China Jubilee

Just another weblog

Life is an adventure June 5, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — missjubilee @ 11:17 am

Facebook’s “memories” function is reminding me that 7 years ago this weekend, I took an overnight train from Zhengzhou to Beijing on a Thursday night (6/4) to make a quick run to the US Embassy for more passport pages, so that my new job could get a new visa pasted in it for my new city – Qingdao! Then I zipped back to Zhengzhou again to finish out my last week of teaching. I love how I can follow my trip in all those old posts, but of course they’ll disappear for another year at midnight (or forever, if FB gets rid of this function in future changes), so I’m pasting them here in memorial of my international life. The texting abbreviations make me wince, but apparently that’s how I posted back then – back when one COULD post to FB indirectly from a non-smartphone. Come to think of it, the abbreviations are probably because I actually tweeted them, by texting them to a number in the UK that would post them to twitter for me. An old FB function would copy them in as statuses. Believe me, I was quite sad when China blocked the international Twitter phone number! *Note: These all show up on today’s memories since of course I’m in the US now but I was then in China – the times are 12 hours off, so an evening and the following morning there line up with one full day here. Going from the mundane to the zipping-around-China, here we go!

2:36pm playing ‘i have a dream’ (song) during break, getting excited about watching ‘fredom writers’ w my class next wk!

6:19pm just spent 10min fishing a piece of corn from the printer. so much for multi-tasking saving me time!

10:17pm note to self: in the evening, the lites r timed for leaving th city. if u need to get to th train stn, leave earlier! (made train… just.)

5:54am i am SO cold! not so cold that i wish i’d gotten an un-AC’ed train, mind u, just cold enuf to be glad we r almost to BJ.

8:06am in shock at seeing so many on subway reading newspaper. i don’t take pub transport at rush hr in zz, but still… (2016 note: I saw plenty of newsstands in Zhengzhou and Qingdao, but almost never saw someone actually reading a newspaper there, certainly not en masse like on the trains in Tokyo – and, apparently, Beijing.)

9:02am ptl, got to the embassy just on time. bus + subway + walk = 1:45 from train station. yikes! out now, w new passport pgs firmly attatched!

10:50am just said goodbye to the C fam. happy surprise to c kev & mandy, and hannah just started walking! now walking to western rest 4 take-out.

11:01am my dogs are barking. i am SO getting a taxi to the train station after this!

11:35am mmm, cheese steak, smells heavenly. saving it for the train. just got taxi 2 min ago to cross city, driver says 12.40 train no prob. woohoo!

11:44am JUST SAW THE BIRDS NEST AND WATER CUBE! from the hiway. wow!!!! (am i a dork? i don’t care)

Now I’m curious to see what else, if anything, I posted the rest of June 5 – obviously after 12 noon in China it will register as June 5 here as well. I’ll have to log on tomorrow and find out!😀


Teaching Materials Sale January 20, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — missjubilee @ 2:05 am

You may know I am a teacher. Did you know I also sell materials that I’ve produced on My store there is known as Jubilant Learning. I’m just getting started, but I really love the activities I’ve posted so far, and I think they’re useful to anyone learning English, whether it’s a native-speaking elementary student, someone catching up on literacy in middle or high school, or a speaker of another language who is learning English at any age. Looking to the future, I’m working on units about economics (for intermediate grade students), about a memoir (for high schoolers or for adult ESL), and about a couple of middle-grade novels, so be sure to “follow” my store to hear when those are ready!

There’s a big start-of-year sale going on there this week on January 20-21. All my items are 20% off – except the ones that are already free, of course! If you’re a teacher too, why not stop by and grab something for your ESL or elementary classroom?

740 × 400


Chai Milk Cake January 15, 2016

Filed under: Cooking,Uncategorized — missjubilee @ 12:13 pm

This is what happens when I melded my grandmother’s “hot milk cake” with my love of spiced, sweetened milk tea!

I made this first for a friend’s birthday party two or three years ago and thought I’d blogged the recipe then, but when I made a video about how to bake it this past week, I couldn’t find the recipe here! Well, that problem can’t stand, so here it is.

Notes: “Double for birthdays” says the original, so if you want a 9″x13″ cake, do. Otherwise it fits nicely in a 9″ or 8″ square, or perhaps a dozen cupcakes (haven’t tried that but bet it would work).
Grease your pan, and preheat the oven to 350F (180C).

Sift or whisk together:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 sleeves of milk tea powder, if available
  • 1 tsp chai tea spices



  • 1/2 cup milk
  • about two servings of tea and spices (or double this if you’re not putting milk tea powder in with the flour)


Strain/remove the solid bits from the milk once it’s brewed nicely, then mix in:


  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla




  • 2 eggs


Beat the whites till soft peaks form, then beat the yolks separately for about half as long, then beat them both together. Add:


  • 1 cup sugar


Beat the eggs and sugar till thick and smooth, about 5 minutes by hand or perhaps a couple minutes with an electric mixer.

