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.

Delaney Cate had a farm, e-i-e-i-o...

D is taking an art class every week here and she wanted me to share her first masterpiece.

The class is pretty neat - they are all projects and they spend several weeks on each item. She had to plan what animals, the colors, etc she would have in her farm, and then they did in steps - as the animals were made with clay, had to harden, then paint, etc . She really enjoys it...her teacher really recommended we put her in something art related as she seems to have quite an eye and knack for it in school. It lasts for 10 weeks, and at that point we will be going home for a few weeks, but I will likely sign her up again. The other bonus is we can walk or scooter to class - always a good thing!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"did you mean to type Warning, China"...asks Google..

In a couple weeks we are going to the Hawaii of China. Yes, for real - Hawaii of China. Not "a great beach location in China" but Hawaii. It seems to be a theme here, to find something remotely similar and name it the same here - I found that when we were looking at neighborhoods - there is Rancho Santa Fe, Beverly Hills, Palm get the idea.

So, we are heading for a long weekend to the beach to relax and work our on our tans. It takes time to figure out travel here as all the sites are different online and airlines are different, so finally I pieced it together. The city, though I dont think its much a city - is called Wanning. When you google that, it says - did you mean "warning, china"? I hope not! The resort looks great - kind of like what you might find in the real Hawaii. Its a new Le Meridien that just opened and has gotten good reviews. We will be sure to fill you in when we return!