Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bad Mood Dance Party

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. And Saturday is just the worst day to be grumpy.

I forgot that everything wrong in the world was not a personal slight against me. (Commence early morning pre-coffee pity party).

Coincidentally (?) Marty had to go to work for the morning. So it was just me and the weight of the world. Til I remembered...

What makes any day brighter? What is gaurenteed to make you smile?

(other than a cinnamon roll, and I didn't have a car at this point)


So I turned on this song.

WILBURY TWIST by Traveling Wilburys on Grooveshark

 And this song.
Slumber by NEEDTOBREATHE on Grooveshark

This one too, for my BFF.
Love Today by Mika on Grooveshark

 Ended with this one.
  Waiting On A Sunny Day by Bruce Springsteen on Grooveshark

 And now I am all geared up for a great weekend!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

My Saturday Breakfast

I am guest posting over at K and K test kitchen this week with my usual saturday breakfast! I thought I would share it with y'all. Check out the website, you can see it over there ----> in my blog stalking list.


I love making a big breakfast on Saturday mornings. Growing up my Dad always whipped up something great on the weekends, as he was the one up the earliest. Somehow I have come to expect something yummy on Saturdays. At my house, I am in charge of Saturday morning breakfast. My husband makes the bacon and I make the main dish.

This is my go to recipe. I grab a fresh loaf of Challah at the local food co-op on Fridays. This recipe feeds 2 people (with big appetites) using half the loaf. The other half goes into the freezer for next weekend! You can also use french bread or brioche, but I find Challah to be a perfect balance between the plain french bread and the too dense (and too expensive) brioche.


1/2 loaf Challah bread, or 8 - 1 inch slices
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon
Butter for the pan

Cut the challah into 8, 1 inch slices. You can make them thicker if you want, but make sure to increase the cooking time.

In a bowl big enough to dip your bread, mix 3 eggs and 1 cup milk. I use skim milk, but you can use pretty much any kind of milk. Whisk eggs and milk together. Add 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon and mix. If that sounds like too much cinnamon put less! I just love cinnamon.

Heat a frying pan on medium to medium high heat and put enough butter on  the pan to grease it up. Make sure that your butter doesn't burn and put a little more on the pan after each round of cooking the french toast.

Dip one piece of Challah bread in the egg mixture at a time, coating each side and making sure that the mixture is soaked through the whole slice of bread. Don't leave the bread in the mixture too long, if it gets too soggy it will fall apart. Once dipped, place on the warm pan. Be sure to whisk the mixture between dipping every two or three slices or the cinnamon will rise to the top and you will get one really cinnamon-y piece.

Cook the first round of slices 3-4 minutes. Flip each piece and cook an additional 2 minutes. Make sure it is cooked all the way through - it should bounce back when you touch it. The french toast may be a bit more brown that you are used to because of the cinnamon. Once cooked, keep each slice in a warmed oven while you are cooking the next round. 

I serve the french toast with vanilla yogurt and fresh berries, and of course real maple syrup. But you can top it with whatever you would like - powdered sugar, butter, maple syrup, jam... 

cinnamon challah french toast recipe


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hot hot heat

"Heat" is not something we are known for in the PNW. So when we moved here to the South, we knew we were in for it. I didn't realize though that it wouldn't be the heat but he humidity that would really be the killer. In the PNW, you live for the summer. It has been engrained in me that you spend every waking moment all summer long outdoors. And there is only one thing that will stop that strong instinct to get outdoors: humidity. 

The first year we were here we thought we would be smarter than the millions of people before us and not turn on the A/C upon our arrival in August. This, combined with the fact that we basically lived in a creek, resulted in such an epic black mold problem we had to switch apartments. 

From then on we have been on the A/C from April to October bandwagon and boy is it awesome. While I miss fresh air for six months of the year, I am happy that the humidity is staying outside. Controlling the indoor air temperature is quite the art in the south - I swear it is colder indoors in the summer than in the winter. I am now in the habit of bringing a sweater with me when we go anywhere in the SUMMER. 

7-Day Forecast

But today I knew I was finally adjusted to life in the south when the weather man said "Today will be a high of 95, but very bearable because of the lower humidity" and I grabbed my sunglasses and my laptop for a few hours of working in the sun. In the midst of my efforts to quickly gather my things, I missed most of what he said next, but it included the phrases...

"Record heat" "High Humidity" "Triple digit temps" and "For the next five days"

How does some iced coffee and the promise of A/C at a movie sound?

P.S. Can I say how excited we are for an upcoming trip back home??

The time I met Hillary Clinton after sticking a fork in the outlet

By which I mean...

The time I went to the state department after walking around all day in the crazy humidity. 

Its no wonder they asked for additional identification. 

Friday, June 22, 2012


Recently Purchased

Tickets to Honduras for six weeks starting mid-August. Here I go on business trip #2. 
Remember business trip #1?
After working for six weeks, we will be flying out of this place.
Business trip ending on a carribean island? yes please!

