Friday, August 31, 2012

Peace Corps Email #8

Craciun Ferecit

Original Sent Date: January 6, 2005

Hello friends!

Things in Moldova are going... a little slow for the last two weeks because it's the holiday season and everything closes down here, but still good.  My center closed on the 24th of December and won't reopen until the 10th of January.  The schools here will be closed until the 15th of January.  Needless to say, I've been reading a lot.  Last night, I finished my 20th book in Moldova.
For New Year's, I went to my friend Molly's in Nisporeni.  I spent it with her family, all of whom were drunk before I arrived at 6pm.  Moldovan's know how to celebrate... her father encouraged me to take one too many shots of rachiu (or known as everclear in America).  He stood up and began dancing around the room, all alone.  I sat in the corner, hoping to fade into the background as his outy-belly button wiggled in my face.  Luckily, his wife told him to get his "burta mare" or big belly out from in from of the tv.
Molly gave in and took a shot of everclear too... the problem with Molly is that she's not a very experienced drinker.  She immediately turned a bright shade of fuchsia (difficult for someone of Korean descent) and fell over.  Not to fear, she recovered enough to drink the next day at noon.  The Moldovans can celebrate!
On my way home, the bus driver screamed at me because there was mud on my boots.  I was a little confused as to what he wanted from be, seeing as there was ankle-deep mud immediately in front of where I got on the bus.  Oh, conundrums.
Today, I came to the capital. In honor of this trip, I bathed for the first time in the new year (yes, I realize it's the 6th).  The problem is, though my castle in Moldova has running water... the water hasn't worked yet in 2005.  So, I resort to my spot-checks of the areas most prone to smelling.
I spent a little bit of time at the piata today, or outdoor market.  That is an area of contrasts.  I was looking for slippers.  In the booth next to the slippers was a pig head.  I'm not sure how fresh it was, as it was a little yellow.  But then, I'm not sure exactly how long a pig head stays good when sitting out in the open air of a market.  Talk about convenience, though!  Buy a pig head, walk 5 feet, and buy slippers.

Tomorrow, I'm going somewhere with my host family to celebrate the Moldovan Christmas.  I'm not sure what we'll do, but chances are it will involve singing songs, eating too much, and drinking.  Wish me luck.



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Crock Pot Fajitas

You guys.  You guys!  Did you know that you can make fajitas in your crockpot?

I'm serious here.  This is life changing for me.  David and I love fajitas, but I always kind of dread cooking them because of ALL THE DISHES.

Thanks to pinterest, we had fajitas and the only prep dish was the crock pot.  AND I cut up all the ingredients the night before so all I had to do was turn it on.


Slow Cooker Fajitas

3-4 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2-3 large bell peppers (any color), cut into strips
1 large onion, thinly sliced,
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
Juice from 2-3 limes
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt (more if broth is unsalted)
Tortillas, cheese, salsa, guacamole, etc.

1. Put chicken in crockpot.  In mixing bowl, combine peppers, onion, garlic and oil.  Place on top of chicken.
2. Stir together broth, lime juice, spices, and pour on top.  Cover and cook 4-6 hours on LOW or 2-3 hours on HIGH.
3. Eat!

In other news, the stink bug has started moving things around.  Check out what I found when I looked for a cutting board.

Yep, puzzle piece.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fox Club!

Last Saturday evening, David and I went to the Fox with our fabulous friends, Dan and Tara.

The show was The Lion King--which was amazing.  The costumes, the songs that were a part of my childhood, the Fox in general.

But, BUT--the tickets we had were in The Fox Club.  

Private entrance...WAITRESS at our seats.

 Thank goodness my parents were already coming into town and agreed to babysit!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

In addition to my Peace Corps Fridays, I would like to start sharing my weekly meal plan with you all.  I think I'll call it Meal Plan Monday.

Creative, yes?

