Thursday, October 11, 2012

Obsessing


Everything involving school lately...SUCKS

I have a tendency to obsess over things (I know its obsessing and my husband loves to remind me) and everything school related is my newest thing. I have work, which I am actually coping with better now and the regular classes, no big deal...but then I got 100 extra helpings of new shit to stress over. 

1. I need to find a practicum placement preferably between next January and May. 

This gives me the training I need to put to use the knowledge I have been collecting for the last year and a half. I want this practicum to be a real learning experience and something that will bolster my resume when it comes time for me to look for an internship after graduation. Yet, finding one has been difficult. No one is taking on practicum students right now and that ones that are taking them are NOT in Atlanta (not exactly the mental health hub). I can't and won't spend the money to stay in a totally new town for the 2-5 months this practicum will last so I am stuck in Atlanta. Unless anyone that reads this blog happens to have a spare bedroom and connections to any sort of marriage clinic/mental health facility :) 

In addition, the places that have gotten back to me want to know when I can come in for a F2F...December 21st? Yeah...no. No one considers Skype or any other video chat...you can't come in for a face to face, you are NOT a candidate. Awesome.

2.   Either the USPS or the IRS misplaced our taxes and now I can't do an IRS link to FAFSA. That doesn't sound so bad right? Wrong. That means that now I owe 3500 dollars to my school, instead of it going to my "pay later when I graduate" file. This is not good.

Sorry to get on here and bitch but I need to release this tension and sometimes writing this blog really helps. I hope everyone else is experiencing no such problems and having a great week :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Homemade Toxin-Free Deodorant


I have been cutting out every toxic product that I use one by one. Deodorant especially has all sorts of unnecessary ingredients that are not good for you and are pretty toxic...leading to organ toxicity, cancer...all sorts of things I don't want. The good thing is that making your own is very easy, very cheap and customizable to be exactly what you want. Below is the recipe. If you make it, let me know how you like it!

Ingredients:

6-8 Tablespoons of Cocounut Oil
1/4 cup of Baking Soda
1/3 cup Cornstarch
1/4 Teaspoon of Shea or Cocoa Butter
10-12 drops of your preferred essential oil (something with antibacterial qualities would be a perk: Lavender, Sweet Orange, Lemon etc...)

Directions:

  1. Heat the coconut oil if needed, then mix the Shea/Coconut Butter
  2. Once those ingredients are mixed add in the dry ingredients and then the essential oil. 

I have read a few different variations of the next steps...either

  • Let it dry completely and then put it in an old deodorant bottle or jar OR
  • Let it cool down but not harden and then add it into the carrier and then pop it in the fridge

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Movies and Military

Movies because I went with hubs yesterday to see Batman and Military because it was a short drive and a long walk to the theater. The entire main road near our neighborhood that leads 75% of the way to the theater was blocked off by police last night in Beijing. Why? The dispute over who owns the Diaoyu (Chinese name) / Senkaku (Japanese name) islands. Their has been a growing "anti-Japanese sentiment" here in China and after some particularly heated rioting around their embassy, the police and military took over. At first we just saw police cars but then we saw military trucks, military paddiwagons and finally military tanks that hubs explained were for shooting out streams of water to disburse a crowd...I felt like I was in occupied Germany. Apparently all buses that make stops near the Japanese embassy have also either started passing over those stops or have been put temporarily out of commission. Very eery evening but at least the movie was awesome.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

