Thursday, October 23, 2014


images via

I'm exhausted and a little ragged from attempting this whole work/life/baby balance thing. Frivolous distractions are welcome. Plus, aren't they healthy at this point? Rugs from Bohem.

Checking in and looking back

I'm happy to report that I survived yet another crazy week of meetings.  As is often the case with these chaotic weeks, friends and colleagues from all over the world flew into the city.  This time, Ratha, with whom I spent many tedious hours in the countryside of Cambodia, was in town to discuss her research on agribusiness in northern Cambodia. She came with news from Phnom Penh - mainly bad news. The small team I previously worked with faced threats of arrest from authorities (not surprising), but this time several staff were arrested, though eventually released.  If I was still in Cambodia, I would certainly have been one of those arrested.

Ratha's arrival also gave me pause to look back. The picture above is one that she took during a challenging week of research in Sihanoukville. There is probably a filter on this picture, but I swear the sunsets I remember, especially on that coast, were always bathed in some stunning, unreal light. 

This picture was taken during a very demanding, fast-paced month. At the time, our research team faced threats of arrest, so we moved our work to Sihanoukville, another province. The team, exhausted most days, bickered on and off, with a divide increasingly occurring between the Khmer and foreign staff.  I stood in the middle.  Days after that work trip, there was the elaborate Khmer wedding in the countryside, at the pepper plantation.  And then a few days later, I joined others for a lovely weekend in Koh Kong, at the Rainbow Lodge Eco Resort, to celebrate a friend's 30th birthday.  There was hiking and leeches, laughter, and sun-bathing.  That same month, Ethan had left to meet his family in Europe.  It was the longest time we'd been apart since we met.  A few weeks later Ethan would travel east, and I west, and we would meet in Almaty, Kazakhstan. It took me three separate flights to get to Almaty.  I remember it feeling like forever.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A taste of BKK

September is flying by.  It's difficult to imagine that this picture was taken over two weeks ago, on a day we found ourselves in Fairfax, Virginia.  I was desperate for a cup of coffee and we stumbled into this cafe, which turned out not to be a coffee shop but a Thai restaurant and one that, with its decor and soft music, transported me back to the many small eateries on the streets of Bangkok.

Even more difficult to imagine is that I will be back to work in a few short weeks. I'll be greeted by one of those crazy caffeinated weeks at a certain international institution.  I've been stewing, disheartened by my maternity leave options, or lack therof. I'm with an organization that has worked on international human rights for many years and yet I had to fight to get more paid leave. I also fought for more unpaid leave and lost that battle. And while I admit we're fortunate enough to have the resources where I could work very part-time for a while, I have no job protection if I choose to do so - and thus, I will be going back to work earlier than I had planned.

In the past weeks, I've wondered several times if we made the right choice to move back to the US.  I know we did, but it's not easy to reconcile that conclusion with the realization that I would have better maternity leave options (and easier access to affordable daycare) abroad.  I think back to the position I was vying for before this DC position came up.  It was with an international group based in Paris and would have had me ping-ponging between Bangkok and Paris. Interesting, but not ideal for motherhood. Yet, I am certain my maternity leave options would have been far more favorable.  But in the end, I didn't make the final cut, so it's a moot point.

How do women do it?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dieppa Restrepo, blue suede

Dark blue suede boots from Dieppa Restrepo - a departure from my usual cognac colored boots, but surprisingly versatile. If I've learned anything from living (and walking so much) in this city, it's that flat boots are key.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


So tired.

And it's the last day of August. HOW?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

From the morning market

Flowers to brighten our home on this rainy day.  I don't want summer to end, not just yet. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Strawyberry-Rhubarb Goodness

This was in late June. That's a very pregnant me, after I waddled half a block to the farmers market.  I bought rhubarb and strawberries, and I made this compote.  So good.

David Lebovitz's Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

  • 1 ¼ cups (310 ml) water
  • 1 ¼ cups (310 ml) dry or sweet white wine
  • 5 slices (15 g) fresh ginger, unpeeled
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1/3-1/2 cup (100 - 160 g) honey
  • 2-pounds (1 kg) rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3-inch batons, about 1/2 –inch wide
  • 1 pound (450 g) strawberries, hulled and quartered
In a large saucepan, heat the water, wine, ginger, sugar, and honey (use the smaller amount if you think you might want it less-sweet.)
When all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is simmering, add the rhubarb and let the rhubarb cook in the simmering syrup until it’s just softened, which may take as little as 5 minutes, depending on the rhubarb. Remove from heat and add the strawberries. When cool, pluck out the ginger slices.
Serve warm or room temperature.
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