Add the other two mixes in turns: 1/3 of the flour mix, 1/2 of the milk mix, 1/3 flour, 1/2 milk, 1/3 flour. Once everything is combined, pour it into the cake pan and bake for 25-35 min (depending how deep the batter is in the pan). Test with a toothpick poked in the middle to see if it comes out clean.

To me, this cake is perfectly sweet and spicy, but if you have more American tastes, you may want to whip up some cream with a bit more spice and sugar in it to put on top!


Carrot Soup January 10, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — missjubilee @ 1:30 pm

carrot soup in bread bowl

I posted my first cooking video in umpteen years today! It’s a carrot soup I made at the end of December and finally finished editing into something share-able today.

Carrot Soup on YouTube

In preparing it, I took into account a couple things I’ve learned about video-making in the past semester:

  1. You will learn as you go. Don’t expect perfection or you’ll never post a single video. Set reasonable expectations and then just do it; each video will be better than the last.
  2. Your first few videos will be painfully bad. Embrace the suck. (direct quote though I forget the source – generally I don’t use the word “suck” that way, but here somehow “stink” just didn’t sound the same!)

So, the video actually did turn out better than I feared it would, but it also took many hours to complete. In the end I accepted that not all the on-screen text was in the same font size, that there were spots that could have used music, that one segment where I’m talking is audio-less and several spots where my voice kind of tapers off (I know Mom, as you always tell me, stop mumbling), that my 3 different video sources produced 2 different screen ratios and 3 different video quality levels, and that as always I look a little funny to myself on camera (oh my gracious, please tell me I don’t look exactly like that when I’m teaching in-person!)… And I learned (decided) that next time, I’m going to make a shot list/storyboard ahead of time and at least a little bit of a script, so that I don’t have to wade through so much footage after filming. Also that if I can find a way to borrow an actual video camera instead of having to switch out between my phone’s two angles and my laptop’s camera, I will totally take it, though that’ll mean some planning ahead as well.

Also I need to pick a purpose for my videos, if indeed I keep making them, other than “share what I love” and “eventually make some money on YouTube.” At the moment I’m hoping I speak more slowly than some YouTubers, who are often way to fast for my ESL students to follow, but do I want to make that more intentional? Put more words on-screen? Add CC’s even? Or am I going more for the mainstream American cooking show audience? Or perhaps focus on alternative recipes that are vegetarian or gluten-free or something? For now it’s just “recipes I like and feel like making on the day I also feel like dealing with video recording it,” which isn’t really a plan at all!

Got any words of wisdom or encouragement?


Happy New Year (2016) January 1, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — missjubilee @ 12:35 pm

Dawn on New Year’s Day

I didn’t plan it this way, but I woke a little after 7am and enjoyed the early morning light, the glimpse of the clear sky between horizon and cloud cover. Quiet, peaceful, with a Psalm of Ascent to start the day and the year.

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Thank you, Lord. As I start this year, unsure where I’ll be living, what I’ll be doing to buy my daily bread, I start off the year with a view of light over the mountains and this reminder that you are, above and beyond that, my unshakable one. I feel so loved. Amen.


Note: A Psalm in the morning has been a usual part of my morning routine for years, but whereas I’ve been somewhat lax in the past about doing it daily, I have actually kept up with one a day the whole way through this time, starting with Psalm 1 on Sept 1, Psalm 31 on Oct 1, etc, and spreading Psalm 119 over 3 days at the end of December so I could start the New Year with Psalm 121 on Jan 1 (making the 1’s digit match again – I have a mathematical mind). I love this book more every time I read it! It’s amazing how God’s word is fresh every morning.


New Media Finds of 2015 December 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — missjubilee @ 1:05 pm

This seems to be the time of year for lists, and I wanted to mention some of the media creators I’ve discovered this year, so here is my year-end contribution to the list-making season. These are the podcasts and YouTube channels that I’ve started following in the last 12-18 months (I’m not sure on a few of them!) What media sources have your discovered in 2015?