I usually meal plan and shop over the weekends.  It prevents random eating out.  I'm loathe to eat out on random occasions.  This is largely because I enjoy cooking and don't like to spend money.  I feel like eating out should be an event where you get things that you can't purchase at home or a celebration.  There's always exceptions to this rule; however, it's INCREDIBLY rare for me to purchase my lunch or dinner unless pre-planned.  I feel like planning meals saves us money and makes us eat healthier as well.

David, on the other hand, enjoys eating out.  I've been trying to build "Out/Leftover" days into our plan to accommodate him.  Compromise :)
Meal planning also serves to as a calendar of events for me as well.  If David has a softball game or I have book club, it gets added to the schedule so that I can plan appropriately.

With that, I give you Meal Plan Monday #1.

  • Sunday-- Mom and Dad in town
    •  Beef and Broccoli Calzones
  • Monday
    •  Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas
  • Tuesday
    •  Freezer Meal--Telluride Black Bean Tortilla Bake
  • Wednesday--David softball at 6:30
    • Turkey Burgers, Pineapple
  • Thursday
    • Freezer Meal-- Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells
  • Friday
    •  Leftovers
  • Saturday-- In Columbia.  Tailgating!
    • Burgers and Chips--Yum, Yum!
    • Peanut Butter Football

Friday, August 24, 2012

Peace Corps Email #7

 Original Sent Date: November 26, 2004


So the other day, I got congratulated on having all my teeth.  After the initial congrats, I was then asked to open my mouth for all to see and inspect.  They were in shock that they're all mine.  So thanks, Dr. Bob, Jay, and Michelle.  I've won Moldovan hearts with my teeth.

I moved to my new village, and I think I live in the lap of luxury.  We've got a toilet AND a bathtub.  Of
course, water isn't exactly what you could call reliable, but I'm dealing with it.  I still only bathe twice-a-week-ish (water is expensive!), but it's a lot easier to do now.

How was Thanksgiving for everyone?  I spent it in Chisinau (the capital) with all the Americans.  We
cooked a HUGE meal for 200 people (I was in charge of carrots and pumpkin... I hate those things now) and all drank away our homesickness...  It was so weird not to be with all the family and back home.  But, it did snow.  A lot.  Like 6 inches, if I had a way to measure in inches here.  It's cold, but I have no concept of what the temperature is because it's all in Celsius and I'm too lazy to convert it.  Eh.

Ok, I've had requests for my address again.  I feel like all I do with these mass e-mails is beg for letters, but oh well.  The postal system is so corrupt, so postcards might be more likely to actually MAKE it to me.  Oh well.

Darcie Brownback

Darcie Brownback
Deleted again

Both work, but if it's important things, the first address might be more secure.  Who knows, in this

In Moldova, I've learned some new superstitions... I think I'll share.

1.  If you have cold hands you'll have a hot husband.
2.  Yellow flowers are for the dead.
3.  Giving even number of flowers is a sign of hatred.
4.  If you sit on the ground, you'll freeze your ovaries (applies to men and women)
5.  Whistling in the house is HORRIBLE.
6.  If you sit at the corner of a table, you'll never get married.

That's all I've got for right now...  I miss you all.



My training village at swearing-in

My home in Calarasi-- I live in the garage apartment

The broken ferris wheel in Calarasi's city park

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summer Lovin'

Just a little walk through memory lane of a typical pool day this summer.

Pictures like these make it really hard not to quit my job.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Spicy Chicken Spinach Bake

On Monday, I made a meal that David and I have loved for a few years.  I haven't made it for a while (I know at least since before Mac was born).  This is fast, healthy (I think the original recipe came from Weight Watchers), and so so good.

Try it!  We love it so much that I didn't manage to take a picture before it was all gone.  Seriously--the 13X9 pan was gone by Tuesday (minus a lunch portion that's packaged for work).

