January 30, 2014

Hot Pot

As we've hung out with our Chinese friends over the last few years I've noticed a few themes in the questions we ask and answers we get.  We talk about favorite foods and while they enjoy trying American foods, most of them really like to cook at home.  When asked what they miss most about home, after their families they often miss certain foods the most.  One thing several students have mentioned missing and making at home s Hot Pot.  I really had no idea what it was until they started telling me about it, but it sounded interesting.  So when Groupon recently had a deal for a local Hot Pot restaurant we decided to buy it so we could try it out with friends.

Last night presented the perfect opportunity.  Our friend Lucas' parents are in town from China for about a month and we wanted to go out to dinner and meet them.  So we met Lucas and Yali and Lucas' parents for dinner last night.

The placemats had a brief overview of Hot Pot aka Hot Pot 101 with all the steps and options.  It was awesome.  Just some quick info in case you don't know what Hot Pot is.  It's basically a meal where you cook your food at your table.  You order broth--either original or spicy (ours was half and half--original on the left, spicy on the right)
Then you order plates of uncooked meat, vegetables, tofu, and noodles.  There are so many choices of food, we didn't know where to start.  So we decided to let Lucas order and he chose very well
We started off with lamb, which is the most common thing Lucas and his parents had growing up.  It was very thinly sliced and delicious.  We also had shrimp meatballs and fish to round out the meat portion.  For veggies we had corn, mushrooms, yams, and lettuce.  We tried a few types of tofu and then ended with cooking egg noodles.
They tried to teach me how to use chopsticks, but I was a failure so I stuck with my trusty fork and luckily they had spoons to get things out of the broth.  Lucas mixed it all up and served it with his chopsticks--we were grateful for him and Yali being able to let us know what to get and how to cook it and how long it needed to be cooked.
Snuck a picture of Lucas with his dad :)  We really enjoyed meeting Lucas' parents.  They took a trip to South Texas this past weekend and it was fun to hear about their experience with America so far-- we are looking forward to seeing them more before they head home and introducing them to a few American traditions as well.

Tonight David is celebrating Chinese New Year with them.  Lucas invited us to his house where his parents were preparing a traditional meal with dumplings and other yummy food.  I was so excited when he invited us--such a fun way to celebrate their new year.  Unfortunately, I got sick today so I stayed home while David headed over.  But I'm looking forward to learning more about their celebration from David and tomorrow night at ICF's New Year Party!  

January 25, 2014

ICF 2014 Kick Off

Last night we met up with all of the home groups for international students to kick off the new semester.  It was so nice getting to catch up with all of our friends and hear about all of their Christmas breaks (which were way more interesting than mine--we had friends go to DC, New York City, Boston, Florida, New Orleans and California--lots of adventures to hear about!)

We shared dinner and caught up

Enjoyed some time worshiping God through songs

And then each group got up to talk about their meetings.  Nita and our friend Tina shared about our groups

As nice as it's been to have a little break and slower schedule, I'm excited to get everything going again!
I just love all of our friends that we've met through this organization!

January 17, 2014

High Five for Friday

A random assortment of things on this Friday.

1. One of my favorite discoveries so far this year is Unroll Me.  In the last couple of months my email subscriptions have gotten out of control.  About a year ago I created gmail filters so most of my emails from companies with ads and coupons bypass my inbox and go into a separate folder.  But then the new subscriptions started piling up, especially once we ordered Christmas gifts online so new companies were added.  So I was marking all the emails that needed to unsubscribe from or move to a folder (there were 57 in 4 days.  out. of. control.)  That's when my friend Amy mentioned Unroll Me.  You log in and it shows all your subscriptions and then you can either unsubscribe, keep them as is, or roll them up and get 1 daily email with all of the subscriptions.  I love it.  My email inbox is much cleaner, but I still have access to all my coupons and deals!

2. I have been sick off and on since last Friday.  So I've done a whole lot of sleeping and resting.  I think I am finally on the mend, thankfully.  And I would be glad if it stays away for a while.

