Friday, March 20, 2009

it's friday! and sunny!

Ahhh. Friday. How I love thee.

I only teach two periods on Friday and it's my 8th graders who are still young enough to care about school and their grades so they actually listen and *gasp* want to learn. It's such a refreshing way to end the week and start the weekend.

I enjoyed the sun and temporarily non-smog filled sky (a rarity, to be sure) and went for a long walk on the other, much cooler side of Shanghai. I found a DVD store called Sonic Boom that sells DVDs for a buck less than I can get them in Pudong where I live, so they were only $1.50! Total score, right? I bought 5 randoms DVDs, including Breakfast at Tiffany's since I have a poster on my wall from the film yet have never watched it. I also bought the first season of Greek.

Someone asked me today how many DVDs I've bought since I've been in China. The short answer = too much. But, well, I'll let this LOLcat speak for me:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

wtf wednesday: tibetan goji berry

Have you people heard of this so-called superfood?

It's the Tibetan Goji Berry. It's kind of like a dried cranberry, only it's not wet and chewy like a cranberry or raisin, it's very dry. It's also pretty flavorless when compared to other dried berries. I've been eating them pretty regularly, but not because they taste particularly good. They sort of taste like...soil? I don't know how to describe it. It's a very organic taste, which is a nice way of saying "nasty".

I had never even seen them before I moved to China, and I'm a frequent shopper at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, so the little dudes must have been hiding out in some corner because they've totally escaped me until now. Supposedly, these berries do pretty much anything you could possibly want a food to do to your body: from strengthening your legs to "improving sexual function" (I'm not even sure what that means).

Goji berries have been around forever, but recently there's been a craze for them in the United States and most of the websites I checked were selling them for 20-30 bucks per 12oz. That is total insanity! I can buy 12oz. for $1.76. I don't even really like them, but they're supposed to be super good for you (I'll keep you updated on whether I find my legs to be stronger or sexual function to be improved) and with inflation so high I feel like it's my duty as an American to buy a crap ton of them and bring them back with me in July.

Oh, they're also known as "wolfberries" which is a much more awesome name if you ask me, but I guess it's not as marketable as "goji".

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

massage mission accomplished


First, let me take a moment to express my utmost appreciation to whoever is running this crazy show we call life for allowing me to breeze along here in China, my biggest issue this year being getting more than one massage a week. I am a very, very lucky girl.

Now, for some background which I had not previously mentioned, my usual massage studio was undergoing renovations all last week so they moved right across the street (very common in China). I tried to ask Feral Cat a few times if the move was temporary, if they were going to go back to the original location, or if they were going to keep both studios open, but she replied "Yes" to all three questions so I know she had no clue what I was saying. After being turned down a second time for a massage in a 3 day period I decided I wouldn't be giving the new location another chance. I'm a forgiving person in general, but not that forgiving.

Well, just my luck! The OLD location was open yesterday and I just happened to be walking past. I hesitated for a moment, but remembered that this particular massage studio had never failed me, it was the new and unimproved one that sucked. I walked in and was greeted by every staff member in the lobby, all purring like happy kittens in unison: "Miao Miao!" It was actually super cute.

I smiled. I had made the right decision to walk inside.

Feral Cat was there and she was much nicer than my other encounters with her. The studio across the street must have bad feng shui or something. She apologized profusely for the times before and got me in right away with #31! I went all out and got a 90 minute massage (for 14USD) AND cupping. It was heaven.

And, to top things off, I'm getting a visitor in April! China is not on the top of most people's "Must Travel To" lists. I'm not sure why, but it's true. I haven't done any official research on this, but if you ask people where they've traveled to, not many have gone to China, but they've all probably been to Europe. Multiple times. And they probably want to go again sometime in the near future. When I lived in Paris I had three sets of visitors. China? Zero to date. I begged Twin to come visit and in a weak moment even offered to pay for her plane ticket, but she declined (and gave plenty of excuses reasons for why she couldn't make the trip).

