In honor of my future attempt to do the A-Z blogfest, I am filling out this A-Z of me. I know, everyone has done it, but what the heck. It seems appropriate AND if I am going to write 26 posts in the next 30 days, I need to keep my brain matter for the future.

Age: 32
Bed size: I had a queen. I gave it to my brother.

Chore you dislike: Laundry
Dogs: Smelly

Essential start to your day: Coffee
Favorite color: Blue, but I am starting to encourage Red as well.

Gold or silver: Platinum

Height: 5'7"

Instruments you play(ed): Clarinet and Trombone

Job title: Financial Analyst or Project Specialist

Kids: probably not

Live: World Travler (and sometimes N California)

Mom’s name: Mom, or Moogle, becuase she is like Google, a wealth of knowledge!

Nicknames: K, Korea,

Overnight hospital stays: None

Pet peeve: Late people, people who make sucky noises when they eat, messy people!

Quote from a movie: Bring Me A Shrubbery!
And my favorite funny quote: We are All Assholes, Sir!
Righty or Lefty: Right

Siblings: 1 younger brother

Time you wake up: When working, usually about 5:30. Now, usually about 7:30.

Underwear: Victoria's Secret

Vegetables you don’t like: I don't really think there ARE any!

What makes you run late: My boyfriend

X-Rays you’ve had: Little finger. Teeth.

Yummy food you make: I love to bake. Anything!

Zoo animal favorite: Giraffes.

Greek English

"Would you like a biscuit with your tea?", she asks. I am a little bit confused at first. I wonder, what kind of biscuit is she talking about? Is it a bisquick biscuit? If so, why isn't there any butter on the table? Is it a corn muffin perhaps? Maybe she is talking about a cracker. I am not sure, so I say, "yes please."

The last thing I expected her to hand me is a chocolate bar, wrapped in it's little plastic wrapping. It's similar to a Snickers bar and I look down at it thinking, "what the heck am I supposed to do with this? Aren't we about to have dinner?"

This happens a lot when you are traveling. You misunderstand people all the time. However, you would think that since we speak the same language as the British, we would understand each other better. But sometimes this is not the case. Sometimes the English (aka British) are speaking Greek.

Below are a few words you may want to know before you go to the British Isles.

- The first one I learned, and you probably know this one, is pissed. No, I am not mad at you, I am drunk!

- "us" -- this does NOT always mean more than one person. An example -- A- "give us a call later on". Me - "oh, who will you be with?" A - "I will be by myself". Me - "huh?"

- Biscuit - this can actually be a chocolate bar, a cookie or a bunch of other things, but they are always sweet. Don't be fooled. You will probably be getting cake, so get ready.

- Tea - this doesn't always refer to the drink. It refers to dinner. If someone says, "do you want to meet me for tea?" this means, "do you want to meet me for dinner?" The act of drinking tea IS included but it is not the only thing that will be happening.

- Cracker - Nope, not a Saltine. This means "excellent", as in "that party last night was a cracker." This also means "foxy" in terms of a woman, as in "whoa, that Sally is a cracker!" (aka "she's HOT!")

- Slapper - Basically the opposite of cracker. This is a woman who is a slut. However, I have an Irish friend who basically uses it as a term of endearment. I am not sure if other people do that or not. This is not a very nice thing to call someone.

- Fanny Pack - Do not say this in Scotland, as a Fanny is a bad word for a womans privates. They will look at you really funny, and I found this out first hand. You should  call it a Bum Bag. Just so you know. (ps by the way, the P word for a lady's bits is conversly okay to say there. It means Cat, and nothing more).

- Have kids? Do you have a babby? Or a bairn? To be honest I am not completely sure of the difference, but I think babby is younger than bairn.

- Some Foods: courgette = zucchini, coriander = cilantro, capsicum = bell pepper

- Some with moving parts: lorry = big truck, trolley = shopping basket, spanner = wrench

- In Scotland you may be confused about your Pants. That's becuase Pants means Underpants, and Trousers are what we would consider pants. Underpants are also referred to as Knickers.

Of course there are hundreds more, but I can't think of them all right now. For more information about weird words in British English, you can check out this site. Here are a few I found there that I hadn't know about before that are pretty funny.

- cabbaged Adj. 1. Intoxicated, by alcohol or drugs, to a state of uselessness. From being in a vegetative state. 2. Exhausted, extremely tired.

- septic or seppo Noun. A person from the U.S.A.. From the rhyming slang septic tank meaning Yank.

After looking around that site, it is a little bit lewd, so excuse me for that. However there are several non-lewd funny ones (as well as, if you are looking for them, several lewd funny ones!)

I have one last thing to add as a sidenote. When I was in China, I heard all the Chinese saying the N word! All the time!! You know which one I am talking about. THE "N" WORD. So I finally looked it up, and apparently "niga" means "that" in Chinese!! Imagine how many times a day you say "that!" They were dropping N bombs all over the place!

Do you have any to add? Are there words that you have heard and just thought, "huh?!" Have you ever been confused in a foreign country? Are there any English folks out there who think the Yanks talk funny?


Ten on Tuesday (12)

1. What is a food that you never thought you would try, but then tried and liked?
Beef hearts. Yuck. But actually...they are not really that bad!

2. Do you subscribe to any foodie publications? If so, which ones?
Nope. I eat a lot and love to make new things, but I usually just use Joy of Cooking or the internet.

3. What ingredient do you find yourself reaching for the most when you cook?
Chili peppers, salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic, onion. Or if it's sweet -- BUTTER.

4. Are there any foods that you hated as a child, but then learned to like as an adult?
I hated tomatoes. I used to have to close my eyes or drink them with water. love them now!

5. What do you like to eat that others may consider weird?
I guess see number one. Also, I love fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apples with cheese, cucumber sandwiches and top ramen with an raw egg put inside.

6. What is the weirdest ingredient you’ve ever cooked with?
Okra. It's slimy and weird.

7. Do you have any major food allergies?
Nope. None.

8. Is there an ingredient that you would like to cook with, but are intimidated to try?
No. I will pretty much try anything. I just haven't heard about it yet.

