BigWorldAndSmallWorld Blog

Winter in Minnesota Can Be Fun

Posted in Family and Friends,Minnesota,Winter by Administrator on the February 22nd, 2022

Having been lived in Minnesota for over 25 years, I know Minnesota winter can be long and hard. We are lucky if it does not snow on Halloween or in May. Over the years I have learned a few tips to overcome the cabin fever. As I was looking at the pictures on my phone, I realized winter here is not all that unbearable. First tip, we use school’s winter break (normally a week in early March) to take a vacation in warm places such as San Antonio, Death Valley, San Diego, Florida Keys, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah’s National Parks. When we returned home, I always felt winter goes by more quickly. A short warm weather break makes a big difference. Second tip, do something outdoors such as making a snowman or snow-tubing. Before the pandemic, we used to host Japanese students in February and March for 3 weeks. This gave us the opportunity to take our students out and about and to check out local winter wonderland such as Minnehaha Falls, museums and Como Zoo and Conservatory etc.

Above pictures in the order are snow-tubing, Minnehaha Falls and Walker Art Center.

Como Zoo and Conservatory in the winter and how about a hearty meal at Cafe Latte?

Let’s make a snowman or two! My sons, my sister and my niece and one of our Japanese students had so much fun.

Don’t forget the Ice Castle. I really love this place.

When I saw these pictures, I couldn’t help but smile. My son just loved snow.

Winter wonderland is beautiful, especially after the first heavy snow.

I hope my blog cheers you up on this snowy day. Being a travel agent I had the privilege to go to Iceland in January for a travel trade-show, I’ll share that experience in another blog.

Experience the little differences between China and USA

Posted in Family and Friends by Administrator on the July 10th, 2011

Our Yahoo class group is exploded these days with views from our classmates who went back home to China for a visit and those who came to California for a US-visit.

Cost of living is really cheap in USA
One of my Chinese classmates took her family to California to visit Stanford with the hope that her daughter will carry on her unrealized dream to go to Stanford. The family took a vacation in CA, did some sightseeing and did a lot of shopping. Cheap is the one word that they described their experience. Indeed labor and IP property are the two things that US is more expensive than China, everything else such as food, clothes, even housing and car are cheaper in US. My classmate ate quite some blue berries, cherries, and raspberries, they were so good!

Beijing is a chaos, too many liars; Hangzhou is a paradise even though it has too many people
On the contrary, one of my classmates went back to China and visited Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai and surrounding areas. Beijing was chaotic. There were many “black cars” and cheaters on the street try to trick people. Hangzhou was a beautiful place, definitely nice to live there. However the housing is so expensive that we among the group mocked each other that those of us who have lived in US for many years really don’t have the purchase power to buy any house in Hangzhou. The houses in Hangzhou are for the super rich or “the immortal beings” like the ones in books or movies. Hangzhou has a restaurant chain called 外婆家The Grandma’s. The food there was awesome. Zhuji 诸暨, a small place near Hangzhou, was quiet, off the beaten path and beautiful. The Zhuji ladies are famous for their beauties.

Our family does many things ourselves, one of the reasons is that the labor is so expensive. Three year ago we had a designer designed and installed half of our landscape. Why not the whole landscape? Because half of the landscape labor plus material cost us already $8000. So we learned from the design and finished off the rest half landscape ourselves one year later. Last week, our family also re-leveled our patio; it was a huge job with many steps. Even with the older boys helping my husband and me, it took us 4-people almost four full days to re-do the patio. Imagine what it will cost if we hire people to do this! So DIY is popular in US and it saves money.

Today there are many views on the internet on the differences of China and USA. To know the truth, one ought to live like the locals do to truly experience the way they live, shop, and get around.

My American dream came true

Posted in Family and Friends by Administrator on the March 14th, 2011

As the first generation immigrant from China, I was asked to speak at various events because people are fascinated by my story. Twenty one years ago when I came to this country, I had only $40 in my pocket. Against the odds of being laid off from a very large company in 2008, I came a long way from an engineer to be a business owner today. And the best of all, I realized my dream of doing something I truly like.
I would summarize my American journey in two milestones. The first milestone was ten years into living in the United States, I had a very nice job with Eastman Kodak Company, a nice family with two boys, and a big house with no mortgage and no debt. The second milestone was twenty years into living in the United States, I lost my job but found my own company, our family grew with another addition: a baby boy, and financially we were doing very well.
I contribute my success to my strong personality. If somebody gave me a lemon, I would say: watch me, how I turn it into lemonade. It was this kind of attitude that kept my head hold high in difficult circumstances. With hard work and some talents, I was able to acquire wealth through good jobs and investment. And I am a saver. Ever since I started working, I have always maxed out my 401K contribution. Over the years, it grew to be a nice big egg. So when the job was not there, I am able to create my own job and weather off years of no income.
But my success did not come easy. Ever since I was 10 years old, I went to the most famous boarding school in Shanghai. It was from 6am to 9pm daily 6 days a week this kind of study in school and hard-working prepared me for my long journey to achieve my American dream. I am grateful that my parents insisted to send me to the best schools in China despite the fact we were very poor at that time and they had to borrow money to do so. Thirty years ago, my mother as an elementary school teacher was making $10 a month in salary. My parents were not “Tiger Mother” (this is a very controversial topic today both in China and in USA). I simply knew what was expected of me and I wanted so much to live a better life, so I automatically did everything they expected of me and I made them very proud of me by bringing them many “faces” (Chinese are big on saving faces). All of my brother and sisters went to colleagues and received very good education. Today all of us siblings are either USA citizen or Canada citizen and we are doing well. I can certainly relate to the documentary “Last Train Home” (归途列车) about Chinese parents’ unappreciated sacrifices in their children’s eyes. When I was young I may not have realized that but as I grew older and had my own children, I really appreciated how much my parents have sacrificed for me. My Chinese family certainly contributed to my success too.

Feed my starving children

Posted in Family and Friends by Administrator on the October 7th, 2009

My kids and I spent the last nice summer Saturday afternoon at Feed My Starving Children in Eagan. The non-profit organization bags nutritious meals to feed malnutrition children in eight countries like Philippines, Haiti, Indonesia and other. In two hours, a group of fifty people from our church bagged 73 boxes of food. With each box contains 216 meals, our work produced 15768 meals to feed 15768 people for one meal or 11 families of four for an entire year.
Two-hour flied by really quickly when we had a lot fun bagging food. Music was playing in the background and teams were working as fast as they can to see who bags the most. I was very impressed by the well structured assembly lines. Chicken flavored Vitamins and minerals powder, dehydrated vegetables, soy nugget, rice went in the bag in order, weighed at 380 to 400 oz each, sealed and labeled, then into the box.
1 bag = 6 meals; 1 box = 36 bags; thus 1 box = 216 meals.
Feed My Starving Children has five facilities in the Twin Cities area. It relies totally on volunteers to donate money and time. For 17 cent, you can buy a child in need a nutritious meal. My kids bought three M&M tubes for $1 each. Just $3, you can feed a child for 17 days. Next time when you are looking for something to do for the family, think about Feed My Starving Children because it is fun and the time is well spent for a good cause

My favorite websites

Posted in Family and Friends by Administrator on the September 21st, 2009

I enjoy reading my classmate’s well-written blog with poems on weekend activities, good eats and nature surprises around us.
I believe 5-minute laughter every day is good for us. For funny readings, go to: and and political funnies
Ever since I know this columnist, I like her writings that touch me one way or another.
My sister recommended this blog to me. Written in Chinese, the author “Rabbit Editor” has unique view through her camera and her heart.
Need a place to share travel pictures, ideas and favorite foods and scenic places? Join this free online community specifically for oversea Chinese.
Social and professional networking is so big nowadays, it can be fun. Visit my LinkedIn profile or invite me (QiongDailey) to be your friend on Facebook. I have yet to learn Twitter. A popular Chinese social networking site I like is NetLog:
Last, my favorite picture site is Flickr. It has nice slide shows. I have posted my latest vacation photos here
Enjoy and share your favorites.

Lesson learned: price vs. value

Posted in Family and Friends by Administrator on the August 5th, 2009

Our family spent a 9-day vacation on Canadian Rockies and Montana Glacier National Park. While we totally enjoyed the breathtaking beautiful nature and had a wonderful family time, we also learned a valuable lesson on price vs. value.
Fairmont Chateau located on the world famous picturesque Lake Louise. The hotel room runs from $245 to $1800 per night. After a terrific morning stroll around Lake Louise, my boys wanted very much to stay at the hotel. So we did it for $500 a night with a lake-view suite. However, immediately after check-in, we regretted. It is a huge hotel. It took us at least half an hour from the time we parked the car in front of the lobby to the time we find our room. Yes we had an amazing view from the room, but we did not spend much time in our room after all. In addition, we had to pay $32 for self-parking the car at the garage and a deposit of $100 for property damage just in case.
Compare with our prior night’s stay at Lake Louise Inn for a family suite of $200 where every penny is worth it, we all learned a valuable lesson from this experience. We decided the kids should feel the pain of spending too much money on fame that they each should contribute $100 for the stay.
While you enjoy the beautiful pictures we took on the trip at, I hope you don’t make the same mistake like we did.

Reunited through LinkedIn

Posted in Family and Friends by Administrator on the July 7th, 2009

Social media is so powerful. I have recently connected with two of my middle school and high school classmates after 23 years from graduation. You can imagine the excitement and rejoice we had when we finally met in San Francisco half of the world away from Shanghai, China. We spent almost five hours dinning at a Mountain View downtown Chinese restaurant and chatting about our past years. There is so much to catch up. All of us wished we had more time to spend together.
LinkedIn is the one I am using to find my classmates and colleagues. If you have never tried it, you may be surprised by who you can find.