Showing posts with label Shenzhen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shenzhen. Show all posts

Monday, November 30, 2020

A Real Hawaiian Christmas Tree

This year we treated ourselves to a real live Hawaiian Christmas tree!

We have been living abroad since April of 2015 and every Christmas we have decorated. Apartment living, especially in Asia, means small spaces. Small spaces = small decorations. Like most things, we have made the most of it. 

Here's a look at some of our Christmas decorations over the years...

Shenzhen, China 2015 - hand-me-downs from another expat on her way out of Shenzhen. 

Hong Kong 2016 - a little upgrade with the added poinsettia!

Hong Kong 2017 - upgraded our tree to a mini live branch, haha. We had a lot of presents because Grant and Georgia were both visiting that year. I don't remember where the green light came from??

Hong Kong 2018 - Not sure this is an upgrade since it's fake, but it did have lights. I bought this tree from someone who was leaving Discovery Bay and posted in the neighborhood "things for sale" group. The upgrade would definitely be the two new ornaments from Devan and Georgia (which were too heavy for our tiny tree, haha).

Kailua 2019 - another pre-lit tiny tabletop tree, but we upgraded to also hanging lights on the lanai. I always loved having lights on the house at Christmastime.

Kailua 2020 - Meet Norton, our Norfolk pine from Helemano Farms in Wahiawa. 

The day before Thanksgiving, we drove about 35 minutes from Kailua to Wahiawa. With COVID social distancing and regulations, we planned to be first in line when they opened so we could get in and out. We were second.

Helemano Farm had lots of trees. Fields and fields of baby trees not ready to be cut yet. The views with the mountains in the distance were stunning.

We wanted to find our perfect tree, so our guide led us past the pre-cut trees to the field where the mature trees were growing. 

We were told to look for the trees with the white tags - which meant they were 6 feet tall. The tags were in the middle of the tree, which was actually the bottom of what would be cut. We would be taking home the top.

After picking the best looking tree around, Daniel took about 5 seconds to cut it down. Then he carried it off to be wrapped and tied it to the top of our car. That's when we learned that we were his very first customers on his very first day! 

After stopping for lunch in Haleiwa on the North Shore, we finally got Norton home and unwrapped. Chris had to trim him a bit and wrap the base to make it fat enough to fit in the stand. Then we crossed our fingers that he would perk up and stand tall.

A few days later, I had picked up some real decorations (although still small because Norton is a delicate guy) and got to decorating. Fortunately Target, which is right around the corner from our apartment, had just what we needed for our little Hawaiian tree.

We also upgraded the lights on our lanai. I found some awesome solar lights on Amazon. They charge all day and come on as soon as it is dark enough. 

I am loving our tree and decorations this year.

How do you do Christmas?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Workouts are Better Together and Life Lately

One thing I love about my relationship with mrC is his willingness to workout with me. I tease him about being a crabby runner and make fun of his squat form, but I'm completely thrilled when he wants to join me.

Today we laced up our Mizunos (I wear Wave Horizon) for our version of a long run. We eased out the door just before 8:30 which is normally scary late around here. Scary late meaning that it would already be uncomfortably warm and humid. Instead we found 75 degrees and lower humidity.

I love when the weekend weather cooperates for run day. When we first headed out it was cloudy, but about half way through our 4.5 miles, the sun peeked out. Normally this would make us start melting, but the weather was so nice today, it didn't bother us at all. We even had our best hill runs!

After our run, we packed up our pool bag and hung out at Club Sienna until lunch time. For a beautiful Saturday, it wasn't crowded at all while we were there. We had views of Central (and part of our running path), watched SUPers and Dragon Boaters in the water, and kept cool in the pool.

It felt good to sit back and relax after a couple of busy days.

On Thursday, I headed into Central for Bunco Happy Hour hosted by the American Women's Association. I had never played before, but it was super easy and I earned the Bunco crown three times! I also won a prize for having the most Baby Buncos. Someone told me my ladybug tee brought me good luck! I don't know, but I had a ton of fun!

