Chinese New Year 2019

Happy Year of the Pig! If you were born in the year 1983, 1995, or 2007 this is your year!!

Taylor and I are back in our second home and starting our new year by regrouping and relaxing. After a very busy few months traveling all over the states for the holidays, we’ve been taking a true “vacation” for ourselves.

Before jumping into our adventures within Beijing, I’m going to take it back a few weeks. I think this will make things easier to understand. Upon landing in China, we quickly realized that the whole country was shutting down for the New Year. To fight the 13 hour jet lag, we took a small trip to Shanghai with a couple friends who live in Nanjing too. We’ve been to Shanghai numerous times, because it’s only an hour (or 2 depending on the stops) train ride from Nanjing.  IMG_7046invite you to an anniversary party to celebrate their ten years of marriage!We spent a good portion of our time eating good food, walking around the People’s Square, and visiting the largest Starbucks in the world! I was in coffee HEAVEN! I didn’t know this was even located in Shanghai until a few months ago. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery was 2 stories high and was it’s very own coffee factory. They offer way more food and drink options at this location. I tried the butterscotch latte and it was the best latte I’ve ever had. I’m not sure if this was seasonal or available everywhere? It was new to me. 🙂5Processed with VSCO with g6 presetOf course it was packed with people, but you could spend hours here watching the coffee being made, looking at all the special merchandise, and even enjoy a pairing bar! This is something everyone needs to see when visiting Shanghai. I can’t wait to go back.IMG_7050IMG_7052Our friends are huge Disney lovers, so they hold season passes to the Disney Shanghai park. They showed us the beautiful Disney resort and took us to the Downtown Disney area. Taylor and I are excited to experience Disney Shanghai later in the year. We all grabbed dinner at the Cheesecake Factory before retiring back to our hotel for the night. Tay and I returned to Nanjing the next day.

Now remember when I said the whole country of China was shutting down for the Chinese New Year?? Well this created a small setback for us. Taylor wasn’t expected to return to work for several more weeks, and our city was becoming emptier and emptier. Instead of sitting in our apartment for days and days, we booked last-minute train tickets to Beijing! Bullet trains can take anywhere between 3-4 hours to reach Beijing from Nanjing, depending on how many stops it makes. IMG_7200The two of us love Beijing, and thought this was the perfect time to experience an authentic Chinese New Year! Whenever we travel to Beijing, we stay within the Sanlitun district because it’s the most western and a fantastic place to meet people our age who are also expats. There’s always something going on!3 We kicked off our second day by watching the Super Bowl at 7am at The Local. I’ve never seen so many Americans in one location within China before. It was so odd watching the Super Bowl this early and without all the dips and snacks, but it turned out to be really fun!2On Chinese New Year, we met up with friends who live in Beijing to visit some of the festivals. There were shows, food, and extravagant displays lining the parks and streets! By the way, it was freezing!!DSC_56044IMG_7233DSC_5644The whole day was spent exploring and immersing ourselves into a Chinese New Year celebration. DSC_5692DSC_56496DSC_5670I was really hoping to see a Chinese dragon show, but we couldn’t find one. Apparently it’s a southern China thing. However, they still had a bunch of performances that were super fun to watch. DSC_56537DSC_5657DSC_5698DSC_5703I loved seeing all the vibrant colors and different traditions China upholds every single year. They really know how to ring in a new year! 9DSC_56878After the celebration, we called it a day. We spent the next few days eating more great food and walking around Beijing together. It’s always nice to get away for a few days and experience something new!

Christmas in America Recap

We’ve returned to China, so that means I’m back to updating y’all on the blog! Welcome back!

Before I jump into more posts about our life in China and the upcoming adventures we have planned (yay!), here’s a brief recap about our time in America during the holidays! (You can read about the specific timing of our vacation HERE.) Sorry if this post is a little jumbled. We did so much in such a short amount of time, so there’s a lot to cover.

