Friday, November 30, 2012

Hong Kong

I love Hong Kong, I have loved Hong Kong since my first trip 8 years ago.  I love the bustle of the crowds, the tall and skinny buses, the travelator (I love that name travel + escalator = travelator!), the restaurants, and the people.  I think it's one of the coolest cities on earth.  BUT, like NY, I always have trouble when I go there thinking of things to do.  Maybe I've just lived with DH too long... I used to just go and be content to wander around and soak up the atmosphere, but now I feel like I'm somehow wasting the day if I don't DO something.  But I think HK and NY are places that just lend themselves to hanging out (if you don't live there, if you live there you're too busy working to hang out).
The coolness of HK is even more apparent having lived for so long on the mainland.  In HK the subways are clean, efficient and quiet.  (I did not once see a fight in HK, while I see one at least once a week on the mainland) The city also seemed to be trying to make itself more eco-friendly in ways US cities are not.  There are recycling containers everywhere, public transportation seems to be the way most people get around (although no bicycles, too many hills, not enough street space), and you can use your subway card to swipe your way through just about anything (Disneyland, taxis, the skytram, ferries, 7-11, etc) reducing the need for ticketing in those places.
I also saw so many different types of people there, living, touring, working, running/owning businesses.  It was especially apparent after Wuhan where the sight of another foreigner was rare, much less so many different types of people.  Yes, the majority of the people are Asian, but not necessarily Han-Chinese.  Which made the food so good.  2nd tier mainland Chinese cities are NOT cosmopolitan.  Wuhan is better than Chengdu because at least you can get Sichuan and Cantonese food here, as well as Hubei food (in Chengdu, people felt that it wasn't worth it to eat anything other than Sichuan food).  But generally speaking, it's still going to serve the main parts of whatever region you're in, because there aren't enough people here willing to brave eating something that's not familiar to them (I'm not saying that this is unique to China, if you go into the heartland in America good luck trying to find something that's not Italian, Mexican, or American).  I know we looked like those tourists who come to China and only eat Hamburgers, but gosh darnit I haven't had a good hamburger in months!  We ate Asian food, but the only Chinese food we ate was Dim Sum (YUM!!!!!!!!).  People can think what they like about us, but I don't regret eating pizza twice, in fact I wish we had eaten it more, and I definitely should have had another hamburger. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gratuitous Disney shots

Hi, here are some more pics from our time in Disney.  (Sorry there are so many, but we had so much fun)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving in the "Happiest Place on Earth"

We are now trapped on the school schedule since Babes has officially started school (I know it's only kindergarten, but she started really late so I'm trying to keep her in school as much as possible) so when I looked at Babes' school calendar and discovered that she had 6 days off for Thanksgiving I told DH "we've got to get out of here!" And away we went to Hong Kong.
 Hong Kong is always nice, but this is the first time that I've gone to Hong Kong with a kid.  A 5yr old might put up with walking until your feet fall off the first day, but on the second she's gonna complain (actually on the first she'll complain, on the second she'll cry). Don't get me wrong Babes is a pretty good traveler (actually she's a great traveler-so easy going), she loves to sight-see, and try new foods, and go to exotic locations, but she's not up for just wandering about, which is what we usually do in HK.  BUT!  We had a surprise for her-HK Disneyland.

As you all know, I am not a Disney hater.  As a child I loved Disney, and as an adult I like it even more.  Is Disney a huge soulless corporation built to suck money out of your pocket? Yes!  Am I willing to put up with it? YES!  Because lets face the facts, folks, they are good at what they do.  Are their movies perfect? No, I wish their girls had a bit more backbone, their boys a little more personality,  and who gets married after three dates anyway?  BUT, as with anything Babes watches we make sure to talk about what we're watching and try to balance out Disney's message with our own.

But I appreciate Disney on a whole new level as an adult.  When I was a teenager I used to live near Disneyland CA.  I loved it because it was a place safe enough that my parents would let me go there by myself without asking a million and two questions.  However, taking Babes there for the first time was amazing.  She was all smiles and starry eyes.  Because we went during the week there were virtually no lines, I don't think we waited longer than half an hour for anything.  She was always front and center for every parade, and we have pictures of her dancing in the parades with the cast members. We walked into every show and got seats whenever we wanted.  The food was good, and kid centric, as well as a selection wide enough that the adults were able to enjoy it as well (it was expensive, but not ridiculously so).

From the moment we stepped onto the Disneyland express train the experience was a positive one.  There were tons of  D-employees walking around making sure you weren't lost.  They were happy to answer questions in English or Chinese.  They made an effort to keep the lines running smoothly without line cutters.  The park was sparkling spotless clean.  And as simple as it was, all the D-employees had stickers in their pockets to hand out to little kids (and adults) whenever they felt like it. 
And anyplace that gives Babes big smiles and shiny eyes, AND causes her to say "this is the best day of my life" is ok in my book. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Waffles and a Wrap

When Hubby goes out of town Babes and I almost always have breakfast for dinner.  I love breakfast, but Babes' 6:55am bus means that most mornings it's oatmeal from the crockpot, a bagel, or cheerios.  There is almost no way that I am ever going to be coherent enough in the morning to make waffles, pancakes, or anything like that.  She might get French toast or a scrambled egg, but that's a rare occasion.  So my solution is to have breakfast for dinner, but this is a love that hubby does not share, so we do it when he's out of town...
Which brings me to one of my favorite Christmas presents--my campfire (or stovetop) waffle maker.

