Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Almost December!

It is hard to believe that tomorrow will be December 1st!  
It took us several days but we finally managed to get the tree up and decorated.  
Last night while I was finalizing the plans for our holiday vacation, Caitlynne was a big help and put most of the ornaments on the tree.  We have had this tree for 8 years now and this year we noticed that a lot of the lights weren't working so I had to supplement with some that I (rather luckily) found here a few days ago.  We might need to re-string the entire tree for next year but I will leave that task for Kevin!  

Decorating the rest of the house took no time at all and now we are all set for the holidays!
The kids' old sled has been re-appropriated for home decor! And yes, I made that bow! 
 Our nativity set.  It is always nice to have that in set up and in place.
My favorite ornament.  I bought this about 20 years ago while on vacation on the Outer Banks and have been toting it around the world with us.  It goes front and center on our tree every year.
I need to run and make dinner!  Kevin leaves tomorrow and we have a lot to organize before he departs.  Have a great Wednesday!  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let The Holidays Begin!

The trip to the Christmas Shop on Friday certainly did the trick and I am now in a more festive mood and eager to prepare for the holidays!  Both my friend and I bought quite a few things at the shop.  There were lots of garlands, wreaths, ornaments, figurines, etc. to choose from and everything was so incredibly cheap.  I already had the wreath (minus the bow) above but remembered that I needed something too "finish" it and thought a large bow would be perfect.  I bought a roll of the ribbon and searched on you-tube for "how to make a fancy bow"  and voila!  This bow is the end result.  By the way, is a great "how to" resource!  What did we do before the internet?!?
Kevin pulled the tree out of the storage room and set it up yesterday.  I am going to add some more lights (white and non-blinking of course!) and will decorate today.  This is our living right now... 
It is always so much fun to go through each box and bring out all of our ornaments and decorations.  We have a lot of special items and I love getting everything set up and organized. As some of you know, we usually have two trees, one of which is the Christmas tree above that is decorated very traditionally.  We have always had a second tree that we call the Birthday Tree.  Since Caitlynne's birthday is December 19th and Christopher's is December 23rd, I wanted to make sure their birthdays were still special, even during all of the holiday celebrations.  When we lived in Virginia, each year, my dad would bring us a small tree that he cut from their property in NY.  We bought an artificial tree for our move to Australia and have used that since.  We decorate the Birthday Tree with colored, blinking lights and all of the ornaments they have made over the years and under it is where we put all of their birthday presents.  Unfortunately, given the weight limit on our HHE shipment, we had to leave the Birthday Tree in storage in the US and this will be our first year without it.  I am thinking of buying a small tabletop tree that we can use instead. It just doesn't seem right without having something in its place.  

My portulaca are just loving the bright sunshine and warm weather we are enjoying!  I can't remember the last time it rained.
This dish was part of the dinner that PeePorn made for us on Friday... salmon sashimi with some kind of green relish.  Definitely not the typical day after Thanksgiving dinner but we enjoyed it.
The photos below are from our Thanksgiving Dinner at Que Pasa...
We have been following the VA Tech - UVA football game online all morning.  We thought it would be a great game since it is a big rivalry and both teams have been having good seasons (and the winner would win the Coastal Division and play for the ACC Championship) but it ended up being 38-0 in VA Tech's favor!  Yay Hokies!

Well, I am off to have some breakfast and will then begin to decorate!  Have a fabulous Sunday!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has lovely Thanksgiving and enjoys being with family and friends today!  Safe travels if you are or will be on the road or in the air!  

Other than Kevin being off today, it really was just another Thursday for us.  Kevin went to golf with some friends very early this morning and the kids went off to school.  After the kids finish their after-school activities and homework, we are going to have a VERY non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant.  I didn't want to try to cobble together a traditional Thanksgiving dinner - it just wouldn't be the same as "home" and I would probably end up very disappointed.  In addition to the fact that the turkeys in the market were $4.00 a pound, my oven is so tiny that I am not sure I could even fit a turkey in it! 

I was a little sad this week knowing that a lot of my friends would be running in various Thanksgiving Day races today so, I decided to have my own Turkey Trot 10K early this morning.  Better than a pity party, right?  Of course, it was only me running (I didn't even take the dogs) so it was boring but I ran each of the last three miles at a 9:15 pace which is a pretty good pace for me.  

