Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Antique Shopping!

Yesterday I went with Sadie and Miss Gemma to do some antique shopping. Most of you know I am not a good decorator and that Jonny is much more happy to do things like that. Unfortunately, he doesn't really have the time here, so he has become dependent on me. So far our house does not seem very home like, but neither does our house back in the U.S., so I wasn't to worried about it. Sadie recently had the antiques delivered that she had refinished a month ago and they were absolutley gorgeous and I thought I have to get me some of those!

Here are some of the goodies I found.


This is an armoire that I am having refinished in black. I will use it for storing things in our living area, like toys, cds, dvds, etc. Grand Total: $86.41


We have gone almost 6 months with no storage in our bathroom and our towels are still sitting in the box that they were shipped in. Here is the cabinet I found in for out bathroom. Not sure how I am going to have it finished, so I would love any input I can get. In fact if you have input for all of the things I bought I would love your opinion on refinishing! Grand Total: $12.35


This chest was the first thing that I bought. I thought it would be a nice pieces for storing toys and just an overall nice looking decoration. Grand Total: $24.69


Gemma had a great time antique shopping. I had a list of things that I was looking for, so Gemma made up her own list. She said to me "When I grow up like a mom, these are the pieces I am going to buy!"


I bought this piece for our kitchen here. We hardly have any storage or counter space, so I thought I could do a little chopping on this piece and store some sundries in here. Grand Total: $49.38


We needed a new coat rack for our house, so I found this little gem. They are going to add wooden hooks to it, but not sure if I will have it done in a darker stain. I keep thinking of going all black for everything, what do you think??? Grand Total: $18.52


Here are Sadie's gems for the day.


This is a small bench that is about 6 inches off the ground. It is just extra seating in our living room. Grand Total: $12.35


And last, but definitely not least, my only real true antique from the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) was this bench. I bought this for Jonny's birthday, but he had wanted this for a long time, so I went ahead and let him see it. Grand Total: $61.73

The furniture is heading to the furniture refinishers place today. I will head out there today or tomorrow and let them know what we want done. I can't wait to see the finished pieces.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Stone Elephant Lake


This past Sunday we went on a day trip with our friends Asma and Mazhar to Stone Elephant Lake about 100 km from Chengdu. I had heard mixed reviews about this place, but I was amazed with the beauty. It was a huge ecotourist park with thousands of tulips in full bloom. We had a pretty good day as the weather in Chengdu has been very mild here the past 3 weeks. We took a picnic lunch and the kids ran around in the grass.


Gemma was able to fly a kite for the first time. She really loved it. (Please note in the pictures how there are lots of people staring at her!)



Here is Gemma with a fan club. I think there were a least 100 people who asked to have there picture taken with Gemma. Then there were the people who just grabbed her who didn't get their picture taken with her. We are fairly sure that most of the people at the park that day were from the countryside and have never seen a child with strawberry blonde hair, bluish eyes, and pale skin.


Angus had a great time playing in the grass and stealing balls from other kids. Here he is blowing kisses to the camera.


Gemma and Angus enjoying the great grass. We don't see alot of grass in Chengdu.


Our friend Asma. (Sorry Mazhar, I don't have any pictures of you!)




OK, now to a million pictures of tulips. I just love these pictures and wanted to share them with everyone. I loved the contrasting color of the yellow and red tulips.


and the yellow...







Gemma posing for a picture with two Yi minority people. China has 56 different minority groups throughout China. I didn't know this until I moved here and it is very interesting. Most Han Chinese are very racist against the different groups. To me, they look very similar, but not to the Han. I was just so surprised that there was such racism here. Most minority groups practice different religion and seem to have a specialty. I actually don't know much about the Yi, but they dress very colorful.


Where is Gemma???

Zai Jian Bruce and Reed


Our friends the Aitken's are leaving this week for a new assignment in the capital city of Beijing. We will miss them in the 'Du, but look forward to keeping in touch with them and visiting them in Beijing.


Angie, the hostess with the mostess!

The party was at the Briggs house and it was a great time! They have a nice little patio and the weather actually cooperated with us quite well. They catered food from one of the local Indian restaurants, which was very yummy!


There was lots of dancing going on!


and horn blowing! My Rock, what a big horn you have!


Here are the kids favorite couple, Sadie and Rock!


