Tag Archives: Emerald

Shanghai Christmas

What a wonderful Christmas in Shanghai. We are so fortunate to have a large “family” of Ex-pats here who host so many wonderful events and look out for each other. The season started with a “Stars and Stockings” party at Jane’s house.  A fabulous night of laughter, 80’s dancing, great food and booze.

The next day, Isabelle and Oliver were at the Shanghai Expat Association’s Christmas Party at the 4 Seasons in Downtown Shanghai.  Even Santa came to visit them there! Kids from all nationalities from all over Shanghai were enjoying the festivities – so many crafts that the kids did not get through them all.  They came home laden with home made Christmas tree ornaments, gingerbread houses and presents from Santa.

Santa and Isabelle

Santa and Isabelle

IMG_8546

Santa and Oliver

On Christmas Eve, we were all at Marie and Tim’s house – with the same lovely group of people that we would be enjoying the rest of Christmas with.  This was a lovely relaxed affair and we were home by 7:30 pm ready to continue exciting the kids about an imminent visit!

Christmas Eve with Oliver

Christmas Eve with Oliver

Our Christmas Tree - ready with presents.

Our Christmas Tree – ready with presents.

Christmas morning the children woke up at 6:30am. We could hear squeals of excitement and giggles as they opened their stockings together.  They managed to contain themselves until 7:30 and then came in to “wake” us up.  We had a wonderful relaxing morning opening presents, playing with toys and enjoying a leisurely breakfast.

What could these possibly be??

What could these possibly be??

Just what we wanted!!

Just what we wanted!!

At 12.45 we walked around the corner to Lin and Nick’s house as they were hosting Christmas Dinner.  Nick works for Intercontinental Hotel group and they were catering it, so no-one had the burden of preparing the meal.  The staff had completely taken over the kitchen (using the garage as a staging area) and had even set up a bar!

Half of us at the table (bar is in the background).

Half of us at the table (bar is in the background).

We were 5 families in 1 house – 22 of us, including all the kids.  We had a fabulous meal – 5 hours at the table, laughing all the time.  The kids managed about 45 minutes of eating before they were all off playing together.  Again, it was so relaxing – no cooking or clearing up to worry about.  When you are so far from home with no family around, this could not have been a better celebration.

Daniel, Cai, Harry, Oliver and Luke.

Daniel, Cai, Harry, Oliver and Luke.

Lia, Isabelle, Amelie, Maddie and Seren

Lia, Isabelle, Amelie, Maddie and Seren

A choice of desserts.  The mini Christmas puddings were delightful!

A choice of desserts. The mini Christmas puddings were delightful!

What a wonderful group of friends to celebrate Christmas Day with.

What a wonderful group of friends to celebrate Christmas Day with.

After a brief 90 minute re-charge back at home, we were off to more friends – Suzanne and Brian’s, for the evening.  Another fantastic get together.

Boxing Day, and it was our turn to host.  The morning was a flurry of activity; cooking sausage rolls, legs of lamb and preparing for 30 people at our house at 3:00pm.  Our wonderful Ayi, Angela, was a huge help and stayed through the afternoon to help with the kids.  We had set up a craft activity area for them downstairs and some other friends had brought their Wii system for the older children to play upstairs.  While they were occupied we played our traditional Boxing Day “Dirty Santa” game.  Absolutely hilarious to see the tacky, gaudy gifts that people had found for less than 50RMB (£5/$7)!!  It was the perfect wind-down from a very hectic Christmas and we were cleared up before 10:00pm.

Jane winning Michael Fish fridge magnets in our Annual "Dirty Santa" game.

Jane opening Michael Fish fridge magnets in our annual “Dirty Santa” game!

All in all, for a very different Christmas, it was perfect.

Owen's fabulous Christmas Cake

Owen’s fabulous Christmas Cake.  Beautifully fed over the last 2 years and then beautifully decorated.  Better than any “professional” cake!!  It was YUMMY!

We decorated the house

Our house all decorated for Christmas.

Thanksgiving – British (American) Chinese style

Thursday November 22nd 2012 is Thanksgiving (the 4th Thursday in November) – a traditional American holiday but one that we have celebrated since 1995 when we first moved from the UK to America.  The first few years, Owen and I were always invited to the homes of our friends in Atlanta.  Then we started hosting at our house – opening our home to people who could not make it home to be with their families, or those who just wanted to be somewhere different.  It is one of our favourite holidays because it is all about sharing quality time with people who are special to you, good food (Turkey with all the trimmings, apple pie, pumpkin pie) and giving thanks.  I am thankful for a wonderful family, brilliant friends, my health and a job that I love and that has offered such a fabulous opportunity to live and work in China.

This year, the kids were in school and it was a work day for me!  But, we had decided to invite some friends from the Emerald to share our Thanksgiving meal in the evening.  Owen had found a western shop that would deliver a Turkey to – deep fried ready to eat – at a cost of £100/$150!!!!  We made green bean casserole, traditional stuffing, roast potatoes, broccoli, carrots, mange tout and sweet corn.  I made pumpkin roll (very yummy) and we also had the store deliver apple pie and a chocolate mousse cake.

