Pop quiz… What is this?

Found this taped to my door.

What is it? What am I supposed to do with it?

Just a little taste of what it’s like living in a foreign country where you can’t read or speak the language. Every day is an adventure. And the littlest simplest tasks become difficult.

So what would you do?

Hint: You get something similar in the US and if I don’t deal with it soon I’m in trouble.

(p.s. I’ll tell you the answer tomorrow.)


All about the bling

I spend a lot of time shopping since I’ve moved to China. I’m not really sure how that happened because I was never much of a shopper in the States. I think it may have something to do with the fact that there is so much cool stuff that is so cheap. I’m a big bargain shopper and I love to hunt for a deal. I really have a hard time passing up something cool that is absurdly cheap, even if I don’t really need it. The other day I bought this pair of shoes for $1.50. I probably won’t wear them but a couple of times, but really… $1.50?! Pretty sure I’ll get my money’s worth if I wear them more than once. There is no shortage of deals to be hunted in Shenyang.

The other reason I enjoy shopping in China is the amazingly interesting sights you come across. Continue reading


Reasons why I love China… North Market

One of the hardest things to adjust to when moving to China is the food. It’s not that it’s bad. (Ok, some of it is, but most of it is very good.) It’s just that it’s a completely different diet than we’re used to eating. They don’t eat a lot of dairy products, including milk and cheese, so they are a little scarce. You can find them in most import shops, but they are more expensive than other parts of the world. A small 8 oz block of cheese runs about $5 here.

The milk isn’t found in the refrigerated section. It comes in a box. It is not pasteurized, but sterilized with a process called UHT, ultra-high-temperature processing. I expected for it to be very different than what we were used to, but it’s not that bad. The hardest part is that it is hard to find low fat or skim varieties.

Another difference is that canned and boxed processed foods that we use often in the States are not readily available. Again, some are available in the foreign import stores, but for the most part Chinese don’t use pre-packaged foods. For the last couple of years, I’d been cutting back on cooking with this type of food anyway. I think we consume way too many preservatives in the US, so I had started to cook from scratch more. Not all organic, just as natural as was convenient. However, I never realized how often I did just crack open a can of condensed soup or a jar of spaghetti sauce or a box of noodles.

But I guess necessity makes it much easier to change. Continue reading


10 things you should pack when you move to China

Packing for ChinaI remember one of the biggest headaches when I found out we were moving to China was figuring out what to pack. I had no idea what to expect and was completely overwhelmed. Will I be able to buy what I need when I get there? What is and isn’t available? What if I don’t pack it and then they don’t have it? What if I forget something and then need it???
Continue reading


“Chun jie kuai le!” or “Hey ya’ll, watch this”

“Chun jie kuai le!” means “Happy Spring Festival!”

Spring Festival is the most important holiday in China. (Spring Festival = Chinese New Year = Lunar New Year) Very much like Christmas in the US. It is a time for family reunions, celebrations, and vacation. Pretty much the whole country shuts down and heads home (to wherever they grew up or their family lives now). It makes for a really interesting experience for foreigners as the cities empty out and the party begins.

In case of destroy by fireworks

On Monday night, the hubby and I were headed out to dinner and we noticed this sign posted in the elevator.
Who doesn’t love some good chinglish? Make sure you move that car.

The fireworks had already been going off for several days. All hours of the day. I still haven’t figured out the point of shooting fireworks in the middle of the day. But they do it. 6 am… 8 am… noon… midnight… Literally all day long.

New Year Firecrackers

These were given to some friends by their driver. We don’t know for sure, but I’d guess this particular 2000 round set of crackers cost a few yuan (probably less than $1). They don’t have restrictions here on who can buy fireworks. They sell any kind to any one. Huge boxes that would only be sold to professionals in the US are readily available here.

Wednesday was “New Years Eve”. We’d already been warned that there was no way you’d get any sleep until at least 1 am. And that’s if you’re a heavy sleeper.

Fireworks for Spring Festival

Turns out that was a huge understatement.

Fireworks line the street

This is the street right outside our apartment. Taken from our bedroom window. They started laying them out around 10 p.m. These boxes were huge, and they had dozens of them. Traffic just drove around them.

**Note: it is 2 days after the New Year as I’m writing this… and I literally just jumped out of my skin as ANOTHER firecracker went off just outside our window. I feel like I’m in the middle of a war zone.**

Celebrating Spring Festival

Our apartment is on the 11th floor. Turns out that’s right at explosion height for most fireworks. It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. You can’t even imagine.

But maybe this will give you an idea.

This went on for a solid hour and a half non-stop.

Across the whole city.

Did you notice the guy walking down the middle of the street? And the cars driving by right at the the base of the fireworks? Safety is really an afterthought around here.

**Ok. This is getting really annoying. We’ve now just had to pause the movie for the 6th time because we can’t hear over them.**

Can you imagine the aftermath of such an explosion?

The aftermath of the Chinese festival

Well, it was just as amazing…


What to wear in Shenyang: Layers

So, I’ve had a couple of weeks to get used to the cold weather here in Shenyang. Well, I guess you don’t really “get used to it” as much as learn to deal with it. I wrote a post in October on how to stay warm in Shenyang . I have since learned a thing or two more about how to deal with the super cold weather.

My tactic…

Put on everything you own.


This was taken just before we went out on Saturday to go snow tubing. Saturday was the coldest day here in Shenyang so far this winter. The temperature topped out at a whopping HIGH of 4º F. And the wind was blowing.

It was cold. Colder than a snowman’s butt, cold.

I had on 4 shirts and 4 pair of pants and I was still cold.

What’s that?
Why did we decide to plan an outside activity for the coldest day of the year?


We’re going to Harbin next weekend for the Snow & Ice Festival. We are really excited about seeing all the cool sculptures and going to an “ice bar” where all the furniture and even the glasses are made completely out of ice. But guess what? To pull off a festival like that… it’s got to be cold. And last weekend, while we were enjoying a balmy 4º F here in Shenyang, Harbin’s high was -10º F. Luckily, the forecast for this weekend in Harbin warms up to a high of 2º F.

Aren’t we lucky?