Friday, November 26, 2010

Big Blue Eyed Boy

The other day I was commenting on how pretty my son's eyes are and how long & lush his eye lashes are. Women work so hard to get their eye lashes to look like his, and his are all natural.
I love those eyes, those big blue eyes. I can get lost in them. You can see so much in little children's eyes, watch them learn, look at you with love, or say "what?! I'm not doing anything wrong", or "can't you just hold me for 5 more minutes"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I think we need a new stroller

All I have to say is "Aaaaaaah!! I can't live without a stroller!!"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bed Time Routine

Before we put the kids to bed we have a routine we follow . . . . brush your teeth, use the toilet, read a book, sing a song, say a prayer. Sometimes we like to throw in watching a YouTube clip. We have our favorites we usually watch: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, John Williams is the Man, a new favorite is Dancin on the Train (two Americans living in China wrote this song). But my son's favorite is Charlie Bite My Finger. I don't know why but usually as soon as we turn that one on he starts giggling. I'm not sure if he just thinks the baby is funny or he enjoys watching others inflict pain . . . should I be worried?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Saturday Mornings

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Foot Binding

This past weekend we attended a wedding out in the countryside. I have never experienced anything like that before and I will never forget it. The wedding took place in a village and it appeared that most of the people from the village where there. When we arrived at the groom's house (where the ceremony took place) there was a large crowd waiting. I looked around and saw many different faces, some sad, some happy, most of them intrigued by our white faces. I saw this woman here and noticed that her feet were bound. After living in China for 6 years, in 3 different cities I have never seen this before. I was fascinated by it and when I began this blog I started searching online for information. I found this page that had stories from many different Chinese women who were still binding their feet (I believe these interviews were done around 1989). This woman here, along with one other villager I saw who also had bound feet, wasn't wearing the pretty 3 inch embroidered shoes but these black shoes which are very commonly found around China. Around 1949 the government came around and made the women unbind their feet. This was very painful and some women decided to keep binding their feet because they couldn't walk.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Photography Frustrations

I have loved pictures for as long as I remember. When I was a child I loved looking at old family photos. In high school I liked taking pictures and would organize them in boxes. When we moved to China a family member told me before we left to make sure we took lots of pictures so they could "see" our life. I don't think that I have let them down.
Now that I have a DSLR (which I have been dreaming about for 4 years now) I have had fun trying to take "better" looking photos. I haven't ever worked with an DSLR before so I am trying to learn all the elements of how to take a good picture. I really learn best with a teacher who gives me hands on explanation (which I don't have). The latest frustration I had was my photo shoot at the park yesterday. The sun was shining, the weather was perfect (not too hot, not too cold), the flowers were blooming, so off we went to take some photos.
The good thing about having a digital camera is that you can look at your pictures right away allowing you to try different settings to get what you are looking for. The problem I faced yesterday is that I was outside in the sun so I couldn't see the preview picture very well. The sun reflecting off the LCD screen makes it really difficult to see the picture's true colors.
Last time I took pictures outside there was too much light coming in, so I put on a filter. Now, there is still a little too much light and the color is maybe a little too vibrant. It looks like it is fake. I don't know what to do. Anyone have any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Big Huge Mess!

When we first arrived in Qingdao we got our daughter this beanbag. After 3 years the stuffing has flattened and the bag is much much smaller than it used to be. A friend helped me find and purchase more stuffing. I knew from past experience that the stuffing is impossible to work with. Sticking to you and everything else, flying everywhere, blowing everywhere . . . . just crazy crazy stuff. So my plan was to just take the bag and not even open it, just stuff it into the beanbag. HA! As soon as I touched the bag it ripped! So I quickly put that end into the opened bag and I noticed that the beads were spilling out another whole. I quickly grabbed that and shoved that part into the bag and then, you guess it, another HUGE whole and the beads were pouring everywhere except for, or so it felt like, IN the beanbag.

It took me a little while to clean it up but I really impressed myself and was able to get all but a few into the bag.

Monday, April 12, 2010

True Color 2

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hang'n In There

True Color

We got a DSLR camera while we were in the States and I am trying to learn how to use it. The other day I was trying to take a picture of the beauty outside my bedroom window. I love when the sun is shining and reflecting off the water. Every time I look at it I am just in awe of our Maker's handy work. But, every time I try and capture the beauty in a picture I am always disappointed.

This was my first attempt. Basically I took the camera and took the shot not doing anything to the settings. I was very disappointed in how it turned out. I looked at it and knew that it did not do the scene justice.

Then I remembered that we had purchased a filter with the camera for pictures taken outside. I placed it on and took another shot. Much better blue but still not right.

