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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Poor Man's Sled

We got a whopping 8 inches of snow in Branson. Well it was supposed to be 8-12 inches. I'm not quite sure how much we ACTUALLY got so I'm just saying 8 inches. For the first time in 8 years, the hill next to our house was untouched. No kids had used their sleds on it and it was nice and pristine. The sun was out and the snow was calling. WAHOOOO! Perfect for sledding! I have NEVER been sledding. Before you all gasp in horror, don't forget that I grew up next to the beautiful, WARM Pacific Ocean in Sunny So Cal! SO, as I was saying...sledding! Wahooooo! Ummmm, we have no sled though....and all the sleds in Branson have been sold out for weeks. DOH! I posted a comment on Twitter and Facebook to get some ideas. I also called Cindy to see if her kids could think of anything. After looking around the house we came up with 3 things. A Laundry Basket, a plastic lid to a Rubbermaid box and a piece of wood.
The laundry basket and the plastic lid didn't work very well because the snow was too deep! Well, that and the fact that the hill probably wasn't steep enough. Adam had to push me and I still only made it about 15 feet before I toppled over. The plastic lid did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

The wood board worked the best. Adam covered it with a trash bag and drilled 2 holes into it. We didn't have any rope ( who doesn't have rope?) so he found an old extension cord that didn't work anymore, and cut off a piece. Voila, sled. We didn't make it all the way down the hill but it was still fun! I can now say that I have been sledding...kind of. Next year we are buying a sled so that we will have one for moments like this.

Walking down the hill to our house with our MacGuyver-ed Sled.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Healthy Snacking

I have been trying to make more of our food and snacks at home....much healthier than buying the stuff at the store...and cheaper....and yummier!
Our latest snack has been trail mix. I make it in batches and then put them into the snack sized ziplock bags so that we can just "grab and go".

Below you will see the HUGE 50 pound box of Raw Almonds that we bought. YIKES! We are only keeping 25 pounds of it. I'm thinking they will mainly be used for snacking and making almond milk.

As for the trail mix ingredients:
Raw almonds, raw cashews, raw peanuts, raw pumpkin seeds, raw pecan pieces, goji berries, organic Thompson raisins, organic golden raisins, dried cranberries, chopped pitted dates and sweetened shredded coconut.

My eBook Reader Dilemma

I have now gone through 3 eBook readers. By "gone through", I don't mean that I ruined them or ran them into the ground. I just wasn't completely satisfied by any of them. Sure, there were things that I absolutely LOVED about them but....alas, they have all gone the way of eBay.

The Cybook from Bookeen was my first love. It was all new to me. So nice and so simple. Something that was portable and held hundreds of books. What's not to love? Then I learned about the different formats and files that various readers could accommodate. *sigh Unfortunately the Cybook didn't recognize all PDF files. =( I was under the impression that it did.

Next was the Sony 500 that I won in a blogging contest. It was shiny and red and new. This one read all PDF formats BUT did NOT read all of the mobipocket books that I had already purchased for my Cybook. I sold this one right away to so that I could get the full value back. Free money since I won it in a contest. =)

Actually, as I stated in a previous posting, I sold both of them because there was an even newer and "better" Sony....the Sony 700. THIS one had an internal light so that I could read in bed and not disturb Adam if he was sleeping. WHAT?!?! Are you kidding me? Absolute genius!!! or so I though. This is a definite plus as I am someone that tends to stay up night in order to finish a book. I figured that the money from both of the readers would help me buy and replace a lot of the books that I had already purchased.

Sadly my hopes and dreams were shattered because of the glare from the screen. *sniff sniff. In order to accommodate the internal light, they had to add an additional piece of glass to "sandwich" it in. Big mistake. BIG! (BTW, you need to read that last comment like Julia Roberts says it in Pretty Woman). Due to the glare I found that I barely used the reader. I tried holding it at every conceivable angle but there was always a glare. The Sony was sold on eBay the last week of December. I am at a loss. I am seriously temped to go right out and replace my eBook readers but am torn. I have read a lot about the Kindle but I don't like the fact that you HAVE to purchase everything through Amazon. I already have books that I have purchased twice and do not relish a 3rd purchase of the same books! The Nook also looks pretty nifty. They are pretty comparable from what I can see. The Nook is much newer and needs a few more updates looks promising. At the moment I am anxiously awaiting Apple's new announcement on the 27th. I am hoping that their new release will be an eBook reader and not a notebook. I figure I may as well find out if they will have a reader to see its pros and cons. I am also trying to force myself to wait for the next updates for the Kindle and Nook. If anyone owns the Nook, Please let me know what you think of it!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

Here is the recipe that I got from Mara, my sis-in-law. It's my favorite Wheat bread by far! The first time I had it was on my first trip out to Branson. My stomach wasn't feeling too hot from the traveling and stress of meeting the family for the first time was the only thing that made me feel better. Since that first piece I have been hooked.

