“I am Assassin’s Creed II” said Leah, over Pork Mango Picadillo.

If you ask Leah what she wants to be when she grows up, she’ll still tell you she wants to be an assassin.

Recently, on the xBox360, Tom and the boys have been playing Assassin’s Creed II.In it, Ezio, the assassin, has a poisoned blade he uses to poke targets. They die moments later, after he is long gone.

While I was making Elise Bauer’s Pork Mango Picadillo this evening, Leah snuck up on me and pricked me with her homemade poisoned blade, fashioned by Aiden out of masking tape and a chopstick. “Tsss!” she hissed, and then ran into the other room announcing, “Hey guys, I poisoned mom and she will be dying soon!”

To which, I screamed, grasping at my throat and falling to the floor, “HEY! Who is going to cook for you… aaaaaaaaaahhh!!! I’m dying!!!!!”

Apparently the promise of not killing me only applied to being mauled to death by tigers.

If it wasn’t for her bringing me back to life with her kisses, I’d still be dead and you wouldn’t be reading this. (Nope. Still dead. See? I can only open one eye!)

As she sat at my table eating her scrumptious dinner, poison blade still attached, she declared, “”Mom, the aliens in Mars Attacks said (alien voice and all) “‘We come in peace, we come in peace.’ But, they KILLED everyone so they’re LIARS!”

She’ll be different, of course.

She will only tell the truth as she kills people.

“I am Assassin’s Creed II,” Leah said, non-nonchalantly pointing to her contraption with her fork, as if I hadn’t noticed or remembered what it felt like to be poisoned.

“Even assassins need to eat their dinner,” I said as seriously as possible, hoping she didn’t notice me snickering into my armpit! I didn’t have to remind her twice, though. It was gone.

She wanted seconds.

So, I’ve eaten two plates of Pork Mango Picadillo… um… and a few bites right from the pot. Make this and you may just have some interesting dinner conversation, like we did. Then, stop over to Simply Recipes and tell Elise how amazing she is! You can also follow her (personal tweets) on Twitter @simplyrecipes and again at @recipeupdates (recipe feed).


Unexpectedly Found Beauty : The Black Obi by Okada Saburosuke

The Black Obi by Okada Saburosuke

Oh the rush of unexpectedly being smitten by beauty!

I had bought some new drinking glasses at the Daiso 100 ¥ Shop. Daiso provides scraps of newspaper, on worktables placed at the end of the cash register aisles, so that breakables can be wrapped for safe transport.

I picked up a handful of scraps and began to cover each glass and tuck them into my shopping bag.

The sad, frustrating truth is that I cannot read Japanese. The many vertical characters on the newspapers’ pages blurred together into mysterious meaninglessness.

When I glanced down at the stack of paper to grab a fresh sheet, I found this lovely young woman staring up at me! There were few photos printed on the paper scraps that day, and so the contrast – this beauty standing out amongst the rows of gibberish – was especially striking. The painting, in art’s universal language, was something I could understand. I tucked the scrap into my purse for safe keeping.

This morning, I had brunch with my friends Sonia and Miyo and, as I went to retrieve a pen, I felt the saved newspaper in my purse and excitedly showed Miyo. She translated it for me.

I learned that the 1915 painting is called “The Black Obi” and it was painted by Okada Saburosuke. His style was heavily influenced by Kuroda Seiki, whose real name was Kuroda Kiyoteru. Seiki went to Paris as a young man, where he lived in an artist colony that included several Americans. He even studied English. Such things are difficult to comprehend, as I tend to forget that Japanese were in the US prior to World War II.

(Once before, this very thought really got to me after watching Letters from Iwo Jima, where Ken Watanabe’s character, General Kuribayashi, speaks of his life in California before the war and how he socialized with actors, and even received silver pistol as a gift, but then returned home when the war broke out to fight for Japan.)

One of the thing I love about The Black Obi is that it is the first time I’ve ever seen a Japanese woman in the context of an Impressionistic painting. It is exquisitely surreal as if she was cut from elsewhere and affixed to a Monet or a Renoir.

Such talent!

Seeing this painting made me wonder — Would this style of art would have continued in Japan if history’s course had been different?

More on Japanese art history can be found here.

Takin’ Five and Thinking About Living in a Shipping Container House

I have a lot on my mind at the moment and not enough time to write down my thoughts!

Here are some random tidbits :

As of the last day of May, 2010, I am no longer in my 20s.

This week, I decided to color my hair not just for the sake of something new and wild (like pink highlights) but to color gray! I used an awesome organic haircolor called Organic Color Systems which I found through my friend Robyn at Shear Miracles.

One of my conversations with fellow blogger Megan Dunham at HalfPintHouse was quoted at World Magazine online!

Our time in Japan is just about up! I will miss the karate dojo where my children and I have been practicing Shotokan karate, the lush green plant life, our close proximity to the sea, and the peaceful lifestyle of not having to lock our doors. Details forthcoming as they solidify.

Currently, I am…

-Working on my full accreditation through the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth… over 100 essay questions!

-Eagerly awaiting the arrival of our Veritas Press homeschooling curriculum for the 2010-2011 school year! Micah is officially starting school this year, although we’ve been working on his reading and math skills these past two years ;)

-Preparing for our upcoming month-long home leave to the US, just a few weeks away!

-Researching housing made out of storage containers (We are considering building our own house when we move back to the US!)

Check out these links on storage container housing:

The Cordell House – Numen Development (Model we like best so far!)

Shipping Container Housing Guide

Qwik House

Intermodal Steel Building Units and Container Homes



What do you think? Could you live in a house built of shipping containers? Why does or doesn’t it appeal to you? What features would you want included in your home?

… and now, I will fall into my bed and hopefully sleep through the night without anyone tearfully sleep-walking into my room or mistaking my stack of cloth grocery bags in the foyer for a potty!

Eternally Thankful : Guest Post at NoWealthButLife.com

Pregnant!!! by DDanzig via Flickr

This past week, I commented on What I Want, a post at There Is No Wealth But Life about expectations and parenting. The post began, “When I say that I do not want to be a stay at home mother, it is because I want something else…” and it drew me in.

At the end of her post, Rae (Twitter @nowealthbutlife ) asked, “What do you want? If you are already a parent, how has reality changed your plans and dreams?”

Rae asked if she may use the comment as a guest post.

I said yes.

An excerpt:

I found out I was pregnant in the midst of big deadlines at work at the bank. I didn’t even tell my husband I had bought the test. Why should I? It would be negative anyway.

I took it after work, still wearing my snappy navy dress suit and classic leather heels.

My expensive woolen executive armor didn’t shield me from the truth in the urine.

You can find the rest of the guest post as well as Rae’s thought-provoking blog here.

How would you have answered Rae’s question?