Dragon Boat Festival Party!

The performers in the play

The performers in the play

Happy  Dragon  Boat day everyone! I am  so  sorry that it took  so long for  me  to post. If you want  to place  blame on anyone, blame  my neighbor and my best friend Jason. He  distracted me  and  I  never had time to write  my blog. Shame! Shame!  on  Jason. He never reads my blog anyway! In fact I am in  his  house  writing this blog. Jason’s house is the party house.

Today we  had a Dragon Boat Festival Party at my school. Just a brief synopsis. Dragon Boat Festival is  a celebration of loyalty and  honor. It is  a tribute  to Qu Yuan, a statesman, patriot and  a poet who was exiled from the Chu dynasty. When the Qing  dynasty overthrew the  emperor, Qu Yuan killed  himself in sorrow and  to show  his  honor  and loyalty  to the  old regime.

Zongzi is a type  of  dumplings eaten during the  festival, it is glutinous rice wrapped  in bamboo leaves. There are different types  and flavor. Some  have nuts. I have  to  stay  away  from those. The Zongzi was thrown into the  river  to keep the  fish  from eating Qu Yuan’s body.

Eric, the Emcee, me  and Bambi the Soldier. Bambi was  so helpful during this event.

Eric, the Emcee, me and Bambi the Soldier. Bambi was so helpful during this event.

Initially , the  Foreign Affairs Office  wanted to  host a small party  to introduce the  foreign teachers to the holiday. Somehow this idea morphed  into a big extravaganza organized by Jason and I. We were no longer the  guest of  honor but the facilitators and participants. We had  to  come  up  with the  ideas and enlist students from our classes. This  an extremely  Chinese concept, so we  were reluctant plus they  said that we are really creative. A dose of  ego feeding is the  best form of  coercion.

We came up  with some  great ideas.  We had  a skit,a zongzi wrapping demo, a Zongzi passing contest (like hot potato), singers, dancers and  a zongzi eating  contest. We invited some  students. Oh  and the  school invited the  press! They  wanted  to publicize  this.

This event  could  either sink , swim or  fly. I was  nervous. If it  stunk then  blame it on us! Hehehe. I have to  say though I did  not  want  to do this  willingly, I am so glad  that I did. I really learned  so much  about The Dragon Boat Festival. I had  to research it  because I wrote  the short  skit for the festival! The students  worked  very hard to make this event a success and  I love  them all so much. They practiced despite the fact that they are preparing and  taking finals.

It was  really a great way  for the students on campus  who live far away from home to celebrate  the holiday. I also really feel  so much  closer  to my students  and  Jason’s  students since  we spent  so much  time preparing  for the  Dragon Boat Festival. We practiced, we laughed and  bonded.

Oh and  I I was featured  ion the news I’m a  star!!!!! So awesome!!!! Maybe my soul mate  was watching the 6:30 news and will see  me fall in love  with me and come  and find me! Oh if  only life was like a movie!!! My life story would be Nocturnal in Nanchang.

Dumpling Darlings

Dinner prepared by my students

Dinner prepared by my students

On  Friday, my students came  over  to cook me a Chinese meal. They wanted  to thank me for making them a Western meal earlier  in the week.  I wasn’t  feeling well at all all week and  yet I entertained  my students. I went  to the  clinic  and have  been on antibiotics. I worked Thursday  but had  this  Friday off. I was sleeping in and  heard  a banging  on the  door. It was my Chinese tutor Lee. Behind him were a brigade  of my Chinese  students. It was  an Asian  Invasion!! I was groggy and sick but let them in.

Busy bees  making dumplings

Busy bees making dumplings

As the  girls  were bombarding  my  kitchen, Lee began to teach  me  pinyin. It is my deepest  desire  to learn  Chinese. I really  want to  communicate  to the  people living here. Who knows  maybe  I can  attract a Chinese  cutie  if I can at learn to  speak Chinese.  Also I am sick of  pointing at this and  saying that one and  smiling. I am in China so I feel obligated  to learn the  language  out of a mixture  of  respect  and  survival.

When my lesson was over, I invited Lee to  stay but he had to  go back to his  campus. The girls  were  ready  to make dumpling. Dumpling 101 commenced! I was shown the technique, first  you you get the  round  circular  dough, you gather the filling  using chopsticks and  place in on top of the circular  dough. Next you dip your fingers in a bowl of  water  place  water  around the edges and  fold  in  half. Then  you pinch the  dough  using a pleated methods. Sounds  and  look simple  enough. The  girls made it  look easy. My  first  attempt looked  more  like baozi and  less like a dumpling. Yes  it  was  an ugly  dumpling. so the  girls  showed  me  another way to make the  pinches.