I'm back

Hello to the few people...if any that have kept checking my blog in my several month absence. Whoever you are, I appreciate it. Anyway...
My parent's back porch
I am back in Beijing after my month back in the US. My "vacation" was wonderful and I got so much out of it. Fresh air every day, time around my friends and family and I got to sleep in my old bed. I went bike riding with my mom, shopping with my mom (and managed not to spend all of our money) and had long political talks with my dad.
My parents back yard
I "shot the Hooch" aka went tubing down the Chattahoochee River my some friends and despite the 2-3rd degree burns I had after that trip I had a great time. Turns out that 7 hours in the sun with pale skin after living in a place with very little UV exposure can be the recipe for a sunburn...who knew. In my defense I did put on sunscreen 2 times and the water was freezing thus I didn't feel the burn until I was dry. I am still burned a little and that was 6+ weeks ago...oops. I also drove up to Charlotte, NC to visit my best friend and had a wonderful time visiting her!
On the way back from my trip to see Mel (above, to the right) I got to see my baby niece for the first time! Isn't she adorable!
Despite my hectic schedule: working from 8pm to 4am and then sleeping until 11am or 1pm...depending on the work night that preceded, I still managed to have a very relaxing time. I did some more research on cutting down on the amount of products I use that contain toxic chemicals in them (awesome/terrifying website that tells you what's in your specific brand of lotion, shampoo, cosmetics etc: EWG Skindeep Database) and although I have been getting my hair colored to bring out the blonde which will no longer peak through in the summer (again...lack of sun) I decided I would be stopping that habit. Instead, I opted for an all natural product with Henna and although I was going for dark brown, my hair's tendency to veer towards red one out and I ended up with a really pretty Auburn color instead. I have cut down/ eliminated a lot of other things too...but that's another post altogether.
New hair color
I got back mid August and brought back with me a better attitude about living here. There are downsides indeed but I have a good job, hubs has a good job, we live in a nice apartment, we have money to do fun things AND pay of bills, we've made great friends and we've gotten to travel to fun places. Another thing I brought back with me...an ill-timed overwhelming desire to start a family. We have decided for a variety of reasons: aforementioned bills, the air here, accessibility to great healthcare and an the lack of an environment that embraces natural births and midwives that this is NOT the place to start a family, but nevertheless...it's all I think about. Only one year and change to go :)
Thanks for sticking with me. I promise not to take such a long break before my next post.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back in the ATL

I have been back in Atlanta for a week now and have been getting readjusted. 


Working Sunday - Thursday from 6pm - 2am has been difficult but I am adjusting.


It is great seeing family and friends, driving, shopping-for both clothes and food, and breathing fresh air but hard being away from hubs. We skype at night and talk over the phone in the morning but even so sleeping alone is hard.


By the time I am back to Beijing I might be up to blogging again but for now I am taking advise I have seen often in the blogging world:


If it starts to feel like work, stop for a while.


So I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their summer :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thailand

Thailand was amazing. We had a great time relaxing and catching up on some much needed sleep. We swam in the pool, swam in the ocean, explored the island, got massages, got facials. It was glorious. It did rain the last 3 days but that's what you get when you go in the Low aka Rainy Season. Nonetheless, it was wonderful. The only slight hiccup was the food poisoning the last day that haunted me on the airport, airplane and for 2.5 days after we got home. That wasn't great. Everything else was though. Especially since I found a new favorite drink....Gin Fizz. Who knew Gin was good? Not me...but it is

In recent news, before I left, I bought tickets back to the States for a one month trip back home. I leave next Thursday for a month of hanging out all day and working at night. Wish me luck!

Kata Beach, Thailand
Corner room, extra large deck and Jacuzzi!
Only pic of the room, lame I know
Rainy day
Rocking the sunburn and crazy face...photographer my husband is not
Hubs with one of the kitchen kittens
Amazing trip!
The Resort
 Hope everyone else's summers are going well. I think blogging on my part might be a little slow for the next month or so, so please stick with me. I will be back :)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Bo yao baby

We are leaving for Thailand tomorrow.

Could not come soon enough. I have been so stressed that I got a stress mouth sore that hurts like you wouldn't believe. So I started looking up home remedies and found one with liquid antacid plus antihistamines.

So we went down to the pharmacy and tried to mime to the woman that we were looking for antacids.

We were pointing to my stomach and she said "bo yao baby" to which we replied bo yao, bo yao...thinking of course that we were reassuring her that no no, I was not pregnant...yeah (we had been drinking)...she brought us back some pills and took out the directions so we could read. I read and read and thought ok until hubs frantically pointed at the top that said contraceptive pills.

