Monthly Archives: January 2013

Bake Sale – Enterprise and Philanthropy

Over the Christmas holidays, Isabelle and her friend Ava made a rice krispy Christmas tree.  They wanted to sell this at a Bake Sale and had made invites to their friends in our neighborhood to come to this “Bake Sale”.  I stopped them from doing this, explaining that they needed to have more than 1 item to sell and also have more than 1 hour notice to sell something!!

The Rice Krispy Christmas Tree that started it all!

The Rice Krispy Christmas Tree that started it all!

This information had obviously sunk in because a few days later Isabelle said that she wanted to do a Bake Sale to help her with some spending money for a trip to Harbin later in January.  And so started the lesson in business 🙂

First, we talked about what she should sell and how much she should charge.  Then we talked about advertising and how to get people to come to buy “stuff” from her.  Then we talked about the fact that more people would come and buy if they knew it was for a good cause and not just for spending money for Isabelle!!

She decided that she wanted to do the Bake Sale the weekend before our trip to Harbin.  Isabelle wanted to send hand written invites to every house in our neighborhood, and so Owen then educated her about the power of email!  He sent an email to every house in our compound to advertise her venture.  She had also decided on what to sell and between her and Ava, they had persuaded Owen, Emma (Ava’s Mum) and me to make things for them to sell!

The week of January 7th – 12th and Isabelle can talk of nothing but her Bake Sale on Saturday!  Owen had been busy making marshmallows (1000 times better than what you can buy in the shop!) rice krispy treats and flapjacks.  Emma had made gingerbread, banana bread, cookies and cupcakes.  I had made cupcakes.  A lovely friend had also made brownies for the girls to sell.  They decided to sell everything for 10 RMB.  They had to work out the math, after all!!  Owen had a couple of helpers – Oliver and Ethan (Ava’s brother and Oliver’s best friend) were all too eager to lick out bowls!

Oliver and Ethan "helping" Owen with making Marshmallows.

Oliver and Ethan “helping” Owen with making Marshmallows.

Isabelle and Ava had decided to donate 50% of their proceeds to one of the charities that BISS supports – a local orphanage.

Ready for customers!

Ready for customers!

Advertising Isabelle and Ava's Bake Sale!

Advertising Isabelle and Ava’s Bake Sale!

The Bake Sale was on for 1 hour only.  Owen had received some “pre-orders” from people who could not make it but wanted to buy some goodies, so before Isabelle and Ava opened for business they were already in profit!  From 2-3pm on Saturday January 12th the girls sold almost everything on the table.  They were nice to all customers, worked out all the amounts to charge and the right change, packaged it all up nicely and kept a smile on their faces.  I was so proud of them.

A lot of customers!

A lot of customers!  The whole hour was non-stop customers!

Isabelle's labels of all the items for sale.

Isabelle’s labels of all the items for sale.

To all our amazement, the girls made 2300 RMB in one hour.  (Approximately £230 / $180)  The residents of Emerald had been very generous – many of them donating more than the total of items they were buying.  Because they had made so much money, Emma, Owen and I had a conversation about the money and what they thought would be a good amount for spending money.  They decided to take 250RMB each and donate the rest to charity.

On Monday morning, Isabelle took a fat wad of cash – 1800RMB into school to give to her teacher.  Owen had summarised the activities of the weekend and had sent that in with a DVD of photos.  We were so proud when the Head of Primary phoned to say that he was so proud of Isabelle and Ava and their accomplishments.  He had called them into his office and he told Owen that they were articulate and enthusiastic about all they had done (“one of the best 10 minutes of my teaching career” he said!).  He also said that he would be highlighting Isabelle and Ava in the Primary assembly on Thursday.   Owen and Emma attended the assembly (secretly hiding on the balcony and taking video – I was away and so bummed to miss it).  Not only did they spend 10 minutes on stage answering questions about their Bake Sale, but Mr King also wrote about Isabelle and Ava in his weekly blog update:

Student Enterprise and Philanthropy

 On Tuesday I had the delight of meeting two students, who had taken the time to plan, set up and run a bake sale in order to raise funds for a school charity and a trip to Harbin. Ava Rhind and Isabelle Jones displayed enterprising nature and charitable spirit by setting aside personal time outside of school to provide baked goods to the lucky (and generous) residents of the Emerald.
Isabelle and Oliver outside the Primary Head's office.  For all the right reasons!!

