Monthly Archives: October 2012

Chinglish Lunch

Today I went to lunch with a group from the office.  We went to a local Chinese restaurant and had a delicious meal.  I love the Chinese way of ordering lots of different dishes and then everyone tries a little of everything.  It is also nice to go with locals who order food that I would never think to order and most of the time, it is yummy!  I had to laugh at the translation on the menu for many of the dishes.  I don’t know what the staff thought I was doing when I asked to keep the menu so I could take photos!

Every restaurant in China has a food safety certificate prominently displayed.  I think that yellow is ok to eat!  No funny tummy so far……

A yellow neutral face for food safety today

There were 7 of us for lunch and everyone ordered a couple of dishes each.  I chose a spicy fish option, because my first choice had already been ordered:

Explosion Lamb! It was fantastic.

Pork Grandmother (the translation means “homestyle” cooked). Again, it was delicious.

This cauliflower dish was perfectly cooked with a fabulous combination of flavours. Unfortunately, none of my friends knew the English for the “green stuff” so I don’t know what it was cooked with. It was definitely not mustard!

The rest of the photos here are of dish names on the menu that made me laugh, but that I did not try.  I will be going back, so I will be sampling some of these in the future.

So many on this page alone: Moo Meat; Braised Stroke; Chicken Black Fungus; Rich Beef; Cowboy Cake Ring; Chicken, blinds results.

Grilled Husband Sixi. Perhaps all the scorned women of China get together for a special type of “divorce”.

I love soybeans (edamame), but I had no idea that I just been eating the good ones up until now. I can’t wait to try the naughty ones next time!

3 yellow chicken

How many versions of yellow can there be? And, this poor chicken has 3 versions……..

Old Chicken Pot. This poor chicken looks like he just gave up the struggle to live. Chicken in China is more often than not served like this (head and feet). It is also the same when you are buying it. The feet are a delicacy and are most often served deep fried.

Chicken Feet

Halloween Trick or Treat

The Emerald does Halloween Trick or Treat at the weekend nearest to October 31st so last night was our night to be out!  Isabelle was Violet Incredible, Oliver was Dash Incredible and I was Elastagirl Incredible.  Owen stayed at home to give out the candy!

We spent the morning completing the house decoration:

Our Halloween decorated house

Our Halloween decorated house – complete with the “black” light to make the spiders web fluorescent in the dark!

All the little ghosts, witches, wizards, spooks etc met at the Clubhouse at 5.00pm.  There were so many children – I didn’t realize we had so many in our neighborhood!

The neighborhood gathering to start the Trick or Treat rounds

The neighborhood gathering to start the Trick or Treat rounds

Many of the adults were also in costume so it was a very festive and fun walk around!  At 5:15pm all the kids were off and running and in all different directions.  The kids wanted to get to 5th Street as quickly as possible as all the houses in that road had got together to build a Haunted House!

5th Street Haunted House

5th Street Haunted House

We had walked through it earlier in the day and it was a little scary for our 2 incredibles so they definitely did not want to do it again in the dark!

Most of the houses in our large compound were participating in the Halloween tradition and many houses were suitably decorated too!  This is the biggest Trick or Treat that I have ever seen (and we lived in America for 15 years!!!!!)  You could tell who the American children were as they were the ones dressed in costumes that were not scary!  We saw lots of vampires, spooks, witches and ghosts.

Our neighbor across the street had made her own headless woman costume – it looked brilliant:

Our headless neighbor

Our headless neighbor

2.5 hours later, we were back at our house.  There was a note on the door to say that we had run out of candy!  Owen said that the door bell was going non-stop and that he had never seen so many children.  Apparently, everyone loved our pumpkins and were mesmerized by the light.  Our 2 had sore feet and aching legs from all the walking, but were over the moon by the amount of candy they had collected!  A very enjoyable evening – I like Halloween Chinese style!!!!!

Trick or Treating at a neighbors!

Trick or Treating at a neighbors!

 

Emerald Halloween Party

Tonight (Saturday October 27th) was the Emerald Halloween Party at Clubhouse II from 6.30pm – 9.00pm.  The kids were so excited about this and have been talking about it all week – what to wear, who was going and all the activities that they would do there.  It was another mild night, so no need for coats or jackets.  Once we arrived, we could see that a huge effort had been made, the clubhouse was suitably decorated and there were loads of activity tables set up around the main room.

