Family in China Part 3: Exploring Beijing

Day 7: We took the bullet train from Hangzhou to Beijing. I highly recommend this journey for 3 reasons: 1. Trains are more often than not, on time. 2. There is more leg room. 3. You can see more countryside views by train.

Once we arrived to Beijing we took the metro to our hotel, The Great Wall Marriott. I also highly recommend staying here for excellent customer service, comfort, and convenience.

Then we took a walking tour courtesy of TimeOut Beijing through hutongs and side streets to Tian’amen Square to view the flag lowering ceremony (check here for times). The Dashilan area has excellent local cuisine and we ordered lots of veggies, noodles, and rice dishes for super cheap.



Crashed out early tonight for our super early drive to the Great Wall.

Day 8: We hired a driver (through multiple connections on my wechat app I hired him and have used his service on both drives to the Great Wall. if you have wechat I can connect you with him!) to take us to the Great Wall, it’s definitely easier this way. I originally scheduled our trip to the section called Simatai, which ended up being this fake water town tourist trap and you must buy tickets in advance. Our driver was awesome and led us to the area about 15 minutes up the road called Gubeikou or Panlongshan. If you want an “off the beaten path” experience, go here. It’s absolutely beautiful, with less crowds, in fact, we were the only ones on the trail. It’s a bit of a hike, but it’s an easy path. Just as we saw the Wall, took some awesome photos, and stunned in the grandeur of just how Great the Wall was, hiked down and got in the car it down poured. Great luck.



For dinner we ate Peking Duck. Just as your hotel’s staff for recommendations. There are plenty of choices. Peking Duck is a must eat Beijing specialty. Delicious.

We went back to the hotel for drinks and sleep.

Day 9: Before leaving Beijing we did one last walk to the Temple of Heaven, the entrance fee is reasonable, but make sure to get all the add-ons for the ultimate experience. We just bought the regular pass and wandered through the gardens before making our way to the train station to go back to Shanghai.


I took my parents to my Shanghai street noodle lady, I think she was thrilled that I had company with me. Dad and I ordered fried noodles and Mom ordered fried rice. They pretty much mastered their chopsticks skills on this trip.

Family in China Part 2: Exploring Hanghzou

On Day 5 the family and I boarded a bullet train for Hangzhou, a city about 45 minutes from Shanghai.

When we arrived, we checked in to our AirBnb, then took a brief walk to West Lake and ate at a local restaurant. The real walk would be tomorrow so we called it an early night.


Day 6: Well we walked the Lake, climbed the magically “moderate tourist density” Leifang Pagoda, and ate “big mac” sized mango smoothies and ate at another local restaurant called Green Tea (this was really good).

See below for photos of the “beautiful Chinese West Lake” and other Hangzhou spots.



On Day 7 we parted ways and my parents and I headed by train, 5 hours to Beijing. See Family in China Part 3: Exploring Beijing.

Family in China Part 1: Exploring Shanghai

There’s something about showing people I love a piece of my life abroad. Today I dropped my parents off at the airport after an amazing 10 days in China. Having them here meant the world- We did a lot in ten days so let me break it down:

Part 1: Exploring Shanghai (note: Days 1-5, 10)

Part 2: Exploring Hanghzou (note: Days: 5-7) 

Part 3: Exploring Beijing (note: Days 7-9)

Let’s begin!

Day 1: They arrived (yay!) We took a taxi to my area of town and ate Chinese halal dumplings called “jiao-zi”

Aren’t they cool? 🙂


Day 2: Yay they are here and rested. We ate a Western style breakfast at Warehouse Cafe. We walked around YuYuan Garden for the majority of the afternoon.


Go into the garden for a peaceful escape from the busy city, expect several traditional buildings with old furnishings and newly painted palace-esque structures, but in all reality, its pretty and green and the walk ways aren’t too crowded. Eat xiaolongbao, a famous Shanghai specialty and definitely get a giant mango smoothie in this touristy area.


Take the metro Line 10 Yuyuan Garden to Shanghai Railway Station. Walk (I used Apple Maps) from Shanghai Railway Station to the M50 Art District. This is a super cool graffiti’d area with cool cafes with ample AC. Walk out of the Art District towards Changhua Road. Urban Grill is just a few blocks down at the intersection of Anyuan Road.

To wrap up their first day in Shanghai we ate delicious Mediterranean food at Urban Grill and waited out a brief rain shower.

Day 3. Being the fabulous tour guide and active daughter I am, I dragged the fam to my yoga class. In the Shanghai heat it was more like hot yoga.


Before the class we chatted in a local cafe called Paradox, after the class we bought fruit from a fruit stand and reenergized with coconut water (from actual coconuts).

That afternoon we toured the Bund, ate Yang’s dumplings, and had Coco bubble milk tea before walking to Mayita’s rooftop for dinner and a view.

Dad and I walked home (thank you Apple Maps) and went to dive bars along the way. Nothing like father-daughter bonding, walking in the rain, and drinking beer!

Day 4: Not gonna lie TimeOut Shanghai provided the best walking tours for this trip. Today I took the fam on a walking tour of the French Concession.

Follow these steps to take your tour! Courtesy of TimeOut Shanghai

Walking time: 1.5 hours Starting point: Shanghai Library metro station, Line 10

1. Secret garden

From Shanghai Library metro station, head north up Hunan Lu. At number 11, you’ll find the 1984 bookstore (this was closed when we went, but there is another cafe nearby) Question: What shape is the window outside the cafe?

