On site in Pittsburgh

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Hey my sibs,

Seeing that I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for 3 weeks now, its high time that I share some snapshots of my new home with you. These photos were actually taken for a school studio project. Groups of three were assigned specific locations around Pittsburgh to explore and photograph. I was one of the three to travel downtown for the exciting photo-expedition. I had no idea where we were headed until I literally stepped off the bus into the classy, theater-filled, waterfront of Pittsburgh. It has been such an interesting place to photogrpah.
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Lion King is in town this month, so all the theaters have festively dawned yellow banners and Safari characters in their windows for the occasion.
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IMG_0541As I look back on these few photos, I am again amazed at Pittsburgh’s unique atmosphere. From pink bridges and sculpted flowers, to flash thunder storms and cathedrals, this place is perplexing.

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Thats all for now, I hope these pictures say a thousand words about my experience here so far… its at least a little clearer than telling you about it over Skype ūüėČ Have a great weekend! Miss you guys!

Reaching Out on Valentine’s Day

For¬†Valentine’s¬†Day this year, Jessie, Maddie, and I, invited some friends over for flower arranging and some much needed spring-time festivities. It took a full two days to prepare for this get-together. The first day was spent traveling around Ś§©śī• looking for materials, buying flowers, and finalizing snack menu ideas. We then spent the actual morning of the party; cleaning a very cluttered house, assembling a cake (most of the hard work was done the night before), and arranging table settings. Of course my favorite part of the preparations, was to bake the Valentine’s cake… ¬†second to that, I enjoyed setting out flowers (in preparation for the bouquets), as well as decorating the table with candy and anything rosie&pink.¬†¬†

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I loved watching the creativity flow throughout this flowery project. Watching the unique style of each individual was so enchanting- their personalities were expressed through such distinct and beautiful technique.

threecakeThe lesson I learned through this, was to host more than just one or two gatherings a year! Its not until I am in the midst of something like this, that I realize how much fun I am having. Spending time in fellowship with friends (outside of school and mandatory events) is more important than I often give credit.  Ask Jessie, Maddie, or Michael and you will know that I am terrible at hosting events and am often not willing to get out and socialize much. Seriously, I am such a home-body.

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and let me just say that Jessie and Maddie are such pleasant people to collaborate with on these type of things…

I so didn’t deserve to be blessed with such precious sisters. Jessie inspires me to forget myself and dive into adventures with hard work and lots of prayer! She is honestly the hardest working person I have ever met… she will be a treasure to her future boss ūüėČ Maddie is completely un-phased by life’s troubles, she lets go and enjoys life… free to be herself. I wish I had her confidence and spirit! Hosting this party with these two was delightful.

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Irresistibly adorable group photo, I know.

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Cheers to friendships and creeping out of that ever clinging comfort zone.

Remembering Winter.

I appreciate the slowness of wintertime, long days cozied up inside provide time to think, rest with family, and pray. Thinking back on the past few months, I fondly remember…

quiet snowfalls. hot showers. pijama tea times.

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drinking lattes. Christmas decorating. cakes, cookies, and pies constantly filling our oven. reuniting with old friends. animal onesies! breakfast time with Mom. encouraging notes. Skype dates with Michael. freezing motor bike rides. late night movies. new kitchen countertops. Malaysian food. Sunday afternoons with friends.

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visiting Michael in HK. Asian desserts. training for a 1/2 marathon (still a long way to go!). Barbie movies with Megan. mittens and ear muffs. black coffee.¬†Dad’s B-day.¬†reading. spending time with Jesus.¬†

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Its been a long, cold, magical winter and I will surely miss it.

The month of March is now upon us…

While that means fickle weather patters for the present, springtime will soon sprout up spreading freshness wherever it goes. ¬†A new chapter filled with pastel-tinted flowers, warm sunshine, and Easter-morning dresses is now beginning. ¬†How thankful I am for season changes ūüôā I fully expect spring to be as blessed as winter was.

(most of the pictures shown above were used on connecting4’s instagram feed: connectingfour)

Cake Challenge: August

Remembering what a hit January’s cake was, I decided to try it again but this time with a simple chocolate cake accompanied by smooth vanilla buttercream filling.

