Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ace & Jig

I keep telling myself that listing out the items I've bought each month will keep my spending habits in check, will keep me accountable. But I haven't really bought much this month. To be exact, I've purchased one clothing item - this Ace & Jig houndstooth tee, deeply discounted at Mohawk General Store. It's an impractical buy in some ways because it won't keep me cozy when the snow is falling outside (which has been happening more of late).  But I can't help it. I will always gravitate towards non-winter clothes.

Before I left Cambodia, I made a number of silk dresses, gorgeous replications of some of my favorite wardrobe staples - all for my future life Stateside.  The vast majority of those pieces were lost in the stolen luggage debacle, but I realize now that every single one of those pieces was meant for summer days - some being litttle wisps of silk that I'd probably only wear in the hottest of August days. 

With the exception of my occasional daydream of hanging out in the Colorado mountain house, I don't dream of thick coats or fuzzy sweaters (though I'm grateful for these things these days).  I don't dream of winter. 

Maybe I'm just hardwired to always want/hope for tropical or at least perpetual summer weather.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snow day!


I woke up to the beginnings of a snowstorm, big fat flakes swirling outside - which meant my office was closed!  I spent my day taking a walk in our new neighborhood (more on that later), drinking hot tea, taking a few telephone meetings, and making these cookies. I enjoyed this disjointed mix/pace of life today: planning meals (arugula strawberry salad for lunch? curry for dinner?), worrying about browning the butter correctly (for the cookies), in between phone calls about the human rights situation in China.

Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter +Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen

  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  2. With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Gently fold in all of the chocolate chips.
  3. Chill your dough for 2 hours in the refrigerator, or place in freezer for 30 minutes if you are super eager, although I cannot promise the same results if you do this.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once dough is chilled measure about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the dough ball very thinly into the palm of your hand. Place 1 teaspoon of chilled nutella in the middle and fold dough around it; gently roll into a ball — it doesn’t have to be perfectly rolled! Make sure that the nutella is not seeping out of the dough. Add more dough if necessary. Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart and flatten with your hand VERY gently. (Really only the tops need to be flattened a bit!)
  5. Bake the cookies 9-11 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the sheets at least 2 minutes. Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets after a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


The news trickling in from Cambodia is heartbreaking.  Even in the few years that I lived there, I could see the wave of escalating violence. Communities, tired of land-grabs and abuse by the political elite, demanded more, which authorities often met with increasing resistance and crackdowns.  Ingrained in my memory is the same elderly Khmer woman, frail and grey-haired, standing in front of the police squads, crying, eventually beaten down or pushed aside.  I can't count how many times I saw her at the front of the protester lines. I hope friends are staying safe.

Sometimes I forget about these things. A new normalcy has taken over.  Cambodia feels like a dream.

Erin Considine

I really do love Erin Considine's pieces.  I particularly like the piece on the left, though it's probably too similar to the Erin Considine necklace I own.

For various reasons, I didn't catch the shopping bug this holiday season.  But I did purchase this piece in a different colorway.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Joyeux Noël

Last night, I returned from nine days in sunny southern California. It was nearly 80 degrees everyday, which is just ridiculous.

There's nothing particularly exciting to report back. I relished the time with my family, saw my sister's incredible (and incredibly expensive) wedding gown, took our dog Leah for walks to the park, and sat around watching The Wire (still so good) with my sister and our two territorial cats.  We drove out to the suburbs of Rancho Cucamonga for one Christmas party, then to Redondo Beach for other holiday celebrations, and visited places in between.  I frequented my neighborhood taco joint for what are consistently darn good fish tacos, finally tried Tokyo Fried Chicken, had a steaming cup of horchata coffee at my favorite coffee shop in Los Angeles, Tierra Mia, sampled the products of my sister's new ice cream maker, and had lunch with my parents in downtown LA, in what was once Dad's favorite fish and chips place, which is run by a Khmer family and serves up Thai ice teas alongside Mexican horchata drinks -- only in southern California can you have this crazy mix of cultures!

On my last night before flying out, we stayed with Lath in Santa Monica, walked over to have dinner at Milo Olive, and after, watched some strange but equally amusing karaoke at a local bar.  And then, I was on a plane, back to winter, back to reality, back to DC.

I'll admit it's been a rough few months, but there are many things to be grateful for and small pleasures to enjoy.  And it's with that perspective that I ended the year.
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