2. Secluded cocktails

Double-back and turn immediately left, heading north on Yongfu Lu. At number 200 is Yongfoo Elite (open 11am-10pm daily), which was recently renovated in May 2016. A cool quiet garden area. Great photo op here. Question: At the entrance is a sign featuring a man and a woman wearing a scarf. What colour is it?

3. Inside the lanes 

Continue up Yongfu Lu, passing the Shanghai Film Group headquarters on your left. At Wuyuan Lu turn left, and continue until you hit Wukang Lu at the end of the street. Here, take a right and head north. Near the top, close to Anfu Lu, head into Lane 40 on your left. Turn right in the lane and have a look at building number one, with a large green door below a stone arch. Question: To the left of the door is a row of post boxes. How many are there?

4. Hidden propaganda

Keep going up Wukang Lu until you hit Huashan Lu. You’re right opposite number 868, a non-descript block of flats. If you go around the back to building 4, you’ll find the excellent Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre (open 10am-5pm daily, entry 25RMB) in the basement, with no signs telling you where it is. You can, however, get directions from the security staff who will give you a name card with directions.

I highly recommend this museum, so fascinating!

Otherwise, turn left and go west down Huashan Lu to lane 1100.

Question: Look at the building to your right as you head into Lane 1100 (the sign reads Fuyuan Yakun). Which animal is depicted by the statuettes at the entrance? 

5. Off the track knick-knacks

From here, cross the road and head south on leafy Xingguo Lu, which takes you down into the residential areas of the western French Concession where the Party cadres live. At Taian Lu turn right and walk until you see the stone-carved archway announcing number 120. Pop inside, and turn left down the lane to find building number 15, which houses the charming shop Aroom (open midday-8.30pm Tue-Sun), decorated with plenty of knick knacks. This is a fabulous place to rest in the AC and grab a latte or mango smoothie!

Question: In the wrought iron gates at the entrance of 120 Taian Lu there are two animals. What are they?

6. A secret language (French)

Double back along Taian Lu, and continue south along Xingguo Lu until you hit the Huaihai Zhong Lu/Wukang Lu apex, by the red-bricked Normandie Building, designed by László Hudec. Cross Huaihai Lu and head south down Tianping Lu, where you will pass by Old Jesse restaurant on your left, turning right where it meets Kangping Lu. A few metres west you’ll find the pretty, curio-filled Le Petit Jardin at number 220 (open 11am-11pm Mon-Thur, 11am-midnight Fri-Sun), complete with sunny conservatory, slightly-overpriced coffee, wi-fi and snoozing cats.Question: How many nutcracker statues are there in Le Petit Jardin’s window?

Getting home: From here continue west until you hit Huashan Lu, where you’ll see signs for Line 10’s Jiaotong University metro station, not far up the road to your right.

We used Apple maps and headed to Shanghai Community Fellowship for an evening of worship! Afterwards we continued our French themed day and dined at La Cabane for some lovely French food and wine with one of my Shanghai friends from Iowa (yay for the Midwest).

Day 5: We got up early, ate a street food breakfast and took the bullet train to Hangzhou! See Family in China Part 2: Exploring Hangzhou.

Day 10: When we returned from Beijing we had a last full day ahead.

We started the day by having breakfast and coffee with another friend of mine from New Zealand. What started as a supposed “meet in Tianzifang at this restaurant that opens early” ended as let’s go to this chain cafe because the other one was closed. But we ordered really expensive “poop” coffee and had a lovely chat. Let me just explain about the poop. It was really good shit let me tell you and probably one of the best cups of coffee in Shanghai, mostly because it’s from Bali and “it has been produced from the coffee beans which have been digested by a certain Indonesian cat-like animal called then palm civet or also civet cat. This is the reason kopi luwak is also called cat poop coffee or civet cat coffee. The feces of this cat will be collected, finished and sold as kopi luwak.” So there you have it. Cat poop coffee is the most-expensive coffee in the world. Done and done. Insert coffee emoji and facepalm here.

Tianzifang is a lovely back alleyway of quaint shops and souvenirs and old-time Shanghai feels. Go here for a stroll and meander through the winding paths before continuing on walking tour number 1 for the day. Thanks again TimeOut Shanghai~

shanghai tianzifang

Note: we got slightly turned-around and there was a some construction going we walked through the lanes and toured the temple then ended back at Laoximen metro to head to the starting point of walking tour number 2.  It was a cool part of town that I had never been before!

Old City Wall Walking Tour

1. Begin at Laoximen metro station (exit 7) – as per the name, this was once the western gate of the old city.

2. Head to Confucius Temple (215 Wenmiao Lu, 15RMB).

(Really neat to see a temple in the middle of a city)
3. Lunch around the corner at Zhejiang restaurant Kong Yi Ji (36 Xuegong Lu). Most notably, they make their own huangjiu and sell it in plastic bottles out of a take-away window. (We did not have lunch here).
4. At the far east end of Wenmiao Lu is a great chance to dive into some of Shanghai’s narrowest residential lanes. Jump into any and explore.
This is about where we got turned around and wanted to venture other places. The following directions are taken from the “Walled City Adventure Walking Tour” from Timeout Shanghai.
5. The intersection of Penglai Lu and Ninghe Lu sees the start of the Ninghe Lu market, an open wet market that’s always full of action, packed with locals and a great place to pick up some traditional snacks.
6. Pass by the former residence of Ming Dynasty scholar-bureaucrat and important Shanghai figure Xu Guangqi, a humble house marked with by a plaque at 234 Qiaojia Lu.
7. A grand gateway at 113 Qiaojia Lu marks the entrance to Catalpa Garden, once the finest residence in this part of town. Head into the lane to see a European-style villa (not open to the public) where, in 1922, artist Wang Yiting lived and hosted a dinner for Albert Einstein.

