Wednesday, July 31, 2013

So how is halfway-done done?

The problem with not having to blog every day is that you don't have to blog every day. Plus, Husband has been home and there have been other things to do. No, I mean cooking. We decided this weekend to get out our cookbooks and make some stuff. So we did. We made Italian and Spanish and Moroccan and Chinese--all gluten free of course. The Spanish zucchini with potatoes was awesome and Bistecca Pizzaiola is definitely a repeater. However, the Pumpkin Tagine surprisingly had no pumpkin in it and frankly, my lemon curried butternut squash was better.

But the Chinese food was awesome. Superb. We bought real Szechuan chilies and Szechuan peppercorns and black vinegar. I didn't even know that black vinegar existed, but it is apparently essential in Szechuan cooking.

We made real Kung Pao chicken and spicy garlic eggplant. And not a smidgen of gluten in the entire dinner. It was amazing, but cooking gourmet takes a lot of time and we ate dinner at around 9 each night, which is fine if you don't have to go to work in the morning, but I do, so thus the not blogging. But tonight, Husband is out with the children, so I had gluten-free cookies for dinner. Because I can. And there were no Chinese leftovers.

And I am tired. More tired than you can imagine because I have spent the last three days running around trying to get my computer account transferred all the way from one side of the building to the other and it has been the worst kind of futile exercise. Sisyphus had an easier time with the rock than I have had with the computer people. When you send them an email, they fill out a "ticket" and when they are finished, they mark it "resolved." So they moved my account out of the system it was in and marked my ticket "resolved." Except I still can't get into the new system. So now my account is in limbo and I can't print and I can't use the scanner and who knows when it will be fixed, because, you know, it's so hard to move an account because the other side of the building is so very far away. It's like on the moon, and no one in the State Department ever moves. They all just stay in their jobs forever. In one place. And never move. Ever. Seriously. Ugh.

OK, bagged lettuce that gives you a parasite is so not better than a brownie. Now, I love salad. Sometimes, that's all I have for a meal, that is, when I can find a dressing that's safe. (Stupid maltodextrin!) But Husband has become a spinach salad convert and he insists on having one every night for dinner, even if what we're having is mostly vegetables, which I kind of think means you don't need a spinach salad, because hey, carrots and squash are just as healthy and have butter on them. But Husband disagrees and when he is home, we eat bagged lettuce all the time because I am way to lazy to wash and cut my own lettuce. But I have to say, if I am going to choose something to eat that will probably make me sick, it will not be a big bag of lettuce. It will be this.

Can you imagine how good that would taste with the caramel filled ones? I so miss brownies.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Foreign Service Chic

I have rediscovered my love of grits. I know this may surprise some of you who are thinking who doesn't love grits? Well, I do, but I had forgotten. See, the problem with grits is the name, not the taste because grits and polenta are the same thing and when you fry them in butter--pure awesomeness. And when you put grilled shrimp and cheese sauce on them, to. die. for. Artemis and I went to a beachy place and that was one of the gluten-free items. I will definitely be back. It was so nice despite that the salad that came with the meal might have been the worst I ever tasted.

But tonight, I feel like ranting about fashion. Someone asked me today how I could stand working at "Main State" and I thought about it and I actually love it, except for the fact that there is very little good fashion to be seen. This week, I am in training so we have the whole "business casual" problem. So I have come up with a list of rules to help diplomats who can't figure out how to look professional and casual at the same time.

  1. If it is so short that you can't tell if it is a dress or a shirt, it is a shirt. Go home and put on some pants.
  2. Cuff-links and tie pins are OK for men. So are rings, but please, please leave the gold chains at home. Same with the shark-tooth or pukka shell necklace you go on your last R&R to somewhere tropical. 
  3. I don't even want to talk about friendship bracelets for men over 30. Unless it was given to you by a hill tribe member in North Vietnam, or a Masai warrior in Kenya, you can take it off.
  4. Nobody cares about which foreign Hard Rock restaurant you have been to. We are the foreign service and wearing one of those T-shirts only says you are stuck in the 90s.
  5. If you think flip-flops are only for the beach, you are wrong, because my pink suede ones with petals would be totally ruined by sand and water. Also, they are way too pretty not to be worn as often as possible.
  6. Taking off your tie does not make you business casual.
  7. No part of your underwear should ever touch the chair you are sitting in. That goes for men and women.
  8. For the love of all that is holy, please, please stop wearing those stupid flag pins with your newly assigned country on them. The only time those should be seen are at the 4th of July party at post.

Someone today suggested making a headband out of all the ones at your post. That might actually be OK.

I can't decide if this bouncy house hotel room is better than a brownie or not. On the one hand, it would so be a blast to sleep in a bouncy house. On the other hand, there are a lot of windows and it costs $50,000. 

I'm not too sure about that robot, either. So all in all, I'm thinking brownies are the better deal.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

They should have killed the snake first

The Dog and I are hanging out with old friends tonight and for once she is behaving calmly. But that's because the old friends are named Harry and Hermione and Ron, although Minerva and Neville are my favorites. The last Harry Potter movie is on and I am enjoying watching it while eating dinner in bed because it is my house and there is no one to tell me not to. When my friend came over to help me organize Child 2 & 3's room, she found a box and said please tell me this is a wand. It was. It was Child 2's. What I didn't tell her is that we all have them, except Husband, and every once in a while, I get mine out and wish that I could use it to clean up the house, or knit something faster, or levitate something, you know, just for fun.