A delicious meal shared with friends – all that Thanksgiving is about!  Lots of laughter and a new experience for our British friends.  It is good for Isabelle and Oliver to be reminded of American traditions, as they are both citizens of the USA having been born there.

Our Thanksgiving gathering. 11 people suitably stuffed!

BISS Bonfire Night (Guy Fawkes Night)

“Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I see of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
‘Twas his intent.
To blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below.
Poor old England to overthrow.”

So the saying goes.  To celebrate this tradition, bonfires are burned with effigy’s of Guy Fawkes on top and fireworks are let off.  Last year, we went to fabulous display in Chalfont St Giles, England.  We were all bundled up in coats, scarves, gloves and hats.  This year we needed long sleeves, but it was still a mild evening!

BISS has a tradition of celebrating this very British event and so on Saturday night we were off to the school.  There were lots of local restaurants selling food, the PFA were selling sparklers, glow sticks and wine and beer!  They had challenged the students to create a “Guy” to burn on top of the bonfire and there were 7 Guys in the competition.

Oliver and Isabelle by the bonfire

Oliver and Isabelle by the bonfire

Oliver & Isabelle showing off their glow sticks and glow earrings

Oliver & Isabelle showing off their glow sticks and glow earrings

I love this photo as it looks like Owen's hair is on fire!

I love this photo as it looks like Owen’s hair is on fire!

A mild evening and roaring bonfire!

A mild evening and roaring bonfire!

Enjoying a beer and glass of wine before the fireworks start

Enjoying a beer and glass of wine before the fireworks start

I took over 20 photos of the fireworks and this is the best of the lot!  I really admire the professional photographers who manage to get spectacular shots of the fabulous displays……

The best photo of the fireworks!

The best photo of the fireworks!

After the fireworks, Emma, Matthew, Ava and Ethan came back to our house to continue the fun.  The boys disappeared upstairs to play.  It was awfully quiet and when we went up to check on them, we could see why!  Oliver had found the face paint from Halloween and painted Ethan:

Oliver's artwork on Ethan's face

Oliver’s artwork on Ethan’s face. And, doesn’t he look smug!

Meanwhile the girls had changed into party dresses and had been practicing dance moves to Psi’s “Gangnam Style”.  (30 second video clip below!)  I love when an impromptu evening is so much fun!  

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!

Emerald Masquerade Ball

Tonight was the Emerald “Welcome Back” party.  The welcome back is to all the Ex-pats who left over the summer and to welcome all the new arrivals who came in over the summer.  The Ex-pat life is very transient and there are always people moving in and out of our neighborhood.

"Welcome Back to Emerald 2012" Party

“Welcome Back to Emerald 2012” Party

The party was held at our Clubhouse Function room.  It started at 6.30pm so I rushed home from work so I could be there early!  Isabelle was all dressed up in her party dress while Oliver couldn’t care less about his outfit!  The set up was wonderful with face painting and mask painting for the kids (it was a masquerade party, after all!) singers on stage and a dance performance.

A wonderful dance performance

A wonderful dance performance

The food selection was wonderful with Western and Chinese options – I tried a little of everything.  The company was also wonderful – lots of neighbors who I had not met, lots of neighbors that I already knew and everybody socialising over a few alcoholic drinks!!  The kids were in heaven – all their friends were there, they were upstaging the singers on the stage, getting faces painted, creating masks and generally running around freely.

Oliver creating his masterpiece mask

Oliver creating his masterpiece mask

Isabelle & Ava upstaging the professional Singer!

Isabelle & Ava upstaging the professional Singer! (Behind them with the microphone!)

We were home before 10.00pm as both our children had hit the wall and needed their beds!  But, it was lovely to be at a party, outside in the cool Autumn evening, with people thrown together by circumstances and still getting along!

Emerald outside Clubhouse

Emerald, outside Clubhouse. Yes, a lot of the kids ended up in the pool!!

Jenny and John with their Masks at the Masquerade Ball!

Jenny and John with their Masks at the Masquerade Ball!

Our good friends - Matthew and Emma

Our good friends – Matthew and Emma

 

Lazy weekends at the Pool

We are very fortunate at The Emerald compound to have several swimming pools to choose from.  The outdoor pool is open from beginning of June to mid September.  If you ask the kids what they want to do at the weekend, they will always say “Pool please!”  They both love swimming and the pool is the place to be at the weekend – lots of friends to play with, lots of adults to socialize with!  We ride our bikes from our house to the pool, laden down with water toys, drinks and snacks! 

Isabelle: "Lets jump together"

Isabelle: “Lets jump together”

Oliver: "No, I will just push you" !!

Oliver: “No, I will just push you” !!

"Look Mum, I can fall backwards and make a big splash"

“Look Mum, I can fall backwards and make a big splash”

Going, going, going.......

Going, going, going…….

Gone!

Gone!