It  took me  awhile before I made an acceptable dumpling.  My dumplings were  definitely not  as pretty as my students. Rome  was  not  built  in  a  day  it  will definitely  take  more  time that and day to  learn  who to make   dumplings.  The  hardest  part  was the pinching  part. My  folds  just  aren’t pretty. I can tell when I am  eating the  dumplings  which one I made.

My first  and  fifth dumpling. I am improving

My first and fifth dumpling. I am improving

While there was a crew  of  us making  dumplings  there  were  other girls  making a  variety  of  dishes. there were  about  seven  students in  my kitchen. It was smelling so yummy. I was so  happy. A home  needs  to have  people in it. I haven’t really experienced  a  homey atmosphere since  my  mom  died.  My friend  Lisa opened  her  home  to me  prior  to me  leaving the US and it was  at that moment I realized that I hated  living alone.

It was so nice  chatting  with them as  we  were   folding dumplings, it was  a girl bonding moment. I  don’t  experience  much of that. My childhood  friend  was not a gushy girly girly, so she  had no ides  about female  bonding. When i  got  older  I had  more  gal  pals  and  we  did female bonding rituals. I really  missed that and the dumpling making  really helped  me.

Finally  dinner  was  ready, we had tomato and  egg, cucumber  and  sausage, dumplings  and a dish  of  just sausage. It was very  yummy. Oh  and they  begged me to make  my garlic  bread  again. They  said it was  so delicious  before  that they wanted  to taste it again. The best  part was the fellowship and the  company. Oh I forgot we  left the  door  open and my neighbor  walked in. He wanted to borrow  water to get tea. The water  guy who  delivers  our  water  was MIA, once the Chinese teacher  saw the  girls  he  decided  to stay. I was  feeling very  tired and  my students  are  nursing students  and they  saw my  meds  so they knew that I was a sick teacher. we  talked  for  a  bit and I showed them  my  Facebook and  they talked to  some of  my friends  that were on Facebook on Friday.

All in all  Friday was  a fun night. I can’t wait  until I get  to make  dumplings with them next time.. One  of the  girls even likes  karaoke! Score!!!!

Invasion of the Sweetheart Students

My sweet students. I think I lost weight  since I have been here!

My sweet students. I think I lost weight since I have been here!

I am still in the  process of all my classes doing their oral presentations.  I have started on three classes. For  all students  that receive A’s on their  presentations, I have  invited them for  a yummy  western meal prepared by yours truly. I have  7 classes, so I will be in the kitchen very often. Luckily the Fushen campus isn’t that interested, they  would  have  to travel too far. So I decided to offer this  more  towards the  students in the Wanli  campus.

Half way through I noticed that I was getting A’s  so I decided to invite  the  first batch of students. Today I have 7 of  my sweet  nursing students, On Tuesday I will have 7 more and on Thursday, I will have 5. Oh and  My nursing students all mostly girl classes. I have  like 7 boys in on of the classes and  4 boys in the  other  Wanli  class that I teach.

Squeezing around my table  for four.

Squeezing around my table for four.

I decided  to make  sausage and peppers  for  all the A students. It is  easy and  cheap, however  now I have  to eat the  same  dinner three days in a  row. DUH!!!!! The next  round  of cooking will be  after Laborer’s Day holiday. This  is  becoming my staple dish.

So I  forgot to get the  sausage, luckily my  dear friend Jason was going to Auchan and picked me up  some sausage. Oh and  beer the secret ingredient. I arrange to have the  girls  come  over  at 6:30 oh and of  course I wasn’t  ready.

In China  your  dinner  guest come promptly! So i was  very behind  schedule. The girls  came  bearing gifts! That was  so sweet of them. I was overwhelmed. I am  so not use  to it. The each  did  a little  bow  as they handed  me their gifts.

They came bearing gifts. Teaching in Jersey I  never received  any gifts!

They came bearing gifts. Teaching in Jersey I never received any gifts!

My dinner  guest  had  to wait  30 minutes  before eating. Next time  I am going  to start cooking earlier. They  started  to take  pictures  of me  cooking the  food. They were  amazed  and kept  saying wow. It was really cute.

I finally began setting the  table. I  didn’t have  enough forks so  some  people had  to use chopsticks. I also  did not  have  enough plates so some  people  had  to use bowls. I had  6  plates but 7 guests. We  all squeezed  around the  table. I had  to borrow, 2 additional chairs from my neighbor.

It is  so  nice  just  to have  people over, back  home in the USA my home was not considered the  party place. No one ever  came  to visit me. I always  visited other people’s  homes. I don’t  know  why, I think I am an awesome hostess, well now  in China, I guess  I am making up  for  loss hostess time.