But! In mid-April Rod is coming to visit for a whole month, I'm super excited. I'll be able to do all the touristy things in Shanghai I haven't done yet and also take several weekend trips to other cities in China. Having a visitor is going to make my last few months here go by even faster, which at this moment in time is a good thing (I realize I will regret saying this when it actually comes time to leave). Plus, he's bringing me a whole suitcase filled with American goodies. Life is sweet.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

dating made easy, robot style

We just read a short story in my 10th grade English class about a house in the future that is controlled by a bunch of different robots, each having their own specific jobs (like mice-shaped robots that vacuum). The English level of my 10th graders is very low, so in order for them to understand a story we usually have to read it a few times, I'll make them summarize it in small groups, and then I'll give them a writing assignment that somehow relates. For this story, I had each student make up their own robot. They had to give it a name and describe what their robot does for them. We still have 5 robot presentations to do tomorrow, but of the presentations today this was by far my favorite (all grammar mistakes are original, not typos):

I got a robot his name is Lorenzo. Lorenzo is come from America, he can speak Chinese very well. I bought him from Kobe, he's a friend of mine, he is a basketball player. He has plenty of robots at home and Lorenzo is his favorite one but he doesn't use Lorenzo anymore. So he sold it to me. I bought him by 100 dollars. If you want to buy robots, tell me. I will phone him and try to give you one.

His job is finding beautiful girls and take pictures with them and ask their phone number, when he bring numbers to me, I can choose the one I like most and I can chat with her. Lorenzo is very cool and he is the only one robot which is hiphop style, that's why I bought it, because he is same as me. When he go out, he is always wearing a hat and Nike shoes and a chain, his left hand has a phone, and his right hand has a camera. That's his weapon. The place where I tell him to go is People's Square, there are many many beautiful girls there. If he saw one, he will first ask her cellphone number. Just like this, "Can you give me your number?" After that, he will take picture with her. Sometimes there are also some girls don't want to give numbers. If the thing like this happens, I will tell Lorenzo to give up. That's my Lorenzo. My robot.

Sometimes has some boys bully him then his alert will turn on and tell me immediately. So I can come to that place and beat them to save my cute Lorenzo. That's why he likes me so much because I treat him just like my best friend. And just because of this, Lorenzo does his job very well.

I think the hilarity of buying a dating robot from Kobe Bryant was lost on my class, but I was cracking up. I also really like my student's depiction of his robot's "bling" in his drawing. Keep it classy, Shanghai.

delicious homemade cheeseburger...cupcakes?

Twin is a creative genius. I was definitely into baking and experimenting with recipes before I left for China, but nothing to the degree Twin has taken her cupcake skillz. Girl is actually taking classes and getting all professional about it. Psh.

Dad's birthday was a few days ago and Twin wanted to do something special for him. I suggested she just make a coffee cake because he absolutely loves coffee cake, but she thought that was a lame idea and wanted to do something more...inspired.

As a side note, speaking of things that I know my dad loves, for years my mother would buy my dad peanut brittle from See's candy during the holidays. I'd always ask her why the heck she bought 2 lbs worth of peanut brittle and she'd always have the same answer: "It's for your father, he loves peanut brittle and it's the holidays, he deserves a treat."

My parents have been married for thirty years and my mom has been buying my dad peanut brittle from See's every year around Christmas since they've been married. Except, a few years ago, roughly 26 years into this whole peanut brittle thing, my mom came in with her 2-pounder See's box and a big smile knowing how much my dad loves his holiday treat, and my dad took it from her and calmly said, "Y'know, I don't know why you always buy me peanut brittle."
"Because you like it!" my mom asserted.
"No, actually, I don't like it at all. I've just been eating it all these years because you buy so much of it."
So, I'm sort of just GUESSING that he loves coffee cake, but who knows, he could just be eating it because it's there.

Back to Twin. She wanted to do something special for Dad's birthday and came across a cute hamburger cupcake recipe that she had to try. Our parents own an A&W Drive-In Restaurant, so it was a perfect idea for a birthday gift. Check out how wonderful they came out:

Apparently these adorable little guys are SUPER easy to make. You need to make a batch of normal size vanilla cupcakes, and a smaller batch of chocolate cupcakes (don't fill the tins so much so they cupcakes are flatter are more like a muffin top). Cut the vanilla cupcakes in half and use food-coloring and frosting to make ketchup and mustard. Green food coloring added to shredded coconut makes lettuce, and sesame seeds top off the bun!