Tuesday, July 12, 2016

highlights from Circling the Sun.


Circling the Sun by Paula McLain was such a great story. I devoured it! And there were a few sections that really got me. I didn't think to highlight all of them, but here are the ones I did:

"People interest me so much. They're such wonderful puzzles. Think of it. Half the time we've no idea what we're doing, but we live anyway."

---

"I've never travelled," I told her.

"Oh, you absolutely should," she insisted, "if only so that you can come home and really see it for what it is. That's my favourite part."

---

"Honestly, I couldn't even say. To care less, maybe. She was away for so long, I didn't imagine she could still do harm, but now..." I let my voice trail off. 

"My father died when I was young. We all thought it was rather fortunate at first. It simplified all sorts of things. But over time... well. Let's just say I've developed a theory that only the vanished truly leave their mark. And I still don't feel I've sorted it out. Maybe we never do survive our families."

P.S. My monthly "book reports."

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

june book report


I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb / Malala's story is fascinating and inspiring. It took me longer than usual to read, but I'm chalking that up to it being the last month of school, plus I usually take longer to read non-fiction than fiction. Of course, I already knew the basic facts about Malala, but reading her words, learning about Pakistan and her life before being shot, was so interesting.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown / This is the second book by Brené that I've listened to (have I mentioned I love audiobooks?). I know I'm an odd man out, but I haven't loved them. A lot of material was covered in this book and there were some gems of insight and advice though. Maybe I should try actually reading the next one, instead of listening to it?

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight / I don't remember where I heard about this novel, but I think it must have been from someone whose taste in books I trust, because this isn't usually the kind of story I go for. It's young adult/adult fiction/thriller/mystery and it's really well written, so I think almost anyone would like it. I think part of why I liked it so much is because I didn't predict the ending, which I'm usually able to do.

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner / I've read a lot of good books lately, but this one was the first in a long time that I couldn't put down. I read it in about a day! It's set during WWII, about two sisters living in London, their evacuation, and the Blitz. I don't know what else to tell you other than you should read it! I've already added Meissner's other novels to my to-read list.

What have you read lately?

(Art print by Evie Seo)

Monday, July 04, 2016

bookmarked.


// What I Saw in Syria: A reporter's photographs and cellphone videos from a road trip in one of the world's most violent war zones.

// I think I've shared this before, but Tony and I made it last week and it was delicious! Spicy Asian salmon noodle salad.

// Crazy photo coincidence. (As someone who lives in China: woah!)



// How Privileged Are You? It wasn't really eye-opening for me; I already know I'm very privileged, but maybe it would be eye-opening to some?


// A hair tutorial I wasn't too intimidated to try! 

// "How to Be Less Controlling" (but really, it's just how to be less anxious).

Friday, July 01, 2016

happy friday!


It's been awhile since I've written a happy friday post, but I was reading through some of my archives the other day and I remembered that there's value in these quick posts as well. This blog has taken the place of the journaling I used to do (although I started keeping a Line a Day journal this year and haven't missed a day yet), and I should do a better job of noting the mundane parts of life, because in the end, that's sometimes what matters most.

T and I came back from our trip to Xi'an, and have been staying in Melissa's apartment this week, while ours was painted. That was a whole ordeal itself, but it's done finally and we should be moving back in today. We just had it repainted white but it was worth it for a fresh start and our apartment looks so bright again. We're going to wait a while before we put anything back up on the walls, partly to let the paint fully dry, but also because I want to think a bit about what to put up. (You can see peeks of our home here.)

T and I had a few dates this week. We went for dinner at Great Leap #45, our first time, for pizza. It was good! I'm already planning another visit soon. We also had a couple of lunch dates. It's so nice to get out for lunch, a change in our usual routine.

I've connected with a few teachers who will be coming here to teach and I'm excited to get to know them more. Teaching at an international school is bittersweet; there are lots of goodbyes, but lots of hellos, too.

I made progress on my summer goals: the apartment was painted; I washed the curtains (and our couch cushions!); I got my pap test and saw a dermatologist (both with good results!). I didn't read the books on the list yet, but I did read 2 novels (look for my June book report next week).

I'm looking forward to getting our apartment back in order this weekend, hopefully sitting on a patio somewhere with good food and drinks, and one of my best friends is returning to Beijing for the summer!

Happy Friday! And to my fellow Canadians, happy Canada Day!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

highlights from xi'an.

highlights from Xi'an / www.sunshineandwhimsy.net

I've lived in China for almost 4 years now and I've done barely any traveling within the country, usually opting to leave for longer vacations and stay in Beijing for shorter breaks. I really want to explore more of this country that I call home. Luckily, T agrees, so we've been talking about possible trips we can take. 

A lot of people we know have taken really quick weekend trips to Xi'an, so we decided we could easily do the same this summer. 

sleeper train in China

Last Friday, our 11 month "anniversary," we took a 12-hour overnight train to Xi'an. This way, we wouldn't waste any daytime hours traveling, and we'd save money by only staying in a hotel one night. 

It was the first time for both of us to take an overnight train, so we did a bit of research. Options were regular seats (no way, not for 12 hours overnight), a hard sleeper or a soft sleeper. The sleepers are bunk beds, and from everything we read, the main differences between the two are that the soft sleepers are 4 bunks in a compartment instead of 6 and you can close the door to the hallway. We decided to book a soft sleeper.