Isabelle and Ava outside the Primary Head’s office. For all the right reasons!!

Ava and Isabelle exhibited key attributes outlined in our school’s vision and values

-a strong sense of responsibility

-the importance of kindness and consideration for others

-a positive contribution to the local community

-being a confident and responsible citizen.

It was an absolute delight listening to these two budding entrepreneurs’ recounts of the bake sale and the lead up to it. They spoke clearly and eloquently about their ideas, the support from parents and neighbours and the generosity of those purchasing the tasty treats. I am sure their parents are as proud of them as we are and we all wait with baited breath to see what their next venture might be.

I have only one complaint…where was my cake?

I am so proud of Isabelle.  She was highlighted at school for all the right reasons.  They both raised so much money for the orphanage (1800RMB goes a loooonnnnggg way here) and then spoke about the steps they went through in a clear and articulate manner.

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Sanya for New Year

After a very busy Christmas, we were all looking forward to a relaxing, sunny beach holiday in Sanya, Hainan.  This island is at the southern most point of China and is nicknamed the Hawaii of China!  Late afternoon on Thursday December 27th, we flew from Shanghai to Sanya.  We were greeted at arrivals by a very nice man from the hotel to take us to check in.  It was a 45 minute drive through roads with large brightly lit hotels and buildings – it reminded us a little bit of Benidorm!  We arrived at the Intercontinental hotel, checked in and then got on a golf cart to take us to our room.

Intercontinental Hotel

Intercontinental Hotel

The hotel is beautifully laid out and is a sprawling complex of 1 or 2 storey beach side rooms, restaurants and pools.  There is a high rise building behind all of this but it is tucked into the side of the mountain and quite unobtrusive.

Oliver & Isabelle on the balcony of our hotel room - it had a double lounger!

Oliver & Isabelle on the balcony of our hotel room – it had a double lounger!  In the background you can see the fabulous roof gardens on top of the single storey hotel villas.

The hotel rooms below us have gardens on their roof!  We are on the top floor - 2nd storey, overlooking the pool and ocean.

We are on the top floor – 2nd storey, overlooking the pool and ocean.

Our room is fantastic with the largest balcony I have seen. We have 2 double beds and a single.  The room is spacious even though it has 3 beds and has all the right AV connections for us to connect our IPads to the tv for movie time for the kids!!

Beautiful pool

Beautiful pool

We wake up on Friday to glorious sunshine, blue skies and 25 degree heat.  We ate breakfast in the club continental restaurant, after which we walked around the resort.  We checked out all the different restaurants, fitness facilities and kids club.  Both Isabelle and Oliver wanted to do some activities while we were there so we checked the times of their favourites.  It was back to the room to change into swim suits and go to one of the pools for the day.  We settled by the only heated pool which was also by the kids slide/kids pool.  Oliver immediately made a friend and the 3 of them were off sliding, jumping, swimming.  Owen and I relaxed by the pool for the whole day!!

The Ocean was warm too!

The Ocean was warm too!

One of the pools

One of the pools

The infinity edge Club Intercontinental pool overlooking the beach!

The infinity edge Club Intercontinental pool overlooking the beach!  The Sea Pavilion restaurant is on the far left on jetty’s over the ocean.  Fantastic Chinese meal here!

That evening we decided to try the Sea Pavilion restaurant which is a group of buildings built over the coral reef.  We had the best Chinese meal that we have ever eaten in this restaurant.  Everything was beautifully cooked and presented.  We even had a bottle of imported Chablis to drink with it!!

Breakfast al fresco at Club Continental

Breakfast al fresco at Club Continental

Saturday was another day by a different pool and today it was Isabelle’s turn to make a friend.  We read books while the children played – they really are water babies and are totally happy to spend the whole day in the pool.  1 kids club activity to do – fishing off the jetty.  They came back with a bucket filled with a large eel, 3 large fish and a large crab.  They had also caught 5 shrimp but there was no evidence of these as they had obviously been eaten by everything else they caught…..  We took a couple of photos and then walked down to the beach to put them all back into the ocean.  We ate at Club Continental that evening.

