Slideshow of quilts

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger.

We have had a trying time here in China recently.  But hopefully, that is all behind us and we can now move forward with our life here as we settle into our new apartment.

About a month ago, we were informed by my husband's company that we needed to move to Fuyang. We didn't want to move, we had been in our apartment for 2 years and were very comfortable.  I find that it takes a year to settle in to a comfortable routine whenever we move, so was very disappointed to have to begin again. The company insisted that we move, and then informed Dave that there wasn't really any apartments available in Fuyang and we would be much happier in the Villa. The Villa is used to house high ranking expats who are here in China without there partners, while they work in China.  David informed his company that he wasn't interested in living in a boarding house and he received assurances that it would be our home and they wouldn't have anyone stay there without our permission.  Dave figured that would work because he wasn't going to give anyone permission.  The other problem with the Villa was the housekeeper, she had a known record of treating any woman living there badly. David received the promise that if this occurred she wouldn't be there it was our call.

Well, we moved in, the Villa is a large concrete building. 6 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, large living room, large foyer, large kitchen, moderate dining room, three seasons room off the living room and a laundry room off the foyer. Because it hadn't been used as a home in the past, David purchased 9000 rmb worth of furniture so that it wouldn't seem like such a mausoleum. W moved in, and David went happily back to work, traveling and leaving me there.

Then the difficulties began, the villa is isolated, so there aren't any stores for purchasing food or water.  When we ran low on the water that Dave had purchased before he left, I asked the housekeeper for more and she said mayo (which means not available). Further, the only food she would make available was a fried squash dish, she used my chicken and then served it only partially cooked.  I ended up very sick from her cooking and had to refuse to eat any other offerings.  I watched her one day and discovered she didn't wash her vegetables before cooking and washed the dishes in cold water with no soap. There was a sterilizer there, but she never used it for the dishes, that explained why I was so sick.  When I refused to eat her food, she became very angry. She would do all kinds of things to make me miserable. Like remove all the cookware and dishes so I couldn't cook for myself or eat.  I did my best to ignore her but it became very difficult to do, she would scream at me in Chinese and slam doors, (I have the bruises to prove it) unfortunately my 10 month old grand daughter was visiting at the time. Ceci was so scared of this woman, I have to admit that I was as well, no one should have to live in fear.  She had keys to all the rooms and wouldn't hesitate to to use them even knowing we were in there and didn't want to be disturbed. When David returned he requested that we be allowed to move. The company agreed but now we are responsible for the expenses of living in China.

I put out a call to the Relief Society to help me find an apartment quickly and we were able to move the following weekend.

We had to pay the movers ourselves. We were required to pay our rent 1 year in advance, and we now need to purchase a car so that David can get back and forth to work. But it was worth it, we live in a beautiful apartment overlooking the river, one of my good friends lives just a few floors below so once again all is well. Of course, now begins all the work of making the apartment work for us.  We had a washer delivered but it won't drain etc... I am exhausted but at least I don't have to head off for work like David does every day. He is traveling today and he started out so tired.  Moral of the story is, if you have a good employee and you want him to be able to concentrate on he work, don't make him move twice in one month. Also, for me, never have a live in housekeeper.

I came a across a beautiful song that I had to share It's called Beautiful Heartbreak by Hilary Weeks. The video is beautiful. It captures exactly how I feel about the trials I have had in my life.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Homemade Granola Bars
We have a granola group here in China, we get together and make various recipes. This past week we made “Playgroup Granola” from

But of course we had to make some changes to the original recipe.  One just because of China and second because of what we like to eat!

