Thursday, May 30, 2019

9 months of maternity fashion

I always knew I wanted to have a baby, so for as long as I can remember, I have been thinking about what I would wear when I got pregnant. 

I never planned to buy a whole new wardrobe (and in fact, most maternity clothes are not my style), so I always knew I would just work with the clothing I had. Every loose shirt and shapeless dress I bought, I would think "I can wear this when I'm pregnant." 

Well, now that I am in my ninth month and birth is imminent, I am reflecting back on my pregnancy wardrobe with some interesting learnings:

1. I didn't actually look really pregnant until I was about 8 months pregnant. 

Therefore, although my pants and most of my woven blouses ceased to fit me past 5 months, I was until not in full-blown maternity territory until almost the very end.

2. I didn't need a lot of clothes due to my new career. 

I found out I was pregnant 10 days after quitting my full-time job. Being a consultant means that I work mostly from home, and being a pregnant consultant means that I mostly wear oversized T-shirts and sweatpants all day. As such, I really only needed a handful of outfits for client meetings. In fact, I survived on basically five professional outfits throughout my entire pregnancy, and only the bottoms (leggings and pants) were from a maternity store. The rest were just really loose or stretchy dresses and tops. 

3. Some things change, some stay the same. 

I was amazed at how quickly pregnancy changed some aspects of my body, and how it basically left others the same. For example, at only 2 months pregnant I could no longer wear regular bras. Since that time, I can only wear sports bras and maternity bras. 

Also, my hips widened considerably, which meant I sized out of my bottoms and skirts very quickly. 

On the other hand, my face, arms, legs, and feet stayed exactly the same. I was afraid my shoe size would increase like some women, but that didn't happen to me. 

Overall, here are the stats:

Maternity Purchases:
4 bras from Motherhood Maternity
1 pair of pants from Motherhood Maternity
1 pair of leggings from Motherhood Maternity
1 winter coat from H&M

Regular Clothes purchased while pregnant:
2 dresses from H&M (in Portugal)
1 dress from Uniqlo (in Taiwan)

The Evolution of a body and outfits:

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Library of Pingxi, Taiwan

My family took a day trip to the popular tourist destination of  Jiufen on day and decided to make the most of the long train ride by continuing to a small town in the mountains called Pingxi. Unfortunately, it was desolate compared to Jiufen and Shifen. Most shops and restaurants were closed, and we finished walking through the town in five minutes. 
My in-laws were disappointed, but I was overjoyed at the discovery of a cool-looking public library. 

Although the building was quite large, the library only took up the third floor. So once you exit the elevator, you come across this welcoming scene of small paper lanterns - the town's hallmark. 

I was impressed with the one-floor one-room library's spacious layout and abundant seating. 

Some study tables looked out over the town like seats at a cafe. Notice again the lights n the shape of lanterns. 

I found an amazing book on all thing Louis Vuitton there. I was surprised that such a book would be in the library of a small town like Pingxi.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Cafes of Taipei

Last time I was in Taipei, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of cafes present on every street corner, I didn't even attempt to make a cafe list. 

This time, traveling while six months pregnant, but having regained my taste in coffee, I was determined to try as many cafes as possible. 

Unfortunately, for a city as large as Taipei, with as many cafes as there are, and with the two full weeks I got to spend there, I really didn't go to many cafes...only eight. I blame this on the weather, which was incredibly hot and humid with an occasional burst of a storm, and on being six months pregnant, which left me slow and sluggish. Also, on the fact that I spent all day every day with my family, so I couldn't well drag them all over town on a cafe safari. 

I'm still pleased with the cafes I got to visit, which gave me a good sampling of what the city has to offer. In order of favorite:

Mountain Kids
Mountain Kids boasts amazing drinks, donuts, and probably the best view of Beimen in the city. The cafe definitely feels inspired by the likes of %Arabica and other Japanese cafes. I I really enjoyed reading and writing here with a great view. 

Boven is a magazine library, were for a yearly fee it's members can work from its comfortable space as many times as they want and read selections from its impressively huge magazine library. Most of the magazines are Japanese or European. One floor above is the cafe, where the public can enjoy a small selection of the magazines it had to offer...and some damn good coffee. 

The Jen Library
A gorgeous cafe and library located  in a pristine office building. One of their special tea features a dried lemon soaked in salt, which was absolutely amazing. The cakes and pastries are also good, but expensive. This is a great place for working and also socializing.

Notch Café
Notch Cafe is clearly the hang out spot for college students to come, order one drink, and spend hours studying. Three levels with eclectic seating arrangements and they are almost always full every hour of the day. I really enjoyed this vibe, which reminded me of Too Fast Too Sleep in Bangkok.

Café Costumice
Costumice is a place people come to take instagram photos, and indeed I probably saw three photoshoots within the hour I was sitting there. A very hip Melrose-esque cafe with vinegar soda served in a wine glass and good lattes.

Green Steps
Green Steps is a quint little cafe in a Secret-Garden space in Dongmen. Their Puer latte is unique to the cafe and worth a try. Loved the vibe. 

Best Coffee
Best Coffee is a tiny cafe in a house located near where I live in Xindian. It's really a place to come if you are a coffee enthusiast as they have beans from all over the world. 

