Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Words of the Lately: Frigate, Gark, Psy-ged, Dopdopdopdop, Freppery

Frigate* (noun) 1) a modern warship that is smaller than a destroyer 2) the first formal academic classroom based learning environment, usually composed of children of ages 3 or 4, alternate pronunciation: Pre-K
"FRIGATE 1B! FRIGATE 1B! Line up, line up! It's time to go outside!" - Teacher Magnolia, clapping her hands to get her pretend students' attention
*This word was recently changed from Cricket. 

Gark (adjective): having very little or no light
"'s a gark" - Kaleia, age 2

Psy-ged (adjective): emotionally aroused, usually shown by scrunching up ones arms close to the body, fists near the chin, quivering
"So psy-ged. I habba pack-pack. I gonna see Teacher Day-bed, Teacher Kara." - Kaleia, age 2, on the way to school

Dopdopdopdop (command): Halt

Freppery (adjective): tending or liable to cause slipping as on ice, oil, or wet surfaces

"Dopdopdopdop! Floor's freppery!" - Kaleia, age 2, copying her parent's warning to her sister

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Date!

My school was closed for Thanksgiving and the day after. Maggie and Kaleia's school didn't. So Brian and I took advantage of the "babysitting" and had our first date since August. We visited one of the art districts here in Beijing. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Street Food: Jianbing (Chinese Savory Crepes)

For weeks, I passed many of these cooking stations equipped with a hot flat griddle and attached to a  bicycle (everything in Beijing seems to be attached to a bicycle), with their delicious smells tempting me. I love crepes, but it took several colleagues recommendations before I overcame my timidity for street food and let my curiosity and stomach brave this Beijing breakfast staple. At first, I mimed my request for just a little spice. But now, I'm a regular Beijinger. I have my favorite vendor and I take the full hit of spicy goodness. Now that the weather is colder (by colder, I mean freezing!), an added bonus is the warmth this pocket of goodness provides as I walk from the subway to my bus stop.

Directions: (I've yet to try it at home, but I'd love to perfect it)

  1. A ladle full of batter is spread over the hot griddle.
  2. Then an egg is cracked on top and gently scrambled until it is set into the crepe.
  3. The best chefs sprinkle cilantro and chives on to the egg before flipping the crepe.
  4. Once flipped, hoisin, plum, chili or fermented tofu sauce is lightly painted on with a brush. I have no idea which my vendor uses. 
  5. Next, the bing -- a deep fried cracker -- is placed in the middle.
  6. Quickly, the crepe is folded around the bing, cracked with a metal spatula and scooped into a plastic bag.

Delicious, filling, and only 3.5 yuan (55 cents!).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Little Things: Wedding Photography

Yet another thing you probably won't find in a travel guide: young Chinese couples are crazy about wedding photography.  All the photos below were taken in the span of little more than an hour on a sunny September day in Chaoyang Park.  You couldn't turn a corner without stumbling upon another costumed couple or three.  Photographer friends, if business ever gets slow in North America, take note. Click "Read More" to see all the photos.

I should mention, it's not any of their actual wedding days.  Apparently they take these images well in advance to display them at their reception.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

*Red* Cup

Just after Halloween, many friends were posting on facebook about the arrival of the Red Cups. So I decided to take the longer walk to the Liangmaqiao subway station to see if they made it to Beijing.


I was surprised. Afterall, red is China's color. I got my Chai Tea stand in -- Black Tea Latte, and headed to school. 

Then, a week or so later, I headed back to my favorite local Starbucks for a pick me up. I frequent Starbucks way more here than I did at home. Partially, it is their amazing Honey Raisin Muffins. But, mostly it helps soothe homesickness. The caffeine doesn't hurt either. 

This time, the store was decked out Christmas style. When my order was complete, I was handed my Red Cup. I never really understood the craze over the Red Cups. But this year, it felt like home.

Now, if I could only get them to import some Chai Tea...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Little Things: Augmented Horticulture, Part 2

In part one, we shared how fake plastic leaves were mixed in with real ones. Fall arrived and the imposter green leaves were removed, leaving the real ones to fade to red, orange, brown and yellow. 

Then, I happened upon this.

An army of horticulture augmenters: one carefully stripping the tree of its naturally beautiful yellow fall leaves, two attaching swags of faux yellow leaves (note the neat pile above). And one to sweep up those pesky real ones. 

I suppose it does get all the clean up done at once. But for some reason it just doesn't seem right. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treat 2011

After a week home sick, our Ladybug and Dancing Monkey were able to go to preschool just in time for their Halloween festivities.

The Ladybug's class toured around her school and our apartment complex, chanting "Halloween" and "Trick or Treat" as they marched two by two. She got five pieces of candy. After eating one at school, she decided that she had the perfect amount of candy for our family of four. She proudly presented each of us with our piece of candy from her loot when we all got home.

Our Dancing Monkey's class had a special field trip to a restaurant owned by a classmate's parents for their Halloween party. She came home pretty worn out with three fake tattoos and a blinking LED pumpkin pin.

Our Ladybug "flying" home

It has been a rough few weeks with lots of "tricks" but we're hopeful we are on an up swing and there might even be some "treats" in the near future.