This particular cake was a surprise Birthday dessert for our good friends, the Gohs. A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Goh emailed my Mom about joining their family for Thai food at an eclectic restaurant in downtown Tianjin to celebrate Mrs. Goh’s Birthday. Of course Mom (the courteous mother she is) felt compelled to bring something¬†along to the dinner. So she replied asking if we could provide the B-day cake for Mrs. Goh. ¬†Mrs. Goh has always been a very encouraging supporter of my baking passion and she herself is a queen of creative scrapbooking so I definitely wanted to bake something special for her. This cake was the result…

our family met them at the restaurant and enjoyed a lovely dinner and (an even lovelier) cake. ~Unfortunately the Gohs arrived at the restaurant before we did and seeing 11 seats at their reserved table, Mrs. Goh soon guessed who would be joining them for dinner.

In the end, I have to say my favorite part of baking cakes are the memories I hold with those I share them with.

<Cake Challenge Series: is a collection of posts which document the cakes I bake each month. More specifically, I have a goal this year to bake at least one (hopefully spectacular) layer cake each month, and photograph/post them here. I hope you enjoy this collection as much as I enjoy baking these delicious desserts!>

Other Cake Challenge Posts:
January 
February
March 
April
May
June

 MAKE YOURSELF:

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Filling: find a thorough set of instructions here.

Espresso Drizzle: find recipe in the Cake Challenge: January post.

Click on this post to see recipe for Chocolate Cake (scroll to the bottom).

Family Friend

Just before heading out to share a meal with our friend, Jed. He left Tianjin in October headed out to do Kingdom work. Part of his training here was to become more skilled at teaching Mandarin to foreigners. He tutored Sean last spring and in late summer.

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Lantern Festival

We’ve become friends with a Malaysian family from our church and school.   We were invited to their home for the Lantern Festival (the last big holiday during Chun Jie – Chinese New Year).  The family has two children, Boyie in Maddie’s class and Bo Wen in Jessie’s class.    During the evening Bo Wen had prepared a slide show explaining the various traditions celebrated in Asia during Chun Jie.  It was really neat to learn more.Our hostess, Mrs. Chin on the left, and one of our English teachers at TIS, Ms. Tan, on the right

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One of the customs in Malaysia is to join together as a family around the table to toss this salad made up of smoked salmon, shredded carrots, radishes, cucumber, bacon, dressing, etc.  The higher one tosses the more blessing one receives.

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Here’s the salad, ready to be tossed

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Pouring the Dressing

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Tossing the Salad

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Rachel and Jessie get a few final tosses before tasting

Rachel met a new friend, a Chinese girl her age who had very good English.  They exchanged e-mail addresses and have been corresponding.

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Jessie and her friends Bo Wen and Zach

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Maddie and her friends, Boyie and Hannah

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My Chinese Language teacher

Wednesday night we took our Chinese language teacher, Fan laoshi, out for dinner to celebrate her acceptance to study abroad in Australia. She will be leaving us next week for a two year study abroad. It was sad to say goodbye to Fan, a dear sister, but we are all so excited to send her off to this new season. Many of my new friends here on our team along with some of the other Chinese teachers went to a local cafe called Coffee Seekers. You may have read about this in Michael’s blogging. It’s one of his favorite spots to go hang out with friends. The food is decent and cheap. They also serve various coffee drinks at 1/3 the price of Starbucks.

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A Retreat to Thailand

I was so blessed to have been able to attend a Women of the Harvest retreat in Phuket, Thailand in February. One of my new friends here in Tianjin, Tami, invited me to register for this conference last fall. We were disappointed to find out that the retreat was already full. Then about two weeks ago, we were notified that there were two cancellations. Sean encouraged me to go and offered to help care for the kids. Tami and I had a very relaxing time of refreshment.

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The hosts came from the states…all volunteers. Most of the ladies are also involved in BSF or CBS, such dear women wanting to serve and bless others. The weekend included praise and worship, teaching, pampering (like pedicures and haircuts), times for relaxing and many surprises (goodie bags of things we can’t often get overseas, like chocolate chips!). I mostly enjoyed the warm, tropical weather, eating meals on the open patio and relaxing by the pool.

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