Louisa is a coffee chain native to Taipei. I was pleased with my latte but the atmosphere did feel a bit small and generic. This is more of a grab-and-go place. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

What did I buy in Taipei?

The purchases from my 2018 trip could not be more different that my 2012 trip. My tastes have changed a lot since I aged and my needs are quite different. 

This time I didn't bring back any food (my strict pregnancy diet doesn't let me indulge in most sweets). I also didn't go to any night markets and most of my shopping was actually Japanese brands. 

Here's a look at what I brought back with me this time:

Used Fudge Magazines (Japanese) from Molly Used Books in Gongguan. 
Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover Diary for 2019 from Eslite Bookstore
Uniqlo onesie for a newborn baby
Tote bag from the Taipei MOCA
Monocle Magazine (British) from Molly Used Books and Kingtown Books 

Uniqlo (Japanese brand)  Maternity dress (for my third trimester of pregnancy)
Two skirts from Niko And... (Japanese brand) for after I give birth

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Goth in the third trimester

I was just at 9 months pregnant when I made what might be the last goth outing of my pregnancy. 

My shirt came from a band whose concert in Seattle I saw back when I was only 4 months pregnant. I can't believe I thought I had a bump back then...

Since then, of course, I've grown steadily larger. and now the only thing that continues to fit is this dress from American Apparel, which I've worn in every trimester now (1st, and 2nd). 

Shirt: Tinariwen
Dress: American Apparel

Friday, May 10, 2019

McDonalds Taiwan Black Sesame McFlurry

I was not planning to go to McDonald's in Taipei. My interest in trying the local offerings faded years ago and was replaced with an intense interest in the real food to be found on the streets. 
However, when my family passed by a McDonald's while running an errand, my mother-in-law wanted to try the black-sesame ice cream. 

This yea in Taiwan, the seasonal flavor was...America. The sandwiches looked completely decadent and were not worth the calories, but did enjoy the black sesame ice cream.

There were two ways to order it, in a McFlurry or in soft serve ice cream. I told her to get the McFlurry because it would be more delicious. 

I was surprised by how tiny the McFlurry was! Maybe 1/4 of the size of one in the US. And they served it to us with a spoon, not like a drink with a straw in America. 

I thought this McFlurry was delicious, but my mother in law was disappointed that it was vanilla ice cream with black sesame syrup. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Letters from Taipei

I prefer Taipei in the rain, even typhoon rain. Even rain that shakes your windows at night and floods your dreams. Taipei in the sun is unrecognizable to me. I can’t look up. I can’t be outside. Everything shines so brightly I’m appalled by it.. Like too many diamond rings on one hand. The heat Is bad enough but it is the sun that is positively oppressive.
Today I began reading The Magus on an old wooden stool sitting in front of a fan in the corner of my bedroom. It is not how I envisioned reading here. I’m not sure why I imagined a quiet house, lying son a comfortable couch, the sound of rain outside. Instead the furniture is miserably hard, the house is oppressively hot and humid, and the TV is always blaring Chinese news. I retreat to the wooden  bench in the corner of the room where I can position the fan right in front of my face and the sound of the Tv is blown away, and my legs are so long I can’t even fit under the table to have a proper reading desk. My position is most uncomfortable. Yet somehow, it feels the perfect place to begin The Magus, uncomfortable as Fowler was in his hot Greek island.
And even as I write this I’ve retreated to a cafe, an unexpected diversion from Taipei station since there was nowhere to sit and the mall depressed me. Jonason needed time to read his books too. We both just wanted to be inside ourselves for a while.  The cafe is no place and every place. Mostly students on laptops with headphones, like every cafe in the world. Only this one has the beloved AC, the sound of clanking china, inaudible music, Chinese conversations, mismatched wallpaper and an old TV.

- Excerpt from my diary, September 17, 2018

Thursday, May 2, 2019

What I Ate in Taiwan

Taiwan is a food-lover’s dream and every time I go I have a huge list that I never get all the way through. Most of the food I ate on this trip I had eaten before on past trips, so this was all about satisfying cravings. My favorites meals are Salty soymilk soup with friend dough for breakfast (which deserves it’s own post), the ubiquitous stinky tofu that perfumes the streets, and meat-rice for dinner, all of which I ate several times. Here is the Eats List from this trip.

1. Food I wished I had but didn't: Dim sum, it’s always great in Taiwan
2. Food I had but wished I didn't: Pork chop rice, after Meesum in Seattle, the original in Taiwan isn’t as good
3. What should have been on the list: hot pot!
4. Biggest surprise: shaved ice! Finally had it in Taiwan and it was decadent
5. Most delicious meal: it's not a meal, but the Black Sugar boba from Chen San Ding is the best ever


Milk Tea
The boba versions (Chen San Ding second from the left)

The high-end cafe version

The convenience store version

Shaved ice
Taiwanese style from Smoothie House in Dongmen

Japanese style from Mugetsudo

Japanese style from Mugetsudo

Taiwanese Food

Din Tai Fung

Beef noodle soup

Stinky Tofu

Street Food

Hot Pot!

Regional Foods 
Tainan Style (top) and Pork rice (bottom)

pork chop rice (top) and oyster pancake (bottom)

Seafood medley - oysters, shrimp, fish


Soymilk Soup

Jian Bing

Taro Cake

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