Sunday, March 30, 2014

Easy-Edit Bunting Printable

I mentioned in my last post how amazing our Ukrainian staff at work has been throughout this difficult time in the history of their country.  At work, we decided to thank them by taking over a window in the section and covering it with notes from the American officers letting them know how much their strength and dedication mean to us.  We taped our notes up under a big bunting "thankyou," recreated here in my apartment.

And as a big thank YOU, for coming back and checking despite my extended absence from the blog, I'm putting up the template I created for the bunting as a free printable.  It's a word document, so you can just plug in whatever letters you want on each triangle and go, or you can futz with the fonts and colors to your heart's content!

Tape your bunting triangles to some pretty ribbon or whatever.  I used kitchen twine.  Dental floss would probably also work a treat.  Then tape or tie your garland up to wherever you want to see it displayed.  At work I just taped the triangles directly onto a window.

Friends, as much as I'd like to get on a real regular posting schedule, I'm not sure when that is going to happen.  We're fine, but things remain crazy.  (More on that later...maybe).  I DO have projects in the works, some of which I actually NEED to get done pre-baby, some basically ready to post but for pictures.  Etc.  So apologies in advance for the continued sporadic nature of the posts.  While I hope to up frequency, I won't tell you to expect a whole lot of consistency for a while.  But I do promise I'm not going anywhere!

Shared on The Girl Creative's Sunday Best Link Party.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Recipe: Easy Eggdrop Soup

My poor husband, who shall remain nameless, is miserably sick right now with a nasty sinus infection.  So soup happened.

Eggdrop soup has always been one of my favorites.  As a kid, it was as ubiquitous and necessary a dish at a Chinese buffet as the fortune cookie, or those ridiculous little fried doughnut-ball things that were covered in sugar (you know the ones).  Turns out eggdrop soup is like...the second easiest soup in the entire world to make.  Second only to warmed up clear broth.

So here's what ya do!

Easy Eggdrop Soup (as opposed to the difficult kind, which does not exist)

Prep time:  stupid quick
Cook time:  stupid quick
Serves:  this is enough to make 2 huge bowls, or 4 small bowls, of soup


  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 dash five spice powder (not too much)
  • 1 slice fresh ginger

  • Dump the stock into a pot, and add all other ingredients except the eggs.
  • Bring the stock to a boil.  While it's heating, beat eggs lightly in a separate bowl.
  • Once the stock is boiling, reduce to a simmer.
  • Slowly pour in the eggs, stirring constantly.  The eggs will feather out and cook all whispy-like.

Tips and Variations

  • Paleoize it:  Soy sauce contains gluten and (obviously) soy.  Substitute coconut aminos for the soy sauce for a squeaky-clean paleo version.  Or for a gluten-free (but still soy-full) version, use tamari.
  • If I really loved my nameless husband, I'd have snipped some fresh scallions over our bowls of soup.  But, know how it is.
  • You can really use any stock you have on hand.  Chicken stock will give you the classic clear broth, but full disclosure:  I used homemade goose stock here.
  • Serve with hot tea - oolong tea is the traditional choice for the classic Chinese-buffet experience.  For the sickie, I made Pink Pepper Chai from Savoy Tea Co.  And for myself - Lapsang Souchong from The Tao of Tea.  This last tea hails from Wuyi, China, so it was definitely the most authentically Chinese thing on our table tonight.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Слава Україні!

Well, it's been nearly a month since I've posted anything here.  I know I said I wouldn't be talking about work on this blog, but sometimes the rest of it just doesn't make any sense unless I do.  So lest you think I've abandoned this blog entirely, here's a little bit about what's been going on in our neck of the woods.

Maidan Nezalezhnosti
If you keep up with the news, you'll know that there's been a good deal of unrest and turmoil in Ukraine lately.  (And if you don't keep up with the news, please Google it - it's worth knowing about!)  The short version is that the people of Ukraine rose up in protest against a regime that had been robbing them blind for years.  The epicenter of these protests was Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Squre, in Kyiv not too far from our apartment.  The protests began peacefully, but escalated to violence before the end, with protesters being kidnapped from their hospital beds and tortured, protesters lobbing bricks and molotov cocktails at lines of riot police sent to clear the Maidan and snipers shooting at protesters from tall buildings not long after we last spoke.  Since then, Russia has invaded Crimea, a region of Ukraine with close historical, ethnic and linguistic ties to Russia.

A line of protesters faces down a line of Berkut riot police, before the worst of the violence

Needless to say, it's been a stressful few weeks (few months, if we're being honest).  We've been working extra shifts at the embassy on nights and weekends supporting our diplomatic efforts, supporting visits of high-level officials from Washington and making sure that American citizens in Ukraine have access to the support they need.  We spent a week living in a hotel room with our cats because our apartment was too close to the flash points.  We've been riding an emotional roller coaster as every time it seems like the situation is headed toward a peaceful resolution - Russia freaking invades the country or something!!!  

Secretary of State John Kerry lays flowers and lights a candle at the Shrine of the Fallen in Kyiv

We're physically and emotionally exhausted, and our apartment is barely functional.  But as rough as it's been for us, it has been an order of magnitude harder on our Ukrainian colleagues.  Our local colleagues are a great bunch.  They are trustworthy, reliable, fun to work with and great at their jobs.  And they held up, and continue to hold up, under tremendous pressure, putting in the extra hours right along side us while their city was literally burning.  When it's YOUR country that all this is happening to...that's something that those of us who were born and raised in the U.S. truly cannot fathom.

The Maidan barricade on Khreshatik

Anyway, all that to say that I haven't given up on the blog - I swear!  Things are back to a sort of normal in Kyiv, at least.  The violence is over, the streets are safe.  Really, although several government buildings were deserted when the Yanukovych administration left, there has been no looting whatsoever, which to me says a lot about the honor and character of the Ukrainian people!

A young boy at the protests with his parents, before the violence escalated
I have no idea what will happen in Crimea or in general in the coming weeks.  But I do know that it's time to get things back to normal.  Time to clean house, time to start cooking meals again, and time to start indulging in my creative outlets - like that knitting pattern I've been working on FOR EV ER, and this blog in general.

I've got a recipe I'll post tomorrow, some printables I'll put up for download, and plenty of other projects and fun things in the works, as the smoke continues to clear.  I hope you'll stick around and enjoy everything that's coming next!