Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I completely forgot that it was Halloween until a friend with a young child mentioned it this morning. Oops! Both of the kids also forgot and I am taking that to mean we are truly beyond the costume/trick or treating stage of adolescence. Halloween is not a favorite holiday of mine so this is not such a bad thing. I might have even done a little happy dance! I certainly won't mind having them stay home and hang out with me tonight. 

I am very proud to report that I held myself in check today at Once Upon A Time and Yesterday Once Again. Khun Hui and (I believe) her brother own these two shops, which are located just steps from each other on Rama IV Road, East of the Lumpini Park. Khun Hui just returned from a very successful buying trip to China and she had many beautiful pieces of furniture and accessories on display. It was so hard not to give in to temptation and do some serious buying. There was a beautiful sideboard that was calling my name but it was so far out of my price range that it still could have been in China! 

I did buy a few accessories though (to contribute to the local economy, of course).

I have seen quite a few of these Chinese calligraphy brushes displayed in homes in Nichada and always thought they would be a very unique accessory for our home in Virginia. Khun Hui purchased a lot of brushes on her trip and had a nice selection to chose from.

The front.
The back.
The entire effect on the coffee table in our living room. 
My friend and I stopped by another shop, Orientations, located right off of Rama IV Road. Now, there I did see a sideboard that I liked and was within my budget (Kevin is probably shocked that I even know that word!). I took its measurements as well as a few photos and will think it over for a few days. 

It has been rainy and miserable here today. We had a strong storm come through the night before last and another storm yesterday afternoon and them again this morning. I was hoping that we were through the monsoon season but it doesn't look that way. I shouldn't be complaining about a little bit of rain when the Mid-Atlantic coast is dealing with the aftermath of Sandy. The photographs and stories about the impact of Sandy on New York and the coastline of New Jersey are shocking. We continue to think about and pray for all those who were in the path of this storm.  I think the kids are getting tired of me saying how lucky we are not to have to worry about the beach house in Bethany. I am certain that it would have been damaged in some way by the storm. Kevin reported that there was one tree down in the backyard of our home in Virginia but it was in the woods and may be left over from the violent storm that we had in June. 

Not much else to report on today. I wrote this post while listening to the new Toby Keith album,  "Hope On The Rocks", which was released yesterday. It is the usual Toby (a mix of ballads and the crude & rude) but I still like it. Much to Kevin's dismay, I am a big country music fan. I don't know how or why this happened but that is the way it is. The difference in our musical tastes is really the only area where Kevin and I are not at all compatible. This isn't ever a problem unless  we are on a long road trip and, then, our rule is that the driver selects the music to be played. I have found a few country songs on his playlist so it can't be all that bad.

Happy Halloween and have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Not For Kevin's Eyes

As much as I know my dear husband loves me and loves reading the blog when he is on travel, he is probably going to want to skip over reading this post. Two words... shopping and cats. 

In mid-October, my favorite antique dealer in all of Bangkok posted on her Facebook page the following: "Leaving on the jet plane - will be back with new goodies on 24th October. Till then save your money for our new shipment!!!! :) — at Suvarnabhumi International Airport."  Then, last week, she posted this..."Sneak Peak from my treasure hunting — at Yesterday Once Again & Once Upon A Time." accompanied by a photograph of a few Asian accessories.  Uh oh...

This dealer's latest buying trip was the topic of a lengthy discussion between my friends and I while we were in Krabi last week as we tried to arrange a time to go have a look at the new treasures. I have purchased a few pieces from this shop and love each one. The pieces that I purchased are all antiques (as opposed to reproductions), mostly from China (one from Tibet) and are between 90 & 110 years old. 

I am hoping, because of their age and origin, the chances that my pieces will crack once we return to the U.S. are reduced. A few friends moved furniture purchased/made in Thailand to the U.S. and the drastic change in the climate caused some of their furniture to split. If furniture is exposed to relative humidity in excess of 70% (our environment here in Bangkok) and if the humidity level suddenly drops (say, with a move to Washington, DC), the piece will contract and the furniture will split. Not good. 

