Friday, July 22, 2011

State Department Blog Round Up: Collections

Welcome to this week's State Department Blog Round Up!  (And just in time to save me from the horror that is bidding...  Wow is this painful!)

The OTP this week is collections.  What do you collect (intentionally or not), what do you wish you collected, and/or what do you wish you didn't collect?  I am using the theme quite liberally, as you'll see below. 

I'll start with my own post which started this entire theme.  It pretty much speaks for itself - I am bordering on having too many collections!

Crafty Foreign Service shows us one of her collections (lucky cats) and a gorgeous puppy but keeps her fabric/yarn collections to herself for fear of someone staging an intervention.  Amy, I think we all have that fear...

Raquel at 3rdculturechildren has a wonderful, more introspective approach to the collections she and her family have made during their time in Brazil.  Congrats on making it to the halfway point of your tour!

Small Bits reflects on her very special collections of friends and memories from her beloved border post.

The Dinoia Family is about to say goodbye to one of their collections- diapers!  LG is well on his way to full-time potty learner status!

Email from the Embassy learned that a collection of cars outside a house doesn't necessarily mean a party.

Where in the World are Luca and Juliana? collected the letter Y on their trip to the appropriately-named Yucatan.  

Adventures of a Misplaced Texan is collecting ideas of how to deal with winter  as she prepares for a more northerly border post.

Whale Ears & Wonderings collected both great memories with family and friends and a new collection of quilting materials while on R&R.

The new Virginia residents at The Perlman Update are close to making the collection complete - Matt is back from Iraq (!) and the new house is almost ready! 

Kerns'R'Us finally met the mysterious Bobby her son has been so obsessed with.  Chalk this up to a collection of stories to tell his prom date!

What Were We Thinking? is having a grand old time while her mother visits.  This week, her children learned a valuable lesson about lying to their father.  Another prom date collection story!

Just Us collected another trip to a special place: Galilee. 

Something Edited This Way Comes shares her photos of Milan circa 1901 and 2011 - very cool collection!

A Daring Adventure explores her new and unexpected name change and, rightly, has her very own meltdown cow.  Yet another in the collection of weird moments with State...

Life in the Land of the Long White Cloud writes a post including photos of (his lovingly collected and documented) traffic cones being used for their actual intended purpose.  I'm not sure he realized this?

Well, That Was Different is busy exploring her new neighborhood and collecting new memories and ideas of how to stay busy during her tour.  It looks absolutely lovely!  Are you paying attention Where in the World are Luca and Juliana?

From the Back of Beyond, while waiting for the arrival of the newest addition, is collecting both inspiring housewares and fun visitors

I Run, You Run has discovered something new, handy, and inexpensive to collect in Manila: frames!  Check out the blog for the exciting results. 

Spectrummy Mummy has collected a fun new place for her daughter to hang out... just in time to move to a country where said fun new place doesn't exist.  Sad!  

We have a collection of bloggers headed off to new posts.  Safe travels!

The Pulling Stakes family is off to Brazil and a whole new marketplace for adding to the shoe collection!  

B-Files has three weeks to go before leaving for Santo Domingo - how exciting!

Travel Orders is one week from Benin, along with their absolutely adorable new edition.

Digger at Life After Jerusalem is doing her final consultations before leaving for post, and discovering the wonders of SA-5 at the same time!

Diplomatic Mom collected a whole lot of frequent flyer miles on her way to post (and an exciting long weekend away).

I hope you'd enjoyed this collection of FS blogs.  Nobody is signed up yet to host next week's Round Up - check out A Daring Adventure to sign up.  It's easy!

Happy collecting!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Future. It's Here. Finally. Sort Of.

Apologies in advance:  this is an entirely melodramatic post.

Imagine my consternation when I find out at 11:20 pm on a Thursday that my bidlist is out.  MY bidlist.  The bidlist I've been waiting for since September 2009.  (Because, really, as soon as you find out your first post you start dreaming of the next one.)

I put out feelers to colleagues working in EST-friendly time zones to see if anyone would send me the list, but nothing yet.  I have decided I am above getting dressed and going in to the Consulate at midnight to get the list.  But just barely.  And only because I am going to be down near the Consulate tomorrow morning anyway for something, so I will just go then if I don't have it by then.  

Stupid time zones!  Stupid weekends that don't coincide with the rest of the world!  (And I mean that in the nicest possible way.)

So while I'm waiting with barely-contained excitement/anxiety to see the list, I am savoring these last few moments of "what-if?"

Because once I see the list, there's no turning back.  There's no more dreaming of that perfect post or hearing of some far-off place and doing research and finding out it's my new favorite perfect post.  It's the end of naivete and dreaming.  It's the beginning of reality.  My next few years will be limited to what's on the list.  All of a sudden there's a due date and a realistic time frame of when I'll find out my next post.  

I am perfectly aware that I may be disappointed, having built up in my mind what this list will contain.  I know my top choice is probably not going to work for me for language reasons.  I know that some of my top five also will probably not work because the Consular sections are quite small.  

I also know that the list may contain some gems that I had previously not considered.

