Category Archives: China

A Valentine’s Day Duck

I have to warn you, what you are about to see is a bit graphic. Afterall, we did our shopping for tonight’s dinner at the Chinese grocery store. As I began the preparations, even I wasn’t prepared for what we found.       



poor little guy


I know, it shouldn’t have been all that shocking and my experiences in cooking school should have prepared me, but I’m a chicken kind of girl and they don’t sell chickens with their heads on where I shop. Thankfully, Brian stepped in and did the deed. I think he even enjoyed it.       


I love that man! Thanks, honey.   (Such a romantic Valentine’s Day.)    

The next part of the preparation was also quite interesting, after marinating the duck for about 5 hours in hoisin sauce, Chinese five spice powder, salt and pepper, we poured boiling water over the duck to puff it up. Then, I  brushed a layer of corn syrup, maltose and vinegar over the duck. (This was quite a challenge as maltose wants to stick to everything with an uber tight grip and wasn’t necessarily “brushable”. I improvised a bit and added more corn syrup.) Next, we hung the duck (as directed) upright with a fan blowing on it for another four hours.       



not something you see everyday

While waiting and drying the duck, I began the preparation for the rest of tonight’s menu:        

Peking Duck
Sautéed Bok Choy with Garlic and Sesame Oil
Pork and Chive Dumplings
Traditional White Rice
Caramel Pecan Cakes with Chinese Five Spice Powder Ice Cream 

Everything turned out magnificently! The dumplings were definitely something I would make again, a mix of pork, Chinese wine, ginger, garlic, chives, cilantro and chili-garlic sauce, rolled into dumpling wrappers and gently boiled for a few minutes. The perfect mix of sweet, a little spice and a bit of comfort.   


what's in a dumpling?



hot duck coming through!


Tallinn's getting very good with chopsticks


I’m not sure I’d be able to finish any dinner without a scrumptuous dessert and so far on our journey we’ve had some pretty amazing desserts. Tonight’s deliciousness was no exception, a succulent caramel pecan cake recipe from Lantern restaurant. Instead of making homemade Chinese five spice powder ice cream, I simply added the spice to vanilla ice cream and it really was divine.      

很好吃 - very good eat


I love that “delicious” in Chinese is actually “very good eat”, that’s exactly what the caramel pecan cake was.      

谢谢 (sheh-sheh; thank you) China for taking us on an amazing journey. We hope to visit you one day. 

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Olympic Fever and a bit of Shopping

While I wish I could say we had the best time last night watching the opening ceremony and seeing each country enter…it didn’t quite go that way. We turned the TV on at about 7, hoping to see some footage before the 7:30 kickoff, but, sadly, we saw much, much more than we should have ever witnessed. For some terrible reason they decided to show all the details of the luge accident that took the life of Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili. I did explain it to our kids a bit beforehand as I want them to know how short life is and we prayed for this man’s family, but I had no idea they would show the actual events on  TV. It made me sick and sad for this man’s family that they felt the need to show the world how he died.

After that sobering experience, we waited…and waited….and waited..and the kids just couldn’t make it. It seemed like they kept pushing back the time.

Needless to say, we did watch the ceremony today…in bits and pieces…and it really was so fun to watch the kids get excited when they knew a country. They cheered loudly for Australia and Austria, Brazil, China and Japan! Tallinn even recognized the British flag which surprised me as we haven’t learned that one yet. We all cheered excitedly when South Korea came in as almost half of our family is Korean by heritage. South Africa was another family fav, along with Mexico, Ethiopia and France. Of course the most fun was seeing our own nation enter the stadium and we all waved our torches high.

So, in the end, we did enjoy the ceremony and have now begun the olympic excitement that comes every two years as we witness athletic prowess at its best.

Today, as we are preparing for tomorrow night’s Chinese dinner, we took a family field trip to our local Chinese Grocery Store. Tal said the people at the store looked like Yurie.

good little shoppers get to pick a treat

get your live fish here!

Boy do we feel blessed to live where we do and have all these resources at our disposal!

Watercolors and Flames

Oh how I love the winter olympics, countries coming together in the name of competition, figure skating, skiers jumping through the air…it’s so fun to watch and cheer for a favorite althlete, especially when we get a little slice of their story.

Typically, however, I haven’t been that interested in the opening ceremonies. (I don’t think I’m much of a ceremony person, in general). Sadly, I only saw part of China’s spectactular celebration last year and I know it was amazing. This year, on the other hand, I’m excited to watch the events unfold tonight with my family. I feel like it’s so perfectly timed as we’re learning about many countries of the world and now the kids get to see people entering the stadium proudly carrying their country’s flag. It’s really the first time I think they’ve been old enough to understand and we’ve revved them up for a fun evening.

Today, before the festivities, we did a little Chinese art. Tallinn and Addie each drew a dragon free-hand and then watercolored it. I taught them a little bit about how to shade the colors and let them create their own masterpieces. Addie’s turned into a few lines and squiggles, while Tallinn’s was super impressive to me. To you, it possibly looks nothing like a dragon, but I quite love his sweet depiction.

Later, we made our own little olympic torches to wave tonight as we watch the real flame being held with pride. All we did was roll a rectangular piece of white cardstock into a cone shape and then glued some gold metallic wrapping paper inside.

Gung Hay Fat Choy



that’s Cantonese for “Happy New Year” and today we celebrated with a bit of Chinese fun.  

