Monthly Archives: December 2013

When it rains, it freezes!

Whenever I return to Oklahoma to spend time with my family, I get greeted with an abundance of love and the type of warm comfort that’s needed in this weather! During my 3 week stay, we experienced sunshine, rain, sleet, snow, freezing rain and two earthquakes. Let us not forget my last visit that was accompanied by tornado’s. (And my family worries about me when I’m abroad?)

Things to do with the snow:

Play in it!





Eat it! Most of you are aware that frozen sweets are my favorite treats. So, when it snows…. my dessert is literally falling from the sky!

Step one: Gather clean snow. This usually excludes the first snow due to toxins collected in the air or any yellow snow that a creature may have used for relief. I would also confirm with your grandma in which direction she sweeps the carport off to prevent questionable objects in your collection. (I may or may not be speaking from experience).

Step two: Find your options for liquid, sweetener and flavoring. Traditionally it’s milk, vanilla and sugar but of course we’ve expanded over the years.


Step three: Narrow down your choices and combine. Then slowly add the snow until you reach your preferred texture. Enjoy!



What happens when the snow melts? You discover a lawn of leaves that should be picked up before Spring. Why not turn it into a little fun team work?




Just when you think the sun has made a comeback, the weather report warns you of freezing rain headed your way!

*Freezing rain is precipitation that falls in liquid form as raindrops and immediately freezes as it contacts most any surface.

Due to the weight of the ice, it tends to snap tree limbs and cause lines to collapse and loose power. Although it can create beautiful images, it’s known in the mid-west as one of the most extreme weather hazards. When the wires go down, it can effect anything to do with power. This means possibly your fridge, lights, appliances, computer and so on. Gorgeous, but not helpful!

The first photo below looks like snow, but it’s all ice!




We get our water from a well… Not today!


My brothers had to smash the ice off of their bikes in order for the chains to act properly. This definitely is a problem we never had to deal with growing up in California.


Speaking of family, I’d like to introduce two of my biggest fans that are welcoming newborns into this grand planet of ours. Lacie and Lana are due to deliver weeks apart, I’m so excited!


UPDATE: Lana delivered a peaceful little girl on December 26th. Welcome sweet Kasiah Rane! (Side note, the cheerful woman in the collage has been following this blog since day one. Thank you Judy for your consistent support!)


Lacie, I feel your positive support thousands of miles away… Always. Thank you love!

If I were to highlight every family member, the post would go on for pages knowing the incredible people that I’m lucky enough to be related to! If you’re actually interested in more details, please feel free to search “family” or “Oklahoma”.

I’ll wrap this one up with a collage of my 5 siblings. Joseph, Benjamin, Hannah, Sarah and Rachel with thoughts of Elizabeth. Miss you kids already!


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“This girl is on fire!” (to be sang like Alicia Keys)

On my way from Asia back to the United States, I made a pit stop in Japan for some family time and to also gather the rest of my belongings. My dear cousin Brandon, who is stationed in the Navy there, let me stash some bags there until my return. Thanks pal!

Most of my previous experiences in this unique country you can read about in other posts. Some of the popular ones are “You know you’re in Japan when…” and Buddha, when we went to visit the 2nd largest Buddha statue in Japan.
For this one, I’m going to wrap up a few random events that leaves me still smiling about a country I wouldn’t want to live in, but don’t want to live without.

First up is my welcome back buffet. It’s becoming tradition that with each visit, we choose a night in which we hit the local store, grab several random items that look good and/or questionable. Here’s a snap shot from last years spread in “Snacks, Japan style”.


This year we did just fine after wandering the aisles with confusing character writing and giggling store clerks. If you’ve ever been here, you can vouch that a grumpy employee of any customer service industry is rarely seen. They are typically overly eager to help you and smile while they chant something in Japanese (that I still don’t understand). No matter what mood you walk in with, you generally leave feeling the uncontrollable urge to skip to your car. Back to the snacks…here’s our dinner!



Fun fact: In Japan, “Sunday Funday Football” starts extremely early on Monday morning. I thought I’d give it try and see if any of the local channels would air it. To my surprise there were some enthusiastic hosts describing the highlights!


For the halftime show, women’s bowling! How do you not smile when you see this?


