November 13, 2011

Experimenting with food: scrubs!

Following another No Impact Week where I've followed online discussions more than participating myself again, I suddenly find myself trying something new: making my own cosmetics.

While I know that there is loads of bad stuff in conventional cosmetics (see, for example, The Story of Cosmetics), I also find it hard to find products that seem better. But making my own also seems like a lot of work, and for which you need a lot of time.

Until someone posted some recipes for making your own scrubs. And that seemed doable, with just sugar, some spices, salt and olive oil. What could go wrong?

So I now have a jar of sweet 'n spicy brown sugar scrub ready to be used. Very very curious what it will be like!

November 10, 2011

Itchy feet

gansu mountains
Originally uploaded by macchi.

I just finished reading a book on urban development in China (this one) in which a Dutch journalist and architect explore the inland second tier cities in China. All cities that most of us have never heard of.

I have visited two of them (Xi'an & Lanzhou) and my work has offices in another two. But the rest..... more than any other book this one makes me want to travel again!

But also, it's made me realise again that China is so diverse - and I tend to forget that when I travel for work as I'm always stuck in the same cities, and in the same Central Business Districts. And apart from the cities (where, admittedly, so many Chinese people now live) the countryside is stunning.

This picture is taking in the mountains in Gansu province, pretty much in the middle of the country. I was on my way to a Tibetan settlement, Xiahe, which was one of the highlights of my trip exploring (a small part of) China. After Xiahe, I continued west to Jiayuguan and Dunhuang, where the oldest Buddhist caves in China are located. Stunning.

But it's further West still that I want to go. Xinjiang, Urumqi, Kashgar, the Taklaman desert and more. I don't know why this part of the country fascinates me so much - maybe the emptiness, isolation, but also (the decreasing) sense of non-Chineseness that I expect the find there. I need to be quick though. What I'm reading about Kashgar isn't good.... So hopefully, a next non-work trip to China will include that part of this immense country.

But first, my Flickr collection will next year finally start to include some pictures of Japan. Cannot wait to show you all my favourite places there - and my new discoveries!

November 05, 2011

One of those weekends

I love weekends which just seem to fall together perfectly.

After a tiring Friday I was happy to hang out on my couch with cancelled plans for drinks. The rest of the weekend consisted of mostly vague plans also.

In a way anything could happen.

[apologies for the smug post from here on!]

So far, it feels like one of those weekends that make me just really happy with life. I love my house and love that every now and then, while chopping onions in my kitchen, I'm hit with this realisation. I love where I live, and that I can be outside in a crowded pub when a friend unexpectedly calls at 10:30pm to go out for some beers. I keep realising that this city offers so much, but is also a great place to just chill with coffee, good food and a good friend in the sun on November 5 [admittedly, that is exceptional in this country!].

One of those weekends where I keep changing plans, filled with friends, good food, good beer & wine (and chocolate cake!). But also feeling at home, in my house with a book on my couch and an interesting recipe cooking away on the stove.

So really, this all makes the current work situation seem pretty unimportant, as long as the really good (and simple) things in life are there on weekends like this.