This is us.  The one showing lots of shoulder (in her Chengdu, China Marine Ball ball gown!) is the EFM who writes this blog. The one wearing a tux (James) is the employee who moves her (and their two sons) around all over the world. The red link, below, is how you can get in touch with me...

The time in Chengdu, China

Chengdu: city of fabulous food and beautiful Buddhist monasteries!
Yes, Beijing's Forbidden City (pictured, above) is really pretty and all, but I like Chengdu much better than Beijing!

In Our Same Boat (with State)

  • Beyond the Cornfields
    Brand-new State Department family in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Love their two little girls (she just recently had a baby while being posted in Dhaka), horticulture, traveling and adventure!
  • Email From The Embassy
    State Department family formerly in Beijing, China, and recently posted to Amman, Jordan. A trailing spouse, she's also a writer, and frequently publishes articles with major news sources. A very experienced State family, this new post is something like overseas post number six or seven for them.
  • Just US
    A beautiful family of seven - they have arrived at their new post: Jerusalem! They just finished off an unaccompanied tour to Iraq and are very much looking forward to sightseeing around the middle east.
  • Our Life
    State Department family on their second post...Tijuana, Mexico. It's their first overseas assignment and they have two little boys. They love Tijuana so far and post pictures frequently! They also get to enjoy the best of both worlds for they can sneak over the border into San Diego when they want to!
  • The Dinoia Family
    State Department family formerly in California, now in DC for a DC tour. Next, the husband will do a one year unaccompanied tour. A very experienced State family (formerly in Iceland and Caracas) with a blog that has been around quite a while and has great archives. Jen has a sweet heart and a lot to give!
  • The Perlman Update
    State Department family formerly in Chennai, India, who then did a year-long unaccompanied tour in Iraq. They are now on a DC tour and after that will do another unaccompanied tour (Afghanistan). She totally tells it like it is and doesn't sugar-coat what life is really like. Witty, snarky, funny and down-to-earth. Look elsewhere if you want fake. Read if you want REAL.
  • Where in the World Am I?
    State Department family formerly in Bujumbura, Burundi and now in Hyderabad, India. They just had their first baby this summer - a beautiful little girl- (there's a separate blog about this) and she also eats gluten-free (with a separate blog, also).
One of the most intriguing things about Chengdu is that it is a seamless blend of ancient and modern... all together, side by side.

Can't Live Without (non-State)

  • Crass-Pollination: An ER blog
    The best ER nurse blog EVER!
  • Doctor Grumpy in the House
    The best doctor blog EVER!
  • In Which...
    My IRL friend, a stay-at-home, homeschooling Mama of seven. Her darling daughters are, goshdarnit, probably too young to be hoped for as my future daughters-in-law.
  • The Crib Chick
    My IRL friend, a stay-at-home, homeschooling Mama of five. Hopefully two (Any two! I'm not picky!) of which are my future daughters-in-law.
  • the underwear drawer
    An anesthesiologist who is possibly the most talented & entertaining writer ever. I've read her blog ever since she started medical school. No, don't know her in real life. Wish I did.
  • The Bloggess
    This blog is both hysterically funny and hilariously irreverent. I actually let my 17 year old son read it (who loves it as much as I do!), but wouldn't even CONSIDER letting my 12 year old son read it. Which is about all the description it needs!
The grounds of Chengdu monasteries can be very, very peaceful...even though they are smack dab in the heart of a city of millions of people.


Yes, there are Starbucks in Chengdu! All over the place, in fact. So much so, Starbucks even crafted mugs for Chengdu stores!
Texan bluebonnets. Because I learned during our very first posting (Houston) that there's nothing prettier in the spring than the meadows of Texas.
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A Daring Adventure

Here's the totally awesome recipe for:


First you're going to make what is basically like a graham cracker crust, only you're making it out of:

1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 egg

Beat those together. Take this mixture and mush it along the bottom of a 9 by 13 baking pan. With your fingers- like a graham cracker crust.