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During the months of November and December, I visited all my friends and family in Pennsylvania while Taylor was still working in Florida/China! Here are some of the things I did:

img_5091Kicked off the holiday season with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with my family.

IMG_53081Explored the city of Philadelphia with one of my best friends. You can read that post HERE.

6img_4692Snuggled with Bubba and Riley. a lot.

a.r. workshop spartanburg, scDrank copious amounts of coffee with friends.

img_5575Helped plan our annual Mast-Family Christmas party.

24135a05-5bd1-44af-b36b-1bc800d2a79c.jpgWhen Taylor met me in Pennsylvania at the end of December, he brought Maybelle along with him so she could meet all the other pups! I was in puppy heaven with three adorable yorkies under one roof.

Processed with VSCO with av8 presetimg_5764We celebrated Christmas with my side of the family, then drove down to South Carolina together on the 23rd. (We alternate Christmas each year.) While we were visiting the south for a month, here’s what we did together:

dsc_5855a.r. workshop spartanburg, sc-2Celebrated Christmas with Taylor’s side of the family.

img_6378img_6388Traveled to Dallas to watch the Clemson Tigers play in the Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame.

img_6981dsc_5964Visited Charleston. Twice.

5img_6643IMG_6619.jpg4Processed with VSCO with g6 presetimg_6694Flew to Portland and drove down to Santa Clara, California to watch Clemson win the National Championship against Alabama! We saw the Redwood National Forest and Napa Valley along the way!

3Snuggled with Maybelle.

img_6808Watched a few Clemson basketball games.

2img_6896Participated in an A.R. Workshop for the first time. We made a lazy suzan for the house we don’t have. 🙂 This was a lot of fun though!

In total, I was in America for 3 months and Taylor was there for 1. We’re so thankful for all the friends and family we have who support us on this crazy journey and welcome us into their homes for extended periods of time. We were able to return to China feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the new year!

Gift Guide for the Traveling Man

HO HO HO!!

I’m back with another gift guide! This time, it’s for the traveling man in your life! I had a lot of fun creating my last guide, so I really wanted to create another one. I think we all have a guy in our life who loves all things adventure, so any of these gifts would be perfect. Like my last guide, I’ve suggested a wide variety of items with different price ranges. I hope you enjoy!

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  1. Taylor swears by his zip-off pants. I know they may not be the most stylish for everyone, but he adores his. They’re perfect for long days of traveling when you’re not sure what the temperature will be throughout the day. They’re also perfect for visiting temples and other conservative places that require pants when it’s super hot out!
  2. A leather toiletry bag is a great gift idea because it’s practical. Just about everyone travels with toiletries, so it’s nice to have a bag to keep things organized.
  3. This is one of the more expensive items on the list, but they’ll get plenty of use! Taylor purchased the Sony WH-1000XM2 awhile ago and uses them almost every day. Something neat about these Sony headphones is the noise canceling feature, which is perfect for airplanes. You literally can’t hear anything when wearing them.
  4. Continuing with the leather trend, a leather luggage tag!! It’s classy and practical. I think it would be super cute to have it monogramed too!
  5. A Rick Stevens book is PERFECT if you know where they’re headed next! Rick Stevens is known for his travel knowledge, and you can always find the best information about any destination. This is great for someone who loves learning about new places too.
  6. A cozy beanie is always stylish and easy to travel with. You can never have too many hats!
  7. Taylor and I carry our whole lives in our passport wallet. We got ours on Amazon several years ago and it will be with us forever. It holds all our important documents, cards, keys, etc. When you travel internationally, you have lots of items that need to be brought along, and this makes things easy and functional.
  8. Backpacks make a great gift for any guy in your life! I’m pretty sure Taylor has a backpack for every occasion, and his traveling one has been to a lot of cool places. Backpacks allow you to keep your hands free. They also fit under the seat on most airplanes, classifying them as “personal items” on any airline.
  9. Rain jackets are those things you should pack for every trip, but never remember. This would make a wonderful Christmas gift. There’s nothing worse than wanting to explore a new place, but having no protection from the rain.
  10. A water bottle that can keep your beverage hot or cold is great for traveling! They’re easy to throw in that backpack too. 😉

