It’s NEW YEARS EVE…Here comes the YEAR of the GOAT!

It’s our first year home and I just HAD to!!! My home here in Canada is all decorated and ready… has been for a few days

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I had to wait until today to add the finishing touches… the Chun Lian are hung on New Year’s Eve ( the couplets of the Spring Festival mostly describe the bustling atmosphere during  Spring Festival and express Chinese people’s hopes for prosperity in the New Year ) I think it’s beautiful!

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And even some Hong Bao for James and LauraIMG_8448It’s Spring Festival! Oh I wish I was back in China! Tonight is New Year’s Eve and the big family celebration meal nianye fan that is the start of Chinese New Year and the Year of the Goat…my year!! This special meal tonight is really the most important feast of the year in China.

YEAR of THE GOAT~ I like this!

In Celebration of Chinese New Year I had Chinese noodles for lunch at noon and just a few jiaozi ( I wanted to eat them the same time my friends in China were…midnight there lol) and spent all afternoon watching the 2015 CCTV Gala ( it’s AMAZING what you can find on the internet if you search hard enough)  Tonight we are eating Chinese food for dinner. It’s not as good as being in China with our friends and eating authentic food and listening to and seeing all the fireworks and watching the Gala LIVE on CCTV, but it will do. I won’t have the “must have” whole fish (symbolizes surplus or success) and other “must have” elements, but we’ll have chicken (symbolizes good luck) and noodles ( for longevity and life) and MORE jiaozi,  (the shape of a dumpling resembles an ancient Chinese gold ingot symbolizing wealth), and we’ll even throw in some fortune cookies ( this is so Canadian and not at all Chinese) All foods very significant in this special meal. BUT, It will be great, and It won’t feel like we’re so far away if we have our own celebration.

Jiaozi and noodles for lunch
Jiaozi and noodles for lunch
CCTV 2015 New Year's Eve Gala
CCTV 2015 New Year’s Eve Gala
Our Family Dinner ( James' had a previous engagement)
Our Family Dinner ( James’ had a previous engagement)

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Abby liked her fortune cookie :D
Abby liked her fortune cookie 😀
And Laura liked getting Hong Bao :)
And Laura liked getting Hong Bao 🙂

We had lots of fun!!

Happy Spring Festival and New Year to all our Chinese friends and family.

Missing one couple so very much today xo Thankful that you are only a phone call away and that we could talk for a bit. It’s a different celebration for them this year because of the death of their Mom. As is Chinese custom, This year and for two more years ( three total) it is a very quiet, at home by yourself, New Year’s Eve. They didn’t buy fireworks this year, they had their meal just their immediate family, and will had jiaozi tonight at midnight. No big family gathering. Just quiet and simple. This is respect for the deceased. I remember last year being at their apartment with some of the family and Mama was their too! My thoughts are with you today (( HUGS))

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Happy Chinese New Year to our Expat friends celebrating in Shenyang. For some this is their last Spring Festival. Also for many, they are enjoying this holiday on winter vacations to tropical Asian locations.

And also wishing our niece Mel who is teaching in Xiamen this year, a wonderful 1st Chinese New Year experience. Happy your little bro is visiting and gets to celebrate it with you! They are in Hong Kong tonight on the waterfront. The fireworks in Hong Kong are supposed to be spectacular!

Happy Chinese New Year 2015Ps ( I suppose I could have picked up some fireworks too, haha)

新年快乐  ~   Xīnnián kuàilè  ~   HAPPY NEW YEAR

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They’re in Season

They’re in season and Superstore has them, and on sale! It’s that time of year, soon Chinese New Year. I always remember buying Pomelos in China at this time because they are in season and so juicy and delicious. They are an Asian fruit that is kinda like an orange and kinda like a grapefruit but I think they are even better and I can eat a whole one everyday!! So good.

The other fruit that is around is Dragon Fruit. This fruit is interesting to look at and stays ripe for a long time but then all of a sudden it is rotten. Not that it lasts that long in my home.

Papaya is my choice from Brazil ( and pineapples and bananas…you haven’t tasted a banana until you’ve tasted one from Brazil) Since Christmas there have been ripe Papayas in the store. They are a little pricey but they are in season so the taste is so delicious.

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I am so happy that certain times of the year I can get some of my favourite tastes from countries we lived in. In Canada we can get any fruit or vegetable at any time of the year BUT I have learned, even here, it is best to eat fruit seasonally. The flavour is so much better!! I can’t wait til this summer for strawberry season to taste fresh local strawberries again. It has actually been since the summer of 2010 since I’ve had local fresh strawberries.