2 cups of Quick Oats (recipe called for rolled which I didn't have)

1/2 cup brown sugar (called for 3/4 cups of packed, seemed like a lot of sugar)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (3/4 teaspoon didn't seem like enough)
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon of salt
Generous helping of sunflower kernels (handful)
Almonds (roughly chopped) (2 handfuls)
1 cup Dried Cranberries 
1 handful of chocolate chips
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup of coconut oil (called for 1 cup of vegetable oil)
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract. (called for 2 teaspoons)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees or 175 degrees C. Generously grease a 9x13 inch baking pan. I used the trusty Crisco which always works wonderfully when greasing a pan.
In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts! Make a well in the center and put in the wet ingredients, then mix well until everything is wet.  Press into your greased pan and bake.  It took about 20 minutes for mine bars to brown on the edges.  Cut them as soon as you take them out of the oven, they will harden and then you won’t be able to cut them. Let them completely cool in the pan.  Seal in an air tight container, especially if you live in a place with high humidity like I do!. Enjoy!

We haven't found a source for wheat germ here yet, but it is ever on my mind when I am shopping. the dried cranberries give it a nice tart taste that contrasts with the chocolate beautifully. The recipe really doesn't need eggs. They turned out so good, I have already made a second batch. There work great for breakfast and my husband loves them.

The most freeing thing about living in China is realizing a recipe may call for something that I don't have and that's ok, what do I have and how will that work in the recipe.  So far, everything has been amazing. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Socks, Socks, and more Socks!

We were on summer vacation, I stopped into a yarn shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Easy Cable Socks by Diane Hall. They were very easy, mindless knitting.   I just needed something to keep me busy, while we traveled across America visiting family. If you are new to knitting socks or cables, this is a good one to begin with.

I made the socks for my friends, Sarah and Dawn.  They each had a birthday in August and deserved a wonderful present!  The teal ones were for Sarah (who loves this color!) The purple ones are for Dawn! It's always important to have good friends they make life so sweet!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Basic Bread Recipe

 The bread that you can purchase near our home is very sweet, almost like a sweet bread rather than the traditional bread I am use to.

Basic Bread Recipe - My friend, Kelly Dumas, taught me how to make an amazing wheat bread. But it isn't very practical for me, here in China. I don't have a wheat grinder and don't know where to purchase wheat to grind.  Coming across this recipe has been wonderful!  I make it every week now. It has been very helpful to have a good easy to mix by hand recipe.  It cooks up nicely every time I make it. I find that the dough rises better with the honey rather than the sugar. I feel it is important to proof the yeast.

Basic Bread Recipe
2 Teaspoons active-dry yeast
1 cup (8oz) warm water
2 Tablespoons (1 oz) butter (melted)
1 cup ( 8 oz ) milk - whole, 2% or skim
2 tablespoons white sugar or 1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon salt
5 1/2 - 6 1/2 cup (1 lb 9oz - 2 lbs 3 oz) flour
1-2 tablespoons vital wheat glutton
1-2 tablespoons dough enhancer

Place the yeast in the warm water with the sugar or honey dissolved. Let it stand for 5 minutes for prove the yeast.

Combine 1 cup of the flour, salt, vital wheat glutton, dough enhancer and add melted butter. Add the yeast mixture and the milk, (this works best when the milk is at room temperature. And use honey instead sugar).  Mix in the remaining flour until the dough sticks together. Then turn it out onto a floured board and add more flour until it becomes smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a greased bowl and let rise until double

Punch the dough down and shape into loaves,  place into greased loaf pans and let rise until it tops the edge of the pans, bake at 350 degrees or 170 c until golden brown and they sound hollow when you tap on the top.  Remove the loaves from the pans to wire racks to cool. Enjoy!

I recently watched an amazing video.  It is such a great time to be alive! The video is called "Your Potential, Your Privileges". I realized I haven't been living up to my privileges as I have gotten casual in my scripture reading. Instead of studying my scriptures, I had fallen into the trap of merely reading them. So I set a goal to study them instead!  To help me study regularly, I have begun sending my daily journal to my children. Below is an example of what I send.

29 Aug 2014

Today I read 1 Nephi chapters 6 & 7, I finally had the answers to a couple of questions that I have had for a long time.  When you children read “The Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites” series, remember when they talked about Nephi’s sisters and I wondered where the references were to the fact that Nephi had sisters?  In fact the Book of Mormon states: “he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.” (1 Nephi 2:5), so I always wondered where the author came up with the fact that Nephi had sisters. You guys all tried to convince me he did but I was unbelieving ( I apologize.) Here is a quote from Eratus Snow concerning this matter which I found in “The Book of Mormon Made Easier, Part 1, by David Ridges.

