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Life Lately: Fall 2016 Edition

December 7, 2016
As you've probably gathered from the title, this is one of those "what I've been up to" posts. This fall had some ups and downs for me, but I think that's normal when one is still recovering. Last weekend, I even did something wild and went out in the city for two days, as opposed to my usual one day. I also had my first off-campus excursion on a school night! *gasp*

One day I met Rachael and the two of us went for brunch at Egg Shanghai because we wanted to try their pumpkin spice pancakes. It seems that this year I'm able to satisfy my seasonal cravings more than I could last year. Maybe I just know my way around Shanghai a bit more so I can figure out where to go to get all the best food! Afterwards, we went to Sephora and went on a little shopping spree. I splurged on some perfume. They didn't have any O de Lancome in stock, which is what I originally set out to buy. Instead, I tested out all different kinds of perfume before finally settling on a bottle of Prada Candy. I also bought a few Sephora brand lipsticks as well as The Original MakeUp Eraser Makeup Remover Cloth. Rachael had read about it on another blog and suggested we try them out. I have to say that this cloth is a game-changer for me because I just use it to remove ALL of my makeup, including my eye makeup! It comes right off, which is so awesome because I was running low on eye makeup remover pads, anyway. I might even go back and buy another one so that I can alternate them between washes.

A photo posted by Lisa (@lisak0417) on

Lately, I've also been to three different get-togethers. Two of them were for Thanksgiving, which was great because last year I didn't do anything special and just had the same $2.00 spicy soup I pretty much get once a week. Rachael hosted one Thanksgiving celebration, and we ordered in food from a grocery store and asked everyone to bring their own plates and utensils so there was no prep or clean up. We were able to get many of the traditional foods we would have had in America, and there were four different kinds of pies. We invited three of our British friends to this one, and it was their first Thanksgiving, so I hope we did it right! One of the guys kept posting pics of himself with the leftover turkey the next day, so I think it was a success. The next Friendsgiving was hosted by my friend Chris, and this dinner had so many courses and sides of delicious, homemade food. Rachael came to my apartment beforehand, and we made some food together including chicken stuffing and cheesy potatoes. I liked how both celebrations had different mixes of people and I was glad to have home cooked dishes over the weekend when I had time to prepare. During the week, I was more than happy to just order in! Everything really worked out perfectly, and I'm thankful for our little community and that this was even possible. The last get-together was at my friend Lauren's house. She says she loves hosting and whipped up bangers and mash for everyone she invited. Hanging out there was great, and everyone was just so chill. I love the kind of effortless friendships that just flow naturally and where I don't feel like I have to monitor what I say.

Last week, I signed up for a crafts class at Craft'd with Rachael, Steven, and Chris. The four of us spent the evening having dinner at a spot called Spread the Bagel and later met up to make some candles. We could pick the candle holder, scents, and colors for the first two we made. Out of the two I made, I'll probably burn one and then keep the other one for decorative purposes because it's in an adorable vintage tea cup. We made a beeswax candle and then used a hot glue gun to attach cinnamon sticks around a plain candle. It was a good evening out and the four candles are making my apartment feel cozier.

This past weekend, Rachael and I hung out with our friend Nate who moved to Korea to teach. He was back in Shanghai for the weekend, so we met him for lunch, along with a few of his other friends. It was so good to catch up with him! Afterwards, we got manicures and pedicures. I got red for Christmas. I wasn't going to get a gel manicure again because I finally stopped about a month ago, but then there was this promotion going on and it was like I would get a gel manicure for just $7, so how could I say no? That's how they get you! I never thought I'd become addicted to gel manicures, but I totally am. That night, the two of us met a larger group for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory at Disney Village. I hadn't been yet, but it was a real treat because the menu has almost everything they offer in the States! I even got a piece of chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake...drool. We did some shopping at one of the stores, but nothing caught my eye. I really need to have a full Disney day. The only bad thing is that I cannot ride anything yet unless it's suuuuper tame. Do  they have a carrousel? A train? I could probably handle those, but probably nothing else.

I've also been to two of Shanghai's Christmas markets! First, a group of us went to the French one at The Pearl. I liked the venue a lot, but it was just a pretty small event. I was able to get pie and mulled wine, and spent some time admiring the delicate, handmade jewelry there...Although now I have non-buyer's remorse (ha ha) because I wish I would've bought myself a necklace from one of the vendors. Last weekend, I went to the German Christmas market, Paulaner Brauhaus. There were all kinds of food stalls where sausages, pretzels, chili, waffles, and crepes were for sale. I washed my meal down with some spiked hot chocolate. This market was bigger than the first one, so there was more to see. I left with a pair of fuzzy socks, some candles (as if I needed those--I just told you guys how I made four!!), a souvenir cup, a French-milled soap for my co-teacher, and oh my gosh...I just remember I bought another candle! But it's completely acceptable because it's inside of a bamboo shoot and smells like cinnamon, right?

Do you have a Christmas market in your town? What's it like?

Favorite Products Found in Shanghai

December 5, 2016
I've been in Shanghai for over a year now, and it has been fun discovering new products to try...and, in some cases, taste! Below I've listed out a few of my top picks, so if you're ever in Shanghai...

Dutch Pies- I was able to sample three different kinds of pies from Dutch Pies this Thanksgiving, and boy were they all delicious! Dutch Pies uses only fresh ingredients and does not add those icky preservatives.  Now that I know about this company, I will be placing orders with them. It's the perfect dessert to bring to a get together, and the best part is that it saves me from having to cook, yet others will still enjoy it. Dutch Pies can ship the pies right to you, which is dangerously convenient. Some of the mouth-watering flavors to choose from are: cherry crumble, apple, pumpkin, banana toffee, and pecan. They also make rice pudding and cakes!

Lizzy's All-Natural- I absolutely love the smoothies from Lizzy's. Here in Shanghai, sometimes I feel like I don't get enough vitamins from fruits and vegetables. The smoothies from Lizzy's are a great way to incorporate those. There are several stores located in Shanghai, but I order the smoothies from Kate and Kimi, a grocery delivery service. Typically, I'll have one as a meal replacement, but just for breakfast. A few of my friends have done the detoxifying cleanses, too. Besides smoothies, there are different types of teas, coffees, and milks.

Little Ondine- These nail polishes are the bomb. There is very little drying time, and my nails have dried very quickly in comparison to when I use traditional polish. This nail polish is water-based, so it's not harmful to your nails. The best part is that you don't even need to use nail polish remover to take the polish off! You can just peel it, and it comes right off! I've found Little Ondine nail polish at Sephora here in Shanghai, but the company is really growing and now has a U.S. site.

Suzhou Cobblers- I've been admiring these shoes for awhile now, and think I'm going to finally shell out the cash to get a pair of custom made shoes. The designs scream China, and many types have hand embroidered patterns on them; think birds, flowers, bamboo, pandas, and peacocks. A shop in Xintiandi sells these shoes, but there are some available to buy on their website as well.  If I could fit into any of them, I would've totally bought some already, so thank goodness they have the custom made option for women who need sizes in the 40's.

Strictly Cookies- These homemade cookies remind me of some gourmet cookies I'd get back home in the States. If cookies are your thing, I highly recommend trying these, as I was hooked from the first bite. (If I just made them sound addicting, they are!!) The cookies can be found in restaurants, shops, and cafes all over Shanghai. My favorite one is called Snack Pack, and it's made with chips, Oreos, caramel, and pretzels!

This weekend I'll be heading to a Christmas market, where I'm sure to come across even more top-notch items! What local products do you love?