nicer friend or a more quintessentially adorable, and might I add, agreeable, child.

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Day 8


Somehow, to me this image is quintessentially China. The detritus of lunch, heedlessly tossed aside. It speaks to the Chinese psyche, I think. Fiercely self-interested,  openly careless, passionate, and obsessed with good food. This may on the surface seem ugly, and yes, there are aspects of China that are ugly. Still, it's the dross and scrap is captivating and truthful. And if we are honest, who amongst us isn't fiercely self-interested. But maybe, as Westerners, it's in our self-interest to hide this tendency.

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Day 9




I almost forgot to take my daily picture, but just as we were preparing to leave for an evening in an establishment that serves alcohol and does not accept patrons under the age of 18 (can we talk about how this was literally my first such evening in 29 months?) there was a barrage of explosions. A familiar feature of Chinese life that I had forgotten. Fireworks bursting in the dark, firecrackers popping and clashing just after the sun comes up. Sometimes they usher in festival days. Sometimes they disrupt your sleep for no reason at all. 

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Day 10




Found, in a DYI market  that contained stalls and stalls full of tiles and toilets and wood plank and flooring, slogans and characters adorning the walls.

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Day 11


 A pagoda perched atop a sky scraper as viewed from my all-time favourite hotel. 

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Day 12



 Shoes in a windowsill and graffiti. Which would never be tolerated in China, except for in one neighbourhood in Shanghai.

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Day 1 japan




En route to the airport, I was thrilled beyond measure. Exuberant and expectant, like a child on the eve of her birthday.


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Day 2



A late arrival, a cat nap in the car, much excitement, and an evening of catching up over Indian food lead to a super late bedtime, Miss S did not crash until about 1 am. Seriously, this child. So we took it easy the first full day in Beijing. A lazy breakfast and then a late afternoon stroll past the Drum Tower pictured below.

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Day 3



Our hosts are weeks away from repatriation and are thus occupied with the business of acquiring the mementos and keepsakes that will stoke their remembrances of China. Thus, a visit to the furniture market where we stalked stone lions and Goddesses of Mercy. 


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Day 4



Forget museums and monuments. Give me a market. Every time.

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Day 5


We wandered around a hutong to two, poking our heads into alleys in which we did not belong and being reminded of the vitality and life  and passion that exists right out there in the open in China. I miss that.

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