Friday, May 30, 2008

Ludington Pix

Think maybe we had a good time?

This time in Ludington will go down in the books as one of the best getaways ever. Can't even begin to explain how relaxing and wonderful it was, or how nice that the daughter and her boyfriend were able to join us for a day. A HUGE blessing in the midst of the craziness that is my life right now. Met some folks who asked where we were from. Good question! Can I answer that in about six to ten months? Maybe by then we'll actually be in a place of our own.

An old high school friend and her hubby are in Michigan for a few days and tonight they came over and we had so much fun catching up! She remembers things I don't, and vice-versa. I swear I do not recall cheating our way through accounting class. Is that why I have such a hard time keeping the checkbook balanced now? She had not remembered that we worked at the same place for a year after high school. I wish I'd thought to have hubby take a picture of us. Otherwise who is gonna believe that we were dressed alike?! blue pants and yellow shirts :-)

Just sitting here now and thinking how blessed I am to have so many wonderful friends. And how I'm pretty sure God will give me even more in Argentina.

Friday Craziness

I used the Delicious library program on my computer to log and then pack over 400 books today! Hubby went through his books yesterday and logged about 170 but he hasn't packed them yet.

He's also been on the internet and the phone trying to figure out the shipping issue. Since we don't have enough to fill even one of the small 20 foot containers, we were wondering if it would be better to do an LCL (less than container load). BUT the cost difference is negligible so I think we'll just go with a container. And we may be able to find someone else going who'd like to share the container with us.

I know, shipping stuff is just too exciting for words, but that's my life right now. Packing, shipping, MOVING! In exactly eleven weeks from today. *gulp*

An old high school friend is in Michigan for the weekend and we're getting together tonight! I haven't seen her since...well, a long time ago. She's one of the few I've stayed in touch with over the years via letters and, more recently, e-mail. Should be fun :-)

I'm a little freaked out thinking of all that must be done in the coming weeks. I'm praying for health and stamina 'cause I'm gonna need it! And a little emotional stability would be nice, too. 'Cause leaving is always tough. Arriving has it's own challenges as well. Like not being able to communicate with hardly anyone until I get a better handle on the language. So maybe a LOT of emotional stability?!

Packing is tricky. I consider each item: Is it needed? If not, why do I want it? Will I feel really bad if I don't take it and then want it? Or will I get over it, no problem? And that's when the DMD generally hits (Decision Making Disorder). Sometimes it's a no brainer but sometimes I have to really think. And think and think and think. It makes me nuts!

The DMD is often followed by PDD (Post Decision Dissonance). Every single thing that goes into each box is listed and now I find myself looking over those lists and thinking, "Why did I pack that? I'm not gonna need it. Never gonna use it. It's just takin' up valuable space in a box. Aargh!" But at this point it's more hassle to dig through the boxes and UNpack it than it is to just take it along.

And who knows? Maybe I'll decide I really do need it after all.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Italian Sub

Megan at Fried Okra is hosting a Sandwich Recipe Exchange today! I'm going to hurry up and post mine and then go check out everyone else's.

When warm weather hits, we eat a lot of sandwiches that require little or no cooking. This is a favorite that my sister-in-law shared with us many years ago. (I've gotten a LOT of great recipes from her!)

1 loaf French or Italian bread (depending on whether you want a long/skinny or short/fat sandwich)
1/4 to 1/2 lb. deli ham (we like honey maple ham but use what YOUR family likes)
1/4 to 1/2 lb. deli salami
1/4 to 1/2 lb. deli cheese (we like provolone but, again, use what your family likes)
2 tomatoes, sliced
several lettuce leaves
balsamic or red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: sliced onion, pepperoncini, olives, etc.

Split loaf of bread down center, length wise, place face up on pan and stick in oven at 450 degrees for about 5-10 minutes until lightly browned (ovens vary).
While bread is browning, mix oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in pie tin (or similarly large, low pan). You're going to need enough in which to dredge all the tomato slices and lettuce leaves so it could be anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Sorry to be so imprecise but it's really a preference thing.
Remove lightly browned bread from oven, leaving on pan while you "build" the sandwich. Layer dredged tomato slices and lettuce all along one length of bread, then layer the deli ham, salami and cheese and any optional ingredients you want to add. Drizzle any remaining oil and vinegar on other half of bread and place on top the loaded half. Ends up looking a LOT like the one Hugh is holding. :-)
Mmmmm, good!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Rest of the Story...

