Happy Valentines Day

Heart shaped carrots. Otherwise known as the-project-for-the-mom-who-finally-lost-her-mind. Seriously. If you are the sort of person who can look around pinterest and pin a few ideas “how clever” and move on, bravo. Pin away. If you are the sort of person who regards your pin boards as a to-do list, approach with caution. In fact, you should just delete your account now. Because if you keep going, you find yourself cutting baby carrots into hearts some early valentines day morning.

The little boy stayed at preschool by himself today. I came home feeling rather lost and sad. So I cut carrots into funny little heart shapes, and steamed them. Later, they will become part of the traditional heart shaped meat-loaf dinner.

Of course I saved the carrot trimmings for the lively stock recipe I pinned a few weeks ago.

Happy valentines day friends – may your day be filled with love and chocolate. (And maybe more
meaningful ways to spend your time.)

20130214-164545.jpg

This Moment

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by Soulemama.com

birthday

For the kitchen


bags-rags1

 

I’m back to the never-ending struggle to organize my house, starting with the kitchen. The biggest mess always seems to be caused either by my desire to go green, or my epic failure to go green. Yes, I’m looking at you plastic shopping bags!

Throwing them out doesn’t really work so well since there is no recycling here, so we subscribe to “re-use”  for garbage pails, the grocery store, dirty diapers, wet clothes… Basically everything I can think of.

I used this tutorial to bring a little order to the plastic bag collection.  (Easy to follow, even for me.) Since I was at it, I also made one for the rags we use to replace paper towels.  Much more successful at that bit of greening since we simply don’t buy paper towels.

blog-5284I didn’t have any particularly lovely fabric to waste on the project, and I am obsessed with bunting of all varieties, so I carved a flag shaped stamp from an old eraser and got creative.  Who says functional can’t be fun?  I stamped the flags and letters with fabric paint (use a sponge brush to paint the stamp – much easier.)  The whole thing was done over the course of two weeks, so I can’t say exactly how long it took.  Ah, the crafting life of a mamma to small children.  If you wanted to, you could probably do the sewing in less than 30 minutes, and the printing didn’t take long either.  I like the end result – cheerful and contained.  (Next up – clean that switch plate.  Yikes!)

blog-5570

Why we live in Cairo.

blog-4851“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

So many people have questioned our decision to be in Cairo these days.  It is hard to explain to the people who love us, and want us to be safe.

We joined the foreign service as a family. Yes, it is my husband’s dream career, but this is not the sort of decision one makes lightly. We believe so strongly in peace, in engagement, and cliché as it may sound, in making the world better – safer. This is what we are doing here. We are meeting people, and we represent our country as best as we can. My husband works to foster relationships and trade, to make friends. If we all rely on each other through trade, economic ties, and other common goals, we cannot afford to fight.

If people meet our family, see us treat each other with love and respect, and see that all of us, all over the world have so much in common, they have faces and relationships to go with what is otherwise just known as “the Americans.”

The last few weeks have been hard. I won’t lie. We live in a safe place, but it always seems so fragile. We have friends at the embassy in Ankara. (They are all okay, thank heavens.) This life is not abstract. What happens in other countries is not far removed and sterilized by the distance of a television screen.

I recently read the following paragraphs in Katrina Kenison’s book Mitten Strings for God, and while she is referring to their lives post 9/11, it applies very much to our lives here in Cairo right now:

While confusion and sadness and anger swirl around us, and while many hard questions continue to go unanswered, we’ve discovered that one thing remains clear and simple: in our house, within these walls, and in our dealings with others, we can strive to live in peace. As we carry on the mundane work of family life… we have a newfound sense of some larger purpose, a shared vision that defines us, holds us together, makes each moment seem more precious.

(Note: Buy that book. Read it. Underline every second sentence. )

I miss my northern Virgina home, our postage stamp sized garden, the long chats with my husband on the commute in, the early sunrise gleaming off the Jefferson memorial as we cross the 14th Street bridge. Some days I want nothing more than a trip to Target – a little mindless retail therapy, a cup of coffee in my Mom and Dad’s kitchen, sushi at the all you can eat place with my brother.

We have been here for six months, and I have been challenged to grow more in these six months than in many years I spent in other places. I am challenged to become the mother I want to be to my sons despite the world around us. I’m challenged to become the woman I want to be without making the always obvious excuses. This is our life for the next three years.  I must, and can, make it work.