Recently Yay!'d

My friend Kendra is back in town to do her peds residency at Duke. 
I made this cake to celebrate.

Recently Hosted

Ben, a Kenyan colleague and friend from CFK, for a week.
What a treat! After exploring DC, he came down to NC for a few meetings
and a lot of getting acquainted for the first time with America,
and all its culinary delights - like Fajitas.

Recently Fed

The turtles and fish at the lake at our friends apartment complex.
Ben and Marty fed approximately two pounds of funfetti cake to them.
I am not bitter about not being able to eat that cake myself.
Nope, I have let that go.
(What fish like cake, anyway.)

Recently Explained

To our guest, I explained such gems as:

Why we must carry plastic bags while walking a dog
Why we giggled every time he said "when it rains, we all put our rubbers on"
Why Americans use cushier toilet paper than Kenyans
Why we must not drink the salsa after the chips run out
Why we put letters in our pancakes

Recently Resigned

To purchasing blackberries at astronomical prices
because we all know that there is 
nothing better than a sun-warmed blackberry. 
Although I am pretty sure that the sun-warmed blackberries 
we picked for free and by the gallon back at home tasted just a bit sweeter.

Recently Realized

I grew up watching Canadian television!
I guess I didn't realize that the rest of American kids in the 80s
weren't watching the guy crawl out of the tree,
watching the elephant show, or thinking lizards could talk.


Recently Snicker-Worthy

Apparently this bug, called the cockchafer (yes, feel free to snicker. I did), are a real problem 
where my bro-in law lives. Can you imagine having conversations about the 
weather and subsequent cockchafer problems with gramma or your boss? BAH!

Recently Jammed To

Here's a song to make your Friday just that much better. 

In Your Light by Gotye on Grooveshark

Recently Re-Watched

Orange County.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wool Socks and Birkenstocks

A longer father's day post is coming in the next few days, but suffice to say I found the mother of a father's day card this year.  

It looked like this.

He opened the card yesterday, looked at his feet, and sent me this picture. 

Dad - with a father like you, its no wonder perfection comes so easily to me.

(Wait, are those Mom's? Which pair of shoes is SHE wearing?)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

DC Wrap Up

This week I spent a few days in DC. I was helping out a friend and colleague from CFK with a few presentations and with negotiating America for the first time. We were presenting on the program I worked on last summer to some very exciting people - in other words I was totally geeking out about such activities as entering the State Dept and going into a Congresswoman's office.

Beyond the important work of advocating for the reproductive and sexual health of adolescents in Kenya, I also taught Ben the importance of such things as crosswalks, pooper scoopers, Thai food, and the Blessing of the Animals ceremony. (Yes, we bring them to church. Yes, we bring them up to the alter and bless them. Yes, we use holy water. Yes, we know they are poodles.)

We managed to have a few American experiences. Bacon! Cheeseburgers! Being 15 minutes EARLY for a meeting! People passing along the street without acknowledging each other! Working through lunch! And my personal favorite - a visit to the Hard Rock Cafe with no less than 200 girl scouts who sang - and danced - along with all the Justin Beiber and One Direction anybody needs to hear ever.

Behind you! Its a Wolly Mammoth!

Different HIV issues here in the US than in Kenya...

This restaurant was called THAITANIC! 

Now Ben is here in NC staying with us while he meets with CFK people in town for a week. Welcome to the South Ben!
bluegrass on UNCs campus

Monday, June 11, 2012

Try and keep up...

Where am I now?

Washington DC!

(Not my fave Washington, but I will take it)

I am here to accompany Ben, a CFK staff member, program manager of the sexual reproductive health program I worked on for my thesis, and friend. Ben is providing insight on his experience working in this field at a panel here today, related to the Rio UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Also, we will talk about the program to potential partners and organizations looking to fund and run programs like CFKs adolescent sexual health program. We will be in DC for three days, and then Ben will leave to go to NYC for two days, before coming down to Chapel Hill for a week. I am happy to play host and repay all the hospitality I received in Kenya a year ago.

So far, we have done the DC basics.

Monuments, almost getting smeared by a bus while driving into the city, and waving at cousin Barack through the white house windows.

Oh, and introducing Ben to the culinary delight of bacon.

For the rest of the day, we have meetings (with real live congressmen and women!) and perhaps will take in a Smithsonian or two.

Any hints on what to do in DC? NYC? Or american things Ben must enjoy or try while here?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Karma: The good kind.

On my first day of graduate school, I walked into the orientation by myself. I was fairly nervous, but mostly just excited for the next step.

As I approached the student center I entered the round-about outside and noticed a big ol' mini-van with Florida plates. A blonde girl stepped out and turned to wave at mommy in the front seat.

Pssssh. Who get's dropped off for Grad school in a mini-van by their MOM? At least I came here by myself, and just called my mom in the car.

