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A Dumpling By Any Other Name…

Today I woke up with a burning desire to understand the world of eastern European dumplings. I mean, what is the difference between pierogi, pelmeni, pirozhki, vareniki, etc? Everyone is dying to know this right?

So a quick Google search answered all my questions.

For me the quintessential dumpling – the one I crave periodically – is pelmeni. It’s a Russian dumpling that originated in the Urals (and quite possibly was introduced to the region by the invading Mongols). Russian pelmeni are pasta like dumplings filled with raw meat (usually pork) and boiled or fried in butter. A good Russian pelmeni dish is always served with a dollop of smetana, or sour cream.

Pierogi are traditional Polish dumplings. These resemble pelmeni in look and texture, though they are typically vegetarian, stuffed with things like potatoes, cabbage, mushrooms, sauerkraut, cheese, etc. Apparently they can also be filled with sweet ingredients. Pierogi are typically prepared by frying them in butter. The Russian word for pierogi is vareniki, so there is another mystery solved for me!

Pirozhki is another Russian word swirling around in my head from my college days (I was a Russian studies major ages ago) confusing my understanding of doughy delights. Turns out pirog is the Russian word for pie and pirozhki encompasses all the variations of said term. Pirozhki are made with yeast-risen dough and are prepared by baking or frying.

Now if, like me, you associate pretty much all pie with something sweet, you might be sorely disappointed if someone offers you a pie overseas and it is anything but! I learned this lesson living in former British colonies. Excited that there were pie shops all over New Zealand, my enthusiasm was soon squelched by a realization that none of the pies in those shops contained anything remotely like what my family makes for holidays.

So just like the British versions, Russian pirozhki are often filled with meat and other savory ingredients. However they do also have sweet pirozhki as well!

This concludes today’s random thoughts! Happy Easter, or Passover, or Saturday, depending on your practices and beliefs! Stay safe, stay hopeful, and stay kind!

Oh! And I’m happy to report that I have not relapsed on the smoking front in many years now. I’ve never been so happy that I quit smoking! To those thinking about quitting, give it a go. And keep giving it a try over and over again. Eventually it may stick!


“Can’t See the Portfolio for the Boxes…”

No, no – that’s not how it goes – or does it?

This morning I sent a present to one of my husband’s employees for helping me out with an issue and I wanted to include a note. The only note cards I have uncovered are my Belgian cards I didn’t managed to sell before leaving this past summer (and honestly am OK with as I really like them!). But I could not for the life of me find the box they were in this morning.

I opened that box last Friday.

Where the heck could that box be? I knew I took some of the other things out of that box. There aren’t that many rooms in this house, so where was that damned box?

Without lots of time to look, I gave the present to my husband and kissed him goodbye. Immediately I stomped back upstairs convinced I had entered some sort of parallel universe where I didn’t actually open that particular box.

And that’s when I found it – out of the box on the floor at the foot of the guest bed – original box nowhere to be found – because I had already emptied it and broken it down.

It got me thinking ( “a dangerous pastime – I know”  – sorry, can’t suppress my inner Disney Princess sometimes).

There is the saying that one “can’t see the forest for the trees.” Well, sometimes you can’t see the portfolio for the boxes.

Because I was looking specifically for a BOX with my portfolio in it, I didn’t allow myself to see that the very thing I was looking for was at my feet.

I think we too often do this to ourselves in life. We are so focused on what is supposed to be or what is supposed to happen that we fail to see the benefit or the good that is right at our feet or our fingertips.

We need to slow down and remind ourselves to start looking for what it actually is that we want instead of how we think it’s going to show up or looking for the package we are just sure it will come all wrapped up in.

I think this was a good lesson for me to start this tour off with.  I will strive to keep a more open mind, a more open way of seeing the world and see what comes to me and what good is already right in front of me that I can utilize now.

However, Nassau is still too damn hot! 🙂



Yes or No: EFMs Are Making Their Maximum Contribution 😱 A Picture Book 😭

Source: Yes or No: EFMs Are Making Their Maximum Contribution 😱 A Picture Book 😭

Welfare Queens and Body Bags

The final F you. Just F’ing lovely.

a B, C, D Adventure

Ok, first things first. This blog has a disclaimer page, but many of you may not have read it previously. Given what I’m about to talk about however, I’m going to repeat it here: This blog is intended to give a personal insight into our life in the U.S. Foreign Service. It is not associated in any way with the U.S. Department of State. The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of U.S. government, any of its agencies/departments, or employees (including B). Just keep this in mind as you read on.

