Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Need Rice?

they have about 8 of these huge vats, with hundreds of pounds of rice in bulk. maybe thousands. no sour cream, but we do have rice !
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It takes a village....

of stores it seems, to get the groceries you need here! Despite having a store bigger than most super walmarts, plus several smaller ones nearby, I have still been unable to find any sour cream lately. poof, gone. I got smart this week and started haunting the online stores that deliver - they are painful here, some words only in chinese, slow, etc - but I found some online and it should appear today? So they say. We will see. I am afraid it will not be the case and their website was wrong. I did find my favorite Stacy's pita chips at one store...and had 3 bags sent over last night...and I got super excited, but came to reality fast - as one site shows Diet Coke from US, 24 pack for about 9 dollars! I knew it couldnt be possible, but ??? alas, it was not correct. Chinese Coke Light. blech. oh well.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

all I want for Christmas.....

Is this wine tasting machine! I found a wine store here that sells a few we like and they have this tasting machine. You prebuy a card, and slide it in the slot when you want a tasting and it deducts depending on the wine you purchase - you can choose small, med, large of any of the wines and on the backside they have all the rose/whites. Its such a great way to try different wineries, especially here as so many are from South america or europe. The one 4th from left, you can hardly see the name - they put in because we were coming in....its how I found this place as I was looking for this South african wine - The chocolate block...for years! I could never get it in the US, but found it here and have bought some. Anyhoo...they plugged it in for us this weekend. We had a great happy hour, as I threw together some cheese and bread, oil, salami fruit...yum!
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Are you ready for some football in China???

I know C is, for sure...they have been practicing 3x/week for 2 hours each all month ..and he is ready to play a game! the first one will be after the mid-autumn holiday, which starts next week. He got his position(s) yesterday and is glad to report he will end up as wide receiver and cornerback....this was good news, as in jump for joy news as he was so afraid he may just have to "be on the defense line"...we suggested he run faster and he might not need to worry about losing his spot! Not sure about baseball yet, they haven't started games either, just skills and practice till Oct. He isnt as concerned about where he will end up for that one.

The other thing the kids are doing, well, its not a sport but I think its going to be great - is....KUMON! yes, kumon the math program..I have heard about it from so many people at work, and I happened to notice there is one really close by, as in we could walk? so after returning this summer, signed them both up. So far, I think its good...they do a daily packet and go in once a week. They start them out pretty low end but Delaney is already starting to add things like 1000+10, 899+1, etc...and I can guarantee they aren't doing this in K! Last paper she brought home from school was practicing drawing lines from pt a to pt b. C isnt quite at 4th grade level in Kumon yet, because of where they start them out - but he is doing well with it and his speed has increased dramatically, while the complaints have decreased! It is now just part of the day. I would estimate by Christmas we will see some real payoff for him, and while they don't know this, I am committing to the year of Kumon for them both and maybe they will continue back in AZ!

That's all for now, work to be done, and packing, we leave friday for an island in the philippines for a week!
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Monday, August 31, 2009

living the 'hai life....

in big bidness class...
we flew back business class this summer, unforunately they didnt have the planes with the upgraded sleeping pods but I will tell you it was well worth it! tons of room, much better food, service, etc. we all slept and had a relatively good flight. They have since updated the flight from here to the new configuration - hoping we can upgrade next time we go! it makes such a difference!!!
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and another...

Of the Littlest her table in her classroom. So far, a week later, the smile remains!
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one more school pic...

from the first day....He looks to handsome not to post this!
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Monday, August 24, 2009


Big day here in Shanghai, finally the first day of school. Kids were both happy to go I think, and I was more than happy to take them. Should be a great year. Both were smiling and happy when we left them, and looks like teachers and classmates will be great this year. yah!
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kids Gallery

Delaney has really enjoyed classes at a local place called Kids Gallery. They have such great projects. During the school year she goes one day per week, and this summer she has done some half day camps. This is from the funky fashion class...pic a bit fuzzy, but what will work considering it was via my phone. she has some odd model pose going one? with her butt and stomach pushed out, ready for the catwalk?
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Funky Fashion handbag!