9. Do you bake?
Oh man. Does a bear S in the woods? ooooh. Sorry! Yes,  I LOVE to bake. I haven't met a baked good I couldn't make.

10. If you could go on any “foodie” show to compete, which one would it be, and why?
Top Chef. I love that show. It has a lot of drama, but I don't care. Besides the first one was in the bay area and my brother's friend bought the building. I went there. They still have the Kenmore Kitchen.

Questions brought to you by Chelsea at Roots and Rings.  

Korea on Korea

As you may or may not know, some people call me "Korea". So, here I am -- Korea in Korea.

How is it, you are wondering? Well, it's great. The weather is a little bit colder than it was in Bali. Here is a photo of me last week vs. me this week.

Today we went to the DMZ (De-Militarized Zone) which is a 2 km (average) section between North and South Korea. After the war, when each side released their prisoners, they sent them over the Freedom bridge. Also, afterward, the North Koreans tried to dig tunnels under the zone in order to attack the south. The Southerners have found several tunnels and we got to go inside one of them. We were not allowed to take photos of the tunnels, but here is one of the Freedom Bridge. 

freedom bridge
Freedom Bridge

There is a lot of interesting history to be found. I am sure you probably know this already, but Korea was occupied by the Japanese up until 1945. After this, they were struggling with their identity. Some people, who were backed by the Soviet Union, were in favor of communism. Others wanted Democracy. The two sides split and war broke out in 1950.

So today we went to see where a lot of the fighting took place. It was a barren landscape. There were soldiers everywhere. We even saw some US Army and UN folks. It was a little bit weird, being so non-nonchalant in a place where there had been such strife in the past. I felt a little strange about it.

Our guide, who was obviously from S. Korea, kept talking about how the N. Koreans are cannibals, as well as horrible people and terrorists. I wonder what the story is from the other side.

Have you ever been to a previous war zone? How did you feel about it? Did you relate more to one side than the other?


Top Tens and Beer

First, here are a few Top Ten Lists that I have written that you may enjoy. These are all travel related.

You can also find these and other info on my Travel Tips page.

Top 10 Essentials For Your Pack
10 Things You Will Be Glad You Lugged Around
10 Things You Want to Do Before Kicking The Bucket
10 Weird Things We Saw Abroad
10 Reasons Nepal Is Better Than India: A Guest Post

Also, althought Kim hasn't posted her linky already, she is the host of: Grab a Beer and Look What I Did Last Week. So, pull up a chair, grab a beer and tell me: How was your week? (PS even if I don't get a chance to formally link up with Kim, I am here! I have a beer in hand and am waiting to hear what you did this weekend!)

- My week, as I think I also mentioned here, was very relaxing. I spent the week in Bali, scuba diving, getting ripped off, snorkling and relaxing.

I have a couple of things to say about that.

(1) I love diving. I am going to write a whole post about where you should go if you do want to dive, because there are cheap places, expensive ones, ones with clear water, ones where you are basically swimming in dirt. Okay, well -- enough. I will save it for a future post. However, Bali is an A-OK in my book. Even the snorkling was great!

(2) It was HOT. I mean HOT. 90+ degrees the entire time with no wind and a humidity of, oh, I don't know, maybe 97%. So, if you do go, maybe don't go when it is summer time. Or spring time. Or Fall. I don't know. Or just be ready to sweat your ass off, becuase there is no AC and it is hot!

- Other than that, we had a long ass (sorry about all the A words, g-ma!!!) flight from Bali to Seoul. Actually the flight itself was not long but the entire journey was a pain in the -- (here I go again). We were supposed to take a shuttle at 4:30 (the last one to the airport) which didn't leave until 6:30, so we sat in the car (in the aformentioned heat) waiting to leave for two hours. Then we got to the airport around 8 and our flight was not until...get this...

3:30 am.

So we couldn't check in until midnight, so we sat OUTSIDE the airport waiting for check in. Finally we checked in, then sat INSIDE the airport waiting for the flight to board. So. Finally we got to Korea and then it is Immigration and another bus into the city, which was an additional hour and a half. So from city to city with all the buses, it was 20 hours. Not the worst ever, and LUCKILY only a one hour time difference, but I am pretty cracky today, let me tell you!

One good thing (I know, you guys are going to laugh) is that it is 40 degrees in Korea (as opposed to a bajillion degrees in Bali). I put on pants. I never thought I would be happy about that. Also, we are back (still?) in the land of items on sticks. Hurrah!!! Today I had four sausages and a weird rolled up rice ball of fried fish tasting stuff on a stick! Sweet!

So, I hope you all had a great week and weekend! I know my family got snow at their house in Northern California! Is March going out like a lamb for you?


Random Shmandom

- AubrieAnne over at Who's Your Editor featured me on her Weekend Wonder series! Go over to her site and check it out if you get a chance!

- I got an email from a coworker the other day saying:

You guys still in Asia?  From your blog, you must be near a library somewhere. 

Geez, is it THAT bad!?? I guess I HAVE been talking a lot about books lately. The reason is this -- we have been mostly in places where we have been doing some relaxing and reading and not as much sightseeing. I know, it's boring. So I haven't really had anything "interesting" to say. So I apologize! Gosh, ST always keeps me on point! Thanks ST!

- And YES, we are still in Asia. In fact, we are in the airport flying from Bali to Seoul as we speak. I decided to put a new widget on my sidebar telling where I am, so even if I am talking about books, you (ST) can figure out where I am when I am not saying it! Actually to be honest,  I must not be communicating very well at all, because I sent my Mom an email today saying, "we are heading to Seoul" and she said, "Seoul? Korea?" I mean, oops, did I not tell her I was going there? I guess not. Huh. 

- This kid I went to school with, who was um, maybe 4 years younger than me, is getting married this weekend. Man it really makes you feel old when the "kids" you went to school with are getting married. He's just a boy! How did this happen? They are really getting married young these days, I guess. 

- In Bali they put each of their chickens and roosters in a separate wicker cage each night. 

- Yesterday I saw three chicks. One was dyed yellow; one was pink and one was green. What is that all about? 