I had great intentions of telling our story yesterday but discovered after starting that our favorite coffee shop with free wifi was closing in 20 minutes, so I quickly posted a greatly abbreviated version and called it good. Today I'd like to share the rest of the story...

Back in 1977, shortly after I was saved, I went to a Christian camp where I was challenged to consider becoming a missionary. Okay, so what's next? I wondered. I talked to the speaker and don't remember much of what he said EXCEPT (1) if I wanted to be a missionary and (2) wanted to be married, then I'd better (3) make sure I married a missionary!

Taking that to heart, a year later I left for college where I met a handsome young man who was planning to be a missionary, and promptly fell head-over-heels in love. It was literally love at first sight. I met him a few weeks into the semester at church, and went back and told my roommate I'd met the guy I was going to marry. You can imagine how she responded!

He and I ended up spending a lot of time at the library. Me because my roommate was not the studious type. Our room was a great place to have fun, yes. Study, no. He was at the library because one of his professors had put a number of books on reserve that the students had to consult for a big paper due in that class. We ended up studying at the same table every time. Funny how that happened!

For some reason I got it into my head that he was going to ask me out after he finished that paper, which was due on Friday, October 13th. Seriously.

So that Friday I waited for him to call or come by. Waited and waited and waited. And he didn't come. I was crushed! About 6 p.m. I found another friend in the dorm and we decided to gather up the gang and head to the campus snack shop. When we went to the library to find our friends, we also found him! He was there looking for me :-)

Our first date was simply a walk around the small college town. We walked and talked for HOURS my friends. Our second date was to a Bible study I'd been attending. And we saw each other at church on Sunday. And continued to spend a LOT of time at the library. It was our "spot".

Sunday, October 29th, he offered to drive me back to campus after the evening service. On the way we stopped at a little park on the lake to talk. Or at least that was the idea but I found myself doing all the talking. He was quiet by nature but this particular evening he wasn't saying ANYTHING AT ALL. Awkward! Finally I asked what he was thinking about.

"I'm thinking I'd like to ask you to marry me but I guess it's too soon," he said, not looking at me. Well. I waited at least two or three seconds before responding, "How long do you have to wait?" Yes I did! You think I'd let such an opportunity slip through my fingers? I think not!

So we became engaged. But secretly. He was concerned what his parents would say/think/do. His dad was in Iowa, visiting some of their supporting churches, and he wanted to wait until his dad returned home before breaking the news. So we had THREE WEEKS to keep our secret.

Can you imagine any girl being engaged and not telling someone?! Of course not! So I told one dear friend who promised to keep our secret safe.

And you know his parents offered little resistance. They did ask us to consider waiting until we were finished with college before getting married, but they understood when we said that wasn't possible. I mean, come on! That was three years away! Not going to happen.

We got more flak from friends. And they were right to be concerned. We had known each other such a short time. We were very different, came from very different backgrounds...the list goes on and on. But when has anyone in love ever listened to calmer heads?

We were attending a very conservative Christian college that did not allow students to get married during the school year without special permission. Which we did not have nor were we likely to get. So we waited until the weekend after school let out the next spring and were married on May 26, 1979.

We took Marriage & The Family the semester before the wedding, which was good on many levels, not the least of which was the assignment to plan a wedding. Not sure I would have had time to plan one otherwise! As it was, the invitations were sent out late because I happened to be in the middle of mid-terms when they should have been mailed. But it all worked out and we had a lovely, very simple ceremony.

And that's how this southern girl met the boy who was even more southern (you can't go any farther south than Argentina!), fell in love and got married. BY THE GRACE OF GOD we have been married for 29 years and BY HIS GRACE we will continue this journey together.

Monday, May 26, 2008

How Just A Southern Girl Met a Very Southern Boy

We are enjoying a THOROUGHLY WONDERFUL few days in Ludington, Michigan, at our friends' cottage right on Lake Michigan. The weather has been great, the food fabulous (we've grilled out for every meal), and the company...well, the company has been perfect.

This was an excellent weekend to get away since it's our anniversary! On this day 29 years ago we said the vows, tied the knot, and made a covenant "till death do us part."

So were we young or what? We joke that we've raised each other and that ain't far from the truth! I was 20 and hubbs was 21.

Our daughter and her boyfriend came up yesterday and spent one day with us. Last evening I was regaling them with the story of how hubby and I met, fell in love and got engaged. Daughter had known we dated just a short time (two weeks) before getting engaged, but she thought we'd known each other a long time before that. Not so much. In fact we met just a month before we started dating. So six weeks from meeting to getting engaged. Scary, huh?

