Wednesday, September 26, 2012

first baking adventures

 Last night found me home alone as B went to attend a meeting, which went much longer than we thought it would. But it turned out okay because I caught the baking bug and distracted myself with whisking together my first baked good since living in our apartment. Along the way I realized that I had neither measuring cups or measuring spoons, or baking powder. Undaunted, I pressed on. Here is the aftermath, with the tools I used:

I don't have an electric mixer so I just used a fork and pure muscle power. The mug on the right is my "measuring cup," from which I just eyeballed. The spoon on the left is an odd hand-me-down from somewhere and is labeled "15 SPOON." I have no idea what that means but it looked like a tablespoon to me, so that's how I used it!

I am so thankful for this oven. It's SO Taiwanese but my aunt gave it to me so I'm just glad I didn't have to go buy one!

I made lemon blueberry bread. The product of my labors didn't turn out very pretty but it still tasted good! Although I will probably use baking powder next time (I used soda instead). I was also happy that I was able to find yellow lemons at the store. All last year I never saw a yellow lemon, only green limes (and they are called by the same name in Chinese), and I don't think lime zest would have been quite the same for this recipe.

Excited to try out the oven again (and also at trying recipes with ingredients and materials I can actually find in Taiwan), this morning I decided to make this quiche (with some modifications) for B's dinner since I will be out for a baby shower on Thursday. There's a lot more butter in this than I would like there to be, but I figured I would make him a treat since I wasn't going to be home til later in the evening. I am very happy with how it turned out!!

Anyhow, this is definitely not going to be a food blog ever, but I just wanted to share how happy I am to be baking again even with the scarcity of supplies and materials at the moment. Given the inefficiency of American baking customs when living in Taiwan, it IS a challenge, but one that I'll gladly take on when given the opportunity. :)

Monday, September 24, 2012


photo source*

After a full three days, B and I took some time to relax in our room together and talk about the recent events of the weekend. Our conversation turned toward our few acquaintances in Khh and the community of which "outskirts" we hang around. In retrospect (and if you had been a fly on the wall), it seems rather elementary to have talked about so-and-so and how we think they like us, but at the time, in our weary and somewhat dispirited minds it was a comfort to think of people we even just met as friends. In the last few weeks our world seems to have shrunken a bit as the steady, slow plodding of our schedules set in and the touch of loved ones back in MD seems fading. We remind ourselves (and are reminded) that we are not alone, and we press on in hopes of finding the Faithfuls and the Hopefuls on our pilgrim's progress. And above all, our hopes are set on the goodness and faithfulness of our God, Who never leaves us or forsakes us.

His mercies are new every morning.

Friday, September 21, 2012

small victories: Highway

Photo Credit*
Today I took the highway to school for the first time.

When we first moved in, B made sure I had a car and a GPS so I could make my way safely to school each day on my own. But the GPS never told me to go on the highway -- we figured since the on and off ramps to both places were not technically "on the way."

But taking the highway was SO much better.

I didn't have to deal with narrow streets, traffic lights every other 200 meters, bicyclists, mopeds, other cars parked by the road where there is no shoulder, roadwork detours, or giant 14-wheelers coming at me from the opposite direction and halfway in my lane. After driving on these kinds of roads for over a month, what really started to get to me were the amount of red lights. What could have taken me 12 minutes was taking me 30 minutes with constant stop and go while waiting for the lights to change. Plus I always felt super stressed that I was going to hit something (I did hit a parked car's rearview mirror but luckily our mirror folds in so it took the brunt of the impact) or something was going to hit me. I was about ready to pull my hair out!

