Miss Sasha.

August 18, 2011

{little e adores sasha}
I am feeling quite grateful.  Perhaps it is that extra glass on Albariño I had tonight, but I'm going to say no.  I have been blessed.  And tonight it is all about someone who came into our world a year or so ago and helped us with the kids, and then came into our hearts.  Miss Sasha (or "Fafa," as Little E calls her).
{she is such a natural at caring for others}
It is true we have had many truly wonderful sitters though the years (um, how could we not??) but immediately we knew there was something so special about her.  The kids loved her.  They hugged her when she walked in the door and giggled at her jokes.  She had an affection for them that was so genuine (I remember when she early on came up with the nickname "Little One" for the baby).  She would speak in different accents to the kids when they got cranky.  She sent me links to yoga classes taught by her friends after particularly difficult mommy days.  She is a gourmet cook and cloth diapered like a natural.  She is 24 and has lived all over the world.  She was the type of girl that you couldn't wait for the kids to take their naps so we could just hang out and talk already.  And she spoke Italian to the kids, OK?
{with her dear friend kira in vence}

Last Monday she left for 27 months to be a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Yep, she's that good.  And tonight, I received the following email from her (which would obviously be the impetus to this rambling post).  Go ahead and skip over this if it is not your sort of thing, but if you wonder (like I do) what it's like to enter the Peace Corps, please read on.  Sasha is a truly special person.  We have been blessed to have her in our lives.
Buenos, friends and family! It has now officially been a week since I arrived in Guatemala for my 27 months of service in the Peace Corps. The rural life is taking some time getting used to as I spent my last night of civilization with a dear friend who I met studying abroad in Florence, drinking champagne at the Four Seasons in Georgetown (thank you Peace Corp stipend!). The next day I was with 9 other volunteers looking like a bunch of deer in headlights as we got on our flight from DC to Guatemala. On our arrival we were briskly whisked out of Guatemala City by a police escort and by night we were boiling water for safe drinking. So much for a light transition…
Within this past week I have received 4 vaccinations and taken 2 servings of malaria medicine. I wasn’t privileged enough to experience the psychedelic side effects of Aralen, but unfortunately I did have multiple nightmares accompanied by fears of mudslides and volcanic eruption from one of the 23 surrounding volcanoes. With the amount of rain coming down on our tin roof and the numerous lightning storms, I have had quite a few restless nights.

So, many of you asked me what I was going to be doing down here in the Peace Corps. Like you, I was a bit dumbfounded and uninformed of what I was actually going to be taking part in. Well, I finally found out and I’m here to save the world!
Ok, as much as I wish I was Captain America, I haven’t reached that level quite yet. For now my world consists of the rural villages of Guatemala and they need to be rescued from chronic malnutrition. I was surprised to learn that GUATE is the 4thworst off country in the world when it comes to being malnourished. In a place where 49.8 % of the children under the age of 5 and 66 % of all women suffer from the lack of a balanced diet full of veggies, I for one am THRILLED to push my culinary and nutritional knowledge on these poor tortilla loving Guatemaltecos. 

Until I am officially sworn in I am known as a PCT (Peace Corps Trainee) which is lowest rung on the Peace Corps todempole. Each day consists of 8 hours a of Spanish emersion classes, medical sessions with such invigorating topics as: “how to be diarrhea free” where the 2 hour sessions concludes by telling everyone there is no such thing as being diarrhea free in Guatemala, it is inevitable. Lots of information and frijoles are being crammed into this small group of 10 gringos but I think we are ready to stomach it. It’s quite a nice bunch and I am one of the two Californians, we shine pretty bright down here in Guatemala.

