Friday, November 28, 2014

A Christmas Playlist

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go; except for Laos, it looks nothing like Christmas here. The closest we have to any red and green are the sunburned tourists and the still very much alive and covered in green leave trees. Maybe I'll buy some ornaments and decorate them. I do have some plans up my sleeve for bringing the Christmas cheer to Southeast Asia, but you're going to have to wait. But for now, while I get started on that Christmas decorating please enjoy some of my favorite holiday videos that have been floating around the internet recently.

This video is just too cute. A young "Michael and Idina" dance and sing it out to Baby, It's Cold Outisde

If you have yet to watch this incredible version of Mary, Did you Know by Pentatonix, then you should really get on the internet some more. A friend suggested that I watch it and that was the first time I had heard about it, but after that I saw it everywhere. Everyone has been obsessing over it and with good reason. 

So this video isn't actually new, but it is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Sung by Dave Barnes and Hillary Scot (better known for Lady Antebellum) I present to you Christmas Tonight.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had or is having a wonderful Thanksgiving. As I write this my family back home is probably finishing up their cooking, making their way to my grandmother's house, and eagerly waiting until the hour they can finally dig into all that delicious food. I wish I could be home and with them for all this, but being away will make the next time I see them all that more special. As for this year I still had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. It started out with a delicious cup of hot chocolate because believe it or not the temperature has seriously dropped here in Luang Prabang. My students are walking around all bundled in their fur coats. I'm not quite that bad yet, but I have been wearing a jacket and putting on a pair of jeans after classes.

After I warmed up with my nice cup of cocoa I headed to school. In spirit of having to teach on Thanksgiving I tossed the text book (figuratively of course) and read my students the story of the very first Thanksgiving. After I read them the story of how the pilgrims and Native Americans came together, I taught them about today's traditions and had them make hand turkeys. Yes that's right, I made my college students draw hand turkeys. They seemed to get into it, and on their turkeys I made them each write a few things they were thankful for. They wrote the usual family, friends, and of course teacher Dani. (Yes that is what my students call me, teacher Dani. Also can I mention that I've never seen my name spelled wrong in so many ways. Dane was the most popular form) 

Once my students finished their turkeys and I had decided that I had had enough fun torturing them by making them stand up and read what they wrote, I headed back home to wrap up my cooking. My friends and I were planning our own Thanksgiving dinner for which I made macaroni and cheese and homemade bread. (You can find the recipes I used here and here. Of course there were adaptations like there always are with anything you cook when you live in Laos) The dinner was pretty successful I thought. We had all the stereotypical foods present (well minus the turkey we substituted with chicken) and stuffed our stomachs until they hurt. Its not a Thanksgiving dinner if your stomach doesn't hurt afterwards right? After dinner we all managed to find a little bit more room for a slice of pumpkin pie, and filled plates with leftover for dining on the next day. 

Again I hope everyone had or is having a great Thanksgiving. It is my favorite of holidays and I am thankful that I was still able to celebrate even halfway across the world. And now its on to Christmas season, and as much as I love Thanksgiving you better believe now that its the day after I am going into full on bring the holiday cheer to Laos mode. Let the Christmas music, the cookie baking, and the secret Santa shopping begin!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, November 21, 2014

Another Week Gone By

This has been the first weekend in a while where I wasn't thinking thank goodness it's finally Friday. There were no mice attacks, I finally have my motorbike, and the weather has cooled off enough to where I need a sweater in the mornings. Life is finally starting to feel settled and I have a routine down. I'm also hoping that now that I have a routine I will be able to blog a little bit more, so be on the lookout for posts a little more frequently. As for now here are some pictures I snapped this week.

This week the students at the university have been preparing for a dance competition on December 2nd, Lao National Day. Each department and each year has to create their own dance.

My year four students invited me to come practice their dance with them. I am pretty terrible at dancing in general and my Lao dancing isn't any better.

My year two students asked me to come watch them practice as well.

This week has of course involved a lot of cooking and baking. This week I tried a new recipe, Oven roasted tomatoes stuffed with rice. I will post the recipe soon!

My roommate and I shared some laughs over a cup of tea. My tea bag also came with some sage advice.