It is always very difficult for us to be away from our families for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays but this year it seems even more so.  In addition to (obviously) not celebrating Thanksgiving, this is a Buddhist country so the Thais also do not celebrate Christmas.  It is very odd to be in malls, stores and restaurants and not be surrounded by massive amounts of holiday decorations and loud holiday music.  I went shopping downtown yesterday and there were some garlands and a few wreaths in one of the malls but that was it.  Such a contrast to the US where the holiday decorations are put up right after the "back to school" sales.  I am going with a friend tomorrow to a shop that makes and exports high quality Christmas decorations to the US.  The owner is quite happy to sell to expats and has created a nice little niche in the community for herself (with no competition).  Now you can think of me visiting the "source" when you see the "Made In Thailand" tag on your Christmas decor!   I promised the kids that we will put the tree up and decorate the house on Saturday so I hope that helps us all to get in the holiday spirit a bit more.  

Yesterday, I had a major accomplishment as I drove downtown by myself for the first time!  Although I exited from the expressway too early, I immediately realized my mistake, corrected it and continued on to Kevin's office without a problem.  There is a lot of traffic and everything is very crazy and chaotic but no more so than out near Nichada (or even Miami for that matter).  I had some errands to run at the Embassy and then met Kevin at his office for lunch.  After lunch, I was going to the MBK mall to look for a few things but Kevin suggested that I try someplace new for shopping.  BIG mistake on his part!  I decided to go to Siam Paragon Mall which is on the subway line and very close to his office.  The exit from the train is right into the mall and right away I saw all kinds of boutiques... Chanel, Burberry, Chloe, Prada, etc.  Definitely my kind of mall!  

I had another cooking class on Tuesday and we made soup (coconut, chicken, lemongrass & mushroom), Pad Thai and roasted duck red curry.  The curry was too hot for my liking but everything else was amazing!  I think I could eat Pad Thai for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never tire of it.
In a previous post, I had mentioned we were having friends for dinner.  In addition to our grilled veggie, beef and chicken kebabs, I also made a caramelized onion & garlic focaccia and a rosemary & sea salt focaccia.  
I thought I should post a few photos of the house pre-Christmas decor!  

We do have a side patio where I originally planned for our patio set to go.  However, it is not covered and I do not want the cushions or the wicker to be ruined from the sun and the rain so we set it up in the driveway.  No, we are not rednecks.  Most of our neighbors have their patio sets AND their grills in the driveway.  At least our grill is in the laundry room.  For now.
I had to make some changes with the flowers on our front patio as the water lotus expired a few weeks ago.
I replaced the lotus with orchids and added some portulaca in pots (lower right hand corner).  I got an idea from my interior design instructor to fill the pot with lots of orchids.  All of these orchids (I think there were 10) cost less than $15.00 at the market.  
The photo below is of the entry way.
The t.v./exercise room (and Simpson).
The living room.
The family room (and Simpson).
I will try and get the rest of the house in tomorrow!  

Happy Thanksgiving!  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bringing Home The Gold & The Silver!

Christopher's team placed 1st in the BISAC Boys' 13 & Under Tournament yesterday and Caitlynne's team placed 2nd in the Girls' 13 & Under Tournament!  There were eight teams in both tournaments and some of the games were VERY close.  We are so proud of their efforts and it was so nice to see their hard work and dedication pay off.  

Christopher's Gold Medal...
Christopher's team photo...
 Caitlynne's Silver Medal...
Now for some random photos from the last few weeks...

Caitlynne and her friend, Heather, on Halloween as "Sleeping Beauties"
The photos below are taken from our balcony at the resort the kids and I went to in Pattaya at the beginning of November. 
Looking down the coast.
Some of the children playing on the computer in the lounge.  Although there was a wide range of ages, everyone got along really well.
PeePorn usually cooks Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday unless we have plans to eat out or evening activities.  She is an excellent cook but I was feeling like we needed some "farang" (Western) food this week so I made chicken piccata, steamed carrots and baguette for our dinner on Wednesday.   
PeePorn made a salad and a fresh fruit plate.
 Sliced dragon fruit and mango... so delicious!
Tonight we are having our very first dinner guests since our household goods arrived.  It will be so nice to serve dinner on proper dinnerware and use our nice table linens!  We are having hummus, tzatziki & pita bread for nibblies and, for dinner... chicken and beef kebabs done on the grill, grilled veggies, a salad and two kinds of homemade focaccia (one with sea salt & rosemary and the other with onion & garlic).  Caitlynne is going to make brownies for dessert.   Yum!

Have a great Sunday!