January 2, 2009

A Meme for the New Year

Posted in Journal tagged , , at 11:25 pm by Jenn

I found this meme yesterday when I visited Transplanting Me’s blog.  It had some pretty good questions so I thought it would make a good post for me today.  Here it is:

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?I tried geocaching for the first time and LOVED it. 

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?  I honestly don’t remember what my resolution was for last year and I’m too lazy to search my archives to find out. 

I’m not going to make any resolutions so to speak but I am going to make the most out of the cards I’m dealt.  You know…the whole lemon…lemonade thing. 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My friend Emilie had a baby girl named Katherine, we call her Kate.

4. Did anyone close to you die? My mom’s best friend Jo Zimmerman.

5. What countries did you visit? In 2008 I was in Belarus, Lithuania, Germany, Russia (airport), Turkey (airport), Austria (airport) and Azerbaijan.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? A purpose – you know, knowing that what I do everyday makes a difference.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?  March 12, 2008, our Ambassador to Belarus, Karen Stewart left Belarus for Washington after being asked to leave or be declared persona non grata by the Belarusian government.  Following Ambassador Stewart’s departure the staff at the US Embassy in Belarus was downsized per the request of the Belarusian government.  Most of the folks who left with this group left on March 27, 2008.  The weeks that followed were full of tension and uncertainty and finally the day came, May 3, 2008 when 11 US diplomats left Belarus after 10 of them had been declared persona non grata.  This was a day that affected me personally, it affected my family and the lives of many friends and co-workers.  This time period is one that I’m not likely to ever forget. 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Starting Smart Nutrition, LLC.

9. What was your biggest failure? My biggest failure was letting my stress manage me and not me managing my stress. 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I didn’t suffer any major illnesses or injuries, but I did damage the nerve bundle on the side of my left foot early in the summer and today it still isn’t completely “normal”.  That’s a very freaky thing to have happen.  I damaged it by WALKING to much in my favorite sandals.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Pashmina scarves at the airport bazaar.   

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Mine, for not bailing out on this whole Baku situation and returning to the good old US of A.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Mine, for not bailing out on this whole Baku situation and returning to the good old US of A.  See my problem?

14. Where did most of your money go? Travel and Christmas

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Our trip to Germany in the fall….my parents met us there!

16. What song will always remind you of 2008? Willie Nelson – On the Road Again

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer? sadder, fatter and poorer!  I thought it was supposed to be “fat, dumb and happy”?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Traveling outside of Baku to the regions.  They are supposed to be really beautiful.  Unfortunately, my husband has seen all of this country that he wants to see.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Arguing with my husband. 

20. How did you spend Christmas? Sick at home with Scott and Max.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008? Nope

22. What was your favorite TV program? Survivor

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?Nope.  Hate is not a good thing.  I have better things to do with my time like play my new favorite game MOUSEHUNT on Facebook.

24. What was the best book you read?  The Twilight series.  Tonight I’ll be starting Ali and Nino by Kurban Said, it’s a love story that takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan and it is supposed to be pretty darned good.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Muslim Magomayev, the Azeribaijani pop singer who died in October 2008.  I posted about him. 

26. What did you want and get? Wii Fit and a drop spindle

27. What did you want and not get? A Kindle, but that’s ok.  I think I’d rather continue to read “for real” books or at least wait until the Kindle gets a reading light.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? The Dark Knight and my biggest disappointments were the delay of the Harry Potter film AND Twilight…what an awful movie…the book was much better.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 39 this year and Scott invited some friends over to the house for cake.  It was a surprise.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Not being kicked out of Belarus and having a job.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Unfortunately, I no longer have a fashion concept, but if I have to answer I’ll say clean.

32. What kept you sane? Prozac.  Just kidding.  Knitting and therapy – seriously.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Barack Obama

34. What political issue stirred you the most? No issue stirred me the most, but I am fascinated by the presidential elections and this was by far the most memorable for me.  What an accomplishment for the United States of America.

35. Who did you miss? All my family and friends back home.

36. Who was the best new person you met? There are so many people that I’ve met this past year who have made a lasting impression on me.  I’m not going to name one because that just doesn’t seem fair.  The Wife Mafia scores high on this list though!  Without them I really would have needed the Prozac.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.  Look both ways before and DURING crossing the street.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.  I’m rewatching the Friends series right now so this song is stuck in my head…stuck and pretty fitting for the most part.

So no one told you life was going to be this way.
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, you’re love life’s DOA.
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear,
Well, it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.