A great pick me up in winter? A big fruit bowl filled with delicious fruit!

 

 

Educating James & Jon

It can’t be ALL fun…We need to throw in a little education. This morning more history!

Remember Emperor Nurhachi? One of the founding Emperor’s of the Qing dynasty and builder of the Imperial Palace in Shenyang. Fuling Tomb is the mausoleum of Nurhachi and his empress. The tomb area is about 48 acres and it is a well-preserved tomb complex of the Qing Dynasty, that is now included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.

Like most tombs or palaces in China, the first thing you see is the grand red gate. On both sides are the carved Stone Lions, Huabiao Memorial Archways and Stone Tablets. On these stone tablets are carved three kinds of Chinese characters in Manchu, Mongolian and Han instructing visitors to dismount and pass here on foot, or else be punished.

The Sacred Way is next. Pairs of stone lions, horses, camels and tigers line either side of the  pathway. At the end of the Sacred Way is the famous 108-step stairway revealing the sovereign right of imperial power. ( Jon mounted the camel and they counted the steps)

After the stairs is the third part of Fuling Tomb. The castle-style architecture, called Square Castle, is the main construction of Fuling Tomb and is also the most characteristic of the architectural style of the Qing Dynasty. The Bao Castle (Treasure Castle) is behind the Square Castle. Under the Bao Castle is the heart of Fuling Tomb … the mausoleum of Emperor Nurhachi and his wife. ( Today it just looks like a grassy hill)

Fuling Tomb was the ritualistic center for royalty during the Qing Dynasty period. It is a really nice place to visit on a warm afternoon because the long pathways are shaded with huge pine trees.

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For lunch…James wanted Gǒuròu. I am not sure why because he tried it on his very first trip to Shenyang. BUT I guess he wanted Jonathan to have the experience or maybe this was a shock factor event. Wei Quan arranged for us and our driver to meet him at lunch at a restaurant that serves just Gǒuròu with sides like rice, noodles and vegetables. He was in his company bank today, doing business for his GM and talking to the manager and she wanted to “meet the foreigners” he was treating to Gǒuròu. This is a good restaurant for Gǒuròu I guess because only one Gǒu is killed and cooked fresh everyday and so when it is gone, the restaurant is done for the day. You have to get there early for the best selection. We arrived shortly after 11 o’clock.

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This was a small hole in the wall where all various parts and pieces are served. We had Gǒuròu neck and  Gǒuròu soup. Supposedly it is one of the best parts. We couldn’t help but take pictures. In all honesty…it was delicious!! And if you had in your mind it was beef, it was delicious BUT sometimes it’s hard to get past what your mind knows!

After lunch we went to Middle Street for some treats ( we REALLY needed coffee today), shopping, more piano playing ( $30,000 and $60,000 pianos) and we popped in to the Lego School so I could show the boys where I teach and they could meet a couple of the staff. These boys grew up playing with Lego everyday so they thought it was pretty cool!

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Tonight, we picked David up from Michelin and went to a Night Market of street food!

兴顺街夜市 Xingshun Street Night Market is famous in Shenyang and is in Teixi District close to Michelin. What an AMAZING place!!! It is a long street full of “street food”. We tried a lot of stuff tonight but probably the most unusual and interesting things were the scorpions and grasshoppers. They are crunchy and taste like seeds. We finished our dinner with skewers at a restaurant with our driver and his wife.Yummy!

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Zou Dan Dan is such a little cutie and she loved getting her photo taken with the boys.

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Such a great day and a real education in history but more so a real eye opener in the available options in cuisine in China!

 

Dragon Boat Days

It’s more Festival Days! May 31- June 2 is Dragon Boat Festival.

“Many believe that the Dragon Boat Festival originated in ancient China based on the suicide of the poet and statesman of the Chu kingdom, Qu Yuan in 278 BCE.

The festival commemorates the life and death of the famous Chinese scholar Qu Yuan, who was a loyal minister of the King of Chu in the third century BCE. Qu Yuan’s wisdom and intellectual ways antagonized other court officials, thus they accused him of false charges of conspiracy and was exiled by the king. During his exile, Qu Yuan composed many poems to express his anger and sorrow towards his sovereign and people.

Qu Yuan drowned himself by attaching a heavy stone to his chest and jumping into the Miluo River in 278 BCE at the age of 61. The people of Chu tried to save him believing that Qu Yuan was an honorable man; they searched desperately in their boats looking for Qu Yuan but were unable to save him. Every year the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated to commemorate this attempt at rescuing Qu Yuan.

