Monday, September 29, 2014

Apple Pie and Other Fall Fun

Last week, the Wizards (my class) learned about Fall. Most of them had no clue what Fall was/is or even what a season is so I thought I needed to break them in right ;)

September 22nd was the first official day of Fall. We briefly talked about the four seasons and the holidays celebrated during fall. We talked about harvesting crops including pumpkins and apples. We also watched videos of the leaves changing in North America (I haven't seen as much color variety here).

But what could say "Fall" better than APPLE PIE! So I decided that as a class, we should make our very own apple pies.

One of my co-teachers helped me film a video of making the pie filling. This video served the triple purpose of being educational, saving time, and allowing my students to have something to occupy them while I cleaned the classroom and the pies baked. If your interested in watching the video, you can do so below. Otherwise just skip right along to the pictures!

So I made the pie crust and the pie filling at home, but my students really did assemble the hand pies by themselves (ok they had some minor help but mostly by themselves). Then we baked the pies right in the classroom! I hope you enjoy all of our pictures.

The other teachers kept saying how good the classroom and hallway smelled while we were baking :)

This is the pie I made earlier in the day so they could see what a full size apple pie looks like.

I made paper with circles printed on them and covered them with plastic wrap so the students could use them as a guide for shaping their pie crust.

Demonstrating how much filling to put into the pie and how to fold it over.

I helped the students seal the pies--mostly because I didn't have enough forks at home for everyone to use one.

This is the finished pie. My kids love taking their treats home and sharing with their families.
Here are the recipes for the pie crust and pie filling if you are interested in trying them:

*I only used this recipe for temperature and time information.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mustions Go to the Cultural Creativity Tourism Night Market

On Saturday night, Jimmy and I went and visited the new night market in town. We had heard this night market was supposed to be big, clean, and full of fun games and foods to try.

The claims were NOT exaggerated! It was much like a large carnival. There were all kinds of games, prizes, food, and drinks (but bring your own water!). There was something for every age group.

What you won't find at this night market includes: small, dark alleys crammed with shops, shoulder to shoulder crowds, scads of phone cover stalls, or the like.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely! We played a few games. Jimmy won a BIG prize with one win (you can keep your dinky Six Flags prizes) and I won three bottles of soda in one game of ring toss. I ate snails. Jimmy had popcorn chicken and a giant corn dog. Noelle...fell asleep ;) Oh well, so much for something for everyone.

Anyway, we will definitely go there again! I hope you enjoy our pics and maybe you can have your own fun experience soon!

The night market is near the intersection of Zhongqing and Jing Mao 5th Roads in the Beitun District.

YES! That is alligator!

These are the snails I tried.

They were yummy!

Jimmy channeling his inner Katniss.

This is the giant ring toss. The rings are about the size of a child's bracelet and you win what you ring.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Nothing Cures the Blues Like Cotton Candy!

Noelle all decked out for our walk in her new
giraffe outfit and giraffe hat. Looking so cute!
Today is Monday. The Taiwanese people are super into the idea of the “Monday Blues” – I guess they really don’t like their jobs or they just really love their weekends… Anyway, today I had a rough day. I was running behind, Jimmy’s scooter broke, the electric bill was worse than I feared, and my cell phone (which I paid to have fixed on Saturday) started messing up AGAIN! Needless to say, I needed a pick me up!

So after work Noelle and I decided to go for a walk. We walked to the cell phone repair shop…which was CLOSED. **sigh** (Evidently he is always closed on Mondays there just wasn't a sign -- in English that mentioned that fact. **grumble**grumble** Another reason why we have to start learning Chinese--FAST!)

HOWEVER, I was SUPER excited to see that the cotton candy artist was still there! I ordered a giant cotton candy mushroom for 60NT (approx. $2USD) and filmed him making this yummy creation. Not only was it fun to watch and looked great, it also tasted delicious! Yum. Yum! It was just what I needed to make me feel better!

Here's a picture of the guy's cotton candy stand. The man was nice, but didn't seem to speak much English. So if you venture out in this direction be prepared to point and do charades (hopefully that won't be necessary!). Also, as promised the video is also posted below.

This is the cotton candy guy's stand. He has a variety of different designs he can make. It's really, really cool!

I hope you enjoy!

