Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Gingersnaps

Gingerbread is one of those trademark scents of Christmas. I found some molasses at Carrefour (a big chain store from France) a while ago, and bought it with Christmas in mind. The time has finally come, and yesterday I baked up a storm. I made about 7-8 dozen cookies, and there are only about 8 left after 24 hours. Granted I did take them to a party, but they seem to be a hit! Thy were soft and chewy, which is how cookies should ALWAYS be. I'm posting this recipe on here for anyone who wants to try and also so that I can look back at my blog to find it next year when I want to make them again (haha) since I'll probably lose the paper I wrote it on. So, Merry Christmas all, and enjoy some gingerbread if you get a chance!

Ingredients (makes about 4 dozen, I doubled it):
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup butter/margarine
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 c flour
Spices: ginger 1-2tsp, cinnamon 1 tsp, nutmeg 0.5 tsp
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Directions:
Mix together sugar, butter, eggs, and molasses
Sift together flour with spices, baking soda and salt, then add to other mixture
Roll into balls and roll in white sugar
Place on ungreased pan and flatten with a fork
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes
For best results, let cool on pan for a few minutes and then place on a wire rack or flip them over.


Merry Christmas!! 

Monday, December 22, 2008

InstaSnow!


When I was in Canada this summer, I came across a little container of fake snow in a museum gift shop. (Pictured next to my cool Christmas decorations).
It seemed like a fun thing, and since it's Christmas this week, I can finally use it! 
I tried it out last night, and was really pleased! It's a powder that reacts with water and expands to 100 times its original size (so I could make 2 gallons of snow with the amount I bought) and its look and texture are suprisingly similar to real snow! 
It's not cold, but is cool to touch and feels slightly wet. You can't make shapes out of it but you can squish it between your fingers and it will resume its original shape. 
It was fun to bring to class.  Some of my students could have played with it all afternoon! 

Apparently it's also used for decorations and indoor snowboarding places. It was worth my... however much I paid for it! It's been a lot of fun having Christmas
 parties, songs, and gift exchanges so far.  Tomorrow I'm off to Taipei for the rest of the week, and I'm looking forward to spending Christmas with my friends here. 
Some Christmas fun so far:
  • I've gotten 4 cards so far, 2 from Canada, one from a friend from Yuli, and one from one of my students. 
  • I've been teaching my church students "Away in a Manger" and "O Come all Ye Faithful" 
  • I saw a horse-drawn carriage yesterday on the streets of Yilan, which was part of a mall's Christmas promotion.
  • I sent my Christmas package home in record time last week.
  • I've been wearing a Christmas hat to class every day.



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some Pictures from the Thanksgiving Dinner

