The brothel has had an upgrade!

And all of a sudden… we’re no longer living next to a brothel! It really does feel like the end of an era. It has had an upgrade. No longer are there late-night Maseratis and Lamborghinis parked in the carpark. Instead, there’s a early morning stream of tour group families heading off for Beijing adventures.

It is now officially the Pacific Hotel!

(I’m sure, however, if you needed some of their previous services, they would still be available on request).

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But I still have a couple of funny photos to share from the renovations.

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From a distance, these toilet doors looked quite cool. Bond and Marilyn… good choice…

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…until you got closer and discovered that they were scary androids.

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Love seat removal blocking our street.

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Been looking for WMDs? I think I found one.

See some older photos here.

The Blue Zoo (BJ Bucket List #3)

In Beijing, we live opposite a soccer stadium. But it’s not only a soccer stadium. It’s a nightclub hotspot. It’s a popular family walking spot. It’s a place to show off your new sports car. It’s a place to watch big pop concerts. It’s a place to open an over-priced jewellery shop.

Oh, and there’s the “longest acrylic tunnel” in Asia, measuring in at  120m! Only in China would you find an giant aquarium under a soccer stadium and nowhere near the ocean.

I’m always a little apprehensive about zoos in China – they don’t have the best reputation. But aside from one section where some turtles and sharks were in a pretty small tank, it was actually pretty impressive! We also went half an hour before closing, so there was no one there! Fabulous!!

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A “Very Hungry Caterpillar” birthday party

I couldn’t resist doing something special for her first birthday… special, but simple! We planned to have a park picnic, so I wanted something that we could easily transport outside, however, we were thwarted by the pollution and had a living room party instead.

We had to be a little bit flexible with some of the foods. We couldn’t find strawberries, so we used Happy Baby strawberry snacks instead. I didn’t want to be serving ice-cream on such a hot day, so we did wafer biscuits. The head of the caterpillar was a chocolate cake, and the body was banana cupcakes – baby friendly ones, but the icing wasn’t baby friendly!! So I left a few aside for the little ones. All in all, quite a success, and pretty darn easy too!

The printables were found here.

There was quite a bit of sentiment in the cooking too. The chocolate cake is my great-grandma’s recipe, and the cupcake recipe is my Mum’s favourite that she always baked for our birthdays as kids. Below is my adapted, baby- and allergy- friendly version.

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Banana cupcakes

  • 60g butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cup SR flour
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • olive oil (2 eggs worth)
  • 3-4 tbsp soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Mix together. Put into patty pans. Bake for about 12 minutes. Makes about 16.

Baby on the Great Wall (BJ Bucket List #2)

We had a great recommendation from a friend to stay at Great Wall Fresh. We were picked up by Mr. Chen’s lovely son in a very comfy car from line 13 subway and we cruised past the touristy Badaling, and soon found ourselves in a lovely Chinese village called Chenjiapu.

The accommodation was great, and all of the food was fresh from the garden, cooked by Mrs. Chen. Adella enjoyed Chinese mantou for the first time.

We unfortunately stayed on a very foggy day, but we were so glad to have clean fog rather than smog. So, it ended up being quite a mysterious hike along the wall. Because of the fog and having the little one with us, we did their “easy” hike, but it was still a solid three hours, and we kept up quite a pace! The Wall was highly variable, with weather-eroded turrets, and some pieces of complete wall, whilst other bits had completely disappeared.

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We’ve been to a number of parts of the wall in our six years (Sancha, Jiankou, Simatai, Jinshanling, Badaling{bleh}), and I would highly recommend Great Wall Fresh to anyone looking for a Chinese homestay-style Great Wall getaway. If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments below.

Baby-led Weaning – meatballs, fritters and apples

Life is busy. Super busy. Moving countries is a challenge. There’s so much to think about and time just flies by so fast!!

But, I have a few recipes to throw at you today.

These meatballs are delish. Don’t just feed them to baby, cook them for yourselves! The apple keeps them yummy and moist and adds a nice bit of texture. Plus, they’re a great size for little hands.

Beef, Rice and Apple Meatballs (Original recipe here: Beef, quinoa and apple meatballs):

  • 400g beef mince
  • 400g cooked brown rice (too hard to get Quinoa in Beijing)
  • 1 grated apple
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • pepper
  • 1 egg

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and then roll into small balls. Place on baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes until brown all over.

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I also started looking for a replacement for potato fritters to liven things up. I’m trying to get more variation in her diet. It’s so easy to cook the same things. These babies were a little wet and it was difficult for them to stay together. I think either drain the carrots for a while to reduce moisture, or chill them in the fridge for a while before frying. But, either way, yum!Carrot Fritters (Inspiration recipe here)

  • 4 large carrots, grated/food processed
  • 5 spring onions chopped
  • 2 tsp. cumin, pounded

  • 1 tsp. fennel, pounded
  • 6 tbsp. flour
  • 2 eggs

Roll into balls and flatten in the frypan.


IMG_2963Adella has never really like fresh apple. I think she finds it a little too hard to bite into with her little teeth. So, we’ve been making stewed apples – which she loves! Then, I was thinking back to Girl Guides, and I remembered makin
g baked apples on the campfire. Mmmm….

Baked Apples (Inspiration recipe here)

  • Apples
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (or equivalent)
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg

Core the apples. Place them in a baking dish and pour over the oth

er ingredients. Bake until soft and cooked through.

No surprises that the family all had these for dessert with a big dollop of yoghurt!

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