I have to say, I loved those books almost more than the children, although I haven't read them nearly as often as Child 2 who has them memorized. She has and almost photographic memory and when I can't remember something, like what was the name of the mean house elf, I will ask Child 2 and she always knows. Also, things like, how do you stop pixies, and what was our phone number in China and what did I give you for Christmas 3 years ago? Of course, things like walk The Dog or call your mother, or rinse out the conditioner thoroughly are much, much harder to remember, apparently. Still, it's a useful skill.

I read this story about a woman who had saved $1 million in tips only to have it confiscated by the police because they thought it was drug money. Even though they never found any evidence of drugs or her involvement in them, they still wouldn't return the money until a judge ordered them to. Now, I would not suggest earning money the ways she did (children, don't look up the link!) but it was hers and having your hard-earned money taken away like that is definitely not better than a brownie.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Too much time on my hands

Husband should really not leave me completely on my own on a Saturday because I get bored and then something like this happens.

You see, I went to get my hair done, but my stylist doesn't take appointments so I had to wait for two hours, and instead of sitting in the salon, I thought I would just pop over to Williams and Sonoma and buy more gluten free flour. And the clerk there, who I must say is very good at her job, showed me where the new pancake mix was and then pointed me to the back where the sale things were and I found a cast iron Le Creuset on sale for 60% off. And it is pretty and blue. I'm really excited because I have always wanted one. I have a Le Creuset dish that I inherited from my grandmother, but it is small and has no lid and is more of a baking dish. But this one will make incredible stew because you can brown the meat really nicely and then put the whole thing on simmer for hours and even stick it right in the oven if you want. Marvelous. And so is my new purse. (I told Husband he should not leave me alone on a weekend!)

The other thing about being alone (except for The Dog who is faithfully protecting me from birds and shadows) is that you can eat whatever you want. Last night I had crackers and cheese for dinner, because why cook on a hot day? And today for lunch I ate an entire pizza. OK, it was a really, really small gluten-free pizza about the size of a small tortilla. But still, I didn't have to share. And if I want to eat an entire bag of root beer barrels for dessert, who is going to stop me? (Children, if you didn't want me to eat them, you shouldn't have left them here.) Root beer barrels are delicious, btw, but they are not better than a brownie. Neither are gluten-free crackers, yuck. At least the cheese was yummy, but still no brownie.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Building of the Lost

So I've worked at "Main State" for two years now and I finally thought I knew the building and could find my way around, and then I switched offices and it's in a completely different part of the building and I wander around lost all the time. I know that I am not the only one because someone in my new office mentioned to me that she found it very confusing. You see, it should be logical, but it's not because the stairwells are not all in the same place and some floors have a hole in them and some hallways are blocked off and some just dead-end to nowhere, and then there is this elevator and if you get off it on the wrong floor, you can't go anywhere but back where you came from. I think it is what happens when you have a bunch of liberal arts majors who are not builders or engineers deciding what goes where. It's a huge mess and today it almost defeated me.

I say almost because after 3 hours and about 500 miles, I finally got a new badge. I know, you are thinking that wasn't too bad at all! But then you may not know that I have been trying to get this badge for three weeks and the three hours was just today! I think it is easier to get a Chinese driver's license. I almost hate our badge office worse than the DMV, but not quite. It's actually not the badge people's fault--it is congress' fault. OK, not really, but someone should shoulder the blame for the unholy amount of bureaucracy that it takes to get something as simple as an ID badge. Here are some quotes from my almost wild goose chase.

  • I can't sign that form. (Really, even though it has your name written on it?)
  • You have to send that to me electronically. (Then why did you give me a paper copy?)
  • Your new office has to fill it out.
  • Your old office has to fill it out.
  • You need another form of ID. (Seriously! Other than the one you issued me only two years ago that has my picture on it and matches what you have in the computer AND my fingerprint?)
  • I don't make the rules.
There is another girl I ran into who was only on day one but she had been running around all day and she was about out of patience. I didn't have the heart to tell her that it was going to take a couple of more weeks. I think somewhere there is a Department employee wandering around the building lost and hungry for years and no one knows where he is and he can't ever leave because he doesn't have a badge!

Any guesses what these are? No? Really, no ideas? Yeah, me neither.

Apparently, they are sunglasses and they cost $1300. And no, no way are they better than a brownie. I have no idea how you even put them on and which part goes over your eyes. They frighten me, a little. Brownies do not frighten me. I miss them.

Monday, July 15, 2013

What could be better than a brownie?

Some things you should know about me before you understand this blog:

  1. I love chocolate.
  2. Brownies are my favorite kind of chocolate.
  3. I am allergic to wheat.
  4. And also chocolate.
Yes, in answer to your question--I am a chocoholic who is allergic to chocolate. And wheat. And I will never, ever eat another brownie for the rest of my life. Never. Because although you can find flour that is not made out of wheat, there is no such thing as chocolate that is not made out of cocoa. So I have resorted to making the children (I have three) let me smell their chocolate, and sometimes I let them bake brownies just so I have the scent in the house. That is almost enough. But I still wish I could eat a brownie.

I am also a Foreign Service Officer and I work for the Department of State. Right now I am stationed in DC. I won't write much about my specific job, but I will talk about Department culture, and bidding, and getting lost in the halls because it is the most confusing building ever and there are no windows. But all that will come later.

What you really need to know right now is that the format of this blog will be for me to write about my life, family, The Dog that I don't like, how things in my house keep breaking, etc. Then I will pick something and compare it to a brownie and decide if it is better or not. Today, I'm picking the fact that Husband will be home after a year in Afghanistan in 7 hours. And if there is anything better in the world than a brownie, it is getting my husband back after a very long and very difficult year. So Babe, please know that you are better than a brownie to me, and that is saying a lot.

I promise other entries will be funnier, but I'm to happy to be witty at the moment.