This week my year two students took their midterm. This is a note one of my students left for me at the bottom of their test. 

Friday afternoon was spent tutoring students who need extra English practice. I love spending time with them outside of class and actually getting to know them. Also seeing the smiles on their faces when something finally clicks is priceless. 

I hope you all had a great week and have a wonderful weekend as well. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The ABCs of Me

I have seen a couple of different ABC posts floating around the bloggersphere. I love reading them, and have decided to do it myself. This week I will be posting the ABCs of Me and next week I will be doing another one I really like called the ABCs of Travel. So let' get started sh'all we.

Age- I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling twenty-two

Birthday- April 9th

Color- Turquoise and green but not necessarily those colors together

Dogs- My puppy Sam(antha)! I LOVE her She isn't really a puppy anymore, and this picture is a horrible representation of her. She is now a dog that doesn't realize how big she is and knocks things over with every turn she makes. As much as I love my dog, truth be told I have dreamed of having a pet pig ever since I first watched Uptown Girls.

Experience- Right now I am living in Laos. It is quite an experience if I do say so myself.

Fear- spiders, mice, puppets

Guilty Pleasures- In college my roommate and I never missed an episode of the Bachelor.

Height- short

Injuries- Too many to count, I’ve always been clumsy. Though I believe my first serious injury was when I broke my arm in the second grade.

Job- Currently teaching English in Southeast Asia. In the future I would like to continue travelling and writing.

Kids- I’m still a kid myself.

Love- My students here in Laos. They are A-MAZING!

Most Missed- Right now home; especially with all the holidays coming up.

Nicknames- Dani & my best friend from middle school calls me phantom. (as in Danny Phantom)

One Wish- To get paid to travel the world or at least just have my travels paid for.

Picture that Describe You- 

Quote- “In Kindergarten they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said happy. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment; I told them they didn’t understand life”

Restaurant- Anywhere serving Mexican food or Breakfast food. I’m also a fan of La Noche, Willy’s (that’s for you dad), and Panera Bread. Here in Luang Prabang I really like Pilgrim’s CafĂ© and Joma; so check ‘em out if you’re ever on this side of the planet.

Siblings- 2 older half-sisters and then of course there are all my ZTA sisters. (The sisterhood is real y’all)

Time of Day- Mornings for sure. I wake up at 5am almost every day and without an alarm clock thank you very much.  I think sleeping in is 7:00.

Unusual Habit- I walk on my toes. Not sure if that counts as a habit, but I’ve done it ever since I was a little girl.

Vehicle- My little motor bike. It’s the best for getting around here in Laos, and only having to pay the equivalent of $2 to fill up the tank is the icing on the cake.

Worst Pet Peeves- When people's tags stick out of the back of their shirt. If I know you well enough I will probably tuck it back in for you; if I don't know you I will probably politely inform you that your tag is sticking out. 

X-rays- I had one when I broke my arm and I’m sure I’ve had a couple others as well.

Yummy Food You Make- I love baking especially cupcakes. One of my favorites that I made right before I left home was a blueberry maple pancake cupcake. I thought it was pretty tasty.  I rarely make the same thing twice though; there are just too many recipes to try.

Zoo Animals- Elephants and Giraffes most definitely!

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Lao Kitchen: Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

I hope everyone is enjoying the lovely fall weather. Though it has cooled off considerably since I first arrived in Luang Prabang; I still won't be pulling out my boots, cardigans, and scarves anytime soon (Ignore the fact that I didn't even bother to pack any boots, cardigans, or scarves) Along with missing out on the cool crisp weather of the season I am also missing all my other favorite fall things, like pumpkin flavored everything (stereotypical I know) and Thanksgiving with my family. So what's a girl to do when there are no signs of autumn anywhere to be found, well she's gotta create a little fall magic of your own. So that is what I did.

To my roommates and I happy surprise, pumpkins started popping up in the markets, and after spotting a recipe for pumpkin bread on one of my favorite blogs Rhyme and Ribbons I had found how I was going to bring a little fall to Laos.