I think men can be so difficult to shop for sometimes. I also hate looking up “great gifts for men” online and finding random stuff that nobody in my family would like. You can find the weirdest suggestions sometimes! I really think the gifts I mentioned are useful and would be greatly appreciated by any man in your life that loves traveling. xoxo

Christmas Spirit in Philadelphia

If you couldn’t tell already, I love this time of year. There’s so much to see and do, and it’s easy to get into the holiday spirit. Last weekend, I visited one of my very best friends in her new city, Philadelphia! This is her first Christmas in the city, so we were excited to get into the holiday spirit together. We set out on Sunday afternoon to experience all the Christmas cheer Philadelphia had to offer. It was rainy, but we made the most of it!

DSC_5868DSC_5921The first thing we did was visit the Christmas Village in Love Park! There were vendors set up in adorable little pop-up shops selling all sorts of Christmas goodies. They had food, ornaments, and other homemade items. If you’re looking for a unique, homemade Christmas gift, this is the spot for you! (As you can tell by the photos, it was packed.)

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After wondering around for a little, we walked across the street to Dilworth Park’s Winter Garden. There were even more pop-up shops, an ice skating rink, and their giant Christmas tree!

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Even though it was rainy, the city was still pretty all decorated for the season. It was the perfect time to go, because I think the rain scared off some people! I can’t imagine how crowded it would’ve been during a nice day!

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After walking around Dilworth Park, we walked to Franklin Square. They have a really cool light show that starts at 4:30 and it runs every half hour.

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While we waited for the show to start, we ordered some hot chocolate and took some photos. 🙂

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After finishing our hot chocolates and watching the lights (so cool!), we ordered an Uber and called it a day! The sun was setting and the temperatures were dropping. We had such a fun time exploring Philadelphia on a dreary Sunday. I think we’ll make this an annual tradition from here on! ❤

Have you been to Philadelphia during the holidays? What should we do next time?

xoxo

Life Update: Our Plans for the Holiday Season

Hello!

I wanted to hop on the blog and write a short update about what’s going on with Taylor and I in regards to the holidays! As most of you know, Taylor and I flew back to America at the beginning of November. While I flew to Philadelphia, Taylor flew to Florida for work. A few days before Thanksgiving, Taylor hopped on a flight back to China! No worries though, he got to spend Thanksgiving with everyone else living in China. 🙂 These are some photos he sent me:

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Before the MLB booked any of these flights for us, Taylor and I sat down together and hashed out how we wanted to conquer the holidays this year! I could’ve flown to Florida with him, but really wanted to go home and see my family without buying a round trip flight from Florida to Philly. I also didn’t want to fly back to China before Thanksgiving and then come back right before Christmas. That’s a lot of long flights and time change! Although, now that it’s been over a month, I’m starting to regret not going to Florida with him for a portion of his stay. I miss him!

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His Christmas vacation starts in the middle of December, when he’ll fly back to South Carolina. Then, he’ll drive up to Pennsylvania to spend a week here with my side of the family. After that, we’ll drive back to South Carolina together, where we’ll spend Christmas. I hope this isn’t super confusing… even I get a little confused writing about it. 🙂

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I’ve been loving my time at home! I spend most of my days helping my mom plan for an upcoming Christmas party, taking photos, hanging out with Bubba and Riley, and helping my family around the house. There’s only 25 days until Christmas…just saying! 🙂

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Taylor is working hard and still adjusting to the 13 hour time change. I can’t wait to see him in a few weeks. We’re going to have so much fun celebrating the holidays together with friends and family, and of course catching a few Clemson games before the season ends!

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Let me know if you have anymore questions about our holiday plans and I’ll answer them down below. xoxo