Next I played with the white balance setting and got a shot that looks much closer to the real thing. Such beauty!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Learning to Corn Beef

I don't know if it's because you get older, you don't have it for a while or you CAN'T have it, but it seems that living in China really changes the thing that you like to eat. Before moving here my husband didn't like things like spicy food, tuna, mayonnaise and cream cheese, but now he loves them! Growing up I don't remember disliking Corned Beef & Cabbage, but it definitely wasn't something I ever asked my mom to make. I'm not really sure when it happened, but now whenever I head back to the States I always request a meal of Corned Beef & Cabbage. I just can't get enough.
Last year during St. Patrick's day I was pregnant and I was really craving corned beef. I searched online for a recipe so I could corn some beef so I could then make corned beef (we don't have the luxury of just going to the grocery store and buying it all packaged up). For whatever reason, probably because I'm terrible at searching for things on the internet, I couldn't find anything. I was just going to have to live without. This year, St. Patrick's day rolled around again and I was talking about corned beef. A friend of mine had said that a friend of hers had made corned beef here in China before! I was thrilled and ready to try it. I searched again online, this time with success!
The part that I dreaded the most was to special order the meat. I had to go to the meat market and ask them to cut me the right size piece of meat. The meat is usually pre-cut into small chunks because people here usually just eat meat cut up really small and stir fried with vegetables. I was all prepared to put up a fight for them to cut me a piece big enough, but when I asked they said ok and ended up giving me about twice as much meat than I really needed. It was much simpler than I imagined, not hard at all - the hardest part was over in my mind.
Next I had to make the brine. Brine is water that is saturated, or nearly saturated with salt and used in the brineing process. The brining process is when meat is soaked, or marinated in brine to preserve it. It causes the meat to be more moist. To make the brine solution I added salt, pepper, bay leaves, cloves to water and heated it on the stove to dissolve all the salt.
Next I put the meat and the brine together in ziplock bags and let it soak for two weeks in my refrigerator.
The time had come to cook it! I rinsed the meat, threw out the brine and placed the meat in the largest pot I had. Filled it 2/3 way full with water and an onion and some spices and turned it on. It started to smell yummy almost immediately!
The meat didn't really look like my mother's corned beef as I cut. I didn't use saltpeter which preserves the redness. But it tasted just like my moms! It was so yummy. I couldn't stop sampling it while I carved it up!
Since I had so much meat I decided to make a party out of this feast and invited a bunch of friends over to enjoy this meal together. The meat would probably have been better if I had cooked it a little bit longer but company was coming! We had 9 adults, 6 children and 2 babies in our small little apartment. but the meal was delicious! Everybody had seconds and thirds! I could have made a third head of cabbage because we ran out.
I can't wait till next St. Patrick's day to make it again!

I followed a couple recipe sights but this is the main one that I used - enjoy!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cranky Day

Yesterday my son was so cranky all day. He wouldn't go to sleep, then, when he did finally go to sleep he only slept for 45 minutes. He was very fussy, crying a lot. This is not typical of him, he is usally such a happy baby. Even my ayi mentioned it and kept asking me why he was crying because he never cries. Well, that night when I was getting him ready for bed I found out why. His second tooth broke through! Yay! My Second Tooth! (notice his onesie)

There were 4 in the bed and the little one said . . .

I walked into my son's room and my daughter said: "Shhhh Mommy! The babies are sleeping!" She had brought in her pillow from her bed, placed all the babies in the bed, put toys in there for them to play with and then covered them with the blanket. She had even closed the curtain. She is a very good mama!

Happy Hats

My husband gave the kids a bath the other night. I walked in and saw that my daughter had thought her little brother needed a hat.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A New Project

Someone I know has made a blog of all the funny things their daughter says. I thought that was a great idea so I made one for my daughter. I also hope to document things that we do together as mommy & daughter. check it out here!

See  full size image

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fondant Frustrations

My daughter turned 4 and she wanted to have a Dora birthday cake. After last year's Little Einstein's Rocket cake I was up for making a Dora cake. This year I wanted to try and make and work with fondant. I researched and found that making marshmallow fondant was pretty easy and would taste good. For the most part that was right. Making the actual fondant was easy. Coloring it was pretty hard on my hands but in the end I was happy with the colors.

The next step in making this cake was to make the actual cake. I decided to make a red velvet cake (my favorite cake and I thought my daughter would appreciate the red/pink color) for the top tier and then chocolate (my daughter's favorite) for the bottom tier. I have heard so much about ganache this year that I also wanted to make chocolate ganache filling and put some raspberry in there as well.