I will not be sharing much of the bidding process on this blog, but here's an idea of what my next job will be, based on job/training/language requirements and restrictions.  I will be working as a Consular officer for at least half if not the entire next tour.  It will be in an Arabic, French, or English speaking country or at a post that has Consular positions that don't require language training in the local language.  I will be in DC for 6-26 weeks of training beforehand, depending on where I go and whether I need a top-up in French.  It will likely be another two year post.  

And as I write this, a friend just let me know he has an Excel version of the list, which he's sending me as I write this.  So here goes nothing.  The end of innocence.  

Collections aka "How do I avoid ending up on an episode of 'Hoarders'?"

All right, enough procrastinating.  It's time to write my own entry for this week's State Department Round Up, hosted by me.  The theme is collections.  This came to me as I was unpacking a couple of boxes I sent myself during R&R and realized the sheer number of things I collect.  If you had asked me about it, I probably would have said I actively collected a couple things.  But when I started thinking about it, it's more than a couple things.  Some of them are ways of easily buying souvenirs when I travel, while others are all about making my home a nice place to live.  


This is probably my most active collection and the one I contribute to on every single trip I take.  I started collecting magnets as a college student, inspired by my aunt's tacky magnet collection.  And following this tradition, I collect tacky magnets as well.  Everywhere I go I try to find as tacky a magnet as I can to add to my refrigerator.  It's a great daily reminder of the places I've been.  This is a collection I prefer to keep to myself; I don't ask others to contribute to it.  I want my fridge to reflect my own travels throughout the world.  I am missing a number of countries from early in my travels, when the collecting was more sporadic, but all of my recent trips are accounted for. 

Seen here, the collection looks smaller than I think it is...
Probably because some magnets are on the sides of the fridge as well.

And last night I unpacked two different magnetic poetry sets, which I attached to my washer/dryer

Christmas Ornaments

This collection is partly travel-related but mostly a natural consequence of working at Hallmark for 10+ years through high school, college, grad school, and beyond.  I only left my PT job there when I absolutely had to upon moving overseas with State.  I have dozens and dozens of Keepsake Ornaments - entirely too many for a single tree.  And even though I no longer work there, I still buy several each year.  I also often buy ornaments on my travels, though not with particular regularity.  But these have very nicely rounded out the collection. 

I know there are no visible ornaments here, but isn't Cally cute?


I started this one a few years ago as I started making the rounds of art studios in New England and West Virginia and elsewhere.  I have some amazing baking dishes, platters, vases, and kitchen miscellany.  I have some guinea hen platters and casserole dishes from South Africa as well as a number of beautiful pieces from Jerusalem.  This collection is expensive, heavy, and unwieldy, but I do love me some handmade and/or funky pottery!

Is that not the coolest spoon rest ever!? And I love the pomegranate!  And one of my favorite tile trivets is in the background.

Beautiful Jerusalem pottery!

Blown Glass

Another accidental collection, made possible by living close to the Simon Pearce headquarters in VT.  I also have a nice Murano vase from Venice and another vase from a small studio in Seattle.  The rest - vases, bowls, platters, decorative baubles, business card holder, etc. - is all Simon Pearce.  


This is an inherited collection.  My mother ADORES baskets and has entirely too many to count.  We live in an old farmhouse in NH, and the living room has exposed original beams.  Hanging from these beams are dozens upon dozens of baskets of all sizes, shapes, and origins.  We always would pick our Easter baskets from the extensive collections.  In the summer, the baskets get used constantly as we pick veggies and berries from the garden.  Throughout the year they get filled with flowers, fruit, bread, mail, assorted odds and ends, Christmas cards, etc.  There's always a perfect basket for any occasion!

I realized recently that I too was starting to collect baskets - mostly for functional uses such as storing blankets in the living room or holding cookie cutters in the kitchen.  Thanks Mom!  I think. 

I adore Basketville. And the fact that they shipped everything to me. 

The scene that started the whole collection post...  Notice neither cats is in the basket I actually bought for them.  

Cookie Cutters

Another inherited collection.  My original collection of cookie cutters from childhood decorated the back wall of our kitchen.  They're still there, though many now reside in baskets.  My own nascent collection also resides in its very own basket. 

Some new additions from my sea mammal/star collection

Basket & cookie cutters = awesome!

Anyway, that's a few snippets from my own collections.  

You still have time to submit your post for tomorrow's Round Up by linking to your blog (or others you want included) in the comments section.  Alternatively, you can email me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

State Department Blog Round Up: Call for Submissions

All right FS bloggers!  It's time for another State Department Blogs Round Up, for Friday, July 22nd, 2011

This week's optional talking point is FS collections.  (Inspired by my realization that I collect way too many things that have to be packed up and moved and unpacked every few years...)  What do you collect (intentionally or not), what do you wish you collected, and/or what do you wish you didn't collect?  Magnets, ornaments, figurines, artwork, pottery, doo dads, knick knacks, unmatched socks, measuring cups, DVDs, books, stuffed animals, actual animals, or really anything else you could think of!

You may, of course, submit posts on other subjects as well.

In keeping with the new RoundUp format, please link to your blog (or others you want included) in the comments section.  Alternatively, you can email me.

Happy blogging!