Bo yao means "Don't want" ...mei you means "Don't have"....oops

So the woman thought we were frantically reassuring her that no no, we did NOT want a baby.

1 whole week of relaxing on the beach is just what the doctor ordered!


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Yuck

This is a small post but it just had to be repeated. I am pretty sure I have mentioned this before, but in case I am wrong, a lot of Chinese people have a very different way of cleaning things. While I don't believe that everything needs to be doused with chemicals to get it clean, I also do not believe that cold water disinfects.

The other night, Will and I went out to one of our neighborhood restaurants. We were having a great time and then after 5 drinks, I needed to pee (shocking, I know). This is a pretty nice place, although at night it definitely has more of a bar feel. Anyway...I walk into the bathroom, wait for the stall and then walk in...and my first thought is "Shit, why did I wear flip flops". That should give you a clear understanding of what the floor looked like, which is also what the seat looked like. Add to that, that bathrooms in Beijing almost never have toilet paper and I was really wishing I did not have to pee. This place rivaled just about any gas station bathroom I have ever seen.

So, I finish up my business and start to wash my hands. The ayi must have been waiting to get into the bathroom to clean it, so she pushed past me to get started. As I turn to dry my hands, I see her one single rag cleaning the seat of the toilet, the floor covered in all manner of fluids and then the counter-tops of the sink. I swear on everything that is holy that I almost threw up right on the spot. Instead though, I just said to myself (in my head) that this is China, so don't be surprised. I have heard worse stories and before I leave, I may witness things more shocking. Yet...ick.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

R&R

So, I know that Thailand has been the topic of my posts lately and I cannot wait until we get there. This month and next month are going to be great. In exactly 7 days I will have been married for 2 years (according to the State of Georgia) and in exactly 23 days, it will have been 2 years since my wedding. Not usually separate days for most people, but they were for us. We needed our paperwork to get started on lickedy split and we had to have our marriage certificate in that bundle of paperwork so we got married at the courthouse on June 10th 2010. It was super unromantic and we both agreed that we felt nothing during the "ceremony" except (for me) maybe a little embarrassed that we were getting married in the middle of a hallway where prisoners were being escorted to their day in court...awesome, glad you could be here to share the moment. Anyway, 16 days after that we had a beautiful religious ceremony with friends and family and that was wonderful.

At the end of this month we are headed to Thailand for a week and we will get to spend the 4th of July in Thailand! I am so excited because I expect for it to be more of a celebration there than it is here in the Land of the Not Free at ALL. Then I am back 2 weeks before flying out again...and this time, I am headed home. That's right! For 1 month, I will be returning home to Atlanta. Since I work from home now anyway, I figured why not work from home in the States. I can see my friends and family, breathe some fresh air, do summer stuff, hopefully see my cousin's brand new baby boy, see my other cousin who will be a brand new newlywed and do a little much needed shopping for me, hubs and our home.

Will it be a month's vacation? Nope. I will be working nights. Thankfully since I don't make calls the whole 8 hour work day, I can do some of my work during the day and the rest at night...here is what I am thinking:

1. Wake up and check my emails
2. During the day, do some data entry (2 hours..ish)
3. Work from 8pm-2am (6 hours)

This will probably match up well to the amount I get done here. Then at 2 am I will pass out and probably sleep until 10 or 11. Then I can do what I want and plan my data entry in there somewhere. Splitting this up will probably result in me getting more work done anyway. So really, its a win for me and a win for my company, win win :)

I really need this. China has been wearing on me and my emotional health and even though I will miss hubs so much, I think it will be a good choice for us all. No one benefits from someone moping and acting sad all the time. I could not be more happy in my marriage and I love my friends here, but I miss the rest of my family and my friends at home and I miss AMERICA and familiarity.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Childhood Summers


For those of you who have not been to Mama Kat's website Mama's Losin It , you shoudl quickly remedy that.

