Saturday, December 31, 2011

Working from home...

Nick was feeling a little under the weather the other day and decided to work from home. I snapped this picture of him...

I couldn't help but laugh to myself at his little setup. He has:
  • a computer hooked up to the tv playing music videos
  • a macbook pro
  • a macbook air
  • an ipad 
Too bad he can't work like this everyday. CoCo and I would definitely enjoy the company! 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Crafts...China Style!

I love Pinterest. BUT it can be dangerous here in China. I find so many things I want to try to make, but it is so difficult to find supplies, etc. Instead of getting my craft on, I  usually just try to look for recipes that I want to try, since I can find almost everything here I want to cook with. For Christmas though, I did get just a little crafty.

I wanted to make place-cards for our dinner with friends and found this cute idea. From looking at the picture I was a little daunted, I can't find scrapbook paper here, but I figured I could work something out with plain old green paper. Well, once I looked a little more into these place-cards I realized just how easy they were. All I did was print out the pattern from and then cut them out and fold them.

After I found the place-cards I did a little more searching and found a template for these cute napkin rings. Again, all I had to do was print and cut them out. I meant to get a picture of the table with all our food and cute placecards, etc. However, as soon as the food was done all thoughts of picture taking flew my mind and we dug in, so I snapped these after we were finished. I think they turned out pretty cute and made Christmas dinner feel a little more special than usual.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Beijing Christmas

A quick recap of our Christmas:

We had an awesome Christmas Eve breakfast with friends at Grandma's Kitchen in Wudaokou. 

Nick's chicken fried steak

At breakfast
For Christmas Eve dinner we tried our hardest to find some pina coladas but silly TGI Fridays decided to have a set menu that night, so we ended up at Papa John's with our friends the Gobles. It was delicious, but next year I'm going to have to have two pina coladas to make up for it.

We tried really hard to get a picture with CoCo in it, but he was too distracted by all the presents (which we had to keep locked up in the bedroom so he wouldn't open them all)
Christmas morning we woke up early to start cooking, open presents, and skype with our families. CoCo was pretty excited to get into his stocking! After a great church service we headed home to have Christmas dinner with our friends the Putnam's and Goble's. Silly me, I didn't get any pictures of dinner, or the group so you can check them out on my friend Hailey's blog. We had a great meal, played games and enjoyed all the Christmas goodies we had made, and had a Yankee swap. Since we couldn't be home with our families this year, we really appreciate our good friends here in Beijing!

Not quite tall enough!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a lot like...


No, we didn't just get these up. We decorated a few weeks ago, but then I got sick and it has taken me this long to take pictures and get them on the computer to be able to blog them.

My friend Brandi introduced me to the wholesale market here in Beijing. It is always crazy, but they had so much cheap Christmas stuff for sale. Way more than we were expecting to find. Most of it was pretty chintzy, but it is definitely better than nothing. You can't tell from the picture, but our Christmas tree is fiber-optic so it gets pretty crazy when all the lights are off. I figured this would be the only time in my life I will ever have a cheesy tree like that so I might as well go all out!

First Kicks

I'm pretty sure I just felt baby kick for the first time! (and second and third) It's kind of a crazy thought that there is a person in there. Now I just have to wait three weeks (Jan 12th) to find out if baby is a boy or girl!

Sidenote: It will be so nice to be able to say him or her instead of avoiding the word "it." I can't call my child "it." That just sounds so weird. Instead I have to say baby everytime we refer to him/her (----->see! it just of those instances when I have to avoid using the word it and substitute something else awkward in its place) Does this bother anyone else or am I just crazy?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Life Changing Discovery

So the title might be a bit dramatic, but Nick and I recently found the easiest recipe to make our own buffalo wings/sauce at home. All you need is equal parts melted butter and Franks Red Hot Sauce (and a little white vinegar if you choose). Both of which we can find pretty conveniently close to home, and not that outrageously priced.

Before we were buying McCormick buffalo wing spice packets and hauling them back to China with us, but this was so much better! We have already used the sauce to make buffalo chicken salad, burritos, and wings. Next I'm thinking a buffalo chicken pizza will be fabulous!

