Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I'd like to thank my fellow expats...

Yesterday morning, the workers came...

For the past year (almost...February 18) I have been battling my oven. I turn it on, it gets hot, then hotter, then hotter. It doesn't stop getting hotter! I've burned cookies, had cakes half-burned and half-mushy, and had cheesecakes turn into sad little blobs of muck. It's been frustrating, to say the least.
My wonderful Chinese friends heard about my dilemma and wrote a letter, in Chinese, to the management of our neighborhood. These guys are electrical engineers and they wrote about how the sensor is broken and what to do about it - two pages of details! The worker guy came in - this was maybe last July or so - and looked at the paper and laughed. He turned the oven on. My oven got hot (duh). He turned it off - it got cool. You turn it on, it gets hot, you turn it off, it gets cold...mei wenti (NO PROBLEM) he says! You must understand that the Chinese don't use ovens - they use a rice steamer and a cooktop or single burner. That's it - probably due to lack of space, prohibitive costs, and electrical costs, too. That's fine. But I need my oven to be at 350 when I ask it to be! He didn't understand my needs, and, quite frankly, I don't think he understood what a sensor on an oven is!

A few weeks ago my neighbor was on a vacation with some other women from the neighborhood. One of them was talking about this ridiculous oven she used to have in her house. Yeah, you guessed it: you turn it on, it keeps getting hotter and hotter and hotter! Her oven ended up in my house! I asked her how she got a new one and she told me about a friend with a fine oven who had just moved out - the management just switched them around, no problem. She called me again last week, having remembered that a friend of ours had moved back to the States and her home was still vacant, and - ta -dah! - her oven was FINE.

So, I called my management company and said I wanted that particular oven. My liaison said she would check on it but I was coached by people who have lived here a while to be persisitent and a bit insistent. So I was.

Yesterday, the workers came. They gave me Christine's old oven and took mine away, to be put into the home of some other unsuspecting expat. I turned my new oven on - I had two cakes to bake! - to 350. I checked it with my oven thermometer a half hour later, and it said - YES! - 350. Then I turned it down to 325 to make another cake. A half hour later and it was STILL 325. The whole time! Constant! My beautiful, new oven! Look out, China, here come some even better cakes!


Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Blue Mohawk, Twists and Crazy Red Hair

Yesterday was Crazy Hair Day at the kids' school...what do you think?
I think it should have been called "Way-Cool Hair Day" but luckily, I'm not in charge!

I got a call from a woman who wanted a tattoo cake for today...at first she said she wanted a cake with a man's arm on it with a tattoo on the arm. And the tatttoo the birthday guy has is a PHOENIX. OK, I'm sorry but I think that's a tad above my expertise level. She said really to just do any tattoo on it. So here is what I came up with:
The heart says "BAD TO THE BONE" on it. Cheesey? Or art? You decide...either way, it was delicious - I had a little extra batter left over & made a mini-cake with it in my Chinese toaster oven. And the cake ended up being for two guys so I had to make it very manly!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rock On, Little Man

Tonight my son's school had a Night at the Wax Museum, where they researched a great historical figure or current hero, dressed up as said person, and did a little skit being that person. They each made a poster with more information about the person to put behind them. You walk up to the child, push a "button" on their shoulder, and the wax figure "comes to life."
My son chose Bono as his hero, with perhaps a limited amount of input from Mom.
We were hearing comments from people before we even got to the room he was in - "your son is doing an awesome job." "your son really rocks." "I can't get enough of Bono." It was cool but I wanted to hear it for myself. He had his hair slicked back, a rock star t-shirt (thank you, Meredith!!) and wraparound shades. He did look cool. Then he started out by singing "Vertigo," which is a pretty rockin' hit. He talked about being Bono and all the great things Bono does in addition to awesome music.
A news team happened to be doing a little story on our international school, and they were there for the Wax Museum, as well. They chose our son to interview! So, a friend was there and told me what she heard:

News: Why did you choose Bono?
DS: Well, because I love ROCK AND ROLL.
News: Where are you from?
DS: I'm from the USA, man!
News: How did you come up with a costume?
DS: I did it myself! Well, my dad helped a little. And my mom.

That kid is something else. He cracks us up. I can't wait to see it on TV - yes, CHINESE TV. Should be interesting!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Fishy Story

Last night Tim went out for Japanese food with some colleagues. They went to a very fancy Japanese fusion place and had quite a variety of seafood, sushi and sashimi. Sushi has rice in it; sashimi is the raw fish that most people think is sushi.
He said he was served the freshest fish he's ever had, and this is how he proved it: the fish was served on a bed of ice, the (raw) filets presented in front of the actual fish it was taken from. The fish it was taken from had the full head and tail and its sides had been cut out for the sashimi filets. And, the fish was still moving. Now, that's fresh.
Tim passed on the fish sashimi and went for the food that wasn't still alive.

My Latest 2 Cakes

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Put your backbone back!

Today I did something I've been putting off for a few years now. With all my cake orders and people wanting real cakes, not just kids' birthday cakes, I have been needing some roses & other flowers to put on top of some cakes. I hate making those! They're very detailed and I guess I'm just a little to clumsy to do a really nice job. But since there is no cake supply store here I have to make my own. So I took a few hours and a whole bag of the really sticky, thick icing that makes those stiff flowers and I made apple blossoms, roses and pansies. By the time I finished my arm was just about frozen in the bag-squeezing position! They don't look amazingly lifelike but I am pretty happy with how they turned out. Whew!
I was reading something, somewhere - I think it was in an issue of The Lutheran magazine - about somebody telling a friend that she had put her wishbone where her backbone should be. It's made me sit up and take notice. I've always been more of a "wishbone" type person and here I am, almost 40 (at least that's what the math tells me) and I haven't done a whole lot other than dreaming and procrastinating. That little tidbit has made a huge difference in the little things in my life since I read it. Instead of thinking "I really oughtta..." I've been trying to "So DO it already." Hasn't made me change the world yet but it sure is making a nice difference in my life. It's definetly a keeper!
So, remember, put your backbone back!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Strange but True Facts!

We are back in China. It's January, and I'm looking out at sunshine and the honeysuckles in bloom all around my house, my banana tree, and all the green. In January! Yippee!

Yesterday on the plane, both during and after, we were complimented by several people on how well-behaved our kids are, and what good, patient travelers they are. Yippee!

Here's some wierd psychology: When we were in the U.S. we started flirting with the idea of buying a home, one with a 12-month lead time so we wouldn't be paying the mortgage for as long. During this little exploration, we were checking out beautiful new homes with beautiful new appliances and picturing our life back in the U.S. It was making me NOT want to come home and I was getting pretty super-bummed out. We eventually decided it would not be a good idea to do this until we know our timeline better and what our needs will be when we do return. As soon as we decided that and stopped thinking about coming BACK, I got pretty excited about going home to China and back to our life here. I am now very much at peace with being here and finishing up Tim's assignment here. Yippee!

It's good to be home.