Tag: friends

Thankful

Thankful

It’s easy to dwell on everything that is not going well in 2020, plans that fell through and things we don’t get to do. Since it was Thanksgiving last week, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon of everyone reflecting on the things they are grateful for. Here are my 5 things:

Family

I’m not just thankful to have them but that so far, everyone is staying healthy.

Friends

I’m really grateful for having so many lovely people in my life across the world. Right now, I’m especially grateful for our Shanghai friends who will make sure I don’t just cry straight through Christmas but actually enjoy the holidays.

Shanghai

I love living in Shanghai – it’s a great place with so much to do, see, explore and eat. I appreciate it even more in 2020. Besides a short sort of lockdown after CNY, things have been pretty normal here. We’re going out, dining out, meeting friends and just living life. If it weren’t for the masks in public transport and other public places, you’d hardly know there is a pandemic going on.

Technology

Seeing family and my friends abroad, living in Shanghai and Covid don’t really go together, so getting together in person is not possible. Therefore, I love WeChat, E-Mails and Instagram more than ever because it let’s me stay connected across borders and time zones. While our family video calls may be a bit chaotic, they are really fun and it’s great being able to chat up and see each other in real time.

Thanksgiving festivities

Finally, I’m thankful for the 2 fantastic Thanksgivings we were invited to. The food was almost as excellent as the company. We don’t just have great friends but friends who are great hosts and cooks 🙂 Both potlucks were really fun and the food just as yummy as what we enjoyed last year with my host family in Arizona.

April

April

I’m a bit behind with my blogging, so I thought I’d do just a post about the whole month of April. Due to the current situation we didn’t leave the country or even the city, so it was a month full of Shanghai adventures.

Qingming Festival Weekend

The month started with a long weekend due to Qingming festival. Our friends Ling and Hutch had us over for dinner at their place. Ling first did a Chinese tea ceremony with us and then we ate lots and lots of food they had made. Friends who can make great food are the best friends 🙂

The next day, we had an early birthday brunch for Thorben at the W hotel. As always, the food and views were awesome. We had fun taking pictures on the terrace. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing the skyline.

On the final day of the 3 day weekend, we had a little Grünkohl party at our house. Originally, we had planned it for 12 people the day Thorben got back from Germany. Due to the rules at the time, we couldn’t have anyone over and it all went into the freezer. Half of it has been completely demolished now and hopefully round 2 will happen soon 🙂

Thorben’s Birthday

We extended the long weekend by another day to celebrate Thorben’s birthday a bit more. We had some cake at home and then dinner with friends at our favorite Chinese place, Lotus Eatery.

Easter

Easter Sunday was exciting for Thorben and many of our friends because that’s when archery finally started again. To properly celebrate the occasion, Thorben brought Brezeln to archery – it was a big success. Overall, Thorben was on a Brezel mission and made some 4 times in April … Someone is trying to steal my title of baking queen of the household 🙂

I had a great, sunny Easter brunch with friends, ate some ice cream, went pack to Jing’An Sculpture Park and then stopped by to watch some archery. It’s fun to watch but I’m definitely sticking with not playing and staying bruise free on the side lines. Also, we had a family Easter WeChat Video conference 🙂

3 More Birthdays

Besides Thorben’s birthday, we went to 3 more celebrations. 2 belated ones, now that everyone is back in town and places are open again, and 1 on the actual birthday.

For Boramy’s belated birthday we had brunch, which turned into drinks, which turned into ordering pizza at her place and binge watching Hulu 🙂 Sadly, I neglected to take pictures of any people. I guess I was too busy eating and having fun!

For Lars’ birthday, we had dinner at a Sichuan restaurant and then there was cake, which means, my all time favorite birthday tradition. Not just eating the cake (which is pretty great, too), but cutting the head of the man, who is drawn onto the cake while everyone screams. Gotta love Denmark.

And finally, for Kate’s very belated birthday, we went for drinks and dinner at Heritage. It was my third time there this year – the food is so good! Also, there was cake (but no killed cake men) and a photographer, so there are actually more pictures of people than of food.

More Lunches and Dinners

Besides supporting the local economy and going out to eat, we also cooked and baked. I tried out some new recipes as my weekly meal prep continues. I stopped going to the canteen because it was operating on a very limited scale for a while due to Covid-19. And now I don’t want to go back, so cooking it is.

Boramy had us over for amazing lasagna, veggies, dips and salad, plus she made her version of Disney’s Dole whip. It was super good and I managed to sneak another piece of lasagna for lunch (Yes, that’s Thorben in the background finishing up a call while we had Prosecco).

Freddy made us a Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern lunch plus his grandma’s lemon pie. Yum. His compound is a crazy urban jungle, I think it’s the largest in Shanghai. Also, it’s right by the river and you have a great view of the “1000 trees”, a cool building on Suzhou creek, which is still under construction.

Tiger King

The final weekend of the month was really only a Saturday for me, because Sunday was a make up working day, due to the upcoming May holiday.

We made the most of the one free day … by first having lunch with Freddy (see above) and going to another birthday, that’s number 5 for April. To celebrate his birthday a couple of days early, Hutch had a Tiger King viewing party. Which meant we watched 4 episodes of Tiger King while dressed up in questionable outfits, and then went out for dinner.

So that was April. Looking back, quite a lot of things happened. I guess Shanghai just never gets boring. 🙂

Not pictured: A couple of girls’ nights, more dinners, WeChat video workouts with my sisters, trying to plan a trip for May, game nights, a Zoom call to Rich in Paris, still wearing a mask everyday … and we also went to work (with masks on).

