Posts Tagged With: Questions

Thoughts Anyone?

Hi all,

I have been hoping to blog and post more, but time seems to fly by. Just not enough hours in the day. Life has become busier and free time is almost non existent. This doesn’t really count as a post, but needed some ideas and thought who better to ask then you all…

I am doing a photography class for 7-9 year old students. I love to take photos and thought I could pick themes and set it up similar to the weekly photo challenges for these children. I also thought I should teach them a few tips along the way. So my question is any ideas? What could you suggest to help them learn a bit about photography or any theme suggestions?

I have had an intro class and 1 lesson so far where we talked about zoom. The theme so far I set was winter… I have 6 more classes to go and have a few theme ideas, but thought I would ask for suggestions too. I have them using simple point and shoot cameras, so there is limited ideas of what we could do for photography tips, but there are some rules of thumb out there no matter what type of equipment you are using. I appreciate all ideas. Please post them below in the comment section.

Stay tuned… I will write more on the weekend once I am back in Shanghai.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

Canadian Adventure: If the Shoe Fits

Interesting finds that cause you to do a double take are a part of travel and add some adventure to the ordinary. Things like this make travel interesting and a part of great memories of a trip or a place. In China I write about such occurrences and have not written so much about these here in Canada because many of my readers were friends and family from home. As my audience widens and I am in Canada for the summer I thought I should write a little about home and what makes this country fun, interesting and adventurous.

Growing up I remember seeing the “Shoe Tree”. It was a tall tree , a maple I believe, covered in a variety of worn out and colourful shoes. One became full and then a neighbouring tree started to take the overflow. The tree was along Highway 20 just outside of Fonthill, Ontario just before Victoria Avenue in the small town of Vineland. So many questions arise Why? Who started this? What does it mean? Regardless of the questions and curiosity it was something, as  young children, that made us giggle. I went to snap a photo of this shoe tree for this post, but it is gone. We drove back and forth along the area and looked carefully in case the green foliage camouflaged the silly icon, but we could not see the unusual monument to old shoes.  Searching the internet I just discovered the tree has been removed. What a disappointment since a childhood memory was lost. Reading the short details on the website about shoe trees it seems the original tree fell and was left beside the others, as it expanded onto 4 trees. I remember 1 tree and then in recent years 2 trees. It only says now that the 4 trees were removed, but no reasons given for their removal. Last year some high and unusual wind storms ripped through the area and this may have resulted in the demise of the trees. The tress were located in a wooded, uninhabited section of land along side a secondary highway, so I can’t image why else they would be cut down since all other trees in the area are still present, however shoeless.

Photo Credit: WM10ET_LEGACY_Shoe_Trees_Highway_20_Fenwick_ON

Searching on the internet I discovered there are more around Ontario. The reasoning for making these trees is unknown, but you can post comments and pictures on this website just for shoe trees. How bizarre… who knew this was some phenomenon! There is another tree we knew of in Welland, Ontario. It is a much smaller tree in height and girth. Shoes here are placed in matching pairs and some hang by their laces over the branches. Along the side of the road were numerous pairs of shoes that looked like they have been tossed from passing cars. The tree is located in an unihabiatated section of rarely used road. Again questions arise who provides the upkeep of this tree and adds the newest acquirements?

Shoe Tree – Welland, ON

What interesting or unusual icons are in your neighbourhood?

Stay tuned for more…

Categories: post a week, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Kreativ Blogger Award

YIPEE! I am over the Super Moon… I was passed along another award earlier this week. It has been a busy with work and a computer course for most of my Saturday so this is the first chance I have had to post and nominate other bloggers 🙂

Well not really my first chance because as I was about to do this earlier, but instead I ended up writing about Vietnam. But in my defence the thoughts just flowed and before I realised I had typed my final installment of our Vietnam adventures… so now that I have time to reflect and nominate let’s explore this new award 🙂

The rules of this award are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Pass the award to 7 nominees


To Dave & Aly over at “the thought palette” for their nomination. I am truly honoured. I have been blogging almost 2 years and in the last 2 months things have exploded! I went from a few hits a week to double digits a day not to mention followers, likes and loads of comments all due to awards and encouragement from my new online friends. I appreciate your help in answering my questions, your follow and now nomination 🙂 I just don’t have the words to express thank you enough… so to steal from a speech I gave last year… hopefully one of these is enough… Merci, Grazie, Gracias, Xie Xie, Danke Schon and Muito Obrigado.

