Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What we eat

 One question we are often asked is what do you eat?  We always answer  that we eat different things.  Chinese friends ask us if we eat out often or if we cook at home, we do both.  When we cook at home, we usually (but not always) cook "western food".  In their minds, that means we just cook pizza and hamburgers.  I decided it would be interesting to take pictures of every meal we eat for one week.  We did have hamburgers and pizza this week, but believe me, we do not do that every week. 

 Breakfast: I did not get pictures of this, but we ate leftover pizza (yes, for breakfast), toast, tea, and milk tea.

Lunch:  We ate at a small restaurant we call "the dancing place".  At least two times when we went there, they were playing a popular dancing show on the t.v. so we named this place the "dancing place".

 This is a fired egg thing.  I don't know what it is really called.  It has some onion and a little meat inside it.  It is pretty greasy, but tasty.

Tang su li ji (sweet and sour pork)

 ban guo hua cai  (cauliflower cooked with bacon)

Tie ban niu rou (beef cooked on a hot iron plate)


We had a big lunch and wanted something pretty quick so that Liam and Jon could make it to Kung Fu class.  We went to a(n overpriced) restaurant across the street from the apartment complex.  We ordered one  pizza, some french fries, and chicken tenders.  We made the mistake of ordering 3 cans of sprit for 15 yuan each!  Now, I remember why we don't eat at this place very often.  This was probably the most expensive meal of the week, and it was a "light" meal.

 Grits! They were a little runny, but warm and filling.

Lunch: We ate at McDonalds.  We needed to go buy some things and there was a McDonald's at the shopping center.  McDonalds has had a very limited menu for some time now due to a problem with their supplier in China.  They still have no lettuce or tomatoes for their sandwiches but at least they have beef again.  This is a treat.  We do not eat here that often.


I cooked at home.
 Cabbage and bacon.  Yummy!

 We eat it over rice and even the kids like it. 


We had toast and tea for breakfast before  we left to go to Chinese class. 

We ate at a small restaurant that we call "Two Brothers".  It is a small family owned place.  One of the first times we went here, they had some family come in.  The guys hugged and smiled when they greeted each other, and we thought they looked like brothers, so that is what we call the place now. 

 Ban guo bao cai  (cabbage)
 yu xiang rou si ( a dish with vegtables and toufu--one of my new favorites)

 Gong bao rou ding (gong bao ji ding) kung pao chicken

Supper:  We had "search and rescue" also known as Leftovers.  I did not get any pictures of this.

Wednesday I cooked all three meals at home this day.
 I made some pumpkin bread and we ate it with milk tea. 

 Lunch:  I  cooked some noodles with spring onion in some beef broth.  This is super quick and easy.

 Supper:  We had chili and crackers.    I used canned tomatoes and beans, but I could use fresh or frozen if I had them.  I was going to make some cornbread, but the corn meal looked moldy.  Thankfully we had crackers.

 We all ate some different things for  breakfast this day.   Liam had toast.  The girls had some pumpkin bread and Jon had some shao mai.

These are dumplings filled with spiced rice and meat.  We buy them from street vendors usually, but this time we bought them in the grocery store and steamed them to heat them up.

 shao mai

Lunch- my list says that we had noodles, but we had noodles the day before.  I don't have any pictures for any lunch.  Maybe we ate at the Muslem noodle shop, but I am not sure.

 These are home made hot dog buns.  I have a recipe  for hamburger buns, I just try to change the shape some.  They are not perfect, but they work. 

 Most of the sausages or "hot dogs" you can get here are different if not gross.  But occasionally I can find the kind that actually taste like American hot dogs.

We ate them with chips and onion things that are a little bit like Funnions, but not quite.


Breakfast:  I made some homemade granola bars from a recipe I found on Pinterest.  It was ok, but they could have been better.
No pictures but we had sandwiches on the the leftover "hotdog" buns.   Liam had a leftover hotdog and Hallie had peanut butter, but Eryn had ham and cheese.  I toasted mine with some butter.

