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.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Vegas Vacation

Nick and I got to take a quick trip home to the US last month. For Nick it was a work trip and I needed to renew my Visa so I tagged along. We flew into Las Vegas and got to spend 2 days playing before he headed off to work in Wyoming.

Here we are at Lake Mead trying to figure out the wake skate. I eventually got the hang of it, but I had a little trouble finding the right spot to get rid of the rope. Nick needs a little bigger board so he was just playing around.

I already blogged about most of the food we ate, but I couldn't leave out Mom's huckleberry pancakes. She is obsessed with these things...and they are GOOD! I think they taste even better knowing Mom picked them herself and hoards them like gold.

Bundt cake is another one of my favorite things from home. Every Christmas Mom and Dad get a bundt cake, but since they don't eat a lot of desserts Mom ends up freezing it and I devour it whenever I am home. In the past the bundt cake has lasted almost the entire year and right when they run out it is Christmas and they get another one. Well something went wrong this year and they ran out of bundt cake in April. (Might have had something to do with the fact that I was home for Dan's wedding...) I had to stop and get myself a mini cake to satisfy the craving till next time I get home. YUM!

At the end of the week we got to go up to Provo for the BYU/ UTAH game. Nick finished work and met us in Salt Lake and we got to see Mike and Tim to celebrate their pictures of that...We had awesome seats for what had to be one of the worst games I have ever seen. Oh well.

It was a quick trip, but so much fun. I'm happy to report it only took about a week here to lose all the weight I gained in 10 days at home!