Not too happy about drinking water!


Our host, now it's M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E!


When we left the party it was sprinkling rain. I found an umbrella and did my own rendition of "Singin' in the Rain". You probably can tell Sadie and I had a great time!

Monday, March 20, 2006


I was catching up with my blog reading this evening and I came across this post on Whine & Cheese about Hope. The main reason I read his blog is to stay in touch with American pop culture while I live so far away. He gives great recaps of some of my favorite TV back home such as American Idol, 24, etc. I thank him very much for this, but I thought what he had to say about Hope is so true. Here is an exert from his post...

"Is hope a drug? Yeh, sort of ... or maybe more like a glass of wine... most effective when used in moderation (or maybe, literally, this is the bottle of wine we had last night speaking!)... hope is something we shouldn't overdose on (i.e. organized religion, sometimes - and I'll just leave it at that!)... but I think it is a necessary part of a happy life."

Sunday, March 19, 2006


my leprechaun_1

My personal Leprechaun!!!

St. Paddy's Day was very mellow this year. We had a few friends over for Guinness Stew with new potatoes and Irish Soda Bread. A bunch of us headed out to the Shamrock for their big St. Paddy's Day party. Here are some snapshots of the evening.


The Gang!


Karin (Principal at Gemma's school) and Sophie (my French friend).


Mike, our favorite bartender at the Shamrock!


Jonny's co-worker Michael. Michael is also an avid knitter!


Richard, another colleague of Jonny's. He had been at the Shamrock since 3 pm St. Paddy's Day! I believe Richard had a very good St. Patrick's Day.

I definitely think we are starting to show our age. Jonny and I were both ready to go home to bed at 1 a.m. Not normal for us in Chengdu since the bars stay open all night. Maybe we are maturing...

A Day of Pampering

I recently had a comment on my blog about the cost of the gardener we hired last week-end, so I thought (not to rub it in) I would give you a little overview on the price of different goods and services here in Chengdu.

Yesterday we started out our day by going to breakfast at our local Western restaurant, Peter's Tex-Mex Grill. We live about 2 blocks away from Peter's so we frequent it quite often.

Our breakfast consisted of:
-3 eggs with toast
-breakfast burritos
-biscuits & gravy
-fluffy omelet
-2 fresh squeezed orange juices
-2 coffees

The total for our breakfast was $12.10.

After breakfast we decided to check out the new Nike/Adidas/Columbia/Nautica outlet. I was very happy to find something that actually fit me and was not in extremely tiny Chinese sizes. Although spring seems to have come here I went the entire winter without a proper winter coat, so I decided to purchase a Columbia coat. It set me back $61.73.

One of our favorite things to do in Chengdu is hit the local dvd shops. Before we moved to China I was very sad thinking about the television and movies I would miss the next two years while I lived in China. I was happy to discover recently released movies in dvd format right next to our house. I found a few movies that I had been looking for...

A History of Violence: $1.85
Paradise Now (Winner of the 2005 Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film): $1.23
Ice Age: $2.47

After our shopping excursion Gemma and I decided we needed to get our nails done. We went to one place, but they were charging $3.70 for a manicure. We decided to try the hair salon that I go to once in while to get my hair washed and blow dried. Gemma, her friend Maddie and I went to the salon and left the boys at home. We decided to have a couple things done. Gemma had a manicure, Maddie and I had our toes done and we all had our hair washed and blow dried. There hair wash is amazing! They give you a great head massage which lasts about 20 minutes. I have been trying to go once a week, but I always seem to run out of time. If you ever visit China you should definitely treat yourself to this service.

Our total day at the salon:
-Gemma's manicure: $2.47
-Maddie's pedicure: $4.94
-Kim's pedicure: $9.88
-Gemma and Maddie's hair (each): $2.47
-Kim's hair: $3.46


After our pampering!


On our way to the Coffee Beanery Gemma stopped to watch a woman peeling water chestnuts. The Chinese call water chestnuts fruit and eat them raw. They definitely taste different than the ones in a can from back home!


Maddie and Gemma sharing their smoothies with Angus!

