Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Backroad

A backroad on Hong Kong Island, June 2014.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Purr-fect

 
During June 2014 I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and went to a diner for a late breakfast. Then I saw the cat. Perched upon a table. Pretty cute. Not very sanitary, but very cute.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Looking back

Well, here in Texas things have been a little rough during February with chemo, hospitalization, blah, blah, blah. So I began looking back at some of my old photos and realized there are quite a few stories I never told you about from the Middle Kingdom. I'll try to post some as I can.

Last summer, the dean of one of the top music conservatories in the country asked me if I would teach English to his music professors. The very talented musicians could participate in more international music exchanges and competitions if they could speak English. He wanted me to give them a test at the beginning of our class to determine their level. The poor lady in the navy dress above hardly knows a word of English, and she felt humiliated. I even gave her an easier test with pictures on it. I felt sorry for her. She's a musician, not a linguist, and she's not used to being bad at anything. She grew up when English was not a part of the school curriculum. The younger teachers had all studied English before.

I asked the teachers not to look at each other's papers, and you can see from looking at the photos above that they conscientiously followed my instructions. "Exam" and "not cheating" just don't seem to go together well in some places around the world. Fortunately, this was not intended to be a serious accredited English class.

While they were cheating, I figured I might as well look out the window and take some photos. The university is on the outskirts of town in older buildings near the elegant green mountains. It was beautiful to me.

The teachers were all very kind and warm-hearted. I knew it was going to be a great experience and that I was going to establish some excellent new friendships.

Their placement exam took place right before summer break. I was supposed to actually start teaching them in September in two different classes (one for beginners). But life changed around September and I never got a chance to teach these classes. I put the conservatory in touch with someone else who might be able to help them. It was all I could do. I hope I get to visit those teachers again some day. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

Chinese New Year is February 19th. It's the year of the ram (or maybe they call it goat or something). Above is a common new year decoration in China.

I'm in Texas and can't eat much of anything this week, so no big celebration for me this year. Hope my Chinese friends are having fun!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Friends

Three of my college friends drove over to see me this weekend. Two of them stayed over night. We had a four-hour lunch at Chuy's on Saturday! L-R: Cindy, Patsy, me, Mel. Friday was my birthday, so it was a fun birthday weekend.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Cold Saturday in January

It's a cold, bleak January morning, a Saturday. I get up and out the door early.

Mimi's excited to have her pink sweater and her leash both on. It means something is going to happen to her. But when I put her in her carrier in the back seat of my car, her excitement morphs into terror. I tell her not to worry, that we're just going to the nearby small town of Noonday, not back on an airplane to China. As usual, she doesn't understand.

We ride through nearly vacant roads on this weekend morning, made empty as others sleep in. These are back roads, lined with bare trees reaching their limbs to the frosty gray sky above.

This would be a charming ride through the woods if it were not for the wailing dog in the back seat.

We arrive ten minutes before the traveling small town veterinarian staff opens for business under a tent next to the Dollar General store. I don't want a line to form in front of me, so I get Mimi out of the car and we wait in the cold.

No line forms. No one else thinks it is warm enough to visit the outdoor vet today, not at this early hour anyway. Whether he offers cheaper prices or not, they have decided to stay home in their warm beds and postpone their doggy disease prevention to another day.

Mimi gets a blood test. We wait another ten minutes to get the result. Good news, no heart worms. We buy a year's worth of preventative medicine and jump back in the car.

Even though we had no stops at airports, Mimi is still not happy. She shrieks all the way home, over the undulating hills of east Texas.

I think she must get car sick, like me.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas from me, myself and Mimi

Wishing you all a blessed and merry Christmas. 

Thank You God for sending Jesus to save us from our sins and restore us to fellowship with You! Thank You for bringing Mimi and me safely to Texas for this chapter of our lives.

Let me fix that

While I was attempting a photo shoot in the backyard this morning, my dad decided my mom's earring needed untangling. In the end, this turned out to be my favorite photo of the batch. Love that look on my mom's face! (My mom's birthday is coming up on Monday.)

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

I'm home for Christmas this year, and was left in charge of decorating. So I got new stockings for the three humans in the house (couldn't find any cute dog stockings or else I would have gotten some). We have camouflage for my dad, red sparkly ruche stocking for my mom, and a satin-frill topped high-heel boot for me. 

My decorating style can be summed up in two words: Hobby Lobby.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Low-sugar, gluten-free Snickerdoodles


Ingredients:

2 eggs (I used organic eggs)
1/3 cup Stevia for Baking blend
1/4 cup softened butter (I used organic stick butter)
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups Bisquick Gluten Free mix
Ground cinnamon

Steps:

1. Heat oven to 375°F.
2. In large bowl, mix together eggs, Stevia blend, butter and shortening.
3. Add Bisquick and mix until dough forms
4. Drop biscuits on cookie sheet that has been sprayed with Pam.
5. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with cinnamon.
5. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Notes:
  • This makes a cake-like cookie that is slightly sweet, but not too sweet. Tastes yummy with a cup of bitter black coffee!
  • If you have never used gluten-free flour before, the unusual texture of rice flour vs. wheat flour may catch you off-guard at first. I like it though. 
  • Usually snickerdoodles have a crisp texture, and have sugar sprinkled on top. These are a little different than the traditional snickerdoodle.
  • My goal was to make something tasty that was (1) gluten free, (2) sugar free, and (3) used as many organic ingredients as possible. I realized after making the cookies that the Stevia Baking blend actually DOES have some sugar in it, but it is far less than I would normally use. I doubt shortening is a healthy ingredient, but I had no alternatives for that one.
  • Stevia is natural … no artificial chemical sweeteners for me. (Fact: I gave up Diet Cokes on August 1, 2013.) These cookies have all natural ingredients.

Benefits of eating low-sugar, gluten-free foods:
  • Reduces pain and inflammation for those suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, heartburn, or intestinal ailments like Celiac disease. I was in constant pain until September 17, 2013 when I stopped eating wheat and sugar products. The pain went away overnight.
  • Besides all the things you already know about sugar, did you know that it feeds cancer cells? 

In China, I had no access to Gluten-free Bisquick or Stevia for Baking. For me to eat gluten free and sugar free, it meant a diet of meat and vegetables. That kind of diet helped me lose weight and reduce my pain tremendously.

However, since I'm in the U.S. for Christmas this year, and have access to a few more specialty ingredients, I thought I might make a batch of cookies -- ones that are not too bad for me -- to help me get in the Christmas spirit. I don't plan to make or eat them often, but it's certainly nice to have at least one recipe to turn to when the cookie mood strikes!

(By the way, I had no intention of being the organic, gluten-free kind of person, and was more of the type to make fun of those who were. I'm now of the opinion that there is really something to it.)