The  girls  really loved the  food  and  it was just  enough to feed  all  8 of  us! Afterwards  they  did the  dishes for  me!! I love  it. When you invite Chinese  students  over they will clean for  you. We sat  around  and talked, it was the perfect opportunity  for the  girls  to practice  their  oral English. I think of  every moment as a teachable moment. Exif_JPEG_420

I  found out that two of  my students live in Xi’an and Hangzhou, the  two places that I am visiting this  summer. Now  I have  tour guides. I also found  out one  of  my students is  going to study  abroad  in Australia next year, what a lucky ducky!

We listened  to music  as well, I really liked  all off them especially Vivian, she  loved KTV as well. so  now, I have  a KTV buddy! Yipppeeeee!!!!! The  girls are  coming  back over this Friday to teach  me  how  to make dumplings and  other  Chinese  food. I am so  happy that I decided  to reach out  to my students  and  make friends. I had  so much  fun.

After  the  girls left, I opened their  presents. One  girl girl Vivian  wrote  me the sweetest  letter  and I was in tears. It is  amazing  how  people  will open up and want to become  your  friends, if  you just allow them in. It is  hard for me  because I have  been  hurt  by people before, like a close friend. I am very  trusting, but I decided  to open  myself up more:)

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Shop Til You Drop

Check out my pretty new dishes. Aren't they very girly :)

Check out my pretty new dishes. Aren’t they very girly 🙂

Jason has  become  my shopping buddy, He  is like extremely patiently with my disorganized way  of  shopping. I am basically all over the place. The mission today was  to get a toaster oven.  I miss  baking things. I never  even though of the joys  of  an oven until I did not have one. Also I am having a dinner party tomorrow so I wanted to make  garlic  bread. A toaster oven is a very useful for  an expat .

My toaster oven

My toaster oven

Jason and I took the  white van over  to Auchan(my  favorite  store) While we were  looking at the toaster oven, 2  employees rushed to help us. Then they took the  toaster oven and  opened the box and  walked away.  Jason told me they were checking to see if it works. This is  when I had  my WTF moment. In the USA they  don’t plug up and  check to see if the  product  works. In the US you buy  the  product and if it does  not  work  you return the  product or  use  your  warranty. Jason said that they do the  same thing in the Philippines.

This is one Chinese Way that  I really appreciate. So  guess what? My original product  did  not work when they tried  turning it on. It was not heating at all. The oven was not warm. Three other  employees rushed  over  to assist. So there  were  five women trying to get this  oven to work.  This was  the last one of that model. One  of the  women rushed over to get the demo model. They  plugged it in and this one heated up quickly. I decided to take the demo model, I didn’t like the  other  brand that they had. Now I just  have to figure out Celsius. This one  has pictures  and  tell you  what   temperature  and how long to cook certain foods. It is idiot proof.

As we were  walking away  we  noticed that the employee plugged the  original one back in and it started  smoking! It was defective. Thank goodness, the Chinese  test products  before you buy them! That is one  practice  I think we  should  adopt back home  in the  States. On a side note kudos to the  customer  service  at this  store. It is  top notch. That is  one  of the  main reasons  that I like Auchan over Walmart.  I have  to say perhaps there is  a unseen code that Walmart employees  adhere  to that states that they  should ignore  customers, be  rude  and text. The Walmart  employees  at the one I went  to are just like back home!

Making a list and  check it twice

Making a list and check it twice

Next I had  to buy  some things  for the dinner party. This  time I came  armed  with a list, I didn’t want to drive Jason too insane. I am not a list person, but it did  keep me  a bit  more centered.  I went off the  list a bit, I bought a  hamper. Oh and  I  forgot to add in  plates, bowls  and cups. I bought salad  tongs  as  well. Oh  and towels to  wrap the  dishes in. Plus I needed  more towels. I forgot a  big  bowl to  serve the  salad in, so I am going to look in the  local store  on  campus  for that. I also bought  some  wine.

Between my purchases  and Jason’s purchases we realized there  was  no way that we were going to fit all of this  stuff in the white van. We also would  have  to hoof it back to our  apartments. It is  about a 15-20 minute walk from the  back to where we  live on campus, so we decided  to take  a taxi. We hailed one. There was a taxi driver passing us,  he  had a another  person in the car he  stopped  and backed up into oncoming traffic. Jason , who speaks some Chinese  told him where we  were  going. We stepped in the cab. This  was the cabbie from hell. If  he  was born in the  US he  would have become a Nascar driver! OMG he drove fast. I have  been in other  taxis  before but never have a ridden in one  where  he drives like a manic. He made a U-turn  so quickly that you could hear his tires squealing! Oh and  he broke out in spontaneous song and there was no  music.

