August/September 2015: Back in Shanghai

Angela and I are back in Shanghai and getting adjusted to being on a normal working person schedule. Although it would be great to be on vacation all of the time (and some of our relatives think that we indeed are), it is nice to be back into a routine. Angela has all new administrators, and is adjusting to a newly implemented schedule. I no longer teach any guitar classes, and get to teach just band without having to share the band room anymore. It is a tremendous relief for me to stay in the same room all day, every day, and get to teach band for every class. I am finding myself much more comfortable at the start of this year than in previous years. Angela is the lower school specials leader this year, and I am the 6th grade team leader. That means we are both extremely important people. Overall, it has been great getting back to our apartment and our life, and seeing all of our wonderful friends.

We recently did something that I have wanted to do for a very long time. It was our friend Juliet’s birthday, and for her birthday she wanted to go to a classy afternoon tea. Being an American, I have never been to afternoon tea as a meal or activity, so I was excited to try it. I was also excited that afternoon tea was going to take place at the Fairmont Peace Hotel. This is a really old, classy hotel on the Bund, and also home to the ‘Old Jazz Band’, which is Shanghai’s oldest jazz band. All of the members were in their 80’s, and had been playing together for many years. I have wanted to hear them play since we arrived in Shanghai.

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Angela and I enjoying our very first afternoon tea.

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Xi’an, China: The Terra Cotta Army

Angela and I decided that for our Spring break, we should see some of China. We have seen embarrassingly little of the country that we are currently residents of, so we settled on a trip to the ancient capital city of Xi’an. I had a gig with my jazz band on Friday night, so we stayed up until around 1:00 AM the night before our 7:50 AM flight. It was a little bit of a bummer, but we made it to Xi’an, and to our very accommodating hostel called the Han Tang House. We had arranged a driver to pick us up from the hostel, but they never showed up. We managed to communicate with a cab driver and found our way. Once we arrived to our hostel, we took a nap! The room was pretty basic, but the bed was very comfortable.

After our nap, Angela and I headed to the Muslim Quarter of Xi’an. There is a large Muslim population, and a large area with many shops and food stalls, along with the Great Mosque of Xi’an.

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Thanksgiving year 2

I can’t believe that tomorrow is the 1st day of December!  Holy cow, this year has gone fast!   Thanksgiving in Shanghai is always a fun time.  There is never a shortage of things to do.   This year we had 3, yes 3, Thanksgivings to attend!    Thanksgiving 1, was actually on Thursday,  at a restaurant called Captain Rooster.  Boramy, Austin (friend from UNI) and the GKs all joined for an all you can eat and drink extravaganza.  We love Captain Rooster, because they have amazing fried chicken and mac&cheese!  There turkey wasn’t bad either!   The place is pretty small and it was very busy.  Since it was still in the 60s we opted to sit outside!  However, by sitting outside, we got a little shorted on all the food!   They menu included: Turkey, green bean casserole, turkey pot pie, sweet potato casserole, mashed potato, stuffing mac and cheese, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and egg nog.  It was a lot of food and all tasted great!

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Cooking in Shanghai

Cooking in Shanghai can be difficult.  You are surrounded by restaurants, dinner dates, and then there is Sherpas, the website the delivers food right to you door!  But why is cooking in Shanghai difficult?  I mean even the groceries get delivered to your door.

The past few weeks I was selected to participate in a trial group for the app Sidechef.   Sidechef is a step by step cooking app with loads of recipes and drinks.  The app is great and easy to use, even my boyfriend was able to create some salmon burgers with it!  I loved the app because it got me out of my cooking rut and gave me new recipes to pick from!  So what did I make?  I started with yellow curry!  First of all, why have I never made curry before?  This curry was so easy to make and tasted amazing!   I used a pre-made curry paste to save on time and ingredients, the rest was chop and simmer!  The big mistake I made was using purple potatoes!  Note:  Purple and Yellow do not mix well together, add shrimp and you get all kinds of strange colors!  Thankfully it tasted good!  I then tried and failed to make a “healthy” broccoli salad.   I finely chopped broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower.  Added mushrooms and almonds.   My mistake was not measuring or following directions on the dressing.  I added the juice of 1 lemon, random assortments of spices (mostly garlic pepper) And then thought it would be a good idea to add greek yogurt!

