Information: Yu Chocolatier | Renai Road Section 4, Alley 112, Lane 3, No. 10, Da-An District, Taipei| Phone:02 -2701- 0792| 大安區仁愛路4段112巷3弄10號 (仁愛圓環台新大樓後方第一條巷子，近中山醫院)
I have a love/hate (to be honest, hate-hate) relationship with exercise. But of course it’s something that I must do, in order to be able to eat desserts and still maintain my health. A friend of mine told me, “I work out every day just so I can eat my two pieces of chocolate.” At first, I thought that was a high price to pay, but then I discovered chocolate that I would be willing to work that hard for. And that chocolate would be the handmade, artisinal chocolate from Yu Chocolatier.
Yu Chocolatier is a tiny, immaculate shop that seats just 8 people. Once you walk inside, you are greeted first by the heavenly smell of chocolate, then by very cheerful and friendly staff.
Information: CHANTEZ Pâtisserie 穿石| Address: No. 31, Section 3, Jinan Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106 | MRT:Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station, Exit 6| Phone: 02 2778 6865| Hours: 12:00-9:00 pm| 大安區濟南路三段31號| 忠孝新生捷運站3號/6號出口，步行3-5分鐘
This day had two firsts~ my first visit to Chantez Patisserie, and my first taste of fresh fig. Chantez is located in one of the quieter neighborhoods in Da-An district. It’s an easy 5 minute walk from Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station, Exit 6. Right across, there is an old fashioned restored two story building, that is quite rare to see in Taipei. During my visit there, I stared dreamily at the house, imagining how lovely it would be to live there.
This month, we were fortunate to have two holidays~ one midweek for the Mid-Autumn Harvest Moon Festival (中秋節）and the other was a four day weekend, celebrating Taiwan’s birthday. Since I am fantastically busy from now until the end of January, I made no major plans for either holiday, beyond having lunch with my family for the Mid-Harvest Moon Festival. The rest of the time was spent catching up on sleep and work, and just some general stay-cation activities.
1) I discovered this tea place during one of my meetings. The admin assistant running the show had this fabulous, eye-catching icy and refreshing drink, while the rest of us sat around the table sipping cups of lukewarm tea. Turns out, it was from the drink shop nearby, called Bao-Guo. (I normally just pass right on by on my way to meetings, because I thought it was a bread shop). Coincidentally, I was in the neighborhood during the break, so I decided to try their iced grapefruit tea (regular ice, 50% sugar). I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s full of sliced grapefruit and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.
Lately, I’ve been following some of the tips from the book Goodbye Things: On Minimalist Living, by Fumio Sasaki. This week, I decided to try Tip 31, which is: Think of stores as your personal warehouses. This tip is a useful reminder for me, because I have a habit of buying for now, and for the year(s) ahead. As one part of my habit shift for the next 6 months, I am going to make better use of the items that I have and cut down on buying additional products until I absolutely need them. As I mentioned before, I tend to accumulate a lot of products and then forget about them. This season, I’ve corralled everything into one drawer. I take a photo every time I take out a new product, and save it on my phone. If I’m out shopping and want to buy something, I refer back to the photo and check to make sure I don’t have something similar already. I’m happy to report back that so far this method seems to be working, and I’ve really cut back on impulse purchases! Also as part of this new habit shift, I decided that I would save the empty bottles and packaging for a year, so I can make a more well-informed assessment of how long it takes me to use up particular products.
I did some research online and found that makeup and beauty products have a much shorter shelf life than I thought. All the websites I read recommended keeping close tabs on products used near the eyes, such as mascara and eye shadow. I had no idea that it was recommended that eye shadows be replaced after 3 months! I have a couple sets that I’ve been using for the past 2 years, and I thought they were was still going strong. Oops. In case you are wondering if you are making the same mistakes, here is a short summary of my findings:In order to keep closer tabs on expiration dates, I’ve started to label each bottle with a start and end date. For the products that I’ve been using before my project started, I label with an estimate of the month started, and the month/date of when I finished it. Here are the empties that I have so far: (I’ll include mini reviews of some of the products towards the end of the post, if you’re interested!)
By this time of year, I’ve probably broken most, if not all of my new year’s resolutions. I vaguely remembered something about having better work and life balance (ha!) and exercising more (ha ha!) But for me, adopting and keeping new habits is hard, hard work. I decided this time around, instead of feeling guilty about the resolutions I didn’t keep, I’ll try to take smaller, more realistic steps, or shifts, if you will. For me, the concept of a shift still implies change, but they seem to be more gradual. One of the habit shifts that I hope to make is to have more control over my surroundings. I’ve moved houses quite a few times over the past few years, and I thought I had whittled my possessions down to a bare minimum. But lately, I’ve noticed that my space seems to feel cluttered and chaotic. So one area in my life that I really want to work on is clearing out my living spaces and making better use of what I have. It’s definitely a work in progress, and I thought it would be helpful to document the process here.
I recently read Goodbye Things: On Minimalist Living, by Fumio Sasaki. The book chronicles the author’s journey to a more minimalist lifestyle. He eliminated most of his possessions, and now lives with just the barest of necessities. He reduced his wardrobe down to three shirts, four pairs of trousers and four pairs of socks. In the process of saying goodbye to his possessions, he gained clarity of mind, and control over his living environment.
Information: @ 小房子 | Address: No.17, Alley 36, Lane 122, Kaishan Road, West Central District, Tainan City 700, Taiwan| Phone: 06-221-5328| 台南市中西區開山路１２２巷３6弄１７號
As I mentioned last week, we made whirlwind trip to Tainan towards the end of September. Don’t be fooled by the flurry of activities, it was actually a very relaxing mini-break. When we were wandering in the shopping area across from the Confucius temple, we discovered a tiny tea house tucked into one of the alleyways.
I just realized that I haven’t left the country, or even the city, in over a year. To make up for that in a small way, I went on a day trip to Tainan with my aunt and brother. We took the high speed rail from Taipei around 10, and arrived in Tainan in two hours and 20 minutes. Then we took the free shuttle from the high speed rail station into the city. Despite the short amount of time that we were there, it turned out to be the most relaxing day, ever. Probably because all we did was meander down the cozy alleyways and eat delicious food.
Our first stop right off the shuttle was for food. Right near the shuttle stop was a place for ba-wan (meatballs wrapped in a glutinous rice wrapper). These are the steamed version. Make sure to douse liberally with the sweet chili sauce!
Right next door is the Lily’s, which is one of the most well-known places to get fruit over shaved ice.
A lot of restaurants in Tainan offer outdoor seating- usually just tables set up near the sidewalks. My advice is to have someone in your party grab a table first. The menus are attached to clipboards and available at the front counter. Decide what you want, check the boxes next to the item, write down your table number and pay first at the counter.
Whenever September rolls around, I’m always reminded of the opening scenes of one of my favorite movies, “You’ve Got Mail,” when Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks stroll down the streets of New York City to the background music of Dreams, by the Cranberries. Bouquets of sharpened pencils, anyone? Yes, please!
1) Speaking of bouquets of sharpened pencils, one rainy afternoon, I took stock of all my writing utensils (pens, pencils, etc) and threw out all the worn out, dried out items. Now I have good idea of what I have (a lot) and what I need to buy (not a lot)