2009 WILL be better for me!  Raspberries to you 2008 ~ ~ ~ ~

 

 

December 15, 2008

First Snow of the Season

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 9:33 pm by Jenn

persimmon

This morning when I got up to give Max his “go back to sleep biscuit” I noticed it was a little different looking outside…it looked brighter even though it was only 7 ish a.m.  That’s when it hit me…SNOW.  Sure enough, Baku had it’s first snow of the season last night.  It was still flurrying this morning.  I took a few pictures, but of course since my computer was fixed last week I can’t get the pictures to upload from my camera.  Thankfully, a friend took some pictures and posted them on his Facebook page today and was so kind to give me permission to post a few them here.

roof-tops  A few local roof tops with the first snow.

flower  I think that this flower is one from the garden at the Marine’s house.  Their flower garden looked really great this summer.

basketball  The basketball in the yard at the Marine’s house.

bubble  I think this picture is pretty cool.  I’m not sure of the name of the lens, but it looks like a bubble of the city.  This is a view from the Marine’s house toward ours.  See the triangle (kind of) pointed building just off center to the right?  Well if you look to the left of that building one of those is the apartment that I live in.  It looks kind of far in this picture, but it really isn’t.  A few weeks ago I walked from the Marine’s neighborhood to my apartment in about 20 minutes.

So there you have it.  Snow in Baku and the pictures to prove it.  One of the driver’s told Scott that there is supposed to be a “big snow” tonight.  We’ll see.

Thanks for the pics Danny!

November 27, 2008

What I am Thankful For

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 11:39 pm by Jenn

This year in keeping with our Thanksgiving tradition we joined hands around the dinner table and announced what we were thankful for. 

This year I said that I am thankful for the health of my family and friends.  Each person in turn said what they were thankful for and then when it came to one of our guests, a Marine he said that he was thankful for the food.  He said that he couldn’t remember when he’d had a home cooked traditional Thanksgiving. 

So in addition to being thankful for the health of my family and friends I’m thankful that I gave this young man something that he shouldn’t have gone so long without…a home cooked holiday meal.  I was also thankful that when I offered leftovers to take home, the young man took me up on my offer, saying that one of his favorite things was a turkey sandwich the next day.  Mine too.  I’ll be having one for breakfast.

Happy Thanksgiving.

November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu 2008

Posted in Journal, What's for Dinner tagged , , , at 5:52 pm by Jenn

 

 

The big day is right around the corner and thankfully I had two packages arrive today with ingredients that I need to make a couple of the items I plan to serve with Thanksgiving dinner (Chex Party Mix and Pecan Pie).

This year we have a little larger crowd than last.  I think the total I need to feed is 13 (plus 2 kids).  This is what I have planned. 

Thanksgiving 2008 Menu

Oven Roasted Turkey with Bread and Celery Stuffing

Slow Cooker Cola Ham

Giblet Dressing

Easy Giblet Gravy

Mashed Potatoes

Gourmet Sweet Potato Classic

Grandmas Green Bean Casserole

Red Currant Sauce 

Meesie’s Refrigerator Rolls

Pecan Pie

Perfect Pumpkin Pie 

Cheesecake

Pumpkin Bread

Chex Mix

This year I am linking to the recipes that will serve as my guide.  I had so many requests for recipes last year that this year I decided that I will just refer people to my blog.  These recipes will get them in the ballpark anyway.  I usually find the recipe that has the best rating on Allrecipes.com, read the reviews and then modify the recipe based on my tastes and preferences.  I’ve found this to be very successful and have created some must have again dishes using this website.  Last year dinner was a huge hit so I figured I would just duplicate that effort.

I really LOVE the Allrecipes.com website.  I went on the other day, modified the recipes to the number of servings that I needed and then placed the recipe in my shopping list.  After I had added all the recipes, I print the shopping list and there neatly organized were the items that I needed to prepare the whole meal.  It gave me the amount of potatoes, flour, spice, dairy ingredients etc.   I love that feature.   Print, click and go.

I took my turkey out of the freezer on Saturday night and hopefully it will be thawed and ready to go on Thursday morning.  I made the cranberry saucered currant sauce yesterday (thinner than I’d hoped, but YUMMY!).  This evening I’m making the Chex Mix and prepping the sweet potatoes. Tomorrow I will do most of the sides,  and make the corn bread for the stuffing and dressing.   That leaves the turkey, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes and rolls for the day of.  Not so bad!  And hopefully with the lessons I learned from last year I’ll be able to have dinner ready to go on time.

I bet you are wondering what about dessert right?  Well two of the girls that Scott works with want to learn how to make pumpkin pie and cheesecake so I told them that they could come over on Wednesday evening and I would show them.  So we’ll make the desserts during Pie/Cake 101.