“The Prophet Joseph informed us that the record of Lehi, was contained on the 116 pages that were first translated and subsequently stolen, and of which an abridgement is given us in the first Book of Nephi, which is the record of Nephi individually, he himself being of the lineage Manasseh; but that Ishmael was of the lineage of Ephraim, and that his sons married into Lehis’ family, and Lehi’s sons married Ishmael’s daughters, thus fulfilling the words of Jacob upon Ephraim and Manasseh in the 48th chapter of Genesis, which says: ‘And let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the land’ Thus these descendants of Manasseh and ephraim grew together upon t his American continent...” Elder Erastus Snow (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot. 1854-86: 184)

I can’t explain how cool it is to me to have something concrete to base that on!

I had another questions that I have wondered about for a long time, the issue of the priesthood. What priesthood did they hold?  Again, David Ridge provided a quote that cleared that up for me.

The Nephites were descendants of Joseph. Lehi discovered this when reading the brass plates. He was a descendant of Manasseh, and Ishmael, who accompanied him with his family, was of the tribe of ephraim (Alma 10:3). Therefore there were no Levites who accompanied Lehi to the Western Hemisphere. Under these conditions the Nephites officiated by virtue of the Melchizedek Priesthood from the days of Lehi to the days of the appearance of our Savior among them.:

It is true that Nephi ‘consecrated Jacob and Joseph’ that they should be priests and teachers over the land of the Nephites, but the fact that plural terms priests and teachers were used indicates that this was not a reference to the definite office in the priesthood in either case, but it was a general assignment to teach, direct, and admonish the people. Otherwise the terms priest and teacher would have been given, in the singular…

From these and numerous other passages we learn that it was by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood that the Nephites administered from the time they left Jerusalem until the time of the coming of Jesus Christ” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:25-26)

Now knowing these two facts didn’t make or break my testimony but it did strengthen it, the Lord was aware of the questions I had concerning these matters and made it possible for me to find the answers. I was also struck by how the Lord prepared wives for the Lehi’s family. He has a plan we just need to follow it.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

My New Passion!

My friend, Dawn, came and spent the day last week and showed me how to use Photoshop!  And although I still have so very much to learn it is consuming my time.  I found the templates for these pages on Pinterest. I never just pin, I always go to the page where the pin is from, because so often I just find that it was a page full of advertising and no valuable content.  But these are amazing and so very easy for me to do. (Even as a beginner!)

It took me an entire day to do the three pages, and I didn't do anything for "B" yet due to the fact that my granddaughters don't have any brothers, and I am not quite up to changing the template yet.

The template was designed and shared by Holly, by clicking on her name it will take you to her blog so that you can download your own quiet book and begin working on it yourself! I am so grateful for talented people you are so willing to share their amazing talents with the rest of us.  It made creating these pages so easy for me.  I will try and add more as I get them done.  The template makes a 4x6 book perfect for my granddaughters to take to church with them.  Hopefully, it will help them to remember their family, as we are scattered all around the world!. when Holly created the book she used Smarshmallows, available from The Shabby Shoppe, which is a wonderful kit. the cost is $6.50 but well worth the money! I can see myself using it for other things! Living in China, I am so grateful for the internet, it allows me to still do some really great stuff for my family.  I hope that these will bless them for many years to come.  The Shabby Princess has some wonderful designs that are free as well and I recommend checking them out.  The one that is featured right now is a great back to school questionnaire. What a great way to record the changes as your child grows. My friend also recommended Summer Driggs for scrapbooking papers.  She has some wonderful things as well. I think digital scrapbooking is a great way to bring the family history to life for my grandchildren.