I am giving the recipe from the un-ground wheat measurement and will try to guesstimate the pre-ground amount. The original recipe is for 4 loaves but I always half it because my Kitchenaid Mixer won't hold that much dough. If you have a Bosch Mixer the 4 loaves will fit so go ahead and double the recipe that I am posting. Oh, this freezes well.

4 3/4 cups unground Hard Wheat. I use half red and half white
OR 6-7 cups of ground whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
2 1/2 cups hot water
1 Tablespoon Yeast
1 Tablespoon Salt

  • Grind your wheat into flour and set aside
  • mix oil, water and honey in mixer
  • Sprinkle 3 1/2 cups of flour on top so that water mixture is covered
  • Add Yeast, making sure it does NOT touch the water mixture
  • Mix and let it rest for about 10 minutes or until it starts bubbling
  • Mix in the salt and then the rest of the flour until your dough ball starts cleaning the sides of the bowl. You may not need to use all of the flour depending on your flour. Just keep an eye on it and make note of how much you need for the next time.
  • Let the dough knead for about 5 minutes
  • Pour onto a lightly greased surface and oil your hands
  • Split into 2 loaves
  • Shape them and put them into greased bread pans. I use the ones with the wider base so that I can make sandwiches
  • Cover and let dough rise until it doubles ( 30-35 minutes)
  • Put into a COLD oven.
  • Turn on oven to 350 degrees and bake for 35 minutes.
  • Brush tops with olive oil, remove from pans and cool on wire rack
  • ENJOY!

Wahooo! My People are Taking Over!

YES! A new show is coming to Branson this year and I can NOT wait to see it. OK. So it will be competition for our show but...I am SO EXCITED!

As many of you know, I am a VERY Americanized Chinese person. My parents forced me to go to Chinese School, play tennis, piano, the whole bit. As every self-respecting Chinese Child knows, it's embarrassing when they talked to you in Chinese around your American friends. More so because that was when they were reprimanding you BUT ALWAYS with that Chinese Smile. The One that made all your friends say, "You Mom is always so nice and smiles all the time." Yep, you know what I mean. Granted, I did deserve the majority of those reprimands but we won't go there. We also won't talk about the fact that, of course, they were right. Now I'm kicking myself for not paying attention in all of those Chinese classes.

SO, my point is...on the outside I was always trying to shed the whole Chinese thing as a kid. In college I finally grew to respect my history and culture and got on a Chinese kick. I especially cling to those roots now that I have lived in Branson for almost 8 years. I am one of a handful of Chinese people that live here, so I love it when we get Chinese people at our show or hear the occasional conversation in town. It was quite the adjustment moving from California. When I first moved out here and mentioned that I was in a show, most people assumed I was one of the Chinese Acrobats. Ummmmmm, NOoooo.

OK, I got off topic. The Show. It's a new show that is coming this May and it tells about the history of Kung-fu. YES! I LOVE martial arts and can watch it for hours. Here is an article that was in the China Daily.

Fighting fit for U.S. stage 2010-01-14 10:19:03 Print

BEIJING, Jan. 14 -- More Americans will soon be able to see Chinese shows, since a Beijing company bought a theater in Branson, Missouri. Wu Chong in New York and Mu Qian in Beijing report

China has taken over the White House - not in Washington DC, but in Branson, Missouri.

The White House Theater will open on May 1 with the first show Chun Yi: The Legend of Kungfu. Photos courtesy of China Heaven Creation International Performing Arts Company

The White House Theater will open on May 1 with the first show Chun Yi: The Legend of Kungfu. Photos courtesy of China Heaven Creation International Performing Arts Company (Photo Source: China Daily)
Photo Gallery>>>

Last month, the Beijing-based China Heaven Creation International Performing Arts Company purchased a theater called the White House Theater in Branson, a small town in the American Midwest and a popular destination for American vacationers.

The theater will be a base for China Heaven Creation to develop its United States market, and its first show is Chun Yi: The Legend of Kungfu, which has been staged more than 3,000 times at home and abroad.

The White House Theater deal, worth $3.54 million, marks the first time a Chinese company has purchased a theater in the United States. It is the second venue in Branson to feature Chinese performing arts, after the New Shanghai Circus, whose forte is acrobatics.

"We also investigated New York and Las Vegas but found that this theater in Branson was the best deal we can get," says Cao Xiaoning, executive chairman of China Heaven Creation. "A city with a great number of visitors and a strong tradition of show business, Branson is strategically located for developing (our business) in the US."

