Friday, December 26, 2008

The Rooftop of the World

Well, we made it safely to the rooftop of the world. After experiencing crushing fatigue and shortness of breath- I am starting to feel better. We arrived this afternoon and have been taking it easy. After a wonderful dinner (I had Indian/Nepalese and Phil had a traditional Tibetan yak potato stew- which was YUMMY)-we all came back to the hotel to rest. So far, it seems like a beautiful place. The people are friendly and smiling; the food is great,and the scenery is beautiful.

We'll post pictures as soon as we can.

-Phil and Jen

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

The temperature has dropped 20 degrees in the last 12 hours. Phil called me this morning to tell me that it was snowing in his area of the city. Did I mention it doesn't snow in this city?

In the meantime, I will remain tucked away in my apartment baking and preparing for Christmas parties all week. Christmas certainly isn't the same here in Shanghai though. As much as I try to decorate, bake, listen to Christmas music, and make our favorite foods- Christmas just won't be the same without our family.

We are grateful, however, because we have been incredibly blessed with good friends here in Shanghai who we will celebrate this season with.

Phil and I hope the same for you, and want to wish all of you a happy, healthy and blessed Christmas and New Year!

Phil and Jen

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Shanghai Blizzards

The weather has been unusually beautiful all week. Sunshine, blue skies and 50 degree temperatures have been gracing Shanghai with their presence. Today is a very different day however. Alas, I fear the winter fog is upon us.

Saturday has ushered in a fog so thick it seems to have swallowed the city. As I look out the window of my apartment into the void of white- I feel strangely cut off and isolated from the bustling world that lay beneath.

Days like today are like snowstorms back in Michigan. Shanghai doesn't really experience snow, and on the rare occasion that it does- the snow fades away in hours. So I will call this fog a blizzard. After all, like a snowstorm, these fog blizzards makes you feel sleepy and lethargic; wanting nothing more than to curl up on the couch and watch a good movie.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The couch and I have been spending some quality time together over the last two days. I have succumbed to the head cold everyone else in this city seems to have. As long as I am done with this whole thing by next Friday when Phil and I leave for Tibet, I will be happy. In the meantime, I am catching up on some much needed useless television watching, laying around, and over-eating.

Once I get past this- I have much preparing to do. As I mentioned above, Phil and I have decided to go on holiday in Tibet. We will leave the day after Christmas, but before we go-there are much Christmas shenanigans to be had. In the spirit of celebrating, we have been planning and attending a few Christmas parties this month and still have a few more to go.

Last week I hosted a Christmas cookie exchange at my house and it inspired me to eat (actually, I meant to say bake; eat was so much more accurate though ;)). I have been inspired to bake an array of family favorites for our Christmas celebration with friends next week.

Maybe after all this eating, a hike in Tibet is just what I need.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Just a little something in the meantime...

I am long overdue for a blog update. It has been a busy couple of weeks since we got back from Paris. In the spirit of the holidays, Phil and I decided it was important to celebrate this year. You may be thinking "duh, no-brainer here", but things in this city are far more complicated than I can even communicate to you. A decision to go out in search of a Christmas tree, it's trimmings, and all that entails- is something many who live here would prefer only to having their teeth pulled out without drugs.

You think I am being dramatic, I know. I wish I were. I can tell you that the result of my two weeks of searching and scouring the city for decent decorations, has led to a fairly acceptable jewel toned tree and wreath (I know you're thinking- "Phil and Jen, yeah I can see them going for the jewel tones?!"), as well as a holiday luncheon and cookie exchange party. On the other end of those grand accomplishments- me with a cold and a desire to hole up in my apartment for the next month. I am a bit "done" with China for the next few days. I am ready for a break, and the ensuing cold tells me that my body is as well.

Happy Holidays! :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December is here, and I can't believe how quickly the latter half of this year has flown by. We have been back from Paris for a few days now and I think I am finally getting over it. Granted- things still don't taste right, but my taste buds should start compromising soon enough.

I finished our photo album from our trip- so check out the album titled Amsterdam- Paris...

The holidays are approaching, and I have to say that Christmas in Shanghai is so far from normal, it's hard to even call it Christmas. Last year, I made the mistake of not putting a lot of energy into celebrating the holidays, and I really regret it. This is a new year though and I have learned from previous mistakes... so holiday merrymaking- here we come!

Christmas can't possibly be the same as it is when we are home with family, friends, familiar foods and decorations, but I have to work with what I have. So my $10 seriously fake tree that's missing a leg (gotta love China)- is waiting in the living room for a creative fix and some new ornaments. Phil and I will have our annual fondue and decorating party this Friday, so I need to get to IKEA (the one easy and decent place for Christmas decorations) to purchase all of my lights and ornaments by Friday.

I have also decided to give my annual cookie exchange party a try here in Shanghai. Due to the hurting economy, many of our friends are staying here for the holidays- so when I put the idea for the cookie exchange out there, I had a surprising amount of interest.

I am even thinking of hosting a holiday pot luck or dinner of some sort. A friend of mine let me borrow her holiday edition of Good Housekeeping that someone brought back from the States, and I am inspired! I can't tell you how comforting it is to thumb through pages of cookies, holiday recipes, and gift ideas. I don't even mind Paula Deen's somewhat sacrilegious approach to food- afterall, she is wearing a most festive red sequin top and Santa hat. I mean who could hold her reference to dark chocolate and red wine as being "nasty" against such a cutely clad little lady? Ahh, holiday cheer...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Nothing Tastes as it Should

It's Tuesday morning here in Shanghai and nothing tastes right! I can't seem to make a drinkable cup of coffee, and it's driving me crazy.

We've been back from Paris for 2 days now. Shanghai has been kind upon our return. The weather has been beautiful- with blue skies and 60 degree days since our return. But everything tastes awful! For any of you who have eaten your way through France like Phil and I just attempted to do- you might be able to appreciate my sentiments. For those of you who have lived in China and have been forced to dumb down your taste and food expectations in order to "enjoy" western food here- you can also appreciate where I am coming from. For the rest of you- you are wondering what the heck I am rambling on about...perhaps even thinking I am crazy.