Sunday night was the New Year’s Eve night when everyone sets off fireworks all night. We walked around the neighborhood to watch and even bought some sparklers and some little ones to light off.
It’s the Year of the Monkey so one of our favorite bakeries, Wedome, has monkey pastries with a strawberry cream cheese filling. Yum!
I took the kids to Ocean Park on Hong Kong Island (sort of like Sea World) so B could stay at the hotel and get some reading and dissertation work done.
We had to catch a double decker bus outside our hotel, across the street by the race track. We got on, got seats on top deck in the front row, waved to B up in our hotel room, went through a tunnel, and then were there. None of us had any idea the bus ride was going to be so short. This was a huge disappointment for Squidgems. Once off the bus, we followed the little crowd that was with us and the signs indicating where to go for Ocean Park. We’d bought our tickets from the hotel concierge the day before, so no lines, just entering.
Ocean Park is two levels connected by cable cars. We started below where there are mostly animals and some kiddie carnival/theme park rides.
I think we spent too long on the lower level, not really knowing how much there was to do once we took the cable cars up.
Once we got to the upper level, we wandered all over trying to find the promised McDonald’s. The other options for food we’d passed had been strange Chinese food that isn’t something we’re eager to eat, let alone pay amusement park prices for. When we found McDonald’s, they had normal prices AND served breakfast all day. Win. Win. Then we explored. Penguins, more string rays and sharks. Buddy liked spotting cargo ships in the Pacific.
Squidgems and I waited for an hour (and used the bathroom several times, giving up our seat on a bench each time) while the three big kids waited in line for a roller coaster. The upper level of Ocean Park was were all the big roller coasters were, but there were long lines and we were supposed to meet B at Stanley Market in the later afternoon.
Stanley Market is on the southern part of Hong Kong Island, sort of near Ocean Park. By the time the kids got off the roller coaster, we waited in line to take the cable car down, exited the park, found the right bus, rode the windy bus ride to Stanley Market it was almost dark and the market was closing. We looked around quickly, bought some Hong Kong magnets for our fridge and ate dinner at a yummy Thai restaurant. Then we took the bus back to our hotel.
The bus back to our hotel didn’t stop where we thought it did and took us all the way back to the northern harbor side of HK Island. When we exited, we found ourselves at an LDS church just starting to clean up the nativity display they’d had for Christmas. We went in for a few minutes and chatted with the missionaries there and looked at the nativities. It was a nice end to our not typical Christmas day.
Last year we pulled off our own little Thanksgiving at home. This year, the M-Gs’s invited our family as well as two other families over for dinner. For the kids and I, it involved riding a bus to line 6 (where we get on at the end of the line, all get seats and thus are less squished hauling all the food we were bringing along), and then the husband picked us up at their subway stop in their family’s tuk tuk to deliver us to their apartment. B sneaked out of school early (he didn’t teach the last hour of the day anyway), took a taxi to line 6 and at their subway stop hired a tuk tuk to drive him to their apartment.
I made my aunt Elaine’s rolls (which were a hit, as always):
2 TBSP dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cup scalded milk
1 cup plus 1 tsp sugar, divided
1 cup butter or margarine
6 beaten eggs
9 cups flour
Soften yeast in water adding 1 tsp sugar. Dissolve salt, sugar, butter in scalded milk and cool to body temperature; add to yeast mixture. Add beaten eggs. Add flour and knead until smooth (don’t work in too much flour – you want it a soft slightly sticky dough).
Place in greased bowl and raise until double – roll our on floured surface ½ – ¾ inch thick a quarter of the dough at a time. Spread melted butter on and cut into 12-16 pie shaped pieces and roll up from widest to narrowest end and place on greased cookie sheet. (Can be frozen at this point). Let raise until double or more in size. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.
Yield: 4 to 5 dozen.
And Uncle G’s mom’s Pecan Pie:
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 TBSP flour
2 TBSP milk
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup pecans (sort of chopped, halved or quartered)
Mix flour, sugars and butter.
Beat eggs, milk and vanilla together.
Pour first mixture into second.
Pour into crust. Foil around edges.
Bake 375 for 40-50 minutes. (I might lower temperature.)
In this crust (halved) from Chef In Training:
2½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon sugar
1 cup cold butter
¼ to ½ cups ice water
- Combine flour, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a fork until mixture is crumbly. Add cold water, starting with ¼ cup, adding a little at a time, until perfect consistency is reached.
- Separate dough in half for two pies, or one top and one bottom for one pie.
- Roll out and place in pie pan. Flute edges. Poke holes in the bottom of crust prior to baking. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes.
- This baking time is just for the crust, not a filled pie. However, the crust can be used for a filled by, the baking time will vary for each recipe. For a filled pie, do not poke holes in the crust.
At dinner, I only remembered to take a picture at dessert time. There was a rectangular apple pie, a cookie pie (me) also rectangular but cut into pie-like slices, two pecan pies (one mine), two pumpkin pies (only one pictured) and a chocolate pie.
People count: 20 Pie count: 7
School Halloween Party
I told the kids maybe they should pick book characters to be… it might be easier to come up with that type of costume in China. PS jumped at the chance to be Hermione (B just finished reading the entire series to the kids over the summer). Little Guy decided he’d be Percy Jackson. Buddy was undecided and in the end said he’d just be another camper at Percy’s Camp Half-Blood. I tried to get Squidgems to be Tintin again so we’d have a book theme, but he wanted to be someone else. Finally I talked him into being a donut thinking that’d be simple in China. In the end, I decided we’d say he was Arnie the Doughnut, and then they were all book characters. Squidgems also insisted the B wear one of the chef hats we bought for PS’s costume last year and be the doughnut baker, but we couldn’t find any when it was time to go to the party.
“Trunk” or Treat at the church building
The lion is Squidgems’s best friend, David WI.
We watched the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the “Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression” (WWII to the rest of us) on tv. It’s a “by invitation only” parade.
This is from the thirteen floor of our building looking toward Tian’anmen Square and downtown Beijing. You can’t really see the plane/helicopter and color smoke aspect of the Victory parade (which is why I went upstairs to try to get a picture). Notable is that the air is so clean, we can see the tallest building in Beijing, and to the left of it, Short Pants (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CCTV_Headquarters). Not sure why we call it Short Pants. I’d read somewhere that that’s what it is called, but now I see the Wikipedia pages says it is nicknamed Big Pants or Big Boxer Shorts.
In this one, I’ve labeled the Beijing skyline.
Afterwards, B saw some fellow teachers who said the tanks were still going and headed our way so we ran out to see. Here we are waiting along Chang’An Ave. (Fuxing Rd. by us) to see if the tanks roll past.
After awhile, everyone else got bored and only Buddy and I remained.
Waiting along Chang’An Ave. (Fuxing Rd. by us) to see if the tanks roll past.
In preparation for this Victory Parade in September, there are a ton of car restrictions and factories are closed, all so the air will be clean. It’s gorgeous! We went out on the school field and Squidgems and I messed around with my phone and he rode his scooter while B and the big kids played soccer with a bunch of Chinese kids.