But we've stayed married through thick and thin for lo, these many years. And let me tell you folks, the secret of a long marriage. IT'S BY THE GRACE OF GOD!!! Nothing else is sufficient to explain how the long-suffering hubby has put up with my crazy self for this long. But we do thank the Lord for what He has done in and through us to get us to this point. We're grateful for these past 29 years and look forward to the next however many the Lord sees fit to give us!

Keeping this short since we don't have internet at the cottage and our favorite little bookstore/coffee shop with free wifi is getting ready to close for the day. But just had to say THANK YOU IVAN for continuing to love me after all these years. Sorta reminds me of a Forrester Sisters song I've always liked: "I Fell In Love Again Last Night." It's my prayer that we keep doing that for many, many more years.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chocolate Scones Make A Great Base For Strawberry Shortcake

I had a hankering for scones on Tuesday. Also had the need for some chocolate. Initially I was going to make my old standby: chocolate chip scones. BUT (and thank goodness there is a BUT to this story) I decided to check online for some other options. And found this recipe. Which is amazing. Which also makes a GREAT base for strawberry shortcake. But can be eaten alone and savored for each bit of chocolatey goodness. Or with a little strawberry or raspberry jam for a little extra kick. These were so good I'm making another batch today. And sharing it with you. 'Cause that's the kind of friend I am.

For even more chocolate-laden recipes, head on over to Fried Okra where Megan has graciously shared some of her favorites PLUS has Mr. Linky up for others to share, too. Or check out these other chocolate recipes I've posted: Party Parfaits and Best Chocolate Pudding Ever.

2/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa (I prefer the Dutch processed cocoa)
1/2 cup sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup chunked chocolate (your favorite candy bars) OR chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together cream, egg and vanilla in small bowl, set aside. Mix dry ingredients (flour through salt). Cut butter into dry mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in chocolate chunks (or chips). Add cream mixture to flour mixture until dough comes together. (I had to add a couple more tablespoons of cream in order for it to hold together.) Transfer to floured surface and form 8" circle. Brush top with a little cream and sprinkle on couple spoons of sugar. Cut into 8 pie shaped slices and transfer to greased baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Allow to cool and ENJOY.


We have tentative travel plans! We were offered some frequent flier miles that would have covered one of our tickets and hubby spent about two hours on the phone trying to figure out a way to use them. But unfortunately it didn't work out. The miles were with an airline partnership that could get us to Argentina but not our final destination and the one ticket we would have had to pay for was WAY expensive.

So hubby fell back on the info he'd collected on Monday and made reservations to travel on AUGUST 15th!!! The flight from Detroit to Miami is non-stop which is always a plus in my book. And the flight to Argentina is overnight and since I've learned (finally!) to sleep on the plane, should help us arrive somewhat rested.

But now all the things that COULD go wrong are spinning tales in my head. Lost luggage...canceled flights...missing connections...problems with our paperwork... I'm a much more relaxed traveler than I was before (hate to see what I was like then, heh?) but I'm afraid my "cup half empty" view of life will trip me up every time. I'm trying to overcome this tendency. Anyone else struggle with this? Tips and advice gratefully accepted.

Must head back to the basement as the packing continues. It's the odd shaped items that are a real challenge to pack. I hate to have any little empty "pockets" in boxes so I find myself running around trying to find other odd shaped things that will fit in and finish filling the box.

But as a reward for all my hard work, later I can enjoy some delicious strawberry shortcake made with the very delicious chocolate scones. Mmmmmm, good!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Odd Thoughts and Random Info

The boxes continue to pile up in the basement. Ran out of bubble wrap so that’s on my shopping list when I hit Sam’s Club later today. And we’ll have to find a few bigger boxes for larger items. But overall the packing, it is going well. Hubby bought a large suitcase yesterday and I’ve loaded it with winter clothes we’ll need when we get to Argentina since it will be COLD there in August.

But not like Michigan winter-it-could-freeze-rain-in-midair-cold. Just regular cold. Which I’m okay with as long as I have my silk longjohns and lots of sweaters.

So the list-making has begun:
What to pack in carry-on luggage.
What to pack in suitcases that get checked through.
What must be done this month…next month…July…
Christmas and birthday gifts to make/buy before we leave.
Books I still need to get.
Other things I need to get.

