As I’ve been absent from the blog for a while, let me share with you some stories from my first month of summertime in Pittsburgh.
Last time you saw me, I was high up in the Arizona mountains, enjoying breathtaking landscapes and equally spectacular company. I so cherish that get-away, treasuring the rest and comfort I experienced during it.
Early the next week I traveled back. As we soared over Pittsburgh’s deep green hills and towering trees, the one thought that crossed my mind was, “I’m home.” And what a glorious thought that is! Ending my first year of school, I am finally coming out of that crazy transition that college throws your way.
My first day back was spent with good friends; a coffee date for brunch, errands around campus in the afternoon, and dinner on Jason’s porch. To all of our appreciation, Jason prepared a delicious dinner for the group composed of a brie cheese spread, arugula salad, and sour-dough, turkey sandwiches. While we ate, the sun set directly in front of the little home we sat at. Surrounded by such amazing friends, those moments of golden rays were my favourite of the day.
We sat there on his little porch for a long time talking and munching on the prepared Hors d’oeuvres, when Chalisse, Lydia and I decided to head out on a late-night-walk. Call the boys lazy… or scared, but either way they decided to hold down the fort while we explored. You see, I have a favourite lookout spot in the large park behind campus, but walking there in the dark was a first. We set out enthusiastically but by the time we had crossed campus, courage began to falter. It was one dark pathway in particular, in combination with traipsing through knee-length, aboding grasses that sent us running back. We must’ve looked absolutely hilarious as we bounded back to the street, trying to get out of the grasses that clung viciously to our legs.
This is definitely a day that I will not forget.
Traveling this weekend with three of the loveliest ladies, has been such a treat. About a month ago, I was invited to join them for a sewing workshop located in the beautiful mountains of Arizona. School is now out for the summer, and what better way to spend my first week of freedom than among such wise and endearing friends.
Aunt Lori works for Baby Lock machine company as an educator. She travels to various locations around the United States hosting workshops to inspire and teach the use of Baby Lock sewing machines. I’ve so enjoyed getting to watch her interact with the students and thrive in this area that she so enjoys.
We ate at a delicious Italian restaurant after our first session of workshopping. My favourite was the pizza with chilli-sautéed brussels sprouts, Italian sausage, and honey (pictured below)!
The last piece Jessie used in her portfolio for her college applications. A drawing of the robot she designed for competitions last fall. I am so amazed at her talent!
During the Chinese New Year holiday Jessie and Maddie often accompanied me on trips to the market. I was happy to have the help, carrying our fresh produce and meat.
Here is a typical pork seller’s shop. The meat is openly displayed on the counter for buyers to pick the best cut.
A new way to display apples…with Chinese characters and words of blessing for the new year! Not exactly sure how they managed to do this. I think the farmers put a sticker on the apples as it was growing.
One can also buy a variety of fish. Here, one seller has his wares displayed on the ground.
We were very blessed to have both Rachel and Michael with us for Christmas. Especially since I am afraid that it could be our last one together in China. Many changes are coming this year with Michael’s graduation and going into the workforce and Jessie beginning college in Pittsburgh. Getting us all together in Tianjin next year will be tricky. We spent lots of quality time together cooking, playing games and going on “coffee dates” to Starbucks. A very special friend from Virginia sent the Settlers of Catan game the kids and Sean had lot of late night competitive games.
Beautiful table centerpiece Michael put together for Christmas dinner.
Some sisters here in Tianjin are so happy to see Rachel!
Rachel arrived on December 17th to a snow-covered city. Due to the bad weather in Tianjin, the driver I hired to take me to Beijing had to cancel because the highways were closed 🙁 So I had to brave my way via taxi, to hi-speed train, to subway, then airport express train to finally get to the Beijing International Airport – nearly 4 hours after leaving home. It was my first time making this trip alone and it was an adventure, especially in the bad weather. However, to my surprise, the weather in Beijing was sunny! As I traveled on the hi-speed train to Beijing I watched as the skies and the ground cleared.
View from my train window leaving Tianjin
Fifteen minutes later, on the outskirts of Beijing, the skies are clearing
Airport Express train arriving at the airport under blue skies!
The weekend of December 6 -8th, I had the opportunity visit Michael in Hong Kong for his final exam presentation for the fall semester. During their last year of university in the HKU Architectural studies, students have a one-year project. Michael’s assignment is to design hypothetical Olympic village shops and housing for guests who will attend the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. I am very proud of his excellent work and it was a treat to meet some of Michael’s classmates.
Here Michael helps his friend prepare her drawings for her presentation.
Above, Michael took me to his favorite Dim Sum restaurant for brunch. Later that day we took a ride across the harbor to Kowloon. The Hong Kong skyline is very beautiful from the ferry. We visited other of his favorite places to shop and eat and the weather was delightful. At Michael’s local grocery store they were even selling REAL Christmas trees. Look closely and you will see a price tag of about 700 Hong Kong dollars, which translates to about $100 USD.
This is a common sight in China, as one travels throughout the city. Trucks piled high with boxes which are then bungee wrapped together, so they stay in place (although this wrapping job did not seem to do the trick). The truck drivers ride in a small two-seater un-airconditioned cab. A much different level of comfort from the American truck driver with his extended cab rig, with full size bed, air conditioning, and television.
Maddie found this great idea online, and thanks to grandma and grandpa Headrick who sent us candycorn and malted milkballs in a fall carepackage, we were able to make these cute turkey treats. Megan had her friend, Naomi, over to play the weekend before Thanksgiving and Maddie put her creative skills to work teaching the girls how to make these turkeys.
Our sweet Chinese friend who has been working at our school for a few years now, and who recently got married and Megan was the flower girl, took a job at another company in our city. Although it was sad to say goodbye knowing that I won’t be able to see her each day when I go to work, I’m happy for her to have this new opportunity and I’m glad that we can still be in touch, since she did not move away from Tianjin.