 We had shao kao.  You choose vegetables, meat, or even bread on sticks and they grill them over a coal fire.  They sprinkle a delicious seasoning mix with cumin and other spices on the kabobs.
 shao kao
 nian gao (rice noodle things)
 tu dou niu rou fan (beef and potatoes with rice)  Hallie ordered a dish instead of the shao kao.
 qie zi!  This is a whole roasted eggplant.  They add some noodles, peppers, spices and garlic.  It is soooo good!


Breakfast:  Cereal.  The kids have a tradition of having cereal for breakfast on Saturdays.  Cereal can be very expensive here.  We make it cheaper by buying  the Chinese brand cereal and trying to find it on sale.  Even then, the boxes are really small and cost about 20 yuan a box!  We need at least two boxes for breakfast.  This is why we only eat it once a week or less. 

 Lunch: Eryn and I had somewhere to go (modeling shoot) and needed something quick, so we ate at Subway.  I did not get pictures.  We were still at the photo shoot at supper time, so Jon, Liam and Hallie ate without us. 

Supper:   They ate at our favorite Muslim Noodle shop.  Jon took these pictures.

Liam ate:
 rou jia muo.  They sometimes call these hamburgers.  It is meat with onions and peppers served in a pita type bread. 

Jon had beef and sliced noodles (in the foreground) and Hallie had beef and potatoes over rice.

I am not sure if this was actually a "typical" week or not. It did seem pretty typical.  It is much cheaper to eat out here than in America.  So we do eat out quite a bit.  So what do you normally eat?

Grocery Store

The other day, we were in the grocery store and I needed to pick up some soy sauce.  I was struck with all the choices.  It  made me think of the differences in what is available in the US and here in China. 

 This is only about 1/2 of the aisle.  How many kinds of soy sauce are available at your local Kroger or Walmart?

What about noodles?

How about instant noodle otherwise known as ramen noodles?

What kind of ice cream do you like?   Here we have red-bean and green pea ice-cream bars.  And Green tea ice-cream.  hmmmm

Or how about some yummy corn flavored ice-cream?

We could compare this with the cereal aisle or the frozen pizzas available in the US and almost non  existent here.

Things are just different.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Roller Coaster ride!

When I was a kid I would ride roller coasters with my mom. My brother was too scared and my dad didn’t like them.  To me the scariest part of the ride was that long slow climb to the top of the first hill. It almost always felt like it wouldn’t make it and the anticipation of the ride would build the closer you got to the top.  As the saying goes, it was all downhill from there, with a few twists and loops thrown in!

The other night I dreamed we were on a ride.  I think it was just a simple water ride, or flume.  One that was just a hill with water at the bottom that would splash all over you.  We were on the long climb to the top of the hill.  But as we would get closer, we would slip back and have to start the assent again.  We would get a little closer, and slip back some more….you get the picture.  I woke up before we ever made it to the top.

That is what this summer, or at least the last month, feels like.

We have had some trouble getting our visas figured out to go back to China.  There are two main reasons for this.  One is that Jon’s employer in China did not start the process on his end early enough.  We were supposed to have had all the paperwork on his end completed before we even left China.  That did not happen.  The other problem is that China changed some rules regarding visa regulations this summer. 

We knew there were some issues, but we thought that we could go enter China on a tourist visa and then take a short trip to Hong Kong (paid for by the company) and change the visa type to a working visa.  We were told that would work and we rushed and got our visas.  The day we received our visas we were then told that the regulations had been changed and now we (or at least Jon) would have to fly back to the USA in order to change his visa.  So we decided to change our tickets and wait for the correct visa to come. 

We were told that it would take 10 days for the paperwork to be done in China.  It took a week longer than that.  But that part is finished.  Now we are just waiting for the paperwork to arrive.  We hoped we would get it Friday, but we did not.  Since Monday is a holiday we should receive it Tuesday.  Then we will send off for Jon’s  “working” visa.  It should take about a week. 

