Friday, September 28, 2012

Peace Corps Email #11

Opt Martie

Original Sent Date: March 13, 2005
Hello everyone back home!
I feel like I haven't written in a while-- I guess I've been pretty busy here with all the things I create to keep myself busy....oh well.
I'm going to take over running a camp for 120 girls next summer, called GLOW (girls leading our world) and am currently in the process of planning another camp for the kids from my center this summer (incidentally, if you all back home are willing to help financially, I will have information on the Peace Corps Website in a couple of weeks.  More info to follow...).  I didn't realize how in-depth grant writing is!  Crazy.
On the eighth of March, we celebrated International Women's Day.  Well, everyone kept talking on and on about how it was the day to celebrate women in the entire world, but from asking I found out it's only women's day in Romania, the Ukraine, Moldova, and Russia.  So, maybe they should call it "Former Soviet Block Country Women's Day"  but that doesn't have the same ring and it's harder to make up songs about that.
But, I ramble.  This holiday was more commercialized than Christmas.  You're expected to give pretty much every woman in your life a present, but luckily for my poor Peace Corps wallet, an acceptable present was a flower, breaking the bank at 5 lei (or 40 cents).  I upped the anty a bit for the host mom, and made her a scarf and a pair of mittens.  She gave me a towel, one of the typical Moldovan gifts.  Coming in number two on the list of Moldovan gifts would be plates, but I haven't received any as I am a spinster in this country.    My host dad was original and gave me a pair of out-door type slippers.  I had been wearing this apparently horrible pair of galoshes everywhere in the town, but he HATES them because "only" old women (called Babas here) are allowed to wear them as they please.  My red-with-pink-embroidery-slippers are much more appropriate to the social landscape.
Oh course, we had a huge meal, consisting mostly of the meat jelly.  Yeah, I think I will never ever ever like it. 

Yesterday, I threw a baby shower for my program manager at the peace corps.  She's Moldovan, and had never heard of a baby shower before.  In Moldova, it's bad luck to give presents for a person that hasn't been born yet, but we made her stop being superstitious.  Ha.  We played all those stupid horrible games that everyone deep down hates at baby showers (you know, wrapping toilet paper around her belly, making up new baby names, and not being able to say baby at the risk of losing your clothes pin...) and it went over really well.  Silvia (the mother to be) seems relatively amused by us and all of these ridiculous ideas.

I think (not really sure) that Thursday is St. Patrick's Day.  Since I've celebrated every single St. Day know to man in this country, I wonder if there will be a big party.... keep your fingers crossed!

Oh!  I told you all about my leaky eye in my last e-mail.  The specialist said that it was Chronic Pink Eye.  How horrible.  I was forced to take 40 eye drops a day for a while, and know it's pretty close to gone. It's sometimes a little trickle, but for the most part it's calmed from the river it once was.
Hopefully, there will be no more weird illnesses in this country.



I have to borrow someone else's shoes to go to bathroom through the mud.

Caruta ride!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Beer Bread

Now that the weather is cooling off, I'm excited to do a bit more baking.  Last night I busted out one of my favorite bread recipes, beer bread.

This recipe is courtesy my mother-in-law, Debra.

1 can beer, room temperature
3 cups self-rising flour
1/3 cup sugar

Mix ingredients together and pour into greased and floured loaf dish.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven, pour 1/2 to 1 stick of melted butter on top.  Bake for 15 more minutes.

Done and done!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


We had a bit of a storm scare last night, so the family spent the evening hanging out in the basement.

Mac learned the joys of a rocking recliner.

He's so stinking cute.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Freezer Cooking

On Saturday, after a late-night book club meeting, I went over to my friend Susan's house and did some freezer meal cooking with her and another friend, Courtney.

It was a blast.  I really really love freezer cooking parties.  Everything about them--the planning, the looking at recipes, the organizing and using excel formulas to determine amounts to buy, the cooking, the socialization-- makes me happy.

We made a bunch of meals
  • Buffalo Chicken Chili
  • Turkey and Spinach Enchiladas
  • Vodka Cream Pasta
  • Potato Soup
  • Cranberry Chicken
  • Telluride Black Bean Tortilla Bake
  • Lasagna
  • Breakfast Sandwiches/Burritos
Our multiple portions meant that I came home with 9 full meals and 17 breakfasts... not bad considering we spent less than $70.  The price is actually a little higher than it normally would have been because we did a lot of turkey meat, turkey bacon, egg beaters, and whole wheat whenever possible.  Still, not bad at all.

The portion sizes we make are enough for David and I to have dinner with at least 1-2 lunches leftover for me.

We did our shopping before the actual cooking day, so we started at 9:30 and were done and cleaned up by 1:30.

As a pipe dream, I would love to do this for a job.  If I had a bigger kitchen, I would totally host parties where people would maybe pay me a little more than the food costs have me organize this for them.

Would you pay me?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

It's Meal Plan Monday!

