Sunday, September 26, 2010


One thing I'm beginning to discover here is that very frequently we are forced to play MacGyver.

Which can be very difficult since I am horrendous when it comes to anything with pieces. You can give me a square peg and a square hole and i can't figure out what to do with it. Unless it's a puzzle. I'm good at those.

Here, in the land of foreign everything: foreign language, foreign stores, foreign mops, we find it difficult to solve some problems that either wouldn't exist, or be very easy to fix in the States. The upside is that we are getting very very creative. The past couple weeks we have become excellent problem solvers: (I actually shouldn't say 'we.' Brian was an excellent problem solver already)

- Apartment door sticks and you have no idea how to find WD40 or call the landlord: hit it with olive oil
- No dryer in the apartment: buy extra large hangers
- Windows incredibly dirty on the outside: use a mop through the window
- Mop is apparently missing a critical piece that holds it together: use a miscellaneous hook that you find in the apartment
- No bucket: fill up the sink and use a mesh trash can to carry around the mop
- Sink won't hold water: use a garbage bag around the drain plug
- When you can't get the drain plug to open again after you've used the trash bag: call in Brian. He took the whole thing apart piece by piece and fixed it. Eerily similar to an episode with a video camera....

We are settling into life quite nicely here. I can hardly believe it's been three weeks! The first week I think I walked around like I was in a coma. Culture shocked into numbness. Week 2 was full of trying to find everything: the nearest grocery store, the place to grab dinner, a place for hamburgers, how to get drinking water to the apartment. This week, week 3, is working on getting ourselves a routine.

I've made a few dinners at the apartment. This is the first dinner: bread crumb encrusted (read: burnt outside, pink inside) chicken drumsticks and broccoli/tomato pasta. You couldn't call it a success.

After that I've done a little research and gotten a little better. Brian told me about, which I discovered has some great recipes after I got over being offended. We had our first Chambers Family Dinner in China! Just like our first CFD in America, we had one visitor: Greg Kaeuper. Although it wasn't much, it sure tasted pretty darn good.

Blackened chicken
BLT salad
Cucumbers/tomatoes with ranch dressing
Sweet carrots
Blue Label Chimay
and brownies from the nearby supermarket
(i'll post a picture next blog)

Top 10 List of fun, favorable, or at least, feasible things:

1. We don't have an oven.
2. Number 1 rocked my china world. That, and the fact that i have 1.5 square feet of counter space in the kitchen, have dashed my dreams of pastry perfection. Well, and the fact that I didn't bring any of my kitchen supplies with me. I must admit that I was a bit of an optimist in thinking that I could accomplish such a feat. However, in response, I am simply changing my vision. Instead of pastry wonder, I am going to master cooking in a dutch oven on the stove. I want to introduce our new friends to american food and it's going to be delicious.
2. Pizza Hut is not good here.
3. Neither is all of the candy. Much of it is delightful. But not the candy that I received the other day. Everyone was excitedly gathered around someone who was passing out candy. When i was handed a wrapped piece I asked what it was.



i didn't eat it.

4. I went to the restroom the other morning 30 minutes after the work day started, expecting silent emptiness like in the US. Not so here! The women's bathroom on a workday morning is THE PLACE to be. Put in your contacts, brush your teeth, wash out your tea cup, brush your hair....
5. They have Soup Tuesday here. The company 'ayi', or cleaning lady, brings in homemade soup every tuesday and fills the cups of anyone who sets it out. Pretty nice. Except that one that i've had is not very delicious. Beans in water.
6. The language sometimes gives me headaches. Since I can't understand anything it's like have really loud white noise in the background.
7. Eggplant here is delicious. I was never the biggest fan of it before, but they know how to do it here!
8. There's a lunch place nearby called LoHao. It's organic and lunch is 12rmb. Which translates to about $1.25. Very inexpensive and pretty much everyone from the office goes.
9. The school that I can see outside my window is enjoyable to watch. The kids were doing group exercises today.

10. Some days in Beijing, like today, are incredible and absolutely gorgeous. Others, the pollution gets to be bad. But the upside is that the particles make for some breathtaking sunsets.

Write back and let me know how you're doing, I miss you guys!

Much love,


  1. Glad to see you guys improvising nicely. Keep sending the stories, I love reading them. Warmest regards.

  2. We are excited to hear of the upcoming Chambers Family Dinners with the dutch oven in the mix! Thanks for sharing the pics. Take Care.

    Terri, Jamie, & Jackson

  3. are funny. You're going to be the next blogger hit wonder...and I will call you my sister...much like I already so proudly do. Missing you guys :)


  4. Hey, Leah, Glad you're settling in and really enjoy your blog. Miss you guys!

    and PS. Thanks for the little surprise you left for me -- yes, they'll go to good use! haha!