We have a black and white copy of the paperwork and we noticed that the kids and Jenn are not listed on the paperwork.  We were told that it will be ok and we can change over when we get the residency permit, which we do once we are in China.  I really hope they are correct.  I think it will work.  This is what we did two years ago.

This is actually a blessing, because it means that we will not have to spend the money to pay for visas when we already have a visa (just the wrong type).  Jon will be the only one “wasting” a visa.

This is all very complicated but we are nearing the top of the hill.  Pray that we don’t slip back too much and that this ride will not have too many twists, and loops!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Our new apartment

I wanted to make another video of our apartment and I wanted the kids to help.  Hallie did not want to be on camera this time, so she offered to be the camera girl.  Eryn and Liam show you around.  We filmed some of this weeks ago. Hallie also did the editing.  When the video was finished it was 9 minutes long.  That is too big to be uploaded to the blog or to Facebook, but it is ok on Youtube.  So here is the link to the video of Youtube:

In the video, the shower doors look really dirty and there are still some boxes to unpack.  But if I waited until everything was perfect, I would never get anything finished.  I hope the video does not make you too motion sick--Hallie swings the camera around a little bit.  You could always come see us in person. We will see you all in a few weeks.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


One of the fun things about moving is getting to know a new area.  The other night we went to a new area that we heard was a good place to eat and shop.  We started to walk back to our apartment and we came upon a HUGE children's playground and a large square where people were dancing.

Every evening, in public squares or open areas people with gather together and dance.  Usually it is middle aged ladies that dance, but in this place there were men and younger folks too.  I will attach two different videos so you can enjoy this  Chinese phenomenon.

Girls' trip to Shanghai

I had been telling the girls that when it got warmer we would take a day trip to Shanghai.  We got up early and took the bus to the train station and took an 8:00 am train to Shanghai.

 This is a picture of us on the train.

We planned a day of shopping and eating some things we cannot get in Hangzhou.
We rode the subway several times.  Eryn liked to stand by the pole and hang around.

 She liked to spin around the pole.

 She caught me trying to take a picture!

One of our favorite treats in Shanghai is going to 7-11 and getting a Slurppee.  These slushy treats are only 5 or 6 yuan!

We spent the day shopping, eating, and just having fun together.  We went to a Western grocery store and bought some  DrPepper.  We enjoyed these drinks on our train ride back to Hangzhou.

We saw these pretty little flowers in a small garden.  I just thought they were pretty.  Hallie took this picture with my phone.

We are blessed  that we live close enough to take a quick trip to a cool place like Shanghai.


I posted here that we found a new apartment and we were moving to a new area in the city.  We actually moved April 29.  It was a holiday so many people including Jon and Frank had a few days off.  I thought it would be a good idea to move and have a couple of days to unpack before Jon had to go back to work.  

To prepare to move, we had to get lots of boxes.  We asked at a few small grocery stores and some would just give us boxes, but one charged us 1yuan a box.  We visited that store a couple of times a day for a week or so collecting boxes.  

We needed a lot of boxes.  We have been living in China now for about 5 years.  It is astonishing how much stuff we have accumulated over that period of time.  

 Eryn and Jon had fun playing with some of the boxes one evening.

 This is a little dark, but it is the living room ready for the movers to load up.
 This used to be Eryn's room.  Jon took apart the bunk beds to make moving them easier.

It took one more truck load than it pictured, but these two trucks carried our stuff to our new apartment about an hour away. We are thankful that it did not rain.

We were very blessed to have lots of help this day.  Our ayi came by and helped finish packing, as did Shelly (Shao Li) and Jane ( Gu Wen).  When we arrived in Binjiang with the trucks, Heather and 3 other American couples helped unload the truck and carry boxes to our new home.

We are nearly totally unpacked now.  I hope to have a video of the apartment to upload the the blog by next weekend.

Now Jon has to commute a lot further to his job at the University.  Please keep him in your prayers as he tries to finish the semester and commute about 11/2 - 2 hours (one way) 3 days a week.

We are excited about the possibilities for the Lord's work here in this area and we are very thankful to be a part of i