It's funny to me how excited I get about small things like this now, but sometimes cooking can be such an adventure here (between going to 5 different import stores and paying LARGE amounts of money for pretty basic things) that I give up and order McDonalds. It's nice to have a simple back up plan for nights when I want to eat in, but don't want to work too hard.

Before I sound super lazy, I should clarify that some nights I really enjoy cooking and don't mind the extra work to be able to eat some good enchiladas, but it's not something I can do every night. If I tried to cook how I would if we lived in America (with Walmart just  2 minutes away) we would be spending hundreds of dollars a week on food and I would spend all day running from store to store, so we've learned to improvise. We cook at home a few nights a week, always western food. Then we order out a few others. It's hard not to do when its so cold outside and pretty much any type of food we want will be delivered right to our door, usually in half an hour or less.

Now we will just have to see how long it takes us to get tired of buffalo wings...I have a feeling it's going to be a long time!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2 years!

Happy Anniversary Nickolas!

So Nick has officially put up with me for two years!  This past year has been a busy one. Here's just a few of the highlights:

  • Added CoCo to our family
  • Moved to Beijing from Dalian
  • Got to go home twice (although the flights over the ocean don't count as highlights!)
  • Found out we are having a baby
  • Took mini vacations to Taiwan and South Korea

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Beijing Thanksgiving

We didn't get to celebrate on Thursday since Nick and I both had to work, but we hosted a few people from our branch for dinner on Saturday night. It was definitely a lot more work than last year in Dalian where we had a delicious meal with the branch, but it was fun. We had to plan a lot more to figure out how to get everything cooked in our mini toaster oven, but in the end it worked out great. The ingredients for most things were pretty easy to find at all the import stores, so it was nice to not have to worry about that.

We cooked turkey (cut up because a whole bird would never have fit), dressing, corn pudding, sweet potato casserole, and apple pie. Everything turned out good, except for the pie crust. I'll have to keep working on that. Our guests brought fruit salad, an asparagus dish, pumpkin pie, and apple cranberry casserole and some Korean cakes.

We had a fun and very diverse group. We had a woman from Sweden, another from the Philippines, and a man from Korea in our group, along with 3 other Americans. It was fun to be able to share our holiday with them. By the time everyone left that night I was exhausted. I collapsed on the couch at 8:30 and was instantly asleep.

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the night. I was too busy running around trying to make sure everything got cooked, etc. Oh well!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Getaway to Seoul

Nick and I got to take a little trip to Seoul last week. He had a few meetings and I got to tag along for fun. It was nice to get out of Beijing for a few days! We got in Thursday night and by the time we got to our hotel we were starving. We stayed right downtown so we drove by so many good restaurants on our way to the hotel. We both decided we wanted On the Border. We don't get much mexican food in China unless I make it. It was so good we went back on our way to the airport Sunday afternoon!  After dinner we walked around the COEX, basically a big mall and looked at all the differences from China. The most obvious being the crowds...It is nowhere near as crazy as Beijing.

Friday morning Nick had meetings so I spent a few hours walking around downtown and shopping. I found a lot more yummy restaurants and a lot of skincare stores. Koreans are obsessed with face wash, etc. Nick got back around dinner time and we headed to TGIFridays, something else we never get in Beijing. It was great. Dessert was Krispy Kreme donuts and then I showed Nick where I had wandered all day.

Saturday morning we slept in then headed to the temple. After the temple we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace. They had a museum and the palace grounds that we explored for awhile. It was a pretty cold, cloudy day, but it was still nice to be outside in nice, clean air. Lunch was at Johnny Rockets and dinner was at Pho. Yes we spent almost 4 days in Korea and didn't manage to eat Korean food once. There were just so many good places we wanted to try. Dessert was a marathon. We started at Krispy Kreme, moved on to Baskin Robbins and finished with donut holes from Dunkin Donuts to bring back to the hotel while we watched a movie. I figured 3 desserts was ok for one night since we probably won't be back to Korea anytime soon.

Sunday we headed home. I was excited to get back to CoCo, and to see how our friends faired that were house/puppy sitting. We had a great trip and can't wait for the next one! (Phuket, Thailand in January!)

