New Thanksgiving traditions served with a side of deep fried turkey

This has been my third Thanksgiving away from my Central Pennsylvania family and friends at home. This year especially has felt a little different. It’s made me realize how much I appreciate such a random mix of a community that surrounds me here in this moment at this time in my life. 

On thanksgiving day, since most of us had to work as it was a normal business day, a few of us got together and quite possibly started a new tradition in celebrating this holiday from abroad. We gathered together for wine and cheese and great conversation. That time with these ladies was exactly what I needed at the time as we were all missing family and friends from home and could laugh and share stories as our paths intersected here in Moldova.

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Then on Saturday, I spent most of the day prepping food items that I had agreed to make. I spent most of the day in the kitchen as I multi-tasked making two types of sweet potatoes, deviled eggs, and a chocolate peanut butter meltaway cake. 

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I tried making this cake in two layers, which I do not recommend. The chocolate melted right off and down the sides. Hence, why it’s probably called a ‘meltaway’ cake. (no photos of the other foods though)

After prepping the foods, I managed to organize them complexly in a way to transport (walk) them to my friends’ place that is about 10 or so minutes away. I felt like it was a moment worthy of celebration since I successfully was able to get them there without dropping or breaking anything. I wish I had a photo to share, but no such luck. It was no small feat. How else does one walk a two-layer melting cake along with other food items through the city? I think I should have been an engineer… 

The guys were busy preparing the turkey in thefryer when I arrived. They had quite the setup arranged. Not to be taken lightly as we spent the night before watching videos on “how NOT to fry a turkey”. This one is worthy of a share as we watched it multiple times and the song was still in my head the next day (and even now since I’m thinking about it).

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There were between 15-20 people that were present for this thanksgiving feast. Quite the mix of expats and Moldovans. It was a great group to celebrate with and the food was delicious and there was plenty of it left over by the end of the evening.

Although I thought I would be home by this time celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, I am so grateful that this is how I was able to celebrate this year.  Being surrounded by this new community of old and new friends as Moldova intersects us together in a common thread.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

My personal 15 reasons to be thankful this year

Today marks my 2nd Thanksgiving without being surrounded by family and friends back home as I live and serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Moldova. Last year around this time I celebrated with fellow volunteers and friends and when I also got to experience meeting real live turkeys that would be served on our table the next day.

As I think of my family and friends from home today, I realize how much I miss them and the small comforts of being surrounded by their laughter, jokes, silence, and smiles. Each day I continue to step outside my comfort zone and for this experience and the people I have gotten to know I am incredibly grateful.

In honor of 2015 I picked 15 reasons to be thankful this year…

  1. The people in my life. If I were to list all the people I am thankful for in my life this list would be incredibly long. Many thanks to my supportive family back in PA; my encouraging friends living all over this small world; my amazing host families here in Moldova; many warm and welcoming friends of various ages here in Moldova; and my fellow PCV family/friends spread throughout all over Moldova and around the globe.
  2. Skype, Google Hangouts, iMessage, Viber… okay so basically the internet. How else would I get to talk/chat to all those amazing people I grouped into #1?!
  3. Being able to keep my feet warm and dry. And shoe repair places. It’s amazing how such a little bit of water/snow can make you appreciate the days when you can keep your feet dry and warm.
  4. Walking to/from work…and about everywhere else. I am grateful for some built-in daily exercise, plus some time to clear my head and think. I know this will be one thing I’ll miss after Peace Corps.
  5. Speaking & understanding a new language. Although honestly, some days I appreciate not being able to completely understand everything that was said to me. ex: random man yelling obscenities at me after realizing I didn’t speak Russian.
  6. Care packages and letters. It’s as if someone sent a real-life hug in paper/package form (or suitcase depending on how it got here).
  7. Books. For me reading is a way to unwind from the day/week and am grateful I’ve been able to make some more time to read at the end of the day.
  8. Baby giggles. I live with a one year old who laughs a lot. His tiny giggles are the best, especially when he comes fast-speed-crawling into my room and laughing because he knows he’s “not allowed”.
  9. Running water, electricity, and heat. We have access to these things generally most of the time. Makes you appreciate them even more so when they get turned off unexpectedly or when something breaks.
  10. My notebooks and agenda book. These things help keep me organized daily so I can remember where I’m supposed to be and keep track of all my project notes in one place. Or they at least help remind me how often my plans change throughout the day.
  11. Fresh organic food. The food here is incredibly fresh (more so in the spring/summer) and most likely you know where it came from (backyard garden, neighbor down the road, or a new friend from the market).
  12. Music & Spotify. Ideal for my any living situation especially finding new music and artists. Plus it’s perfect for an impromptu dance party and for finding random funny music for kindergartners.
  13.  Health. Generally I have made it through my Peace Corps service with very little health issues. I am beyond thankful for this and hope this trend continues. We toast to “sanatate” (health) about every day at dinner, so maybe that has something to do with it?
  14. Scarves. If you know me well then you are probably not surprised. There’s just something comforting about a colorful fun scarf especially in winter. Plus, they’re warm.
  15.  Being a Peace Corps Volunteer. So far my experience as a PCV has lived up to it’s slogan “The toughest job you’ll ever love”. Even with the challenges, I am so glad I am here.

 

PS – To note: It snowed today in Moldova, hence the snowy cover photo.