So I took the highway today. And even though the distance may be longer, I have no qualms because it gets me there in the same amount of time, if not less. NO red lights, NO parked cars, NO dastardly scooters, and NO giant oncoming trucks. Plus it's better for our car and fuel mileage because I am not always alternating on the gas and brake pedals all the time.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Here We Are

When our alarms sound in the mornings, they are usually accompanied by the call of a rooster crowing somewhere nearby. (In fact, the rooster doesn't just crow in the mornings. He crows at any time of the day or night, whenever he feels the need to assert his dominance.) The water that runs through our tap is neither cold nor hot, but usually comes out lukewarm, and only the shower faucet is connected to the water heater. I usually make breakfast for B before he goes to school, and if I am at home, around 9 or 10 in the morning, the rooster is joined by sounds of a recorder or an ocarina piping melodies through our windows. We leave our windows open to let the breezes through and keep our place cooler since we only have one A/C unit in the bedroom. I imagine many of our neighbors do the same, for I often hear instrument practice during the course of the day. The first day we met Yang buo buo, he was carrying an er hu--and I still hear him practicing, in spite of his partial deafness due to old age. It cheers me to think of him spending his retired life happily playing music. If we go to throw out our trash in the evenings, I often hear the sounds of piano practice floating through other apartments, and it makes me nostalgic for all the hours I spent practicing similar pieces back at home on our little spinet when I was young.

Apparently today was a big day for bai bai, as we heard the pops of firecrackers in the morning and evening, and the smell of incense burning filled our stairwell when I went up to the roof to hang up our comforter to sun. There are always temples nearby, but because we live in a community, thankfully they aren't near enough for us to hear the echoing of ritual music reverberating in our ears.

Today in church I was reminded that we are here not just to do our work, get good grades, or have a good time. We are here because of the Gospel. Our life change should reflect the redemption of our Messiah, and bring people to Jesus.

I need life change.
Pray that our lives will be like strains of beautiful music that when people hear, they will be drawn to the greatest Musician.

Pics of our apartment!

Living room. Our pillows don't match but they are functional (and they were gifts from people)!

Eating area plus pantry

My vintage kitchen. Including 80's style tiling. Pretty spacious for Taiwan!

B's study room

Our bedroom. The piano needs tuning.

We had some friends over this weekend for a potluck! It was yummy. Plus my pink Tatung pot can be seen at the right corner there :)
 Friends and family: Come visit! :D

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

weekend getaway

Last week was the 4-week mark of our marriage – it’s hard to believe that we’ve already been married a month! But on the other hand, since so much has happened in these 4+ weeks, it feels like we’ve been married for forever.

To celebrate our “luniversary” and the finish of B’s first month of med school summer classes, we took a weekend getaway to Kending. It was so fun to be able to hop in our car (which has been affectionately dubbed Lance) and drive the 2.5ish hours to the beachy southern coast (with a GPS of course—the roads are nearly impossible to navigate in Taiwan, to the foreigner).

I love the part on the drive down where one can suddenly see the ocean running parallel to the road. God blessed us with a lovely sunset scene where we stopped by the side of the road to take a picture!

Had to get a pic of our trusty Lance

We stayed at the Formost, one of the more “budget” hotels in Kending but passable in terms of cleanliness. To the Westerner, it might seem a bit grungy at first, with the musty smell and the old mosquito-net-like drapery over the bed, plus the small bathroom that also doubled as a shower. But B said it was a step up from our own home, since the A/C didn’t clunk and the bathroom tiling was updated and clean. I appreciated his positivity.

Our room for 2 nights

Excited to grub at the nightmarket, we searched for favorites among the stands, and found new ones too. I think my favorite find that night were the sweet potato fries.

The next morning we hit White Sands Beach, which was actually about a 15 minute drive from where we were staying. It is probably one of the nicest beaches at Kending, and people can even camp there! Their outdoor bathroom/shower facilities were new and clean, too. 

Picnic/food booth/bar/resting area
Hello, beach!
 After the beach we decided to explore a bit so we drove around to the East coast (it only took 20 minutes or so) to look for good hiking spots. Unfortunately typhoon Tembin hit the eastern shores pretty badly and we passed evidence of landslides and the beaches were full of debris. 

More adventurous people looking at the debris and the muddied waters
 But we were able to visit the southernmost tip of Taiwan, and see the lighthouse that guarded its shores. 

At the Southernmost tip!
Lighthouse at Erluanbi

Even though torn up by landslides, the panorama of the Eastern coast was beautiful
Right behind us is a huge cliff-like dropoff!
 The rest of our time there was basically a repetition of the same activities to varying degrees. It was such a fun, relaxing trip to get away from daily life and enjoy the beauties of God’s creation. Can’t wait to go back again!

This was SO GOOD. Ice cream inside two pancake-like cakes!