On top of that, you're going to pour a beaten mixture of:

1 eight ounce package cream cheese (softened)
1 box powdered sugar
2 eggs

Beat all that together until it's smooth, then pour it over the crust.

Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes, or until the top is sort of evenly browning.

This is, without a doubt, hands down my guys' (yes, all of them) favorite dessert!


And it is delish!


Ooh, I love weddings. I trust I will be invited to yours?


Oh, Kolbi...I know what you are talking about. Our first Christmas in New Jersey took a hit because we were waiting for a several thousand dollar voucher to be paid. It is tough.
It is also tough that every move costs SO MUCH. Even though a lot is paid for, we still have to cover certain expenses. Like fans and space heaters. Rugs and lights. Kitchen tables. This is all stuff that we have had to buy for this post that has NOT been taken care of for us.
I think even I could handle that recipe. I think we will try it.


I keep a list and at the top of the list is the danger pay we never received from a trip in 2004. Now, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, if we owed them.....yep, there'd be trouble.

Actually, this reminds me that I need to check on other back pay...*sigh*


Oh yes ... don't even get me started about the little screw ups. Always on their part. That they don't bother to fix, unless you bring it to THEIR attention.

Oh the stories I could tell...


Hopefully the upcoming wedding will be less expensive than the first one when it is all said and down :) JK! Gotta love how "quickly" things happen especially when it involves money being paid to us. Thanks for posting the recipe! It sounds super yummy!

A Daring Adventure

@ Donna- Of course! I would do anything to have you as an honored guest!

@ Emily- Oh, hon, I totally understand. That's just... so hard.

@ Jen- Girl! You and I have talked about this! James is still owed Danger Pay from going to Pakistan last year in 2009!! ROTFL! What's up with the whole danger pay thing?!?! And yes, oh, yes, if WE owed THEM, there would be... automatic paycheck deductions. If one wasn't big enough.

@ Melissa- if there was ever a second wedding, it would be hard to have it cost any less than the first one! We were so young and poor that our first wedding... cake, dress, EVERYTHING, cost about $800. Total. And we didn't even get a honeymoon!


As a former military family, I can say that this happens with government jobs/travel/etc in all areas. We learned to keep copies of all paperwork in triplicate at all times, particularly after my husband discovered that some of his co-workers in Washington DC stuffed whatever paperwork wasn't done at the end of the day IN THE CEILING. No, I am NOT kidding. Now, every time I send something somewhere, I imagine some bureaucrat lifting a tile and tossing my precious fund request into a crawl space...

All I can say is -- resubmit, resubmit, resubmit. And it's probably a single person or office in charge of danger pay that is "conveniently" losing stuff.

Lastly, you are the very first person to have had a cheaper wedding than me (other than a courthouse/jump over a broom type). Our wedding came to $1200, BUT that included a 5-day honeymoon. I sewed my dress, my BF sewed the bridesmaids dresses, a friend made the cake and handmade the mints, a local church was free, my dad embossed cards while watching get my drift. That being said, I would not have enjoyed an expensive wedding nearly as much, PLUS people still ask me how to have a church wedding on the cheap! :)


That's how they list same-sex couples (married or not) as well as unmarried folk. And yes, it's a headache.

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James loves me. And our sons. And his job. But not having his picture taken. In 2011 he finished up over a year and half of training, and in the fall of 2011 we got to our first overseas post - Chengdu, China!
Mao says hi! Because Chengdu is one of the only cities in China with a Mao statue.
Flowers are like friends. Each one is unique. Each one is beautiful. They brighten up everything around them. And you can never have too many. 

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2012 is the Year of the Dragon, y'all! Talk about the ultimate in good luck! This kinda party only comes around once every twelve years!
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Colorful! (Inside a Chengdu ancient Buddhist monastery.)
Have I mentioned that I absolutely adore taking pictures? Here are some that I've taken recently:
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