Yingge – the Place for Pottery

Last week Luke and I took a trip out to Yingge, which is a famed pottery town about 45 minutes outside of Taipei City. We started our visit at the Ceramics Museum.

IMG_7830It’s a great museum with lots of history, information, and examples of the various pottery and ceramics Taiwan has produced over the years.

IMG_7833Apart from the standard pottery fare, the museum also had quite a few modern pieces such as this helmet,

IMG_7836and this iguana baby. IMG_7837

After the museum we made our way to Yingge Old Street. Before browsing the shops we had sausages and bubble tea.

IMG_7839The street is full of little shops each filled to the brim with various pottery pieces and ceramics. Most places only sell tea sets, all ranging in price and quality.

IMG_7841After we made our purchase (a new tea set) we grabbed an ice cream (inside a croissant cone) and made our way home.

IMG_7845Back home we tried out our new set.

IMG_4509Yingge is a great little day trip for those in need of a tea set. The museum alone is well worth a visit.

Two Years

Today is our 2 year wedding anniversary.

DSC_4049It’s hard to believe we have been married two years already. It has certainly gone by in a flash. Last year at this time we were celebrating in Thailand.

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This year we were homebound for obvious reasons. We were also unable to celebrate today as Luke had his wisdom teeth removed so instead we celebrated yesterday.

We decided to mark the occasion by  going back for a meal at No. 168 Prime Steakhouse. We celebrated my birthday there back in January and loved it so much decided to return. We ordered the 5-course set menu again, ordering slightly different items for each course.

To start –  Grilled Shrimp and Crab Cake.

IMG_4421Soup – French Onion and Clam Chowder.

IMG_4422Steak Mains.

IMG_4423Luke,

IMG_4425and Me.

IMG_4426Dessert – Strawberry Tart and Pecan Pie.

IMG_4428We enjoyed our meal just as much as the first time. Over dinner we spent some time reflecting on the big changes we’ve had over the past year.

We moved to Taiwan,

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Adopted two cats,

IMG_4418And perhaps the biggest change…

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(Me @ 34 weeks)

Keeping Fit

I’ve been trying my hardest to stay active during the third trimester. It’s certainly been tough as I’ve been getting bigger and a lot more tired. I find myself dozing off at various times during the day. It’s a terrible curse that pregnant women are not advised to drink coffee!

(Here I am this week at 33 weeks:)

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I always thought I would be a pregnant runner. I knew other women did it, and made it look easy, so why couldn’t I? I’ve been running fora good ten years and was keen to keep it up. I gave it a good go too, running a few times a week in the second trimester (my first trimester I was recovering from my knee surgery plus my nausea/tiredness ruled running out). But as my tummy grew running just didn’t feel right. I was obsessively thinking about how the baby felt inside there while I was bouncing around. I know doctors have come out and said there is no harm to the baby  but you still can’t help but think about it. Plus my body had changed so much that it made my form really awkward. And I just felt heavy – which made it really, really hard.

So without running I had to turn to other activities to keep active. I bought myself a new bike –  a cruiser rather than a mountain bike so my knees don’t hit my belly when I ride. I have  found it much easier to bike than walk. I’m also a lot more careful when I ride – sticking to the sidewalks and avoiding and sharp turns.

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I’ve also been trying to get to the pool at least once a week. To do so I had to buy a new swimsuit as I had stretched my speedo to its limit. I was unable to find a maternity suit in Taipei and the only thing I could find to accommodate my belly was this two piece in XL. I wouldn’t be caught dead in this if I wasn’t pregnant but it does the trick for now.

IMG_4271I’ve also been doing some walking here and there when my back feels up to it. On the treadmill:

IMG_4301And at the University track.

IMG_3938But by far, the best preggo activity I have been doing is yoga. I go two times a week and always notice the difference after – it really helps to ease my aches and pains.

I’m going to try to keep up this routine as long as I can. My Doctor wants me to cease all activity apart from walking when I am full term at 37 weeks. It will be tough especially if baby comes late but I suppose I should use that time as an opportunity to rest up before baby comes.

Cooking Up A Storm

The weather in Taipei has been very strange. Last week, for most of the week, the weather was hot. On Friday it was really warm all day and then around late afternoon the sky started changing color and we could feel the storm brewing. This didn’t stop us from getting out for some exercise. We headed down to the riverfront on our bikes and once at the bike trail, Luke got off and ran while I trailed behind him on my bike.

IMG_4171He ran for what seemed like forever.

IMG_4172Thankfully I had my headphones so was able to catch up on ‘This American Life’ podcasts.

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After the run we came home and after making a batch of healthy-ish cookies, we went out for pizza. The cookies, which had oatmeal and carrots in them, turned out really well. I will definitely make them again and possibly add some walnuts next time.

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Oatmeal Raisin Carrot Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup grated carrot
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside.
3. In the bowl combine the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Using hand blender, blend approximately 2 – 3 minutes, on medium speed. Add the egg, and mix until fully incorporated. At this point you will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir in the vanilla.
4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add to the butter and egg mixture, and mix until just combined.
5. Strain the water from the raisins, ensuring that you remove most of it. Add the carrots, rolled oats, and raisins dough and stir.
6. Using a  melon-baller or small spoon, scoop each cookie and place it on an ungreased baking sheet 4 inches apart. Flatten each cookie slightly with a spoon. Place the baking sheet into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 10 – 12 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. Cookies can be stored in the fridge or the freezer.

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Our Saturday turned out to be really busy filled with a few social engagements. So busy that we didn’t really get to have a proper dinner. So Sunday we both woke up pretty hungry. I was going to make pancakes but then I started thinking about scones and so decided to make them instead. Served with fruit and hard-boiled eggs and of course coffee.

I used an old recipe of mine: Cinnamon Sugar Scones

IMG_4200I rolled them out and baked them on my Silpat, (which I got for Christmas from my parents and absolutely love) and they turned out beautifully.

IMG_4202Sunday afternoon I went out for some bread and stopped in a department store close by. I was browsing in the kitchen appliance section when I noticed they were having a big sale on Kitchen Aid appliances. I have had my eye on a 3.5 cup Kitchen Aid food processor for a long time and finally it was at a price I could happily justify!

I tried it out as soon as I got home. First I used it to make dinner – chopping first an onion, then carrots, then peanuts, then coriander for my chicken lettuce wraps. And after dinner I used it to make us dessert. A recipe I have long been itching to try – Banana Soft Serve.

IMG_4228Basically you chop up a few frozen bananas, throw them in the food processor, and puree for 3-5 mins. Done.

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I went a step further and melted some chocolate and poured over top. Words cannot explain how delicious and how much like ice cream this simple concoction tastes.

IMG_4231And finally my belly at 32 weeks.

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For a bit of fun, here is my belly at 17 weeks. Incredible!

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