8. The walk finishes at Xiaonanmen metro station. A concrete-clad structure sits opposite exit 2 on Zhonghua Lu. Built in the early 20th century and said to have been inspired by the Eiffel Tower, this was an observation tower for fire prevention. Other similar structures existed in Shanghai, but only this one remains.


Walking Tour Number 2: Eileen Chang’s Shanghai (this is one of my favorites!)

Born in Shanghai in 1920 as Zhang Ying (her mother later renamed her Zhang Ailing), Eileen Chang went on to become one of China’s best known writers. In addition to spells in Tianjin and Hong Kong, the author of Lust, Caution and Love in a Fallen City spent many of her formative years in Shanghai, penning some of her most famous works here.
There are numerous sites associated with Chang dotted around the city, though unfortunately only a handful have received protective cultural heritage status. Her former school for example, the St Maria Girls’ School from which she graduated in 1937, now stands in ruin in the middle of a construction site next to Zhongshan Park metro station after it was nearly demolished several years ago. This walk takes in some of her old haunts in Jingan and the former French Concession.
Starting point Nanjing Xi Lu metro station, line 2
Walking time 1.5 hours

1. Head out of exit one onto Nanjing Xi Lu itself and turn left, crossing the junction with Maoming Bei Lu and going past the entrance of Jingan Villas to number 1081. Inside the gates, you’ll find a grand red brick building housing a Chinese restaurant surrounded by smaller, more modest white-washed houses. The simpler buildings make up Zhonghua New Estate, where Chang lived with her aunt for a short time after they vacated the Changde Apartment complex, where this walk will end.

Question: Dragons adorn the entrance to the Meilongzhen Jiujia restaurant. How many green dragon heads are there in total?

2. Retrace your steps back out through the gates and towards Jingan Villas. Use the pleasant old Shanghai longtang as a cut through to Weihai Lu.

At Weihai Lu, turn left toward the junction with Maoming Bei Lu. Just beyond the bakery on the left used to stand the house of Cao Qiqiao, the main character in Chang’s The Golden Cangue, purportedly based upon an aunt of the author. The original building was demolished some time ago. Head south on Maoming Lu and turn right when you get to the junction with Yanan Zhong Lu, just past KIN. At number 740 Yanan Zhong Lu, just past a VW showroom, is the entrance to the leafy Kangle Estate, mentioned in Chang’s short story A Flower in a Sea of Sins.

Question: Below the lamp on the right of the entranceway to the Kangle Estate there is a plaque of what?

3. Once you’ve taken in the plesantly peaceful longtang, continue heading west along Yanan Zhong Lu and use the pedestrian bridge over the junction with Shaanxi Nan Lu to cross underneath the Yanan raised road to the southwest corner, beside the Hengshan Moller Villa. The fairytale gothic-style Villa, today a fairly exclusive hotel, was built by British merchant Eric Moller for his youngest daughter and completed in 1936 after a decade-long construction period.


Keep going along the southern edge of Yanan Zhong Lu until you reach number 877, opposite the Russian classical-style Shanghai Exhibition Centre. Beside the entranceway at 877 is a small plaque commemorating the former residence of Mao Guangsheng, an accomplished Ming dynasty scholar.

Question: Next door to the entranceway is an old Concession-era house, now home to a branch of which restaurant chain?

4. Head in through the gateway at 877, travelling south until you can go no further. At this point, turn right, squeeze through a small gateway and continue on until the complex, Siming Estate, opens up into one of its main passageways. Chang lived for a short time here before 1945 with her first husband Hu Lancheng, himself a renowned writer and editor. Other important Chinese literary figures such as poet Xu Zhimo also resided here and the area is one of the best preserved longtang in the city. Head south from here and you’ll emerge on Julu Lu. This is an area with with cafes and restaurants always changing!

Question: Turn and look back to the first building inside the estate. How many stories are there above the archway?

5. Turn right on Julu Lu and head west to the junction with Fumin Lu. Here, take a right heading north under the raised Yanan Lu, past the site of the new Shangri-La hotel and Kerry Centre, and across Nanjing Xi Lu. On the western side of Changde Lu at number 195 is the beautiful Art Deco structure of the Changde Apartment. Chang lived here for two stints and penned novels Love in a Fallen City and The Golden Cangue during her time in the complex.

Question: According to a heritage plaque on the wall, Chang’s second stay in these apartments lasted until what date?

Along the way we stopped for beers at World of Beer. BrewDog brewery out of Scotland had a “12 tap takeover”. Nothing like an ice cold beer on a hot day out walking the city.

6. The ground floor of Changde Apartment is now occupied by a small coffee shop (it’s delightful!) supposedly dedicated to the author. In practice, this means that there are a few posters displaying Chang’s face, Chinese editions of her books and, if you’re lucky, the odd copy in English. Nonetheless, a small courtyard hidden out the back makes for a pleasant place to rest your feet after walking this far, with coffee, tea, bottled beers and glasses of wine all for 50RMB each. According to the menu, this is where Chang ‘found her favorite cream cake’. Question: What is the name of this cafe?