On a different topic, we saw Prince Caspian last night. Enjoyed it but would like to see it again because I know I missed a lot the first time around. We were able to use the gift certificate our daughter gave hubby for Christmas. There hasn’t been a movie we really wanted to see until this one. Went with the daughter and her boyfriend and another couple who are good friends. Then came home and grilled up mucho vegetables to go with the hamburgers. LOVE my new grilling pan for the veggies. Last night we had mushrooms, onions, grape tomatoes, green peppers, and sugar snap peas. Delicioso! Rounded out the meal with a large order of seasoned fries from the corner (we live by a drive-in restaurant).

Daughter returned to Indiana this morning, her car loaded with several 5 gallon containers of WVO (waste vegetable oil) that our neighbors at the drive-in restaurant are kind enough to save and give her. She’s lovin’ the chance to cut the fuel bill for her ’82 Mercedes Benz diesel. Hubby created a very nifty contraption to filter the oil for her, which she then adds half and half with diesel.

Hubby is hoping we can find a diesel and do the same thing in Argentina. Or a vehicle that’s been retrofitted to use natural gas instead of gasoline. We drove one of those on our last visit to Argentina and we could get about 60 miles for $2.

I think we’re all trying to figure out ways to deal with higher gas prices. I plan my shopping and errands so I can do as much as possible on each trip. We’ll carefully choose a car when we get to Argentina. Probably get a little motor scooter for zipping around town. And do a lot more walking. In Argentina you’ll typically find a butcher shop, bakery and veggie stand in addition to a neighborhood grocer in every barrio.

I look forward to a more centralized, localized lifestyle. Sort of like it used to be here a long time ago. Today, even though we live in a small town (village actually) our grocery store is a Super Walmart so we hardly know anyone there. I think I'll like knowing my butcher and having him know me so he can cut the meat just the way we like it. Or having the grocer set aside some peanut butter for me when he can get it. (PB not a big staple in Argentina.) And having the vegetable guy let us know when he'll be getting in some especially good peaches. Yeah, definitely something to look forward to.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Forget Wearing Purple With A Red Hat

A couple in our church stopped by to visit one of the elderly ladies last week and found her hunched over and very confused, unable to even recognize the man (who she'd known for over 50 years). *sigh* We've lost so many of our older folks in the last few years and my heart just hurt when I heard that M was doing so poorly.

Since we're in Michigan for a few days, we stopped in to see her at the hospital. Because we've been on the road so much and very seldom get to attend our own church, we hadn't seen M in many months. Her nose and forehead were scratched and bruised where she'd fallen recently and she readily shared how the son who lives closest had literally "grounded" her because of her many falls. He has been taking her everywhere she needs or wants to go. "You have no idea how wonderful he's been to me!" she said, obviously grateful for his care.

M has been a stalwart in our home church. Faithful in AWANA from the time we started the program until just a couple years ago when she didn't trust herself to drive after dark. Making sure visitors knew they were welcomed. Encouraging others in so many ways. Even as she lies in a hospital bed she speaks of her desire to continue the ministry of calling people on their birthdays and anniversaries. She repeatedly shares how God has been faithful and gracious to her throughout her life.

She will be leaving the hospital soon, but going first to a medical care facility for several weeks of therapy. She'd rather be going home but knows this is for her best. "I want to be a good testimony there," she says. And we know she will, just as she has been for many years.

When I grow old I want to be like M. Forget wearing purple with a red hat.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday Meanderings

We have truly meandered today! We meandered over to Clarklake, then to Ann Arbor, over to Canton, and up to Lapeer before finally heading home. Good visits with two of our supporting churches, great fellowship after the evening service with a couple from that church, and some chair buying sandwiched in the middle.

Have you ever sat in a Poang chair from IKEA? It is extremely comfortable! We picked up two to take to Argentina with us. It's the only furniture we're taking. It met our criteria of (1) being lightweight and (2) portable (breaks down easily into pieces), (3) inexpensive, and (4) the seat covers can be zipped off and washed. And did I mention it was comfortable? They were out of the chair covers we liked best (dala natural, a sort of nubby fabric in an ivory/off white color) so we settled for 2nd best (alme natural, ivory/off white canvas). 'Cause we're all about making a statement with our furniture. As in, we are blaaaaaaand people. Now I must say we both came really, really close to getting RED!!! But in the end we couldn't bring ourselves to do it.

You see we have talked about red furniture in the past. One of the things we really enjoy is checking out new houses. A lot of communities host an annual "Parade of Homes" that allow builders to showcase some of their new construction. So anyway, a few years ago we stopped by a house that we just loved. The entire interior was painted a soft butter yellow that served as a nice neutral backdrop for lots of greens, blacks and reds throughout. Not a color combo I would have picked prior to seeing how well it worked together in this home. Talk about the WOW! factor -- this place was gorgeous. And the living room, which we especially liked, sported a bold lipstick red couch flanked by a couple of black club chairs.