Here's what we're eating this week.

  • Turkey Burgers
  • Baked Beans
  • Out and/or Leftovers

Friday, September 21, 2012

Peace Corps Email #10

Sfintel Valentin (Saint Valentine)

Original Sent Date: February 14, 2005

Hello everyone back home...
It's been a while since I've written.  Today, Black Monday, is Valentine's Day.  I'm not really sure if it's St. Valentine's Day here in Moldova as no one has mentioned it to me yet.  As there have been 6 Saint Days in the last two weeks here, I think it would be incredibly odd if today isn't celebrated.  But, then there have been stranger things in Moldova...
Last week it got to -22 degrees C here.  After some math (and looking up the formula) I discovered that's
about -8 degrees F.  I thought my toes and eyelashes were going to freeze up and fall off.  Spent the entire evening wearing all of my clothing, lying underneath all of the blankets I could find, hoping to avoid frostbite.  Ok, I exaggerate a little bit, but that's still really cold for a place primarily heated by fire.
The center where I work is closed until next Monday (the 21st) because all of the kids except for one have the dreaded GRIPA!  Apparently, wearing necklaces of garlic did not ward it off with enough vigor.  Too bad.  My counterpart and host mother say that I didn't get sick because I drank hot wine mixed with pepper and sugar-- another concoction to ward off the gripa.
I don't now about that, but the hot wine really warms you up after sledding.
I've been teaching all the kids at my center some English and I just finished teaching body parts to this little girl named Olea.  I'll walk by her classroom, which is a madhouse of Romanian and Russian voices and overhear her yell above the clamor-- "I have a nose!" which is about all of what I taught her that she can remember off the top of her head.  Part of me wonders if she remembers what she actually is saying, but I'm just happy she's using English.
 I hope to hear from you all!

Darcie "Super Volunteer" Brownback

My clothes "drying" outside in the cold.  They froze solid and we picked off the ice.

Lenuta photobombs a Saint Day celebration photo.

Celebrating the Midnight Pony's birthday.  He makes friends everywhere he goes.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

14 Months

Happy 14th month birthday to my little man!

He's growing like a weed, clocking in somewhere between 27 and 30 pounds...and he's all attitude.

Check out the picture where I asked him to clap.

Ok, so no clapping :)

 He also loves to "read" and spends most of his evenings either flipping through his own books or sitting on my lap being read to.  I love it--- I hope he loves to read for his whole life.

He also enjoys walking around the house pretending it's Halloween.
 And holding my heels.

What can I say?  The kid's a weird-o.

Runs in the family.

I love that weird-o so much!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Early Wake Up Calls

This year, I only work at one school.  That school dismisses at 2:26, meaning I can contractually leave at 2:46.  I capitalized on this, rushing home to work out before picking up Mac.  I found that I could easily do a 3-4 mile run or a workout video while still being on time to pick him up.  I felt like supermom :)

Then I got busy at work.  It's a blessing (in the form of job security) to be busy, but it also means that I am consistently asked to stay late to work with teams.  That means that working out had to wait until David got home from work.  Since he's on a more typical work schedule, he's usually not home until 6 or 6:30.  By the time I worked out, we didn't eat dinner until 7:30 or 8...which messed with my world and general pleasantness.

I came to a conclusion.  I could not consistently refuse to stay after and work with teams and feel secure in my job and I could not happily wait for David to get home from work to exercise.  So, I work out before work.

Seems like a no-brainer, right?  It would, except I am at work before 7 each day and working out before work means at 4:45 wake up call.

Yeah.  4:45.

Last week was rough--hence why blogging didn't happen.  Now, it's getting better.  I think your body can get used to almost anything and it's really only 45-60 minutes earlier than I was getting up.  On the plus side, I am able to run errands on the days when I don't have to stay late.

What sacrifices have you made to fit in work outs and stay professional?  Can someone send some support my way?

Also, I ran my first 5k in ages (I usually just run a half marathon or two a year) and finished in around 29 minutes!  While I'm not fast by any stretch of the imagination, that was far faster than I was expecting! Woot!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What's new

As you may or may not have realized, I missed a week of blogging.  I'm back with a few pictures of the stinkbug.  He's growing like crazy (and turns 14 months on Thursday!).  

His latest obsession is with crayons.  He doesn't understand what they do, but he knows they're fun to hold.  He's figured out where I store them and has taken it upon himself to go get them and carry them around the house. 

 While it's cute that he does it, I've hidden his crayons... I can't handle the random scribbles on the tile or walls.  Hopefully, Mac will begin to understand that a crayon isn't just a magic wand and start using them with a purpose.  Until then, he only gets them with supervision :)

Mac also is obsessed with his swing.  That kid could sit outside in this thing for HOURS if I let him.  I love that he loves it...but ending our swing session has always been traumatic for both of us.  He yells and throws himself to the ground (maybe he's hitting the terrible twos early?), refusing to walk.  I feel horrible but usually have something pressing to do (translation: Mom has to pee).
So, while the actual swinging is fantastic, I'm working on ending the swinging in a positive manner.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Meal Plan Monday!

