Friday, December 17, 2010

Off We Go!

We leave for 2 weeks vacation in the US tomorrow morning and are super excited!  I even caught a cold for the occassion ;-)  We feel incredibly fortunate to get the opportunity to be with both our families again this holiday season and hope to take advantage of every moment we are home.

As we take off, here are a few images from our week in China:

We had SNOW -- all day Tuesday it swirled around outside my window looking so beautiful and there was enough that it stuck for over a day ... so pretty!

We saw this man writing/painting (?) ancient Chinese characters in water on the walkway of a park.  Sort of reminded me of kids with chalk.

This type of cart is something we see quite a bit of and it always makes my heart hurt ... often the cart is being pulled past a parked Ferrari and the contrast makes me shake my head in disbelief. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

What's on the horizon

We've had a few questions lately from friends/family about whether we're staying in Shanghai and/or what's next for us ... the uncomplicated (but perhaps scary to some) answer is:  we don't know.  We're more than O.K. with this answer because we know that God knows and that's enough for us (for now). :)
What we do (sort of) know:
- We are quite confident this is our last year as dorm parents - unlike real parents of teenagers we're actually able to quit after just two years.
- There is a very, very slim chance we'll be staying in Shanghai after this school year - the perfect job at our school would need to become available and right now it doesn't look very likely.  Don't get me wrong, we really like Shanghai and really, really like our school ... we're just getting itchy feet and we're ready to be somewhere with more outdoor recreation (NATURE!) and somewhere with less than 15 million people all living in one place.
- What we're dreaming about ... we'd absolutely love to do a caretaking job again next year, but we're also applying through QSI (a non-profit international school organization with schools in nearly 30 countries) and for other random things that come up.  A few weeks ago we applied to a school in the Marshall Islands and had very positive feedback, but after looking at the various options we decided it wasn't for us right now ... so, the adventure hunting continues.
This week, a caretaking job at Hearst's Wytoon Estate in NorCal came up.  After seeing the below pictures, we're definitely doing a lot of day dreaming!

Images from here
For the immediate future, we're super excited that we'll get to travel back to the US again for Christmas this year!  We leave in one week and are really looking forward to seeing family.  We feel incredible fortunate and blessed to be able to do this! 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

You might be ... in a developing country when ...

.... an entire building is devoted to this.

(p.s. - I know it's a bit gross, but it made me laugh and so I share)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving ..... chicken?

Although I hadn't had any intention of doing a Thanksgiving feast this year due to our unusual living/working arrangment, for some reason last week it just popped into my mind that I should do it ... and off we went, hunting down needed items from the various foreign markets in Shanghai.

Turkeys are imported here and are incredibly expensive ($60 for a small one), so we decided on the cheaper chicken for $7.  That's when I realized, chickens come WHOLE here -- meaning the head is still attached!!  At first, it grossed me out, but then I got on board remembering this is where we live, why not?

Ironically, the best looking chicken we found was at a market that sold them headless ... that's when I remembered that I'd never cooked a whole chicken before ... after searching a bit, I found this recipe that I mostly followed and it turned out really, really delicious!

A pre- and post- picture ... (looking really glamorous, ha ha)

One thing that made our day extra special was that my friend Natalie and her son George were able to join us.  George is a China-born, British boy who celebrated his first American Thanksgiving before turning one! 

PS -- we are so thankful for the many, many blessings that God has bestowed on us, adding them all up, it overwhelms me that we have been given SO much!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kids & Couches

I realize I've been a bit absent from the blog lately ... Jason started coaching the varsity boys basketball team at the same time that I started my Chinese lessons and between the two, we've had very little time for exploring or doing much lately.  In the meantime though, I've been trying to really see the things around me and if possible, capture them with my camera.
There is an "old" section of town just a few blocks from where we live and it always astounds us how we can be on a modern, busy street one moment and the next moment be somewhere that seems almost lost to time.  As we journeyed through this alley yesterday I saw these kids gleefully enjoying these worn out couch/chairs and I couldn't help by share.
I love so many things about this picture ... the kids and how happy they seem to be playing on the dirty street, the fact that the clothes line is barbed wire, the trash cart and random boots scattered everywhere. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fall Street Treats

Although we do not get too many beautiful Fall colors here or even a really noticeable period of warm days and crisp evenings, I know that the season has indeed changed by the snacks available throughout the city.  On our way to church yesterday, we encountered this cart of tasty looking items (which I am now wishing I'd bought a few of).  One of the things I love about Shanghai is the fact that there are so many fun and interesting kinds of food available everywhere. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What's cooking?

For the past two weeks I have been in a bit of a baking frenzy.  I think I'm making up for lost time since the first 6 - 7 weeks we were back in China, I had an intestinal infection that would not go away.  With my body on the mend, I'm craving all of the things I had no appetite for ... all at once. 

These are an easy way to cure a cinnamon roll craving with about half the work.

Next, I moved on to some vanilla cupcakes ... these are actually more lemon than vanilla due to the lemon zest in them, but pretty tasty nonetheless. 

And, this week these chocolate lava muffins were pretty delicious even if they were a little light on the "lava" side of things.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Joining a 'Kommune'

On Thursday we had perhaps what will be our last nice day for the season and decided to take advantage of it by heading down to my favorite Taikang Lu for a patio brunch at Kommune.  I never get tired of wandering the beautiful alleyways of Taikang Lu and the bowls of coffee they serve up at Kommune are incredible!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back to Class

I had my first of 20 Chinese lessons today.  Ironically enough, the school I am attending is called 'Miracle Mandarin.'  I am wondering if the name implies that it's a miracle if you learn Mandarin??

I decided that after living here over a year, I should at least try to learn a bit of the language and so spent two hours this morning being drilled on sounds and the dreaded tones. Ugh! Those are really, really hard for me to pick up ... but since depending on the tone, a word can have four different meanings, I guess they might be sort of important :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Big One!

Seeing Mt. Everst (or Mt. Qomolangma) was such an incredible thing - I still can't really believe that we were actually there. It's nice to have pictures to prove it, if to no one else but myself.
Our first view was from the bus - we saw this big white peak emerge from the horizon and looked at each other, asking simultaneously "do you think that is IT?"  Within a few seconds, our guide had confirmed.  We had just caught a glimpse of the tallest mountain in the world! 

Getting to Everest Base Camp was a very long, windy, bumpy dirt road ... it took 4 hours to go the final 60 miles...

Seeing it this close was well worth the drive!

In our tent village.

We watched a magnificent sunset (while I froze my behind off - it was cold up there!).

Cozy in our tent for the evening -- it was dormitory style, so we had 5 roomies and also our Tibetan host who went around tucking each of us into our little bed for the night.  That's an image I will not forget for a while: Jason being tucked into bed by a Tibetan man :)

After sunrise the next morning. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Faces of Tibet

Second to the stunning landscape of Tibet, my interest was completely engrossed in the people and how they lived their lives.  Unfortunately, our tour didn't exactly cover this aspect, but what I observed was a people group as beautiful as the the land they live in.  People who live simply, without ammenities and who work very hard.  It was harvest season and we saw endless fields of barley being harvested by hand as we flashed past in our bus.  Yak dung seemed to cover every surface, drying for winter use.

We saw women everywhere doing laundry by hand outside, in buckets like this or in the streams and rivers.  You can see Yak dung patties pasted on the wall to the left/behind them.  On the right is an inventive way to heat water ... using the sun!  We saw these solar tea kettles all over the place!

This small dwelling appeared to be someone's house :( 

A woman sitting outside one of the military check points, selling Yak cheese...