Could this be the next project runway winner????
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Secret Garden....

This was a project based on the book, the Secret Garden. Delaney did this last week at art camp. They read the story, and then had to plan their work for the week to complete in time. The have a fold open book that is decorated - kind of hard to see in the picture, but very cute and they made the dolls, and the wheelchair and the big golden key. She loves her art classes and they have the cutest ideas!
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Secret Garden Project...continued!

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

"Lose 5.5lbs in 36 Hours!" find out how....

ugh. I dont recommend the diet I was just on... I guess you would call it the food poisoning diet? I can't be for certain it was FP, but am pretty sure it was. Also not 100% what caused it, but again, pretty sure I know what it was. Surprisingly was at a western restaurant, western food, and prices and you would not expect to have something like that from there, but oh well. I basically had to write off the night of August 20 and all day the 21st as I did absolutely nothing. nothing. I couldnt do anything! kids had activities, Michelle got them all where they needed to be. I laid in bed, slept, and felt sick. nice, huh? one good note...last night, when I finally got up for a few minutes, I was able to watch the new Project Runway! yes, that's right! We got a new toy in the US this summer..called slingcather - allows us to tivo/dvr shows in AZ, and watch them right here on our tv. very exciting. I haven't watched much but kids have enjoyed having, and I can say that watching PR was such a treat, especially while feeling so sick!

I will be back with more, we had quick trip to Singapore this month and had a lot of fun, so will report out on that. Meanwhile, school begins Monday - hurray! and E is off on a hiking team bldg with work for an overnight, then leaves for the US later this week. My 70lb duffle bag is almost ready and waiting for him to pick up! cant wait to get goodies!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Oy Vey...

Connor has been at camp the past 3 days, held at a school nearby. They have a policy they began this summer, that all visitors to the campus have their foreheads scanned to check temperatures. I have no idea how they plan to do this when school begins, but will let them worry about that! Today, I went to pick him up on the scooter...finally no rain! It is quite hot but nice to be outside. He scanned my head - beep beep! oh! bu hao! no good! ???I am thinking? I do not have a fever, is he wacked?? I say - wo de erzi zheli, wo yao qu ta- my son is here, I need to get him. mei you da wencha( i dont have big temperature) they all squack in chinese back and forth - no, I have to wait a minute, come into the little guard station where there is a/c. I can't go in, my temp is too high. So I stand there, feeling like I have a scarlet letter on my chest as other people go by, stare at me, they check their temps, no problem...I wait...finally, he checks again -oh, ok..its ok now. uh, duh? and if I really had a temp, standing in the guard station for 3 minutes is not going to bring it back to normal! luckily, I was free to move about the campus. Only in China. Will be curious to see if they have this at our school in a couple of weeks, what a pain!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Phil Mickelson in Shanghai?

or is that just E, living the dream! Will we ever be able to live a normal life again??? I just don't know, often asking myself that question. I think we can, but days like this make it seem unlikely! It's raining here...and has been all week. pretty unusual weather for this time of year as June is really the rainy month, and it really didnt rain then, so maybe its making up for lost time? E is playing golf...its good for strep throat, I guess? He sent over a picture to show how terrible its going...nothing like having someone hold the umbrella for you so you can putt on into the hole....
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Saturday, August 1, 2009

wo de laoshi de mandarin....(my mandarin teacher)....

had to drop me as her student. No, not because I was so awful, but because she has a fulltime job in a school teaching and doesnt have time. bummer. she wasn't what you would call a ball of fire, but I liked her, and we had a good routine. So. I tried out Vicky last week. I really did go into it with an open mind, thinking am sure she will be fine. I met her, we had our lesson. oy. vey. shi yi shi le...I tried. She spoke very good english, and I am sure her mandarin was beyong reproach. The only problem was, I couldn't understand her chinese. at. all. She spoke in a very sing songy, run together soft voice and I think I caught maybe one word per sentence. Not to mention the things she was saying for me to respond to were kind of weird - we said our names, introduced ourselves, then she proceeded to say she has a father and a mother? um, ok, don't we all? at least in some shape or form? Anyway. She left, finally...and later I was talking to E.