On Friday, mrC and I took the ferry to Shenzhen for the day. We said farewell to some friends who are leaving China and returning to the states. We walked around our old neighborhood, Shekou, to see what has changed. Since an hour long massage is only about $25USD, we took advantage before meeting some friends for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

Tomorrow is Dragon Boat Race day at Tai Park Beach here in Discovery Bay, kicking off Dragon Boat Festival which is Tuesday. We're planning to see the action up close for the first time, so check back to see how it went.

Do you run/workout with you spouse/significant other?
Have you played Bunco?
How often would you get a massage if it was only $25?


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mobility Exercise, Plank Stretching and Chocolate Almond Banana Protein Shake

My plan to sleep late on fast day did not work. I'd rather sleep through as many hours of fasting as I can, but my body has a mind of its own.

Since I was up, I had some time to read back issues of Women's Running magazine. There's a great article in the June edition about issues with mobility and stability that can lead to injuries. Even though I'm not running right now, I think I still have issues affecting my stride even when I'm just walking.

I took the four part test and failed the outer hips portion. Honestly this didn't surprise me since Dr. Steve has been adjusting my hips and knees once a week for the past month. The mobility exercise is to get into the glute muscle with a ball. Just one of my favorite past times lately.

After working on the ball and foam roller, I did my planking challenge of the day: a nice easy yoga plank stretch variation. Walk out to upward facing dog 8 times. Nice and easy for fast day. I liked that.

Sundays can be kind of quiet around here, so I made plans for mrC and I to visit OCT-LOFT (Overseas China Town; LOFT is an area of galleries, shops, and restaurants converted from old factories) on our way to church to pass some clicks of the clock. We went to see some photographs of old Shenzhen during the reform era that were on display at a little art gallery. The photos were of migrant workers/ farmers life from 1960-1980s. Shenzhen has changed so much in a short amount of time.

Before breaking fast, the only thing I had all day was water and coffee.

We stopped into a little health store near church and finally found some chocolate protein powder. And score for us, is was BOGO day.

Dinner: Chocolate Almond Banana Protein Shake and pb&j mini rice cakes
I've been dying to make a protein shake to break my fast. So many carb cycling group members seem to have great success with it. 


1 medium banana
2 tbsp Greek yogurt
1 tbsp almond butter
1/2 cup almond milk
1 scoop chocolate protein powder

It was delicious but much higher in calories than I expected. I can probably eliminate the yogurt (which would also make it dairy free) and add more ice to keep it a little on the thicker side the way I like. 

Snacks: some cheetos, cheese and crackers, and strawberries 
I don't know what happened tonight, but I suspect that I didn't drink enough water today. Plus, when I know there are strawberries in the fridge...


I can't beat myself up for over-eating. It's a setback, not a failure.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Men on Mountains

Today China celebrated Qingming Festival, Tomb-Sweeping Day. This is the day the Chinese show respect to their ancestors.

Chinese schools were closed and many companies have the day off. While many of the SWIC hiking ladies enjoyed an extra day home with their spouses, some of the ladies brought their husbands to hike Nanshan today.

The weather heading up the mountain was sticky. It actually sprinkled a little when we left the apartment, but it didn't help any. Climbing the equivalent of 60 floors was tough in today's humidity.

Speaking of tough, I watched The Barkley Marathons documentary on Netflix. This is the craziest, most brutal race I've ever seen. 

Whenever we go to Hong Kong, we make it a point to cruise through the grocery store at the mall where we catch the ferry back to the mainland. Since we were there multiple times last week, I got to check it out a little more closely. Apple cinnamon rice cakes with pb & jelly used to be one of my favorite snacks. I was super excited to find some apple flavored rice cakes in the baby foods aisle and bought 5 bags (they're small). It's so nice to not have to eat plain rice cakes.

It is believed that the weather will turn nice after Qingming Festival. Almost appropriately, the storms moved through this afternoon. Watching the visibility drop from the 11th floor is quite something. We can normally see Hong Kong across Shenzhen Bay.

