Thursday, January 31, 2013

Week In Pictures

If you follow me on Instagram this post may be redundant. Sorry about that. I will try to throw in some new commentary and surprises along the way. 

Spring Festival is right around the corner and Beijing is getting all decked out! 
The Place with it's giant overhead screen and Spring Festival decor.

Who cares that it is fake and the weather is nasty outside. Pink is pink!

Speaking of pink...gel manicures are in Beijing! Hooray! Cost $17.00 USD
I better not get used to this luxury.

I was lucky enough to go out to dinner with hubby and his boss. The restaurant, The Cut, was phenomenal! Best steak in Beijing in my opinion. Here was our scrumptious chocolate cake with grilled oranges.

More lovely lights.

Poor kid just does not want to lose her beautiful blonde locks! But brunette may be what she is destined for. After our own mishap from the Russian box, I took her to the pros. Guess what? They bleached her roots white too! After paying A LOT of money, I ended up fixing it from a box anyway! This is China:)

While the girls were fretting over hair, the boys took to the Beijing slopes yet again!
What an awesome dad!

Sorry for poor quality. In the dark of the night this is what happens eleven stories below our bedroom window. They load these flat bed trucks. Rain, wind, snow or heat these Chinese men work all night long...LOUDLY. But this is one of the odd things I will miss when we move back. Who'da thought?

The air has been putrid! I thought some nice homemade veggie soup would brighten things up! 

First time to the famous fabric market and they are packing up and moving. Still on my Beijing bucket list.

Real Men Wear Pink even when they are exercising to Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred.
Please excuse the messy kitchen.

Even Jupiter gets bored during homework time.

I used to think the Asians were a bit odd wearing masks all over the place.
Now I am one of them!

In the elevator at the doctor there is this poster with birth rates...on sale!  You can order from the "menu" of what type of birth you want...then you hope it is on sale at that time. Funny.

How to eat healthy at FatBurger.
Grilled chicken minus bun from FatBurger.
Greek salad from Obrien's, attached to FatBurger. 

How to NOT eat healthy at FatBurger. Good old American food!

Love this view!

Yucky acid rain. After many days of horrid air it rained a bit. The sidewalks seemed as if someone had poured oil all over them. People all over the city were slipping and sliding. I saw five people slip and one person crash on her bike due to the sludge. No ice was involved...yet.

The same day as above it snowed in the afternoon.
Surprisingly it covered the nasty oils and made it easier to walk.

China has changed me in many ways. This was my lunch when friends and I went out.
It was sea bass and it was yummy. 

Next door to our restaurant, on the above girls outing, was a great furniture store called Casa Pagoda. I fell in love with this piece! The top says "eternity" and the back is a chocolate advertisement. Chocolate in eternity? Yes! But, sadly, at over $3,000 USD it was out of my price range. Darn!
 That brings us to today. Friday, February First!
After many, many days of thick grey yucky air the wind came in and we saw blue skies for half of the day.
My favorite thing about windy days is that I can see the American Flag flying at the US Ambassadors   residence, just outside our living room window. Can you spot it? 

The sky was like this for a few hours anyway. Look closely and you can see the mountains. Something I will never take for granted in California again!

What better way to spend a Friday than baking for a church activity? These Hershey's mini kisses are so good in cookies. They taste different than regular kisses and loads better than chocolate chips. I had so much fun baking Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies that I made Snickerdoodles too!
Thanks for reading! Again, please be patient with the quality of picture...if they are blurry it usually means someone is chewing me out for taking the pic (i.e. the Real Men Wear Pink pic).

Monday, January 21, 2013

Week In Pictures

Cortisone shots for her shoulder and flu shots for both kiddos.

News crew on the roof of the building right outside our window.
Reporting on the air quality I am sure.

E is at mutual, D and I have a date night at FatBurger.

Getting ready for Chinese New Year!

Are these "matte" colored cars popular in the states?
They are everywhere here in Beijing.

Our neighbors must love music practice time.

A boy and his baritone. My bamboo tree is dying. 

More snow on Sunday.

Arriving at book group. 

Young Women came to watch The Notebook.

The blue sky stayed for a day. The ancient city wall of Beijing.
Other highlights from the week:

The boys went 45 minutes out of Beijing for a day of skiing. It cost around $50 USD for all rentals, including clothes and a lift ticket. They had fun. Hubby did not get hurt. I was a chicken because it was too cold, so no pictures. Maybe next time....maybe. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

This Week In Pictures~ And Some Movie and Book Opinions

This past week was a little low key for me. I enjoy getting back into town and my calendar is blank for a time. The highlight of last week was my cooking class here. Below are just a couple more pictures from the week. 

Airlines based in America really NEED to come to Asia to learn about customer service! We flew back from Seoul on Asiana Air and they have a line for "Happy Mom Service" and "Pre Mom Service". That is just the beginning! The flight attendants actually enjoy serving the passengers! Who knew?

