Photo Booth Fun @ Starbucks

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let you enjoy these six Photo Booth pictures I had fun taking at Starbucks today.  Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Post #55 – What do I want to eat right now?

So there may be some benefits to blogging when I eat my breakfast.  You know, like being more consistent since I do eat breakfast every day.  Also, getting my post done early so I don’t have to think about it later when friends want to hang out.  And last, but certainly not least, not having to think too terribly much about the topic, which is what happened today since the topic is what do I want to eat right now (and who would it be with)?

Though I am making a delicious breakfast consisting of a glass of milk, a cup of Espresso Roast coffee from Starbucks (brewed at home), a banana, and toast with melted peanut butter (which would only be better if it was crunchy peanut butter), that is not what I would pick if I could eat anything I wanted right now.  I would eat a cranberry orange scone with a grande nonfat latte at Starbucks with Lo.  That is what I want to eat and who I want to eat it with.  Since Lo currently lives in Portland, and I am broke and trying to eat more healthy food anyway, I will enjoy the previously mentioned breakfast.

One of my best friends Lo and I!

Since I don’t frequently get to purchase Starbucks’ cranberry orange scones, I recently decided to try my hand at making them at home.  Below is a fantastic recipe from Taste of Home.

Cranberry Orange Scones


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 10 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Glaze (optional):
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • Orange Butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons orange marmalade



  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, 7 teaspoons sugar, orange peel, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the cranberries, orange juice, cream and egg. Add to flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms.
  • On a floured surface, gently knead 6-8 times. Pat dough into an 8-in. circle. Cut into 10 wedges. Separate wedges and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with milk; sprinkle with remaining sugar.
  • Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack.
  • Combine glaze ingredients if desired; drizzle over scones. Combine orange butter ingredients; serve with warm scones. Yield: 10 scones.


Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 each) equals 331 calories, 17 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 65 mg cholesterol, 396 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein.



Things I miss from the States

While it is amazing how similar life in China can be to life in the United States, there are few key differences as well, which is definitely to be expected of course.  The following is a list of things that I dearly miss in no particular order.

  2. coffee shops, namely Starbucks (note they do have 1 in the entire Hunan Province, but it is 2 hours away)
  3. public libraries
  4. bookstores
  5. Twizzlers
  6. plain milk (all the milk here is flavored)
  7. kettle cooked chips, especially bbq chips
  8. toilets
  9. toilet paper and soap in public restrooms
  10. free wifi
  11. binding straightforward work contracts
  12. individualism
  13. tampons
  15. Mexican food
  16. Jed’s
  17. dryers
  18. soft mattresses (you can dribble a basketball on my mattress)
  19. unlimited access to the internet, including facebook, hulu, and youtube
  20. boneless chicken breasts (all the chicken in China has bones still in it)
  21. ground beef
  22. regulated traffic
  23. 8-5 work hours
  24. family
  25. evenly paved roads and sidewalks
  26. convenience and proximity to grocery stores and restaurants

These things I miss dearly!

Boston University

Boston UniversityWhile sitting in the only Starbucks in the Hunan Province in China this morning, I found myself thinking about Boston University.

I was accepted to Boston University’s College of Communication to study Journalism.

And I turned it down.

Why?  To travel around the world and teach English as a foreign  language.

While I am currently in China, which I hope to be the first of many countries in which I live, I sometimes find myself wondering what would have happened if I had gone to BU.  One of my dreams in life is to be a writer.  I often wish that I were a better writer.  To this end, I catch myself thinking that I just maybe should have gone to BU.  Learning to be a journalist certainly would have improved my writing skill.

Then I remember that I being a good writer is simply investing a piece of yourself in your writing and engaging your audience.  This I can do with or without journalistic training.  I don’t necessarily want to report news; I want to write a really powerful blog, a series of short shorts, and novels.  What better way to gain experience than to travel around the world and relate what I’m learning?

So while I am grateful that BU would have given me the chance to learn journalism and hone my writing ability in a very specific way, I am also glad that I choose  to travel the world and teach and write with my husband.  I  get the opportunity to live my dreams!