Ok, let’s move on to a night out on the town where I get to introduce a new friend. Originally from California, Craigg is also serving in the Navy at the same base as Brandon. Don’t let his easy going attitude fool you, this relaxed guy not only has an abundance of energy, but a sharp witted sense of humor to match. These two boys in the same room will leave your cheeks aching and mind stimulated (and probably slightly confused).



After our train ride to the city, we laughed the evening away while making random pit stops in the vibrant streets. On this handstand shot, I was more impressed that Brandon captured it on the first try over the fact that my feet didn’t come in contact with any innocent bystanders. For more detail of this specific area, check out the post called “Wait, it’s not Halloween yet…is it?”



The next and final event was a extraordinary surprise from my moms dear friend Rome. To this day my mom still speaks of the fond memories she created while working with him. On this day, I was lucky enough to be treated like royalty at an Alicia Keys concert right here in Yokohama!

Me and Rome before the show.


My date to this international opportunity? Only the perfect partner in small crime, Craigg! We had no idea where the seats were, so we just handed the Japanese written card to the guard and followed their finger pointing directions. A few security men later we were finally led to a roped off area on the floor. What? No way! We were in prime seats, three rows from the stage!


Let the show begin!



These employees were clearly not enjoying the show.


…but I was! “Everybody put your phones in the air!” (For those of you under 20 years old, this used to be an arena full of lighters in the sky).



*Thank you Craigg for bringing your phone to get the pictures from above!

After the show, we dodged the ropes and shined our V.I.P passes to get backstage. What do you find behind then scenes when the curtain drops? Exhausted musicians, random snacks, a variety of drinks and a bundle of hard working crew members. For obvious reasons he didn’t snap any photos in this area.


Rome, you’ve raised the bar once again. Many thanks and warm hugs!

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I’ll have the mystery meal please.

Yes, I’m the girl next to you on the flight that brings out the buffet of food that I’ve stored in my carry on. Pre-cut veggies, dips, fruit, nuts, crackers and so on. I usually just say “No thank you” when they offer the complementary meal, as I’ve never been a fan of the mystery meat and dinner roll they serve you. This round I thought I’d branch out a bit after I realizing that you get options for specific meals as long as you request it at least 48 hours before your flight. Why not?

First up is a short flight from Chiang Mai Thailand to Bangkok. I picked “Vegetarian” since I had some pumpkin seeds with me and I figured it would be a decent combo. I was served fruit, raw veggies, salsa and a side salad of raw veggies with a dinner roll. Good thing I wasn’t battling hunger (and it was a quick flight) so I just wrapped it up to take on the go.


First snack of the journey? Leftovers from the previous flight (seen above) with those pumpkin seeds I had in my carry on.


Next flight was a bit longer traveling from Bangkok to Shanghai, China. For this journey I previously selected “Gluten Free”. They served me poached eggs, steamed vegetables, two servings of fruit and some sort of gluten free bread (I’m assuming made from rice). Please keep in mind this is all for the experience and hopes for something new on a flight. I am in no way intolerant or allergic to any foods nor am I a proper vegetarian. I simply love food and surprises! For this one, I chose to eat the eggs and toast and save the fruit for a separate snack.


What’s this… left over pumpkin seeds? Perfect!


I still had a few hours to go while waiting in China, so I busted out my other carry-on meal which was a packet of miso soup. In the Shanghai airport, they have machines that deliver complimentary warm, hot or boiling water. You’d think this would be common, but more often than not, hot water is hard to find. I usually carry my own tea and oatmeal so I’m frequently in search of a cafe that will just put hot water in a cup for me or I settle for paying for the water since they “have to heat it”.


Quick photo break! Here’s a few shots from the airport in Shanghai, clean with an open layout and traditional shopping options.





Moving on to the flight from China to Tokyo, Japan. I wasn’t able to pre-select my choice for this 2 1/2 hour jaunt, so when the stewardess came around, I just asked for which ever had the most vegetables. My surprise platter consisted of fruit, rice crackers, veggies, potatoes, beef and a chicken salad. For dessert (I think) was what looked like a firm white custard-type jiggly puck shaped item.