By the way,  I don't get any kickback from the owners of these website, I just found them useful in my foray into digital scrapbooking.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pie Crusts, Cowls, Sock Mania 8

When I was a young girl, my mom let me cook as much as I wanted.  She and my dad would encourage all my efforts.  There was only one dish that was so inedible that even our dogs wouldn't eat.  It was a seafood pasta. Aside from that dismal at seafood pasta, I was able to successfully navigate the world of home cooking.

One of the specialities that I developed was in making pies.  My dad loved pies and so he enthusiastically encouraged my practice. Years later I was astonished when during a cooking class at church the teacher kept commenting on how difficult it was to make a pie crust...I had never found it so.  Some key tools are essential though.  I use a pastry blender, a canvas pastry mat, a rolling pin and a good all vegetable shortening.  I must admit here that I am very partial to Crisco shortening and will only use another it there is no way to get my hands on Crisco.  The recipe is simple

2 cups flour
1 tsp of salt
2/3 cups shortening
4 tbsp cold water
 I measure the flour and salt into the bowl, cut in the shortening until its like little peas, using a folk I add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough sticks together to form a ball. I find the amount of water added depends on the weather and the climate (dry or humid).  I gather it up and roll it out on the canvas pastry mat. I try to only roll the dough once.  The more I handle the dough the tougher the dough gets.  I then line the pie pan (I prefer a glass pie pan versus metal or aluminum). It's pretty much never fail. The recipe yields enough dough for a double crust of a 9" pie. Although I like using this for a single crust pie as well, that way it provides a good base and the leftovers when sprinkled with sugar were a delightful snack for my children.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Dreams Really Do Come True.

This past April, (April 4-8, 2014) I had the opportunity of a life time. I was able to fly to Alaska. I have always wanted to see Alaska. I kept suggesting it as a vacation destination but my husband wasn't interested. It took the marriage of my son David Michael Saylor Jr. to Kimberly Dianne Martin for us to be able to vacation there!  Thanks Kimber!  And a special thanks to Kimber's family, Alaska is a truly amazing place and I am so grateful to have been able to see it!  We went on a whale watching tour, and saw so much wildlife I lost count.  The Whales and otters swam right up to boat.  It was incredible.  My son was like a little boy, he ran from one end of the boat to the other there was so much to see.  It was a time I will always cherish!

The night before I was leaving for Dallas, Texas, we went out to dinner with Mike, Bonny, Dave, Kimber and my husband, to our favorite restaurant Splash.  While at dinner, David was telling the kids about his grandfather's opinion of engagement rings.  Grandpa Saylor always said, "If a girl loves you she will take a beer can tab as an engagement ring." As soon as David finished the story, Dave said, "speaking of engagements, Kimber and I are getting married in two weeks in Alaska!" We were thrilled!  Kimber is an amazing woman and we feel privileged to have her as part of our family.

Kimber's family is equally amazing!  Her father is a true Renaissance man, he built his own with lumber he milled in his own saw mill, I can't even begin to tell all this man has accomplished, but I am not often impressed, and I was very impressed. Her mother, is one of the kindest and sweetest people, grateful to have them as a part of my life. 

 It all came about because I attended a Relief Society Luncheon, here in Hangzhou. It was the first time I met Kimber.  We went for manicures and became fast friends. Kimber would come and stay with use on Sunday nights until Tuesday. We went on many wonderful shopping trips together and share a love of all things yarn.  

They met when Dave came to visit us.  We spent many happy hours playing board games, League of Legends and exploring Hangzhou. 
Below are some of the pictures from our dream trip to Alaska. sorry it took so long to publish but some people wanted to keep it a secret, nothing is harder for me than to keep a secret about something I am so happy about.  

Thursday, March 06, 2014

There's chocolate, thens there's chocolate!

So I found a recipe on line for Brownie Cookies…umm, what a wonderful idea.  But once again the ingredients I needed weren’t available. So, lets see what I can do to make some wonderful cookies for an upcoming activity at church.