Dinner at On the Border

Krispy Kreme


Some cool folk art

At the palace there was a cool little town where they had recreated all these little shops and what they would have looked like in the 70s

Year of the Ox

Year of the Rat

Year of the Dragon

A pretty lake

In front of the palace

Changing of the Guard

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Homemade Hot Pot

Nick loves He spends quite a bit of time looking for random things, and I never know when we will have packages showing up at the house, because everything on there is so cheap. A few weeks ago after it started getting cold he bought this hot pot. I was super excited to be able to eat one of my favorite wintertime meals in front of the TV! Last night we used it for the first time. The local market next to us had all the meat and vegetables for so cheap. I think we spent about 45 RMB when in a restaurant what we ordered would be about 150RMB or more. I think this might become a tradition very quickly!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nick's birthday bash!

We had a bunch of friends over to celebrate Nick's birthday last weekend. His birthday was on Wednesday and since so many people live over on the other side of Beijing it was more practical to push the celebration to Saturday. We ordered pizza and salad from one of our favorite places, Gungho Pizza, and then made some chicken wings. It was quite a feast. Of course we had too much food, but I love leftover pizza for breakfast so it worked out great. I only took 2 pictures the entire night..So here they are:

Most of the food.

Eating around the TV while watching Cops and Colbert Report.
We had fun hanging out with friends, playing games, and eating delicious food. Thanks everyone for coming over to celebrate! (and play with/wear out CoCo...he slept in so late the next morning!)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Made in China!

We are having a baby! In China! The baby is due May 29, so far I have been feeling pretty good. We go to a western hospital so its really not too different from having a baby at home (I imagine, can't say for sure as I haven't had one). I have gotten all kinds of crazy advice from my Chinese friends so far, the latest of which is that I need to eat lots of walnuts so our baby has nice hair. They even gave me a whole bag of them to bring home.

Friday, November 11, 2011

If you have never eaten duck tongue...


This isn't my picture, but the duck tongue I had to eat today looked exactly like this only there were 
about 20 of them on the plate. BLEH!

I was tutoring (mostly playing with) the 2 year old son of a Chinese friend this morning. She wanted to take me out to lunch afterwards. She said the restaurant was close to my house and that she had been going for years. She asked me before hand if I liked fish and so I wasn't expecting anything too crazy.

Well we did have fish, but she also was super excited about the duck tongue. I had to try one of them to be polite. The flavor itself wasn't all that bad since it was so heavily spiced, but the texture was pretty awful. I had a hard time getting it down without making a face. You basically have to suck the "meat" off the cartilage in the center of the tongue. Not fun! The duck tongue hasn't been sitting too well, and all I wanted to do was come home and drink a diet coke to kill the duck tongue taste!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

FINA swimming world cup @ the Watercube

Some friends called us this morning with free tickets to this event at the watercube. It's Nick's birthday, but he has been so busy at work we didn't have any plans other than going out to dinner, so we decided to go. It ended up being a really fun night out with a couple of people from our branch. 

Happy Birthday Nick!
The group of kids sitting behind us. They would go wild every time someone from China won a gold medal.

We got there right as the events were starting, but we were starving so we had dinner in this restaurant overlooking the pool. 

Our view of the pool. Not great but we could at least see the tv screens really well! (Plus we can't complain when the tickets were free)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


On Saturday Nick and I went out to BeiHai here in Beijing with some friends from our branch. It was my first time there and I loved it. Nick remembered going there when he was in China before, but could never remember exactly what it was called or where it was so we were excited to rediscover it.

BeiHai Park is a beautiful Imperial Garden northwest of the Forbidden City. We rented a "boat" and went out for an hour on the lake to see everything. We got a few pictures, but since we went in the late afternoon the lighting wasn't great. Oh well. Just an excuse to go back during the day so I can see everything better. It was beautiful!

Nick was our driver and tour guide

You can kind of see the pretty view behind us.
We had a great time at BeiHai and finished the night at one of our favorite places for dinner. I don't think I could ever have too much Gungho Pizza!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


So part of the cool thing about living in China is people/process watching.

So i decided to record some of these things. Check it out if you'd like.

Untitled from NickinChina on Vimeo.