3. I've also been doing a lot of reading.  I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas and I've been taking advantage of the cheap and free kindle books.  I also renewed my library account so I can check out books on my kindle--any time I want to, from my house--it's awesome.  And being sick has definitely left a lot of time for reading.

4. We started our Young Adults Bible Study back this week.  We will be going through the book of Philippians.  It was nice to have a break from all of our weekly meetings over Christmas, but it's also nice to be getting back into our weekly routine--and this was the first one to start back!

5. We have a fun weekend ahead including dinner with friends tonight, a leaders workshop and meeting at church tomorrow, and some movies and shows to catch up on.

January 14, 2014

Grill Master

Meet the newest addition to our apartment appliances!  David got a grill for Christmas and this past weekend we had perfect weather to test it out

He made us some steaks, burgers, and fajita chicken to have throughout this week!

It all turned out so well and I'm excited to have the grill to help in our meal-planning and making

And our grill is covered in Texas Rangers style (surprise surprise!) thanks to this gift we got from our wedding registry!

January 5, 2014

Ocean Sunrise

This past weekend I headed to Galveston with my friend Amy.  She had been wanting to go to the beach for a while and invited me to come along.  We had a spiritual retreat of sorts--Friday we drove down and sat on the beach for a while (although it was really cold!) and spent some time in the Word and other books.  We grabbed lunch downtown and then spent some more time reading by the ocean before a relaxing night in our hotel room :)

Saturday morning we decided to get up for sunrise over the ocean and I am so glad we did.  Pictures can never capture the true beauty of it, but here's a few glimpses

After sunrise we grabbed breakfast and spent more time down by the beach for an extended quiet time (it was much warmer and nicer yesterday!).  Then we headed back home yesterday afternoon

It was a great overnight getaway!

January 1, 2014

2013 Photo Wrap Up

A lot of people have been posting their top pics of 2013 via this app flipagram, so I decided to make one as well.  

Closing out 2013

We had a busy, but fun, last week of 2013!

After Christmas with both of our families we had  a couple of days at home.  I got some crafts finished and we did a few things around the apartment.  We also caught up on some movies and a few of our Netflix TV shows.

Last Saturday night we went to a wedding for our friends Blessing and Kyle.  It was a sweet party and we had a lot of fun with friends celebrating this couple!

Sunday we visited with my extended family.  My cousin Dan and his family were in town from Virginia.  I hadn't seen them in about 4 years and David had never met them, so it was good getting to catch up.  He has 2 little boys (and a brand new baby girl) so everyone was trying to get a picture of his 2 boys with our nephew.  The boys did really well for the pictures!

Monday we took a fairly impromptu overnight trip.  For Christmas this year David and I decided not to do big gifts and use the money to go do something.  We had talked about staying at a hotel in January once life calmed down a little.  But since we were both off Monday and Tuesday of this week, I started looking for options for this week.  We explored several options, and decided to splurge and stay at the Gaylord.  We had stayed there before we left for our Honeymoon, but I've always wanted to go and stay at Christmastime, so I was really excited to try it out.

Monday night we just walked around and looked at all of the Christmas decorations out.  We ate dinner at their Riverwalk Cantina and then had a relaxing night watching some bowl games!

Tuesday we had tickets to go to the ICE! Exhibit.  The theme this year was the Nutcracker.  They also had an area that was NYC at Christmastime, which we thought was really fun.

We spent the rest of Tuesday hanging out in Grapevine since our NYE plans were out that way.  We did a little shopping and saw a movie.  Then we got ready and headed to a wedding for our friends Ray and Sarah.  Sarah has been working hard to plan this wedding and it's been fun to be a part of the process with them.  We had a good night hanging out with our friends before the new year.

Right before midnight they handed out New Years hats and favors and we all gathered on the dance floor to ring in the new year.  This has definitely been the year of weddings for us (other than our own, we went to 6 weddings in the last 5 months of the year!) so it felt right to ring in the new year with a wedding. 
 (but I think we're all glad for a little break from them for now!)

Happy 2014!  Can't wait for all it will hold!