Have a great weekend everyone! 


Dollars and Sense

Have you ever felt like you were being hosed? Cheated? Duped?

I have.

In fact, when traveling, you often feel ripped off, especially in poorer countries. But usually, no offense to any particular sort, but it is the locals who rip you off. Well, the day before yesterday we went diving. It was great! Beforehand we had spoken with an English lady who ran the shop and she assured us that the dive would be a certain price (in US dollars) minus ten percent, since we were two people.

So we dive, we get done and then I go up to pay. Well, first of all, let me tell you a little background. Right now, the Indonesian Rupiah is 8500 to 1 USD. So, our day of diving was supposed to be 85 dollars, which would be 722,500 rupiah. Well, I give her my credit card and not only were we charged an extra 3 percent to use the card, but we were charged at an exchange rate of 9200 rupiah which equals 782,000, which is ACTUALLY (in bank terms) 92 dollars. So, I KNOW this is only a difference of SEVEN dollars. You say, why bother with 7 dollars, but she knowingly duped me! And I trusted her. That bitch.

So later in the day, I went to get money out of the ATM. There is only one in the town we are in. My ATM card is a Visa/Cirrus card. We get in line for the ATM and the guard comes up to us and says, "what kind of card do you have?" and I said, "don't worry about it!". He insisted on knowing. I told him, "it's a visa". He said, "this machine doesn't take visa, only MasterCard." I said, "okay thanks, but I am going to try it anyway" (as there was a cirrus logo right on the ATM machine).

So I go into the little box. It's one of those personal ATMs where there is an airconditioned box to go into to use the ATM and only one person can go at a time. I am in the middle of using my card and he opens the door and says, "is it working?" I said, "can you please close the door?" He leaves, then comes back as my money is coming out of the machine. He says, "did it work?" I say, "yes". He says, and I am serious about this -- "How much money did you get out?"

Are you serious? Get out of my face! First of all, he tells me it won't work, and it DOES! Second he gets all up in my grill, third he has the balls to ask me how much money I got out! I couldn't believe it. I said, "get out, PLEASE."

He finally did and I left the ATM, the whole time looking over my shoulder to make sure he was not following me!

So yesterday was a strange day for monetary transactions.


The Whole Pack-age

When traveling, you sometimes go through many different climates, especially when you travel from Northern to Southern hemisphere in a short period. So how do you pack for this? I mean, you get to Europe in the summer time, then you go south and VOILA, it is winter in South Africa. A month later you are hiking in the snowy peaks of the Himalayas. Different countries in the same region have completely different temperatures too. Sometimes it’s as if you go from Massachusetts in the winter to Florida in the summer, all in one week (or day sometimes!) This is especially hard when you are going to be on the road for a long period of time.

I am a light packer. I have learned this the hard way. On my first trip abroad, when I went to France for the summer (to do a work exchange), I had no idea what to pack. I didn’t know if the job I would have would require dressing up; I had no idea if the Frenchies would look at me funny if I wore my favorite pair of track pants; I wasn’t sure if they were more formal than us; I didn’t know if the apartment I was subletting would have an alarm clock; I didn’t know if they would have books in English!

So I brought everything.  I brought two, not one but TWO suitcases. Big ones. Back in the day, when I went to France, I was not blessed with a rolling suitcase. One had a little tiny strap, like you would have on a clutch handbag, and four tiny wheels. You wheeled it sideways (on the long side) and to do so you had to hunch way over and slouch backwards, causing you to be old before your time. Often, it would tip over, causing your whole production to come to a stop. My other suitcase did not even have the luxury of wheels, tiny or otherwise. I had to carry it. Have you ever seen Spaceballs? That is what I looked like; I had my industrial strength hair dryer, and I COULD have lived without it.

Now I am smarter. I have realized a few things which make life much, much easier.

- You are not going to the moon. They may not have Target, but you can probably find a store, even in the Heart of Darkness, that sells shampoo. Buy it on the road once you figure out how much you will need.

- Layers, layers, layers! A few tank tops, a couple of long sleeves and one heavier sweater will get you very far.

- Also black is always a good idea. If you have a black long sleeve and black pants, you can go from beach to restaurant in a snap. I have the most awesome pair of black dress pants that I got at Express that kind of look like Yoga pants. They can be used for running or for going clubbing (not that I do that!)

- A thin rainproof jacket (I got one at REI for about 40 dollars) that can fit into a really small package when you are not using it is a key ingredient to your featherweight pack.

- A sarong can be used as a towel, or a beach cover up, or a head wrap, or a skirt.

- Zip-off pants, although not attractive, are great for hiking or other activities, are lightweight so you can wash them in the sink and hang them to dry for the next day and they also double as an extra pair of shorts (or your only pair). Get these in black and you may have just killed two birds with one stone. A word to the wise, the more pockets the better. If you can avoid carrying a purse and instead stuff your pockets with your camera and wallet, you have one less thing to worry about.

- Unless you are doing some REALLY serious hiking, running shoes work for almost everything.

Do you have any travel packing tips? Are you a two suitcases kind of person or a throw a backpack on and go kind of person?

What I Love About Thailand

Thailand has so many things going for it! Here are a few: 

T-shirts like these (it says "horror movie")

Cheap clothes like these (5 dollars)

Coconut shakes - naturally!

Beaches like these!

Sweet chili sauce (and hearts!)

Pad Thai -- of course!

An alternative to Tabasco -- THAIbasco!
So much street food! Yummmmmmy!


Good Reads

I was going to make a list of my ten favorite books from 2010 (books I read, not necessarily books that came out in 2010), but although I read a lot of books last year, not very many of them were really great. Here are a few I would recommend.

1. Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans – this book tells the tale of nine different people who lived in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. Starting in the 1960s it leads you through their (very different) lives going up through the events of the storm and telling of the aftermath. This was a good book, which was heightened by the fact that I worked for several years doing recovery work for Katrina and lived in New Orleans for quite some time.

2. Gumbo Tales – This is another book about New Orleans. Again, this was a good book no matter where you are, but is even better if you are in NOLA. It tells of the history of several foods that are “typical” New Orleans food, such as Po Boys, Snoballs and Gumbo. It was very informative and funny.

3. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – I read this for book club and never ended up going to the club meeting, but I enjoyed the book immensely. It is a murder mystery, set in Sweden. The characters are strange but funny and the story is ridiculous but at the same time interesting and serious. I can’t wait to read the other two books in the series.

4. The Historian – This is a vampire book about a girl who goes looking for her family roots and finds out that they lead back to Vlad the Impaler. She travels to several countries, including Romania, to find out about her roots. It has danger, travel, suspense and history. All these together made for a great read.

As always, you can friend me on Goodreads to find out what else I have liked (and hated) in the book world.


Someone Thinks I am Cool?

Natalie from My Blog is Boring gave my other blog The Incredibly Sweet Blog Award! How nice! Thanks Natalie. It's always nice to get props!

So I am supposed to say 5 random things and then pass it on.

First, I would like to give this award to these folks:
1. Jess
2. Lisa
3. Kate
4. KT
5. Gracie

Now, 5 things.

1. I used to work at Nordstrom. For 8 years. In the Salon Shoe department. That's the fancy one where the shoes cost 200 + dollars per pair. I actually started in Brass Plum and worked my way to Ladies -- if you know Nordstrom, you will know what I am talking about. So, if you need to know anything about shoes, I am your man.

2. I don't really like dogs. I know, its sacrilegious to some. But they are annoying. They jump and bark and whine and are smelly and furry and ug. I don't like it. If I were to get a dog though, I would get a Lab. I had one as a kid. He was my best friend.

3. When I was a kid I thought I would run a boys home and adopt a ton of kids. Now, I am not even sure I want one.

4. I volunteered in Bolivia for a month at an orphanage. I loved it. The kids were total pains in the asses, but so much fun! It was great. We would go over the multiplication tables -- they learned math, I learned Spanish!

5. I am thinking of going back to school. Any advice?

Well, that's it. Enough about me. Tell me a random thing about YOU!

Ten on Tuesday (11)

Brought to you by Chelsea at RootsandRings.com.

1.  What condiments are always, always in your fridge?
Mayo, ranch dressing, sriracha (sp?)

2.   How do you like your steak cooked?  Your burgers?
Medium, although that usually gets me medium well. But I am afraid to ask for medium rare in case I actually get it.

3.  What’s your favorite use for fresh tomatoes?
Caprese Salad or just eat them with salt. Yum.

4.  What’s your go-to dinner when you haven’t planned anything in advance and you don’t feel like going out?
Sausages and Brussel Sprouts. I always have some in the freezer.

5.  What’s your favorite snack food lately?
I like fruit. I am not really into sweet stuff, but sometimes I like me some Cheese-its.

6.  What’s your favorite weekend breakfast to make at home? 
French Toast! It's my favorite but I don't have it very often.

7.  What’s your favorite thing to grill?  How do you do it? 
Hamburgers. Easy and good.

8.  What’s your favorite wine for under $10? If you’re not a wine person, what brand of beer is your favorite?
I don't mind Yellow Tail actually. Also Pepperwood Grove (at TJ) is good!

9.  Give us your most delicious cocktail recipe.
I am a vodka tonic girl. I don't like all those foo foo drinks. So: Ice, Grey Goose vodka, splash of tonic, lime. The end.

10.  How do you like your eggs?
Scrambled or fried, hard. Yolk = GROSS.


Week End Review

grab a beer button

Hi everyone!! I'm going over to Kims for a beer and a little converation about our weeks!! 

This week I took it easy. 

I relaxed by the pool. 

Finished my book.

Got stressed out. 

Missed my family and friends.  

Rode a train and a bus and a boat. 

Join up! I have an extra beer! 


One of Those Days

When I was in High School and I had had a bad day (probably something like so-and-so didn't reply to my note that I passed across the room, or my brother picked up the other phone line when I was on it with my friend and said something stupid) I would go to my room and put on my favorite CD, probably Pearl Jam or Guns 'n' Roses, and turn it up as loud as it would go and just rock out.

It made me feel better somehow. To just let the music be loud. To clear my mind with other people's words. I would just sit there, sometimes singing along, sometimes nodding my head to the music, sometimes doing nothing. It was my therapy.

And it still is.  These days I normally take it out on some cookie batter or something -- you know, two birds and all that. I end up happy and I have a batch of chocolate chip cookies to show for it.

Yesterday was one of those days. When you feel like you have no control. When you wonder where your life is going. When you miss your friends and family. When you miss routine. And I couldn't even go to my room and blast my music. And I definitely couldn't make cookies. I couldn't be alone. I don't have a room or a kitchen or any space to myself. Maybe I should crawl into my backpack and hide.

It really got to me. How am I supposed to vent? The only person around was Mr. Lovely and not only has he probably heard enough already, but what I need is to be alone with my thoughts (and Eddie Vedder) in order to purge the bad ones.

So I did the only thing I could. My only option, since we were on an 8 hour bus ride, was to rock out with my iPod while staring out the window and PRETENDING that I was alone. It kind of worked. Not as good as the dancing around the room to loud music while baking cookies method, but it's better than nothing.

So now I feel better.

In case you are wondering, I put my iPod on random and here are a few that came out of it.

- The Sweetest Thing - Gwen Stefani (not my favorite song but VERY upbeat!)
- Let Me Sleep - Pearl Jam (flashback!)
- Natural Blues - Moby
- Girls Just Want to Have Fun - Cyndie Lauper (don't they though!?)
- Thunderstruck - ACDC (okay I guess my iPod is playing all the older music first?)
and....last but definitely NOT least...

Misery Loves Company - Metallica

All I can say is. AIN'T IT THE TRUTH!!! Does anybody want to hang out?


Where I Live

I did a post a couple of months back showing photos of the place where I love live. As you may know, I am now on the road and of course miss my home. So here are a few more photos, for me to remember home by and for you to see where I live. I think it is a wonderful place! (by the way, some of these pictures also just remind me that I miss my Nikon! Man...the P&S just doesn't have the same quality, really it doesn't.) 