"so, I met the new mandarin teacher"...I said.
" how was it"...said e.
"well, it was not good, I couldnt understand anything she said in chinese, I dont think I am going to be able to have her as a teacher. Why do you think she was so hard to understand?", I complained.
E looks at me..." maybe because you don't speak mandarin?"
Good grief. details, details! I should never have complained to him! nothing like bursting my bubble :(

Next week, I will try with Jennifer...and will keep you posted!

in case you were worried....

sleepless over the most awful picture of me...never fear, it seems to be on the mend. I did run to the dr to check it out, seems it is likely mosquito bite as there is no infection or sty....very odd, though. I stopped and bought mosquito nets for all the beds on the way home.

It is still swollen, though much better thanks to cold pack and benadryl. hopefully won't be repeating that event AGAIN!

omg number 2...

does this not look like I have been on a drunken bender, beaten up and have a black eye? This is crazy!!! any plastic surgeons want me for before and after pics? I promise I dont normally look like this!
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I woke up this morning with my left eye lid COMPLETELY swollen, probably 5 times normal? I can not imagine what happened? My first thought was moquito, as I have 2 bites from the night last night (GRRRR!) the first 2 bites since I have returned home. I will have to commence my mosquito hunting before bed again, I guess. Anyway, I woke around midnight to scratch a bite on my arm and my jawline, then 5 hours later woke to this frightful sight! good grief. not a good week in the household, I can confirm that. E has strep throat, the kids who have said they have had sore throats this week are now also on amoxicillan, as ped said if you have a symptom, he treats the house and the rapid test is not always right. And myself, (who thought today was going to be good) have had a stomach flu the last 2 days (chinese cucaracha's?). Boy can it get any better???? Off to put a cold pack on my eye to try and bring the swelling down. sigh. Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Waffle Iron, Waffle Iron...where art thou waffle iron?

Well, it doesnt take long for TCF to kick in. The kids have been on a waffle kick, and normally, I admit, I buy frozen ones. They do have eggo waffles at a few places here, not cheap but they do exist. I decided to buy a waffle iron here when we got back. easy, right? I have seen them at various places before, no problem. Except. I can't find one anymore!!! Drives me absolutely insane. I have been to 3 places that I was expecting to have them...and no. nothing. I have a couple more places to check next week, but please, how hard can this be? I am sure all waffle irons are MADE IN why oh why can't I buy one here????

Monday, July 27, 2009

another tasty find????

Check this out? Walnut Peanut MILK? EEK! just really sounds odd. These are individual UHT milk boxes. They only had it by the case, so I didnt buy but I will keep an eye out for just one to try...sounds nasty? but ??? who knows?
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shopping trip to carrefour....those are small lobsters in the buckets

Too bad they are likely from the east china sea and they may not be too tasty!
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women hui jia le....

we have returned home.....
It's funny as I often don't know how to refer to being here - is it home? is it going over there? where are we going, anyway? but yes, it feels as much like home as anywhere, probably because our things are here and of course, Wrigley.
The trip itself was long....but uneventful, though we were quite close to missing our connecting flight in San Francisco due to a weather delay. I was literally sick to my stomach thinking of the effort to get our bags - all 6 plus carry ons, about 500lbs worth, by myself, getting what we needed for an overnight, checking it all into storage, getting a hotel and of course conducting a site seeing tour for the kids...when all I wanted to do was go into " way too long airplane ride mode" and just get home! Luckily, we made it with about 15 min to spare before take off. We treated ourselves to business class on the way home, we usually are too cheap to do so, but used some upgrades and it was well worth it! Everyone rested better, tons more room, better food and United actually had some service for us!

We are all still a bit goofy on sleep, but should straighten out in a few days. Getting into our routine here, with Tennis and basketball camp for Connor, art for Delaney, and a few other things mixed in. Everyone seems glad to be here, playdates started the minute we arrived home for C, and D was not far behind.