With a population of about 7,000, Branson attracts approximately 8 million visitors each year, mostly American families. Besides its beautiful landscape and extensive water sports facilities, theater arts is another primary attraction of Branson. It boasts more than 50 live performance theaters in town and even more theater seats than Broadway. With 1,200 seats, the 15-year-old White House Theater is one of the biggest in Branson.

The theater will open on May 1 with Chun Yi: The Legend of Kungfu, a show that blends Chinese kungfu, dance and original music. It involves about 60 performers, besides set designer Han Lixun, chief creative director of set design for the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, among others.

"More than 100 theater works are performed in Branson every year, most of which are nostalgic American-style shows, such as the Andy Williams Variety Show and Peter Pan. I believe that our show will bring something refreshing to American audiences," Cao says.

Premiering in 2004 in Beijing, Chun Yi: The Legend of Kungfu has toured Canada, Japan, Russia and the UK, with 574 performances held outside China. From May, the White House Theater will hold two shows a day.

"We've had people call in for reservations. The local communities are very open to international influences," says Anna Koelling, general manager of the theater.

Koelling was hired only four days before the deal was inked on Dec 16, and is currently one of the few full-time employees there. However, the theater will recruit more Americans, including a chief financial officer and a marketing director, according to China Heaven Creation.

Branson Chamber of Commerce President Ross Summers, who was present at the signing of the deal, says that he believes this is a good opportunity for the White House Theater and is excited about the upcoming kungfu production.

"The show appears to be world-class and successful in other cities. Once word of mouth gets around, the local people will (be drawn to) appreciate a good performance," he says.

But Summers also warns that it won't be easy for the Chinese company. "It will take a couple of years to build an audience. Also, as far as business practice goes, there's a learning curve on both sides (Branson and Heaven Creation)," he says. "But we're prepared to help them."

(Xinhua Photo)
Photo Gallery>>>

China Travel International Investment Hong Kong Limited, the main investor in China Heaven Creation, once owned the Florida Splendid China, a $100 million theme park which opened in 1993 near Walt Disney World, but closed in 2003 because of poor business. Cao, who used to work for Florida Splendid China, believes the experience gained there will help him to run the White House Theater better.

"The Florida Splendid China was too nationalistic, but in Chun Yi: The Legend of Kungfu we are trying to present a show of cosmopolitan values with Chinese characteristics, which is easy for people from various cultural backgrounds to accept," Cao says.

The show tells the story of a young boy who embarks on an epic journey to enlightenment after undergoing a series of formidable trials to earn the title "Chun Yi, The Pure One".

Cao says a conflict of roles between the Chinese and American staff also contributed to the failure of Florida Splendid China. To avoid a repetition, the White House Theater will make a clear division of responsibilities: the Chinese will be in charge of the show, and the Americans, the management of the theater.

"We are prepared to lose money in the first year, but we hope to make ends meet in the second year and begin to make a profit in the third," Cao says.

(Source: China Daily)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Homemade Wheat Bread anyone?

Ahhhhh, the smell of hot out-of-the-oven Wheat bread. NOM!!
I got this recipe from Mara and love it. It's the one I have been using for a few years, however, went to her house tonight for a few pointers. Apparently I haven't been kneading the dough long enough. It still tasted fine but the texture was a little different. The things I love about this bread that beats all of the other bread out there, including Panera are...the ingredients.

As many of my friends and family know, I have been trying to eat even healthier than I was before. I have cut out all meat, except for fish, and all dairy. The dairy has been the hard part! I love me some dairy! So, it's kind of like being Vegan except for fish, honey and caged eggs. I am also going to try to stick to small fish to cut down on the mercury intake.

This recipe has no eggs, butter or sugar. Just whole ground wheat, water, yeast, oil and honey. It's healthy and YUMMY!!!

I ground up hard red wheat and hard white wheat. There were some other cute pictures with various children's heads, centimeters from the mixer but....I looked awful in them so I decided not to post those. LOL

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Once again it's been several months since I last blogged. I know. I'm awful at doing this on a regular basis. I was doing fine for a while but stopped when I was sick this past year.'s to doing better this year!

First blog of the year? My New Year's Resolutions. Hopefully my posting them will help me keep all of them. Well....I'm a week late starting them but hey, at least I'm starting them. =)
  • Blog at least once a week. Guess I'll do 2 this week. LOL
  • Read at least one chapter a day in my scriptures.
  • Exercise at least 3 times a week.
  • Gain weight!!! I know...that sounds weird after the last one but it makes sense if you know me.
  • Go to bed earlier.
  • Scrapbook at least once a week.
  • Finish organizing my scrapbook room.
  • Get balanced. This refers to energy work.
  • Do my visiting teaching.
  • Garden from seed. We normally buy or plants but I want to start from seed this year.
  • Clean more frequently. Blah
  • Serve others.