And from Florida? Nothing good ever came from Florida. That's where all the wackos live. And overly tan party animals. And roller-bladers in lycra. Who ever met a normal person from Florida. Not me.

I followed her into the hall as she whipped out her iPhone. Dude, an iPhone? I imagined her in the back of the auditorium on her phone yawning while I diligently took notes on how to register for classes. She will definitely fit in here at preppy old Duke. I lovingly clutched my Zach-Morris-flip-phone and judged away. Of course she was skinny, beautiful, and blonde. Pssh. Skinny, beautiful, and blonde is so overrated.

But then a small voice in my head said "Dude. Judgey-mcjudgerson! You know that is going to be one of your closest friends here at Duke, right? Just to spite your ridiculous stereotypes. And roller-bladers in lycra? Have you ever been to Florida?"

And, yes, she did turn out to be a very close friend. And now she is BACK in the Dirty Durham! After a year away to finish med school, she is back for her residency at Duke.

Because it turns out that she not only is skinny, beautiful, and blonde, but she is wicked smart.

And not from Florida.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Kibera Reflection: One Year Later

Photo credit: LadyeJane Vickers
One year ago last week I went to Kibera. The biggest slum in Kenya,the biggest in East Africa. Hundreds of thousands of people in a very small space. Spending three months in Nairobi and working in Kibera had an indelible impact on my life's path, provided me with new perspectives and new friends, and also importantly allowed me to graduate with my Master's.

Someone recently asked me recently if I was glad that I went to Duke, and glad I got my Master's.

I thought about the moment that I made the decision to go back to school. I was in Tanzania, livin' the 20-something dream of starting an NGO to send kids to school. I thought I was doing the right thing. And for that moment, I was. And for those kids, I was. I thought that this was the way to go, to spend my life in the field working with one kid at a time, supporting one community right in front of me. Global health can be an addictively gratifying field in that you immediately can see the impact you have -- at a very individual level. You send one kid to school (Been there). You buy one mosquito net (Done that). You pay for one man's ARVs (Check.). And for many, this is the right way.

But then long story short, the NGO didn't work out (at least not my involvement in it). And I realized that I would rather approach my impact in a methodical, thoughtful, and INTENTIONAL way. So I went to school to learn how to do that. And also to prove to those around me that international health work was not a 20-something fling with travel, cute African kids, and cultures that value a little junk in the trunk. And it certainly had nothing to do with a "white savior complex".

This is work I have always known that I was going to do. It felt right not because I was satiating my white guilt, or because I thought that those I was supporting had been waiting for me -" chelsea-like-the-football-club" - all along, or that they couldn't do it without me. It felt right because it was what I was supposed to be doing. It was (is) what I was built to do. Just like you are built to be a violinist, a teacher, or a mom.

So going to Duke, and ultimately to Kibera, was always an INTENTION of mine. And in Kibera I refined my purpose, at least for now, to two words.

Peddling Hope.

In Kibera, I met hopelessness in a whole new way, in depressing incidents that shook me up, in fearful conversations with Kiberans about perpetual poverty and pervasive violence, in the vacant eyes of young guys just hanging out waiting for dusk. But I also encountered hope in tangible ways, in ways that defied reason. Here was the glaring dichotomy of those with and without hope.

It seems to me that those of us in global health, those that I have met through Duke and at Carolina for Kibera, who make thoughtful, intentional, and innovative decisions, using researched ideas and community-driven processes, are in the business of providing a commodity - hope - that makes or breaks entire communities.

Hope for health care.

Hope for a safe neighborhood.

Hope for education.

Hope for the next generation.

Now we don't have the answers, and we are far from perfect, and the challenges we face are complicated, convoluted, and frustrating. And I certainly don't claim to know what the next years bring - for myself, or for Kibera.

But for the one year anniversary of a great trip, surrounded by impressive people, and experiences I still can't quite put into coherent words, I am hopeful for the years to come.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Lovin' Linds'

This long weekend I went up to Denver to see my dearest friend Lindsay... We went to college together and have been the closest of friends since. Like the kind where you don't see each other for the most part of five years and it seems like you see each other every Tuesday. I appreciate Lindsay for her honesty, her sense of adventure, and her perspective. She and I are very similar the way we see relationships, and our friendship came at a point in my life when I really needed it. So thankful for this lady.

I had a wonderful Colorado weekend with her and Angie!

Gotta go directly for a cupcake.

Brunch with requisite appetizer pancakes

Creek Fest in Boulder, trying on our new hats!

Meeting up with my hometown friends, Kevin and Lisa
(I was a groomslady in their wedding)

 "uh, Linds, What did you talk us into?" The BOLDER BOULDER 10K!

 We finished well! Go us! 
And go training at flat ground at sea level and managing to run at 5400 ft!

 I was so distracted by the stadium finish, and by thinking I had already finished the race,
that I didn't finish very quickly at the end.

 Look at those mountains!

 Celebration BBQ!