Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Simply adorable

We went to a 1st birthday this weekend, and this little cutie was rocking the best tutu ever:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Then and now: books

Unpacking and shelving our books after moving to the Hawthorne area in Portland

Jeremiah's is on the left (the newer version) and mine is on the right.  
We LOVE them!  Very travel friendly

Friday, September 24, 2010

What does that say??

It can be very difficult to look words up in Chinese because of the characters.  Mostly we just don't worry about anything that's written or have someone read it for us, but occasionally you really need to understand something and no one is around.  I've found a website - nciku - that will let you draw the character without knowing the correct order of the strokes.  It can be tedious with more complex characters or if you have many characters to read, but if there are just a few words this tool can be very helpful.  Now, if a button accidentally gets pushed on our air conditioning remote I know which one to push to get it back.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Zhōngqiū jié kuàilè! - Happy moon festival!

Mid-autumn festival, or moon festival is upon us.  During the last week we have had many sorts of mooncakes - red bean, taro, pomelo, pineapple and a few others that remain a mystery.  Most we like, some we don't, but like steamed buns it's always a risk biting into one as the middle could be anything (including meat)!

Today we topped all those desserts off with BBQ at a friend's house:

Monday, September 20, 2010

The wheels on the bus

I knew that bus travel can vary significantly depending on country, city, cost, etc. but I never really thought about differences in school buses.  The buses I took to school were complete with uncomfortable bench seats, no AC and bus drivers yelling "quiet" and assumed that was every kids' experience with getting to school.

The school bus I was on this weekend for a volleyball trip is not even in the same ballpark as those yellow buses.  School trips have a whole new meaning when the buses have reclining seats, DVD players, karaoke and multi-colored disco lights.

And in case you are thinking this is far too much like a party bus, please note the grandma-inspired doily head rest protectors.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Windy city

The whole island is covered in orange/red now.  The winds are making our windows rattle.

**Sunday evening update:  Not a whole lot more than wind today, seems Fanapi decided to head south.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Typhoon Fanapi

Looks like this typhoon will hit us tomorrow evening:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Easy bake oven

Homemade cookies have been a thing of the past while in Taiwan, but for Jeremiah's birthday I decided to change that.  We recently got a toaster oven (thanks Lisa!) and I had heard rumors that others had successfully made cookies with one.  I pulled out our favorite peanut butter cookie recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance and went in search of the ingredients.  I found almost everything at Jason's import grocery store and since there was no baking powder to be found I borrowed some from a friend.  With Jeremiah at badminton practice I set to work.

I halved the recipe below and made really tiny cookies.  The first batch cooked way too quickly and ended up in crumbles.

But the first batch is always the test batch right?  I wasn't discouraged so I tried it again.  Second batch worked like a charm.  The perfect setting?  About 175 degrees, bottom rack and only the top elements on.  Then take them out and let cool until they harden enough to take off the sheet.

I was rather pleased with the end result, and more importantly, so was Jeremiah at 12:01am on his birthday when I surprised him with them.

Here is the original recipe.  I halved it and left out the vanilla because I didn't want to buy a huge bottle of it for this experiment.  Now that I know they will work perhaps I will invest in one.  I'm looking forward to trying out other recipes!

Crunchy Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies (from Vegan with a Vengeance)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup chunky all natural peanut butter (salted is okay if you like a salty peanut butter flavor)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

(For a normal oven preheat oven to 350 F.) Lightly grease two cookie sheets.  Toss together the flour, oats, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl (a big one because you're going to add dry stuff it it) mix together the oil, peanut butter, sugars, soy milk, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix. The dough will be very firm and moist.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Passion fruit

A little plain looking on the outside, passion fruit is anything but plain on the inside.  Just looking at this makes my mouth pucker!  Throw some on a salad, put it in your ice green tea, top a bowl of ice cream with it or my favorite - cut it in half and eat it straight with a spoon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A few of my favorite things

We've been in Taiwan a year now.  Looking back I'm so impressed at how much we've learned, experienced and seen.  We certainly made the right choice in coming to Taiwan for our first international teaching jobs.  When we set out on this journey we got so many questions about why we were leaving our families, friends, jobs, house, and the known behind.  It certainly was hard to say good-bye to many of those things, but it was the unknown that excited us.  We wanted to actively seek out situations that would be totally different from what I was used to; we wanted to be uncomfortable.  Crazy?  We certainly don't think so.

