Back home again

Once again we are in between posts and I find myself unable (unwilling?) to sit down and write. On one hand, we’re back in America, and really is it so exciting to see photos and read about my latest trip to Trader Joe’s? On the other hand, we’ve added another member to the clan, which provides an easy scapegoat for all kinds of things, including blogging (sorry kid). Regardless, I’ve ignored much of my online connection to home in order to actually spend time at home in “real life,” which is probably as it should be. We are enjoying both the familiarity of Northern Virginia, and the excitement of exploring a new-to-us neighborhood among the many enclaves of the region. I’ll try to check in a bit more than the last time we were back in the US of A, if for no other reason than my brain could use the creative exercise.

Capturing this temperate climate scenery on a weekend walk




The things we move around the world

Yesterday I mentally tallied up the number of times I’ve moved (not counting short stints on mom’s couch in between jobs or our current, adult equivalent–home leave) since graduating from college. In almost 11 years I have moved 9 times. That’s nine instances of either loading up the car (the worst) or organizing the house for someone else to come along and load up their vehicle (the best) and transporting our lives across cities, states, and continents. While I rummage through rooms sorting and organizing, I always inevitably wonder to myself “how is it that we still have this?” as I pull out a desk trinket from an old job, one-half of a now useless kitchen appliance, or my favorite accidental global tote, a sorority beer stein that somehow made it into the ‘ship around the world’ box instead of in permanent storage with our other random mementos best suited to see the light of day when we finally settle into one place and we’re foisting old accoutrements onto our soon-to-be collegiate children.

One other seemingly random item I’ve been toting around all these years is a bin of college T-shirts that I told myself I would one day have made into a quilt. When I first told myself this, I just assumed I would pay someone else to make the blanket using my disposable income that never seemed disposable enough to warrant such a task. But once we got into this lifestyle and I realized how important hobbies were to my sanity, I figured what the hey, why not just do it myself?

So six months ago I set out to finally tackle the t-shirt project and here is the final product. I’m not one to wax nostalgic about the “good old days” of college, but the satisfaction of using this blanket at night while we’re re-watching The West Wing makes me thankful that I hung onto them all these years.

Front and back of the quilt
A close-up of the novelty stripe on the quilt back (the squirrel is the beloved, albeit quirky mascot of the Alpha Gams)

Speaking of moving, we’re coming up on our two years here, which means we are indeed rummaging through rooms sorting and organizing. My goal is to write one more post from Libreville to show some pictures I’ve been meaning to share but haven’t gotten around to posting. As for my state-by-state desserts, although I had every intention of baking 51 desserts in two years, it looks like I’ll be baking long past our time in Gabon is finished. And if it took me 11 years to transform my t-shirts into a quilt, then I’ve still got some time for this next project.


Desserts – State by State: Oklahoma

The last time Oklahoma crossed my mind was in the spring of 2013 when we were still in China and still a family of two for a couple months longer. A friend of ours emailed me wondering if by chance I’d be interested in joining a small number of musical fans for a ladies’ night featuring a viewing of the Royal National Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!” starring a younger, Wolverine-less Hugh Jackman. Thanks to my mother’s insistence that as children we watched mostly classic movies — a move that was likely done to ensure that there was something on TV that she enjoyed as well (genius move, btw), but in the end also provided me with a more well-rounded understanding of art and culture — I responded with “I’m just a girl who can’t say no,” and began mentally planning what to bring as a side dish (because in the Foreign Service, an event did not occur unless a side dish was involved).

A couple days later I set out for my friend’s house, side dish in tow, and upon seeing that is was a pollution-free(ish) day, decided to enjoy the mile or so walk down to her place. Apparently this was a ghastly faux pas on my part because the looks I received from the locals, particularly of the older generation, ranged from stupefied to disgusted. People were actually craning their necks around as they rode past me on their bikes. I couldn’t decide which component of my demeanor had created such shock value. Was it:
a.) I was a foreign pregnant lady (They’re just like us!)
b.) I had opted for a shirt and yoga pants instead of the local pregnant uniform of a moo-moo or animal graphic sweater over leggings
c.) I was doing a combination of a & b while exercising, which in a society where pregnant women wear lead aprons (like the kind you wear for x-rays) when sitting at the computer, making copies, or standing in the same room as a microwave, could possibly be a major no-no.

I still have no idea what I was doing wrong that day, but luckily I was coming up on our two-year mark and had grown accustomed to the baffling differences between our cultures. I laughed it off and joined my friends in snickering over Hugh Jackman’s Oklahoma accent whilst eating…come to think of it I’m not sure what we ate, but it probably fell in the cookies/brownies/chips/dip section of the food pyramid. Unfortunately I was unaware at the time that fried pies were such an intrinsic part of Oklahoma’s culinary fare, otherwise these would have been a must-bring. In fact, this may be my favorite state dessert to date. I can neither confirm nor deny that a hearty “OOOOk-lahoma!” was belted after my first bite.

fried pies

State by State Desserts: Oklahoma – Fried Peach Pies

Fantastic: Thank you, Oklahoma, for sharing this dessert with the rest of us!

I used this crust recipe from Savoury Table (can’t wait to make these again, this time using her coconut filling recipe!). And because I had canned peaches on hand at the time (a miracle find at the grocery store), I used this recipe from Taste of the South for the filling. If you do use canned fruit instead of fresh, be sure to drain off some of the juice so your filling isn’t too runny.