Here are my nominations:

1. Jennifer Avventura at My Sardinian Life – Jennifer nominated me twice before (my first 2 awards ever) and has inspired my writing and helped me grow as a blogger. She is also Canadian Eh… and an expat. She writes about her adventures in Sardinia, Italy. Check it out!

2. Imogen Shepard at It’s a Strange Life – I checked out this blog through the Weekly Photo Challenges and when I saw her pic of her cat with her hamster I was hooked! I had taken a similar shot years ago of Holly (cat) & Critter (hamster). Her kind words about Holly has helped my sadness, so from one cat lover to another…

3. Island Traveller – the writing is so poetic and romantic. Each blog helps you see the good in things and remind you about the simple things in life. Reading his words are inspiring and heals the soul. Island traveller also takes part in the photo challenges and shares some amazing shots.

3. Wanderlust – I did nominate this blog last time, but I enjoy reading this blog and her great outlook on life was worth another mention. Check out her beautiful photos, many of flowers right in her yard! Wanderlust has had a tough week so I hope this brightens her day and doesn’t get lost in a million emails 😉

4. The Great Escape – Amazing pictures and talk about travel. Somehow another Canadian… wait is there a pattern emerging here? We Canadians are like magnets we attract each other no matter where we are!

5. Happiest Baby in the World – I found this blog when it was Freshly Pressed a few weeks back. They are neighbours here and at home (US originally and also Expats here in China). They are living more inland China and posted about all the great things that we experience here in China. I could totally relate!

6. Til We have Faces – A few months back Lee posted the most AMAZING shots on Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It is a place we want to go and seeing the stunning images made us want to go even more. More recent posts are about living in South Korea.

7. Jo Bryant –Chronicles of Illusions Through the photo challenge I stumbled upon this blog… Lovely photos and words…

8. Third Eye Mom – who loves to travel maybe even more than me!

OK I know there are more than 7, but last time I was supposed to nominate 12 or 14 and I could not think of enough, so I am bending the rules a little ;). Since the last award I have been reading more blogs and following some great people. Check them out!

Share 7 things about myself

1. I am long winded… and I like to talk 😉 I bet you didn’t know that one.

2. I am sarcastic and have an odd sense of humour… I even call my dad from China just to tell him a good joke! But he loves them as much as me!!!

3. I love to travel, take pictures and scrapbook… I have been lucky to find a husband who also likes to get out and explore.

4. I have read a huge number of books this year (I lost count). When I was younger I would get a stack from the library and before they were due I’d go back and get another stack… I missed that. Now I don’t have the time to read that many these days but I’m trying. Does reading blogs count?

5. I watch way too much TV…  Being in China I download some shows from home, but when the internet is slow it is hard to keep up 😦 it is a source of huge frustration here and something at home we took for granted.

6. I love the sun and when it is shining I seem to come alive 😉

7. I love chocolate… my husband thinks I love it even more than him 😉

Thanks for reading, following and liking 🙂 I am truly honoured with my new-found friends and old ones who have been along for the ride. Check out these great bloggers they are worth it! Now my job is done and nominees tag your it!

Stay tuned… next time back to life in China, or maybe a photo challenge if WP posts a new one.

Categories: love of reading, Photography, post a week, teaching overseas, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ancient Chinese Secret Explained-Pt.2

Yes Ketchup is the secret! Now let me explain…

A few weeks ago I took a Chinese cooking class and tour of the wet market. Cathy is claiming she won, but she cheated and took the chef’s bowl AND sabotaged mine by pouring extra rice wine in my bowl when she poured 1/4 cup instead of the required 2 drops…

Regardless of the outcome we had a great time and thought about taking another class. This week our small group of 4 grew to 10 and we tried it again. We broke into groups this time and each group made something different and then we all ate our creations. The menu included dumplings, Chinese eggplant, string beans, sweet and sour chicken and the Kongbao chicken we made before.