After our pampering we went to find out what Jonny and Angus had been up to. They were ready to get out of the house for a while. We headed to the Coffee Beanery for coffee and then we decided to take a quick tour of Chengdu in a couple rickshaws. We hired 2 rickshaws, which cost us $.99 a piece and headed down to the Shamrock (about 1/2 mile away). The kids loved the ride and of course I was freaking out because there were several buses and taxis that came within inches of our rickshaw. Our trip back home was another $.99.


The girls rickshaw!


The boys rickshaw!


So that is what a week-end day is like for us in Chengdu. I think after my next trip to the vegetable market I will list the prices of the fruit and vegetables that I buy. The fruits and vegetables are interesting looking and amazingly cheap!!!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Not much news from the Du...

Things here have been nice and calm. There seems to be more new Westerners appearing on the scene every day. We met a couple who have a little boy Angus' age and got the boys together for a play date last week. Another woman came back from England and has decided to start a playgroup for kids under 3.

Jonny is also on a mission to make our Chengdu house "home". We went to a plant market and bought 20 plants which ended up costing a whole $6.50 and hired a Gardner to plant them which was an additional $4. I will have to take pictures when it stops raining here. It is really shaping up!

I hope to have more to talk about soon. We will be heading out for St. Paddy's Day on Friday, so I am sure there will be stories to tell!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Guest Blogger - Sadie Hardgrove

I met this great girl when I moved to Chengdu named Sadie Hardgrove when we moved to Chengdu. Her and her husband Rock (yes, his name is really Rock Hardgrove) moved here just two weeks after we arrived in Chengdu and we have been great friends ever since. Sadie spend quite a bit of time at our house which means she has the pleasure of hanging out with our kids tons! Gemma even decided she would call her Uncle Sadie! Sadie writes an weekly email to her friends back in the Pacific Northwest and below is her last email that was about Miss Gemma and her naughty antics last week. I am hoping I can talk her into starting her own blog!

Gemma Ran Away

It was a quiet afternoon in the sleepy little town of millions. I was sitting on my stool, knitting as Kim was preparing dinner for us (I spend the majority of my time at their house and as a result, Gemma thinks I live there), Xiao Yang was admiring what an amazing knitter I am as she was doing the last minute tidy-ups on her way out, and Gemma was in the dark corners of the laundry room planning her big escape. Actually, she just walked past every single one of us and left the room.

Gemma spent the entire afternoon in her coat and shoes just certain she would die if she didn't ride her bike and was upset that her four thousand requests to do so had failed. About twenty minutes later, Xiao Yang comes through the kitchen door in utter panic. "Gemma! No!" She says. Sure that Gemma was just hiding somewhere, Kim and I started looking for her, but we knew when there was no answer to the never failing 1...2...3 (three, of course being major trouble), that she had decided it was time to take matters into her own hands. Kim threw Angus at me and flew outside- I grabbed Angus' coat and went in the other direction as I made a phone call to our friends who lives on the other side of the complex- they put their shoes on and were heading out to look for her when I saw the little red coat being carried by her mom.

Gemma wasn't really able to explain to us why she left the house by herself other than she just wanted to run. And run, she did. All in all, it was a good thing she chose to wait until she got to China to run away. That kid sticks out like a sore thumb here. Finding a four year old, blue eyed, red head in China is like finding a neon sign on an empty wall.

That night I was filling Rock in on the events of the day and telling him how funny (in a not-so-funny sort of way) it was that she was so comfortable leaving the house by herself, and his comment about it is what makes Gemma so fascinating. He said "She probably wasn't alone".

Gemma has friends from all over the world who are of all ages and all have very different lives. She has an entire community of invisible friends. The very first one I heard about was Leeta. Gemma is her mommy and talks to her on the phone many, many times a day. Then there is Teeda. Both Leeta and Teeda are from Australia (pronounced Stray-ya). Zena and Kazzar are married and are from Scotland. Their twins, Seenza and Lunchin were born about a month ago, and are now almost six. They tend to move around Chengdu a lot, because they used to live four doors down from her house, but shortly after, moved in with Rock and I. I was informed last week that they had moved out. They're currently MIA because I have yet to get their forwarding address. Nina is also from Scotland. Litza and her parents, Loncha and Mop, are from Ireland, along with Dona and Zita. Mona is from Seattle, Bitsy is from Australia and Sheena Geena must be a new addition, because she's from China. My favorite part- they ALL clean houses.