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October Review!

October was a whirlwind month for Jason and I. Thankfully we came back from October break rested and ready for the busy month ahead.  For me, October was the month I started my masters program.  The program is offered though SUNY (Southern University of New York). The classes are on campus at SCIS and online. The on campus classes are given over 2 weekends, which means 15 straight days at school. Thankfully, my first class was low stress and and quick to get through!

For Jason, October was the month of the SCIS Music Festival. Jason had been working very hard to prepare for this event.  The festival showcases all of the middle school muisc ensembles: guitar, percussion, choir, band, and orchestra.  For band, Jason invited retired Iowa band directors Jim Fritz and Leon Kuehner to guest direct the bands.  Jim, Leon and Leon’s wife Linda arrived to Shanghai the weekend before the festival.  On Saturday we went out to eat at Di Shui Dong for some good “Chinese” food!  Afterwords, they wanted to see the city so we took them to Captain’s Bar on the Bund.  10675734_10100832654011863_4776144092395674824_n

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A Week in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Angela and I recently embarked on a three week exotic holiday vacation with our good Canadian friend named Kat. I think it is safe to say we are a little spoiled. I had my week full of concerts right before Christmas vacation, and then was rewarded with three weeks off. On Saturday morning, December 21st, we woke up at 5 in the morning so that we might catch our 9:00 AM flight to Chiangmai, Thailand. We arrived at the Pudong airport with plenty of time to get through security. I was a little surprised at how much easier it was to get through the security in Shanghai than in Chicago when we left for China. I started to take off my shoes and belt when the security guard laughed and said “ok, ok”. We all made it on to our flight with no problems. I found it a little depressing how sunny it was outside once we rose above the cloud of pollution that rests over Shanghai. Below is a graphic picture of the wall where it abruptly ends.

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Chiang Mai part 1

We have been in Chiang Mai since December 21 and have one full day left until heading south to the beach. I will keep this brief as I know Jason will blog in more detail later! Sunday and Monday were spent exploring the city, markets, and temples! We threw in a few massages and even splurged for a fish pedicure! On Tuesday we took a cooking class which took us out of the city! Christmas Eve was spent listening to live music and chatting with a 64 year old Brit spending his holiday in the city! Today (Christmas) we went on a horrendous hike and mountain bike trip in Chiang Mai’s Doi Suthrep national park! We’ve had a fun and relaxing time so far and head to Bangkok on Friday! Wishing Everyone a safe and Merry Christmas!

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Holiday Cheer!

It’s hard to believe that it is already December 8th and that we’ve been in China for 5 months!  We only have 2 weeks of school left until a well deserved 3 week break!  As you may have heard in the news, Shanghai has been hitting some crazy high pollution levels.   The beginning of the week, the pollution was over 200.  By Thursday it was pushing 400 and then on Friday Shanghai broke records with air quality above the index 500.  It is hard to explain what it’s like, but I”m really hoping this 500 business is not a reoccurring thing.

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Thanksgiving Part 1

Jason and I had our first Thanksgiving abroad and unlike our family members back home, we had to work!   It actually wasn’t too bad since we knew that Friday would be a professional development day!  We started our week with a Tuesday night Sushi date!  Even though it was only Tuesday, it was great to get out of our neighborhood and eat some delicious sushi!  On our way home we stopped at a new Mexican restaurant to get Corona-ritas!  Let’s just say, it was the perfect night cap!

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Fall in Shanghai

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Angela and I have both spent the past week teaching music and playing in the pit for our school musical. This weekend was the performance, so the week prior was what many musical enthusiasts refer to as ‘tech week’. We had to be present at rehearsal every day from 4pm to 8pm. That made for quite a long week. I played trombone, so my job was relatively easy. Angela played piano for the musical, which is the most important job, and likely the most difficult. She did a great job. The best part was the very beginning; Angela played three chimes to begin the overture. She misplaced her fingers, and played a rather hip alteration of a chord. That was my favorite part of the show. Here she is wearing a wig and playing the piano.

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