On fly bites, instant coffee, and great blogs

Today is a Saturday in Yueyang, Hunan, China.  However, I am sitting at a table in the gymnasium at work greeting the freshmen as they arrive.  Correction – the freshmen are staring at me because I am a foreigner, but most are too afraid to come talk to me.  So I am blogging and rereading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson once again.

Instant coffee Chinese styleEven though dragging myself to work and sitting here for 10 hours today makes for a 73 hour work week this week, it’s not too bad.  The English teacher who is the primary translator was gracious and helpful enough to bring instant coffee for me (just so you know, coffee is practically unheard of in China – a sad, sad thought for caffeine-addicted Americans like me).  When I was first introduced to instant coffee in China upon my very jet-lagged request for coffee, I scoffed at the thought.  I drink black coffee (real black coffee – no cream, no sugar) in the US.  I admit that I used to frequent the likes of Starbucks, Panera, and Grounds for Thought, along with the occasional trip to Caribou Coffee when I was around one.  My favorite breakfast is actually a double tall non-fat latte with a cranberry orange scone.  Or perhaps some raspberry swirl loaf if I am feeling adventurous.  Anyway, all this to say that I enjoy a good cup of coffee.  But after two weeks with no caffeine, instant coffee suddenly possesses a deliciousness that it previously lacked.  Never fear my friends – upon my return to any country with coffee shops, I will drink great coffee once more!  But for now, instant coffee makes life here bearable.

What isn’t so bearable are the flies.  While they are normally not a problem, quite possibly because my apartment is on the 6th floor of my building, they are certainly a nuisance today.  I have one fly bite on my neck and at least three on my arms.  I am constantly swatting them away.  Ugh.  Who knew that flies really bite anyway?

As for my blogging… well while I dream of being a professional writer, I know that my writing can be improved.  And what better way to improve blogging than to read other fantastic blogs?  In my quest to find said blogs, I have been checking out WordPress’s Freshly Pressed.  To my great delight, I found a blog that I quite enjoy the other day!  It is  The author is funny, insightful, and clever.  I hope to someday write as well as she does and captivate my audience.

On Simple Thoughtfulness

This morning I arose an entire half an hour early.  Why you might ask?  Simply to love and encourage a friend.  He was going to Starbucks around 8 am to get coffee before he had to be at work on campus by 8:30 am.  It was his first day at a new job that he felt totally unprepared for and was therefore nervous.  The small, insignificant catch is that I work at my internship for the Mid-American Review from 8-11 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

So, when falling asleep last night, I had the brilliant idea to set my alarm a half hour early so that I could go to work at 7:30 then duck out for coffee from 8 to 8:30.  Mind you, I don’t particularly enjoy getting up before 7 am.  And before I leave for work, I have to make coffee, shower, and pack my lunch and snacks for the day.  So it takes me about an hour or so to get ready.  That being said, I set my alarm for 6, 6:15, and 6:30 this morning.  I got up, got ready, and actually was at work by 7:30am.

When 8 am rolled around, I wrote a quick note to my boss, in the off chance that he decided to show up before 10, and went to Starbucks.  My friend didn’t know that I was going to be there.  So when he walked in, he was pleasantly surprised to find me sitting there, waiting for him.  He asked why I was there, and I told him that I was there to give him an encouraging hug before work.  We chatted for a few minutes, then we each headed to our respective jobs.

Later that morning, I got a text saying that he really appreciated the encouragement and my thoughtfulness.  I was so glad that I had been able to be there for him and encourage him.  It was totally worth dragging myself out of bed early.  And it wasn’t even really that difficult.  Show up for a cup of coffee, which I always enjoy, and give a friend a hug.  Sometimes, it is the simple gestures that mean the most.  The everyday, common, little things that touch someone’s heart.  And the best part of it all?  It is really easy.  Just think of little ways that you would love to be encouraged and do them for the people you care about.  Simple thoughtfulness can make someone’s day.