Although I’m not a vegetarian, I’m certainly a picky meat eater and airplane beef and questionable chicken is far from my first choice of protein. With that said, I transferred all of the veggies to one dish, stashed the rice crackers for later and offered the rest to my neighbor (a teenage boy that was eager for more food). Even he stared at the “dessert” for awhile and with a confused look just covered it up with his napkin.

Landing back in Tokyo my mind is satisfied with the experiment and my stomach is horribly confused and probably a little frustrated with me. Oh we’ll, I’m still happy, healthy and no longer have extreme curiosity of the meals I’ve always skipped on flights.

Hello Japan, home sweet home? For now.

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3 things to add to your “must do list” in Chiang Mai!

Here are a few memorable things that I would suggest doing in Chiang Mai that you may not read about in a travel brochure.

1. Be a guest to a mystery occasion.

Bree and I were headed out for a walk and happen to pass an opening to a gate that lead to dozens of people socializing, walking from table to table receiving food, drinks and desserts. Was this a temple, a church, possibly an invite only special ceremony? Judging from the abundance of complementary items, we assumed it might be a charity event or perhaps some sort of community gathering. The curiosity must of been plastered on our faces because within a short moments time, we were waved in by several happy locals. We politely bowed upon entering and whispered to each other (you know the kind when you talk out of the side of your mouth as if no one would notice or could hear you) “What are we walking into? Who knows, just keep smiling”.


To this day, we still don’t know exactly what the occasion was, however it left my cup overflowing with love. What a beautiful feeling to embrace knowing these kind people were not only quick to invite us in, but eager to welcome us to stay.


A delicious local lunch, a drink with dessert and a joyous feeling in the soul… $0.00.


2. Moving on to what is listed on the top picks for Thailand, but should be bumped up in ranking! I’m sure you’ve heard of Thai massage in regards to the superb techniques and low price. Lila’s made an imprint in my mind, not only because of its high quality service, but its founding mission. Developed 40 years ago, this program provides thorough education and opportunity to female inmates that are soon to be released back into the public. Once they’ve completed training, they are able to make a living and contribute to society without discrimination from possible employers or fellow employees.



Although you can receive a typical massage in Chiang Mai for $4-5, I’d much rather donate $8-10 to a positive cause that develops confidence and self worth to those involved. Let me inform you that our $10 fee included a warm foot soak, 90 minute full body traditional Thai massage and the best ginger tea I’ve ever had! So good, in fact, that we asked to see the container so we could go buy some. (Sad day when they inform you that they personally make it daily and its not for sale).



If that’s not in your budget, you can get an even better deal from the program in which they are still in training. That was our original intention, until we were read the sign below.


3. Last but far from the least, I’m here to inform you of the best (and I really mean my #1) edible item that I had in all of Asia. Since we never got the proper name for it, Bree and I just referred to the whole experience as “going to see the Egg Lady”.

The first time we approached the stand, we glanced down into a bowl of surprise soup with a shoulder shrug as we discussed if it was worth a try. After a broken english game of Charades, we came to the conclusion that there was no meat, it was sweet and just $1 a bowl. Since neither of us had ever seen it and both of us love to try new things, we had definitely found our mystery meal of the day.


Taste time! Judging by the look on Bree’s face, she was experiencing the same euphoria that I was. A perfect combination between sweet and slightly salty left you wondering if you could get away with serving this for dinner and dessert. The texture of the balls that floated around the egg made an extraordinary addition to the warm coconut milk that sweetened the entire combination. A moment of silence wasn’t even necessary to request, as we both sat there staring at one another in pleasant disbelief.

The first night we split a cup and enjoyed every bite. The following day we just “happened” to be in her neighborhood after dinner and made it back to share another serving. I think Nitwadee (Egg Lady) was just as excited to our familiar faces, as we were to find her there waiting and ready to serve up. Our last comment to her that evening was “see ya tomorrow”!


The following night was my last day in Chiang Mai, so naturally we agreed to make it to “The Egg Lady” one last time so I could savor the goodness before I departed. We went about our day and while packing up my backpack, it dawned on me that we had never asked what time she closed down. It was already dark and we had a solid stretch to get there in time. “Bree, we need to go…now!”.