The one thing in our favor is that we will be moving back in the summer which tends to be very humid in Washington so the furniture might be able to slowly adjust to lower levels of humidity as we transition into Winter. My friend and I are going to the shop on Wednesday and I will report back with my findings (and any purchases). I am looking for two more pieces to buy before we leave- a sideboard/buffet piece and a cabinet - both with Asian carvings/detail. That will be it then, as far as furniture buying is concerned. I have a feeling we will be very close to the weight limit for our household goods shipment to Washington. 

Now for the cat! Rest your hearts, we certainly do not own one (nor will we ever again). But, that doesn't mean that I can't love on this baby when she comes around...
She is so cuddly and sweet! She was a young kitten when I first met her in early August and I see her about once a week, wandering around in our yard or the neighborhood. I don't know who she belongs to and, in fact, this is the first time I have seen her with a collar. Honestly, I don't even know if she really is a she. Never thought to look. Most of the neighborhoods in Nichada have a cat that hangs around the guard shack so maybe she "belongs" to one of the guards. She is very friendly, clean and well fed so someone is taking good care of her.

I always give her a small bowl of milk when I see her. There is a big rat problem in our neighborhood and I don't think it hurts to have a cat hang around every now and then.
I am anxiously following all of the news about Hurricane Sandy and sending thoughts and prayers to all those who will feel its impact. It looks like it will be one heck of a storm. 

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Musings From My Run

I had a lot on my mind when I started out on my run this morning. 

First of all, I was happy just to be out running. Last Saturday, at mile 4.5 of my planned 6 mile run, I  passed a soi ( read "wild") dog going in the opposite direction. Why a soi dog was even in Nichada is another question for another day...

I increased my speed and turned my head to keep an eye on him in case he came back after me. I was not paying attention to where my feet were landing and caught my right foot in the lip of a utility cover. I went flying. Literally. I have no idea how I landed but both of my knees were ripped up and were bleeding profusely, the palms of both of my hands were bleeding and my right hand/wrist/arm/shoulder were bleeding and numb. The first thing I thought as I peeled myself off of the pavement was, "well, if my knee wasn't messed up before, it sure is now". Although, I might not have used those exact words.  

I limped back home, bloody, dirty and crying. I thought for sure that my right wrist was broken and that the rest of my day would be spent in the ER. After taking a hot shower to wash the dirt and blood off, I re-assessed the situation and felt better about my wrist. Do you know that little knobby bone that sticks out right at the junction of your wrist and arm? That bone and my right knee took the direct impact of my fall and both were swollen, bloody and bruised beyond belief. I could move my wrist (although very slowly and with a lot of pain) so I knew it wasn't broken. After a few Advil, a soak in Epsom Salts and a long nap later, I felt like I was at least going to live another day. I was a little surprised at how painful the cuts were and how sore I was. I expected a pain and soreness for a day or two but I had to take Advil several nights before bed to help with the pain and the lightest touch of anything against my injured knee was agonizingly painful. It was Thursday before I was able to wear anything longer than shorts and could actually sleep under the covers. 

So, on to what I thought about during my run...

I was so thrilled to hear from Kevin that our nephew, Connor, was chosen as Homecoming King at his high school Friday night. Woo hoo! I can't report on what Connor's reaction was since he was in the locker room with the rest of the football team at halftime when the Homecoming Court was announced and Kevin left before the end of the game but we are so happy for him! Connor and my two gorgeous nieces with their wonderful grandmother (and my great MIL). 
This photo made me just a wee bit homesick but we are now down to only 8 months until our move back to the U.S. We have so much planned for the next few months and I know the time will fly by.

Am I the only one who is so disappointed, confused and dismayed over all of the events that have transpired surrounding Lance Armstrong? Although I don't really "like" Lance as a person, I read both of his books ("It's Not About The Bike" and "Every Second Counts") many years ago and was very impressed by his determination and commitment to beating cancer and succeeding on the bike and in life. Now, I just don't know what to think or whom to believe. The "evidence" against him is overwhelming but I am having such a hard time reconciling that "evidence" with who I thought/believed/hoped Lance Armstrong is and was.