Note: Getting home From Changde Apartment, Jing’an Temple metro station is just a minute’s walk away. Follow the signs for lines 2 and 7.


This is my hood so we walked back to my place and along the way stopped for wonton’s across from Paradox cafe on Wuding Lu. My wonton lady serves the best! What a day celebrating Dad’s birthday in Shanghai too! We called it an early night since my parents would be flying out the next day.

It’s been a whirlwind of a trip; lots of walking (10-15 miles a day), site-seeing, funny t-shirt reading, exploring local sides to the cities, and spending quality time with family. I am so blessed and thankful for my family! Cheers~

Read more about Family Adventures here:

Part 2: Exploring Hanghzou (note: Days: 5-7) 

Part 3: Exploring Beijing (note: Days 7-9)










Patio Sitting.

Ahh Spring in Shanghai is probably the best. The trees flourish and the sunlight sparkles through the green cascading on the street. It’s beautiful. The air is warm. Not necessarily fresh…but it’s finally warm!

It is perfect patio sitting weather and I have found a few favorites in this city.

Social Commune.

Located at 511 Jiangning Lu this rooftop provides seclusion from the busyness below and specialty cocktails too including a fancy spin on the classic gin and tonic.


Pasha’s Turkish Restaurant.

Make reservations and request balcony seating. Order the Turkish breakfast brunch for two. A perfect spread of everything delicious. Address: 262 Nanchang Rd. Near Ruijin Er Rd.



Busy patio seating, but worth it to indulge a scrumptious savory crepe and sweet coconut ice-cream atop a salted caramel waffle. Address: 208 Xinle Lu





Lizzy’s All Natural and Warehouse Cafe.

Located in the Anken Life building on Changhua Lu, these two places provide a cozy escape from street noise.


Buzz time Coffee on Changde Lu.

Located just outside of Changping Line 7 metro. This quaint cafe provides a lovely patio to enjoy your coffee and sweet treat from Strictly Cookies.


Oh my goodness. This hidden gem in the Frasier Residences has a high rooftop view of iconic Shanghai towers. You can see glimpses of the sunset peaking through the skyscrapers too. This patio is decked out in vibrant teals and oranges. Reservations are a must! I finally found my go to Mexican restaurant in Shanghai. Top ingredients and strong Margarita pours. Five star rating for sure! Order the pork belly tacos, chips and guacamole, and fish wontons. I couldn’t be happier to have a taste of Mexico in the ‘Hai. Thank you Mayita.


Wine bar on Hengshan Lu. Balcony seating provided. Yay Friday. Yay sunshine. Yay wine. Enough said.  A bottle is reasonably price and you’ll get more for your money as the one glass pours are skimpy. Higher class wine and a bit more pricey than a normal bar, but worth it.


Enjoy the sunshine Shanghai!

March Cafe Tour

Brace yourself for local cafe goodness. best chai teas, in house roasters, and cute nooks.

Sumerian: hands down the best chai that I’ve discovered in Shanghai. A cozy cafe near West Beijing road, this cafe offers Boom Boom Bagels for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or whatever you prefer. Desserts are available as well; we got the cheesecake. South Shanxi Road Metro Exit 10 is ok!

415 Shanxi Bei Lu,near Beijing Xi Lu
陕西北路415号, 近北京西路

Cafe Voce: located on Hengshan Lu Metro, Yongjia road, this cafe has weekend brunch, lattes, teas, juices etc. And their tiramisu is delightful, so is the brownie. The outdoor patio is perfect for Shanghai’s spring days…even in the misty rain.

Egg: famous for their toasts, but ordered a delicious breakfast hash instead. Verdict on their Chai tea? Amazing. Order it with cashew milk for a dairy free treat. Egg also has gluten free options, but clearly we are not on that path as we also shared the most delightful lemon cake coated with thyme infused frosting.

12 Xiangyang Bei Lu
near Julu Lu

Brut Cake Cafe: weekday afternoons are less busy if you have work to do, weekend brunch time is packed. This is probably due to the fact their chicken and waffles is only served on the weekends. Order it. My sister made a good point- you went to Shanghai for Southern food?? Yes, yes I did. And it was fantastic. Also ordered a spicy latte that paired well with the seasoned chicken and honey waffles. Their Kenyan blend is a great choice for regular coffee drinkers. And of course, get an original Brut Cake during one of your visits, trust me you’ll have more than one.

Jiangsu Road Metro (Exit 2 is ok!)                                                                                                                                                                             698 Yuyuan Lu
near Zhenning Lu
愚园路698号, 近镇宁路

Little Bean: one of Shanghai’s hidden coffee roasters. And you know it’s going to be good when the coffee bean grower’s personal information is displayed. Located at Science and Technology Metro Stop, take exit 6, pass the bus stop, and over the bridge, after the bridge turn right and walk. You’ll pass chain places along the river, but just keep walking until you spot the sign. The cafe offers plenty of seating and baked goods, like chocolate croissants, but just trust me and go straight for any of the local coffees. The smell and tastes are tantalizing. I ordered the Mariana Meireles, Tahiti coffee from the Vale de Jequitinhonha region of Brazil. Pretty much everything you would expect from a Brazilian coffee: sweet and smooth.