Crab, eel, shrimp (now eaten!) and fish - not bad in 1 hour fishing off the jetty!

Crab, eel, shrimp (now eaten!) and fish – not bad in 1 hour fishing off the jetty!

Sunday – was a chilly day and we actually had to wear long sleeve t-shirts!  Kids had a couple of activities at kids club – pancake making (Isabelle burnt her hand on the hot plate) and they also made an alarm clock. They were supposed to go fishing again but Isabelle’s hand hurt too much.  Even though Isabelle’s hand burning was an accident (she touched the hot plate that they were making pancakes on), the staff could not have handled it better.  They immediately applied ice and gave us a special burns cream (burns are obviously a matter of fact in the kitchen!)  The next day there was no evidence of the burn and it was almost forgotten!  That night we ate at Mediterraneano and the kids got to play on a bouncy castle that goes up every evening.  Owen had delicious beef and I had lamb!  It had not been a pool day as it was too chilly for all of us.  It was a lazy movie day in our hotel room.

The water slide at the family pool.

The water slide at the family pool.

Lazing on the alligator in the Club pool.

Lazing on the alligator in the Club pool.

New Year’s Eve dawned a little warmer and we had to be early as Isabelle and Oliver were going off to hunt for seashells on the beach as a kids club activity.  Straight after they made shell necklaces.  We picked Oliver up after these activities, but Isabelle wanted to stay and play with a lovely little boy who would not let go of her hand at kids club!  (We later found out that he is the General Manager’s little boy!!)

We went to the pool and had lunch sitting by the pool. Although it was a blue sky day, it is still a little cooler than when we first arrived.  Our New Year’s Eve
Celebration dinner was a magnificent buffet at Mediterraneano that included baby lobster, crab, all sorts of meats, Chinese specialities and a chocolate fountain!  It was all delicious and we stretched it out as long as possible, but the kids did not make it past 10 pm.  Owen struggled through to 11.55 and then it was just me to make phone calls back home – slightly tiddly!!

Isabelle with her New Year's Eve hat on.

Isabelle with her New Year’s Eve hat on.

Oliver's New Year's Eve hat.

Oliver’s New Year’s Eve hat.

Me with my 2 lovely children celebrating at Mediterraneao

Me with my 2 lovely children celebrating at Mediterraneao

Garfield came to visit the kids at the restaurant.

Garfield came to visit the kids at the restaurant.

Tigger came too!

Tigger came too!

Tigger with Isabelle!

Tigger with Isabelle!

Walking back to our hotel room after New Year's Eve dinner.  We stopped by the fire pit.....

Walking back to our hotel room after New Year’s Eve dinner. We stopped by the fire pit…..

A fantastic family shot on New Year's Eve.  Owen worked out the self timer on the camera and we took some lovely photos of all of us on our balcony.

A fantastic family shot on New Year’s Eve. Owen worked out the self timer on the camera and we took some lovely photos of all of us on our balcony.

New Year’s Day was a beautiful day. Kids were off to kids club for t-shirt art and hand/feet art in the morning.  Owen and I sat and chatted with the General Manager all morning.  Jeff had arranged bikes for us in the afternoon so we rode to the opposite side of the bay where there is a large marina and we stopped on the way back at a fab playground park for the kids to play.  Dropped the bikes off and then headed to the pool……

We took 2 tandem bikes to the other side of the bay to check out the Marina.  This was the only time we ventured out of the resort!

We took 2 tandem bikes to the other side of the bay to check out the Marina. This was the only time we ventured out of the resort!

Kids by the Marina

Kids by the Marina

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was more of the same!  Pool, pool, pool.  We at least tried all the restaurants in the resort!!  We did not leave the resort – other than on the bike ride. We were all perfectly content to laze by the pools.  One afternoon the kids spent an hour or so creating art out of rocks.

Oliver Rocks!

Oliver Rocks!

Isabelle Rocks too!

Isabelle Rocks too!

Owen and I read books on our iPads and Isabelle and Oliver were in paradise, throwing themselves down the water slide or playing in the pool.  It is amazing how long they will play in the pool for.  They also made sand pictures and had a water gun fight in the pool as part of kids club activities.  One final highlight of Kids Club was an hour spent in the restaurant making cookies and muffins with Chef Alex.  They both absolutely loved that!