I had a bag of chocolate chips that I had brought from America but the recipe called for a lot more than one bag of chips (that’s how I knew it would be a good recipe!) So I took 2 Dove dark chocolate bars and chopped them up!  Worked great.
Brownie Cookies

2 c of chocolate chips (or in my case chopped up Dove bars)
1/2 c of butter
4 eggs
1 1/2 c of sugar
1 T of vanilla extract
2/3 c of flour (all purpose)
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 c of chocolate chips ( 1 bag)

Melt chocolate chunks (chopped up Dove bar) with the butter and melt, stirring until smooth. Remove of heat, cool until mixture is warm.
In small bowl, combine eggs and sugar until blended, stir in flour, baking powder and salt, add to chocolate mixture stirring well, fold in the chocolate chips. Let stand for 10 minutes to firm up the dough.
I baked these on parchment paper at 170 degree C, or 350 degree F until set.  Cool for a few minutes on the pan to allow the cookies to set then remove to a wire rack.

I also stirred in one cup of chopped nuts. If you look at the original recipe, I changed the recipe a bit.  As you can see, just because you you don't have everything you need for a recipe, you still can make it with just a few changes!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sunshine in every bite!

 27, No, it can’t be!

My son, pictured at left, recently turned 27.  When did I get to be so old? Wait, I am only …. and that’s not all that old.  He is visiting us in China so we were able to spend his birthday with him. We have tradition in our family of requesting your birthday dinner.  For his dinner, he requested Lasagna and for his “cake” he requested Lemon Meringue Pie.

Lasagna and Lemon Meringue Pie, are they even possible to make here in China? Well, it’s more difficult but they are possible.  We were able to purchase some hamburger, 500 g for 96 rmb. Metro, a local store here (think small Walmart Superstore) carries Lasagna noodles, tomato paste, cottage cheese and canned tomatoes. The noodles and tomatoes could have been made if absolutely necessary but fortunately it wasn’t.  My recipe for Lasagna, has been a part of my life as far back as I can remember.  My mom made wonderful Lasagna, so it’s not surprising that her grandson would request it for his birthday. The recipe is simple:

12 Lasagna noodles cooked
1/4 # sharp cheddar
1# Mozzarella

Meat Sauce:
1 1/2 to 2 # ground beef
1 T basil
2 1/2 c cooked or canned tomatoes
1 clove or garlic, minced
1 T parsley
1 1/2 t salt
12 ounces of tomato paste.

Cottage Cheese Mixture:
6 c cottage cheese
2 large eggs beaten
1/2 t pepper
1/2 c parmesan cheese
2 t salt

2 T Parsley Flakes

I was all set to begin making dinner.  Not only do you have to gather all the ingredients but then you have to make it. Turns out I don’t have a pan large enough to boil pasta in. The noodles glued together and became one with each other, there was no separating them.  I ended up having to boil each of the 12 noodles individually. It worked, just took a long time.  While waiting for the noodles to cook, I made the meat sauce, and combined the cheese mixture.  One mistake I think many people make in creating lasagna is not enough cheese. I love lots of cheese in my lasagna. The bite of the sharp cheddar combined with mozzarella is a wonderful combination.  So, I hand grated the mozzarella, the parmesan and sharp cheddar. All was ready to assemble into a yummy dish for the coming birthday party.  Now for the lemon pie!

We don't have a lot of prepared foods here in China, so I sent my son to purchase 4 lemons for me.  There is something about fresh squeezed lemon juice and grated lemon rind that remind me of sunshine.  My kitchen smelled delightful. The pie was amazing.  Usually, when I make the pie I use Real Lemon, lemon juice and let me just say, there is a big difference, convenience just isn't worth it.  From now on I will always use fresh squeezed juice, unless lemons just aren't available.

Another difference cooking here are the eggs.  The yolks are so yellow, a deep yellow orange. They provided a wonderful color to the lemon pudding.  Nothing artificial added.  And the little oven did a great job of browning the meringue for me.

The best part was everyone's reactions as they ate the pie. It was tart and sweet, a wonderful combination.  Sunshine in every bite!