March Madness 2017

Welcome to my updated blog website!

My New Year’s Resolution was to learn a new skill so I’ve been learning about web design and search engine optimization. For a non-tech savvy person like myself, I highly recommend WordPress, for their customer service and tech help is amazing! The specialist who has been assisting me is just the best…because basically I freak out when I accidentally delete something I haven’t saved after hours of trying to figure things out…turns out there’s a way to recover all lost data. Needless to say it’s been a great transition to this new platform despite lots of frustration.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted so let’s start with the week of March 7th . This week in Shanghai: so much rain over the weekend, but today the sun came out. Wonderful…now if the days would just keep getting warmer. The sporadic weather makes kids crazy and in turn makes teachers crazy too. I mean yes, child, please do shred your paper into tiny balls and throw them across the room; and yes, when we play “head and shoulders, sit down-stand up” please by all means stand on your chair and act like you’re king of the hill. Never mind when I stand with a piece of chalk at the board to draw a star it’s dead silence, but if I move one inch, the chaos continues. Perfect pure entertainment. It’s Friday, right? No.

March lessons include learning about personality types and debating. So far this semester is better. I implemented a contest. Whichever team earns a 100 points first gets a prize, once every team earns 100 points then the class gets to decide on going outside for a lesson or watching a movie. It’s worked wonders. The students are more attentive and productive, even the weaker students are participating. What a relief!

On Monday (the 14th) I went to my first boxing class at Aboro. (Gloves and all!) We were paired up once we learned the jabs and cross technique. My partner and I were speaking Chinese and English and laughing so much! Maybe more laughing than punching. It was so much fun and I hope I can go to another class soon.

Last week. Well, about a week and half ago, Ed Sheeran dropped a new album. Um yes, all of it. Just listen. So good. From slow to fast, rap to African sounding beats…definitely something for everyone. He really needs to come to Shanghai. But obviously tell me first as there’s 24 million people here and tickets go fast. That being said he will be in Omaha, Nebraska in the fall. All my Nebraska peeps should probably go. Anyways, his album got me through a crazy week and a mental health day. My fave tune? “Barcelona.”

I know I’ve said it before but mental health days are a must in my vocabulary. They should be in yours too. My mental health day was supposed to be productive. And it was in ways of going to  a 7 a.m. spin class at becycle: “not a spin class, but a cardio party,” followed by a long chat with a USA friend over breakfast, then home to get ready before heading out to get my hair conditioned (it’s super dry…it misses island humidity) and meet a friend for lunch at Sumerian Coffee, and a tutoring session. Such a good day off that lead to an even more academically productive weekend of online classes and reading.

Now we’re in February. The first two weeks of the semester were slow after arriving back from Chinese New Year holiday. On the 4th of February, my dear sister got married in Arizona at the Desert Botanical Gardens. Gorgeous day, beautiful ceremony, Congratulations T2! Much love. Before heading to Arizona, I was in Nebraska for about 10 days in the sweet silence of my parent’s house in our small town. It was absolutely glorious. Night and day, black and white difference compared to Shanghai. I could see the stars, breath the fresh air, and stretch my eyes on the snowy fields. The brilliant colors of the wintry sunrise and sunset are etched in my mind.


And now, today, the 25th of March, I participated in open enrollment activities for my school in the morning and have been working on my blog, reviewing a project for a friend, and writing a guide to Shanghai! I’m so excited about these projects, but thrilled to have built this site myself. It may need some tweaking, but it’s on it’s way!

bohemian summer style
fresh white yoga studio
zen night.
seriously..wake up!
becycle crew!
what goes on around my apartment
RAWK! a healthy food delivery service.
electric bike takeover

That’s all for a scatterbrained daily life recap! I’ll be posting more soon! 🙂


stand and look pretty! Open enrollment day.
rain or shine; these fried noodle are the best!


When your love affair with the city continues the minute the sun comes out

dinner at Highline

I have to admit, I’ve always been a goal setter. Making lists, devising new plans, adventures, and seeing them come to light… that’s one of the reasons why I love the New Year. A fresh start…not necessarily “new year new me”, but a chance to evaluate and think about the continuation of bettering myself. Each year, I think about where I’ve been, who I’ve interacted with, enlightening conversations, achievements in physical activity, and goals accomplished. This year, my focus is on being present, being mindful. I’m slowly developing a meditation practice. I’ve gained a lot of insight from a friend in Arizona who coaches at Mindfulness Life Center and through research. I have noticed if I do the practice in the morning, I am a lot calmer throughout the day, but I need to work on my attitude. Sometimes it’s hard when certain events happen that make a person feel unappreciated at their job, when things don’t go how I anticipated, and things are taken the wrong way. I should be more accepting, more tolerable. But it’s really hard, ok? I’m working on it.

Another thing I want to do this year is read more. Mostly because I miss reading and I want to make it a point to read every month…my goal is 2 books per month. Suggestions welcome! 🙂 I want to keep learning, so taking free online courses or random classes in Shanghai will be something I will make it a point to do too.

because brewed coffee is a simple indulgent
that makes mornings better.
so does Trader Joe’s chocolate.