I am including a map that shows approximately where the cotton candy man is. Please keep in mind that these stands change frequently so I cannot guarantee he will be there if you go. He is inside the New City shopping area near the first escalator on the left (next to the Mexican restaurant).

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Walk Around the Neighborhood

After I got home from work and picked up the baby on Friday, Noelle and I went for a walk around our neighborhood. We thought it might be fun for everyone to be able to see a candid look at what life is like where we live. So we gave the stroller a "Bill Miller Special" (after a few attempts and failed ended up using a bungee to strap the iPad to the stroller at Noelle's level) and headed out on our adventure!

The video is shown at 8x actual speed. It's still a little long and I apologize in advance if some of the amateur camera work makes you dizzy and/or seasick (Be forewarned!). Some of the sights you can glimpse in the video include our nanny's apartment building, my favorite tea shop, the food street next to us, the discount movie theater, and the local baby store. I hope you enjoy #NoelleCam!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Celebrating Moon Festival

This weekend we celebrated Moon Festival! You may be wondering "what's a moon festival?" so please allow me to fill you in.

Moon Festival or more properly Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) is one of the two biggest festivals in Asian culture. It is a time for family, thankfulness, and prayers. Some say it is the Asian equivalent to Thanksgiving in America. Moon Festival is a lunar holiday which is held each year on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month during a full moon.

There are many different stories and traditions which surround Moon Festival. I am going to focus on the ones we participated in this year.

Traditional Stories:

In my class, we watched the story of The Ten Suns. It was one of the easier stories for my young students to understand. If you would like to hear more of the traditional stories you can visit my Moon Festival Playlist on


Other popular Moon Festival traditions center around the Pomelo. Pomelos are a citrus fruit which can range in size from a grapefruit to as large as a human head! The majority of Pomelos are harvested around Moon Festival and are very, very common. This is part of the reason that they are used to symbolize good luck/good fortune, bountifulness, family/fertility, and more. According to China Post, this is how you know you are picking a good pomelo: "Old farmers say choosing a delicious pomelo is like finding a good wife - it should be cute, not too big, have an oval face and round bottom."

Two of the most common pomelo traditions are decorating the pomelos with faces and wearing the pomelo rind as a hat. The pomelo hats are so much fun that we did this in class and I did it at home with Noelle!


Mooncakes are very common gifts to give and receive during Moon Festival. They symbolize family unity and togetherness. Traditionally, mooncakes were made by you in your home and then given to friends. This tradition has given way to commercialism and most mooncakes are now purchased but the meaning is still the same.

My students and I made a very simplified version of mooncakes (more like cookies) in class this week. It was a fun activity for them, and according to one of the Taiwanese teachers it is a unique experience that they may never have again. If you watch the making of a traditional mooncake video on my playlist, you will know why we did a simplified version in my kindergarten class! If you are interested in making mooncakes with your children, you can find the recipe we used on DLTK.


Lanterns play a minor role in Moon Festival versus their major role during Lantern Festival. However, you can see lanterns and lantern parades during Moon Festival. One of the traditions is to write a riddle on a paper lantern, go around, and try to have people solve your riddle. My class made lanterns but skipped the riddles :)


Moon Festival is a major BBQ holiday in Taiwan! Families and friends get together, eat, and enjoy one another's company. It's not like BBQ in the United States but it is definitely delicious--plus it's lots of fun! This is our family's favorite part of Moon Festival because we love nothing more than spending time with all the friends we have made and love here in Taiwan.

What I'm Thankful for this Moon Festival:
This is a tradition that I have carried over from my family back home. I wanted to stop for a moment and remember to be thankful on a holiday that was originally designated to that purpose. So before digging in I want to share what I am thankful for this year...

#1 My Family - Jimmy and I are so blessed to have Noelle. We waited for her and prayed for her for a long, long time before she actually came into our lives. Now we don't know what we would do without her. We are also thankful for our family back home who support us as we live and teach in Taiwan.

#2 New Opportunities - Jimmy and I both started at a new school this fall. So far we love it! It's nice to see Jimmy actually be happy at his school and not miserable. It's really nice that he has finally found a good fit.

#3 A Bright Future - We don't know what the future holds for us but we know it is full of endless possibilities and we look forward to each and every one of them!