Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ikea: the Target of Beijing

This is the story of my life when it comes to Target. And I will have this same experience, repeatedly over the same summer when I am back in the states visiting. I just can't stop myself.

Here in Beijing, we don't have Target (obviously, but still sad face). However, I have found my Target replacement. Now, I have loved Ikea for a great deal of my life. Everything I had in my parent's house was from Ikea. We took yearly pilgrimages to Ikea just outside of Chicago because Ikea is too cool for Iowa. So I had to stop at Ikea for a few things the other day, and since no one goes to Ikea in Beijing alone- it's a safety in numbers thing- I took along my friend Jolene. This is what happened:

As a result of our trip, this is our new Ikea slogan.
"Ikea: where you can find all kinds of shit you didn't even know you needed until you saw it, and then couldn't live without it."
Anyone else have a store like that? What is it? Not that I need help finding new ways to spend money, but still. 
Where do you always find things you can't live without?

Friday, December 16, 2011

'Tis the season to eat cookies...

I found these at the grocery store ages ago (could be like two weeks, but anything longer than two days ago becomes ages ago in my memory). 

I remembered them when I needed to make something for a holiday party. What is one of the classic holiday cookies? Peanut Butter Blossoms. NOM NOM NOM! I remember eating these like a sugar addict as soon as the Hershey's Kisses started to get all glossy and melty. Oh, the chocolaty-peanut buttery bliss. How could I improve on these classics? MAKE THEM MINI SIZED! I had mini kisses, so of course I had to make mini cookies. And the result? Mega delicious!
Extra bonus: you don't need to unwrap all those kisses! They aren't encased foil like their big brothers. Here's how you make these miniature pieces of glory.

1/2 cup shortening
2/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated (caster) sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Extra granulated sugar 
Hershey's Mini Kisses- about 1/2 bag is what I ended up using

1. Beat together peanut butter and shortening. 
2. Beat in sugars until combined. 
3. Mix in egg, milk, and vanilla until well combined. 
4. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
5. Gradually add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture, mixing well after each addition.
6. Take out your teaspoon and scoop out teaspoons of the dough (they are miniature, remember), roll them into balls.
7. Roll the balls into the extra granulated sugar.

8. Place sugar rolled balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. 
9. Bake for 7-10 minutes at 350 degrees fahrenheit or until light brown. 
10. Upon removing from oven, take one mini kiss and press it into the warm cookie.

11. Cool cookies for a few minutes on pan and transfer to wire rack to cook completely.
12. ENJOY! 

Must Have Cookie Cutter

When friends and I were walking around some markets here in Beijing, I stumbled upon this gem of a cookie cutter. I immediately snatched it up; as it gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling of home. No, my parents are not farmers, no, I have never raised pigs; but pigs and corn will always remind me of Iowa. 

I have no idea when I am going to need to make pig-shaped cookies. But it's nice to know that I can, whenever I feel like it. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hello Winter

So winter has begun to arrive. It's officially snowed a few times now and the temperature has consistently dropped. I know, from the above picture it just looks like I painted the picnic table, however, I assure that is not what happened. It was actual snow. And it melted by the end of the day. However, now it's started to get legitimately cold, -8 celsius(I know all of you Midwesterners are laughing at my low tolerance). But let me ask you this; how many of you bike to work? That's that I thought. I am all for bundling up, but not for biking through the cold and wind. And man, is it WINDY here! Phew! I thought it was windy at UNI, but it is actually windier here. Or at least it feels like it when I'm biking. Even when I'm all bundled up. I am supremely bundled, see? (sorry for the bad quality, but it was taken in my camera phone, which may or may not have had some snow on it)

So, I started taking a taxi to school this week. The Iowa girl in me laughs at how silly I am being about the cold. The-living-in-Cairo-for the-last-three-years girl in me can't believe I lasted this long. So, my beloved bright green bike will have to be retired until the weather gets warmer. Sorry girl, but I just can't take the cold. I'll see you again in March. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Week and a Half of Mayhem

So I'm a teacher, you know, tiny people, shaping lives, all that jazz. And its the end of the semester, which means that we've got reports due (one page narratives for each little gnome I have in my room) and that means that my desk, brain, and life look like this:

A big, blurry, confused mess. Luckily I've just finished writing my reports and have entered them into out fabulous grading system, so freedom is mine once again.

Since I was so busy, you are just going to have to be content with photos and small captions. Deal?
Good talk.

Recently, I don't even remember when, I watched Love Actually and put up my Christmas tree. (thanks to my mate, Carly, for that fabulous idea!) I love that movie.  And I love having a real tree that is not made of paper and adheared with sticky-tak to our wall.  So here's my first legit tree since movin' abroad. 

(insert oooh and ahh here now)

2 Christmases ago, I was in India and I picked up this glorious textile. I've been carrying it around with me since I purchased it. I had it framed here in Beijing and it was just delivered. I love the way it turned out! So glad it turned out well and I can't wait to hang it, or rather call someone larger and stronger with proper tools to hang it. Must to that soon. 

After three days of ordering out so that I could get my reports sorted, we needed some greenery in our tummies. I'm all for splurging, but there is only so many carbs one can take before exploding. (PB might disagree, but I make the call on food, so he has no say in this matter) So tonight, PB hopped in the kitchen and became a vegetable chopping machine, so that we could enjoy a lovely chicken salad with peanut-soy dressing. Recipe to follow, when I'm not feeling so lazy. 
My apologies, but a girl has to catch up on her TV shows, after all!