Spicy Chicken Spinach Bake

8 oz uncooked penne
2 tsp butter
½ cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups milk
6 oz fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 ¼ cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1 ½ cups salsa (I call it good with 1 small jar)

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

While pasta cooks, melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic; sauté 4 minutes or until tender.  Add flour to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Cook 11 minutes or until thick.   
Add spinach, stirring until spinach wilts.  Remove from heat; add ¼ cup cheese, salt, and pepper.

Stir in chicken, salsa, and ¾ cup cheese.  Carefully fold in pasta.  Spoon mixture in 13X9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle evenly with remaining ¼ cup cheese.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until bubbly.

Yield: 8 servings, 1 cup each.

I like to use mushrooms in addition or in place of the spinach.  Add mushrooms  about 3 minutes after you add the milk.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Color Run

On Saturday, I participated in The Color Run with my darling friends, Laura and Emily.  It was a fun, colorful experience.  They call it the "Happiest 5K," which seems about right!

Basically, it's a 5k where you get doused in colored cornstarch (with flavoring, to make it non-yucky) every kilometer.  At the end, you're covered in color and happy.
We decided to make it super happy by having a slumber party the night before where we painted our fingernails.

It was Laura and Emily's first 5k ever, so we took appropriate "before" shots.

We even made a point to capture the Arch in the background.

Because we arrived at the start at the recommended time, we had A TON of time to kill.  Turns out the recommended time is really, really, really early.

We killed some time by taking more before shots--this time round-robin.

Finally, finally, the race began!

You can see the cloud of blue in the distance here.  It was really fun to hear all the children yelling, "Blue is next!" as we approached a new color portion.

Here, Laura had to pee.  Emily and I killed the time.

The race is over!  Emily and Laura have run a 5k!

Here's the finishing celebration... it was chaos!

Laura threw color at my eyeballs.

It was a great morning!  The weather was perfect and the company couldn't have been better.  I'm hopeful that we'll run it next year and Mac can be pushed.  There were kids in strollers...but I didn't think Mac would have liked it much this year.  Next year, though!

Here's my shirt after the event.  A little fadey, but not so bad.  I'm going to try to save the color.  It calls for spraying with vinegar and ironing.  I'll keep you posted on how well it holds up.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Big Mac is 13 months old today!

The day started out a little rough, as he was unable to go to daycare because of a slight fever...I think it might have been due to teething, though. Other than a slightly longer nap, Mac's been acting like his normal, jolly self.

We even managed to get our 13 month shots in.  I decided to change things up from the owl stickers and go for some ties.  It's a little harder to read the months, but I think they're more mature :)

I guess at 13 months and full-on walking, Mac is no longer a baby and is a toddler.  It's hard to believe the 11 lb hunk of baby that I birthed has turned into this toddler with such a big personality.  I fall a little more in love with my Stink Bug every day.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Peace Corps Email #6

La Multi Ani

Original Sent Date: November 10, 2004

My teachers say that I am officially a Moldovan.  I passed (I think!) my language proficiency exam, which was basically a 30 minute conversation in Romanian where I had to demonstrate a knowledge of all types of verbs and a lot of vocabulary.  It was scary, but, hey, I've been living here 2 months and I've got to figure out how to communicate at some point, right?

I also hosted my first Masa (it's a party, but Masa technically means table).  I made quesadillas from scratch and my host mom made some Placenta (if you don't know what that is, you're so missing out).  We celebrated my birthday like Moldovans-- with a lot of wine/vodka.  Here, instead of spanking the number of years you are, they put you in a chair and lift it up.

Crazy, huh?  Then, they pulled my ear 23 times.  As the host of the masa, it was my responsibility to make sure NO ONE, EVER, EVER ran out of wine.  No problem, right?  I also was required to lead the Hora, a dance where you just twirl in a circle for hours.  

On Monday, I move to my site and start work.  My host family keeps telling me that I don't have to move and I can just take the maxi-taxi everyday for 1 1/2 hours each way.  It's sad, because we all keep misting up about me leaving.  I'm going to miss them, even though they make fun of me when I wear my "American" clothing: translation-- I refuse to wear high heels in the mud and instead opt for the taboo, ugly, galoshes. Eh.