We arrived in time to celebrate e's birthday on Sunday....neighbors had us over for a bbq, he went for a massage and we all just laid low, unpacking and putting away. Will be back soon, once I get my china mind have to rethink things again that you had figured out it seems the minute you leave here, you just free your mind of all things chinese. hope I get it all back soon! later -

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

3, 2, 1......blastoff!

Countdown of our final days here has begun. Has been extremely busy - appts that bred other appts, way too much work, just literally running from day to day. Most of our things are packed (um, stuffed) with everything one could imagine you might need for a year in the netherlands of China. (ok, shanghai is not exactly a new frontier, but they don't have Luna bars!!!).

I think we are all ready to go, or we could have been ok staying, but I dont think it would make much difference to be here another week or so, and we really have no more room for things in our bags, so the shopping would have to stop. We will all be so glad to see the big pigman - we miss our man so much! I have spoken to him a few times since E returned, and he knows its me, with his tail wagging. I will also be glad to go before my clothes no longer fit, as my daily ice cream needs to come to an end! The fasting will start on Sunday, without a doubt.

We managed to work an upgrade for the trip home, we normally hoard those but in this case, I felt it was necessary to use it....about 13 hours from San fran, tired mom, tired kids, coach seats ....ugh. priceless. At least we will have something to entertain ourselves with - the fun seats, the tv's, the bag of goodies, lots of food, and some wine to boot. will take some pictures of the kids in their royal thrones, as they are most excited to be flying in the upper deck on the way home...and I hope the enthusiasm lasts the whole way there!
See you next week from the Big City!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

gone but not for good....

I failed to update with a "gone for summer break" posting! well, we are gone for summer break!
not all of summer, but we are in back in the valley of the sun for 6 wks....enjoying the 110 degree temps, mexican food, lifetime fitness, nordstroms and target. Yes indeed, we are making up for lost time at many places!

The blog will be up and running again, with plenty of china worry. until then, I am enjoying driving, folding my own laundry,doing dishes, taking the kids everywhere, going into the office for work, grocery shopping, cooking....hmmm did I say ENJOYING??? I will be heading back to the big city in about 3 weeks to rest and recover from all this hard labor!

I will leave you with one chinese thing that is hovering the back of my mind...and that is the process to get back to the country with the flu virus rampant. I can only cross my fingers and say a prayer - as they are so strict...they take temperatures of all on the plane an hour or so before landing, then again upon landing and if someone within 10 rows of you has a fever, then you can just say goodbye. You are wisked away to a luxury suite in the middle of nowhere, where they only speak chinese, come in to check your temps hourly in their "space suits", feed you rice and some soggy vegetables. ugh. They will keep you till they determine if the one with the fever has the flu - if so - you remain in quarantine for 7 days and if no symptoms from you, you are free to go. If they find the person does not have the flu, they will release you but the whole process can take up to 2 days. Let's hope for no fevers around our seats, 7 days with 2 kids in a chinese motel 6...not good.

On that note, off to get some work done, and a quick trip to our onsite health clinic to replenish my RX drug stash!! Happy July!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Other resourceful things I have been up to...

I label this resourceful as I do think you tend to be more resourceful here than at home...if you want certain things, you can't just go to Target and be done. You definitely have to keep your eyes open and look for options, and I am finding in many cases, they are there!

I have a new friend here, ni de pengyou. (my friend) Its a guy that on Saturdays, sets up his "shop" on the sidewalk about 2 blocks away from our house. there are always people selling things - toys, umbrellas, jewelry, movies, purses, junk, and more junk..but this guy...he is my friend. He sells MAGAZINES! yes, you read that right. I don't quite know where they come from? I don't ask...I just buy. you never know what he may have and sometimes there isnt much, but typically I can find something. Last week was a good haul: Vogue, Allure, Travel and Leisure and Redbook. I can get them for about $3usd, they are new, current issues and all wrapped in plastic. Honestly, they must come from some of the local stores that sell foreign magazines, but maybe they are stolen? or the stores figure they won't be able to sell them as they charge between $8 and $15 usd per magazine? I dont really care, I just am glad I can pick up a few to have for the week, as I take them to whatever kids activity to have something to flip through, or when I am in the car for longer than 20 min or so...something to do. Anyway, he is a nice guy, doesnt speak much english at all, but he loves to tell me his is my friend and he give me best friend price, only for me. of course.