Rhyme & Ribbons Blog

So I went out and picked up a couple of pumpkins and got to work. I shoveled out all the slimy insides and put the pumpkin seeds aside for roasting. I cut the pumpkin up into chunks and put them in the oven to bake. After about 40 minutes the pumpkin slices were ready to be pureed, so I pulled out my blender, tossed the pumpkin in, and pressed puree. Nothing. Just a whirling sound while my pumpkin slices sat there untouched. I tried again, but still nothing. I dumped out the pumpkin and decided to take the old fashioned approach. With a fork and my hands I smashed the pumpkin until the texture was smooth and creamy (who needs a blender).

Now that my pumpkin was ready it was time to find the other ingredients. Fortunately finding the other ingredients didn't cause me to much grief except for the nutmeg. I could only find ridiculously large containers of nutmeg that were way outside of my budget; so I substituted Allspice. (which worked just fine). I changed a few other small things as well. I didn't have a bread pan so I made pumpkin muffins instead and lowered the cooking time to about 30 minutes. I also left out the chocolate chips and halved the recipe. 

Here is my slightly altered recipe: 
(You can find the original recipe here: Rhyme and Ribbons' Pumpkin Bread)

Makes about 10 medium sized muffins

1/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of oil (I used coconut oil)
1 egg
1/2 cup of pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
1 cup of flour
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of milk

In a bowl mix the sugars, the oil, and the egg until smooth.

Next add in the pumpkin and mix again. 

In another bowl, whisk the baking soda, cinnamon, salt, allspice, and flour. 

Now here is where I forgot to read directions and just poured all the milk straight in without alternating between the pumpkin mix. But honestly with so little milk I don't think it mattered, and the muffins still turned out just fine. If you want to be correct, alternate between blending in the milk and the pumpkin mix in with the other ingredients. Or you can be like me and just pour in all the milk, and then add the pumpkin mix a little at a time. 

Once the batter is ready pour into a muffin tin and bake at 350 F (or approx. 180 C) for 30 minutes. 

The muffins were so delicious and tasted like fall (if fall had a taste that is). You can bet that these muffins didn't last long. Thankfully my pumpkin puree did and my roommate and I were able to make lots of other pumpkin treats like these pumpkin cookies (also from Rhyme and Ribbons), pumpkin spice oatmeal, and pumpkin pancakes. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Are You Comfort Table?

"Are you comfort table?" my students asked me as we sat down for dinner.
My mind began racing trying to figure out what they could mean "Am I comfort table? Comfort table.. Com-fort-table..."
"Are you comfortable?" my roommate whispers to me.
"Yes of course," I respond and go back to thinking "What could they possibly mean.. Comfort table.."

I am ashamed to say despite my roommates help it wasn't until the next day that I finally realized that they were indeed asking "Are you comfortable?" Had I known what they were trying to ask I would have of course said yes (because you always say yes even when you aren't), but the truth is Laos is not a place of comfort.

The truth is I am constantly covered in dirt, and no matter how many times I wash my clothes they permanently smell like sweat.

The truth is I haven't worn my hair in anything but a ponytail or braid since I left home, and if I attempt to wear it down it sticks to the back of my neck.

The truth is I can't remember the last time I wasn't scratching my arms and legs due to countless bug bites.

The truth is my mornings consist of squishing ants under my fingers while eating breakfast and wiping my counters down only to turn around and find more ants swarming invisible crumbs.

The truth is I spent a night crying and unable to sleep because a mouse had taken over my bedroom.

The truth is it takes a minimum of flipping the switch eight times until my kitchen light actually turns on.

The truth is once I finally get one thing fixed in my house another thing breaks down.

The truth is it is very difficult to cook when all you have is a single stove top and a toaster oven.

The truth is teaching is not as easy as it looks.

The truth is I miss the comforts of home and wish I could be there for the holidays.

The truth is Laos is one of the most uncomfortable places I have ever been, but it is also one of the most beautiful. And the truth is the people here are the kindest you will ever meet, and that despite the sweat, the broken everything, being so far from home, and even that darn mouse I wouldn't trade this year living in Laos for anything. So no I am not comfortable (nor am I a comfort table for that matter) but if I wanted to be comfortable I should have stayed home.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...