Oh, I figured out how you all in the states can send me text messages for FREE!  Go to and click on "SEND SMS"  when that site pops up, you don't need this info.  In the lower box, type your messages of love and adoration.  Or, you know, hate and loathing.  Either way, it would be good to hear from you all...

Random thing: The other day my host mom killed a chicken.  No big deal, right?  Yeah... she cut off its head (a delicacy) and carried it inside on a big knife (can you picture this??).  She took the cover off the gas stove so that HUGE FLAMES where shooting out of the stove.  Then, she singed the feathers off the chicken.  It freaked me out,and I told her that I was afraid of both the HEAD and the FEET of the chicken.  (Mi-e frica de calpul si talpul puilui!!!) 

They think I'm crazy, because I don't eat those body parts or the ear of a freshly killed pig.  Hey, I figured I sacrificed when I ate pickled tomatoes (surprisingly good...).

Alright, I've got to run.  Hope to hear from you all!

Love and Smooches,


My host mom and me at my birthday party.

Other volunteers at the birthday party.

Language class with help by the cat, who I named Count Chocula.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

More walking

Check out Mac's amazing ability to walk though tunnels!

Ok, so maybe it's not amazing to all you guys, but he's still pretty cute.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Man breakfast

 For the last few weekends, Maclin has been an angel baby and slept in until 8:30+ each day*.  It's been amazing...but what's more amazing is the routine David and Mac took for Saturdays.

When Mac wakes up, David gets up, gets him dressed, and takes him to breakfast.

While I sleep.


And then David will send me pictures of them having a god time.

Apparently, Mac loves IHOP and the staff there loves him too.

How did I get so lucky?  Man breakfast can continue until the end of time.

*I am afraid to right about Mac's sleep habits here.  The kiddo has always been a stellar sleeper but I have an irrational fear that the day I write it down will be the day it ends.  Cross your fingers that this isn't true!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Excuse the poor quality, but Big Mac finally started walking like a man on Saturday.  Unfortunately, I was grocery shopping at the time... But David caught it on film.

Later, I tried to capture the walking again and he peed on the floor.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Peace Corps Email #5


Original Sent Date: November 2, 2004

So, I was on my way home from sending my LAST mass e-mail... I had convinced myself that no one will know I am an American if I don't speak (because I have a big, dorky accent).  Apparently, however, I must have a neon light glowing on my head that says "FREE TRIP TO AMERICA!!" because these two boys started talking to me on the rutierra.  I tried my darndest not to talk to them, but it's really hard to ignore direct questions (especially since I understand them now...).
After a while, I think the baba (elderly lady) behind me must have gotten sick of listening to them, because she told them to be nice and then started whispering insults for me to say in my ear.  I've never been spoon feed insults by a baba before, but they were pretty creative-- she wanted me to say "Your head is too big and ugly for my American tastes."  I would never have thought of that!  Anyway, I start chatting with those two boys, who, incidentally are kind of cute, and they could not get my name right.  We practiced and practiced (it was a long bus ride) but they kept calling me Tasea.  Oh well.  In my village, I got off and they invited me to come home with them.
Like the respectful woman I am, I said no... and then told them I had to go study.  I walked away as one of the boys was busy, with the other one glued to my hip. Apparently, the other one didn't like this and came SPRINTING after us, waving his hands and screaming "TASEA TASEA PICK ME PICK ME."  Seriously, geez.  I told them that I always study and didn't know my own phone number or have a cell phone (why?  Because I'm stupid-- they were cute...) so they told me that they would wait for me while I studied and walk me home.  A little freaked out, I assured them I did not need company.  At school, I made the gardener walk me home, but I had to wait for him to drink some vodka.  Oh Moldova...
How was Halloween?  I went pretend trick or treating at the neighbors and apparently said "Give me candy or I'll poop on you."  The verbs for pooping and tricking are very similar and I couldn't quite master them.
Just another instance when I've been that stupid, naive American...
So, that's all I've got for today.  About 30 volunteers have rented an apartment in Chisinau at the
only place that has CNN, to watch the elections.   Woooooooo.... I get to hang out with overly political people on election day!
 I think my internet time is short, so I won't be able to reply to everyone separately.... take care and I
miss you all... maybe I miss bathing more, but you all are a close second.


