Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ciao, and Happy Anniversary to us!

We are in Venice, where we celebrated our first wedding anniversary yesterday. Here are a few pics from last year for now. Stay tuned for lots of photos from our Italy trip in a week or two. We are having a blast.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Geography is hard!

Jeremy and I are meeting in Italy for our first wedding anniversary next week. This morning, I called the bank to make sure they wouldn't block our cards while we were there ...

Me: Hi. My husband and I are traveling to Italy next week, and I just wanted to make sure you didn't turn off our cards when we start spending money there.
Agent: I'd be happy to help. Can you hold a second?
Me: Sure.

Hold music plays for a minute.

Agent: Is that in France?
Me: Is what in France?
Agent: Italy.
Me: No, um, Italy is a different country.
Agent: Oh, OK. I couldn't remember.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Double decker

The baking continues. Last weekend I made a flourless chocolate cake, which really was more like fudge than cake. It tasted good, but wasn't so interesting from a photographic point of view.

This weekend, I attempted my first tiered cake.

It was also my first attempt at Italian buttercream (made with egg whites instead of yolks). The bottom tier was yellow cake with coffee buttercream filling, and the top was chocolate with bittersweet chocolate buttercream filling. The frosting was mocha buttercream. We took it to church for a birthday, and it was all gone by the end of the social hour. My decorating skills need some work, but this is not so bad for a first try, eh?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Trip to Ghulab Kheil

This entry is from Jeremy, but posted by Masha because Jeremy's Internet was too slow to upload the photos.

These photos are from our late September trip to Gulab Kheil village in Dara district. Getting there involved a two-hour drive off-road, followed by a 30-minute walk. I went up with the USDA, military and our two implementing partners, to introduce the new USAID project: a tree farm where farmers grow fruit trees, sell the cuttings and saplings to other farmers for income, and then in 4-5 years, start selling the fruit. This village sits on top of a mountain, between two rivers that converge at the bottom of the valley. There is a lot of terracing going on.

Mud house on the side of the hill in Gulab Kheil:

Terraced farmland on the side of the mountain. You can see where it starts and stops. This tells you where they have been able to build irrigation canals and where they haven't. This land is irrigated by snow-melt-fed springs. The mountains are already dusted with snow. Winter is coming ...

Village leaders:

Looking south into the valley. We traveled from the north.

These are the stoves in which the locals bake bread. They put wood in the bottom, heat up the mud stove and cook bread inside. These are the fanciest I've seen.

Local scale. Wonder how they calibrate it?

And of course, cute kids from the village: