Ice Mountain Creamery storefront!!

...it's been a long process, but the shop is finally DONE!! We recently got the sign finished, and all our equipment installed. We even began experimenting with our recipes in the industrial machines, and its been fun!! This is the final week before our visa's expire - and (as usual) every approval is down to the wire. I will have Justin explain in further detail - but I wanted to post a picture of the storefront to share our excitement. Its been a grueling few months - and here you can see the humble beginnings to Ice Mountain Creamery....and beyond!

Can you see my little munchkins inside? They have cones in their hands!! Our first official taste-testers.


out and about with the ladies

Auntie Jenny has been teaching the girls lots of new things:
About make-up, fashion & style
Hip words like 'awesome', 'peace out', 'oh boy' & 'stinky feet!'
About the importance of reading books & being creative
About having a vivid imagination
How to laugh away any frustration
To think of others first

Here are some highlights of the last 7 days....

Shopping with the girls
cheap foot massages for the ladies
Uyghur part of the city, with sneezing camel
Erdaoqiao bazaar & baby camel
Asia & auntie Jenny near the minaret downtown
riding in speedy taxi's
...AND tonight she watched all three girlies while we went out to dinner. It was the first time we'd been out alone since Sydney was born. We feel so refreshed and encouraged to have her in our midst. She is such a treasure!


learning to bao Jiaozi 饺子

What a special treat: a friend of ours offered to teach us how to make Jiaozi from scratch! Jiaozi are basically Chinese dumplings or Pot-Stickers, sorta pronounced JOW-ZUH. You can steam them or fry them - with so many options of goodies to put inside. Many are filled with meat & different veggies. Here is the recipe of the ones we made. We spent an entire morning preparing the stuffing, and then we wrapped (bāo = 包) about 200 individual Jiaozi by hand. I was not quick to learn the special pleating technique - but it was really fun. In the end, the ones I wrapped were just as tasty as the ones my friend made. Now I want to try it again on my own, and experiment with the stuffing flavors. We also made enough to take home & freeze....but honestly, they didn't last long! The kids loved them too!

Movie star eating Jiaozi


birthday bonanza with aiyi

Basically, what's a birthday party without Auntie Jenny? We knew she was coming...so we waited for her arrival for the BIG scha-bang: kiddos running rampant, chocolate-fudgy cupcakes, pinata & goodies!! It was a fun day for all.

holding hands and running

eating a plate full of spicy kebabs: we call her "kebab girl"

fudgy deliciousness

all the big kids that came to celebrate Asia!


aiyi Jenny is here!!!!!!!!!

She arrived on June 21st, with shouts of glee & massive hugs. Its so amazingly strange & wonderful to have both of our worlds collide - but this has been such a breath of fresh air for our entire family. The girls adore her, and follow her around like giddy puppies. She is full of love and encouragement and joy...things we all need! ...most of all, she's a friend who assures me I am not crazy. :)

We haven't been doing a ton, mostly reading books, drawing pictures, doing crafts, eating good food and being a happy fam.

Everyone needs an auntie Jenny in their lives!


Bang Na swimming-pool trip

This weather beckons us to SWIM. On Asia's 5th birthday, our family piled into a small van and ventured outside the city to a big indoor pool - complete with an adult Lap pool, smaller Wave pool, 2 water slides AND a little Kiddie pool. The best part is that it was CLEAN!!

Everyone wore these swim caps, which is why you won't see any picts of the parents. :)

Sydney loves wearing her cap even at home.

Eden was brave!!

We had such a great time swimming , that even though the girls lips were blue, they didn't want to leave. Its so refreshing to cool off in a large body of water.

After the splish-splash fun - we ate a yummy picnic on the grass outside and made friends with a little Kazakh boy. He'd never seen so many white kids before, and he was very 'taken' with Asia, or maybe it was her bright yellow hat?

Even Asia took a nap when we got home, She was tuckered out! I think that translates to a great day!

making a pinata

For Asia's birthday this year - we decided to make a pinata! It's quite easy to do yourself if you have the time & extra space. I am a planner - so we made it 2 weeks early.

What you need:
  • large balloon (round is best) and a way to hang it
  • newspaper strips
  • flour + water mixed into glue paste in bowl
  • colored tissue paper, cut into squares
  • Elmer's glue + water for tissue glue
  • paintbrush & cup
  • rope
  • some sort of bat
  • candy/goodies to fill
I began with the first layer of newspaper strips (dipped in flour paste), making sure to cover the entire surface, except the hole at the top. It dried pretty quickly, but I left it overnight to make sure it was thoroughly dry. I later did a second layer, using a large bowl as my stand. I think if you do more than two layers, it can be hard for kids to break open. The final step was gluing tissue paper squares to cover the entire pinata. We chose to make a globe (since ASIA does cover most of the planet). To hang - we poked holes in the bottom to loop a rope thru. It was a great project to do with Asia too. The only thing I didn't think thru - was how 'hitting the world' would translate, and with all the effort - its almost too pretty to destroy.