While the younger two napped, Tallinn and I prepared for the festivities by making lots of mini lanterns. It’s a bit questionable as to whether or not these lanterns are legitimately Chinese or Japanese, but our Chinese party guest said they passed for Chinese lanterns. (Yurie, on the other hand, said she made these growing up and that they were “Japanese”). Nonetheless, they were made with excitement and we called them “Chinese”.  

Using 6 x 6 inch squares of fun Asian print and red papers, we folded the papers in half, then cut slits on the fold (about 7-8). Then, we folded the papers in half the opposite direction and stapled the ends together. Punching holes through both sides, we then strung the lanterns on some twine and hung them across our entry way.  


We also hung up some Chinese stars we purchased on our visit to Chinatown.  


Then we welcomed our guests. Passing out paper bowls, each child painted a Chinese hat. I pre-drew four areas on the hats and they simply filled in each space with an alternating color, using red and yellow.  


Then, the moms helped attach black foam to the bottom of the hat as a trim, and a black pom-pom to the top.
finished hat

While waiting for the hats to dry, the kids had some fun Chinese-style snacks-clementines, fortune cookies, green tea and a cupcake. I found the cupcake idea online, which then made me get the idea for the party as they were too cute not too share. I just made a simple cake recipe and then topped the cupcakes with a burgundy-ish frosting (I was out of true red). (Actually, I was out of frosting altogether, and even what was necessary to make homemade frosting-I’m not quite the planner. Leave it to my fabulous friend, Amanda to help me out in a pinch and provide not only the frosting, but the red plates and tablecloth! She rocks!)  Then, I copied a template for the word “happiness” or “good luck” in Chinese. Yurie saw them and said “Oh, happiness”, so apparently they were legible….and delicious!  





By the end of the party, I think there was paint and frosting all over our house, but it wiped up quickly and easily and the “process” was enjoyed by everyone.  

We finished things up with rickshaw rides for all, a huge hit for our little friends. My sweet friend Anita had brought authentic Chinese New Year’s envelopes for the kids and Tallinn distributed them to each child as they left.  



Today Tallinn said to me “Mom, we’re not Chinese, though.” I guess it’s fun to pretend.

The Year of the Tiger

They say it will be the year of the tiger in China. So interesting how they have animals to represent each year. 

I wasn’t quite feeling tiger-ish quite yet (maybe tomorrow), so we decided to make dragons instead. Although, from my understanding, dragons are a constant “animal” in China. Plus, I found a really cute, easy craft using handprints to make dragons and thought it was a nice fit for my trio. 

These handprint dragons were found on and all you have to do is trace your child’s hand and cut it out about 5-6 times. 

colorful hand cut-outs


Activity Village has a template for the dragon face, legs and tail, which you can color or cut out of colored paper. 

coloring the dragon's head


We added googly eyes at the end instead of drawing them to make it a bit more fun. 

Addie chose pink, of course


assembling the dragon


Cardiff's finished dragon...the littlest


Tallinn's finished dragon...much bigger


 So there you have it, our craft for today. Tomorrow we’ll be celebrating with a fun Chinese New Year Party.

Chinese Drum Roll

I like to think that our family is pretty adventurous, especially when it comes to traveling and trying new things. Over Thanksgiving break, we spent some time in San Francisco and revisited one of our favorite spots-Chinatown. For lunch we were desperate for some scrumptuous dim sum and stumbled upon a very large “hole-in-the-wall” type of place that was just our style. Packed with  Chinese people, it had tables turning every few minutes and I’m pretty sure the three whities in our family were the only white people in the whole restaurant. That’s exactly how we like it. And, as expected, the dim sum was absolutely delicious, even though we have no clue as to what we really ate that afternoon. 


 Today, as we continued our journey in China, we made some fun Chinese drums. I found a great craft on and, using wooden spoons, we attached a shoestring with a bead on each end to the base of the spoon.   

wooden spoon with shoelace and attached beads


Then, we used a hot glue gun to attach an old CD to either side of the spoon.   

both sides with CD attached


Lastly, the kids (Tallinn only today) painted the CDs with an acrylic paint.  

let's make some noise!



finished drum


 Later, we made it an easy night with Chinese take out from one of our local favorites. 


Entering the land of Red

We have now left South America and have journeyed to the land of Red.  Bold, rich and full of power! Literally, we could spend weeks learning about China, months, in fact. Instead, we’re packing in thousands of years of history and culture into one short week.  

So today, we quickly got started and dove into our week, excited and ready to learn! We spun the globe to China and noticed its placement near Bangladesh and Japan.  

I found a great, easy flag craft from  

We glued red tissue paper on to cardstock using q-tips and glue. It actually would have been much easier to just put glue all over the cardstock and then add the paper, but we learned the hard way. Next time.  



While the glue was drying we went online to and watched a video about Maria’s Big House of Hope, a hospital specifically made to help orphans who have medical needs-in honor of Maria Chapman. The hospital is located in Luoyang, China, so we went back to our create room, found Luoyang on our map and drew a Big House on our maps of China.  


crazy coloring


While the kids did the craft and colored, we learned this week’s Bible verse.  

For as high as the heavens are above  

the earth,  

so great is his love for those who   

fear him;  

as far as the east is from the west,  

so far has he removed our sins from us.  

Psalm 103:11-12  

Then, the kids put gold glitter glue on large yellow stars and placed the large stars, along with four gold sticker stars on to the dried tissue paper.  

finished flag


There’s much, much more to come this week but that’s it for today.