GO CANADA!

Congratulations to Canada for doing so well in the Olympics. I was unable to watch the big “Gold” hockey game which I heard was one of the best hockey games ever, especially with Canada winning. I can only imagine the yelling and hollering going on with my dad with the game being so close.

I am so proud of what Canada accomplished in these winter games, and loved seeing Michael J. Fox in the closing ceremony. I went to Mark’s office this morning to be able to watch it and was reminded once again of all the terrific talent in Canada.  I agree with his comment “that even after living in the United States for the last 30 years, my heart belongs to Canada”.  That warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes as that is how I feel.

One of Mark’s colleagues just returned from a home visit to Canada and brought him back an Olympic  loonie.

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Years ago Canada replaced the dollar bill with a loonie coin and and a two dollar bill with a toonie (1996). So the smallest denomination of a bill is the $5.00 bill. So in Canada you always have a pocket full of coins.

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Thanks Alan, for the loonie as I think sleeping with it under my pillow last night helped the Canadians win the Gold in hockey. Or at least in my dreams it did.

The Western Ceremony

It was great that Josh and Shelly had a western ceremony as I could understand what was being said on the stage.

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the processional

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Josh and Shelly

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exchanging rings

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lots of bubbles

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After the ring ceremony they cut into the seven layer cake.

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Debbie (mother of the groom) mentioned  they had  just ordered the cake two days before the ceremony.

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All the layers were basically a sponge cake. The dragon is for Josh and the phoenix for Shelly. For seven layers the cake cost around $200 US dollars.

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Shelly and Josh enjoy the cake after the ceremony when we joined them for dinner.

Josh and Shelly’s wedding

It was a beautiful day for a wedding at the end of February. I was up early for the two hour drive to a small town for the celebration and was surprised to see the beautiful new hotel.

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the marching band

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the flag bearers

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the dragons

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The bridal party which is supplied by the wedding planner.

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Shelly and Josh

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Josh’s parents Debbie and Ron  (after 10 years in China they are moving to Perth Australia)

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Posters in the lobby

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The ceremony was wonderful as they combined  Western and Chinese themes. More pictures and movies to follow and wait until you see the cake!

PS. Congratulations to the Canadian Woman’s Hockey Team for winning the Gold against the US.

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Donkey meat and Dates

During the 15 days of the Spring Festival many gifts are given that are not in the form on red envelopes.  Popular gifts are donkey meat and dates.

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There is such a saying in China as “dragon meat, the best in heaven, donkey meat, the best on earth.” Although not as common as beef, or lamb, most Chinese who have tried donkey meat would agree that it is very tasty.

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The donkey meat has been a traditional and special product of Changzhi City.

A popular way to cook donkey meat is to slow-cook and  stew it with soy sauce, until it turns reddish brown. It can then be sliced and served as a cold appetizer.  This is how I have had it in restaurants so it looks more like ham than beef with a mild taste.

The description on the donkey meat  package says the product has a long history, superb technology, ruddy color, thin and not fuel, fresh mellow with vacuum-packed so easy to carry and give to friends and relatives.

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Chinese love dates.

China has an overwhelming variety of fruit and one of the Chinese most favourite ones are dates. There are Sour and Honey Dates, Royal Dates, Ejiao Honey Dates, Dates (finally the normal version of dates) and even Instant Honeyed Date Drinks which are supposedly great for ones face and skin.

According to Chinese nutrition, fruit and basically almost every other nutriment have a certain function and influence on the human body’s health. Dates in China are usually classified as natural and healthy ‘green’ food.

The Red Chinese Dates are relatively moist, as they haven’t been completely dried, make one more healthy and beautiful if eaten daily and are especially good for women. Another version of China’s dates is the Red Date and Hawthorne Burger which can actually lower the blood pressure and the fat levels in the blood.

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WOW, eating dates is going to make me beautiful. Bring them on :)

Joan’s souvenirs

When our apartment was designed we were advised to get a room divider at the entrance  for good fung shui. The wooden structure is placed right in front of our door so when you enter you do not see the whole room.

It is one of my favorite pieces of furniture and has been a real pleasure to decorate from all of our travels in China.

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You can see that we are filling it up.

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Russian nesting dolls from Harbin. A very popular souvenir  in  Harbin since it  is so close to Russia. We were told that they were all made in Russia.