The train was a lot nicer than I thought it would be. T had a top bunk and I had a bottom, and the other two bunks were taken by nice strangers. The beds weren't too hard and although I woke up multiple times through the night, I managed to get a decent amount of sleep. Everything was clean, too. 

Happy to be on our way!

We were only going to be there for about a day, so our only goals were to see the Terracotta Warriors and eat street food at the Muslim Quarter.

cheap chinese food
All of this was only about $6 CAD!

We arrived around 8:30 AM, took a bus to our hotel, checked in, found food, showered, and then were off to see the warriors!

Terracotta Warriors

Tickets were 150 RMB each, and we also hired a tour guide, which was another 150 RMB. Honestly, it was more expensive than we thought it would be, but we were kinda like, Meh, what can you do? The tour guide ended up being worth it because she knew so much and was able to answer all of our questions! Plus she was very friendly and we joked with each other quite a bit. 

highlights from Xi'an / www.sunshineandwhimsy.net

Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an China

I might get a little shade thrown at me for this, but: we were a little underwhelmed. But! At the same time, especially afterwards, we were like, Wow! How cool that we got to see the Terracotta Warriors! They're so old and so iconic...



The more I think about it, the happier I am that we went and learned about this piece of Chinese history.


They haven't dug up all of the warriors yet. This is what an area looks like that they're still working on. 




There are different areas—pits—where the warriors are buried. Our guide told us that workers dig and reconstruct the warriors only in spring and fall because summer is too hot and winter is too cold. 

Kneeling Archer, Terracotta Army

The kneeling archer seen here is the only soldier that has been found completely intact. Because of this, he is considered to be lucky and symbolize luck. 




Of course there were gift shops where you could buy souvenirs. I couldn't help myself and bought a mug with the kneeling archer :)


Side note: A highlight of the trip was this little juice shop being right down the street from our hotel. I drank my fair share of fresh fruit smoothies and juice!

Muslim Quarter, Xi'an China

We rested at our hotel for a bit (it was a really hot day!) and then headed to the Muslim Quarter. It was really overwhelming! Sensory overload! So many people and sounds and smells. But it was fun to take it all in.

meat sticks

We found the most delicious chuan




Muslim Quarter, Xi'an China

And stood in a very long line to try what's basically a Chinese version of a pulled pork sandwich (minus the pork of course; I think it was lamb). The long line was worth it!



More meat sticks and the most delicious chicken wings. 

A new meaning to curly fries. 


We ate so much food, but in the end, we agreed that the chuan (meat sticks) were our favourite so we went back for more and walked back to our hotel, happy with full bellies. 

highlights from Xi'an / www.sunshineandwhimsy.net

Was Xi'an everything I thought it would be? No, not really, but it was good to see more of China. I'm thinking Taiwan will be next!

P.S. Welcome to China and highlights from Shanghai, Datong, and Harbin.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

summer fun.


I made a list of summer goals, but when I looked at what I had written down, I realized it was all things I wanted to get done, but nothing was just for fun. Of course, another list had to be made. I made a quick list and then asked Tony what he wanted to add and it was done! Not too much thinking, just easy, fun stuff. Here are the details:

Go to Xi'an: We actually went to Xi'an this past weekend! (I promise we made the list before we went ;) I'll hopefully have a post up about our trip sometime soon, but you can check what I posted on Instagram here.

Eat ice cream at Dari Delite: Yup, has to be spelled that way. You can read about my fave childhood ice cream spot at the bottom of this post.

Visit Nemy & Tiff & baby Una: Tony's best friend (who was his best man at our wedding) and his wife just had a baby! Luckily they'll be in Canada the same time we are so we're hoping we'll get to see them!

Eat lobster: I've loved lobster since my first visit to PEI just a few years ago, and Tony fell in love with it on his first trip to Canada. He asked that this be added to our summer fun list and who am I to say no?

Celebrate our first anniversary: I can't believe we've almost been married a year! It's flown by! So excited to celebrate with T!

Drink Tim Hortons: Of course.

Eat a donut: This was one of Tony's and I was surprised! But hey, I can eat a donut!

Go to the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market: A Fredericton must. We're supposed to land in Fredericton on a Friday night and you better believe that we'll be at the market the next day.

Eat a bbq'd hot dog: A summer must. Nostalgia in food form.

Drink local beer: Pump House Blueberry Ale, Picaroons Melon Head, Moosehead Radler. I'm comin' for ya.

Walk across the World's Longest Covered Bridge: Simple but fun.

Go to Paint the Heartland: I've been attending this art festival for years, and I've even worked at it! It's a favourite event every summer and luckily I'll be home just in time for it this summer.

Drive on a country road with the windows down & the music turned up loud: Because the feeling it gives me is this.

Read at least 5 books: I've already read 2 since school ended, not including the two I had begun while school was still in session. Maybe I should increase this goal. See my book reports here.

Visit the library: Did you know I worked at a library for three summers while I was in university? I was the Summer Reading Club coordinator and I've loved libraries ever since.

Play miniature golf: Tony's never played and I think he'd love it because he's competitive haha. (I'm looking forward to kicking his butt ;)

Hug my family: A given, but one I'm really looking forward to.

What are you doing this summer for fun?
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