Please get out and vote on November 6th! We registered for our absentee ballots early in June but, as of Friday, they hadn't arrived here in Bangkok. Given that we are registered to vote in Florida (home of the hanging chads), this wasn't such a shock. I spent a lot of time Saturday  afternoon trying to figure out how to vote absentee without an absentee ballot. Once I got to the right website, it was just a matter of completing the on-line absentee ballot and then printing, signing and scanning the ballot to email to the elections commissioner in Miami. I repeated this all over again yesterday morning when I walked Kevin (who is in Virginia) through the entire process. Make your vote count. Whoever it is for.

Try explaining "hanging chads" to a 12 year old...Or, even better, electoral college! My political science classes are but a faint memory and I didn't even know where to begin. Being the smart mother that I am, I told Christopher to wait until his father came home. So, Kevin, be prepared!

The book I blogged about last week ("Black Heels and Tractor Wheels") was great. It was just what the jacket described so if you aren't interested in reading something that is light, breezy and mindless, don't pick up this book. It is a quick and fun read for sure. Perfect for the beach (or, more seasonally appropriate, the ski lodge). Be prepared to giggle. And cry. Although, I cry at EVERYTHING so that isn't saying much. The kids were absolutely mortified when I broke down sobbing during Toy Story 3. 

Last Tuesday was 6 months since my sweet Simpson was killed. I miss him terribly and think about him every single day. Ironically, I just gave his airplane crate to a friend in Nichada who is going home with one more dog than she moved here with. Talk about sobbing. That was not a good day. 

On a more positive note... this is my 200th post on the blog! Wow! Although some weeks are better than others, I have impressed even myself with my commitment to posting. I will be honest - when my life gets too busy, blogging is the first thing that I have to give up. Between the writing, any research (i.e., that I need to do, and photo editing, some posts can take a couple of hours to prepare for publication. However, each month, my page views "count" increases over the previous month and it makes me so happy to know that people are reading what I am writing. And, maybe even liking it. Thank you!

Have a great Monday.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wishful Thinking

While you might be thinking (and I might be wishing)  that I was mixing up a rather large batch of dirty martinis with all of these green olives...
I had bigger and better (tasting) things planned! 

The yeast, sugar, olive oil and warm water proofing. 
 One cup of green olives, coarsely chopped.
The dough after the addition of the green olives and rosemary... 
 I had a beautiful herb garden in Miami and one of the herbs that grew really well there was rosemary. Knowing how great fresh rosemary tastes in bread or on focaccia, it just about killed me to have to use the dried stuff in this bread. 
Ready to rise.
After the first rise.
After the second rise and shaped into loaves. 
Yum! Green Olive and Rosemary Bread.
I bought a loaf of green olive and rosemary bread last week from the Urban Pantry stock sale at ISB. It was good (as it should have been for about $3.+ USD) but I knew that I could make a bread just as good, if not better. And I did. For a lot less $$$. 

did not like the looks of these loaves - they were too flat for my liking and seemed more like focaccia and not the "loaf of bread" look that I was hoping for. However, looks aside, WOW! The taste was amazing - even with the dried rosemary! If you are a fan of green olives (and i know not many are), this bread is for you. I ran a few extra miles this morning to make up for how much of this bread I ate yesterday. It was totally worth it though!

It is Sunday here and I planned the early part of my day so I could stalk because Notre Dame was playing Oklahoma at 8 pm Saturday (US time). The Irish won and remain undefeated! Yay! Monday morning (my time), the NY Giants will be in Dallas - hopefully to avenge their loss earlier in the season.  

I just added to my bookmarks bar so I can track the progress of Sandy and keep up to date on the storm's progress. My stomach ties itself into a knot every time I read about how devastating this storm could be. I know it does me no good to worry from 1/2 a world away but I do. I have too many family members and friends in the mid-Atlantic and North East not to worry. Maybe those olives would have been put to better use in a dirty martini?!?

Have a great Sunday. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Krabi Trip

Krabi was beautiful! If you live in Thailand (or should happen to visit), I would highly recommend a side trip there. We flew out of Don Muang Airport which is about 15 minutes from Nichada and it was just about a one hour flight down to Krabi. The airport in Krabi was quite small and we collected our luggage and found the hotel transport without trouble at all. 

