Christmas in January

Well, it’s been quite the holiday here in Shanghai, hence the lack of posting. Now it’s time to catch-up!

We had one office holiday party to go to which was at a lovely old building here in Shanghai with wonderful food, but before the dinner the American contingent got to experience a favorite Chinese past time:

Karaoke! Mark's admin is on the right. She has a great voice.

We heard everything from old revolutionary songs that the older people knew (the tunes were quite fun, actually!) to more modern Chinese music, and the Beatles which is in English so that we could take a turn, being the good sports that we are.

We needed to look for one more bed for Meredith to sleep on as Shanghai Centre couldn’t provide us with a roll-away, so we headed to Wall-mart in the hopes of finding a blow-up mattress. We actually found one, but not a pump that would fit that particular mattress. Not being too keen on using lung power, we decided to opt for the Chinese version of extra bedding which are slim foldable mattresses. Quite convenient, actually.

We found a few other items as well, at the Chinese Wal-Mart that you won’t see in the American Wal-Mart.

We thought we'd look for the ever illusive star for our tree top in the Christmas decoration section, which we found, along with these colorful hot water bottles. I often use hot water bottles in my decorating scheme at Christmas don't you?

They sell a lot of food at Chinese Wal-Mart like aisles of candy and excessively fried chicken

And Chinese favorites like dried pig ears and...

Pig noses! Try some of these thinly sliced, as appetizers at your next holiday party, with a sprig of parsley.

The first evening Andy and Al tried to stay awake at a new production of the Hunchback of Notre Dame

It was at the brand new theatre with the fancy moving stage.

There’s always a long list of things you’re not supposed to do that is read before performances, as Chinese people don’t have a lot of experience with appropriate theater behavior. The list varies from theater to theater and some of them are kind of funny–no children under 3 feet, no gum chewing, no slippers (?)! People still try to take photographs during performances, but there are attendants who are watching for such behavior and when the offender is spotted, they will walk up the aisle to their seat with a brightly lit neon sign that reads “no photographs” and point it at the person!

This theatre was very serious about cell phone use during the performance. If they caught you using your cell phone, they pointed a red laser pointer at a you!

When I last left you Brooke and Tina and arrived. Here's Al holding up the sign for Ben

Christmas Eve and the family is complete

We spent the day unsure if Ben was getting in at 6:30pm or 11:30 pm as flight tracker was saying his plane had switched course and landed in Alaska! But the airline was insisting the plane was on time, so we went with that. Apparently they did change course slightly, but there was no Alaska landing.

Luckily he landed in time for us to go to “midnight” mass at 9pm in between the Korean and French masses at St. Peter’s.

Christmas morning we had our traditional cinnamon buns with a Chinese addition of passion fruit on the side

Not quite as good as the real deal as I had to make them by hand, rather than in the bread machine and then cram them all in to my tiny convection oven which doesn’t heat the same through-out. So some of them weren’t entirely cooked. But enough of them were!

The girls waited patiently to open presents. Brooke and Tina are sporting the new sweaters they bought at the fake market the day before

Ben's trying to recapture days of old when he could sit on Al's lap

Some gift highlights--real vintage disco shirts from Meredith to her brothers

Al got several much needed chopstick training aids from Kelly

Andy knows the way to his mother's heart--ghirardelli brownies which aren't available here.

While I was putting the final touches on dinner, the girls went out exploring--this is the trampoline at Shanghai Centre

One more Christmas tree--made out of bottles of alcohol!

Under Shanghai Centre, looking towards the hotel. The escalators go down into City Shoppe, the grocery store. Our apartment is off to the right, out of view.

City girls

Time for dinner! This is the roast beast, aka a standing rib roast.

I got this from a French butcher who according to my on-line searches is supposed to have the best meat in Shanghai. He didn’t have it when I went to his shop, Les Garcons Bouchers (at 31 Yongkang Lu in the French Concession), but it was delivered to our door the next day!

Was it really great meat? Probably. It was cooked a little more than I had hoped. I’m still having trouble knowing how to use the convection oven (although I do seem to have brownies down pat!) I used a recipe from Paula Deen where you cook it for an hour, then turn off the oven for 3 and reheat for a half an hour or so without ever opening the door the whole time. But the recipe was for a 5 pound roast in a regular oven, and I had a bigger roast so I thought I should make some adjustments for size and the convection oven and perhaps I adjusted too much! I do think it’s a clever way to make a roast though.

The rest of the feast

Luckily for us the stores don't close in Shanghai on Christmas and Mark and Ben were able to go out and get a replacement adapter for the Christmas present that Ben brought us.

A Xbox 360! What a blast! Even Al danced

Andy and I dancing--he beat me by a mile!

Quite the couple, don't you think?

The final showdown: Ben vs Andy. An incredible battle and a breathtaking finish: Tied!

And an amusing song since Ben currently has extremely short hair due to a hair cutting accident.

Al found the competition exhausting

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About DECRYPTKNIT: knitter on the loose in Shanghai

Hi, I'm Marisa Newhouse, a former pharmacist (for a brief time during the Reagan administration) who's real calling was probably anything that has to do with cooking, plants, literature and especially knitting; hence my last and favorite job, working at Woolyminded, a wonderful yarn store. But now, I have moved half a world away to Shanghai where my husband will be working. Lots of people are interested in what we will be doing here and I have always kept journals of our travels, so I thought I'd do it the modern way and keep a blog.
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