Lemon Meringue Pie:
1 1/2 c of sugar
1/3 c of cornstarch
1 1/2 c water

Place the sugar and the cornstarch in a saucepan and slowly add the water so that the mixture is smooth. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and boils.  Boil one minute. Remove from heat. 

Separate 3 eggs and save the egg whites for making the meringue. ( I prepare this before I even begin cooking)  Using a folk, mix up the yolks. I begin to add some of the hot sugar mixture a quarter cup at a time, meanwhile beating with a folk constantly, (so the egg doesn’t cook solid), when I have a good sized cereal bowl full, I stir it into the rest of the hot mixture. I boil for an additional minute then blend in 3 T butter. 4 T lemon juice and 1 1/2 T grated lemon rind.

I pour it into a baked pie shell cover with the meringue, make sure to seal the meringue to the crust so it doesn’t shrink away from the sides of the pie. bake at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes until the meringue is a nice golden color.

3 egg whites (saved from the 3 eggs you separated earlier)
1/4 t cream of tartar
6 T of sugar
1/2 t vanilla
Beat the eggs and the cream of tartar until frothy (foamy), gradually add sugar about a tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until stiff and glossy. 
( I always beat until the tracks of the beaters stay in the meringue)

As you can see even in China, it's possible to make a lovely pie.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Zion's People

Tim, Liz, Daniel, Tricia and Cecilia after Tim was set apart 

Recently, during a sunday school class, the teacher was discussing how he didn't know how to be of one heart or one mind, (Moses 7:18) he had been married 30 years and didn't even approach that with his wife. In the mean time, I was sitting there thinking about Christmas 2013.
Our first day at the beach
 Our family had gathered together in Destin, Florida of a holiday celebration.  We had rented a condo in Destin so that we could spend time with Dave's folks, Allan and Judy Koespell. It was a 4 bedroom condo about a block from the beach.  All of our children except Tim (who was on a mission) and David (who was in China watching my silly dog) were with us, as well as our two wonderful sons-in-law, 2 beautiful grand daughters and Dave's folks.

Lizzy and I, at the Harbor, in Destin
It was an amazing time for me.  We had just gone though all the stressful events of Cecilia's birth, nearly losing Tricia to drug induced Lupus (caused by Macobid) and were desperately in need of a vacation. We cooked

together, did the dishes together, if a baby needed anything, someone was there to change, cuddle, sing to it. We explored the Destin area, with Grandma and Grandpa taking us to some of their favorite spots. This experience give me a glimpse of Zion and also a glimpse of just what the Celestial Kingdom will be like. Everyone working together, striving together to bring joy and happiness to those around them.

Grandpa with Liz , KC and Audrey

We spent many happy hours shopping at an amazing outlet mall, playing on the beach, listening to Mike and Liz sing. And eating great food, that's the thing about going home, you just miss the food you grew up eating.  China has some great food but it's not the stuff I grew up eating so when I get a chance to eat "real" food it makes me very happy.
Mike singing his Super hero's song.

I even found a yarn shop.  My kids thought it was funny that even on vacation I could find a yarn shop!  It's called "Destin Yarn Shop" and was on the way to the outlet mall, how could an avid knitter miss something like that? They had an awesome selection of yarn.  I was able to pick up some to knit my mother-in-law some knee warmers.  I also picked up some yarn and patterns for knitting my grand daughters some sweaters. I recommend stopping in when you are in Destin.
4 generations together!

But the best was seeing Grandma and Grandpa with their great grand children.  It was a priceless time for me.  They are such caring and wonderful people.  I am so blessed in both sets of my in-laws, but then I guess when you marry a man like Dave that is only to be expected, he had to learn it from someone.  We attended Christmas Eve services with Grandma and Grandpa, it was a magical night.  There was a BELL CHOIR!  So beautiful.

Christmas Morning, Presents!