Dressed up for Halloween

Me and an Ass

Orhei Vechi

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Back to work...

Summer break is over. I'm sad, but it's time for me to put on my big girl pants and bring home the bacon.

I know you year-round employees don't feel sorry for me, but I'm going to indulge in a bit of self pity for a bit. I'll miss my little man and our daily fun.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Body Double

I found Mac's twin at the pool.

It was really cool....but a little freaky. 

At any rate, Mac's twin, Charlie, was born July 2nd and perfectly matches him in terms of blond curls and blue eyes. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

No Fun Friday!

Our house hadn't been deep cleaned* for a while, so I declared yesterday "No Fun Friday."  We got to clean instead of having fun.

Luckily, Maclin knows how to make life fun.

* To define deep cleaning...David is in charge of cleaning the floors.  He had been promising to mop them EVERY DAY since Sunday.  By Friday, fun was off the table :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Peace Corps Email #4


Original Sent Date: October 28, 2004

Hi friends,

So last night I was asleep in my room.  I woke up to what I thought was my host brother wiggling my bed (he's done this before as a joke)... I rolled over and told him to go away (In Romanian-- can you believe it?) and realized I was alone in my room and that the light was shaking and there was all this rumbling.  I was in a real, wake you up, knock things off walls earthquake!  How cool is that?  My pal from California, Corissa, says she thinks it was a 5 or 6, whatever that means.  Anyway, I come to Moldova and experience earthquakes... I knew there had to be more to this country than bathing in a bucket!

And, I bought a cell phone.  I know, I know, I live in the poorest country in Europe, and I should learn to unattach it from my ear, but I'm an addict and I've learned to accept it, alright?  Anyway, my number is (this is to dial from the states) Deleted in case some poor Moldovan now has my number... I think there might be calling cards on the internet.
Anyway, it all works.

I also know where I am going to be living for the next 2 years.... I picked out my host family and I will have a "Casa Mica" of my own.  Basically, I have my own, tiny house and (GASP!!) I think I might have a flush toilet.  I'm not going to hold my breath, because running water is iffy in villages, but I did see a toilet.  Of course, I have only seen people using the outhouse, but a girl can dream right?

Oh man, I think my standards have lowered.  My dreams consist of flush toilets and I think I'm not so dirty now and could go a couple more days without bathing since I (just!) bathed on Monday night.  Oh man, today's Thursday... I'm sure I can make it until Saturday, at least.

When I come home, I'm going to be that girl who smells with really greasy hair....

Anyway, I know my address for the next two years, but the Peace Corps office has a special deal with customs, so just keep sending things to Corpul Pacii until I tell you all different.  In case you're not sure what that was or need a little extra incentive to get out your pens (I am so subtle!), the address is:

Again, deleted... but you can see how needy I was for contact :)
I finally figured out how to send things out of this country by Air Mail, so maybe some of you will get letters soon.... If I sent it not by airmail, I guess it could be months.  I really should have learned the word for "air" a little sooner....

After I send this, I'm going to attempt to send some pictures, but I'm not going to promise anything.  I'm sure you all have forgotten what I look like and wanting a new wallpaper for your background... oh, I kid myself.  Silly, Silly.

I miss you all!  I'm going to try to reply to the personal e-mails, but I get kicked off the internet all the time.  Thank you for them anyway!

Love and Smooches,


Dorinta, the center where I worked in Moldova

These chairs are the various sites of volunteers in Moldova.  It was a pretty cool way to announce our sites.

Me and my host family's dog, Like.  I found out later that they eventually abandoned him.  Life is cruel in Moldova.