Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cultura Overload

Otherwise known as Pu Dances the Tinikling and Goes to Church.

I have been meaning to post about the SLS Fair that occurred, oh, maybe a month ago, but I just kept forgetting to get permission from my teachers & classmate to post pics. One of my friends in Hindi posted a video about their class cultural experience, which inspired me to get off my ass and make this post! The SLS Fair gives our FSI instructors an opportunity to share their different cultures with each other. Students don't usually participate, but the Tagalog section is so tiny that our instructors asked if we might help out. First they taught us about two different Philippine holidays, the Flores de Mayo and the Ati-Atihan Festival, that we would be representing. Then we got all Imeldific! L & I got to rock some sparkly gowns, heels, tiaras, and sashes as Philippine beauty queens, but the real fun came when we learned and then got the chance to to teach people how to dance the Tinikling. My teachers made it look incredibly easy and graceful, but, to me, it was like jumping double dutch for two straight hours. I was so gross and sweaty by the end of it! On the plus side, we were by far the most popular booth at the fair. L & I posed for pictures, enticed people to come dance the Tinikling and try on traditional costumes, we played music, and generally had a blast. There was a booth next to us from a different part of the world (we'll be ultra-diplomatic and leave out said country's name) and man were they pissed! They kept complaining about how noisy we were being, and how we kept getting in their space, blah blah blah. As they sat there stone-faced and pouting, I couldn't help thinking how happy I am that we are headed to the Philippines! After having spent so many years not being represented (for a long time the Tagalog section only had 1 teacher, so there was no opportunity for her to participate), my teachers were so proud to have the Philippines be represented so well. Plus it was a total blast (and I got a good workout in!).

Teacher G and Language Supervisor M show off the traditional Ati-Atihan costume

L posing in front of the Philippines booth

Teacher G & I in front of our booth

Teacher S strikes a mean Tinikling

Three lovely Philippine ladies taking a break from dancing

This last week we did something on the opposite end of the spectrum and attended the first night of Simbang Gabi with my teacher. The Mass ended up being in English since the priest was not Philippino, but all of the songs were in Tagalog and we got to converse with people after the service while eating a traditional Philippine breakfast (lost of simple carbs and chicken soup!). The only negative was that we had to get up at 4am to make the 5am service. Mercifully, our teachers took pity on us and let us out of class early to make up for the fact that we started our day so early. This was a big plus for me since the other item on my agenda for the day was to get off my ass and haul the family downtown to get our diplomatic passports. I will post about this journey separately since it was truly its own adventure!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


You would think now that my Masters program is finally over (FINALLY!!!) I would actually spend some time updating my blog. Oh you silly readers. Actually a little over a week ago I began suffering from the worst bout of insomnia I've ever had. I've always been prone to periods of insomnia for as long as I can remember. I have these weird memories of childhood nights spent listening to a self-hypnosis cassette tape meant to help me visualize my way to sleep. I can also remember hearing the click of the cassette as the tape ended, lol. As I've gotten older I've recognized that usually these patterns develop during times of high stress, and they usually last for about 3-4 days or until I pass out from lack of sleep (because, as with everything in my life, we don't half-ass things here at Pu's Corner, if I have insomnia it means I don't sleep at all). This last bout, however, seems to be unending. It started the last week of my Master's Program (and the week following my incredibly poor performance during my 1st Tagalog assessment), so I thought once I finished up with school that it would clear up. Alas I think I totally fucked myself up in the head because I have not been able to sleep for almost 2 weeks now.

You would think at some point a person would just keel over from lack of sleep, but apparently you can just keep on functioning. Husband eventually dragged me to the doctor after my own attempts to self-drug did not work (I tried Tylenol PM, Melatonin, and even NyQuil). The doctor prescribed me Ambien, which helped give me a few hours of sleep, but I would still wake up at about 3-4am and then be wide awake until my alarm went off. So I went to see a sleep specialist, who basically told me there's nothing wrong with me (physically) and then gave me some Ambien CR, which is supposed to last longer but ended up acting just like the regular Ambien. I finally got fed up and combined a double of dose of Ambien with some alcohol, which is not particularly safe or healthy, but it did work. I slept from 10pm to 8am this morning. I have never been so happy! Hopefully this will kick my body into gear and get me over this mental block against sleep. I guess we'll find out tonight!