I just realized that I don’t have a pickle/cheese tray but that’s easy enough to throw together, a few jars of pickles, a couple kinds of olives, some chunks of cheese, tooth picks, crackers…done.  I also needs plates, cups, utensils and napkins but I’ll pick those up tomorrow on my way home from having my morning latte at the coffee shop!

All those food classes that I had to take in college really pay off around the holidays.  I really don’t feel stressed out about this at all.  Of course Thursday night I may need a straight jacket and a rubber room, but for now I’m good.  Alrighthy then, off to make the Chex Mix!

 

 

November 15, 2008

233rd United States Marine Corps’ Birthday Ball

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 12:04 pm by Jenn

iwo_7 

I thought I should go ahead and post early this morning as I will be spending the majority of the day making preparations to attend the big event, the 233rd United States Marine Corps Birthday Ball.  You can find the history of the event here.

Every Marine command across the country celebrates this event each year.  The first year I attended the ball I was touched by the traditions that are carried out.  Each year I look forward to the presentation of the cake.  I love it when they announce the birth year of the oldest and youngest Marines.

Overseas the atmosphere surrounding the Birthday Ball is a lot different than it is in the States.  Here many people seem to think it is an Embassy event which I think is a shame.  The is not the Embassy’s Birthday Ball, it is the Marine Corps’ Birthday Ball. 

Planning the ball is a lot of extra work for the Marines…they are the ones who actually plan it…EVERY detail.  In all honesty they could just have the event at the Marine House, read the required Article and messages (including the Commandant’s message), do the cake cutting ceremony and be done with it.  They have a ball because they are proud of their traditions and they want to share these traditions with the rest of us.  They do it for us.  I hope at the end of the evening people realize this.

November 5, 2008

Proud to Be an American!

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , at 10:53 pm by Jenn

 

dsc00670

Today was an amazing day in American history.  One that I am not likely to ever forget.

My day started at 4:09 am.  I forgot to set my alarm, but instinctively I woke up knowing that the polls on the east coast were closing and the election results would be coming in.  You see, I am an American, but I don’t live in the USA.  I moved from the United States a year ago with my husband who is in the US military.

I grew up in the Washington DC metropolitan area and I love the energy that surrounds DC during election season.  I was sad that I wouldn’t be there to watch the map light up and listen to the comments of the local voters.  Instead I sat here in Azerbaijan in front of my computer, connected to the internet and abc.com and watched Sam Donaldson and some guy named Rick discuss the election, conduct interviews and did what I needed to do to entertain myself…I got out the colored pencils and began coloring in the states one by one as the results were announced, taking breaks in between results to announce to my husband that “Obama took Pennsylvania” and “He took Ohio too”, “Obama’s going to win this thing”.

The Embassy was hosting an election party at one of the local hotels.  We ended up arriving later than I’d wanted…we missed McCains’ concession speech which I’ve heard was very, very sincere and heartfelt.  I’ve since read the speech and it and his endorsement of President-elect Obama makes me proud to be an American. 

The party was nice, there were both American Embassy employees, American citizens and local Azeri citizens present.  The local media was also there covering the event.  I couldn’t wait for Obama to give his acceptance speech and when he arrived with his family and walked across that stage I got tears in my eyes.  I thought to myself, “Wow, this is really happening.  The citizens of the United States of America just elected an African American male to be President of the United States and I, an African American female was able to vote for him.  100 years ago this would have never been possible.”

Obama’s speech as usual was captivating.  He is such an eloquent speaker.  With tears in my eyes, I listened intently as he delivered that history making speech.  It left me and I’m sure many other Americans (and citizens of the world) filled with hope, ready for change. 

These are what I think will be quotes for the history books.

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”

“It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.”

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.”

It was also interesting to watch the enthusiam of the local Azeri’s to our election process.  They just had elections here.  Their president was re-elected with 88 or 89 percent of the vote.  This is supposed to be a democratic society, but I have my doubts.  Anyway, it was interesting to watch them witness a truly democratic election, to hear them ask questions about the Electoral Vote Map and our election process in general.

So for this registered Republican, I’m proud to say that I cast my vote, I voted for Obama and I am PROUD to be an American.  For the first time in my voting history I have voted for a candidate that I have no reservations about, that I have 100% confidence in, AND who I truly believe was elected by the people and for the people.

God Bless the USA!

Now, I just need to find a frame for my map!  Oh, and if you are wondering….the picture in this post is the actual map that I colored and yes I did get a bit carried away in Alaska, it now extends in to Canada.

The only thing I feel like I missed today was George Stephanopolous…where was he?  He definitely wasn’t on abc.com

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