The hotel provided us with van transport to the pier. In my world, this is what is known as a beach but whatever.
At the pier, we transferred to a large long tail boat (similar to those above but a little larger) and set off for our hotel, Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi. The hotel was located on the edge of a national park and was accessible only by boat (well, there was a walking trail that went over the mountain but I will have more on that later). The hotel property fronted the Andaman Sea and was surrounded by steep limestone cliffs on other three sides. What you can see in the photo below is pretty much the entire resort. Everything was laid out very well - the rooms were built up on the slopes of the mountains and the tropical landscaping was so lush and plentiful that it felt very secluded and private throughout the resort.

The view of the resort approaching from the Sea...
The pool.
There was a small soaking pool at the top of the waterfall and the kids spent a lot of time in there.
The view from the pool deck looking out to the sea.
 Miscellaneous photos from around the property.
 Our villa.

 The balcony.
 The view from the balcony.
 Another area on the balcony.
 Still on the balcony.
Tuesday morning, we hired a long tail boat to take all of us over to Railay Beach to meet up with some friends of Caitlynne's from school. 
I am so glad that we made this side trip because the Railay Beach Peninsula was amazing!  The limestone cliffs and thick jungle have essentially isolated the Peninsula from mainland Krabi and, like our hotel, it was accessible only by boat. There are no roads (and thus, no automobiles) on the Peninsula so it was very quiet and peaceful. Railay Beach was a 15 minute boat ride and just south of where we were staying.  The boat dropped us off at West Railay Beach West and we hiked through the jungle to Railay East Beach and then down along the coast and over to Pra Nang Cave Beach. You can follow our hike (the white path) on the map below from
Christopher and Friends.
The scenery that we saw on the boat ride over to Railay Beach was spectacular.


 Arriving at Railay Beach West.
 Going ashore.
 Long tail boats for hire.
The sand crabs made these beautiful patterns when they dug into the sand. It looked like fireworks exploding all over the beach.
We hiked about 45 minutes through the jungle to meet up with Caitlynne's friends. The limestone cliffs up close were incredible.

Small world...Monday morning, as we were waiting out front for my friend to pick us on the way to the airport, my neighbor was driving out. Long story short, she and her two children were also staying in Krabi at the Centara also so we expanded our group by 3!  
The Welcoming Committee on footpath to Phra Nang Beach .

The sad face on this little guy reminded me of Sonder!
Finally, we arrived on Phra Nang Beach and it was well worth the hike. The beach was soft white sand and the water was crystal blue and so clear. We weren't in the water for very long when we saw a small sting ray and a lot of colorful fish right offshore.

In Miami, we had food trucks. On Phra Nang, there are "sandwich boats". The food was delicious (and cheap) and the beer was cold. A great time was had by all.

Back at the hotel...
Caitlynne ( obviously having learned well from her mother)! 
The boys at dinner on our last night in Krabi.
Our last night - Sunset.

So, the Centara is not really accessible only by boat. There is a "walking" path called the "Monkey Trail" that connects the hotel with Ao Nang Beach (to the North). It is about a 20 minute hike - straight up and then straight down. Hikers are forewarned to take a stick along to ward off the monkeys - however, friends who have hiked the trail tell me that "beat" is probably a more accurate description than "ward". Not my cup of tea, thank you. Guests at the hotel are cautioned to keep balconies clean of any personal items (especially food!) and to keep all doors and windows closed and locked. Each morning, we could see a lot of monkeys climbing all over the roofs and balconies of the villas. We had a monkey on our balcony just as we were packing up to leave Thursday morning but he saw there was nothing for him and scampered off. 

True to its name, on the beach, at the beginning of The Monkey Trail.

This guy broke the No. 1 rule - never make eye contact with a monkey!
A Spirit House at the beach.
We had a wonderful time - good friends, good food and very relaxing. Based solely on service (which was non-existent), I don't know if I would recommend the Centara to anyone. However, its location cannot be beat and it really was a very nice resort.. 

Have a great Saturday!