I must say I don’t think I will eat those kind of dumplings again… the mix did not only include meat, but fat and skin ground to a jelly like consistency that at first glance looked like a bowl of rice. They did taste delicious and not having dinner before we came I did eat a few…

My job was to make the fried rice… and I must say it turned out really good. The eggplant was flavourful in a spicy sauce, but a bit too oily for my taste. The big secret was revealed when John and 2 other teachers from school were making the sweet and sour chicken. This was the closest thing I have seen that looks like North American Chinese food… they diced the chicken and rolled it  cornstarch and then cooked it in a wok with oil until it was almost done. They drained off the oils and cooked the pineapple and red and green peppers. Next came the secret ingredient to make the red sweet and sour sauce… the ketchup. Sweet & Sour ChickenGasps could be heard all around the kitchen as we learned the secret and the chef calmly explained that is the sweet… who knew that the sauce was made from ketchup… here we all thought it was some difficult process or something that would come from a jar to save us time and effort. It wasn’t even Heinz, but ketchup just the same. You can see the bottle  in the picture above. It tasted really good especially since we had fresh pineapple that we included in the dish… yum! Nothing like fresh pineapple.

So now that the secret is revealed will it change what you think about Chinese food? Or as we call it here… food!

Stay tuned for more…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, everyday occurances, strange adventure, teaching overseas, travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ancient Chinese Secret

I have learned the “ancient Chinese secret” and I am about to let the cat out of the bag… hopefully it doesn’t get me into too much trouble!

The secret believe it or not is …..


Yes ketchup…

stay tuned for more…

Categories: Culture, travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

A Good Read

The travel list seemed to be quite popular and I had a lot of responses, so I thought maybe I would continue with another similar format post about books. Sometimes it is hard to find a good book, or know what to pick in a sea of titles. Maybe this will help you discover a new book to read. We can share and expand our reading lists.

My scaled down book shelf in China

I love to read, but it was not always the case. My parents regularly bought us books and read to us every night, but I was not a reader. I loved books, the pictures and stories where I could imagine the stories and they would come to life. Slowly I began to read on my own and the love of books took on a new form. I remember weekends going to the library and finding something to take home and read. I loved sitting in the quiet rows with the shelves of books towering above me. The smell and sounds of only pages turning, or the soft murmured whispers was very peaceful. I would return home with a small stack of books that I would pile beside my bed. Each night I would read and hopefully before the due date I was ready to return to the library and get a fresh batch of books.

Often my dad would come home from his shift work and my light would be on. Sometimes I would be asleep with a book in my hand, but occasionally I would still be awake and reading. I would be so interested in the story that I lost track of time. What a great feeling to get so caught up in a book that you lose track of time and you become lost in the pages.

Some of my favourites as a kid was the Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown series. Trying to solve the mysteries and be as clever as the main characters. A friend had me read some of the Wizard of Oz. I loved the movie, but who knew there were other books in the series? I remember the two of us as recess reading quickly to finish our books before library time, so we could get the next book. Very young I loved fairy tales and the whole idea of Happily Ever After…

Getting book orders in school was like Christmas. Our excitement when we came in from recess and the little paper copies were on our desks was the highlight of any day. Everyone would quickly look through the thin paper pages and make a list of what we hoped our parents would buy. When the orders came in and the book, or if we were lucky a little pile of books, sat on our desks we couldn’t wait until home time to read them. The book Isle of the Blue Dolphins was one such purchase when I was about 10. It quickly became one of my favourites and I read that book over and over again.

In Canada I had a small library. I have numerous novels and picture books for the students I teach. I love getting new stories and books and sharing with them. A small portion of those books have made it to China and I share with my students here. One thing about international students, they are big readers. We try to squeeze in reading in our busy schedule as much as possible. I started reading to the class at snack time and now they ask for me to read everyday. It is a disappointment when we are short on time. I display a picture of each book we have read and last year I filled 2 rows on a hanging clothesline. My class this year’s goal is to fill a third line.

I also have a library of books for myself. My dream one day is to have a built-in book-case, the length of a wall, filled with books from floor to ceiling. I love the look of books. For this reason I was against the new devices that allow you to download and read books electronically. The smell, feel, weight and look of books would be lost on a computer screen. After filling a suitcase with books this summer to read throughout this school year I am starting to think it may make life easier, or at least lighter.