On November 30, our English Bible Study hosted an (American) Thanksgiving dinner. I know it's not the Canadian date, but you gotta celebrate when you can get the turkey! After much debate on where to get our turkey, the best option wasn't Costco (since we couldn't find an oven large enough to roast a frozen turkey), but from the Taiwan Turkey Association, which I didn't even know existed! Anyways, the price included everything you see in this picture and more. They mail the cooked turkey to you and you reheat it by roasting it on a spit. It also came with the charcoal, fire starters, matches, and even paper plates. Even though it wasn't exactly "Western flavor" it was quite good, and most of the people who came enjoyed it since they'd never eaten turkey before! We had a short program with singing before dinner, and over 70 people attended the dinner! Afterward we watched a movie (Evan Almighty) and had a great discussion/prayer time at the end. It was a great night! Go here if you want to see some pics from the Thanksgiving outreach!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I’m terrible at wrapping presents, so I’ll take the easy way out whenever possible. I really like gift boxes too!
2. Real or fake tree? I miss real trees, and going tree hunting with Tammy back in high school. Unfortunately, it’s just not plausible here in this tropical climate.
3. When do you put up a tree? Sometime in December, depending on my schedule.
4. When do you take it down? Lately, when I decorate for Chinese New Year!
5. Do you like eggnog? Oh my goodness, yes! I could drink it all year round! I also make a pretty good homemade eggnog.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Probably one of the board games our whole family would play together during the holidays
7. Hardest person to buy for? All the boys…
8. Easiest person to buy for? My sister, I don’t know why, but I always find tons of stuff for her. I’ve also been finding a lot of stuff for little Emily this year!
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, I have a beautiful handmade wooden one that Hope bought me last year, straight from Bethlehem! It’s beautiful!
10. Mail or email Christmas
 cards? Ermmmmmmm…
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I don’t remember…probably something from the dollar store.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, cartoon version
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Throughout the fall, so I can hopefully get stuff in the mail at a decent time!
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Candy someone gave me that I was able to divide and add to cards.
15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? We had a lot of traditional Christmas foods at home that I used to look forward to every year, like shrimp dip and cookies.
16. Lights on the tree? Why not, everywhere else in the house, too.
17. Favourite Christmas song? O Come, O Come Emmanuel or Angels We Have Heard on High (especially since it’s a great range for me!)
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I wish I could go home for Christmas one of these years, but it’s impossible since schools in Taiwan don’t get holidays then. This will be my 5th Christmas here.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? probably, but I won’t.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I used to have a mini angel on my mini tree, but it broke, so now I have a big star.
21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? One present on Christmas Eve, the rest on Christmas morning.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? People saying I “look like Santa” if I wear a festive red Christmas hat. Haha
24. Favourite for Christmas dinner? The typical turkey dinner…mmmm
25. Favourite Decorations? Poinsettias
26. What do you want for Christmas this year? A plane ticket home haha. I never know what to say. Stuff to read/watch/listen to? Pretty stuff? Stuff I can’t get in Taiwan.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Mackay

Last Thursday I went to the OPERA with some friends.  It was my first time at the opera, and I felt ever so cultured to be going....
The opera was about the life of George Leslie Mackay, who was the first protestant missionary to Taiwan. Incidentally, he was also Canadian! Here's the Wikipedia article about him if you want to know more.
One of the unique things about this show is that it's the first western style opera ever performed in Taiwanese! I think that's a big accomplishment in many of ways. First of all the Taiwanese language kind of takes a backseat to Mandarin in Taiwan, especially among the educated. In schools they speak and write Chinese. Taiwanese doesn't even really have a proper written system. It was transcribed by missionaries, and can be somewhat represented by Chinese characters, but it is mainly spoken by older people in Taiwan, as well as the working class, and by some young people in certain areas young people in southern Taiwan. Interest has been revived in recent years, but though most of my Taiwanese friends under 30 can understand Taiwanese,  they still prefer to use Mandarin to communicate, so often their parents will speak Taiwanese to them, and they'll answer in Chinese. Whew ok, that was a big tangent... back to the show!

Most of the opera was in Taiwanese, and the lead who played Mackay both spoke and sang in Taiwanese! It was amazing! I have not really seriously tried to learn much Taiwanese because it's a whole lot more difficult that Chinese! Instead of 4 tones there are something like 7 or 8! The acting was great, and the set was really cool. Unfortunately, the translation on the subtitles left much to be desired. There were a lot of English mistakes and grammatical errors, though we could still figure out the meaning.

The main reason I liked the show was because it was inspiring, and I related to it on so many levels. Not only was it great to learn about such an important figure in Taiwanese history, but it was challenging to me to see his dedication and love for Taiwan.  It was great to see the scenes when he was still adjusting to Taiwanese culture and meeting people. He mentioned his distaste for the rain, which I'm sure I've blogged about before and said "I never thought I'd miss the snow!" One of my favorite scenes was when he was making friends with a group of local children and trying to teach them English! It was really well done and hilarious!  

It came through that he was answering God's calling in obedience, though I wish the show would have highlighted it a little more. It did show some his accomplishments though, including pulling over 20,000 teeth (I guess SOMEONE counted), and founding schools and churches. In fact, the church I attend in Yilan was founded by him!  I really want to go out to Danshui sometime, where he lived, and revisit some of the historical sites and monuments related to him.