Christmas morning was a special treat for me.  I was able to hold Audrey and snuggle her.  I don't get to spend much time with her since I live in China so the time I am able to spend with either of my grand daughters is extra special to me.
Mike and Grandpa

Grandpa and Cecelia 

Grandma and Stephanie


I read something this past Sunday, "The family is the most important organization in time or in eternity."(Joseph Fielding Smith) Moments like the week of Christmas 2013 help me to realize that the true joy in life comes from spending time with our families. Nothing else I have experience in my life has brought me the same level of joy.

Joseph Fielding Smith also said, "Far more important than the question of occupation or wealth of people is the question of how their family life is conducted. All other things are of minor consequence..."
Audrey in her Christmas jammies. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sabbath Day

"if thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then salt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." 
Isaiah 58:13-14

Hot Chocolate from the Ryma Cafe in Hangzhou, China
     An important day for me to rest from the cares of the world, study the word of the Lord and renew my covenants by attending church. By keeping the sabbath day holy, my life is refreshed and it gives me the strength to endure. Endure what you might ask? The daily events in my life that causes me to reach to the very depths of my soul to see the events though to their completion.  It can be as simple as finding the courage to move to a new land and learning how to function in a foreign society to watching your beautiful, brave daughter struggle to breathe and to live.
     I enjoy the beautiful hymns sung in church. They lift my soul to Heaven and instill in me a belief that this struggle is worth the effort. They also bring me peace and joy. I find a life without peace and joy a very depressing thought.
     I love watching the children at church. I wish I had,been more appreciative of my children's joy and innocence at church when my own children were young.  I was so overburdened with callings, responsibilities, trying to learn the gospel and "fit" the mold of a good LDS woman.  If I had it to do over again I wouldn't have allowed myself to be burdened down with the expectations of others. I would have cherished the moments in my life with my children at church.  I write this so my beautiful daughters may learn from me, cherish and rejoice with your children as you enjoy the great blessing of the sabbath.  I love the gospel, I love the things of the Spirit and so often I wasn't able to convey that to my children
    How I miss sitting with my beautiful babies! I loved our family nights when we would sing song after song. We would each choose a song for singing time, that meant we would sing at least 9 songs during singing time for family home evening.  "Nephi's Courage", "Follow the Prophet", "Book of Mormon Stories"were some of my very favorite songs. The children would sing these so enthusiastically, using hand gestures, they would pump their arm into the air with "I will go, I will do, the things the Lord commands" (in fact, one time during sacrament meeting, for some reason we sang "Nephi's Courage" and there was Dave, up on the stand with the bishopric, singing along, pumping his arm in the air!). 
    One particular family home evening, when Tricia was twelve years old, she taught the lesson. I still remember sitting on our king size bed, all the children gathered around, KC had just had surgery, so she was snuggled up against her mom and the Spirit filled the room surrounding us with all the warmth and joy associated with it.  These are such excellent memories and ones I hope will be recreated for my grandchildren.   

Friday, February 14, 2014

Frustrating Day in China

my Tomato over
      Today, as I watched The Pioneer Woman,  Ree Drummond, on, I was frustrated.  I love her blog, I love watching her with her family but when I try to recreate anything I find on the internet,  I find it is meiyo (not available). I have a large toaster oven that sits on my dryer for baking.  I use, said oven, to make my family's bread, cookies, casseroles. It is a great blessing in my life but by it's very nature is limiting in what it allows me to do.  I have a Phillips hand mixer which I use for mixing up frosting. I only it use it for frosting because it won't handle cookie dough or quick bread doughs etc.  I have the great joy of having the beaters pop off in the middle of whatever I am making, no matter how well I seat them before I begin. I brought my measuring cups, measuring spoons and spatulas from America when I moved here.  Every trip I take home I bring back a suitcase full of things to make my life just a little easier in the kitchen. You know the little things, like real vanilla, the imitation stuff just isn't the same. Not that I have found it for sale here in Hangzhou either but I have found a surprising amount of things available and it does grow more each month. A fact for which I am very grateful. It's almost as if the buyers for the stores here, get to peek into the suitcases of the incoming expat's and then stock it on the shelves at usually double or triple what I would have to pay at home.  A very small box of Post Cereal sells for $10 USD, So, it's always a game to me, how much can I cram into a suitcase, and have it only weight 50 pounds! This time I brought my Lodge cast iron, dutch oven.  It didn't leave a lot of weight for other things but is such a blessing to me.  I have two gas burners in the kitchen, there is a high flame setting and higher flame setting. Simmer really isn't a good option. It's great for stir fry and wok cooking but not for much else.  The pans here are usually thin as well, so having a cast iron pot is a large step up for me.