Rarely do I think of having video cameras around, however on this evening I would of loved to have seen the 8 minute process from start to first bite. Friends and fellow backpackers, please picture this:

The two of us in flip flops speed walking along the broken streets of Thailand giggling at the idea that we had dropped all plans and responsibilities to reach our sweet Egg Lady. As our jokes turned into serious thoughts, “Would if she is closed?”, our speed walking turned to a jog and the giggles increased to the kind that almost prevents you from being able to breathe properly. By the final corner, we were now sprinting through traffic with tears of laughter and partial relief to see her adorable little stand still lit up.

I won’t go into much detail on what happened in the next few minutes, but just imagine the two of us girls out of breath, laughing hysterically while trying to explain to a new lady (who we later found out was Nitwadee’s mom, the original Egg Lady!) that we indeed wanted 2 bowls. She had already began to clean up so I’m not sure if it was our red cheeks and happy eyes or the fact that we came barreling around her stand full speed that caused her to fire it up and make another batch. Either way, the small smile on her amused face spoke in volumes when Bree and I jumped with innocent excitement. I repeat, we literally jumped up and down like 2 squealing school girls as she reached for the eggs.

After we finally tamed our enthusiasm, we were able to get the granddaughter to translate for us. She told “grandma” that we had been coming every night and today would be the last visit. We then proceeded to ask about the recipe to see if there was any way we could even get just the ingredients to attempt to make it on our own. What happened next was unexpected and it solidifies my impression of the people of Thailand…

She proceeded to call her daughter (the one we had been visiting every night) and handed the phone to me! Bree busted out a piece of paper and before I could even grasp what was happening, we not only had the recipe but her personal contact I for for any questions! All of this being a memory that still fills my heart with ecstasy.


If you find yourself if Chiang Mai leave city central, exit the North gate and walk diagonal to your left crossing the street. There will be a line of food vendors (near the 7eleven) and our precious Egg Lady is directly under the big “Ford” sign. I send you with high expectations and an “above satisfaction” guarantee!

UPDATE: I tried to make it on my own! Of course this first attempt wasn’t anything as magnificent as hers, but I wouldn’t consider it a failure. Simply means I get to keep trying.


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Wait… Did you say bees and ant eggs?

I’m still gratefully accepting donations for this season of “With our powers combined”!

Over the time spent in Chiang Mai, Bree and I hit several different markets trying what seemed like any and every item that was either new and curious or familiar and tasty. Lets start off with some sugary delights, why? Because every human should have dessert first once in awhile… It does the inner-child some good!

This sign stopped me right my tracks as I love frozen yogurt (well, pretty much anything that’s sweet and frozen) and I had never seen this before. They take a flavored ice block and attach it to a machine that shaves it so thin that it resembles the texture of snow. Amazing, I know! With flavors ranging from the typical options to green tea, chai, banana and even a “yogurt” that we can’t tell if it was actual frozen yogurt or just flavored that way. Doesn’t matter because it was delicious!



I’m not a soda drinker, but kudos to this simple idea. They would pour your favorite drink into the cylinder, drop a stick in it and gently rotate it until they froze. Homemade pop cycles!


For those who like baked goods, your options seemed unlimited. Yes, that waffle was made with shredded pork and it sat amongst the other flavors of coconut, raisin, chocolate and corn!



Donuts anyone?


This was a soft but crispy shell with a marshmallow type cream and your choice of topping melted into it. The yellow shavings? Definitely not cheese, it’s actually egg yolk! (Also to be seen in large qualities below).


Here are some other sweets that caught the attention of my camera.




The glorious group of fruit is in a different category for me. It’s not dessert or a topping to a salad nor do I love it dried or fried. My favorite way to consume it is by itself, freshly cut and first thing in the morning. They do it a bit differently in Asia, as it seems to be served up primarily in the evenings and usually blended.


Moving on to the meat, fish and questionable items that they claim are edible.










Vegetables… I think. If it’s green, it has to be healthy, right?




What do you like in your omelet? Cheese, onions, ham and peppers? We went for bee and ant eggs… Turns out there’s a first and last time for everything!


A few more fun items that may or may not be tempting while wandering the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand.






I’ll close this scrumptious post with a beautiful plate of traditional Pad Thai that came from 29 Cafe. I highly suggests scouting out this hidden table if you’re in the area – thank you Zsuzsi and Vilmos!


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