View from the summit of Mt. Shasta
Pulga Bridge & RR Bridge
Front yard on Christmas Day 2010
Sierra Buttes Lichen
State Flower: the Poppy
Feather River
Hwy 70 and Onionskin Rocks
Donner Pass

Strange Yellow goo (mushroom?) on a Log

Where do you live? Do you take time to look at the beauty all around you? I would love to see where you live! Leave a comment and tell me where to look!


An Update Regarding Books


I believed I told you that I joined the Bookmark Break Challenge, which is hosted by Aubrie Anne over at Who's Your Editor. Here is an update of my progress.

When I last posted, I had 9 books under my belt in 2011. Added to that are these, which brings the total up to 13:

Around Africa on My Bicycle - Riaan Manser (review here)
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austin (A Blogger Book Club read)
Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery **** (this was a re-read, but just as good the second time)
Congo Journey - Redmond O'Hanlon**

I am definitely not in the lead. At last check on March 1, the top reader had 28 books!!! I have a lot of reading to do to catch up to her!

Also, I joined the BBC (Blogger Book Club) where our book for March was Sense and SensibilityKT of KTs Refinishing School has our linky open for discussion for this!  If you have read the book or want to join, go over to her site for a look!

My current read is With No One as a Witness by Elizabeth George, which should go fast as it is a murder mystery and I eat those up like candy. Even though it is over 700 pages, I started it this morning and am already half way through. Sometimes you just can't put a book down!


Review: Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Published: 1811
Number of Pages: 409
ISBN: 9780141439662
First Line: "The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex."

See the Goodreads description HERE.

This is a story about a family, of a mother and three daughters, as well as their extended family of cousins, step brothers and sisters-in-law and their current love interests. There is selfishness and greed; there are parties and laughter; there is music and books and love; there is heartbreak and deceit. It seems a formula for success.

The eldest daughter, Elinor, is the only rational one. Her next sister, Marianne, is a silly, selfish flighty girl who cares nothing of anyone else’s problems and wants everyone to focus on her own. The third sister barely gets mentioned, as she is not old enough to fall madly in love with the wrong guy and then make a scene about it when he doesn’t love her back.

The brother and sister-in-law are greedy and care only about money, even though they have plenty and don’t share it with the rest of the family. The cousins are only focused on parties and gaiety and fun.

My impression of this book was that they spend the whole time having parties and looking for a husband. They fall in love with men who are unfaithful and they act quite silly about it upon realizing the man doesn‘t love them. The men are all fickle and quite rude about it, pretty much ignoring the girls once they have had enough of them and never communicating with anyone.  I almost didn’t like them until I recollected that this book was written roughly 200 years ago and times WERE different then. However, I find it hard to relate and also to distance these girls from our modern times. If they were here right now, they would be completely out of place. I would tell them to shut up or to stand up for themselves for God’s sakes!

This is an era where men and women still marry for money and class. An era where your mother can arrange your marriage to a “suitable” beau. An era where the women didn’t work and then men were landlords as an occupation. It is an era that I do like to read about and would like to understand, but that I have a hard time relating to. Maybe it’s Austen’s style of writing. Maybe it’s just the era.

However, for such an old book, it is sometimes amazing how much things really haven’t changed. I think this quote still holds true today.  “Shyness is only the effect of a sense of inferiority in some way or other. If I could persuade myself that my manners were perfectly easy and graceful, I should not be shy”.

This one just cracks me up. “Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition”.  So she didn’t argue with him. She was snubbing him by not giving him the satisfaction of an argument. I love it. What an insult!

But the best quote is this one at the end, which redeems Marianne. She finally turns around and realizes that she is not the only person in the world and the learns to respect and care about other people. She realizes that the man she loved when young was worthless and the one who has stood by and loved her for years is priceless.

“Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by her conduct, her most favourite maxims. She was born to overcome an affection formed so late in life as at seventeen, and with no sentiment superior to strong esteem and lively friendship, voluntarily to give her hand to another!”

I cannot say I really liked this book as much as I thought I would. From hearing what other people have said, I thought it would be absolutely great. It was just okay. I have found that there are several classics that I feel about this way. Maybe the hype is just too much. My expectations are too high. Or maybe I am just not into this style of book. I will keep trying however.

I give it a 3 out of 5. I liked this book but I did not love it.

PS. I have not seen the movie, but saw the cover of the book. Does Hugh Grant play Willoughby? I hope he's not Brandon. He's definitely more of a rouge. Also, if Kate Winslet is Marrianne, I am not sure I agree with that one either. I guess I will have to watch it.

Have you read Sense and Sensibility? Do you want to be part of the discussion? Please join us over at KT's Refinishing School for a link up and discussion of this book. While there, you can also vote for our April BBC book club read.


Ten on Tuesday (10)

1. What is your cleaning style like?
I am a tiny bit of an obsessive compulsive control freak anal clean person. Sometimes. I like things in order, I clean while I cook. I never leave the dishes for "tomorrow". I don't really dust that much though. But I do fold my underwear. 

2. What is your favorite thing to add to an outfit to take it from casual to classy?
Really sometimes all you need is a little mascara and a nice pair of shoes.

3. Do you like stormy weather?
Yes, it has a certain romantic feeling. I also LOVE the sound of rain on the roof.

4. What is your favorite cold treat on a hot day?
A coconut shake, naturally!

5. What is your favorite warm treat on a cold day?
Hot cocoa with whipped cream, or in my family, whipped cream with hot cocoa!!

6. Who is your favorite animated character?
I was a bugs bunny fan as a child -- kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit...there's nothing better than that. However, I really loved Finding Nemo.

7. What do you keep your jewelry in?
I barely have any, but I keep it in old prescription medicine bottles and a little plastic organizer.

8. Do any of the rooms in your house have a theme?
I don't have a house, or rooms, or even very much furniture. I am not very materialistic. So, no, no themes.

9. Do you watch any interior design TV shows – if so, what is your favorite?
No. I sometimes watch HGTV but usually the home buying ones not the decorating ones.

10. When was the last time you did something risk-taking?
Hahahah. I can't say online. My mom would be mad. JUST KIDDING MOM! I think it was scuba diving or climbing in the Himalayas. Or riding in any moving vehicle in Vietnam.