Monday, December 05, 2011

One More Week, One More Week, One More Week

That is the manta I am currently clinging to anyway. Just one last week of dual school before I am so donesies with my MS, and I cannot freaking wait! I foresee many a Tagalog flashcard in my future!!

Anyway, its been a while since I posted any recipes, and the seasons are a changin'. So here's a few of the most popular recipes we've been chomping lately. The key to making these recipes is to use minimal effort and time to come up with the best results possible!

Skillet Roasted Chicken

4-6 boneless chicken breasts
kosher salt
juice from 1 lemon

Salt and pepper the chicken to taste and add squeezes of lemon over top. Heat a large non-stick, oven-ready skillet over medium heat and brown the chicken breasts on both sides. Toss those suckers in the oven at 400 degrees for about 5-8 min (depends on the thickness of the chicken). Seriously, that's it.

Roasted Winter Veggies

1-2 diced sweet potatos
2 diced parsnips
1 peeled head of garlic
1 medium yellow onion
Spice Mix - paprika, New Mexican chile powder (or whatever kind ya got), cumin, pepper, and kosher salt*
1-2 tbsp olive oil

Combine the veggies in a large glass pan. Add the spice mix and oil, and toss that shit til every bit o' veggie is covered. Roast veggies uncovered at 400 degrees for about an hour, or until the veggies are nice and tender.

Of course you can make this with whatever veggies you prefer. We usually just combine whatever looks best at the market. Turnips, shallots, carrots, butternut squash, and various kinds of mushrooms have all made appearances  in the past with great success.

Hint: Chopping your veggies into like-size pieces will give you the best result since everything will cook evenly.

Homemade Applesauce

8-10 Honeycrisp Apples**
1/2 cup sucanet
1- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup water
1-2 tbsp cinnamon

Peel & core the apples, and add them to a large pot. Add the other ingredients to the pot and bring everything to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 20min (you can use a fork to check the done-ness of the apples). Now that your apples are soft you can either use an immersion blender or I prefer the old fashioned method of using a potato masher to smash my apples because it results in a much chunkier sauce. This recipe is so versatile. You can eat it warm right out of the pot as a dessert, chill it and it eat as regular old applesauce, or you can use it as a topping for waffles or pancakes (you may wish to add more water to make it thinner if you want to use it more like a syrup).

Apple Yogurt

1/4-1/3 cup Homemade Applesauce (see above)
1 cup 0% plain greek yogurt
Sprinkle of raisins
Sprinkle of chopped nuts

Mix that shit up and dig in! Sometimes I even add a little extra cinnamon or swap out the nuts for some Bare Naked Fit granola if I'm craving more crunch. Tastes like fall :)

*I specifically left out amounts on the spice mixture because I like my veggies pretty spicy, so you can choose to add whatever amount of paprika and chile powder you please to achieve the taste you prefer.

**You can use any variety you wish, but I like to use apples that are naturally quite sweet so that I don't need to add much sweetener.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Hockey Man

In addition to cheering C on the volleyball court*, we are hard core hockey parents. Of course since our son is only 4 and just learning to skate, yelling at him to body check the other kids is generally frowned upon. Stupid other parents. So we started him in individual lessons so that he really focus on learning how to throw a good right hook. Today we realized our lessons had really been driven home when A took a face plant on the ice and promptly started bleeding profusely from his mouth and nose. Some pussy bystanders expressed concern, and they even made everyone clear the ice so they could clean it up and examine him (it was really a decent amount of blood). A, however, thought it was all quite hilarious.** His brave face earned a high five from some of the Capitols (yeah, the Washington Capitols!) who were passing through on their way to their practice rink, who told him to "stay strong, little man." They were not as enamored with his penguin hat, however. I guess we were lucky he wasn't wearing any of his Sabres gear!

* Had our 1st parent meeting on Tuesday night. The girls will have a clinic to focus on particular skills on Saturdays and them practice only 2x a week, on Wed nights and Sunday afternoons. Yeah, guess who's going to be missing all of the 2nd halves for the rest of the year :( Well, at least this means the Bills might actually win some games since I won't be around to screw it up for them!

**At the moment...later he really played it up for the some cuddles and the all important candy!