Our Weekend (in China)

This past Saturday morning, we had every intention of getting to DongMen early enough that it wouldn't be too crowded, but the bus took longer than we expected and we didn't arrive till about 10:30.

We had a few things on our list to buy, and our first stop was at "MiniSo", a home goods/beauty/everything sort of store which reminds me of a nice dollar store. Just about everything in the store is $5 or else, and it's always fun to see what they have. Last time we went I bought a mint plant which is coming along quite nicely, this time, Angel got some cologne.

Dong Men Shopping Streets, ShenZhen

Then we wandered till we found Angel's favorite candy store. We feel like we're getting to know the layout of the DongMen shopping area fairly well, but it still feels pretty easy to get lost. We headed down a few other streets that didn't look familiar, and Angel, who was hungry because he didn't eat breakfast, stopped to get some snacks.

The first snack of the day was a rou jia mo, which in this case, was a sandwich containing pork and lettuce. Angel says it was the best rou jia mo he's ever had. I tried it, but I prefer the beef rou jia mo sold at a little Halal restaurant near our apartment. I'm not a big fan of pork.

Rou Jia Mo

He also got these two meat sticks. They looked really spicy, so I did not partake, but Angel ate both sticks on his own and then decided that he doesn't want to eat such spicy meat anymore.

We stopped by the movie store before heading back on the subway and picked up the 3 original Indiana Jones movies, because Angel's been wanting to see them ever since watching some men cracking whips at the town square the other day.

We returned back to our "home" stop on the metro and stopped to get a bubble tea (for Angel) and lemon tea (for me). Man, we sure got a lot of snacks on this day!

I'd only noticed recently that this little river we cross to get home from the metro had a stepping-stone crossing as an alternate route to crossing via the bridge that cars use, and I thought it looked way more exciting to cross the river via stepping stones, so we tried it out for the first time!

Before returning home, we stopped by Walmart for a few groceries, and, among other things, trash bags. These bags don't look really "hefty", do they? We just have one tiny trashcan, and take out the trash every day--it's a good system, because trash seems to attract cockroaches.

And Sprite. I'm a snob now, I won't buy pop unless it comes with something free. Often it'll come with a free water bottle. Sometimes it's a little plastic bowl. Today, two free packs of tissues, score!

We made ourselves dinner, watched some Indiana Jones, and then Angel read his eBook "The Psychology and Spirituality of Overeating and Obesity" while I did mysterious things on the internet.

Sunday morning involved church (Where we sang "We Three Kings" and "Angels We Have Heard on High" in Mandarin), a lunch of tacos, and a short nap before Angel's three students came over for their English class.

Post-English class was a much anticipated event--playing with remote control boats at the park! The week before, one of Angel's students, who has an inexplicable love for me given that Angel is her teacher, gave me a model boat, and we spent an hour on that day putting our boats together, which was a bit of a challenge given that I've never put a model boat together, and the instructions were in Chinese.

We had to wait for the glue on the boats to dry, so this Sunday, we took them out to the park for a spin around the lake. She felt Angel and I needed a lot of instructions because we'd never played with remote control boats before, so she carefully told me not to sail my boat too far away, lest it go out of range, and not to let the boys (her classmates) take the boat, because they would run away with it.

That was our weekend. Meat on a stick, boats, a fun river-crossing, Christmas hymns, and Indiana Jones. What more could I ask for?

Wearing Dresses in Winter

Lizzy here is modeling eShakti's Moto Style Ponte Dress in Baked Apple (Currently out of stock). eShakti provided this dress as a sample for review, I was not otherwise compensated for this blog post.

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I'm a die-hard eShakti fan. I love dresses with sleeves, and with eShakti, I'm spoiled for choice, as they provide all the sleeved dresses I could ask for! Also, because I live in a (mostly) tropical climate, I love that they offer so many dresses made out of 100% breathable cotton (when it's 90 degrees and you're in a small classroom with 50 teenagers and there's no air conditioning...you do not want to be encased in synthetic material, let me assure you!).

