I just heard that Gretchen Rubin (of ‘The Happiness Project’ fame) has completed her latest book ‘Better Than Before’ which is……….all about habits! As I mentioned habits in the last post and as I really like this author I thought I’d give you her summary of the book : “in a nutshell: There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, and to change our habits,we first have to figure out ourselves.” Hmmm, sounds like the appendix of ‘The Power of Habit’: “The problem is that there isn’t one formula for changing habits. There are thousands”. Habits it seems, DO die hard.

quotescover-JPG-84 ……….That quote kind of suggests that you CAN’T teach old dogs new tricks….?

Well what I see here are that people (youth) ARE changing their habits..and rapidly. The current generation seems pre-occupied with raising their quality of life, more than anything (more than fighting for their freedom for example). Fuchsia Dunlop  goes some way to explain this in her book ‘Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper’: “In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the evident supremacy of the Western powers triggered a crisis in Chinese identity. Some thinkers and political activists came to see traditional Chinese culture as luo hou (backward)… they despised it. The future, they thought, lay in Western science and rationality. A century later, these anxieties about the Chinese past, and green-eyed envy of the West are as strong as ever. Ironically, just as the Western middle classes are losing their faith in science and getting soggy with emotion over the holistic traditions of the East, the Chinese seem to be on the brink of ditching what’s left of their own philosophical and technological heritage.”

Cafes (a new Starbucks opens up every week..or is it every day?), afternoon teas, KFC, fluffy white wedding dresses, bakeries, dyed hair, McDonalds, Oreo cookies…you name it….out with the ‘old’ and in with the new. How sad … yes I’m one of those nostalgic Westerners.

OK here’s another example: One of Sebastien’s colleague recently decided to ditch the free shuttle bus service to get to work – that took less than an hour mind you – to become a car owner (one of the 5000 granted permission in Shanghai last month). She had to pay almost as much for the number plate as for the car – which incidentally is A LOT. Now it takes her 1.5hours to get to work…BUT…… in her own car! IMG_4512

And another example –  Just stick this on above your eyes for instant eye lids! IMG_4403

One habit NOT to change is the use of Wei jing (‘the essence of taste’ or in English ‘Gourmet Powder’ or Monosodium glutamate) has been used extensively in China since it became widely available in the 1970’s. Fuchsia Dunlop devotes several pages to this white powder in her book ‘Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper’. She explains that during that period meat was scarce and grain was rationed and MSG offered the possibility of emulating rich, savory tastes. She feels that as the Chinese generally have a positive view of science and technology, the gourmet powder is simply a means of offering a ‘turbo-charged intensity of gastronomic pleasure’.  Personally I prefer flavors that are gentler and more natural. In my cooking classes MSG itself  is not used  BUT it is still there because it is in many of  the standard ingredients used – chicken stock, many of the sauces and even the vinegar.


Rong shao tipang – So I learned this recipe in cooking class this week. Nice flavor with star anise, ginger, soy sauce and sugar. Apparently duck can be cooked following the same recipe then served cold….. sounds good.

Incidentally, MSG is ‘generally recognized as safe’ by government authorities……….hmmm but then so is Coca-Cola!

Shanghighs‘: California connections: I received a treasure box from my friend Liz in California. She made a whole collection of herbal goodies specifically created for me and even included her poetry book (Neo-logo-isms). Liz completed the same Wellness Coach training as me. If you haven’t looked at her work (she’s on my blog list to the right) I invite you to take a peek. I particularly like her quote:”And remember, shit makes gardens grow, so if you have a lot of it right now, your potential for a beautiful and abundant inner garden is very high!”     http://anahatahealingarts.net/ 

I also had a chat with Juliette (our former pre-school teacher and friend) who as usual had some great parenting advice and Blanche was able to see her dear friend Shemsu.

I was elected parent representative for Blanche’s class which I take as a personal victory and sign of acceptance  (even though that it was probably the ‘foreign’ Swiss, Chinese, Canadian parents who voted). This is because I feel that French parents – or should I say French mothers – are notoriously difficult to get to know (according to my own personal experiences in France and according to the non-French expat community here).

I finally have some kind of routine in place which includes a french-english exchange, speech therapy work, Chinese lessons, some yoga, cooking, blogging……..

Shanglows‘: HA, just when I thought our  housing issues were behind us, it turns out that our landlord has decided to sell the apartment (and already has a buyer!)……hmmmmmmmmm. Normally we should be confident that we can stay until the end of our 12-month lease………….but my sixth sense tells me that this is not going to be the case…..TIC (This is China!)

Shangunusuals‘: Saw a couple of parents pulling their children along the street by their ears………..wonder if that approach works?


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