Thanks to Chelsea at Roots and Rings for hosting this!


Any Interest in Pinterest?

Okay so I joined Pinterest and so far it's been fun, although I am still figuring out what to do. Basically you just "pin" anything you like to a "board" where you can see it all at the same time. So any website, pair of shoes or photo you like, pin it on! Some people have so many things on there! I have about 8. I am working on it.

I can invite people by email, so go and check the site out HERE, and if you want to join, email me or leave your email in a comment and I will invite you by email. 

Here is my pathetic board so far! I can't wait to see what YOU pin! 


Curry Me Green

Have I mentioned I like food? At home I cook as much as I can and I definitely miss that while I am abroad. I miss being able to just open the fridge and get out a snack, instead of having to go out and "forage" for food, to work for it. I miss having cheese at the ready and eating hunks of it out of the fridge without a cracker, whenever I want. I miss coffee, endless amounts of it with fresh milk.

However, even though there is no cheese here, there are so many other great foods in Asia! Below is a photo one of the great Thai foods, Green Curry with Chicken. I could eat this, and Pad Thai, every day. I found a great recipe here, where there are also many other great Thai recipes.

This Thai Green Curry Chicken recipe features chunks of tender chicken simmered in a homemade green curry sauce along with healthy vegetables (zucchini and red bell pepper). The result is a gourmet-style Thai green curry that is very aromatic and beautiful to serve (great for entertaining!). The key to good green curry is in not only using the right ingredients, but knowing when to add them. Because this curry is made the same as in Thailand (on your stovetop), I recommend using only smaller pieces or cuts of chicken, allowing for faster cooking and the freshest possible taste. ENJOY!
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: Serves 2 to 3
  • 4 small green Thai chilies, OR substitute 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1/4 cup shallot OR purple onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, sliced thinly OR 3 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 to 1 tsp. shrimp paste
  • 1 cup fresh coriander/cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper (can be purchased at some supermarkets, OR at Asian food stores)
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves (can be purchased frozen at most Asian food stores)
  • 2 Tbsp. oil for stir-frying
  • 1 to 1.5 lbs. (about 0.7 kg) boneless chicken thigh or breast, cut into chunks
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise several times, then cut into chunks
  • Generous handful of fresh basil
For lemongrass tips, see: Buying and Preparing Fresh Lemongrass.
  1. Place all the "green curry paste" ingredients together in a food processor, and process to a paste. If necessary, add a few Tbsp. of the coconut milk to help blend ingredients. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the lime leaves by tearing the leaf away from either side of the stem. Discard the central stem. Then, using scissors, cut leaves into thin strips. Set aside.
  3. Warm a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl around, then add the green curry paste.
  4. Stir-fry briefly to release the fragrance (30 seconds to 1 minute), then add 3/4 of the coconut milk, reserving 2-3 Tbsp. per serving portion for later.
  5. Add the chicken, stirring to incorporate. When the curry sauce comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium or medium-low, until you get a nice simmer.
  6. Cover and allow to simmer 3-5 more minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally.
  7. Add the red bell pepper and zucchini, plus the strips of lime leaf, stirring well to incorporate. Simmer another 2-3 minutes, or until vegetables are softened but still firm and colorful.
  8. Do a taste-test for salt, adding 1-2 Tbsp. fish sauce if not salty enough. If you'd prefer a sweeter curry, add a little more sugar. If too salty, add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice. If too spicy, add more coconut milk. Note that this curry should be a balance of salty, spicy, sweet and sour, plus bitter (the bitter is found in the fresh basil garnish).
  9. Serve this curry in bowls with rice served separately, allowing guests to add their own. Top each portion with fresh basil, then drizzle over 2-3 Tbsp. coconut milk, and ENJOY!


Well, I did it; I cut my hair. I was trying to decide a while ago and most people said, "go for it", so I did.

I went to a "salon" in Bangkok. The magazine they had for hairstyles was full of punk rock cuts. I finally found the cut I wanted (or a close enough one) in the "Asian" section of the magazine. So I guess I have an Asian haircut?

The lady who cut it did so while looking out the window of the hair salon. I was afraid I was going to end up bald! When I tried to explain to her at the beginning that I wanted to keep my ponytail to donate it to Locks of Love she just gave me a blank stare. So I just told her I wanted to keep the ponytail and she lopped it off a little too low. I hope it's long enough! You need at least 10 inches. I won't be able to send it in until I get home anyway, so we will see how it goes then. The lady also kept trying to keep the cut longer. She would cut it and I would say, "shorter" and she would look at me like, "are you sure? You are crazy!" and then she would cut off another inch and then I would say, "shorter!" We went round and round for a while.

It's pretty short and very layered, so of course it will be a pain to grow out, but c'est la vie! It feels weird without a ponytail and yesterday when I took a shower I dried off my hair and then flipped my head backwards, only to realize I don't have any hair to flip! But I sure am saving money on shampoo! And I don't even use conditioner anymore. I know, crazy right?

Best of all, my haircut cost 100 baht, the equivalent of about 3 dollars. You can't beat that!

And, funny thing...I sent one of my friend's a photo and told her I cut my hair and she sent me THIS. I guess I am not alone, although, damn, how can I compete with her? She's HOT.


Finish Line

I recently entered JC Martin's Race to 200 Blog Contest, where you have to write a  (roughly) 700 word essay, somehow having to do with racing. You can find my entry here.

The results are (almost) in! I am one of 6 finalists and the results just need to be narrowed down. You can go here to see the 6 finalists and to read their submissions and vote for your favorite! They are all good ones; the decision will be difficult, but we know you can do it.

The race is almost over!

Note: thanks to JC and Genna who hosted and judged this contest! 

Palm Wine, Anyone?

Koh Chang, Thailand
I was watching a show on Nat Geo about people in India who make a coconut toddy out of the sap of the palm tree. It's pretty cool; they climb up to the top and tap the tree and put a gourd under the tap. They then leave the gourd up in the tree for a few days. When they take it down, it is liquor. This liquor has to be drunk in one day, or else it becomes vinegar. However, they do use this vinegar in curries and other dishes, so it doesn't go to waste.

