Monday, April 30, 2012

The Great House Hunt and Garage Sale Fiesta

 Many of you have asked if we have found a place to live yet.  The answer is not yet. 

I am so thankful that so many of you responded to my blog survey at the end of my House Hunters Shanghai post.  I was amazed that 3 of you did not know your gender. J

Your feedback did help us with the selection process. The results of the survey are below:

For our first round pick, Chris and I selected the Corporate Compound.  We were VERY excited to have found a large apartment that we could call home.  The puppies had a place they could have called home! Everything was roses and ponies until we received the following email from our international real estate agent.

I hate to say it, but my gut hunch about the landlord from Yan Lord was correct.  According to a job interviewer in China, it is very common in Shanghai for landlords to back out during the rental negotiation process.  After getting this news, Chris and I reviewed our 700+ pictures to figure out how we wanted to proceed. 

We asked if Razzle Dazzle could replace the white plastic furniture with something a little less flashy.  The response was no. I was not about to subject Chris to living in a “doll house” for 3 years, so the Dazzle is out.

We made a second visit to Shanghai Haven and realized it was a little dirty, and pretty far away from the grocery store and subway.  It also had plants in the backyard that could be fatal for Leia and Ditka.  Um, no thank you.

We also realized that Gateway to the City was too small, and the view from the other side of the apartment was even sketchier during the second visit.

Long story short, we are back to square 1.5.

The good news is Chris is going to be heading back to Shanghai in Mid May, and he has set up another meeting with Ring Lee (our real estate agent).  He is going to visit more apartments so we can find our new pad.  Hopefully, I will get to see the new places via Skpe on his phone. 

In the meantime, we are preparing for our Cinco de Mayo Garage Sale Fiesta next Saturday. 

We were supposed to hold our moving to China sale in late March, however an unfortunate plumbing nightmare forced us to postpone the sale.
In preparation for the sale, I have decided to try all of the boxed up kitchen appliances to determine if I really want to sell them.  Fools advice, don’t do this if you want to get rid of things!!

After holding a 70's Cheesy Fondue Dinner, we realized the fondue set had to stay.

We are going to drink lots of tea in China, right?

We can always use our snowman plate...and our loaf pan.

If you are interested in getting a great deal for a cheap price, drop by our place Saturday.  We have everything from Margarita glasses to old magazines!  Come one, come all…buy our stuff!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Great Charleston Bucket List

I am happy to report that I am typing this post from my princess lounge in my backyard.  I have survived my first day back at work since my 2 week vacation!!  (It was tough, laptop deployment +  vacation depression= a LONG day.) 

One thing I have recently realized is I am DEFINITELY going to miss Charleston.  The folks here are super friendly, the weather is gorgeous, and the food is divine!  So to properly prepare myself for a 3-year stint in the Far East, I am going to complete the following Charleston Bucket List.

My Charleston Bucket List

1)   Wine Walk at Middleton Place with my Colleagues.
What can be better than wine, cheese, and Mother Nature?  I can’t tell you the number of times I have chatted about this with my teacher people.  I think a communal trip to Middleton is DEFINITELY needed.

2)   Attend First Flush Festival at the Charleston Tea Plantation
While I am so excited to try new teas in China, I can’t wait to head to Wadamalaw Island to enjoy the official drink of South Carolina.  Attendees also get to hear live, local music.  If the day is nice, count me in!

3)   Charleston Riverdogs Baseball
I need a professional baseball fix before I take off.  How can one NOT love a team that features “Tonya Harding Bat Night”, and “Lock the Fans Out of the Park” night?  Hopefully, we can bring the pooches for Dog Day!

4)   Eat dinner at Cypress.
Cypress is my favorite restaurant in downtown Charleston.  I once told a waiter that if I was ever on death row and I had to select my last meal, their Almond Fried Goat Brie would be on the menu. The waiter looked at me like I had ten heads.  The salad is really that good.

5) Take a carriage ride in downtown Charleston.
As cheesy as it sounds, carriage rides are one way my fam says, “Aloha” to our surroundings.  Chris arranged to have a carriage take us around downtown St. Louis the night we were married so I could say goodbye to my hometown.  The experience was magical.  I am thinking I need a ride around Charleston to bid it a proper farewell.

Parting is such sweet sorrow!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Shanghai Shopaholic

When we let Mom know we were moving to Shanghai, she had two things to say to Chris.
1)     If anything happens to my daughter, I will hurt you. (Only the word was not hurt).
2)     If you go to Shanghai, you need to buy pearls!

I didn’t want to disappoint, so today Chris and I headed to the Pearl Market.

Shanghai's Hongqaio Pearl Market is one of the prettiest tourist trap/ shopping areas I have ever seen.  The first floor contained your basic knock off purses, silk scarves, and trinket booths. 

The second floor is a place I called Mama heaven.   From the moment I stepped off the elevator all I could see were pearls, jade, and vendors who were more than happy to sell me the goods!

For 2 hours, I bounced from vendor to vendor, perusing pearls and snagging souvenirs.  The exchanges with the vendor would typically go something like this.

Vendor:  You want to buy pearls?  Jade?
Me:  I am just looking.  May I see this?  (At this time I would point at the bauble.)
Vendor:  You like this?  If you want something different, I make it for you. 
Me:  How much is this?
(At this point, the vendor grabs her 80’s Casio Calculator and types in her alleged final offer.) 
Vendor:  This is my final offer.
Me:  Tài guile!  (Too expensive). 
At this point I mentally thank Jie, our mandarin tutor for teaching me this phrase during our second lesson.
The salesperson then looks at us with mock outrage.
Vendor: How much you want to spend?
The vendor then slides the calculator over to me.  I enter a price that is ridiculously low.

