Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Next Big Adventures ;)

My next adventure will begin in Beijing, China's capital. I'm hoping to see the Great Wall and get some good western food while I'm there, all the while spending lots of money (that's the price you pay for western food in China).

After that, we will be heading south to travel around Thailand. We are visiting some beaches, southern islands and do some trekking on the mainland(maybe riding some elephants!). I am excited to share all this fun with you as soon as I return. We will be back in February, so if you don't hear from me that is where I am!

More news of adventures later!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Cooking in the bathroom!

So you are probably looking at that title thinking, "what the heck?!" Well, it's true. I made buckeyes (thanks to A. Martha making them for years) and I had to make the chocolate and dip them in the bathroom! It was a funny experience. There were a few challenges in addition to lack of space. One of the major challenges was finding powdered sugar, they don't sell it in China! So, thanks to Zach's good advice (lots of practical knowledge pays off sometimes!) and the ideas of one of the mom's here I made my own powdered sugar. It was a major success. So what I did was get regular granulated sugar and cornstarch and ground it in a blender. For every 1 1/2 cups of sugar I added 1/4 cup of cornstarch. I could have added more but that's the amount I had on hand. The only thing I didn't do well enough was grind it. I could have ground it much finer than I did but the buckeyes still turned out really good. So with some innovative thinking, lots of other's advice and the best use of my resources, I made some pretty good buckeyes.

I used Dove dark chocolate which added a nice kick. It wasn't the cheapest recipe to make, but it was well worth it. I kind of feel like Monica on the episode of "Friends" when she made candy for her neighbors and they all came pounding on her door and called her "candy-lady". Except, I won't stay up till all hours of the morning! Anyway. that was the highlight of my Christmas.

OOH, another fun trick I tried and learned....My Aunt Martha always makes sour cream sugar cookies every Christmas and I wanted to try them, except it's impossible to find sour cream here. So, the girl I was making cookies with suggested we use yogurt, there's plenty of that here. So we made them and iced them, they turned out fantastic once again. :)

Many of you know about our crazy card game called Hot Rum... no, there's no alcohol, just lots of competition which brings out our best side! (sarcasm added) I taught the kids how to play and I won with 200 points (I would have beat Mom's record of 45 if I had laid down on Pat Hand)

So I am super happy and I have managed to bring a little bit of the Kaehr Christmas to China! (I also taught everyone how to play dirty bingo for a gift exchange, which would be from the Schini side!)

So, if you are wondering how we celebrate Christmas in China... we like to call it China-Style!

Anyway. Thanks for reading as always.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanksgiving in China

TURKEY BOWL!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, Thanksgiving was a better surprise than I thought. In the morning there was a Turkey Bowl game and the bitter cold weather made it really feel like home.

We had lunch at the fairly westernized cafe on campus. It was really good. We had lots of awesome food; they had a turkey and pumpkin pie, (I missed the pie but pigged out on a bowl of sweet potatoes with marshmallows instead).

Here is the large array of ymmy food and the table next to us.

These were some of my table buddies for lunch!

Starting out, I felt a little sad being away from home knowing that my family was all together with you me. That quickly was remedied with loving people around me who were all feeling the same thing. It's funny what a place like a college dorm will do to people. It brings families and singles much closer together than otherwise any where else in life. People all say that Peter Hall is a unique place, and that it is. Every one here is like a big family. We function like a family sharing stress with teaching, challenges with cultural differences or just with each other and we are not afraid to say what we really think. Their seems to be not much of a social barrier as it does in the professional world. Sometimes I don't feel like being social and I turn off my lights and lock my door (those are my hermit crab days). We have the freedom to do that here. It's awesome. :)

I have already started decorating for Christmas. I cut tons of snow flakes while I had a couple of skype conversations and while I watched a few movies. It's amazing how much I can get done in a couple of hours! The funny thing is that I used the old marked up copies of my lesson plans! (don't worry, I have them backed up on my hard drive AND email) I also bought some white lights for my room and living room. They will still be nice to have up even after Christmas. These are very cheap, low maintenance decorations.

We are planning on doing a White Elephant Christmas party next weekend with all the teachers before they leave for break. I think having the parties and baking cookies will help chase away the blues. However, I had the coolest realization the other day. I was walking to a store on campus and a thought came to me, "I get to spend Christmas in China!" Whoa! How cool is that? I have been so sad and down in the dumps but ever since that day I have had a new joy that is making my attitude so much better. I am actually able to fully enjoy myself. I really think it had to do with some culture shock. There are four stages of culture shock; excitement, withdrawal, adjustment and enthusiasm. Hmmm, I think I know which stage I am in! :) There are quite a few other teachers sticking around for the break so I think that will help me out a lot. My biggest fear was that I would be stuck here with nothing to do. But I am looking forward to having movie nights, shopping days, cooking together with everyone... I've even heard rumors of mattress sliding into the main square of campus...on the ice...(mischievous plans are popping into my head!) If any of that happens I will be SURE to take pictures! :)

Thanks for reading! I hope to share the rest of my adventures with you soon!

Oh yeah! One more thing! I recently received the largest jar of honey I have ever seen!

The cool part is that it's local honey and it actually can help fight local allergies! But I don't usually get allergies so I will just enjoy it on toast! MMMMMM