She has weekly writing prompts and since my first  instinct was to complain endlessly on my next post (about the smog and my job), I decided instead to spare you my pity party and choose one of her recent writing prompts. (For those of you secretly disappointed that you will be missing me rant about my life, be assured...its only Tuesday...yeah thats when I started writing this and now its Friday)

List your top 10 favorite things about summer growing up

I had a rather atypical youth...not for the first 9 years, but after that... definitely not mainstream. I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and went to a nearby Episcopal Elementary School. We lived in a beautiful neighborhood in a custom riverfront house. I had a adorable cat named Mickey and a younger sister who drove me crazy.

When I was 9, my family moved onto our 50 foot sailboat "Nighthawk" and lived at the marina down the street from our house. For 1 year we lived on the boat, getting acclimated. Then we left to sail around the world. For the next 6 years, we would visit sail to 27 countries for mostly short stops with the exception of Australia (1 year) and New Zealand (almost 2 years).

So for this post I will split my 10 favorite things in half. 5 for <9 years old and 5 for >9 years old (the rare math symbols that I remember).

Pre 9:
1. Not having to be in school anymore (The best part...damn I miss having 3 months off in the summer...why is work not like that?)
2. Getting to spend all day out on the water on the boat (Waterskiing, all day)
3. Getting to stay up as late as I wanted (Doesn't every kid like this)
4. Summer birthday parties (always more fun)
5. Kanuga (A family type retreat in North Carolina where we used to spend a week in the summer. In the woods, no TV's, barely any reception, very relaxing...I worked there for a summer in college...never seen more pot smokers in one place)

Post 9:
1. Not having to study (although since we were always on the move, I didn't have the typical 9 months on and 3 months off schedule..more like 11 months on 1 month off)
2. Getting to spend al day with my friends exploring whatever new location we were currently located at

Yeah...that's all I got for years 9-15. When I was 16-18, I loved getting to drive to North Carolina and spend the week with my cousin or spend the whole day out at the beach. I would spend days at my friend Kelsey's house just back and forth from the beach.

-As many of you have probably guessed, I am not a small child in any of my pictures...that is for the sole reason that I am in China and can't access my mothers desktop. Oh well, these are some of my favorite summer pictures. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Vacation Planning

Plane Tickets: Check

Now...time for everything else. At first I thought we would stay in Phi Phi Don which is about 2 hours from Phuket but then I decided that this choice meant being a 2 hour ferry way from the main island and the airport and meant paying higher prices for everything with no increase (in fact an evident decrease) in the quality of most hotels.

So, we will now be staying in main Phuket and are looking at hotels on Kata Beach
Based on the amount that we want to spend and various views from TripAdvisor, we have decided on The Andaman Cannacia Resort.

It's hard for me to choose hotels from websites like this because I have a tendency to want to read all of the negative reviews. Thankfully, although this hotel did have some negative reviews, most of them were a few years old...and lets be honest, the fact that you could stay in that hotel the years after the tsunami was a blessing anyway...so be real. Almost all of the recent reviews were good and the majority of the reviews were very good (excellent would have been better but we are not really wanting to spend the excellent dollars).

Just a note to anyone looking to travel to Asia, before you book something with any of the regular sites you may visit, look into AsiaWebDirect (where you can also book tickets to anywhere else in the world I just discovered). The prices from this website are SO much better than what I found with Agoda, Booking.com, Hotels.com etc.