After watching that, as well as traveling to a few places with palm trees, it is really amazing how many things the palm tree can be used for.

Obviously there is the coconut, a great fruit and one of my favorite shakes!

Next we have heart of palm, which is delicious, but apparently they have to kill the tree to get it, so it's not very practical, and this accounts for it's price at Trader Joes

There are also date palms, which "date" back to 5000 years ago when the Middle Eastern cultures used them as a hardy source of food that didn't go bad on long desert journeys.

In Malaysia, they have huge farms of palm trees that they use to harvest palm oil. There are two types, palm oil which is used for cooking and palm kernel oil which is used for soap. (this is actually sad, because it is destroying the natural landscape, as apparently they can get more money for the oil than they can for other land uses, such as preserving natural forests)

The betel nut is often chewed in eastern Asia as a mild drug. I tried it when I was in the Philippines. They take the nut and a piece of leaf, together with a bit of snail shell powder (I am actually not sure and probably don't want to know what it was), and you wrap it all together and stick it in your mouth. You then chew and chew and chew and then spit and spit and spit. I did not get any feeling from it, although the locals swear by it's euphoric effect. The only effect I saw was that they all had brown, rotten teeth!

In many places Palm leaves are used as roofing material.

There are many other uses, which I didn't even know about and found on WikipediaCoir is a coarse, water-resistant fibre from the outer shell of coconuts. It is used in doormats, brushes, mattresses, and ropes. Dragon's blood is a resin used in dyes, varnishes and incense, can come from the fruit of the rattan.  Some peoples living in palm-rich areas use palms to make many of their necessary items and food. Palm leaves are also valuable to some peoples as a material for thatching or clothing [14].

In California, they are used as decoration, and I have heard that a full sized tree costs upwards of 50,000 dollars. I don't know if there is any truth to this. 

Also, as a side note, Girl With The Red Hair did a post about what she was writing about on her blog a year ago. I thought this was interesting, so I went to my blog to find out: What was I doing for the past few years in March?

In March 2010:
I was cooking top ramen in my hotel coffeepot.
I got my first tag from Jess, one of my first real followers!

In March 2009:
I ran the New Bedford Half Marathon.

In March 2008:
I was hanging out with Luis at the Boca Juniors stadium in Argentina.

In March 2007:
I was celebrating St. Pats at the Bulldog in New Orleans.

Aren't blogs great! They are like the best and weirdest journal you could ever have.

What about you: Have you tried palm wine? Do you like coconuts? What were YOU doing last March? 


Ten on Tuesday (9)

Brought to you by Chelsea at rootsandrings.com.

1. How did your parents decide on your name?
My mom found it in a bodice ripper. It means "my lady" (ie senora,
Madame) in Greek. So if my name was Greek it would still be the same.

2. Do your initials (First, Middle, Last) spell out anything fun/funny?
My initials are KLNW. I used to say my middle name was Ellen. (LN) But
no, all consonants don't really spell anything. If I was a gov't
entity I could probably work out a great acronym.

3. Did you take your middle name from childhood or did you take your
maiden name as your middle name? (If unmarried, what do you plan to do?)
I am unmarried and don't plan on becomming so soon. I will cross that
bridge if I come to it.

4. Are you or will you name your children thematically (ie. same first
letter, all of same origin?
No. I don't have kids but I think it's super cheesy to name them
Kristy, Kyle, Karla, and Ken. Super cheesy. Twins called Kevin and
Devin are ever worse. Please don't do that. Imagine the taunts. And

5. Did you decide on baby names as a little girl? Did you stick to
them or change your mind?
I was going to have eight kids. Then I realized that I like life
without them ( sorry mom). But I actually, despite the last comment,
like the name Devin. And Freyja for a girl. My cousin us Fransje and I
think that is the most beautiful name ever. If I have kids they
probably won't have normal names. However, my boyfriend is Portuguese,
so they will probably be called Maria(Mary) and Joao (John).

6. Does your family have any names that have been passed down through
Yes. On my Moms side we are a Mayflower family. So there are tons of
Peters and Charles and Johns. And it's common to take someone in your
family's first name as your middle name.

7. Do you look at the meaning of the name or just the name itself?
I like both. Freyja for example is the Norse goddess of love, beauty
and war. But I just like the name.

8. Do you name pets with human names (Sally, Henry) or with pet names
(Fluffy, Mr. Bo Bo)?
I am a very unoriginal pet namer. My favorite cats were Whiskers,
Blackie, Callie and Jasmine (I think my mom named that one). I haven't
had a pet in about ten years.

9. Are there any names that you have an affinity or dislike for based
on a childhood experience/someone you once knew?
Definetely. Mellissa is a girl who cheated on my best friend. Hate it.
Valerie is a bitch I had as a boss. Hate it. Etc.

10. What are some of your favorite names? Why?
I like Celtic names, Greek names and Norse names. Gods I guess. Why -
they are different and powerful.


Street Food Love

pad thai man by kyria!
pad thai man a photo by kyria! on Flickr.
I love street food. From this guy, you can get an order of street Pad Thai for about One Dollar. He also has spring rolls and best of all, meats on sticks (50 cents each).

Thank goodness for the Pad Thai Guy.


Funny Signs, American Style

Sometimes even at home, there are funny signs. Most of these are at the office.

Well what should I use them for then?

This guy was MAD

This toilet has no money

Next sign will say "don't EAT in the kitchen"
This sign was first.
The next day, someone had added this one.
Office humor! It's funny. Aren't you glad you are not there now? Have a great weekend!


Tiny Blogger

Today For The Love of Blogs is hosting the Fab Friends Friday blog hop.

I just wanted to say THANKS to Kimberly at Yep They Are All Mine because she solved a problem for me! It has been bugging me for a while that I couldn't figure out how to make my blog accessible by mobile because I know that I use my phone a lot to look at people's blogs and it is a pain to have to zoom, zoom, zoom in order to make a comment. Well Kim let me know how to do it and let me tell you, I am a dunce! It was SO EASY.