Chinese Halloween

Our Halloween plans were all very last minute this year. We found out about 4 days before that a group of people in our branch at church wanted to plan a carnival for the kids, so we volunteered to help out. We didn't think about costumes though until the morning of the carnival.... We spent a frantic two hours running around Yashow market trying to get inspired. 

We ended up buying Nick some cheap glasses and popping the lenses out and breaking a branch off a tree outside to make him Harry Potter. He even let me draw a scar on him with eyebrow pencil. He claims its the first time he's ever worn makeup! I couldn't find anything I really liked for a costume so Nick came up with the idea to be a mummy. We ran to the local pharmacy and bought LOTS of gauze. I think the woman was a little confused with why we wanted so much, but it was cheap and I wanted it to look good.

Here's some pictures from our day:

Nick running our booth at the branch carnival. The dart the kids were throwing was kind of sharp and they don't have the best aim so he was a little jumpy!

Mummy and Harry Potter

My friend William. Loved his costume.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I live in an icebox!

Beijing mostly just has 2 seasons. Summer and winter. We went from sweltering heat to cold pretty quickly without much of fall weather in between. I don't think I would mind this so much if we were in control of our own thermostat. Here in China the government has a set day when they turn the heat on and off. That day is November 15th. Still more than 2 weeks away. Until then our apartment just keeps getting colder and colder.

The other day I went outside and it was warmer than my house. Which isn't saying much since we've had highs of about 62 degrees. Our little apartment is in shade most of the day and so it cools off at night, but doesn't really warm up much during the day. I was trying to be tough and just bundle up, but we finally had to go out and buy a space heater to make it through for the next few weeks.

Once the heat is turned on our apartment will be nice and toasty warm. We'll be able to wear shorts and t-shirts at home instead of 5 layers of clothes plus a blanket. I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Food Poisoning

I went a whole year here in China without any problems...then this month something has gone horribly wrong. I have gotten food poisoning twice! The first time was more mild. I ate some bad curry while out to dinner with friends. I felt pretty bad for a night but was better the next day. Needless to say  I will never go to that restaurant again, which is sad because it was one of Nick's favorites.

The next occurence was only about 3 weeks later. I don't know what it was I ate this time that gave it to me, but I don't remember ever being that violently ill. I was pretty miserable for 2 whole days. CoCo took really good care of me though and tried to cuddle me better all day. (Nick also helped with trips to the store for vitamin water) I also lost 5 pounds in one day. So if anyone needs a super quick diet, come to China and eat something questionable!

Hopefully that's it for food poisoning for awhile (knock on wood). I don't know if I can handle anymore. I'm going to get super paranoid about what I eat if it happens again. At least it didn't happen while we had company, or to my mom...I don't think I could ever convince her to come back if it did.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mom in Beijing

Mom came to visit last week. It was a short trip, but we packed in a lot and had a great time! I sure was exhausted when she left...

Here's a quick look at what we did each day (Mom this is to help you remember when you show people pictures)

Thursday, Oct. 13th- pick up from airport. Eat dinner at Fatburger. We decided to ease her into Chinese food slowly!

Friday, Oct. 14th- Summer Palace, dumplings for lunch, trip to Carrefour so Mom could see where I shop (and also help carry all the heavy stuff, since I have to walk for all my shopping), dinner at our BBQ restaurant.

Saturday, Oct. 15th- local wet markets for grocery shopping, Laitai flower market, lunch at Kro's nest (pizza) and then a trip to the hutongs. Dinner at home because we were so tired.

Sunday, Oct. 16th- Day of rest! We went to church then had a relaxing afternoon at home. We took CoCo on a long walk, played some games, and cooked in.

Monday, Oct 17th- Great Wall hike, lunch at Subway (looking back we really didn't eat too much Chinese food), and hot pot for dinner. We tried out the hot pot thats a 2 minute walk from our house for the first time. The broth used to cook the vegetables there is tomato soup. It was delicious. I have a feeling we'll be back many times this winter.

Tuesday, Oct 18th- Silk Market, this was a little overwhelming for Mom. It was a pretty crowded day and the vendors can get pretty grabby. We had lunch at a German bakery close to my work since I still had to teach kindergarten in the afternoon. Dinner was what I like to call Chinese tacos, they call it spring pancakes here. Basically you order a bunch of different Chinese dishes and wrap them up in a soft taco shell. It's close to our house and one of our favorites. I think it was the first restaurant we ate at when we moved here.