Back home in the US, I'm hoping for beautiful spring weather for all the Reds fans heading out to Opening Day. I wish I could be there again this year.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Friday 5 {a little late}

Whew! What a busy week. I love when the week is full of activity and wears me out, but I miss checking in on the blog and sharing my adventures.

So since I'm a little behind (with zero posts) this week, I thought I would pick my top 5 moments to share:

Nanshan Hike - Mountain Monday was rained out and became Massage Monday for me (and oh my muscles needed that massage!). On Tuesday a couple of us made up the rain out and headed up the mountain. It was cold and gray, but we had a good time chatting and climbing. Nanshan Mountain peak has had a bit of a trim, so the views are now unobstructed and will be nice on a clear day.

Interval Runs - I did two 30 minute interval runs this week, giving myself more non-running days in-between. The first one was on the treadmill using my phone with the Nike app. The goal is time with a slow and easy pace. It was a good workout.

For my second run, I felt it was time to run outside again. I've been nervous about my knee "giving out" again, but the runs on the treadmill have boosted my confidence. This time I used my Nike watch. I kept the same routine: 5 minute WU, 3:2 run/walk, and 5 minute CD. It was another good interval run. I think the longer break between runs was a good idea.

Booya Skinny Jean Workout - I'm constantly looking for leg workouts because I still need to re-build the strength in my left quad, but I've also noticed that my pants are fitting a little snug lately. This was a GREAT workout. There's still time to enter the Booya Fitness Valentine's Day Challenge and win prizes for doing this workout. You can't lose! (sign up here)

Yoga Camp - I'm still enjoying my 30 days of yoga and it's because of how good the poses make me feel. I'm also loving the variety and when practice matches up with Instagram challenges.

Flower Market - Some friends asked me to join them on a trip to the Dutch Flower Market in Shenzhen on Friday. It worked out perfectly for me since YogaLife is closed for the Chinese New Year and it was a perfectly gorgeous day. We enjoyed a couple of hours of walking through the rows and rows of vendors selling flowers (obvs.), Chinese New Year decorations, and animals of varying kinds (birds, hamsters, bunnies, cats, fish, turtles).

A couple more things worth sharing:

A great article about facing the struggles of workout blahs: When workouts go bad: How I knew it was time to breakup with my workout.

Good tips for all us (ahem) over-40 runners and those who are close: 4 Things Over-40 Runners Do

I love quick little killer workouts that are fun too --> like this one: Cardio Dance Party

How was your week?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Shenzhen International 6K Recap

Getting into races in China is not easy. It took me six months to find a race, register (in English) for the lottery, and be accepted (after first being denied). The whole process was as foreign to me as I am to China!

Photo taken by my friend Adele

Let me start from the beginning...

Registration for the Shenzhen International Marathon opened only 5 weeks before the actual race date and was a lottery. For three days, runners had a chance to sign up for the marathon, half marathon or 6K. For runners doing one of the big races, I guess you just train and cross your fingers! 

I found out about the race from a friend who saw it in the newspaper and emailed me the link. I was in the US with mrC at the time, so after working out the time difference, I hovered over my keyboard until the clock ticked 9PM and the website opened for registration. It took about three tries to enter all of my information for the 6K and submit it successfully. I was caught off guard with questions asking my blood type, my passport number, and PayPal account to pay (no credit cards! what??).

A week later the lottery results were issued. When I checked my account, it said that I "lost the lot." I was bummed. A couple of weeks later I went back to the website to check on my refund and discovered that I had "won the lot!" 

Packet Pick-up:
I found out about packet pick-up the day before the race when I was researching how to get there.

mrC and I took the 40 minute metro ride to Civic Center Square to pick-up my race materials. The pick-up area looked like any typical race: a large tent with numerous windows for each event manned by volunteers. We approached one of the 6K windows and were greeted by young smiling Chinese volunteers who spoke no English, but indicated that I needed a form, which I did not have. After a few minutes, a volunteer who spoke some English was located, and he pointed me in the right direction to get my form, at a different window.