Staycation

Staycation

After most of our friends returned to Shanghai and finished their home quarantine, we decided to do a Staycation together. We hadn’t seen each other much this year, no one is allowed to really go anywhere plus many places are running specials, so it was the perfect opportunity. Two weeks ago our destination was the W Hotel located on the North Bund. This is the whole crew during Happy Hour and again after breakfast:

We booked a special package with happy hour, massages and breakfast the next day and it was amazing. The hotel was not full , so we had the spa to ourselves and we all got upgraded into incredible rooms with an even more incredible view! Being on the Bund, we set an alarm for 5:30 to watch the sunrise … me mostly from the comfort of our bed. I only got up a couple times to take a picture 🙂

Those are all phone pictures, and here is one that Thorben took with the pro equipment. Looking at the Skyline never gets old and seeing it in the morning light was really cool.

It was a great weekend and it was really nice to get “away”, even if only a 15 min taxi ride away. If things stay the way they are and we cannot travel, I think we will be due for another Staycation soon 🙂

Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming

I was just about to title this post “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” and then I realized that my Christmas post last year had that exact same title. Looks like I haven’t gotten any more creative with my blogging this year 🙂

Anyway, back to the actual topic: I started the Christmas season early and finished my Christmas cookies in November already because I wanted to have them ready for our US trip. It took me 2 full weekends plus a few weeknights of baking, but I’m quite proud of the result. 8 different kind is a new record for me! I still have a long way to go to reach my mom’s 17 kinds, but I’m slowly improving 😉

Thorben went on a business trip to Germany in November and brought back some Gingerbread, Spekulatius and goodies from my mom, so we were ready to get festive. When we came back home on December 1st, all that was left to do was get some Christmas decoration and start eating all the cookies.

… which is exactly what we did on our first weekend back. We had little Advent tea at our place on December 7 and ate our way through a few plates of cookies.

Since then, there were quite a few Christmas parties or holiday themed events here: A GGI gift exchange, an Italian aperetivo, a trip to the Christmas market that turned into a Raclette and mulled wine night because there was a massive queue to get into the market, a small Christmas dinner with friends, a very big Christmas dinner with a Secret Santa and drinks afterwards, another Christmas get together with hot chocolate, games and movies and then we hosted a dinner at our place followed by cookies on Sunday.

The Christmas season in Shanghai was really fun and festive and definitely got me in the mood for more. Tonight, we’re flying to Germany for some more holiday spirit and of course to celebrate Christmas with our families!

See you in 2020, Shanghai!

Shanghai Summer 2019

Shanghai Summer 2019

I haven’t posted anything in a while but that doesn’t mean nothing has been happening over here 🙂

Both Thorben and I started new jobs. We’re still at the same company and same location but in different roles. I stayed in the same department but started a new project in May. Thorben changed to a different role and division in July.

Summer is in full swing and it’s hot hot hot. We already had a week filled with 36 and 37 degree weather, see the obligatory screenshot below. Now it’s “cooled down” to 33 degrees with a balmy 27 at night, so it’s still quite sweaty. I’m loving the inventor of the air conditioner more than ever.

Typhoon Lekima got a lot of coverage here as it got pretty close to Shanghai last weekend. We had a couple of days with a lot of wind and rain but thankfully, we were not affected a lot. There was some flooding and lots of leaves and little branches in the street but otherwise Shanghai got lucky. I just used the days inside to catch up with Harry Potter, which I’ve been re-reading (for the 8th time probably) since July.

On the travel front, we went to Kuching in June and each had to go on a business trip to Germany. We’re lucky we can usually combine business with seeing friends and family, so it still feels like fun trips, even without vacation time.

Other than that, there were birthday parties, a few GGI events for me, archery for Thorben, and we helped a couple of people move. Sadly, a few friends left Shanghai this summer, so we went to some farewells as well.

Of course there is always a lot going on food-wise: Marlyn cooked some Indonesian food for us  – or mostly instructed Thorben what to do ;). We had a nice dinner with yummy things of which I forgot all the names.

Also, we cooked, had people over for dinner and went out to eat a bunch. As always, I’ve neglected to take pictures of people because I’m too focused on the food 🙂 So here’s a little, okay a big, food picture selection.

Celebrating Eid in Kuching

Celebrating Eid in Kuching

Last week, it was Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan, the fasting month many Muslims observe. Syuke, a friend of ours, invited us to celebrate the holiday with him in his hometown Kuching. We’d been talking about going to Kuching for a while, so this was the perfect opportunity to visit.

Dressing in style

Syuke explained to us that typically you buy something new to wear for the first day of Eid. He mostly wears the traditional clothes during festivities like Eid and weddings. His family chose to wear green for the first day. During our visit, we saw that many families were wearing matching colors.

He lent some clothes to Thorben to wear as well, see the efforts it took to properly put them on below and the final result 🙂 I didn’t have any special outfit, I just tried to dress modestly and cover up to be respectful.

Open Houses

Over the course of 2 1/2 days, Syuke took us to 7 open houses hosted by various family members and friends. At each open house, people come together to enjoy lots of good food and cakes. Our first open house was right after getting off the plane. Everyone was super friendly and welcoming, it was really a pleasure to meet so many nice people and enjoy this special holiday with them.

One of Syuke’s friends is a baker and has been baking non-stop for the past 2 months to make all the beautiful cakes for Eid. They looked too pretty to eat but she insisted, so what could we do? 🙂 Understandably, all cakes were completely sold out, so I couldn’t bring any back.

Here is a little selection of pictures from 6 of the open houses and all the amazing Malay food and cakes.

Our first Eid was so much fun and it was so interesting to try all the food and talk to so many of Syuke’s relatives and friends. We’re very lucky to have such a diverse group of friends and be able to make these experiences with them!

In case anyone was wondering, I have not stepped on the scale since coming back – but whatever it says, it was worth it 😉