I look forward to things being more familiar this year and being able to appreciate the things I was too overwhelmed to appreciate last year and seek out the things I know I love.  And what are those things you ask?  Here they are - my favorite things about Taiwan thus far:

1.  Food.  Sure, I get tired of the same things over and over, and I miss food from home, but there is some fabulous food here and it has been very easy for me to eat vegetarian.  At the top of my list is lo bo gao, the tofu from Thai Yun, and pineapple cake.

2.  Chopsticks.  There are so many different kinds, colors, designs.  And they are small so you can collect a lot of them!

3.  HSR - High speed rail.  Trains are one of my favorite ways to travel.  Taiwan's HSR is pretty great as far as trains go; it's so fast, clean and efficient!

4.  Exploring new towns.  This is harder because often english is in short supply but that's part of the adventure.  I can't wait to find more this year!

5.  And last but not least, the people!  Everyone, and I feel pretty safe in saying literally everyone, has gone above and beyond to help us out when we need it (case in point: the phone company lady).

This is not a complete list, but some of the things that I looked forward to while we were traveling over the summer.  What are your favorite things about where you live?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Like our blog?

Go! Overseas - site with info about teaching, studying and volunteering abroad - has listed us as one of the top blogs in Taiwan and now you can vote for the best one (we are hoping you pick us).  Click here to vote before the 20th.  Thanks ya'll!

Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do

I like protecting nature as much as the next person.  I try to use natural products and stay away from harsh chemicals.  I appreciate we have taken over other species' habitat and so insects and animals may need to share our homes.

It seems I draw the line with all of these things at cockroaches and mosquitoes.  I've tried cohabiting with them and I just cannot.  At school I can easily get 30 bites on just one leg, and recently have been finding little baby cockroaches in the kitchen.   After trying more natural methods of keeping them away from me, I've pulled out the big guns.  Really, they left me no choice (these scientists may be mad at me for my decision).

Now those baby cockroaches are dead (and I haven't seen a big one in the house yet) and the mosquitoes held at bay with bug spray and an electric bug bat.  The ants seem to still be hanging out, but I'm ok with them (unless they start to take over my kitchen!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fishing at the market

This girl is hooking turtles with a small pole and loops 
taped to their shells - the night markets never cease to amaze

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Phone company

Dear Chunghwa Telecom employee (I think your english name may be Vicky),

We've seen you about 6 times in the last month.  Probably 15 in the last year.  We have had lots of questions about iphones, contracts, bills, wait-lists and repairs.  We've used American credit cards that seem to add 30 minutes and complications to any purchase.  You had to fill out our forms for us because we couldn't write our own address.  We speak no Chinese.  You've translated for issues that I am sure are outside your job description.  We've brought friends with us promising them you would be able to help them too.  We always come in at the end of the work day when you are probably tired and ready to go home.

While you probably curse under your breath when we walk in, you always appear to be happy to help.  Your English is fabulous despite your protests that it isn't.  You always explain our options to us rather than just saying it will be ok.   Sometimes your co-workers try to help - but really you are the best.

Thank you so much.  Xiexie.

Your waiguoren friends,
Allison and Jerry

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

DIY cooking

Sometimes you don't realize you miss something until you have it again.  Recent case in point: bbq.  A couple weekends ago a group of us tried a new grill-your-own restaurant - kind of like the buffet hot pot places but with a grill in the middle of the tables - called Water Frog.

 A whole lotta meat going on here

I ate all my veggies before I took the picture!

There were all sorts of meat and vegetables, sauces, and even desserts.  It was great and the best part is that we didn't have to clean up the mess!

Finding this restaurant was timely as I had just run across these pictures as I was cleaning off my old computer:
vegan bbqing!

fun times with ali, leslie and b!