Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Happy belated Thanksgiving, blog world! I have been MIA recently eating dizzying amounts of food at my parents' house in Ohio. It is so refreshing to spend some time with my family. I feel energized and ready to take on the world. Pictured below is only my immediate family (sans one brother). For the actual feast we had an enormous crowd... Aunts, Grandma, In-laws, hungry med students... Unfortunately the picture came out blurry.

Oh, and I got a new haircut. I went into my hairdresser with a few ideas and she said, "Why don't you try the Michelle Williams haircut?" She looked around for a picture but couldn't find one... and I agreed to the haircut anyway. I love it!

PS: You simply must try roasted butternut squash and pear soup! It is to die for.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November is a good month for birthdays

Happy Birthday to my husband and my amazing little brother. You guys rock! I don't know what I would do without you!

Last year we celebrated with a joint party, but this year my brother won't be able to attend because he is studying abroad. I'm so proud of you, Austie, and jealous that you will be in one of my favorite cities!

Dave, every year with you is more fun than the year before. I love you!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


During training this week I was in a terrible mood because the material (immigration law) was overwhelming and it wasn't sinking in, and then I realized that I hadn't smiled ALL DAY!!

Being nice isn't just right, it is essential.

I recently came across an inspirational blog called Operation Nice, whose author, Melissa, writes about how kindness can change the world. She frequently gives her readers "nice" assignments. This week's assignment: compliment a stranger. I think it's a wonderful idea and I've tried to dish out as many compliments as possible this week.

She also drew my attention to the Charter for Compassion. It is the golden rule fleshed out as an emphatic call to action to treat "everyone without exception with absolute justice, equity, and respect." Please, if you have time, watch the video and/or visit the website here.

Have a wonderful Friday, everyone. Go out of your way to be nice to someone. It might just make your day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The days will be good

I went hiking in Shenandoah National Park this weekend with a few friends. We drove through a thick fog to get to the campsite, and we were nervous that the dark clouds would erupt into rain any minute. I got separated from my friends as we were gathering twigs for the campfire. The fog was just starting to clear when I stumbled upon a fawn and her mother. Everything was quiet and peaceful, and I felt like I had stepped into something quite magical.

"With the smell of the woods and the wind in the trees [...] they will forget the rush and the strain of all other long weeks of the year, and for a short time at least, the days will be good for their bodies and good for their souls." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I have a real soft spot for houndstooth. And seriously, how amazing is this dress!?! I gasped a little when I saw it.

Why are you doing this to me, Shabby Apple? Don't you know I am trying to live on a budget?

PS: Can you throw in her corner office and manual type writer? Thanks.

Found on Shabby Apple.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Good Intentions

Last year my husband and I bought this rather pathetic looking evergreen shrub from the grocery store to serve as our Christmas tree. I always had a real tree growing up, and I liked the idea of using a living tree. So we loaded the poor thing with all of our ornaments and loved it and watered it as much as a plant could desire. But, since we live in a basement, it didn't do so well. A couple months later, it started turning brown and the little needles started to fall off. I'm sorry to say I actually put our dear Christmas shrub on the back porch and left it for dead.

A few weeks ago, I was in the backyard bringing some compost to our compost pile when I had one of those HOW LONG HAS THAT BEEN THERE?? moments. Yes, that is our Christmas shrub, thriving(ish). Our landlord must have taken pity on it and planted it. I'd like to think of it as a pre-Thanksgiving Christmas miracle.
PS: Have a happy Veterans Day to all those who are serving or have loved ones serving in the armed forces. I get the day off but my husband doesn't. I will be spending it doing some much needed cleaning and reading. Gros Bisous.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Do you date... other couples?

Dave and I are fortunate to have a great network of friends (both couples and singles; we actually LOVE so-called "third wheels"), so I am starting to get anxious about moving to a country where we don't know anyone yet! Fortunately, we have a double date next weekend with a couple who will be joining us in Israel. The whole idea of couples dating is hilarious to me.