Speed Racer  nearly  missed the  back entrance to the college. He was  going  close to  90 miles an hour. Jason screamed for  him  to stop that. He made the  most abrupt  stop and I was nearly thrown off  my seat!  He  drove  in the  gate, there  were  no  guard  so he  did  not have to leave his taxi license with the  guard(Oh  something  bizarro, the  dude  had  two different taxi license with photos. Once we  got in the cab he switched his license. That was all kinds  of  sketchy) He  drove  around the  campus  doing at least 60 miles per hour! Students  were  walking and  had to jump out of the  way! What a crazy  cabbie! When he  stopped in front of the apartment the tires screeched again. I was  glad to be out of that  cab!

Peter Pan Syndrome Solved….Sorta

Anyone that knows  me well knows that I am  not the  most  mature person for my age. I have been accused  of being very naive and  immature. I think I was just coddled too much, so there are  many occasions where , I just  don’t  act like an adult couple that with being  lazy, ditzy and  being a procrastinator you have Amber all rolled up in confusing ball of chaos. I think this  is  why I feel  more comfortable  with younger men, we are in the  same emotional field.

If Yan Can Cook , so can Amber. It might be edible though.

If Yan Can Cook , so can Amber. It might be edible though.

I would rather eat cookies  for  breakfast then cook myself  breakfast. I know  very bad, it use takes less effort. Or I use when I was motivated  enough was to go to the  supermarket and  buy Nutrigrain bars. Mostly though, I was a regular  at Dunkin Donuts. They even had my order  ready  for me  when they  saw  my  car pull up. Two pumpkin donuts and a large pumpkin coffee semi sweet, When  that was not in season it was a large vanilla  coffee light and sweet with a raisin bran muffin. I would  scarf this in the car.

Iron Chef Amber. I wonder if I will end  up losing a finger?

Iron Chef Amber. I wonder if I will end up losing a finger?

Lunch, I never  really ate, I had only a 30 minute  lunch so i had  snacks in my desk. By the  time I got home  from my miserable  job , I was starved  and  exhausted. I would devour  chips then call for  take out. I was living like a 20 something straight out of college. The mystical thing called a stove never turned on. When it did, the  smoke detector went off  because I burnt dinner!!!! I was so bad that I use to have  to order  food  for the  dog  so I could reach the delivery minimum.

I vowed that I would  cook for  myself, sometimes. I haven’t been able to do this because I was living in a hotel for  my first month stay in China. Also the food in the cafeteria was very good and  cheap. I am miraculously losing weight. I eat baozi, hard boiled egg, or rice porridge  for breakfast, then  veggies and  some meat or tofu for lunch and dinner. I am snaking on fruit. sometimes .I buy  steamed break. I also have been drinking lots of green tea.

Still though, grown up prepare food  for themselves in a kitchen. I finally decided that I was going to cook. I dragged Jason, my neighbor to town with me. He was bored so he  had  nothing else better to do.  My mission was to get pots and  pans. My goal was to cook dinner tonight. I so went ADHDas I always  do when I shop. I never  make a list, I have  a general idea about what I need. I was ready to buy sneakers because they were men shoes that looked girl, I ended up buying a shoe rack. I am going to make folks  take off their  shoes when they  visit. Then I decided I needed  lotion, deep conditioner, face moisturizer.

Pretty purple shoe rack. I only have two pairs of  shoes!!!

Pretty purple shoe rack. I only have two pairs of shoes!!!

Then I was looking at  dog leashes  and dog food.  Jason was like, um the pots  and  pans  are this  way. He  was cracking up because I wanted  everything purple or  a pretty color. He  said  shopping with me  was hilarious  because I was all over the place. I did   find the pots  and pans. I also brought a  wok(come on  now I am in China) a cutting board, oh and  a knife set and  a steamer. Maybe  I can make  my own steamed buns and  steamed veggies. I  got cutesy chopsticks too. Oh and  a wooden  spatula.

Jason even helped  me  carry my  stuff. All he   brought was milk and  cheese. Oh and  it was  raining too. However, though I brought all this  nice expensive  cooking gadgets, Check out my fridge. Barren, um  I have  not gotten groceries. Ummm oopsies!!!!!! I do have  a bag of frozen dumplings in the freezer.  Oh and  cucumber. I forgot olive oil to cook with! So I did  do one adult thing today but  my flakiness reigns supreme.

My barren fridge

My barren fridge