A few months ago a new Secretary of State was sworn in to lead the Department of State and the Foreign Service. Notwithstanding my misgivings related to his exclusively corporate background and my worry that, having earned well over $130 million in the five years prior to being tapped to join the State…

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As my Facebook follower knows (hi honey!) I FINALLY got the basement cleaned out and organized and boxed up the Halloween decorations. I even went through them all and divide up what is going to our next post (with little to no storage space), what is going to the house in Arkansas, and what just needed to be thrown out. After much internal deliberation (and advice from the hubs) I managed to whittle down my “post-kids, possible last post” Halloween supplies to one plastic tub and a smoke machine (still trying to decide on taking the smoke machine or not). The rest was reduced from several large packing boxes, down to 2 larger plastic tubs and one packing box of supplies. One would think that an empty nester has no need for Halloween decorations, but that person just would not understand my genetics and family dynamic.

Today is the day I tackle the Christmas decorations. Same process as above. What do I take? What do I send to the retirement house? What should be eliminated? It’s never simple for me, the person who spent 30 minutes trying to pick a cheap can opener at Walmart (there was not any good option!).

My biggest problem? Trying to convince myself to get rid of the Christmas tree. Bought in 2002, it was the biggest, most grand, most beautiful fiber optic/pre-lit tree we have ever owned. In the tipsy words of an embassy colleague at our first Christmas party in Ulaanbaatar, “That’s a damned fine tree!” This tree has traveled with us to Oman, Mongolia, Zambia, New Zealand and Belgium. It has been a constant for my family in a world where nothing is constant (even more so than in the life of the sedentary – so no lectures on how nothing is permanent, blah, blah, blah – I learned this lesson in full and harsh ways early and often in my life).

Some time in Zambia, the fiber optics died (think it just couldn’t handle the power spikes and the transformer use). One by one the lighted panels have flickered out, until just one remains. The more intrepid could probably track down the bulb causing the issues. Me? I just string other lights on the tree and it still looks awesome. The thing is, even without all the lights and features working, it’s a great, full tree that you don’t have to work hard to “fluff” out and hide the inner structure. It’s still gorgeous even without all the pre-lit stuff.

I’ve been going back and forth on letting it go. Last conversation with the other half ended with “then, just keep the darn thing!” In a phone conversation yesterday, my oldest had me convinced to just get rid of it, that a new and equally beautiful tree could be bought inexpensively. OK! Finally a decision made – the packing weight diminished. I then told the youngest when she woke up and she burst into tears. Oy vey, back to square one!

Whatever I decide on the tree, it’s now time to get stuck in and get to organizing! Thanks for listening and helping me procrastinate! As for the tree? I guess I could live by the words of the crazy missionary lady in Mongolia, who, as I was weepy selling my dad’s old bookcases said, “It’s alright honey. Everything’s eventually gonna burn up anyway!”

RIP My Lovelies

Of all the purges I have to make this spring, these are the saddest. These two shirts have been my favorites for years – the T shirt bought in Beijing in 2005 and the tank-top blouse in Johannesburg in 2007. Whether I have been fat or skinny, these two shirts have always looked great on me and were super comfortable. I have worn them longer than I really should have – those holes keep getting bigger with each passing day! –  and now the time has come to once and for all give them up. Sniffle, sniffle…


Goals for 2017

My first goal for 2017? Pack up the Halloween decorations that are still in my garage and hanging out on the basement stairs before my husband comes home from Baghdad in February.




Sven – the naughty child who didn’t make it. I’m sure the embassy handymen appreciate this guy’s presence on our basement steps.



I’m thinking I’ll keep the Christmas tree and decorations up until Easter…Or maybe I’ll let the packers handle them.

Christmas tree

I love this stupid tree – fiber optics died sometime in Zambia. The prelit panels have been dying out year by year until only one now works. I string other lights on it now, but I still love the way the damn thing looks!

Goals for This Year

This year while D is on TDY to B-dad, I have decided to sleep in the middle of my pillow-top, queen mattress to balance out the human shaped dents on either side of the bed. It’s a goal I think I can accomplish, unlike the goal to fit into my pants when there is a waffle truck in my neighborhood 3 days a week.

If you buy cheese, and then forget about it, it will eventually make its presence known.

I need a new backpack.

Technical Difficulties


Being John Malkovich


Day 4 without my laptop. It has decided not to charge now, so I wait for data extraction and a chance to buy a new one. I am very, very sad!

So since I cannot add new, exciting pictures to my current blog post, go check out my latest entry at Arklahoma Muse or treat yourself to a Valentine’s Day gift and buy one of my prints at Fine Art America. Thank you for your support!

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