From this point on we exchanged multiple rounds of  “you are crazy”, “how about this”, “will you be buying anything else”, “I will bring my friends here when they visit” and “please please, please” and punched offers on the calculator.

Once we settled on a price, the real fun began.  I selected the exact pearls I wanted on my necklace, and became mesmerized by the vendor hand tying my necklace, earrings, or bracelet one pearl at a time.  Five minutes later, I had my own work of art!

When all was completed, I handed the vendor some Yuan, felt the side of Mao’s head on my change to ensure it is not counterfeit, and repeated the process with the next vendor.

Welcome to paradise, Shopaholics!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Shanghai at Night

While Chris and I have a mission to find our new pad in Shanghai, we both want to have a little fun too.  So Tuesday Night we had date night on the Bund.  The Bund is a one-mile stretch of financial buildings along the Huang Pu River.  We started the evening with a yummy dinner of artichoke spinach pie at M on the Bund. 

This was the view from our table at dinner!  

Then we had a large time watching the boats and photographing the magical Shanghai Skyline.

The Bund at night

I would not say I love Shanghai yet, but it is growing on me. 

Chris strikes a pose in front of the Pearl Tower.

It's my turn now!

We then took a train under the river to the Shangri-La hotel.  The elevator zipped us up to Jade on 36th, a jazz club on the 36th floor.  I LOVED my Sidecar, and the view! 

The view of Shanghai from Jade on 36th.

It is nice to know after 10 years of marriage, Chris is the master of wining and dining his woman!

House Hunters Shanghai

Many of you have been asking to see pictures of our potential new places.  After 3 days of intensive house hunting, I think Chris and I have narrowed our decision to four different places.  (I know HHI usually narrows it down to three, but we needed one more. )

Before you see our final choices, check out some of the other places that will be WONDERFUL for other people.

Look!  It is gated!

It is well lit also!

Chris rocks the coffee.

We have satellite TV.

At least this is not a squattie.  (That is a whole other post that will come much later.)

Um, OSHA?  I think we may have a violation.

Here are our finalists:

1)   Razzle Dazzle

the kitchen
Guest bedroom #1

I am such a sucker for sparkly lighting.

master bedroom storage

the living room area  How can Chris think this is a doll house? :)

Guest bedroom #2 that will be my office/ scrap room.
Our first finalist is a 3-bedroom apartment in the Regent’s Park compound.  Located 2 minutes from the Shanghai Metro, this newly renovated 178 m2 apartment features beautiful hardwood floors, lovely peach wall coloring, one of a kind white furniture throughout the apartment, and maid service!  Unfortunately, this unit has no oven, and no yard.  However, the view from the 32nd floor is breathtaking.  Chris was skeptical of the white furniture.  I believe “I feel like I am in a dollhouse” and “this white furniture sucks” were his exact words.  Anne-Marie LOVED the sparkly lighting!  She also loved the terrace that is connected to the room that would be her new office.

2)   Shanghai Haven

We have an oven!

This yard is great for the pups.

The "good health" bathtub

The master bedroom sitting area

The master bedroom sleeping area

The guest bedroom

Chris pretending to write his manifesto

The wine cellar

Anne-Marie's office area (Look out Ikea, here we come!)

The ladies like it!

Our second finalist is a 3-bedroom townhome in the Spring Garden compound.  Located 5-10 minutes from the Metro, this 250 m2 townhome features classic Chinese décor, a fenced in yard for the puppies, a spacious master bedroom suite, a wine cellar, and a lovely wooden bathtub that has been called “good for health”.  Chris enjoyed the large dining area.  He claimed, “I could sit here and write my manifesto.”  Anne-Marie had a great appreciation for the wine cellar, but was leery of the saloon style bathroom doors and wooden tub.  

3)   Corporate Compound
Family room lighting

The kitchen 

A-M's office

Jet tub!!!

Master bedroom

Guest bedroom

Dining area

Our third finalist is a 3-bedroom first floor apartment in the Yan Lord Riverside Apartment compound.  Yes, you can laugh at the name.  Anne-Marie is still laughing.  The 210m2 apartment has a terrace that is perfect for the puppies, a jetted master bathtub, three spacious bedrooms, and is an 8 minute walk from the Metro.  Chris likes the size of the apartment and puppy terrace.  He also likes the prospect of living in the same building with other Bosch employees. Anne-Marie has always wanted a jet tub, but is concerned that she can’t see the apartment illuminated because the government refuses to turn on the lights.  (Apparently the previous tenant and/or owner were tardy with their bills.)

4)   Gateway to the City

Fun times for the tenants

Ovenless kitchen

family and dining room area

the office

the guest bedroom

guest bathroom

master bedroom

all in one washer dryer

indoor driving range

Our final contender is a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment in the Grand Gateway Garden apartment compound.  This tastefully decorated apartment close to the metro has an active tenant social calendar, maid service, doorman, and wonderful amenities center.  (Chris thoroughly enjoyed the indoor driving range.)  While the unit is small, (150 m2 ),  it is located down the street from a beautiful cathedral and across the street from a designer shopping mall.  (That’s right…A-M can walk to Sephora daily!!!)  Chris likes it, but is concerned about the dogs liking it. However he feels that “if we don’t cut their Pupperoni allowance, all will be okay”.  A-M loves the location, but is concerned about the sketchy view from the north side of the building. 

We can’t announce a winner because we are undecided.   That is where we need your help, dear readers. Please click here to let us know what you think about our new places.  We will reveal the winner as soon as it is selected. Stay tuned for more adventures!