Yellow Cake

V & PS at the Junkateria.
Today is my lovely friend V’s birthday. In the tradition of my good friend Nads who made me decadent homemade cakes for my birthdays, I made V a 9-inch double layer yellow cake. It’s my first made-from-scratch cake. With chocolate buttercream icing. (Sorry, Betty. Sayonara boxed mixes.) It was a labor of love and I’ve found cake making and decorating to take patience and faith. Kind of like life in general.

When V emails me pictures of the cake, I’ll post them with the recipe. Because everyone needs some yellow cake in life.

Welcome Fall

Jasmine in the air.
My facebook post reads: “Shanghai has forsaken its usual stink for the fragrance of Jasmine blossoms.” Mmmmmm…Finally, we can inhale deeply and enjoy it.

I’ve been waiting for the leaves to turn color but everything is still green. However, there’s a change in the weather and a crisp chill in the night air. I am ecstatic that Fall is finally here.

It’s V’s birthday tomorrow and I’m scouring the web for good made-from-scratch cake recipes. I’ll let you know if I find anything good. In the meanwhile, here’s a little tidbit we filmed this morning. Someone requested from us a video about Shanghai. Who knew we could be so giggly.

The Uniform

See this puppy? Aside from needing to be pressed, I’ve discovered that it wields great power. I didn’t dig it that much when the Cub Master handed it to me. In fact, I didn’t like it at all. I thought, “Man, the sacrifices I make for The Kid.” Polyester khaki just isn’t that attractive. And I’m already fighting a losing battle of not looking the ayi/nanny/housekeeper part.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that The Uniform garners tremendous respect. That’s right, cue Aretha. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me…

Here’s how I arrived at this conclusion:

Clue number one: During the second Den meeting, our driver Mr. Smith told me, “That really is a very good looking uniform.” Followed by an enthusiastic, “You really do wear it so well.” I laughed and later told The Hubs, I think our driver is a little turned on by this uniform. But then again, Mr. Smith is a devoted Chinese patriot who worships his Chinese military.

Clue number two: After our Scout Pack Meeting on Saturday, we headed to the food court. As I walked through the shopping plaza with husband and Circus in tow, I noticed people turning and staring. I assumed it was the usual, oh look, three-kids-and-a-Caucasian stare. But, no. As I walked ahead, I noticed people turning to stare directly at me. No, not at me…at The Uniform.

Clue number three: When I asked Mr. Smith about the stares, he explained that it’s rare to see a woman in uniform, so I must be very high ranking in my group. And since my patches are Shanghai 88 and the American flag, I must have received very elite training. Knot tying, anyone?

Sweet. Like Spiderman’s web-slinging suit or Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, The Uniform has tremendous power. I should buy ten of these and wear them It’s better than being treated like the nanny.

I’ve decided that I look fantastic in polyester khaki.


See? Uninspired to take photos.

The Hubs has been in Vietnam all week. Meanwhile, I’ve been busy helping my kids with their homework, cooking, cleaning house and making new friends among school moms, Concordia teachers, Cub Scout leaders, fellow Church members and just enjoying life in general.

I miss my family, U.S. friends, karate, the LDS Temple and Target. But I know you’ll be proud of me for enduring, adapting and learning to be strong out here in China.

I am learning to thrive.


I’m learning that contentment does not create good art. Lately, I’ve been busy with the routine of a mom’s life, shuttling kids to and from school, extracurriculars and playdates; helping with homework and chores. It’s been rewarding yet tiring and has left me uninspired to take photos.

So why not exhibit The Hubs’ photog skills? He’s currently on a week-long stint in Vietnam visiting factories.
He tells me there are more scooters in Vietnam than in China.
And instead of hauling waste and recycleables on them, the Vietnamese haul things like full-sized Queen bedframes. Now that takes talent.

The Junkateria

Need some googly eyes? Or lanterns? How about some cross stitch?

Back in the U.S., I posted a “gratitude post” about craft stores. Allow me to introduce you to The Junkateria, where I go to search for things like rubber bands, gift bags, stickers, marbles, embroidery floss, pipe cleaners, floral foam, ribbon and other craft items. Located near Yu Gardens, The Junkateria is a thirty-minute commute across the river to Puxi, the other side of Shanghai.
My friend Susie C. measures the distance between the different shops.
Shops sit side by side and collide into each other through intersecting hallways. It’s a five-story building with mazes of stalls full of junk, hence the name Junkateria. Many of the shops carry the exact same items and moderate bargaining is allowed. The air is hot and stuffy, with smells of sweat, body odor, cigarette smoke, bad breath, loogies on the floor and throngs of people pushing you in all directions. I carry Pinky Stinky for two reasons:
1. Safety. I don’t want her to get crushed by the onslaught of people.
2. Hygiene. The floor is littered with trash, cigarette butts and dreaded loogies.

The Junkateria is an experience to remember. It’s full of adventure and memories in the making, but not for the faint of heart, nor the Claustrophobic.

I trek out there whenever I need a craft item. But most of the time, I just want a JoAnn’s.

Hangzhou Revisited

Koi fish ponds, Hangzhou.

Tomorrow, The Hubs is taking his U.S. peeps to Hangzhou for factory visits. Hangzhou, renown for silk and Longjing Tea, also manufacturers furniture and textiles.
The Circus joined in on the act.
Fish frenzy.

We skipped and frolicked until we were stopped in our tracks.
Thank you, Mr. Peacock. You were the highlight of The Circus’ trip to Hangzhou. No silk necessary.

Hangzhou Hearts The Circus

Hello T-shirt.

Reminiscent of our trip to Beijing, The Circus inspired questions from onlookers in Hangzhou…(“Three? You have three?” “Are they all yours?” “They look partly Asian.” “They look like they have some Asian blood.” “Are they part Asian?” etc, etc.) And people asking to take photos with them.

We should start charging.