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The first Russian nested doll set was carved by Vasily Zvyozdochkin from a design by Sergey Malyutin, who was a folk crafts painter in the Abramtsevo estate of the Russian industrialist. The doll set was painted by Maliutin himself. Maliutin’s design was inspired by a set of Japanese wooden dolls representing Shichi-fuku-jin, the Seven Gods of Fortune. Maluitin’s doll set consisted of eight dolls — the outermost was a girl holding a rooster, six inner dolls were girls, the fifth doll was a boy, and the innermost was a baby.

In 1900, Savva Mamontov’s wife presented the dolls at the World Exhibition in Paris, and the toy earned a bronze medal. Soon after, matryoshki dolls were being made in several places in Russia.

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Chinese wedding invitations

Mark and I are invited to another wedding this Thursday so I thought I would share some of the different invitations that we have received.

One thing they all have in common is that they are all  red.

Simon’s invitation

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Susan’s invitation  had a picture

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They all come with a bag of candy.

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Josh and Shelly are getting married this Thursday at noon in the small town where Shelly is from.

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Their invitation was  in the form of a scroll.

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Wedding invitations 010I know their wedding is going to be inside at a nice hotel. Should be interesting to see the Western influence with this celebration.

Earthquake scare

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Our apartment building. We are on the 6th floor of the circular building and Joe is on the 24th floor.

This morning Mark and I were awakened  by the ringing of our phone at 5:30am. It was Joe who lives on the 24th floor saying his driver just called him to say we needed to  get out of our high rise apartment as an earthquake was headed our way.  A moment of panic and then we hopped out of bed and threw on some warm clothes. (Of course my new warm coat) With my mind racing to think of what else I should grab… Opened the safe and grabbed my passport and some money while Mark is saying lets go, lets go. Debated whether to take the elevator from the 6th floor which we did and met Joe outside. There were other people standing around. After 45 minutes decided it was probably safe to go back to our apartment.

It felt good to climb back into our warm bed and just hope for the best. Now if there would have been an IHOP around a big breakfast would have been a great distraction.

We slept in and Joe called to say that he had received a text saying it was a hoax.  Not a nice thing to do on a Sunday morning at 5:30 am. or really at any time.  But next time I better remember to bring my camera.

My morning walk in Changzhi

This morning I thought I would take my camera along  on my walk to take in some of the festive sights.  I ventured down the main street from our apartment.

Now there is a big tiger.

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This is the first time I noticed all the big drums.

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I think this tiger head might look superb in my apartment.

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Red couplings on the doors.

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All the little shops are closed for Spring Festival Week.

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The orange street cleaners sweeping  the remnants from all the firecrackers.

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Lanterns for sale for the upcoming Lantern Festival which concludes 15 days after the New Year.

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Look at all those lanterns.

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I may just have to buy some kind of a lantern. Will write more on the history of the lantern holiday.

Flowers for Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year

Everyone who knows me knows how much I like flowers  so when a special occasion comes along that involve flowers I am one happy girl.  And when two holidays come along together life is really good.

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Mark has yellow orchids in his office so we were both surprised when this beautiful color came.

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I have never seen an orchid plant this big.

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I decided to go green and do some recycling, so I cut off the bottoms of some water bottles and put an orchid in so I could spread the beauty around the apartment. (My mother would be so proud)

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They still look great 5 days later.

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Love the red and yellow together, popular in China.

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A big cactus. Should be easy to take of. I hope

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Looks like pineapple but feels like cactus. Looked them up and believe they are called “African pineapple”. Love the wall of bamboo.

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Our apartment looks splendid  now and smells exquisite …. What a way to start off the new year. :)

Olympics 2010 — Proud to be a Canadian

To be able to watch the Olympics  (Olympicer in Chinese) here in China is a job in and of itself. I am amazed with the sporting channels we do get (Asia ESPN, Euro Sports, Sports S) that only a 5 minute update is given on the hour. Mark has the Chinese cable at work so I woke up early last Saturday to go to work with him to watch the opening ceremony. All the commentating was in Chinese but I could hear the occasional English in the background, so Frank sat with me to do some interpreting.

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It was so emotional for me to watch all that exceptional  Canadian talent.

Now you will be able to hear the Chinese version. I love how they say Canada…..Jia na da

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Here it the USA team which is …Mei guo

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The end, saying goodbye …. zaijian

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So I am really missing not being able to watch it every evening. Happy to see the little they show on TV.

Go Canada!!!!