So just in case you too are a blogger dunce like me, I am going to rehash what I had to do to make it work. Thanks Kim! You are a blog-saver! (and an EYE saver!)

1. Go to draft.blogger.com (yeah, why I didn't know about this, I am not sure)
2. Go to your SETTINGS
3. Go to Email & Mobile
5. Save. You are done.

The key was the DRAFT blogger, which I was not using. Once I got onto that, it was a cinch. I suggest everyone do this, as I personally think it makes it more likely that people will comment on your blogs since it is so easy!

Also, I have not played around with it yet, but Kim also said there are many more fun things to do in Draft that you can't do in regular blogger. So, if you find out about anything else I should know about, please let me know!

Racing For Your Life

Crossing the street is an art form and all around the world it is done differently. I was in Washington DC once with some friends as we jaywalked across the street, the middle aged woman behind us who was standing on the curb, stated to her friend, “Hmph. They must be from California”. Well she could have been guessing, as we were two blondes and an Asian, but I think what she was referring to was that we had crossed the street in a non-crosswalk area. The nerve of us! What were we thinking? I wasn’t aware that this was a typically Californian trait.

In fact, she may have been better off saying, “They must be from Nepal”. They cross the street wherever and whenever they want. In San Francisco, the pedestrian judges the speed of the cars and walks accordingly behind or in front of the traffic (and rarely in the crosswalk). However, try the same thing in Sacramento and just as you are about to cross the street behind the Honda that is heading your way, the Honda will slow down or even stop and wave you on. Then everyone is confused. You are not sure why they are waving at you (do they know you?) and they keep waiting for you to cross. If there are multiple lanes, other cars may come and who knows if they too decide to stop or if they are going to keep going. The rules are different everywhere.

However, the most exciting and difficult street crossing I have ever encountered has been in Vietnam. In Vietnam it is a race. A race against time. A race for your life.

The traffic in Vietnam is not only horrible and busy but there are no rules that I can see. Many people drive motorcycles and they sometimes drive on the wrong side, run red lights and pass cars on the left and or right as they see fit. They drive to fast and swerve around cars. They drive on the sidewalk. They seem to think that a honk or twenty is the only thing you need before doing whatever you want. Throw into the mix dozens each of cars, trucks, buses and bicycles and you have a melting pot of chaos.

Now, imagine crossing this jungle on foot. There are no crosswalks, and as I said before, nobody obeys the lights anyway. You have to cross in the middle. There is always traffic. It took me a while to learn how to do this. I was standing on a curb, waiting for the traffic to thin, which it wasn’t. I was wondering in my mind, “How in the H am I going to cross this mess?”

And then I saw her, my guardian angel, an old woman, about to cross the street. So I got right behind her and decided to do what she did. What she did was this. She stepped off the curb. The traffic was still whizzing by with frightening speed. She started walking across, as if she was Moses and the traffic was going to just part and let her by. The funny thing is, it did. As she walked (and I scampered behind her), the traffic went around her. They judged her speed and avoided her (and me, since I was basically clinging to her Vietnamese pajamas).

I was amazed. So this is how they do it! Now I know. The key is to remain calm and to keep the same pace. If you jump out of the way or speed up, you may get run over. You have to just set your pace and stick with it and they will go around you. And this is how you win the race.

Race to 200 
NOTE: This post is an entry for the JC Martin, Fighter, Writer "Race to 200" Blog Contest. Please go and check out her site and the other entries. We will be doing a blog hop from March 4-6 2011.


What I Miss, A Haircut and More

When traveling, you oftentimes really want something, something you get at home all the time and take for granted ALL THE TIME. You don't realize you liked it until, voila, it is gone. Here are a few of those things.

- Free refill coffee -- the coffees abroad are tiny and they take forever to get to your table and there are no refills. I want a full cup of coffee, all the time. I want to drink 4 cups in one sitting. I want COFFEE, not a tiny cup of slog that I can consume in one gulp.

- Water, clean water. Tap water is a no-no in most places. So you have to buy bottle after plastic bottle in order to have enough. And if you forget to buy a bottle before going to bed, expect a dry mouth the next day. I have been VERY temped to drink the tap water many times, but have refrained. But I am SOOOO thirsty all the time.

Now, the haircut. I am thinking of cutting my hair. I don't know why, but every few years I go through this faze. I did it in 2008, lopped it all off and sent it to Locks of Love. I think it is time to do it again. Except this time, I thinking REALLY short. Why, I don't know, but I need a change. Will I regret it?

Here is a photo of "maybe" what I would do:

Or this:

Here is what my hair looks like now. I know, boring, right? (and a little uneven!)
And I usually wear it up like this anyway.

So, what do you think?? Should I cut it? Will I look like a boy? Or a lesbian? (no offense to boys or lesbians)

And lastly, I just want to say thanks to my followers, new and old! I appreciate that you read all my drivel, about myself and what I am doing and what is important to me. You guys rock!


Ten on Tuesday (8)

1. What type of cell phone do you have and how would you rate it?
I have an iPhone and I mostly love it. I hate iTunes though.
2. What has been your most serious injury?
I broke my pinky finger and once had stitches in my chin. That's about
all. I'm not really accident prone I guess.
3. What is one movie you hate and why?
I don't really like any of those dumb Adam Sandler movies. He's like a
child. I don't find it funny.
4. How many email addresses do you have?
I have two that I use and three that I don't use. Oh and I had to sign
up for yahoo to use flickr so I guess that's four I don't use.
5. What website do you waste the most time on?
Google Reader.
6. Which mexican restaurant makes the best salsa?
Pretty much any one in the Mission in San Francisco has my vote.
7. What is your dream car?
That Mercedes that costs 450,000. The one with the gullwing doors. I
don't know the model.
8. If you could spend up to $100 with no strings or restrictions or
guilt, what would you buy?
A flight somewhere. Or a massage.
9. What is your favorite board game?
I love Rummikub.
10. How often do you change your hairstyle?
Almost never. Maybe every three years or so. Its usually long.
**Brought to you from Chelsea at rootsandrings.com**