My best tool for cooking here is my electric pressure cooker, it's my crock pot that tenderizes meat!  I love it for making beans and soups, in 30 minutes my meat is tender and we could eat or it will "simmer" for hours like a crock pot. It isn't a good option though for cooking chicken and dumplings!  You really can't boil without building pressure and the pressure ruins the dumplings.  So for those I start in the pressure cooker and finish up carefully on the gas burner with my dutch oven.

As you can see from the picture, my oven sits atop my wonderful Bosch dryer.  The dryer is in my kitchen and washing machine sits on my balcony.  The dryer collects the water in a tank that must be emptied with every load.  It is surprising to me how much water each load of laundry has.  I am very grateful to Bosch for developing a dryer that doesn't have to have a vent to the outside.  There is no way that I could do that here in China conveniently. The dryer was 6500 rmb or about $1100 USD.  Expensive but so helpful, when it rains here there is no drying the clothes.

Today, we have a high of 45 degrees, with a low of 32. Over the past week and a half we have averaged a high of 39 degrees, during this time our heater has only worked sporadically. When it first began to fail, we found out about it from our downstairs neighbors.  I guess it was making quite a bit of noise and they wanted us to turn it off because the noise bothered them. (This China where it is never quiet, horns are always beeping, people talk very loudly, fireworks go off day and night, and did I mention this was the week of Chinese New Year where fireworks go off more than normal?) They came to demand that we turn our heat off at 10 pm. We told them sorry, we weren't going to go without heat overnight but that we would do our best to have it fixed first thing in the morning. First thing in the morning, David goes down with our friend Kimber to see about getting the heater fixed. Our neighbor is there ahead of him, demanding that management cut the heat to our apartment (good thing Kimber speaks Chinese or of course we wouldn't know any of this). Dave requests management send up their maintenance man to repair our heater.  Turns out the maintenance man has been given 3 weeks off for Chinese New Year and won't be returning until the 15 of February.  Oh Joy! Manager promises Dave that he will find someone else to repair it and not to leave our apartment so they can get in to fix it.  We miss church to stay home a wait for the repair man to show.  During one of trips to walk my dog (my 26 and 24 year old sons were waiting in the apartment for repair man). We come back to find said manager and downstairs neighbor turning off the power to our apartment! That did not go well, we spent the next three hours arguing with our neighbors and the apartment manager about "living the Chinese way" in other words, having no heat in a concrete box with high winds and thin panes of glass.  Because after all, better that we freeze than they have to listen to noise.

Suddenly, the neighbor remembers that he knows a man who can repair our furnace. 100 rmb later, the noise stops, oh joy, neighbor leaves, they are happy, the noise has stop, we are freezing and do so for the next four days, while my husband's company tries to track down a repair man for our heater.  Yesterday, a repairman does show up, 350 rmb later one of the heaters is working, the house actually begins to warm up, but I am realizing I may be cold for the rest of my life... Once you get that chilled it's very difficult to get rid of, only to wake up this morning to find that our heater has once again stopped working.  What I have learned from this experience.

  1. Don't trust your Chinese neighbor to find a repair man for you, he only cares about getting his needs met. It doesn't bother him at all that you are freezing.
  2. Repair men here will only do the bare minimum to repair said problem, they won't bring proper tools and their response to everything is meiyo. (I am so hating that word)
  3. Live on the ground floor, that way you won't panic when sons and husband try to fix the problem.
My life is definitely an adventure.  I am so grateful for heating blankets, the only source of heat I have had for the last week.