Halloween time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

last year.
this year.
last year this time, i was co-hosting a halloween party with my sister, and husband, winston and i were dressed up as a spider family.
this year, we have lots of actual spiders living with our family. winston is dressed up as the cutest little sheriff in town, and we're spending time together via skype instead.
i sure do miss that fur baby.


Monday, October 29, 2012

autumn weather calls for vests. fluffy, faux microsuede vests.
i just joined the club.

One of those days.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Today is one of those days.
One of those, "hey kids, i'm going to show you a few problems, then you're going to be quiet and do this worksheet" kind of days.
One of those days when my head isn't all all here, this migraine just won't go away, and i'm fighting to keep my eyes open, and all I really want is to be able to take nap in my always-slightly-damp bed (what is it with the moisture here, China?) until Dave comes home. Upon which I will forget that I have homework to do and midterms to make, and we will sip on mojitos at the Shanghai Brewery with all the other expats and then go home and watch Nashville.

It's one of those resting days.
So many days I just want to get. things. done.
Today is a quiet day. A breather day. A walk to Starbucks and enjoy the sunshine day.
The truth is, sometimes I need one of those days.
As much as I love the process of working, I think it's healthy to put in on the back burner sometimes.
So I'm taking a break to send some long overdue emails, listen to Mumford (gosh, how good is the new album?), go home early, and skype with my pup.
All that work? it'll still be here tomorrow.

Guyi Gardens.

Take line 11 north to Nanxiang, follow the brown signs, walk 15 minutes, and you'll come to this place on your right: Guyi Gardens.
It's a little oasis set in the Shanghai suburbs and the town where xiao long bao originated.
The greenery is lush, most of the garden is shaded, and it was surprisingly uncrowded.
We didn't know that soup dumplings were available at the tea house on the garden grounds, so we headed to the restaurant next door. For just 25 kuai, we ate enough dumplings to fill us both up.
I wouldn't go out of my way to come back here when there's so much more to see in China, but for a Saturday afternoon excursion that's reachable via metro, these gardens made for a great city escape.


Monday, October 22, 2012

This Moroccan-themed restaurant/lounge has been our go-to place for weekend drinks and a rooftop happy hour. We first came here for Dave's birthday dinner. Set in the middle of People's Park, the ambiance is perfect. Add a hookah and half-priced drinks, and we're sold. Not to mention the banana liqueur, Bailey's, and cream layered shooter (my new favorite). Barbarossa does it best.

Shanghai, lately.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sometimes I wake up, and for a second, I forget that I'm in Shanghai.
That I live in China.
The place where men on bikes come down the alleyway at 6am ringing bells to collect cardboard.
The place with notoriously uncomfortable beds.
The place where you can get McDonald's delivered to your door in eight minutes.
The place where a tiny bag of candy corn costs 7 USD.
The place of easy breezy public transportation and awesome happy hours (complimentary filet mignon sandwiches, yes please!).
Sometimes, I wonder, what the heck am I doing here?
I have never before lived somewhere where, in all this newness and confusion and soul-searching and God-seeking, I am so thankful for the little things.
For the one bagel shop in the city.
For the person who points out that I dropped my metro card.
For the Chinese teacher who chats with me at lunch.
For all the places I get to visit with my best friend.
For the sunshine that isn't quite like California sunshine but still manages to make the day brighter.
Shanghai is a place of gratefulness.

happy birthday, handsome!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Today is this studmuffin's birthday!
I couldn't ask for a more patient, loving, kind, and all-around awesome husband.
Love you forever, boo!

Shanghai, lately.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

night strolls through beautifully lit streets
food and decor that makes our studio feel like home
doggie sightings
sunlight streaming through the streets of the Former French Concession
yoga in Fu Xing Park
October holiday shopping, sightseeing and tasting
presidential debates and homemade pumpkin spice lattes

Happy Fall! xoxo.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"When an experience is new or challenging, and we must absorb more information, time seems to pass more slowly; when one day blurs indistinguishably from the last, the months evaporate. So I could slow time by making a radical change in my life: move to a new city, or even better, a new country, or switch careers, or have a baby." -Gretchen Rubin, Happier at Home

This couldn't be truer for us. It's hard to believe that we have lived in China for over/only a month. September felt like it would never end, and it feels like it's been ages since we lived in California. Some days, I've been relieved just to make it through.

Since we've lived here, we've found our favorite local fruit stand, spent the day at a police station filing a report for a stolen purse (thankfully, not mine), taken the metro all over town and the bullet train out of it, discovered in the middle of cooking dinner that certain pans do not work on an inductive burner, learned that sometimes the router needs to be reset seven times in one day, sat in our apartment with the walls vibrating from the jackhammering taking place next door, and made new friends at shanghai community fellowship. Dave has been to the U.S. and back to obtain his work visa, and I've survived the first of ten months of teaching while in grad school.
There's still a lot to be learned and a lot to be accomplished in the next months. So much to be documented and shared (I'm already behind). And as temporary as this adventure may be, we've done our best to adjust and come to terms with Shanghai as where we're supposed to be right now. The pastor at the church that we've been attending mentioned this verse the other Sunday, and it just resonated with me:

God began by making one person, and from him came all the different people who live everywhere in the world. God decided exactly when and where they must live. God wanted them to look for him and perhaps search all around for him and find him, though is not far away from any of us.
-Acts 17: 26-27, NCV

This October, we'll be without the apple orchards and pumpkin patches and halloween parties. Which I hope will give us the opportunity to look deeper and work harder. I've hit some lows, but I couldn't be more excited about this place, literally and figuratively, in our lives. Exactly when and where we must live? Shanghai, now.

Lao Di Fang.

Now that we're Shanghai residents, we're on the hunt to find the city's best noodles and xiao long bao (soup dumplings). After some googling, I am across this site operated by a company that offers walking food tours of Shanghai. One stop on their noodle tour, Lao Di Fang, turned out to be a short walking distance away. There are plenty of hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Shanghai, but the good ones have lines out the door and menu items in Chinese characters only. This was no exception. We waited our turn to sit at one of the two dining tables in the restaurant, only to realize that webpage that I had loaded before I left listing the Chinese characters of the best dishes wouldn't open. After some pointing and a few helpful suggestions from the owner, we settled on a scallion and pork noodle dish, one with celery and eel, and a side of baby bok choy. I savored every flavorful bite, and the best part? Our entire meal was less than the cost of a latte at the local Starbucks, just over $4.

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