Every ex Peace Corps volunteer has said that this stage is the hardest part. Being true, I already miss the comfortable accommodations of home, the freedoms of America and most of all my amazing circle of friends. I’ve had a couple days where I’ve had to ask myself, “what the heck am I doing here?!” and I can’t always give myself a legit answer but somehow I have managed to talk myself into this, and yes, I am staying. My birthday is going to be an interesting day as I am not allowed to celebrate in an American manor (ie: lots of friends and booze). Therefore, it might consist of me, my host mom, her 40 yr old daughter, some relatives and maybe 2 other Peace Corp volunteers; and if I’m lucky, a piñata. It will be an experience incomparable to any of my past birthdays. Your state-side care packages will be more than welcome to lift my droopy spirits!
I would now like to take this opportunity to give you all my updated address as I may have given some of you an incorrect one via facebook, apologies!
PCT Sasha Escue
Cuerpo de Paz
Apartado Postal 66
Antigua Guatemala
Sacatepequez 03001
Cental America
Envelopes are the best way to send anything as boxes seems to get lost in the post.

I feel like this experience is going to go by so quickly so I will try my best to keep everyone informed. I have a blog in the works and I will get that link out as soon as I’m ready.
I miss you all so very much.
Lots of love and muchos besos!
{i do love her, can you tell?}

Summer Day.

I don't know a lot about poetry.  But I know what I love.  I love this poem.  (And every poem by Mary Oliver.)  I've been thinking about it lately, as summer seems to be in full force, yet knowing autumn is just around the corner.

The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper. I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar from my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her ple forearmsand thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is/
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

photo credit unknown (please email me if you know who it belongs to!)

Guest Post For Bridget.

August 17, 2011

Hi!  I'm still here.  Just back from camping, which is *interesting* with three little ones!  Today, I have a post up on new mom Bridget's blog.  Check it out!

Things to Cook This Week

August 9, 2011

{my new favorite dessert....i've been dreaming of it ever since my friend iris made it the other night}
I have an over-stuffed refrigerator and freezer and pantry right now.   There is so much good stuff at the farmer's market, I just can't help myself.  Time to plan out what to make this week!

Simple perfect tomato sauce (using the buckets of roma tomatoes from the market and my new tomato press!)
Grilled Skirt Steak and chimichurri sauce
Sauteed corn with tarragon (Melissa's recipe)
Steamed garden green beans with garlic and breadcrumbs
Roasted Tomatoes and baked boucheron goat cheese
Pavlovas (using the meringues and berries from the farmer's market)
More of Casey's insanely good sangria!
More cold brew iced coffee (I'm kinda obsessed...have you tried this??)

photo credit

A Story From Our Trip (A Guest Post by B!)

August 5, 2011

Imagine my surprise when I found the below passage in an email from B....complete with instructions regarding when/how to post it (i.e. not on the weekend when we all know nobody reads blogs!).  It has been quite awhile since we last heard from B, so be sure to let him know how much you missed him!  ~Jora

Enough this day of nursing babies, of baby toes and baby clothes, and of all things neonatal.
Instead, for one day only, let us turn our attention to more important matters:  alcohol.  And when you’re talking Italian alcohol, you’re naturally talking about wine beer.  That’s right, beer.

As it happens, for two decades at least, beer drinking has been on the rise in Italy, from you-never-used-to-be-able-to afford-it levels 20 years ago, to you’ve-got-to-try-this-Italian-microbrew levels today.  Today there are 50 craft brewers in Tuscany alone.

On both of our last two trips we have visited Italy’s up and coming brewer, 20-something year old Iacopo Lenci.  Iacopo lives in Lucca and is the brewmaster/owner of the award-winning Birrificio Brùton.

Iacobo also happens to be the son of acclaimed winemaker Agostino Lenci of Fattoria di Magliano, who also runs an agriturismo in southern Tuscany (where we’ve never been), but which you can check out here.

Iacopo has built a following, and now retails his beer internationally.  The beers feature the “Bruton” logo, but are sold by their lyric names like Bianca, Brùton di Brùton, Lilith, Momus, and Dieci (“10," as in alcohol percentage).  I recently drained my 401k and bought these two at Whole Foods:

We learned of his Slow Food restaurant and brewery outside of Lucca in a Travel and Leisure article a couple of years ago.  There it was written of Iacopo and his ground-breaking brewery/restaurant, “This guy’s the future of Italy. This is the only way it’ll go forward.”

If you can stand Italian charm, passion and humor, you can check him out here.  The sound quality is poor, but it’s worth a listen if only to hear the anecdote about how his grandmother served him sangiovese as a youth.  The clip is seven minutes.  After that, you’re on your own ladies.

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