The local people began the tradition of throwing sacrificial cooked rice into the river for Qu Yuan, while others believed that the rice would prevent the fishes in the river from eating Qu Yuan’s body. At first, the locals decided to make zongzi in hopes that it would sink into the river and reach Qu Yuan’s body. However, the tradition of wrapping the rice in bamboo leaves to make zongzi began the following year.” (http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/china/dragon-boat-festival)

Happy Dragon Boat Days!

Gonna enjoy some zongzi!

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Pineapple to Pomelo

For the past couple years Pineapple has been my fruit of choice. Especially in Brazil where there are a few different kinds and they are so fresh and sweet and delicious and super cheap. And…you can get them all year round! NO MORE canned pineapple for me!

In China, pineapple is seasonal. And when in season you also see them by the truck full like in Brazil and the vendors will even prepare them for you.  But when not in season, they are imported and can be a little pricy.

This winter I am needing another fruit fix. Lots of fruit and warm water to keep the colds and flu away. There are lots of options in China, different fruit ready available and cheap, but that are so expensive in Canada. I like citrus fruit but not all the time. I don’t drink a lot of orange juice but  on occasion I love fresh grapefruit juice or grapefruit and pineapple mixed. BUT there is one fruit in the citrus family that lately I have been eating lots of and now my body seems to crave it! It is a GIANT citrus fruit…The Pomelo!

The Pomelo was actually around before the grapefruit. I didn’t know that, and is a fruit that is usually grown in Asian countries.  It is usually pale green to yellow when ripe, with sweet white or pink flesh ( my favourite is pink) and very thick rind. It is the largest citrus fruit, 6–10 inches in diameter, and usually weighs 2-5 lbs.

The past few days I have gone through a few of these Pomelos which are said to have lots of Vitamin C.

Just adding these pictures makes me want to have some 😀

Well today I should be packing and getting ready for the weekend but all I want to do is sleep. Sleep, wake up, eat, sleep wake up, eat…

Our driver found out I have a sore throat so tonight when David came home he had something that looked very familiar.  Some kind of Chinese tea remedy? Ah, I remember! We had this in Guilin when we traveled there in 2011 the day we went to the rice terraces. These strange looking balls are  Luo Han Guo and have been used as a medicinal herb for treating cough and sore throat and is popularly considered, in southern China, to be a longevity aid and has more recently been developed into a non-caloric sweetener. It is primarily grown in southern China, mainly in Guangxi Province, with most of the product from the mountains of Guilin. So of course, I had to have a cup. I peeled off the outer layer and put the pod in hot water to steep. The tea is dark and on the sweet side, although David says he couldn’t drink a lot of it and would never want to used it as a sweetener but we made some and we sipped it and it felt good. And my throat? Time will only tell…Gotta love Chinese family who care for you!

Happy Wednesday!

Donkey ?

I LOVE donkeys. I love their face and their eyes. I think they are so gentle. We see donkeys quite often on the streets here. I always try and snap a quick pic or two. I think they are the sweetest animals.

Today at the market, I saw a different side of donkey…

They were even making Donkey jaozi.

I’ve had donkey jaozi before…it’s actually quite delicious BUT this…eww!!

Oh Donkey!

Well today is another high pollution day. We were out for a little bit and are home now. I have a headache today…I wonder why?

Maybe it’s a good day for a nice afternoon nap…yes, I think so! 😀

Saturday’s Outing…

It’s Saturday! I LOVE Saturday’s especially when David is off. He works tonight but is off during the day time and we ALWAYS have so much fun!!!

Today we went to one of our favorite markets( we have a few) I wanted to pick up a few particular things which I got BUT the fun began when we started sampling some DIFFERENT things…things we might not normally try. And hey, I’m adventurous when it comes to food and I find the more we dine with Chinese friends, my boldness grows! I haven’t been sick yet and I think most things are really delicious!

So today at the market was Sample Saturday for us and lots of Chinese people…

So we sampled Tea…

And more tea…

Green stuff…seaweed

Honey…the raw stuff

Pepperoni

and smoked meats…pigs face anyone?

Sea cucumber…ok this one we still DID NOT try! I will before we leave China for good.

Nut and seed treat…It’s like eating bird food ONLY better!

And…dried noodles, bean curd, mushroom…various things…I’m not sure!

This stuff was so good! The lady cooking even showed me all the ingredients she was using to make the different dishes. I would love to take a cooking class from her, she was great!

So much fun and we even made a few purchases!