January 8th. Today in church the song hit home: perhaps because it explains my abroad life…it re-emphasizes why I can’t sit still…I have to go where He leads me…every place I’ve lived has felt right where I needed to be…I’m still changing from the inside…more walls fall down year by year…

“Called Me Higher” by All Sons and Daughters

I could just sit
I could just sit and wait for all Your goodness
Hope to feel Your presence
And I could just stay
I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel You
Hope to feel something again I feel something everyday…even though I can’t explain it…even in the frustration, the questioning, the sickness…somehow there’s peace.

And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You
Change me from the inside

And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home obviously you called me to leave, and now I don’t know where to go next…but I wait for your answer…
Never let these walls down break my walls down…everyday, it’ so easy to build up walls in a foreign country, where people come and go, it’s so transient here Lord, it’s hard to open up and be real. But it’s what is so important, to Be Real. It’s something we all crave, but these days it’s so rare to find connection in such a connected world.

But You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You lead me Lord
Where You lead me
Where You lead me Lord

And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You
Change me from the inside
And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
Never let these walls down

But You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You lead me Lord
Where You lead me

And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life

And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life

And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life
So let Your mercy

And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life
So let Your mercy light the path before me because I basically don’t know where to go or what to do, and I’m so lost without you. Should I stay or should I go, should I go back “home” or somewhere new…show me, Lord. I’ll go wherever you lead me to… You know my heart’s desires and frustrations and sadness and longing, but Your will is the only way and ultimately you guide me…I give all this to you…

Cause You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord

Where You lead me
Where You lead me Lord

(Jonah Part 1 of 4) Today’s sermon was about Jonah. Jonah was a prophet, in those days it was a person whom God chose to deliver a message of grace, mercy, and joy. God wanted him to bring this message to Nineveh, to restore borders, to bring grace. Jonah had a choice to obey God and he ran. Ran away. He forgot what the message would mean to the people of Nineveh…to show them forgiveness…something this harsh and brutal nation needed. I suppose it would be a scary thing to have God say “go for me, speak for me…” So this prophet said no. And ran.
And in his running he was caught red-handed in prejudices, narrow world view, disobedience…on a ship in a storm. On the ship the sailors were facing their reality and calling out to every god imaginable, and ending in calling on Yahweh..Jonah’s God. Our God. And Jonah? He was fast asleep in the lower deck, blocking out God, blocking out reality. This shows the contradiction: I love God and fear the Lord (so why do you run?) This instance exposed Jonah’s heart and when the sailor’s woke him up, He would rather be tossed overboard than face reality of running. (Little did he know…)
4 Take Aways:
1. You can’t run from God (Psalms 139:7-10)
2. Storms are meant to get our attention.
3. It’s not over till it’s over. (We ask Why?, God asks When?)
4. God’s initiative plus my obedience equals more than we can ask or imagine.
when a complete stranger scoots over to you
after grabbing her mom’s phone
and wants to take a selfie.
tucked back in a cozy booth
my nails match my wine
classy, right?



January 11. One Week. One week until I’m back under Nebraska skies and blue and icy cold freshness. Can’t wait to breath again. At school everyone is on each other’s nerves…teachers and students alike. The last week should not be allowed. The job of an Oral English teacher becomes math and science exam monitor and “can I just take your class?”…basically I am over this week.

Tonight I had to get a glass of wine to decompress.
I had an awesome lesson planned and it was an epic fail mostly because the students are so checked out that they don’t give a crap. Something has to change for next semester because I’m annoyed at their lack of participation…especially when they blatantly sleep and tune out…I’ve really never met such disrespectful students…. and they have to pass the TOEFL test…so between keeping them “entertained” (heaven forbid we don’t have a movie clip one day) and “engaged in English speaking” we have to practice TOEFL test prep. First Graders are angels compared to high school. What was I thinking? I am only determined to finish this contract with a better attitude before moving on. Deep breaths. Tutoring my dear friend, yoga, church, and wine and texts from friends get me through these rough days.

i get weird looks for ordering ice water
oh how rice has become a staple
random mirror on the wall




a bleak day in the ‘Hai


 Cheers to Friday the 13th and the start to my holiday! Dinner at Highline.

must order: Butterscotch Pudding and Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies
girl scout thin mint ice cream bar


January 14th. 🌅When your love affair with the city continues the minute the sun comes out. Seriously though, these past couple weeks have been rainy and gray and smoggy. Press repeat: I was made for Sunny Days. My mood? Instantly lifted, as the fluffy clouds give way to rays of sunshine on this gorgeous Saturday. I had to have a lazy morning in bed before an afternoon of cleaning begins.


my favorite shade of blue

Happy New Year 2017!

January 2nd. Time to publish an outdated post and begin anew. On New Year’s I went to bed quite early and woke up refreshed on the first day of 2017. We did 108 sun salutations with 108 yogi’s  above a cafe at 10 a.m. It felt amazing, though today I am so sore. The first day of the new year brought a lovely coffee chat with one of my yoga instructors after the class, then church, followed by a glass of wine at a cozy wine bar before meeting friends/colleagues to celebrate my friend’s birthday.




Today I met a couple other friends for brunch spritzers and mimosas to toast in the new year and a day off of teaching. Then spent the afternoon reading and bawling my eyes out over a Nicholas Sparks novel. Nothing like a good book cry. It’s been a great long weekend of relaxation, reflection, and friend time. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store!

