Friday, September 30, 2011

Feel Good Friday

In honor of the passing of a Kenyan female role model, environmental activist, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, here is a inspirational story told by her.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On Education, and my sister

My sister has always been cooler than me. Yup, I said it. Three years younger and light years ahead of me on the coolness spectrum. As a thirteen year old getting ready for my eighth grade graduation, I turned to my TEN YEAR OLD sister and asked her to apply my make-up. (God knows my mom couldn't help. Love you mom!). I don't know why both my sister and I ended up wanting to do service oriented jobs. It may be my bleeding heart parents, both who sacrificed enormously for us and who always showed compassion towards others. (Even you Dad, despite that Sierra Nevada and that you-better-listen-evil-eye you have a big heart).

Anyway, my sister is going to be a primary school teacher and I couldn't be more proud. She is still cooler than me. Although she may get docked cool points once she starts dressing like this..... Ba ha! Telling you to join a profession that is notorious for corduroy jumpers was just my plan to finally look cooler than you!

I have been thinking about how much money I (and my parents, and the federal government) has poured into my education and feeling a little selfish about it all. Education is a selfish investment, until you turn around and do something with it. And higher-educational institutions all around the States are often selfish in their own motivations (for example a certain coach at the University I study at gets paid $4 MILLION a year in salary alone - don't even get me started). I recently watched Waiting for Superman, a movie about the education system in America. It was interesting and depressing at the same time. I think it was worth watching for sure. Do you think so sister?

Also this clip from Colbert is pretty good. 

Monday, September 26, 2011


Recently made stuffed bell peppers

Looking over our balance sheet recently, I discovered, not so shockingly, that we spend a good amount of our income (okay Marty's income and my student loans) on food.We have chosen to eat healthy, and sometimes organic, and to treat ourselves to a meal out every now and then instead of purchasing things or gadgets.

Now this means two things
1) that I have to go to the gym more often because of that peach-almond-crisp I made on Friday and
 2) that we put our money where our mouth is. No, really.

The delicious peach-almond-crisp I made on Friday, which was a hit with some of the girls.




For the peach filling:
  1. 6-8 cups sliced peaches {I always use fresh, but frozen work too as long as they are thawed}
  2. 1/4 c. flour
  3. 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  4. 1/2 t. cinnamon
  5. 1/4 t. nutmeg
  6. 1/4 t. ginger
For the crisp:
  1. 1/2 c. brown sugar
  2. 1/2 c. sliced, slivered, or chopped almonds {just add extra oats if you don't want to use almonds}
  3. 1/2 c. oats {I've used quick oats and traditional oats -- both work fine}
  4. 1/2 c. flour
  5. 1/2 c. COLD butter or margarine
For the filling:
  1. Wash, peal, and slice peaches. Then dump into an ungreased baking dish {I used a 2 1/2 quart Corningware dish}
  2. In a small bowl, mix flour, sugar and spices together. Pour over peaches and stir until all peaches are coated
For the crisp:
  1. In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients
  2. Divide butter into several small chunks and "cut" into the dry mixture with a pastry blender, 2 knives, or with your hands {which is what I do!}
  3. The mixture should become "clumpy" and crumbly with the butter evenly distributed
  4. Sprinkle mixture evenly over peaches in baking pan.
  5. Bake at 400*F for 30-35 minutes or until peaches are bubbly and the crisp is golden brown
  6. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Printed from:

Monday, September 19, 2011

You look so much better when you...

Today I drug Amy to an African restaurant to eat Kenyan food, purchased African roses from TJ's, and then this song came on the radio. 

It's Kirk!

Every morning in Kenya, Mama and I would dance to the radio station that was broadcast from her Pentecostal church. And almost every morning at around 7:10 they played this song by Kirk Franklin. Mama would jump up from her tea and say "Its Kirk! Kirk!" and we would initiate 7 am dance party. Mama has moves, man. (The concept of a 7 am dance party just sounds so impossible to me right now).

" you look so much better when you smile, even though I am in it for a while, I smile."

And this is how I feel right now, in the trenches of thesis time.

my favorite part? When he says "holy ghost power ya'll!" and suddenly I am envisioning a Jesus figure with crossed arms and some serious bling. Or Jesus with missing front teeth on a riding lawn mower. Whatev. This song is cool wit' me.

Another thing that makes me smile? My bff Betsy and her new bff Scout the six-week-old-how-could-i-be-any-cuter-goldendoodle. Holy crap! That's a cute puppy! Betsy? Also pretty cute.

Also, this. Bah! Twiga jokes!
Maybe Next Year by Aled Lewis

Friday, September 16, 2011

Feel Good Friday

TGIF! My Friday plans? A UNC women's soccer game, some coffee-shop-thesis-ing, and a blue cup at He's Not with some buddies. Sounds fab.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Impressive and Unimpressive: Session Two


1) Marty's return as the star goalkeeper of his soccer team.
2) iPhones. Have you seen these things? They are going to revolutionize the world!
3) The woman in Harris Teeter who, spying me going for the BOGO raspberries, told me she had lost 18 pounds by switching out her krispie kreme for a bowl of raspberries. When I teased her about the cinnamon donut in her cart, she assured me that her doctor told her she could have anything with cinnamon.
4) My new blue toenails a la 1998. Went for a mixture of Duke and Carolina blues, so that I would still be allowed into my house by my Tar Heel husband and not have my butt kicked on a regular basis at school.