  • The Church at Brook Hills – I found this church because David Platt, the author of “Radical,” was the pastor, but then he moved to another position and I’m still listening! The website has a great archive of past sermons, but mostly I listen to the new messages as they are posted, often by Matt Mason, the new pastor. It’s great Biblical teaching from a reformed, evangelical perspective. (I’m not great with those “Christian labels” but I think those are the best two to give you an idea of the flavor!) Recent favorites: the two or three on Daniel in October, right when I was studying the book.
  • Imaginary Worlds – “A podcast about how we create them and why we suspend our disbelief.” I pick and choose in this stream since I’m not a full-blown sci-fi/fantasy/comic book fan, but those I do listen to are well-thought-out. I also appreciate that he looks at the roles women play, and don’t play, in these genres. Right now he’s in the middle of a five-podcast series about Star Wars that’s included a look at the cultural climate into which the original movie was released, the way the term “evil empire” is used and a defense of it as not necessarily evil, and the strong opposing opinions on the “slave Leia” look. I’ve already put a hold on the book he discussed in the last episode I listened to, “The Golem and the Jinni.” Favorite episode so far: When Human Met Creature
  • 99% Invisible – A podcast about the design of everyday objects and experiences, I came across this after Roman Mars, the host, did a TED talk in the format of a live podcast production. It’s fascinating to me to learn what’s behind things that, 99% of the time, I don’t even notice. The hidden danger of autopilot, the pursuit of an unpickable lock, bootleg records engraved on discarded X-ray prints in the USSR,… Always something new, usually something fascinating, and very well produced. Favorite episode so far: 192, Pagodas and Dragon Gates, about anti-Chinese sentiment in American history and why Chinatowns look the way they do. If you love China and American-Chinese as much as I do, check out episode 182 as well.
  • Vinyl Cafe – A friend from Edmonton recommended this show filled with music and stories earlier this month, and it seems to me something like a Canadian “Prairie Home Companion.” So far I’ve just dipped my toe in the water with a couple of Christmas episodes for the drive home, but I will be back to listen more and see if this program is as good as it seems. Favorite episode so far: “Christmas at the Store.”
  • Theology Refresh – A podcast for pastors from Desiring God, featuring 7-15-min. interviews on topics from church planting to depression to youth athletics, each episode ends with a prayer. You don’t have to be in formal ministry to find the recordings helpful. Sadly this podcast was already finished when I discovered it, the last episode was posted in November 2014, but since the topics are applicable at any time, I was able to mine it for old episodes for a while. While I don’t struggle with depression, that was probably my favorite episode so far, very enlightening.


YouTube Channels:
You can see many of my favorite channels by going to my own YouTube channel, but be warned, I don’t necessarily encourage you to watch my own years-old videos – somehow I always seemed to be winding down at the end of a long day when I made them! One of these days I’d like to reboot my channel and post more professionally-produced videos.


  • The Nerdwriter (NerdWriter1) – Like the Vlog Brothers and Idea Channel, both of which I’ve enjoyed since before this year, Nerdwriter Evan looks at things from modern culture and goes deeper, applying psychology, sociology, art criticism, etc. His video on “It’s a Wonderful Life” made me blink and feel like “I knew that, but never put it into words,” while his video on “Children of Men” made me want to re-watch it to see all that I missed the first time. Admittedly I do not always agree with worldview he is cultivating, but his videos generally make me think about my own in a way I enjoy.
  • College Info Geek (electrickeye91) – While I’m not in college anymore, I have been teaching college, and I love all the very practical life- and study-skills videos Thomas Frank presents with clear closed captions! It’s a pity that he talks too quickly for my ESL students to easily follow (like many YouTubers), but at least they can pause to catch up on the CC’s, and/or go read the associated blog posts for each episode.
  •  –That’s about it for the ones I’m really excited to share and didn’t already follow before this year, but here are some honorable mentions that I have found this year.–
  • Today I Found Out – In-depth trivia for when you’re curious or just want to waste some time learning things you really don’t need to know
  • The Financial Diet – Kind of like “How to Adult” but with a more focused scope. I think I need me some side-hustles🙂
  • Fouch-o-matic Off Grid – For some reason this homesteading channel and the tiny home videos YouTube shows me are fascinating to me. I don’t really want to be tied to a place right now myself, but a part of me does still dream of making a home, possibly in a more hands-on, raw way than the average American dream (but probably not hauling my own water and living in a yurt!)
  • VideoFromSpace & NASA Johnson (ReelNASA) – While I can’t say these are thrilling videos, there is some great material here if you love space like I do!


I’m not reading blogs as much anymore, though there are several I still enjoy that I’ve followed for two or more years. I think the only one I’ve enjoyed discovering and seeing each new post of this year is Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. I don’t always eat healthfully, but I do generally try to eat more fresh vegetables and fruit, to eat less sugar, wheat, and meat, and if possible to eat fewer carbs overall, compared to what I ate growing up and definitely compared to what I see on menus of the major restaurant chains and Pinterest boards around America.