OK now to the list… Some of my recent reads include:

Agatha Christie – Destination Unknown. Not her typical style and it was also published under a different title and author. It is about a woman who takes on a dead woman’s identity to help the police track a hidden operative.

Rosamund Pilcher – Shell Seekers. Each chapter is written about once person and their thoughts, experiences or perspectives. Most people are connected by family. It goes back in time in places, during world war ll. It was something different from what I usually read, but it was interesting. Thanks to Mary for suggesting it.

Lillian Jackson  Braun – The Cat Who… This is a mystery series and I read 2 of the books, so far. Not as great as Agatha Christie, but still interesting.

Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night – the title and cover intrigued me. Sometimes the best books ‘call’ to you this way 🙂 It was about a young autistic boy who finds his neighbour’s dog dead. The story is about him trying to find out what happened. Along the way it explores his life and how people react to him. The point of view and understanding of someone with autism was really well done.

Lisa See -Shanghai Girls. I am not finished this book yet, but so far I am finding it really interesting. It is historical fiction when the second world war was about to begin and what 2 sisters went through to escape. There is a few bits that are pretty graphic, so I skipped over them.

So what are you reading? Any good suggestions?

Stay tuned for more

Categories: Culture | Tags: , ,

Happy New Year

Well another year is hours away and in some parts of the world it is already 2012.

We have never flown New Year’s Eve before so I wonder if we will celebrate through each time zone? We will be flying into the New Year and not following it, so maybe we can count down at least once? Hmm will they give us all a complementary glass of cheap champagne?

2012 is the Year of the Dragon – a year of strength and power. I wonder what it will bring. Soon I need to decide if I will stay on at YCIS or move elsewhere. The idea of change and adventure is sure exciting and interesting. We’ll see how things go… things always happen for a reason and I’ll put out some feelers and see what comes up. I would like to stay as we really haven’t seen as much as we would have liked in the area, but in ways it is also time to move on.  Another reason maybe to move on is to keep the blog fresh and tell you about all the crazy adventures in a new place 😉

Take care, all the best for 2012 and stay tuned for more adventures…

Categories: everyday occurances, post a week, travel | Tags: ,


I hope this works. All weekend I have had trouble with the internet. The connection is slower than normal (and that is slow) and web pages come up blank. Not to mention that I somehow keep dropping the connection. It has been a very frustrating weekend as I have tried to do what most of you take for granted. OK here it goes…

Sometimes funny things happen here and I often write about the sights and sounds of our everyday life. It often raises questions… as I rode the subway this weekend, in a packed car with standing room only, my mind began to wander.

1. Many of you have asked me… what is Chinese food called in China? Well food of course! It does make me wonder though because I have not seen a chicken ball, egg roll or any other deep fried breaded piece of meat on a menu. How did Chinese food from a very healthy culture turn into deep fried, breaded balls of goo for us Westerners? Is this some kind of sick joke to clog our arteries?

2. What isn’t made in China? The things we buy at home more often than not have the Made in China label. Many of these things are not for sale here, only made for export. Is there anything that is NOT made here?

3. This week we went from the cold, damp autumn weather to a warm, sticky humid climate over night. At home we call this last take of summer “Indian Summer”. What do we call in China? Can we have Indian Summer in China?

4. Why do subway and bus drivers ride the breaks and jolt the passengers? My theory is to squeeze a few extra passengers on! In Xi’an I was floating in a crowd of people and had nothing to hold onto and barely a toe hold on the floor. The bus was over capacity, but he kept making all the stops and letting more people on! OK hang on we’re hitting the breaks again I see a few more at the next stop.

5. A fashion trend with young people here is wearing the big Ray Ban frames (think Tom Cruise in Risky Business), but they wear them without lenses. Many Chinese wear glasses… I would say the majority do. So do these young people wear contacts? What would the point be then? What is the thought process here? I need glasses, but I want to wear contacts to be cool, only to wear frames with no lenses? Am I getting too old to get fashion?

6. Last but not least…. What does Chinese Graffiti look like? If I saw it would I even know? Or is it just words saying “Keep off the Grass” (Or in Chinglish No walk on Grass), “No Dabble in the Water”, or “No Spitting”….?

Stay tuned for more 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,