Anyway, here are some pictures of the hotel and the room that we booked
View from the room
We went for the more expensive villa section of the resort and chose the Garden Spa room for the precise reason that it has a terrace complete with an outdoor Jacuzzi. We don't take too many vacations, so we feel good about this little splurge because we stayed in Asia.
Excited doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about this vacation

Now all that's left is booking our excursions. We know we want to see Phi Phi Don and James Bond Island and I definitely want to go water skiing (I miss it so much). Hubs also wants to get some surfing lessons so we have a decent amount left to book. Anyone with any excursion ideas for Phuket, please feel free to share!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Proof of busyness


Life as of April is hectic! My husband tells me that I make my world hectic which is crap which may be the case but nevertheless…it is crazy. On the things I can take “credit” for are: changes in the way my family eats and changing anything I can in my environment that will make me healthier and happier.
We have a very American way of eating…meat constantly and not enough fruits and vegetables. Who the hell has time to eat a pound of leafy green vegetables every day? So, as I mentioned before, I have been preparing green smoothies every day. Take a handful of spinach or lettuce or whatever green leafy veggie you have and toss it in the blender with some fruit and any other healthy stuff you have around. Flax seeds, cinnamon, herbs, wheatgrass…whatever floats your boat. The end result varies on what you put in (shocking I know) but for the most part they taste anywhere from good to really yummy. Since this change we have both felt fuller throughout the day, lighter (hard to explain but like we aren’t so heavy) and have both had less cravings. I have been eliminating as much salt from my diet as possible as well as bread, white pasta and meat. I have lost 2 pounds (though I am not trying to lose weight, just be healthier) and my skin has been looking a lot better. I also found the Insanity program and we are going to try to start that! Going to be different…hope our downstairs neighbors don’t complain…I hear there is a lot of jumping jacks and jumping in general….yeah, we’ll see.
Anyway, I started looking into water filters and found a great company, Aquasana, that has a China branch and their filters are specific to the interestingness of Chinese tap water. Filled with Chloramine, it has less of a smell than Chlorine but is a carcinogen…aka causes cancer long term. We don’t ever drink tap water, opting instead to buying tons and tons of bottles of water, but I read that taking one hot shower in Beijing unfiltered water is the same as drinking 4 gallons of tap water…awesome. So, we got a filter for the shower, a filter for the bath and a drinking water filter for the kitchen. It has been great.
                In other news, my husband’s boss’s wife J is a therapist and she works at an international clinic here, which is (shock) international, and has branches in Singapore and New Zealand...and just about everywhere else. She thinks she may be able to get me some work there doing testing! This would give me actual working experience in the counseling field before getting my degree (basically unheard of!). This is in combination with the fact that one of my coworkers has gotten the police interested in the foreigners in our office and I will be working from home until further notice (yeah..now permanent). Seems to me like the perfect time to have a meeting with the boss’s wife about future opportunities.  I got this work at home news upon stepping foot in the office this morning…surprise…turn around and go home.
                Add to this my regular work responsibilities and a full load with classes, and I have been feeling hectic. Does this not sound hectic or does this sound like I overreact and hectify my life?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Vinegar...that is the key to my homes transition into less chemicals and more natural products. Vinegar can be used in so many different ways as an alternative to household chemicals. That link shows you 61 different ways to use white vinegar, from helping with lice to cleaning your oven to cleaning your pets and even helping with varicose veins and yeast infections. I plan to use it to…


  • Clean the floors, countertops and bathrooms: You can do that by mixing distilled white vinegar (found in any supermarket) with water and keep spray bottles of this non-toxic disinfectant in your bathrooms and kitchen – to disinfect and clean.
  • Soak your dishes in vinegar: Use vinegar mixed with water to rinse dishes after washing them to take the soap off and leave them clean. Vinegar is also an excellent grease cutter. 
  • Vinegar for fabric softening: Use it as a fabric softener and static cling reducer – use as you would liquid fabric softener.
  • For air freshening: Use 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 2 cups of water. After it stops foaming, mix well, and use in a (recycled) spray bottle into the air. I think I would add in a little essential oil too. 

In addition to this, I found a wonderful water purification system for the apartment. One for the bath, one for the shower and a drinking water filter in the kitchen. Taking baths again has been wonderful and not waking up and needing to go to the store to buy water has been great as well! 


I also found this awesome site that sells essential oils and ships free internationally! Well....except for South Africa, sorry SA! Free shipping to China though! Yay! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Vacation scheduled!