Daniel, Jeremiah, and Christ November 4, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — missjubilee @ 12:10 pm

So I’ve been going back through Beth Moore’s “Daniel” workbook with my almost-weekly Bible study group. (I’m super grateful for this group, it’s like my little bit of culturally familiar territory even though they all seem to know each other and a bunch of other people better than they know me – yet.) The Church at Brook Hills, which I follow via iTunes podcasts, has also just read through Daniel, so there were sermons on Daniel 3 and Daniel 4 the past couple weeks. This week I taught Sunday School so I went hunting for the new sermon earlier than usual – Sunday afternoon – when of course it wasn’t up yet, so I settled for a sermon on Daniel 3 from 1988 off the Desiring God archive. This evening I finally heard the latest from Brook Hills, on Daniel 6.

Man, the sovereignty of God is a strong recurring theme in Daniel! I don’t know that there’s ever a bad time to hear about that topic, but this is certainly a good time, as one possible door for my future was just shut with no fanfare or warning and I ponder what my next step should be. Piper’s point that no matter whether Bush or Dukakis won in 1988, it was God’s will, and no matter who won, that did not mean God approved of all their policies, is a great little summary of the mystery that is God’s will. Also amazing is that God invites us to be involved in his will in myriad ways, just one of which is voting. As some preacher (I forget who) said recently, “Yes, we are to be like Christ before Pilate under persecution, but as American citizens we are also each in a way in Pilate’s seat too, responsible for the policies of this government.”

Yes, I voted today.

As I consider my next step, I’m also recovering from some of the re-entry negativity about American culture. My first step was recognizing that some of the negativity WAS reverse culture shock – somehow I’d missed that connection even as I dealt with other aspects of re-entry. I still have a lot of gripes about this land that issues my passport and supplies much of my culture, of course, a lot of weak spots and hypocrisy and defiant sins that irk the heck out of me. And then about 19 minutes into today’s message, I hear “Let’s not be perplexed if people in our city don’t want to hear our message if half the time we talk about this place we sound like we hate it. Or half the time we talk about the people in this place, we sound like we can barely tolerate being around them.” And then he quoted Jeremiah 29:7: “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” BAM. In case I missed the point in the Daniel 4 sermon, where Daniel responds with anguish rather than gloating or self-righteousness satisfaction to the meaning of the king’s dream of judgement, here it is again. Daniel is so totally seeking the peace and prosperity of Babylon and its king that the ONLY way his enemies can pin anything on him is by setting up a direct, inescapable conflict between his faith and his service of the city. He’s EIGHTY and he’s still taking on responsibility so faithfully that the king is creating a special post just for him, overseeing the managers of the whole empire!

There was a side point too about how Daniel neither hid nor flaunted his prayer after the king’s edict but simply continued what had been his habit for, presumably, all 66 years of his exile prior to this, praying for God’s forgiveness and restoration of his people as Solomon prescribed, worshiping towards his true home while he lived and worked in Babylon.

Major revelation TWO (even one feels really special, and now I get two in one sermon?): Who does this describe? He grows up in a sinful, broken land far from his true home, growing in wisdom and finding favor with both God and man. He genuinely loves the world in which he lives and the people among whom he lives, serves, and leads, but ultimately loves his God and remembers where his true home is. He fully trusts in his divine deliverer even when faced with a conspiracy of jealous leaders and led before a trapped ruler to be unfairly condemned to death. He is placed behind a stone never to live again, but instead rises from the hole, vindicated and bringing glory to God by his return to life. ??!?!!?!!!! I KNOW that there are images of Christ throughout the Old Testament, so how did I never see Him in Daniel 6 before?!? WOW. Beautiful, indescribably precious, that God wove a foretaste of redemption and glory through Daniel’s story ~ and Christ showed up the fire in Daniel 3 ~ as well as the overwhelming, eternal Rock in the dream of a pagan king in Daniel 2 ~ and then we get the name Jesus used so much, Son of Man, later in Daniel ~ wow, God sure was moving and speaking to His people while they were living in pagan, sometimes-hostile Babylon!

So, I guess I need to stop complaining so much, online or even just in my head, about this Babylon I am living in. Keep on “opening the window and praying towards Jerusalem,” not losing sight of my real home, but stop being so cynical about China’s new 2-child policy or Sweden’s abolition of gender or Japan’s attitude towards other races or American politics in total, and get busy seeking the peace and prosperity of this world, truly loving my neighbors, especially those closest to me, not just whichever ones in the world seem easiest to love. The other note I wrote from today’s sermon is this: “Daniel was missionally flexible but devotionally immovable.” I may not know the next step in my mission for some time, but I know how I want to be found living today, between now and that step, during that step, and on after that step until, unlike Daniel, I am able to leave Babylon and return to my true home, an exile and alien no longer.