Monday, December 24, 2012

平安夜 (píng’ān yè) Christmas Eve

I have been warned not to go out tonight.  Apparently, it is common for young people (and possibly older people too) in Wuhan to spend Christmas Eve window shopping, and eating dinner with friends.  So the streets will be crowded with many young Chinese wishing each other a Merry Christmas.  My language teacher told me that if you didn't make your restaurant reservations months ago, then you were already too late.  Unfortunately, I will be taking her advice, although I'm now curious to see this phenomena, how does a country that is not even the slightest bit religious take on a Christian tradition?  DH says that Christmas sells itself, it's shopping and giving presents, there are no strong food traditions, no weird foreign activities, just shopping.  And while I want to disagree with him, he's right.  In the fight to keep Christmas everywhere, what we have done is to take the Christ out of Christmas.  Instead of keeping Christmas at home with our families and in our churches we want to force stores to put up displays, we want schools to have parties, and governments to celebrate too.  But why should an Indian grocery store put up a tree, why does a Chinese restaurant need holiday lights?  Because this is what Americans want.  So we end up with that sanitized Santa version of Christmas which is all about buying and getting.  And you end up with a country of Chinese people who don't even know that Christmas was a Christian holiday. 

But don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, I love Santa, I love nativity scenes and mulled cider, and the Christmas story.  I love all of it.  I'm going to leave you with a quote from Michael Buble who sums up my thoughts on belief and Santa Claus.  (this is from an interview with him on the today show).

Michael Buble
Even as an adult, Buble says he still has faith and is a staunch defender of Old St. Nick. Don’t even TRY to tell him he’s wrong. When asked how old he was when he learned Santa was fictional, Buble responded with mock anger.
“There is a Santa Claus. When you stop believing, then he doesn’t come, and I feel sad for people don’t believe in him anymore.”


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Babe's Room

I don't normally post our home details, but I am actually quite proud of the way Babes' room turned out.  Her room is normally the first room I tackle in an effort to help her feel settled in as soon as possible, but with furniture deliveries, and things arriving from here and there and everywhere it was not possible for me to put her room together until just recently.

Anyway, her room is basically pictures and wall stickers, butterflies and flowers - because she's so girly.  I made the quilt on her bed many years ago (and I will probably NEVER make another quilt again) and most of the rest of the stuff is either hand me down pictures, or stuff we picked up at Ikea.  Looking at the pictures, I should probably paint the letters for her name some color other than white, we always have white walls, and you can never really see those letters.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Barley love

I have recently discovered Barley.  This happened by accident, since at the time I discovered it I was trying to find an alternate tea to drink in the evenings because our apartment was so cold and drafty (we have spread out some area rugs and found a way to heat the apartment, so now it's a cozy place to be instead of a frigid ice box).  I know Japanese and Korean people drink Buckwheat and Barley teas and that they are caffeine free.  I bought a little Buckwheat and a little Barley thinking I would mix them with some spices and possibly flowers and become my own tea mix master.  I actually came up with a pretty good spiced tea mix, but that's a tale for another time.
Anyway, in case you don't know raw barley looks like this:

And after cooking them; 1 cup barley to 3 cups water, bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes, they look like this:

Then you can mix them into a recipe like Barley Caponata and you get:

And so far everyone likes Barley, Babes, DH, me.  It has a little more flavor and texture than rice, and the barley grains are larger than rice too, so it's almost like a small round pasta on your plate.  I think I made something with Barley in it 2 weeks ago, but I've already used three or four different Barley recipes.  Also as far as I can tell a Barley casserole freezes well (you know how I love my freezer).  I haven't had as much success with the buckwheat.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Walking in Wuhan

Actually, this is not walking in Wuhan, it's more like working out in Wuhan.  I am on a quest for a Yoga studio that does not require me to invest in $1000 worth of Yoga classes upfront to be able to take a few classes.  I wouldn't mind later on investing some money in Yoga classes but.... $1000 is a bit much for China (things close all the time without any warning at all).
I have to say though, the gym selling technique is the same here as it is in the US.  They want me to take some fitness test to determine just how out of shape I am (yes, I know I'm out of shape, I don't need your test) there's the gym tour, there's a discussion with the instructors, and finally there's a discussion of price-- Oh and if you sign up RIGHT NOW there's a discount, but only if you act RIGHT NOW.  They were very put out that I didn't want to take their fitness test.

Anyway, here are a few pics of some of the places I've been.

The Yoga studio was very pretty.  All wood and white wash, I forgot to take pictures of the actual classrooms, but you can picture the, hardwood floors, big windows, yoga mats, etc.  I was fairly certain I did not want to join the studio though, after the class let out.  I don't know that I can do Yoga with 95 pound Chinese women.  My self esteem is not that good.  

This place is just a standard gym, no classes, but all the usual equipment.  Their locker room though looked kind of dingy, like at your high school or college, clean, but not super so.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Behind the Great Firewall

I'm still alive in case you were wondering.  I have a couple of posts all ready to be written up and posted, but we've been having trouble with our internet again, and I haven't been able to get onto my blog.  I'll try to get everything written up today while I have access, but I'm not making any promises.

Friday, December 07, 2012

McDonalds at your door!

This past weekend it was raining and cold, and we were tired and hungry, but too lazy to go out.  There was food in the house, but nothing lent itself to last minute cooking, when I hit upon an idea- I was going to order McDonald's for me and the kid (hubby had tummy troubles and didn't want to eat)!  I've done it before.

Chengdu had McDonald's delivery too, but there were other things to order like Mike's Pizza (if you live in Chengdu and have not had Mike's then you must do it now..I'll wait while you order).  So far, I haven't found anything that will deliver here in Wuhan--ok that's not true, what I mean to say is that I have not found anything in Wuhan that I can order without a conversation something like this (translated for your benefit):
Me: Hi I'd like to order some food for delivery
restaurant: EH?
Me: I'd like some chicken, green beans, and shredded potatoes
restaurant: What? You want to butter your nose?
Me: No, I'd like some chicken, green beans, and shredded potatoes
restaurant: What? (indistinct muttering, second person comes on the phone) EH? What do you want?
Me: I'd like to order some food.
restaurant: (holding phone away from mouth) there's some crazy foreigner on the phone, I can't understand a single word.
At which point either I will give up in frustration or the restaurant will.

Which brings me back to McDonald's.  They (and KFC) have figured this out and have created an ordering hotline where you call a central phone bank, you can order in Chinese or English and they will send the order to your local McDonald's and they will send the food TO YOUR DOOR!  OR even better you can order directly from the website and they will send the food TO YOUR DOOR! (can you tell how excited I am by this discovery? In Chengdu, the food couldn't come to our door, we had to go out to the outer gates to get it) The fries are a little cold, but everything else arrives as it should (of course, if you don't like McDonald's to begin with, delivery does nothing to improve it, but I think it's okay from time to time)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Walking in Wuhan

I went on a trip to the "crazy market" this week, looking for...well, I don't know what.  But it was one of those markets in China that has almost everything.  Anyway, for your viewing pleasure: 

I need to start taking the big camera when I go.  My phone takes okay pictures, but if I'm going to take pictures, I should practice taking good ones instead of just snapping something to have a picture.