 It's cast iron, and it sits on top of the range so I don't have to worry about plugs, or transformers or anything, I just heat it up on the eye and enjoy yummy yummy waffles.

And you know, of course, that my favorite waffle recipe would have to include oatmeal.  Because really, what food is not improved by some good old fashioned oatmeal?  I actually ran out of oatmeal (*GASP*) while making the waffles and I subbed in some of my leftover crock pot oatmeal and decreased some of the milk and they still turned out awesome.  (I would normally just link to the recipe, but I can't find it on anymore so here it is)

Oatmeal Waffles


    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

    1. In large mixing bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside. In small mixing bowl, stir together eggs, milk, butter and brown sugar. Add to flour mixture; stir until blended. Pour batter on to grids of preheated, lightly greased waffle iron (amount will vary with size of waffle iron). Close lid quickly; do not open during baking. Use fork to remove baked waffle. Top with fresh fruit and yogurt.
Also, remember my the leafy scarf that I was working on? Well, it's finished blocked and ready for wear.  It turned out really well, I just wish I had more yarn so I could have made it wider and longer.  It makes a pretty fancy scarf, but I think it would make a smashing wrap.  (yes I said smashing!) 

 PS-it's a real pain in the butt to try to take a picture of your back by yourself.  I know I should have just pulled out my camera and remote, but if you know which box they are in, please let me know! (also after all that work, the scarf is on inside out!)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pictures from the park

For your perusal, a plethora of pictures of people playing, posing, pedaling, pausing peacefully, picking people to petition for partnerships all peeped on a perfectly pleasant prance through the park. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Curses to the Wall!

I've had a couple of posts ready now for a couple of days, but Hubby left without giving me the secret to hopping over the great firewall so I've been stuck without access to my blog or facebook.  No big loss, really, I've been steadily unpacking and the living room, kitchen and our bedroom almost look like real places now.  I think by the time Hubby comes back we might actually have livable spaces to enjoy.  I've also been doing a TON of laundry because half of our clothes arrived smelling of MOLD-EWWWW!!!!  Luckily you can wash most stuff in vinegar and it will get rid of the smell... they also say you can dry clean the smell out--I'll let you know about that one.  And leather (for my dad's vintage blue leather coat that Mr. Route HATES) supposedly can be sponged off and laid out in the sun.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Anyway, since Babes is at school all day, I'm no longer limited to the big box stores for fruits and veggies.  After the Babes got too big to ride in a backpack, I never wanted to take her to the markets because I don't like all the touching.  It's not inappropriate or anything, I just don't want anyone touching my child with hands that were just touching pig innards.  Call me squeamish- I know I am.   Here are two quick shots of our veggie market, where you can also buy fresh Tofu, meat, seafood, and a few pickled, and ready to eat items. 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Under the avalanche

Sorry for the radio silence.  I have been stuck behind the great firewall, and haven't been able to access my blog for several days now.  Of course my hubby fixed it, with the simple act of turning it on.  GRRRR!  Never mind that I've been trying for days, never mind that I reset all sorts of things. NO, he comes in flips it on, and VIOLA!  *sigh*
Anyway, I have a bunch of pictures from this weekend's walk across the park to share, BUT we received almost all of our household items yesterday and our house looks like this: 

and my husband can tell you that I will not be the same until every box is unpacked and put away.  I unfortunately have to leave the house today, with it still looking like this... must.... unpack....  

Friday, November 02, 2012

East-West Fusion

I have recently discovered that I *love* tofu skins!  Love!  I was confused about it at first, since I'm ambivalent at best about tofu.  BUT it turns out that tofu skins are not actually tofu at all, but the (and this is going to sound somewhat gross) film that forms on soy milk when it is heated (like the skin on milk) it's taken off and dried--or something. 

I discovered at the market here I can buy fresh tofu skins to cook at home!  The problem being that I don't really know how to make the restaurant version, and I'm not sure I'd want to if I could (just too greasy for every day eating).  So I embarked upon a way to cook them using tastes that I'm more familiar with. I started by braising them in a little chicken broth. Mostly to heat them up and add a little flavor. 
Then I roasted a few veggies. 

I added the veggies, and some tomato sauce to the tofu skins....
It's sort of like a pasta dish, the tofu skins have a similar texture to al dente pasta, maybe a little chewier.  We are probably eating WAY too many tofu skins by doing this but it's a filling way for us to do a vegetarian dinner without a whole lot of fuss.  (you can apparently make your own tofu skins, but I'm not there..... yet)