Chef Alex with his Sous Chefs!  The boxes contain cookies and muffins that they made in the restaurant kitchen.  They loved this!

Chef Alex with his Sous Chefs! The boxes contain cookies and muffins that they made in the restaurant kitchen. They loved this!

Isabelle and Oliver in the swinging bar seats by the beach.

Isabelle and Oliver in the swinging bar seats by the beach.

A beautiful Sanya sunset.

A beautiful Sanya sunset.

Owen with Isabelle and Oliver outside the Beer Factory restaurant.

Owen with Isabelle and Oliver outside the Beer Factory restaurant.  (Great Fish and Chips here!)

Trying to pick up the giant beer mug!

Trying to pick up the giant beer mug!

Alligators in the Club Pool!

Alligators in the Club Pool!

Blue skies, palm trees, sun and relaxation.

Blue skies, palm trees, sun and relaxation.

The general manager told us that the hotel was fully booked, but you would never have known it.  The pools were mainly empty (except for the heated pool!) and there was always room in the restaurants.  The resort is a paradise – a zen zone!  It has a very calming, peaceful atmosphere and we were very well looked after.
It was just what we were looking for after a busy end to the year.

Cultural observations

You rarely see a fat Chinese person.  I think this is because they do not eat a lot of processed food – their diet consists of mainly meat, vegetables, rice and noodles.  They are not big dairy eaters and dessert at most restaurants is usually fruit.  They also eat most of the animal or fish, parts that most westerners would not.

You don’t often see a balding Chinese man.  I wonder what it is about their genes that allow them to keep a full head of hair into old age.  If you could bottle that, it would make millions!  The beautiful straight dark hair seems to stay that way into old age too – I have not seen many grey haired ladies (perhaps they all dye it!)

The airline rules don’t appear to apply to Chinese.  It doesn’t matter if we are taxi-ing or just landed – they will get up, use the toilet, open the over-head bins.  The seatbelt sign is obviously just for amusement.

Queueing is an alien concept.  You just barge as quickly as possible to the front.  So, you don’t have to let people off an elevator first, before getting in – regardless of how many people are trying to get out.

Personal space is much more limited than most Westerners would like.  I think that because there are so many people here, you just get used to sharing less space.  It has taken me a while to get used to people walking so close to me (and each other) and just general crowding.  The only time I really object is when you hear the horrible noise of a Chinese person clearing their throat getting ready to spit.  I know that different beliefs and customs in a culture should be tolerated – but I really cannot stand that.

Party time – Emerald style…..

I have been travelling so much in 2013 and now I am trying to catch up on posts.  We have also had some issues with our internet access (it is the season of changing Party officials, after all!!)

The lead up to Christmas was full of festivity and there were lots of events that Owen and I were invited to.  Jane and JC hosted a Stars and Stockings Party which was huge fun.

Stockings and Stars!

Stockings and Stars!  Most of the girls showing off their stockings.  I just wore Star earrings!!

Some of the Boys

Some of the Boys

Thanks to plenty of champagne and some great music (Jane and JC's 14 year old son was DJ!) there was plenty of dancing.  And dancing in 80's style!

Thanks to plenty of champagne and some great music (Jane and JC’s 14 year old son was DJ!) there was plenty of dancing. And dancing in 80’s style!

And, remember this one?

And, remember this one?

It was a fantastic evening.  Not only was Jane and JC’s son the DJ, but he also tended bar for us all – mixing perfect cocktails dressed in a tux!  I am sure we all gave him some good stories for his friends!!

The party that kicked off the Christmas season celebrations!

The party that kicked off the Christmas season celebrations!

More Christmas parties the following weekend: friends from work on Saturday night and then Sunday was open house at Jane and Kevin’s house.  She had over 12 children all doing arts and crafts – decorating cookies, making Christmas tree ornaments and colouring.  It was loud and noisy with so many kids having so much fun.  It was a lovely relaxing Sunday afternoon catching up with friends, discussing Christmas plans, sipping mulled wine, eating mince pies and other traditional goodies.

Open House at Jane and Kevin's

Open House at Jane and Kevin’s