Carving the cake was my first mistake. I accidentally carved it incorrectly which I then tried to correct with frosting (second mistake). By the time we were done decorating the frosting was melting and sliding off the cake and taking the fondant off with it.

In preparations for making this cake I read up and watch a few videos on using and decorating with fondant. Everyone I watched made it look easy to cover a round cake - WRONG!! I think the first thing we did wrong was take too long to cover it (it should take you no longer than 5 minutes). The second thing was I think that the fondant was a bit too dry causing it to crack. We ended up covering the top tier twice to cover up all the bumps and cracks.

I didn't have enough fondant to cover the bottom cake so I thought I would quickly make another batch. Well I have no idea what went wrong but that batch was way too dry and I could barely roll it out. As I placed it over the cake the fondant tore right in the middle making it practically unusable. At this point in my mind I was screaming thinking I wanted to just give up - this was WAY TO HARD for some one's 4 year old birthday cake!!! I took a deep breath and my friend & I figured out a way to salvage the cake. We ended up taking another piece of fondant and wrapped it around the bottom covering the parts that had fallen off. We then proceeded to cover up most of the other cracks with stripes. I was relieved and very much please with how it was coming along.

After putting flowers on the top tier it was getting late and we needed to go to bed. At this point though I noticed that both the cakes were bulging but there wasn't really anything I could do about it. I loosely covered the cakes, opened the window (it was cold outside so I made my kitchen a fridge) and went to bed hoping the cakes wouldn't fall apart overnight.

In the morning I was happy to find that the cakes were still together and had set up a bit because it was pretty cold outside. That day, the day of the party, I put the finishing touches on the cake. I made some confetti and placed those on the cake and then, my favorite part, I added shooting stars. I cut out thick stars from fondant and placed them on wires. I then put the wires in straws (to keep the dirty wire from contaminating the cake) and put them in the cake.

The end result was far from perfect but was still cute. My daughter loved the cake and said the flowers were her favorite part. I have a lot to learn and perfect when decorating with fondant but over all I had a lot fun.

"Do I look pretty?"

My sweet not yet 3 year old daughter LOVES make-up! My mother gave her some make-up last year that is close to the consistency of clown make-up. I really didn't like it all that much because it has this awful smell (which when you are pregnant, which I was at the time, makes you want to run and pray to the porcelain god). Not only that but the pink stains your skin for days!

After a couple of uses I "lost" the make-up. Out of sight out of mind for my daughter. We recently were doing spring cleaning and she found it! Yay! (for her at least) Since I am no longer pregnant I could stand the smell of it and let her play with it. Of course she had a blast with it. She ran up to me the other day with this face and said:

"Hey Mom, do I look pretty?"

"Yes dear, you look gorgeous!"

"Do you want me to put some on you?!"

Monday, February 15, 2010

Off to the Track

The other day we took all 8 grandchildren in the area to a play place near my mother's place. All the kids had a great time even the babies. The place actually had quite a few things that were appropriate for my son's age and "skill" level. My sister found this really cute NASCAR excer-saucer. It was so cute but when I put him into it I knew there would be a problem. The seat was set too low so when I placed him in it he could barely see over the edge. I readjusted the seat and it worked much better for him. He was all ready to get out on the race track. (notice his cousin in the background cheering him on)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Smartie Pants

We have decided to try cloth diapers with Lucas. While in the States we picked up a few all-in-one and pocket diapers. When they arrived in the mail Anna found them and thought they made great hats.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Stare Down

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

the Perfect Pecan Pretzel

My mother-in-law dipped pretzels in almond bark for a snack one day. Everyone ate them so fast I didn't get any. When she decided to make them again the next day I went over and "helped" make them to make sure that I actually got some that time. I remember in 5th grade not liking sweet & salty things, I even felt a little nauseous when I ate a chocolate covered pretzel. I certainly have gotten over that, I couldn't eat enough of these.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bathtime Buddies

Today I gave both my children a bath and to save time I did it at the same time. Of course I had my new camera right by my side (since it hasn't really left my side since I got it, you might even find me sleeping with it). I snapped this photo and thought is was really cute, I love my daughter's super sized eyes.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

In Focus?

During the Christmas season there are many things that you can put your focus on, presents, decorations, food, family . . . This is the first Christmas that my daughter was really able to understand what the true meaning of Christmas is. For the month of December we read through a advent calendar of events that explained the story of Christ's birth. It's so easy, especially children to focus on opening presents and getting, getting, getting. I really wanted to have my daughter think about giving and others. I can't say that I succeeded but we will not give up.