Owen (not in costume), Isabelle the witch, Oliver and Sara

Owen (not in costume), Isabelle the witch, Oliver as Dash Incredible and Sara as Elastagirl Incredible arriving at the Emerald Halloween Party.

Kids and friends at Emerald Halloween Party

Kids and friends at Emerald Halloween Party

Oliver, Ethan, Isabelle and Ava

Oliver, Ethan, Isabelle and Ava

The first activity table was a pumpkin carving station.  Isabelle and Oliver both drew the design they wanted carved and then we left them to be carved by some of the chef’s!  The second activity table was mask painting.  Oliver wanted to paint a pumpkin mask while Isabelle did a cat face.  Unfortunately, while leaving them to dry, someone else took Isabelle’s away, so it was just Oliver who got to take his home.  The same thing happened to her pumpkin, so the chef gave us his extra large pumpkin as consolation.  Our annual tradition of pumpkin carving is going to be broken this year as all the pumpkins here are much smaller and wider.  Not at all the right shape for our elaborate designs.  I feel quite sad about that 😦

Oliver (Daddy assisting) painting his pumpkin mask.

Oliver (Daddy assisting) painting his pumpkin mask.

Isabelle painting her cat mask

Isabelle painting her cat mask

The Emerald also had a haunted house set up.  Oliver refused to go through it and Isabelle went with her friends.  She came back laughing (but nervous laughter) and did not want to go back through it when her friends went for round 2!  Emma and I went through and there was 1 section that made us both jump!

The kids also had a go at tossing hoops over a skeleton to win prizes and throwing candy sweets into a pumpkin.  Both of them came home with pumpkin shaped glasses and light up spooky badges.  It is the little things that bring happiness!  There were 2 more activities: face painting and candy decorating.  Isabelle had a ghost painted on her face and they both found lots of chocolate sweeties!

Oliver proudly displaying his light up badges.

Oliver proudly displaying his light up badges.

I did her eyes and the ghost was done at the party!

I did her eyes and the ghost was done at the party!

A buffet dinner and cocktail/drinks station were set up at the far end of the room.  We ate monster toes (hot dog sausages), Mummy pizza’s, popcorn chicken, french fries and chicken wings.  The bartender put on a display of juggling with flaming bottles.  We had a vampire and damsel in distress dance display as well as a spooky themed disco.  All the kids were dressed up and most of the adults had made an effort too.  It was a fun evening, and we were all home by 9.15pm!

The backdrop to the stage/disco area.

The backdrop to the stage/disco area.

Halloween spookiness everywhere......

Halloween spookiness everywhere……

Who are these 2 people with the witch?

Who are these 2 people with the witch?

Aha, it is Elastagirl and Dash Incredible!

Aha, it is Elastagirl and Dash Incredible!

 

Char Bar, Mr Willis and Friends

End of a long week!  Friday night started with us heading to the Char Bar, which is  a bar on top of Hotel Indigo on the Bund.  We were meeting friends from Emerald on the roof top for drinks before going to dinner in the French Concession.

It was a fantastic evening.  The ladies all wearing sleeveless dresses/tops and no need for a jacket!  The weather is absolutely gorgeous this time of year.  Loads of blue skies, sunshine, good air quality and warm!  We arrived on the rooftop at 7.30pm and had a couple of cocktails there before leaving for dinner at Mr Willis.

Owen, Matt, Emma, Nick and Lin at Char Bar, Hotel Indigo

Owen, Matt, Emma, Nick and Lin at Char Bar, Hotel Indigo.  Great view of the Pearl Tower, Bottle Opener and other downtown buildings from here.

Owen & Sara at the Char Bar, Hotel Indigo

Owen & Sara at the Char Bar, Hotel Indigo

This is a fabulous location!  It was a lovely relaxing start to the weekend – chilled glass of wine, with friends, admiring the view and unwinding from the week.

Fabulous view of downtown Shanghai

Fabulous view of downtown Shanghai

All of the boats on the Bund were lit up!