Yesterday, in church, we discussed the International church. How the first church was an international church and throughout the centuries the church has molded to fit one ethnic group, one social class, one country, one language…how the International church is important to recognize…that One Day every church will once again be an international church, every tongue, every nation under one roof. For people abroad, the international church is where your tribe is found…
* 3% of the global population lives in countries of which they were not born.
* By 2050, the US population will be majority ethnic minorities
* By 2050, 28% of the world’s Christians will be in Africa, 23% in South America, and 13% in Asia
The beauty of the international church *in Shanghai* is that it comprises all 3 mission types: near neighbor witness, regular missions, and frontier missions…International could be defined as global citizens.
Note: Acts 10.

and this song…

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are you Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are you Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

All the earth will shout your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are you Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

Pour out our praise to You only
Pour out our praise to You only

As I sip on my red wine, I pen thoughts on a napkin…because it’s more real…my scribbles, my cursive ink bleeding onto the thin paper…where I think the clearest…they play deep house music and I can stun.
New year’s day 2017. I feel good even though I have a lot on my mind. The sermon and worship reminded me that it’s not a matter of if God will fulfill his promises, but when. This gives me hope. Comfort. That the life I’m living has a purpose, even though it seems so scattered and disorganized to the world. He makes His will be known in the chaos, leaving me feel at peace in all the uncertainty that I know. 

Turning 30= handstands, lattes, wine, cherishing friends and saying goodbyes

my dear Chinese friend





When I was 22 or 23, my college roommate remembers how I couldn’t wait to be 30. Then last year I went into *slight* panic mode and decided I didn’t want to be 30. Now that it’s officially my birthday month, I’ve decided I’m treating the day like any other. After all, half of my students think I’m 21 anyways. Ha! “Teacher, you don’t look 30, so young.” Why thank you students.

November in Shanghai has started off sunny and clear skies. It’s getting colder, and rain is forecasted, but for now, enjoying the niceness.

At the end of October I took a weekend getaway to Hong Kong. It’s definitely one of those crowded cities that makes you slightly claustrophobic, but the views were awesome of the city and mountains and sea together. It was good to be out of Shanghai for bit. So many people rave about Hong Kong, however if you were to ask me, I prefer Shanghai. Though I think it has to do with circumstance. For instance, when I was living in Makassar, Indonesia (a crazy port city) and travelled to Kuala Lumpur, I thought that city was paradise. Now, that I have been living in Shanghai, Hong Kong is oddly similar, way more expensive, and more stacked. Maybe I would have felt differently about the city if I would have been in a different place originally.

I did get to go to one of my bucket list places: the highest bar in the world, Ozone, at the Ritz Carlton. Amazing drinks and amazing city light views below.

Sunday November 13th. Today I am thankful. Thankful for sunshine after this morning rains. Thankful for sweet serenity the candlelight brings. Thankful for the hope worship music brings to my soul, knowing my God holds me. Maybe that’s why I feel an odd sense of peace after a weird week. My sister sent me Chai tea earlier this fall. And it is amazing. Soul soothing. And today I took time for myself at home, sipping my tea, chatting lovely friends, making french toast. Just being as the light floods in. It helps to sit. Alone with thoughts, with inspirational words and music, taking comfort in my simple life. Wondering if turning 30 can be this good? Perhaps my early twenties were a disaster, but each disaster brought me to where I am now. I like this me. This new decade is going to be full of growth and goodness. Of more moments to be who I am and not who others want me to be or who I think I should be because of worldly influence.

Good Morning 30.

My birthday day was simple. Just how I like the day to be. I started the day with yoga, taught my classes, then met a friend for Mediterranean food and wine. Like a bottle of deliciousness. Good conversation and lots of laughs. My kind of day. On Sunday, friends and I ate dinner and went to Godiva for hot chocolate after church. So much silky smooth delectable chocolate in liquid form. Our Shanghai Hot Chocolate tour had begun.

Christmas at Disney!
Cheesecake deliciousness.

The next week we went to Thai food and Farine’s, for hot chocolate place #2. So quaint and rich scents of fresh baked goods. A homier place for sure.

I spent Thanksgiving at an expat potluck party. It was wonderful to celebrate the holiday with other foreigners, fun conversation and good company.

daily metro grind.
random street mirrors.
sunny fall day.
glowing yoga studio

And now it’s December 9th. Where does time go? Shanghai time moves faster, I swear. Too much busy-ness or hypothetical busy-ness, because are we really that busy? Or just the time is allocated differently so it seems busy? I feel some days it’s all a facade. People really aren’t that busy. Just pretending to be busy. So they don’t actually have to face reality or interact with others.

To close out 2016 in December… one of my dear friends came to visit me…it definitely means the world when friends come to see me in my international city. Though it’s so hard to say goodbye again as visits are never long enough and the missingness is more poignant after, I feel so blessed to be able to share a snippet of my Shanghai life with him.

Also in December I spent a weekend getaway in Kuala Lumpur with my dear Aussie friend before she moved back home! A great weekend of food goodness, luxury hotel lounging, and relaxation.