Oooh, there were no posts this week.  I'm trying an earlier wake up time and, obviously, didn't get much blogging done.  Yikes.

At any rate....Meal Plan Monday!

Monday: Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells and Caesar Salad
Tuesday: Beefy Baked Macaroni and Carrots
Wednesday: Chicken Spaghetti with Bread
Thursday: Leftovers or Chicken Bacon Sub
Friday: Book Club!  I'm bringing cannoli dip!
Saturday: Out or Leftovers

I promise to blog some this week!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

This week is a lazy week as far as cooking goes... we have three already-prepped freezer meals plus one crockpot meal.  I had a bit of the flu when I was planning this...maybe that's why?

  • Sunday
    •  Pretty Lazy Italian Chicken
  • Monday
    •  Northwoods Wild Rice Soup
    • French Bread
  • Tuesday
    • Chicken Parm
    • Broccoli
  • Wednesday--David softball at 6:30
    • Chicken Bacon Sub
  • Thursday
    • Dining Out
  • Friday
    •  Leftovers or dining out
  • Saturday-- Mizzou Home Football 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Peace Corps Emaily #9

Original Sent Date: 

January 28, 2005

Hello all!
It has been far too long since I’ve written… I feel like I’ve sunk into a world where I only speak in Romanian and watch horrible Brazilian soap operas dubbed over in Russian.  Ooof.
The weather here has taken a turn for the colder.
It’s not so bad, since I only live about 100 feet from where I work, but it’s still cold.  Actually, I fell pretty hard yesterday and have a huge, black, bruise all over my entire butt.  I would like to take a picture and put it up on my website, but I imagine that wouldn’t make Mom very proud.  It is a cool bruise though!
Because the weather is colder/warmer intermittently, people have been freaking out about “THE GRIPPA!”  The grippa, in my understanding, is what we could call a bug—pretty much any all-purpose illness is called the grippa.  At the center where I work, all of the children are wearing necklaces with cloves of garlic strung on them.  I thought that maybe it was to ward off, you know, vampires since we are pretty close to Transylvania, but no, it’s for the grippa.  Silly American, with my confused way of thinking—of course it’s to ward off illnesses.  Garlic, the miracle drug…at least I learned the Romanian word for vampire because of this.
Things at work are going well. I’ve been teaching English, Computers, and doing physical therapy.  I’ve
also been writing a lot of grants.  By the way, if anyone has any resources about physical therapy they
would like to share with me, I would really appreciate them…even websites are good. 
So, the water has turned back on in my home.  Apparently, the lack of water for most of 2005 had nothing to do with the water supply.  No, someone on my street wasn’t paying their bill and the water on the whole street was just turned off for everyone.  Oh communistic values.  The person finally paid, so now I can bathe in my town!  Which, by the way, is probably a good thing.  A little girl at the center, Lenuta, asked me when I planned on washing my hair next.  It had only been 4 days—I’ve been able to make it up to a week without grossing myself too much.  Good for a girl with naturally oily hair.
I have been receiving letters mailed to my site address!  Thank you all for you letters… it’s been amazing to hear from you all.  Just to let you all (ahem) know again, my site address is: Darcie Brownback
deleted the address.
Have a great couple of weeks and I’ll think of you all as I’m eating pickled watermelon.  It’s surprisingly

Take care,

Darcie “Super Volunteer” Brownback

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mud Run #2

On Sunday, I ran in another Mud Run.  These races are so much fun that I think I'm hooked.

Here's a before shot--we look so nice and clean then.

 And after.
Not so clean.

The race was funny--it had a color portion, zombies, and mud.  It was seriously like someone looked at races trending on twitter and smashed them all together :)

At the end of the race, I was going down a giant slide.  For some reason, I was really picking up speed when most people seemed to be struggling.  I picked up so much speed that I nailed the girl ahead of me in the back... whoops.

Luckily, there was free beer at the end to stifle her pain. :)

 It was a nice end to a long weekend.  The day before, Maclin got to tailgate for the first time... and I only managed to take one picture.  He was thrilled with the food options.  :)  

 I had a blast tailgating...the game, not so much.  Rain is no fun to watch football with a baby!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Meal planning is a little off because of the holiday weekend.  The grocery store was CRAZY today---I think everyone else put off the shopping too.

  • Sunday-- In Columbia
    •  Dining out :)
  • Monday
  • Tuesday
    •  Chicken and Wild Rice
    • Broccoli
    • Bread
  • Wednesday--David softball at 8:30
    • Egg white and avocado wrap
  • Thursday
    • Freezer Meal-- Probably Chicken Bacon Ranch Sub
  • Friday
    •  Leftovers or dining out
  • Saturday-- David in Columbia.