All of the boats around the Bund were lit up!

Another great view.......

Another great view…….

The Huangpu River at night.

The Huangpu River at night.

We can highly recommend Hotel Indigo!

Hotel Indigo

After such a good start to our evening, expectations were high for dinner!  A short drive across town and we arrived at Mr Willis in the French Concession area.  This area is very distinctive as there are lots of trees down all the avenues and there are many “boutique” type shops, cafes and restaurants.  This area is probably the most western within Shanghai.

Mr Willis restaurant is on the top level of a building with a couple of other restaurants in it.  The menu is all western and top quality.  I shared the Goats Cheese Souffle with Emma (Owen ate a whole portion) to start with and then had Lamb Shank for my main.  Owen had ordered the Roast Beef which was actually the biggest steak I have ever seen, but so delicious (over 50% came home in a doggy bag with us!)  My lamb shank was fall-off-the-bone tender, and perfectly accompanied with couscous and a tomato based sauce.  Owen had lemon sablee for dessert and I had pavlova – both melt-in-the-mouth yummy!  It was a fantastic meal for both of us.

A lovely evening, with lots of laughs, good food, fine wine and friends.  The perfect start to the weekend!

BISS “Ourselves” day, Roman Day, Picnic Day and others……

The school that our children go to, British International School Shanghai, (BISS) is a great school and I am so grateful that they are happy there, getting a fantastic education and having fun!  The school sets high standards – above the standard UK government recommendations and so the expectations are that our 2 should do incredibly well here.  I particularly like that they involve parents in many of the topic and class activities.  For example, a couple of weeks ago, Oliver was finalizing his topic on “Ourselves” which included building his own family tree, learning about the different parts on him, things that people have in common as well as the differences between him and many of his classmates (it is an International school with many different colours of skin, accents, languages and cultures – all of which are discussed and celebrated).  I got the chance to spend a couple of hours helping him finish his family tree and then the finale – draw around him and help him finish his “Oliver self portrait”.

Oliver with his finished "me"

Oliver with his finished “me”

I drew around him and he did all the painting, cutting and sticking on of everything.  It was so much fun!

One of Isabelle’s recent topics has been on the Romans and the finale was to dress up as a Roman for the day:

I am a Roman Goddess!

I am a Roman Goddess!

Showing off the cape......

Showing off the cape……

Walking like a ....... Roman!!

Walking like a ……. Roman!!

Another parent involved day was to assist with a practical on following instructions.  In class, Isabelle brainstormed different sandwich fillings and all the elements that go into making a healthy sandwich.  The next day she had to take those ingredients in and make her sandwich.  This was the parent inclusion aspect!  She was so excited when I arrived in class (about 50% of the children had parents there to watch!)  Then we all went to the football field to enjoy a picnic with the finished result.

Isabelle enjoying her self made sandwich with friends

Isabelle enjoying her self made sandwich with friends (Ava, Sophia, Maddie, Sarah and Mayha).

I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to participate in these events every now and then – it really makes the difference to my life and to the kids!

Oliver's class - Reception Alder. Teacher is Miss S

Oliver’s class – Reception Alder. Teacher is Miss S

Oliver's artwork - his pasta name!

Oliver’s artwork – his pasta name!

 

Chinese Cooking and cooking, kids style

One of the ECA’s (Extra Curricular Activity) that Isabelle is doing at school is Chinese Cooking (the other is Arts and Crafts).  One of her first classes was making Chinese dumplings and they were delicious.  She has also made vegetable fried rice, sticky chicken wings and sticky red bean dumplings.  We have all liked everything so far, except for the red bean dumplings.

Last weekend our Ayi, Angela, was babysitting.  (Owen was in the UK collecting his medication and I was going to a 40th birthday party.)  I came downstairs from getting ready to find Angela and Isabelle hard at work making more delicious dumplings.  Angela was showing Isabelle different ways of filling and making them.  Oliver and I were lucky enough to taste them for lunch on Sunday!  There are a couple of different ways to cook them – you can either steam them or fry them.  I like them fried best and so that is how we ate them.  Surprisingly, even when frying you use at least 1 cup of water to steam them at the same time.  When I read the instructions, I thought that something must have been translated wrong, but as you can see from the photo, they looked (and tasted) perfect!