Cheers 2016, you’ve been fabulous. Between having two best friends and grandparents visit, traveling to Thailand, stateside road trips, a trip back east to New York and Maine, completing my thesis and graduating with my Master’s Degree in International Studies, to moving back to Shanghai and getting an apartment and teaching at a new school I’d say it’s been quite a year! 🙂

touring Shanghai before his island adventures begin
thanks for making Shanghai a stop over!
global citizen status necklace from a dear friend
almost ready to get clothes made…but first a cafe!
these kiddos make me laugh so much.
coffee chat with my University students
Miss them!!!
International church singing
another lovely lunch chat
latte and red nails
new mustard color scarf and
coat made from the fabric market
tastes of home…beer and grilled cheese
ready for our KL adventure!
new lip gloss=a picture for sure.
what a treat!
breakfast at 5pm
so much sunlight
after an afternoon nap

glam night
more airport goodbyes
expat friend love

so cold.
my new thing?
leg warmers
foggy yoga night
more wintery sunset
sun obsession
a lovely evening ritual of tea and candles
and city glow
love tutoring this fabulous lady!
Rockin’ my
“Handstand by 30”
saturday fun of tea chats
and baking pumpkin scones
thank you Trader Joe’s
sent via Sister
introducing him to lattes and quaint Shanghai cafes
saying goodbye makes me cry, blurry eyed bus ride back to the city
cinnamon rolls and sunset for comfort
cozy wine sipping Christmas eve
Merry Christmas from my sweet International Church
last latte of 2016

Stay tuned for 2017 adventures and thoughts.

The Oddness of National Week Holiday










China: Here are 7 days for a holiday in which traveling in China is the busiest, most hectic, but here are 7 days for Thank goodness I’m basically a local and stayed on the back streets away from the go-to tourist areas, but could still get good food and coffee and do yoga. Life essentials, right?
Also China: Now that we have given you 7 days holiday, you must “make up” the given holiday days by working Saturday thru Friday.

National Week. The holiday time has been filled with ups and downs…fun social activity, an amazing get-together with a dear friend from Korea, and spending a couple days in bed, coughing up gross stuff, losing my voice, and getting better. Awesome stuff let me tell you. Losing my voice But thank goodness for home remedies and natural health cafes that make honey lemon ginger goji tea. Lesson planning ahead did not get done, but lesson planning for the 7 days did get done. And Sports Day is Monday. Sports day: when students ask to miss my class to practice basketball or to finish a mural (don’t ask) (Tuesday: No, you may not miss my class; Friday: just go. it’s whatever, have fun. Really teacher? Thank you so much!) All teachers must report at 7:40a.m. for the opening ceremony, classes are cancelled, but teachers must also stay until 4p.m. for the closing ceremony (my day usually starts at 10:25 and ends at 3:30) so there’s that.

On any given day I could be speaking to people from multiple countries. For example, today I texted my Mother “Happy Birthday” in USA, called a friend in Indonesia via WhatsApp, and spent the day showing my friend from Canada, whom I met in Korea, around the side streets of Shanghai. My favorite kind of day. I love these days. I am inspired by people all over the globe. Their words, their stories, their adventures and challenges have impacted me so. I met this friend 5 years ago when we first went abroad to live and it’s incredible how we both have grown and changed except for our friendship. How special to show her and her new husband around my city!

Ahhh Fall has arrived to Shanghai. It’s beautiful, cool air, fresh-ish air….and blue skies! It makes for a good start to a long teaching day. Trying to power through and stay positive on this long stretch. It’s only Tuesday when I’m writing this and it feels like a Thursday afternoon. Groggy and tired and my words don’t come out right when I try to explain something. Maybe teaching first graders dance and song isn’t such a bad thing at this point in the week. Ha.

And then I torn my hamstring during a yoga class. As many of you know I’m going on year 2 of rather consistent Ashtanga yoga practice. It’s a sequence of poses and breathing and once you have memorized and achieved certain poses you move on to the next. It’s a purely individual practice. So I was getting into a new posture and my yoga teacher was helping me. I have really tight hamstrings, but the stretch felt good up until the point it crackled and popped. For about a week now I’ve been limping around Shanghai. I can’t touch my toes. It feels better to stand and walk than to sit because then the back of my knees become stiff. Needless to say, I’ve been in a lot of pain and trying to work through it. This past week has taught my a lot of patience. I’m really frustrated, mostly because I had improved so much mentally and physically since arriving back to Shanghai. So I’ve taken this week to chill, drink wine, and sleep. My yoga teacher is the sweetest and has provided me with natural “icy hot” pepperminty oil that seems to be working. If it doesn’t improve, I will see an acupuncturist.

It’s hard to believe that it’s the latter half of October. The weather has still been warm, a bit humid, rainy some days, it’s been a pleasant temperate month. Part of me wants to just curl up in a sweatshirt and jeans, but I refuse to wish those days upon us now, because once they hit, warm weather won’t come again until April! BRR.

To make it seem a bit more like fall, my lovely sister has sent me pumpkin things like tea, scone mix, and cookies. I’m trying really hard to ration these things. And now I have mastered the perfect French press cup of coffee to make mornings a bit more cozier. Yay home things.

It’s nights like tonight with rain pattering, country music, red wine, and chocolate that make it good for writing and getting back to focus. It’s about perspective, about taking a step back. Thank you God for subtle signs that help me realize the importance of slowing down.

Reading List: Present Over Perfect by: Shauna Niequist. Read it, be inspired.
Music: “Gulf Coast Time,” Roger Creager and really anything by the Eli Young Band. Also note Hillsong Young and Free remixes are great jams for cleaning house.

And now it’s November. Oh my goodness. Sometimes the days go by too fast and then I realize a month has past and I haven’t posted. Stay tuned for birthday month updates.



















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