Just take a peek at this, this, and this if you want to see what I wear to teach on a regular basis!

Lizzy, the queen of layering, is showing off how eShakti dresses can be perfectly comfortable even in the midst of wintry weather, as well. eShakti makes customization easy, and if there's anything I like, it's the ability to wear clothes that are unique. When picking out this dress, I chose to shorten the sleeves and the skirt from the original design. I wanted to remove the pockets, because I, unlike everyone else in the world, don't like pockets in dresses, but Lizzy likes them, so the pockets stayed.

What do you think of the way Lizzy styled this dress? Have you purchased from eShakti before? If you haven't, but you want to, email me, I may have a referral code so that you can get $30 off your first purchase!

On another note, is there anyone who agrees with me on a preference for pocket-less dresses?

My Favorite Photos of this Year

I just found out that Chelsea and her husband are doing a 12x12x12 photo challenge today, and I decided to quickly hop in! The goal was to find 12 of the most iconic photos from this year and post them today, on the 12th of December. I decided to add an extra layer of complexity to my post, and in order to narrow down my search, I made sure that these are 12 photos from the year that I never posted on the blog before. So I present to you: 12 iconic moments from my 2014!

I have a long standing relationship with the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, and an especially close relationship to the baby sister I haven't spent much time with, since I moved out when she was almost 2. Walking into the ride hand in hand with her is not something I ever thought I'd do in my lifetime. I love looking at this photo now, with her in her too-big borrowed winter clothes, me carrying mom's purse full of snacks so we'd be fed throughout the day, and the uncle who brought us along on this trip leading the way into the ride--it was pretty much perfect.

It took Angel and I being together for 4 years before my parents finally had the chance to meet my in laws, but it finally happened this year. It was fun to see them in the same place at the same time, if only for a very brief visit.

This photo is in honor of something I really hope to never experience again: Winter in Michigan. This last one was pretty bad as far as snow and ice go.

This has to go up, because the World Cup characterized a good chunk of my summer. I'm not exactly pro-soccer, but it meant spending a lot of time with good friends when the games were on, so it wasn't a bad thing. I don't know why Angel is holding the flag, though, he definitely wasn't supporting Italy!

In July, we realized that our time in Michigan was quickly coming to a close, but we'd never been to Grand Haven! For some reason, this prompted us to quickly take a day trip up to check out the boardwalk and the beach, and it was fun. Funny how the prospect of leaving causes you to do and see things you've never felt any need to do before....

Angel quit his job a few days early to make sure that we could both go to the Riverbend Show and hang out with the family and play with tractors and engines all day. This was back when he could wear his green hat without fear of rebuke. I love this photo of him and grandma!

I feel so loved when I see this photo. Angel and I went out swing dancing with my sister and two of my cousins on our last night in the US. We later returned home at about 10 p.m. (we had to wake up at 2 a.m. to leave for the airport) to find that our house had been disarranged. There were partially eaten bowls of oatmeal on the kitchen table, and worst of all, these beings had already taken up residence in our bed! Some relatives who happened to know where our spare key was hidden decided that our last evening was the perfect night to prank the prankster (Angel).

We had the whole bus to ourselves as we were headed to Waikiki Beach one morning in Hawaii, so Angel said, "Quick, take my picture!"

This photo from our month of TEFL training is currently the background screen on my computer. Wow, August was a whirlwind. Learning how to build lesson plans at the same time as being put in front of a classroom every single day at the same time as learning that China has BOTH 5 "dollar" bills and 50 "cent" bills and vendors will laugh at you if you confuse them....all of that made for a pretty fast adjustment to a completely different lifestyle! We also lived in a hotel for 3 solid weeks, so there's an experience I can check off the bucket list, because I'd never experienced full-time hotel life before!

My first day of teaching at our school, ever! We were so excited to finally settle down into our new home and new jobs at our high school. The first day and week were exciting--if occasionally confusing, and the rest of the year have continued on in the same manner. Our coworkers have done a great job of making us feel welcome, and our students never leave us bored!