I have to admit, up until this point we have made most of our friends without conscious effort. But after reading this article from the WSJ, I began to see the merits of "dating" other couples.

Not only that, but a dynamic circle of friends is one of the most important yet least emphasized aspects of a healthy relationship. Whether you meet them through your work, school, neighborhood, hobby group, or religious organization, friends can have a tremendous impact on your psychological well-being and even your physical health. The New York Times has featured several articles on the health benefit of friends, including What Are Friends For? A Longer Life, Are Your Friends Making You Fat? and Strangers May Cheer You Up.

What about you? If you're in a long term relationship, do you ever date other couples? Singles, do you mind being the third/fifth wheel? Or do couples drive you crazy?

Photo by the talented Chelsea Roberson from her blog, just me. This crazy cat went camping for a weekend with a huge group of people that she barely knew--that's one way to make friends quickly!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Link Love

Ellen from Two is a Pair recently listed me as one of her favorite newly discovered blogs. Ellen is a professional dancer and artist chronicling her life in Vancouver with her fiance, Cort. Thanks for the shout out, Ellen!

I am going to interpret the prompt somewhat differently and point readers' attention toward some of my favorite blogs. I follow so many delightful blogs that it is like a tsunami of awesomeness when I open my google reader. BUT, if I am crunched for time, these are the ones I simply cannot miss:
  • For Foreign Service news, I follow Digger of Life after Jerusalem--and if you're interested in reading more, she has an exhaustive list of all the Foreign Service blogs on the web.
  • And if you aren't reading Joel and Ashley's blogs This Paper Ship and Spring to Spring, what are you waiting for!? This freakin' awesome artistic couple lives in a real life farm house in North Carolina complete with cats and chickens.
  • Finally, Erin of The Fierce Beagle writes about life and motherhood in a sometimes hilarious, sometimes touching voice that will have you hooked after one visit.
I hope you found this post helpful! The blogosphere can be so overwhelming. How do you organize your daily reads? Do you use google reader or have you found a better method of organizing the madness?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Foreign Service Institute

There are many things I love about my job. Right now, I am thankful for the chance to spend a whole year at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, Virginia studying foreign languages and professional tradecraft. More commonly known as the Foreign Service Institute, or FSI, this is where the Department of State trains diplomats for overseas assignments.
The atmosphere is congenial, and I have met many interesting, smart, and overwhelmingly nice people. In some ways, I am glad to be done with (grad) school because now I have time to explore my own interests and relax. But on the other hand, I love learning, so FSI is the best of both worlds.

I did a post this summer about what I would wear to wear to my first day of work. After the initial introduction course (called A-100) is over, the dress code relaxes quite a bit (read business casual). Below is an example of what I like to wear to work:

FSI by roysie featuring Repetto shoes

(Of course, I own the cheaper version of all these items. My military blazer is from Express, and I would highly recommend it. It feels like a sweatshirt!)

What about you? Do you prefer to dress up for work or do you like the flexibility of business casual? I imagine working from home would be glorious because you can wear whatever you feel like!

Top picture from HWA Structural Engineering.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shock me like an electric eel!

This year for halloween I decided to dress as an electric eel, inspired in part by Meg's Award-Winning Blog. I seriously laughed out loud while reading her post on costume ideas. Of course, I already new that eels were sassy and fun because of the MGMT song "ooh girl, shock me like an electric eel..." which I have been singing all week non-stop.
Unfortunately, I looked more like a jewel thief than an eel, which is why I recruited my husband to dress as a coral reef. He wore swim trunks and a blue shirt with natural sponges and sea creature illustrations pinned to it. (Please, whatever you do, do not look up electric eel on wikipedia to see whether they actually live in coral reefs).

Nemo the clown fish was a fan favorite. We got a lot of laughs, and I hope they were laughing with us and not at us ;).

Happy Halloween! What did you dress as this year?