It's official! For one week in the beginning of July, my husband and I will be chilling on the beach in Thailand.
From Saturday to Thursday we will be staying right outside of Phuket, and on Thursday night we will return to Phuket where we fly out.
Phi Phi Don
The Bay at Ko Phi Phi
I cannot wait to be there for a week of sipping mai tais, lazy days on the beach, fresh air and tons of time alone with my husband with no work, computers or cell phones!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pretty colors

All of the pretty colors of nature 
This is what happens when you heat up garlic and ginger in water (for a sore throat)...it turns BLUE
Shakes with red cabbage make crazy purple shakes...why is it not called purple cabbage?
Yummy...actually, not really, I really do not like the taste of "red" cabbage
This one was spinach and actually REALLY yummy

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More on green smoothies

So, I did a post a while back about green smoothies and for the past 2 weeks I have been having at least one but usually 2-3 a day (until this week…because I’ve been lazy). We buy spinach, parsley, red cabbage, celery, avocado, broccoli and whatever other veggies look good and frozen berries, oranges, apples, bananas for fruit and blend it together. The fruit to veggies ratio was about 60/40 to start and is now more like 40/60 or even 30/70.

The best one so far is called the cinnamon role smoothie. 1 big bunch of spinach, 1 avocado, 1 banana and a spoonful of cinnamon, then blend it all together and the result is amazing. Some of the other mixes have been more “this is healthy so slam it down” type drinks but most are actually really good. Adding ginger to it obliterates all other taste, adding banana or avocado makes it creamy and spinach is the easiest taste on earth to cover up...red cabbage…not so much.  I also recently acquired some wheatgrass powder so I am using that as well.

Anyway, we have been doing these shakes more and more and we both feel better already. Being away from home, on our second day we were both craving one. We are using this as a gateway to a better, healthier diet where we have more energy and the food we eat makes us feel better. A lot of my cravings for junk and processed food have gone away and I even have an untouched sleeve of salt and vinegar chips here (a first for me). The side benefit of getting rid of those few extra waistline pounds doesn’t hurt either…especially with summer vacation season right around the corner. 

Some good websites to check out would be:
and

Any recipes you find and really like, please share with me! I need new ones!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Shanghai

This post is two weeks old, but better late than never...

I am a bad blogger. I love to read other peoples blogs and I love to write mine but it is getting harder and harder to find the time. Right now we are on a little mini vacation and I am sick, with hubs out and about with some friends of ours. So... now seems like a good a time as any to write. We are in Shanghai for the Tombs Sweeping holiday, here to visit our friends who recently moved from Beijing to Shanghai. You get conflicting information about Shanghai depending on who you ask…its great or it’s not so great and the people are snobs. That is mostly from Beijingers though as apparently the Shanghaineze have quite the superiority complex with regards to the rest of the mainland. After exploring for a few days I can say that while the sites to see are quite different, most things are similar. Shanghai is warmer and less dry and instead of Tiananmen, the Summer Palace and Great Wall they have...

The Bund
The French Concession
The cutest little café area called Food Street
Yu (Fish) Garden
I have found slightly more English spoken here, although still not to the degree that we found in Tianjin. The buildings in certain areas are very European looking and that has been a change. Yet, for the most part, when you leave the Western areas, the only difference between Shanghai and Beijing is proximity to a body of water. We are staying at the Courtyard Marriot and the hotel is very nice. The rooms are pretty and the bed is comfortable. Unfortunately, our aircon is a little broken so to keep the room even a little cool, you have to blast the AC all night making the room SUPER dry. Neither one of us has gotten a full nights sleep yet without a 2am/4am/6am wakeup pattern. That and something in bloom here that I seem to be allergic to equals….I have a cold/ The flu and finally have the opportunity to blog. Silver lining. 
View from our hotel
 The view of the ghetto 
On that note, I hope everyone had a great Easter! We went to church here for the first time in China and had awesome warm weather!