1) North Carolina Republicans put a referendum on the ballot to change the state constitution to define marriage as one woman and one man. Can I move home now please?
2) Duke football, but in a comical entertaining way.
3) Our showing at pub quiz this week. Questions we missed included: The second heaviest organ in the body (the liver), what country Kuala Lampur was the capital of (Malaysia), who killed McBeth (McDuff) and what was Marky Mark's 1991 hit (Good Vibrations).
4) Cans in the trash bin. Let's just say that recycling ain't a big thang here, in fact they had to make a law against throwing away plastic bottles or aluminum cans. This garbage bin, at Duke, is full of aluminum cans. Come on Dukies, get it together.

In other get-it-together news: There was a big slum fire in another slum in Nairobi, in the industrial area. Over 100 people were killed when petrol washed into a stream of sewage. This is not a sewer, because as I learned repeatedly this summer, sewage does not imply a sewer. It was a sad event and hopefully will incite some significant action, but of course now the government is denying any culpability. Read more about it HERE.

Monday, September 12, 2011

One Month

It didn't take me a month to remember just how wicked cool we are.

It has been exactly one month since I left Kenya. In this month I have:

  • realized how much time and energy it takes to "reconoider your brain" 
  • relearned all sorts of things about Marty, all his quirks and what I love most about him all over again. A fun process - not sure if it was worth the three months away. 
  • Attempted to get some thesis work done
  • Went for my first run in three months
  • Remembered how quickly you lose all your muscle mass and how to ice sore muscles
  • Graduated to a smart phone (cough, cough, months after my parents)
  • Gorged myself on all things fresh - fresh cheese, fruit, veggies
  • Watched a season of True Blood and Dexter
  • Visited three new states
  • TA'd for my first class
  • Tried to read three months of all the magazines we get (The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, Real Simple)
  • Relearned my southern accent and how much I love the phrase y'all
  • Reveled in my favorite American luxuries - controlled traffic, crap tv, and clean air
  • Missed my favorite African luxuries - cute kids, curious new friends, and constant adventure 
  • Did a whole lot of thinking about Kibera 
All in all, a whirlwind month. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Found them!

There ARE rational people out there! I have found them!

Check out this article about this ad that ran in a Christian magazine, urging parents to accept their kids for who they are. Hooray for reasonable, compassionate people everywhere! And Hooray its Friday!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Impressive and Unimpressive: Session one

Dinner from the Farmer's Market!
Things I have been impressed by this week:

1) My ability to procrastinate on anything thesis related.
2) Seeing this clip. No wonder I am a groupie.
3) The Raleigh Farmer's market. It was awesome and we got a ton of fresh fruit! And we followed it up with a truly southern meal of biscuits, hushpuppies, spiced apples, and an omelette. My mother-in-law was right -- awesome biscuits! The only thing missing was a monk fish on a string (shout out to my PNW peeps).

Things I was unimpressed by:

1) This article. Where have all the reasonable people gone?
2) My ability to secure funding to go back to Kenya for a much needed trip to complete thesis work. Anybody win the lottery lately?
3) The fact that it didn't turn reasonably warm the moment it turned September. Yup, still hot and humid.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The South

There are many opportunities that living in the south has afforded me.

Certainly not the least life-changing is the chance to understand Ricky Bobby at a whole new level.

I especially enjoy this scene.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fun Fact Friday

A Transparency

This infographic, better explored on a really solid website here, shows how there is a substantial gap between who actually represents us in the government and who is actually living in America. Much more diverse, and much more in the middle (rational? thoughtful?) than those we are represented by.

Take a look, then go invite all of your diverse friends over for a drink because TGIF!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I have been home for almost three weeks now. I am doing well, enjoying the beautiful NC weather (minus that whole Irene thing), and soaking up all the things I love about life in the States. I get washes of missing Kenya every once in a while, and bouts of reverse culture-shock, which is a totally real thing by the way. Today I am missing Kenya like crazy and am thinking about my last few weeks back at home...

It is interesting how people react when you tell them that you just got home from Africa and were there for three months. Some people give me looks of jealousy. Some people look at me like I willingly had myself water-boarded for three months. Some people seem to not understand at all.

One woman asked me if Kibera was dangerous. Then before I could answer she added in all sincerity, "Well, it couldn't be any more dangerous than Durham".

I can't begrudge people who don't have the same experience I have. Or have the same desire to have the experiences I have. And I guess if Durham is your reference point for extreme danger, than that is all you know. (And you are one lucky person).

It is difficult to communicate my experience. I find myself vacillating between a short sweet "Yup, I had a great time" and a 30 minute monologue when a "yup, I had a great time" was all the person wanted.

It is also interesting, although not surprising, that people ask almost exclusively about the negative things. They want to hear my horror stories. How many times I feared for my life. What I had stolen from me. How I managed to live in such an awful place. How many lions I killed with my bare hands.

They don't want to hear how I had a really great time, how I respected almost everyone I met, how I had a lot in common with my new friends. How I want to go back and do it all again.

And again, I don't begrudge them wanting to hear the adventure stories. I probably would ask the same. And it wasn't all sunshine and roses, that is true. And often it is easier to tell the exciting and-then-I-killed-that-200-pound-lion-with-my-hands-tied-behind-my-back stories. So I tell my most exciting stories and indulge that human desire for drama (I am fortunate to not have many of these stories in my repertoire).

But its the beginning of a new month, and a new stage, and I am happy to be here.