Isabelle's yummy dumplings!

Isabelle’s yummy dumplings!

On Thursday October 18th, Oliver had a school trip to a Pizza place.  They were learning about cooking too, so all the children got to make their own pizza’s and bring them home for dinner.  Oliver had used many different toppings which were all artfully arranged.  It was delicious too!

That evening, he also wanted to help with dinner.  He put his pizza apron and hat on so he could help Daddy:

Carefully pour the milk in.

Carefully pour the milk in.

Stir well (closely supervised by Daddy!)

Stir well (closely supervised by Daddy!)

Ta-dah!

Ta-dah!

Last week, Isabelle’s Literacy homework was a practical task to prove that she could follow instructions.  She had to pick a recipe or craft activity, make it and take it into school.  She choose to make Marshmallows following Owen’s trusted (secret) recipe!  She has previously successfully made them and shared with her school friends in the UK.  She followed the instructions to the letter and they turned out beautifully:

Marshmallow Queen

Marshmallow Queen

Not to be outdone by his own daughter, Owen had booked a Chinese dumpling cooking class to learn how to make them too.  Yesterday was lesson day!  He went with 1 of the Dad’s and 2 of the Mum’s – he said that the guys performed way better than the girls!  They all had a fun time too.  Even though we are yet to taste them, they look very professional:

Owen's beautifully created dumplings.

Owen’s beautifully created dumplings.

They look so professional

They look so professional

Golden Week Holiday! Final Stop – Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore

After another quick 1 hour flight, we landed back in Singapore at 2.00pm.  We had cleared immigration and were walking out with our luggage at 2.10pm – super efficient.  We took a luxury hotel shuttle bus to the Marina Bay Sands hotel, which is the hotel with the boat on the top.

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Largest Ferris Wheel in the world.

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Largest Ferris Wheel in the world.

View from the Top

View from the Top. Owen is wearing Oliver’s new hat!

Looking down to the ocean and gardens

Looking down to the ocean and gardens

As we had arrived at check in time of 3.00pm, the line was very long, but after collecting our keys we rushed up to our room on 39th floor, changed into swim wear and then raced up to 57th floor and the pool.  It has an infinity edge, so it appears that you could jump out of the pool to the ground below.  It was a little chilly in the pool for Owen and I, so we only stayed long enough for photos!!  The kids enjoyed and hour or so of swimming.

The infinity pool at the top is very cool.

The infinity pool at the top is very cool. The kids thought they could jump out from there to the ground! There are several feet and 3 barriers to prevent this, but it is a great illusion!

My turn for photos!

My turn for photos!

And, Daddy's turn for photos

And, Daddy’s turn for photos!

Chillaxing on the water sun beds!

Chillaxing on the water sun beds!

Messing about on the water sun beds!

Messing about on the water sun beds! This was many minutes of fun: splash, laugh and repeat!

Going......

Going……

Going......

Going……

Gone!

Gone! Splash!

Soaking wet and loving every minute!

Soaking wet and loving every minute!

A quick change out of wet into dry so we could go to dinner.  The Shoppes at Marina Bay is a mall filled with designer, expensive shops.  The mall looked quite busy so I guess singapore must be full of rich people with money to burn.  There were a few celebrity restaurants and we had chosen Bistro Moderne.  Owen had a truffle/short rib burger, Isabelle and Oliver shared a Yankee burger and I had prime rib.  Loads of ice cream for dessert.  All delicious.

We love you Daddy and what a fantastic meal!

We love you Daddy and what a fantastic meal!

Aaah!

Aaah!

We went back up to the roof after dinner to see the skyline lit up. And from our room we watched an amazing light show against water jets as the kids were getting ready for bed.

Singapore at night is amazing.

Singapore at night is amazing.

Up early so we could get to the airport in time for breakfast.  Nice airport with big kids play area.  X-ray machines are by gates – what a fantastic idea!  No long lines waiting to clear security….  I am amazed that no- one has thought of this before.  5 hour flight back to shanghai, ready for work/ school tomorrow…