I hope the kids enjoy busting it open this weekend!


birthday week.

It really hit me this week when Asia turned FIVE!! (5 sounds so old to me) She is so much more independent than I take the time to realize....she's her own little person with strong opinions and ways of doing things. She loves to direct and lead and make choices for herself. She's a wonderful helper, and enjoys being mommy's shadow about the house. She's also very sensitive and compassionate, with more empathy than most. She loves to worship & express herself thru art/dance. She is learning so many things right now: she asks great questions and remembers tiny details. We cherish all the unique qualities that make her ASIA, and we are SO thankful for this beautiful gift in our lives. Happy Birthday Asia-bug!

For her birthday - she woke up to waffles with strawberries & candles on top! We planned a trip to a pool (outside the city) with picnic foods and little friends. Later this week, we have a real party with more people and dessert (her favorite part).


ADIL Circus of Urumqi!!!!

Being the spontaneous family that we are, we decided to go to the circus at dinner time (6pm), and made it there by 7:25pm, with three boisterous munchkins, across town in a taxi! It was an adventurous evening - complete with popcorn, clowns, acrobats, tight-rope walkers, multicultural dancing, magic tricks, juggling, acrobatic poodles and a black bear that jumps rope. The Ringmaster was this "funny man" (named by Asia) dressed like a clown that had Asia & buddy Andrew busting up all night, even though he was speaking in Uyghur.

Asia & Eden were mesmerized by all of the different acts, and wide-eyed with wonder at all the lights & excitement. Asia loved the princess costumes and the poodles that played dead, and Eden loved the tight rope walkers and the bear. Sydney wasn't herself: I think the clowns freaked her out!

Here is a short video clip of some of the dancers and acrobatic flips. Some of the acrobats look so young!!

The Circus is here year-round, not a traveling one - so I guess we could go more often. It was a late night for all of us, but a fun/spontaneous way to celebrate Father's Day together!

we love daddy!!

For Father's day this year - we were mellow at home! The girls all painted cards for baba (爸爸) and we played games and read books. Daddy got to sleep in, which doesn't happen often! We made him a special breakfast, and made sure he knew he was adored by all the girls in his life.

playing a rousing game of pick-up-sticks....

Later that evening we spontaneously decided to visit the Circus. Yep, it was a last minute decision.

Uriah Evan.....and family!

About 1.5 months ago - the newest member of our family was born! I was recently sent some photos from my parents' trip to Hawaii to welcome the little guy. Here are some great glimpses of our family on a different side of the globe.

BIG SISTER: Arin Lyn - 3.5 yrs old (our niece/cousin)

BABY BROTHER: Uriah Evan - 1 week old (the first nephew!)
...could he get any cuter??

FATHER & DAUGHTER: Ali's younger brother Ian, with his daughter
The Army has him in tip-top-shape!! ...and hair-free.
FATHER & SON: such a proud daddy!
Happy Father's Day brother!!

MOTHER & SON: Arienne & baby Uriah!
The Hawaiian sun has brought out her freckles! :) What a beautiful momma!
We miss you guys!


I love capturing picts of the girls making friends. It amazes me to observe children from such different cultures - with such innocence & purity and NO barriers. Even though they can't speak the same language...they still end up playing and having fun. Don't you wish we could all be like this again??

We are so happy the girls are making friends and being exposed to such richness across the world. Here's a little video too.


Strawberry Bonanza '08

To make strawberry ice cream YEAR ROUND - you need lots of strawberries (cǎo méi 草莓)! Fruits are only available out here during their peak season - and strawberries are not going to be around much longer - so we had to act fast!

This week began our Strawberry Bonanza 08: Early morning trips to the fruit market to bargain for the best boxes at the best price. Over the course of 3 days - we bought 10 huge boxes of strawberries (160 kilos = 353 pounds), and gathered a faithful crew to help prepare them for ice cream. This should be enough for our first year in business....but next year, we may need about three times this much!

We washed, strained, hulled, and blended countless strawberries - spending about 65 man-hours to finish the job! It was a fun learning experience, and good bonding for all involved. Here are some highlights of the mess we made!

boxes of strawberries - fresh from the market
hard at work: sorting and taking the tops off
blending into a fresh mushy pulp
some bags ready to freeze

'08 Strawberry Price Comparisons:
Basket of strawberries in CA: about $4.99/basket
Pick your own @ Gizdich Ranch: about $1.45/pound
Average price here in NW China: $0.17/pound*

*Just another reason to come visit!