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Tag Archives: Flowers

Valentine’s Day in Beijing

21 Feb

Referred to as “Ai Ren Tian” – which literally translates to Lover’s Day, the Valentine’s Day celebration in China is a fast growing trend. In fact, they have already learned to jack up the price of roses by 100% or more at every flower market in town.   Heart shape chocolates line the shelves of most markets (not just the western ones) and restaurants advertise Valentine’s Day specials. Though unlike New York – you don’t have to make a reservation 2-months in advance! Unfortunately though, my personal favorite – the classic pink velvet heart shape box of chocolates by Russell Stover (found at any local Duane Reade in NYC) is a NO show in the Old Peking. Although on a positive note: Dove, Toblerone, and many fine European chocolates make a strong showing.

Valentine’s Day happened to fall on the day after we arrived home from our trip to the states. Needless to say – jet lag played a big roll in our decision to avoid the crowds and have a nice night at home.  I surprised Brett by dressing myself and our dining room chairs up as Cupid.  I think it is a pretty clever use of red feathered wings…

 

Valentine’s Day Table Decor

I also decided to get a little more creative with my centerpieces in order to avoid the crazy mark up on roses. I used bundles and bundles of baby’s breath (a filler that I don’t typically like) to create the look of a giant fluffy snowball.  It was really cute…and really cheap!  Not to mention the fact that Valentine’s Day was over a week ago, and the arrangements still look just as fresh as the day I created them.

 

Fluffy Baby’s Breath Arrangement

I also surprised Brett with one of his favorite meals: creamed spinach and a Wagu beef filet prepared rare.  He surprised me with 66 beautiful red roses!

 

A Treat from My Valentine!

I give our Valentine’s Day in Beijing 5 Blondes out of 5!  Of course if you happened to spend it with someone who you don’t particularly like…the score could be much lower.

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How Much is that Turkey in the Window?

23 Dec

In Our Turkey Day Aprons

Well…I never thought that buying a turkey would stress me out financially – but then again I never thought that a generic frozen turkey could cost over $100…and I have bought turkeys in NYC!  The truth is – turkey is quite a commodity here in China. But I wasn’t about to cook a Thanksgiving Dinner for Brett and all of our expat friends sans gobbler.  So – I forked over the money to the sweet lady working at the supermarket who giggled and said, “Tai gui le” – which means too expensive.  To which I replied, “Wo tong yi” – I agree.

With the turkey in hand (or in the trunk) I began the search for the other accoutrements.  Corn, potatoes, shallots, even finding butternut squash was a cake walk – but endives, chestnuts, canned pumpkin, and fresh cranberries?  Forget about it.  5 stops later – I gave up all together on the cranberries (eventually I just threw some craisins in a pot of hot water and plumped them up as much as possible before using them in my spicy cranberry relish).

One of my favorite things about the shopping excursion(s) was running into every other

Sharpening His Carving Knife

expat “homemaker” (I can’t believe I just called myself that…although a spade is a spade) out and about in search of all the same things.  I actually exchanged email addresses with a few of the other turkey day trackers, and we are now friends!  One of the markets swarming with expats is called San Yuan Li.  This local market was established years ago to cater to all of the embassies in Beijing.  So – if you can’t find what you are looking for at Jenny Lou’s or April Gourmet – San Yuan Li is the next stop.  I would have gone there for everything – but it is outside and therefore cold, and they do not have champagne, wine, or bourbon – all of which are necessary ingredients for the type of Thanksgiving I like to host!

The Menu

Because The Mayflower did not stop in China on its way to the US of A, Thanksgiving is unfortunately not a Chinese Holiday.  So – we decided to celebrate on Saturday when no one had to work. I began the preparations on Friday by making the items that would keep: butternut squash soup, creamed corn, 14 miniature pumpkin pies (one for each of us), and the chocolate torte.  This left a lot for Saturday itself – but I had a plan.  I knew that my alma mater would be playing its number one rival that day at 3:30 AM Beijing time.  So, with game day bells on, Brett and I arose before dawn to cheer on The Crimson Tide and cook a Thanksgiving Feast.  To Tom and Donna – you did an amazing job with Brett.  He is such a great helper in the kitchen!  He carved out all 14 baby pumpkins (we used them as bowls for the butternut squash soup) while I prepped the turkey and made the oyster dressing.  He peeled the potatoes while I popped green beans, and he poured the Maker’s Mark into our Diet Cokes when it was late enough in the day to not feel like total degenerates! (I mean how do you watch SEC football without at least one bourbon and diet coke?)

Turkey Day Table

With the place settings, candles, and fresh flowers (from our wonderful and freakishly cheap flower market) on the table – we were ready for our guests to arrive.  There were 14 of us in total with representatives from England, Russia, Canada, and America – specifically: Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, California, Texas, D.C. and Virginia.  Surrounding ourselves with so many wonderful new friends helped ease the pain of being away from our families, and it made giving thanks especially easy.  How blessed we are to have celebrated the most American of all holidays in such a far away land.

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