After showing my passport and a screen shot of my "won the lot" registration page, I was given my Race Articles Collection Sheet and sent back to the 6K windows to pick-up my bib and other race goodies. What I did NOT get was a disposable timing chip; only marathon and half marathon runners would be officially timed.

Although the Civic Center Square is a huge place, we did not see any indication of an expo.

Race Day:
We arrived at the race about 40 minutes before the start to discover that the Civic Center Square was for runners only. mrC wished me luck and sent me through the security check point to find my way to the start line on my own.

Once I was inside the runner's area, I took a moment to look around and then followed the mob going in the direction of the starting corrals. I knew the corrals were lined up by event: marathon, half marathon, 6K. What I didn't know was how hard it would be to walk to that last corral!

While waiting in the corral, runners all around me were waving and yelling at helicopters that flew over, holding up their flags and balloons, and taking lots and lots of pictures. A friendly Chinese girl took a photo for me and then we started moving. Ten minutes to get to the starting line.

The first half mile of the race was in slow motion. There were SO MANY people and almost impossible to RUN. Finally the crowd started to spread out, but I still came upon large groups running together blocking the whole course, runners stopping to take photos of EVERYTHING including other runners, and walkers.

Photos taken by my friend Adele

After crossing the finish line, we were herded off to the side of the runner's area to claim our bag of finishers goodies including a medal.

There was a lot of post race activity inside the runners only area including a place to get stretched out and what looked like sponsor booths. Some Chinese drummers were performing on a stage. I didn't hang around since mrC was stuck waiting outside for me.

There were 25,000 total runners, and 9,000 ran the 6K. I've run in bigger events, but always with pace corrals which really do make a difference (even if people pace themselves incorrectly). I've seen runners dress up in crazy outfits, but this was the first time I've seen the big flags and balloons carried like a parade. It was crazy, but it was fun.

Pictures: here

Video of the race:

Thursday, May 7, 2015

6 Days in China and I Climbed a Mountain

It is hard to believe that we've only been in China for 6 days because it feels like so much more.

Here's what we've been up to...

Day 1:
We arrived very early on Saturday morning and proceeded to sleep most of the day after making our way from Hong Kong to Shenzhen via a ferry. Four suitcases, two taxis, and one employee from the company to see us to the hotel. We were quite the spectacle at the ferry terminal.

Day 2:
After sleeping in on Sunday, we explored Shekou, the Shenzhen district that we will be living in, and randomly met an expat from NEW HAMPSHIRE (of all places!) on the sidewalk who generously showed us around and shared a ton of tips with us. We ended up at Happy Hour with her and the wife of mrC's coworker.

Day 3 & 4:
We spent two days apartment hunting and finally found one we can move into this weekend. I attended my first women's group called SWIC, Shenzhen Women's International Club. The energy is a lot like my MRTT group, so I'm really excited to get involved. We also attended a very traditional Chinese dinner hosted by mrC's boss.

Day 5:
I completed my residency permit physical at the Shenzhen Hospital and then we opened a bank account. We explored the grocery scene and took notes on which stores have items we like and the prices.

Day 6:
mrC had to work, so I ventured out for the first time solo and climbed a mountain! The Nanshan Mountain is located just down the road from our hotel and is a very popular daily activity for expats. SWIK actually has a hiking group that climbs it every Monday.

The 363 meter climb is mostly steps all the way to the top. Fortunately for me, there were plenty of places to sit and rest, or to stop and take in the views. The breeze today wasn't the best, but there was some and it felt amazing because at 84 degrees with soupy-doupy humidity, it's HOT!

At the top there is a very interesting two-story viewing tower (failed to get pic of tower, bleh!) with amazing views of Shekou.  It was fun to try to figure out what I was looking out from way up high. I'm pretty sure that's Hong Kong across the bay and one of the buildings on the left side of the small bay of water is our new home.

So, I haven't yet had a chance to go for a run and I'm still trying to figure out how that will look. It is seriously warm and humid here! I'm hoping that once we are in the apartment which is on the water, I will find a breeze there for a nice morning run.

What do you do when you can't run?