Step away from the Kindle....

For Mother's day, I got a Kindle. If you don't know what a Kindle can check it out here...I could take a picture and post, but then I know I would never get this updated!

I had resisted this purchase, analyzing it last year before we moved overseas. I just couldn't get my head around not holding a real book..but a little computerized like screen. Practicality won out though, as here it is really hard to find books....there are a few stores with english books but they are normally really weak on selection and really expensive. Example might be a Danielle Steel book from 2 years ago for about $35USD! No, I dont think so!

So, I gave in. You can't use it quite as intended - it has a wireless option you can use in the states that you can even shop for books via your kindle, linked direct to Amazon, and do instant downloads. That doesnt work overseas, but it is quite easy to look on, order, download to your laptop and then use the usb to transfer - it takes less than a minute so quite fast. So the good news is, I have read 4 books in the last 2 wks...the bad news is I now love to browse amazon so I can see what other books I need to buy! They run about $9.99 each, which isnt SUPER $, but I would feel better if it was say....$6.99 each? something about it being $10 makes me I get this or not? Psychological, I guess. ARE YOU READING THIS AMAZON? 6.99??? good price point! Anyway, I highly recommend it if you think you will be unable to acccess books for some reason, or if you have a lot of travel - how nice to download a few books and take this on the place vs lugging a bunch of heavy books!

Oh..and do I like it better than a real book? not sure. I kind of miss holding the book, its still a little strange, but for my purposes, I think it was a good purchase!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

All dressed up and nowhere to go...

these costumes were quite popular in yangshuo...we thought they looked Russian but no, I guess not. Connor was a sport, as always....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Last weekend we flew to southern china to a town called Yangshuo. They are known for their beautiful rivers and karst mountains. It was really very pretty - and the weather was great the whole time. We stayed at a mountain retreat right on the river, and it was very relaxing. It is still China - bathrooms were sketchy - our hotel and one other place we went had toilets - rest were squats - ugh. Other than that though was good! We did some hiking up a mountain called moon hill, went through the dragon caves, had 2 foot massages (the second was requested by the kids!!), did 2 boat rides down the river, saw the banyan tree - this HUGE tree that is hundreds of years old and went to a cooking school where we made our own chinese dinner that was super fun. They took us first to the market, where we didnt buy our things but they did earlier in the day...honestly it almost made you lose your appetite, but I went with the fact the school caters to westerners, the owner is australian, and I dont think they would be successful and in business if they were serving bad food! There were some nasty things in the market though! We also got a lot of attention - the kids especially - people stopping to take pics, watch us, etc.

We left Friday am, at least Delaney and I did, with another family. E and C flew out later as C had a field trip to the shanghai financial center, a ferry and to bargain at yu yuan gardens as part of his economics assignment he was doing at school. Logistically all went well, though we have now tested our international health insurance - SOS 2 times in the past week. Not sure how they respond in a true emergency, hopefully quicker than the 2 times we have called! C had been complaining of a stomach ache for a couple days but then seemed better, till Friday when it was hurting worse than ever. Sat he started out with a lot of pain but still wanting to go and do everything with his friends. He climbed the moon hill - about 2000 steps with a terrible stomach ache which is the point I decided to call SOS to figure out - if we had to see a dr, where would we go???