Wednesday, Oct. 19th- Tienanmen Square and Forbidden City. It was still pretty busy, but we had a good time. Lunch was a fast food hotpot at the mall close to my work. We got to try a larger variety of vegetables since they were all moving by on a conveyor belt. The broth was also more traditional. I still enjoyed it. Mom came to watch me teach kindergarten after that took a few pictures I will have to post sometime. We spent the rest of the afternoon packing and hanging out. We ordered Papa John's before taking her down to the airport.

I had a great time and was so glad Mom got to come visit. Here's a few pictures off of my camera. The rest are on hers and I will have to post them later.

Arriving at the airport. It was a long flight!

Not a great picture of us, but as soon as we got off the subway on our way home from the airport we hopped into a little metal rickshaw for the rest of the ride home.

Dinner at Fatburger

Summer Palace. A whole group of women pulled us over to take pictures with them one by one.

Boat ride at the Summer Palace.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Video Tool

Hey guys!

Drop us a video. The tool on the right allows you to record a video message for us and upload it to us. It uses some tech that i use at work. Thanks Opentok and it's APIs

Use it! We'd love to see you all!

And below is a picture of my desk at work. So you can see how i spend my days.



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Super Cheap Project

We have been in our apartment here in Beijing over 6 months now, and have settled in pretty well. There were still a few spots of our house though that needed a little something more. Our bedroom was one of those spots. It was just so boring. The walls in our apartment are all stark white, and I have been doing my best to cover them up, but it has taken awhile to decide what to do in the bedroom.

A few months ago there was an amazing sale at a market downtown. Nick and I picked up a lot of random things and this beautiful scroll was one of them. It is over 5 feet long and has a beautiful Chinese painting on it. It only cost 40 RMB or about 6 dollars. That was a steal. The minute I saw it I could picture it above our bed.

The next step to the project was getting it framed. The scroll sat in our extra bedroom for quite some time while we asked around about pricing. The shop next to us told us it would be between 600-700 RMB (100 dollars) because of its size. I decided to keep looking around for somewhere cheaper since our neighborhood is close to the embassy district they have been known to jack the prices up.

One day I went to explore a  local Chinese market with a bunch of women from church. A few of them had been there and said you could get really local prices since its not usually overrun with tourists. I took along my scroll hoping I would find a good deal. I took it to be measured and the quote was 220 RMB for the frame and the glass. I was in shock at how low it was and didn't even try to bargain. It took them one day to finish the frame and then we paid an extra 50 RMB for them to deliver it since I don't think a cab would have picked us up with something that big.

So the grand total for my project was 310 RMB or 48 dollars! I'm not sure how much it would have cost me to get a custom frame like this in the US, but I know it would have been a lot more. I really loved the final product. I'm excited to figure out a new project now.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Holiday

October 1 is national day here in China and everyone gets a week off of work. Nick and I were invited on a little getaway to a beautiful villa near the Great Wall with some other couples from our branch at church.

We left last Tuesday after lunch and drove up. It is about an hour and a half drive to get to this section of the wall. We settled in and had a delicious dinner and then played games til late. I have never laughed so hard playing Mad Gab. Here's a hint- try reading the words with a Russian accent. The next morning we were treated to a real Southern breakfast prepared by our friends from Tennessee. I learned a few things I want to try to make sometime.

By the time breakfast was cleaned up and we had relaxed on the couch for awhile, it was time for lunch. Can you tell that this trip revolved around eating? After lunch I could hardly move I was so full so we decided we better go on a hike. We rode the chairlift up the Great Wall and hiked around for an hour or so. This was the same section Nick and I have been to before so I didn't take too many pictures.

After the hike we of course headed back for dinner. That night we got to set off some Chinese lanterns. It was my first time and it was really cool. I didn't get any pictures...but there are some great ones on facebook that a friend took. If you don't know what a Chinese lantern is go watch the end of Tangled. It's pretty much like that only way cooler in person.

After breakfast the next morning we packed up and headed home. It was a great relaxing trip. We had a great time hanging out with friends and being away from the city. Here are a few pictures of the beautiful place we got to stay.