Taken during our trip to Malaysia in October. This is what happens when Angel puts the camera on the ground and yells that we all have to pose for a family photo. I love it!

And let's finish off with a selfie from our anniversary pictures at the park. By the way, if you've ever really wanted to be the center of attention, just be an expat who puts on a wedding dress and takes a point-and-shoot camera to the neighborhood park to snap a couple of anniversary photos. You will get all the attention you crave, and more. :)

Survival Guide: When You Don't Have Water

Occasionally, our water service goes out. Thankfully, it's never gone out for days at a time, usually it's gone out in the morning and come back on by the time we go to bed. Maybe I could survive in a world without indoor plumbing, but to be honest, the way houses are designed now are not designed to work well without running water. I don't have a well or an outhouse!

My advice for surviving a water outage:

1. Ideally, you will have already taken a shower and finished doing laundry BEFORE the water stops coming. If you haven't, go with the old ponytail-that-covers-a-multitude-of-sins and save the laundry for tomorrow.

2. Try not to be in the middle of cooking a big lunch when the water goes out, or you will have to stack up the dirty dishes and let the grime dry to a crisp while you wait for water to come on again. If you become hungry, go to a restaurant or eat snacks that don't require dirty dishes.

3. Locate a bathroom within walking distance that has water service. For us, this is the bathroom at WalMart. Unless Walmart loses water at the same time as your apartment, which has also happened. Then you're out of luck.

4. Before your water shuts off, anticipate and be prepared for such an event, and save a big water bottle (We buy our drinking water in 8 liter bottles) full of tap water in your storage room instead of recycling the bottles when they're empty, so that you have some water at least. Or you could just buy a huge water bottle if the need is great, but they're not super cheap, so avoid if you can.

5. Go to work, where there is water. Stay there a long time, enjoying their faucets that work.

6. Do not play basketball after work, but before discovering that you have no water. Avoid sweating at all costs.

7. Reminisce about the good old days when you had water and how awesome that was.

8. When the water does come on, do not instantly jump into the shower with joy. Run the shower and all faucets until the water stops coming out muddy and orange. You do not want to be covered in that stuff, believe me.

Have fun, and may your water always work!


In recent history, we've had the internet, the electricity, and the water go out. The internet went out for a 5 day stretch last week, but the electricity has only ever gone out for an hour or two since we've been at this apartment. Which do you think would be the hardest for you to live without?

Angelisms, on Hong Kong Disneyland

I could tell you my thoughts on HK Disneyland, but I'm an easily excitable person, and on vacation most of my thoughts tend to be "This is so much fun!!" Because of this, I thought it would be entertaining to bring you a few of Angel's comments during our day at Disney:

Hong Kong Disneyland

"I've always wanted to buy you a tiara, but this is the first place I've ever seen that actually has a good selection!"

"It's a Small World sucked. But I was thinking, we should make President Obama and Xi Jin Ping and Putin all ride It's a Small World together before they have meetings, just to see what the effect would be, for good or for bad."

{while waiting in a 30 min. line for Autopia} "If this is the future, the future is slow."

{after seeing lots of empty shelves in the gift shops} "Who has the money to buy all of this merchandise?"

"This kind of makes me want to buy some Disney movies at DongMen because I don't really remember any of them."

"How in the world can there be a 45 minute line for a carousel? It's a carousel."

{after riding Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars} "Now I understand why Disney is famous--they have a roller coaster that goes backwards! That was awesome!"

"Okay, most of the rides were really cool, except the one about Winnie the Pooh, I thought that was lame. And It's a Small World. But I know they have to make rides for little kids, so they're okay, I guess."

{after watching the "Disney Paint the Night" Parade} "That was exactly what I want."
Rachel: "That's exactly what you want in a parade?"
"No, that's exactly what I want my life, my house, everything in the world, to be like."

Check out the post about our anniversary trip on The Vacation Plan if you want to hear all of the details!