Worst case scenario was appendicitis, best case, well, that he just needed to go to the bathroom! while climbing the mountain I was able to call SOS from my cell - for a very low rate and had totally clear reception. Was able to talk to the dr who said - well yes it could be appendicitis but also could not be too. I think I see a future career opp for me - I could have fielded that call perfectly! They then said they would contact someone in beijing or hong kong and get further direction on where to go if we needed 6 hours...yes 6! hours...they called me from Hong Kong to tell me they really didnt recommend any of the hospitals in the area...but if I had to is a choice. Definitely didnt leave me feeling too good about things but by that time C was feeling a bit better and we just kept an eye on him. He continued to have some intermittent pain but mostly felt ok by the time we came home. Well, till today when he woke in the night to severe upset stomach. So, not sure what he had, but I do think he will be better soon. Just one think to keep in our minds around here - I dont stress too much about it in Shanghai but medical treatments and good facilities are not the norm is a really lagging industry and has not caught up with the population nor today's level of skill you would find in US.

Here are a few pics for your enjoyment! The view from the retreat:

View from lake to retreat:

I will have to post the rest of the pictures separately as I am getting some strange error messages...Stay tuned and will add them as I am able!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sunday Strawberry Picking....

Sunday we went out to a strawberry farm and got the most beautiful berries you have ever seen. YuWei had brought a box to Delaney for her birthday and we wanted to go back for more. He said you could pick your own, so we went with some friends and got a bunch! Next week I plan to give Yu Wei the money and let him just go pick them up for us!!
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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lulu's Spring Walk

Last week the preschoolers went on a walk to look for signs of spring. We rode the buses to a small pocket amidst skyscrapers and apartments to a chinese park, with temples, ponds, wtih fish, ducks, swans, flowers, etc. It was so surprising to find it there, in the middle of town. We had a picnic lunch and of course there was a playground. They had a great time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wanning Warning!

Don't go if you think it will be hard to return to reality after a relaxing, sunny weekend at the beach. Especially if you plan to fly back to gloomy, polluted, fogged in Shanghai, which it was the day we returned! quite a let down, indeed.

This past weekend we took off a day and flew to Hainan Island, about 2 and a half hours from here, then drove about an hour and 15 min to the resort, in Wanning. It might be about the nicest hotel I have stayed at, with the exception of the Montage and I am not sure that counts since its so darn expensive! It was a new Le Meridien, just opened in Dec 08. Our room had a private pool, and it was a room big enough for 2 twin beds for the kids in addition to a king and the other furniture. They had great pools, and a beautiful beach. Now, don't forget, it is still China - the ocean - meh - I was not keen on - it was a bit choppy so looked not as good close up and I of course had in my head that is is the East China Sea!! It was also a bit chilly so we dipped a toe in but didnt actually swim. We did spend time on the beach, and of course in the pools. We rode bikes, hit the gym, the spa, the kids center and the disco, to boot! Connor lived out his dream of performing on stage with the band in the bar - he sang Bon jovi and just was so excited! Did I mention rest? Well yes, I think I had the best sleep that I have had in the almost year we have been here! I slept - get this...almost 11 hours every night! yes, that's true. Here at home I am getting much less than that -sometimes only 4 or 5 and its not a good sleep. I can't tell you how much better I feel.

Anyway, we are back to reality and in the midst of final plans for D's bday party this she turned 5 last sunday! what a great bday trip - I would be thrilled to do the same for my next bday! I'll post a couple pics I have readily avail and come back later with a few more! It's past my bedtime!..

well ok..I wont leave you with a picture as it won't upload tonight, but will try again tomorrow! G'night!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Note to Self.

When spending the day at the office in foreign country. Bring food. Lots of it.

I spent the day at our site about an hour and a half away yesterday - we held a women's conference and I was on the committee that did all the set up and execution. It went really well - over 300 people attended, which is quite a lot, probably had 70% of total female population here in Shanghai. A few came from Beijing and Chengdu, but that was not really encouraged due to cost efficiencies. Anyway, I was in charge of obtaining the speakers, ensuring the content was aligned to the theme, etc. Also ensuring everyone was where they needed to be at right time. All was good with the exception of lunch...oy. I had some rice. and picked a few carrots out of some mystery meat medley coated in oil. And that was it. I walked out of the house without my apple, cookies/almonds/ granola bar. Never again.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Flower Market...spring is here!