Goodbye Christmastime :( I'm already counting down to next Christmas!

Blast from the past. We brought back Jiffy Pop from the states.
It was fun for the first five minutes...not the best tasting popcorn. 

Laundry from the trip! After day four I was finally done.
I miss my full size washer and dryer so much.

It has been super cold here in the mornings!
I have been walking to the gym every morning after the kids get on the bus. 

Bundled up for the gym.

We had broken all of our mugs, among other things, in this tiny kitchen.
 I have seen these mugs all over the world and I regret not picking them up in other cities. I have really loved herbal tea in the cold afternoons lately and this was the perfect solution to drinking hot chocolate and tea out of bowls.  

I am sure you have heard that Beijing has had "off the index" bad air quality lately! This is 7:30 am and you cannot see the buildings. Yuck!

Jupiter's favorite thing to do is watch the birds in our lobby. He can sit and watch all day long if I let him. I wonder what is going through his head. Perhaps it is "how can I get at those tasty treats".

Lunch from a back of a bike anyone? This contraption has hot coals inside the compartment that is heating the hot plate on top of the cart. 

It is dangerous how many restaurants deliver here! This is our McDonald's menu. Did you know you can get a single McFlurry delivered, in less that thirty minutes, to your door for under $3? Not that I have ever done that, I swear!

Saturday night dinner out with friends.
Pizza at Kro's Nest and dessert at Dairy Queen!

Just Because!

Before we left on our trip we took some items to Golden Five Star market to get framed. Our friends picked them up for us as we were on our trip. This is all the custom framing we got for less than $100 USD! Can you tell which are for hubby and which are mine?
I really, really love giving my opinion! As a matter of fact I get a thrill when I give a review on TripAdvisor, Goodreads and even when I used to get phone call surveys back home. Kinda weird I know! But lately I have had the urge to give some opinions on books and movies I've seen over the last several weeks. I'd love to hear your opinions too!
Les Mis- I've only seen the first half (technical difficulties), but so far I really like it. I had heard lots of criticism about acting and singing but I am okay with it all so far. It is such a great story, I am not picky...although Anne Hathaway's non-prettiness was a bit distracting to me. On another rant, it is really bugging me when "big name actors" are only being cast because of their about you?
Breaking Dawn Part II- Even for someone like me, who held up my fair share of the Twilight Edward bandwagon, it has just dragged on way too long. I am over it. With that being said though, he still makes my heart go pitter pat and the ending montage made me tear up and feel sad that those characters are no longer a part of our lives. On the other hand, Kristen/Bella still makes me twitch with annoyance and that made up for that one tear. I do not like surprises, so I made my sister tell me the BIG SPOILER! I am so glad I did...I would've been really, really taken back. Overall, I enjoyed it somewhat. And kudos to Stephanie Meyer for listening to us and our gripes of anti-climatic endings for the book, changing it as executive producer for the movie. 
Pitch Perfect- I LOVED this movie...the airplane edited version of this movie, that is. Basically, Glee in movie form. My perfect example of a "fun-non-thinking-for ninety-minute-good music" kind of movie. I admit I did buy the soundtrack on iTunes right after. I have a feeling the non-edited version probably wasn't as good though.
Perks of Being A Wallflower- I wish I had seen the airplane edited version (does anyone know if you can see those anywhere besides a plane btw?). Although I am not quite sure they could've taken out certain party scenes that were pertinent to the plot. While I was watching it I felt melancholy, but after it ended I felt it was thoughtful and interesting. Again, not totally loving Emma Watson being cast in her role (big name?) but I thought Logan Lerman was extraordinary! 
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. See my full review click here on Goodreads.  Do not get thrown off thinking this is some war book. Just read it. You will thank me.
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani. Goodreads review here. One of the best epic love stories I've ever read. A perfect book in my opinion. I dare you to read this book without shedding a tear.
These Is My Words by Nancy E Turner. Goodreads review here. As you can see I have hit a "good book gold mine" lately and our Beijing Book Group is partly credit to that. This book was a book I probably would not have picked up on my own but it was almost life-changing. I say that because it began to help me think of my own survival instincts and will to live through any trial. You will not regret reading this book. Hesitant to read the sequels, though, since this was so good.
A Book of A Thousand Days by Shannon Hale. Goodreads review here. Even though the above books were all outstanding to me, this book has been my recent favorite. It is EVERYTHING a favorite book of mine includes. Shannon Hale has been a favorite author of mine since The Goose Girl and this genre has become a favorite  too. Her writing takes me to a different place that is not scary or eerie like sci-fi, but just as escaping. I really loved this book and will most likely read it again. 
It may seem like I love everything I read but quite the contrast. These are just some outstanding books I've read recently that I just had to share. 
I'd love to hear your opinions and thoughts too! 
Comment below.