China has a market for most everything. You want copies of purses - you go to fake market, you want clothes made - fabric market. There are streets that sell all things related to music or art supplies. Well, there are also flower markets, which are fun to poke around in. The one I like best is pretty far away, so I don't go there much but the one close to the house works for the basics. As spring is surely here, I went a few weeks ago and got a few things to brighten up the front porch and I must say, I think it looks quite nice. I now have two neighbors that want me to pick out flowers and pots for their porches, too! Maybe my new side business for me after I bake all my bread????

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Quote of the week....

the other day C says to me, "mom, you would make the best ayi"...I wasn't sure whether to take that as a compliment? or ..? I think I will consider it a compliment!

Go Green....

Recently I bought some Soapnuts. "Soapnuts"you say - "what are those?". Don't feel bad, I hadn't heard of them either. They are, by definition:

Soapnuts are the fruit of a tree (Sapindus Mukorossi), found primarily in India, Indonesia, and Nepal, and they are an EXCELLENT alternative to traditional laundry detergents. How are soapnuts prepared for use in your wash? They are simply harvested, de-seeded, and then dried in the sun. And they WORK .

The outer shell of the soapnut contains saponin, a natural substance known for its ability to cleanse and wash. (That’s what makes them so GREAT for cleaning your laundry!) They are 100%, totally natural. They are organically grown and are free of harsh chemicals, so they are incredibly gentle on clothes AND skinRead more: Soap nuts: an amazing, 100% natural cleaning product.

I bought them as part of a group buy here - we bought over 100 kilograms as a group - and it was about 20 rmb per $3 and it will wash about 150 loads of clothes, no softener needed, no chemicals, etc.

Anyway, I bought them as our Tide with Downy we brought last summer is just about gone. sadly. The detergent here is not same - even if it says Tide - it is different - and is harder on your clothing than what we have at home. I thought it was worth a try - certainly cheap, and also good for the environment. You can make dishwashing soap, household cleaners, etc from these same nuts. I haven't done that but I started using them today to check them out. If you have a hot enough wash you just put some nuts in a sock and tie it off. If you have a cool wash you can make a "syrup" with boiling water and nuts and let them soak. So I did both today - and they are both working great. The clothes come out of the wash clean and soft.

Here is a website where I found a bunch of my information ...I dont know if I would do this at home or not, but I plan to keep using them here!

Look out Orowheat seven grain....

I tried a loaf of bread. I found so many recipes and finally just picked one and made it...have to say it turned out pretty well for my first attempt! kids thought it tasted like what we would have at home and immediately had salami sandwiches, E included. I will for sure make again - may or may not use same recipe - was certainly easy, but may try another one for comparison sake. I did get quite concerned as it wasn't rising very well the first rise - but it did finally puff up some, and for the second rise it did even better. I had bought new flour and had yeast that should have been ok, but I was quite nervous. It really didnt take too long, either.

Carrefour on a Saturday - ay-yi-yi....Just say NO!

we were having friends over Sat night for dinner and I needed a couple of items that required a run into Carrefour- its a French based grocery store chain that is wildly popular here. They have tons of Chinese products, meat, produce and then household items, too - kind of reminds me of a superwalmart but its all in Chinese? they do have a small imported section with a few items I can only buy there, so I go if necessary. The bad thing are the smells - blech - the downstairs where you walk in is all food courts and the smell just makes you gag- I guess this is good for weightloss -- as after you walk through you don't feel like buying much! Then the fact it is so SO crowded - 3 generations shop together - people everywhere. ugh. Anyway, I ran in, got my stuff and ran out. Yu Wei told me he didn't think it would be busy as its Tomb Sweeping weekend and that people should be sweeping the cemetaries instead of shopping - but unfortunately he was mistaken as they were all there. Maybe all that sweeping worked up an appetite and they all had to hit carrefour for groceries!

Speaking of our dinner...I had found out about a lady from Mexico that cooks authentic mexican food - you just pick it up and heat it up and you are good to go. We ordered a beef, pork and chicken tinga and enchiladas- they were cooked in different chiles, etc and all good - and rice, beans, homeade tortillas, salsa...was quite good and couldnt have been easier!!! We will for sure use her again.