Ever since then we've joked about the red couch we're gonna buy some day. So you can understand why we were so tempted today. But the fact is we have no idea what kind of place we'll end up with in Argentina, or in which room we'll end up using these chairs. Could be living room, could be bedroom. And as hubby pointed out, the cushion design is pretty simple so it's completely feasible that I can make covers IN ANY COLOR I WANT!

But in the meantime we'll be quite happy with our nice safe shade of ivory/off white. The color doesn't matter nearly as much as the fact that they are SO comfortable.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chicken Feta Burgers & Yogurt Cucumber Sauce

Warm weather calls for summer-time meals. So for today's Saturday Stirrings over at It Coulda' Been Worse, I offer Chicken Feta Burgers for the grill. These are a tasty alternative to regular burgers and make a nice change of pace. Don't get me wrong. I love beef! But it's nice to have some other options. And don't forget to stop by Dee's and check out all the other recipes!

1 slice bread
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 lb. ground chicken
salt and pepper to taste
Tear bread into pieces and soak in milk for 5 minutes. Add egg, onion, feta and ground chicken. Mix well and form into patties. Salt and pepper to taste and grill for 5 minutes or so on each side until done but not dry. Serve how your family likes them (on buns, alone, in pita shells...) with lettuce, tomato, and so on.
NOTE: If you serve in pita shells, a little yogurt/cucumber sauce is a great alternative to mayo. So here's the recipe for that, too:


1 to 1-1/2 cups plain yogurt (less for thicker sauce)
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of 1/2 lemon, about 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons
salt and white pepper, to taste
Grate cucumber and squeeze out excess liquid (I use a fine mesh strainer for this). Mix all ingredients and refridgerate until ready to use.

Friday, May 16, 2008

So What About A Slogan For Michigan?

I was curious about some billboards we saw on our way back to Michigan today. Something about "Pure Michigan". What's up with that? Didn't our slogan have something to do with a winter wonderland? So I decided to check it out.

First I discovered that it did indeed use to be "Winter & Water Wonderland" but some thought that was rather old and tired. According to Wikipedia the new slogan is "Great Lakes, Great Times; More To See". Sounds a wee bit lame to me. Nor does it jibe with the billboards we saw.

So my search continued until I found a product naming blog called NameWire that gives the lowdown on how the original new slogan "Find Your True North" apparently offended those in the southern part of the state (i.e., Detroit) so it was changed to “Dive into the Waters of Pure Michigan.” SERIOUSLY LAME. I'm with NameWire that this was "a lost opportunity for the state of Michigan to own an emotional positioning in the mind of the consumer." I mean, come on people, the whole state of Michigan is IN THE NORTH. Any farther north and you're in Canada. Do folks in Detroit think the rest of the country (or world) won't get that? Duh!

"Find Your True North" is so much catchier than blah, blah, blah (see, I can't even remember the real slogan). It brings to mind crystal clear lakes and rivers, lush forests, cute cabins in the woods. Wouldn't you like to vacation in a place like that?

One of my most favorite places in the WHOLE WORLD is right here in Michigan: lovely Ludington on the shores of Lake Michigan. Good friends have a cottage on the lake and they are so gracious in allowing us to use it each year. I'll let you in on a secret. When we went to Africa I took one photo album with me. Didn't have room for more than that. I included pictures of people I love, both family and friends. I also included one page of pictures from Ludington. I'm pretty sure God's going to have a corner of heaven that looks a lot like this. So anyway, I think we'll be able to get away there for a few days sometime in the next two weeks. AND.I.CAN'T.WAIT. I will take my camera. I will take nothing else because everything else is already there.
I will sit on this porch enjoying the view of the lake over the tops of other cottages, take walks along the beach, curl up in the bed under the eaves and read... Just a little bit of heaven here on earth. In Michigan. Where I've Found My True North.

Have You Heard About Revolution Money Exchange?

While catching up on some blogs yesterday I came across a new service called Revolution Money Exchange. Not being technical myself I asked my son who is Very Savvy In All Things Technical (he owns a computer business). He'd heard about it but did a little background research and came up with this article that lists the FREE services offered by RME:
* register for an account
* add money to your bank account
* send money
* receive money
* request money
* transfer money to your bank account

NOTE: there are no fees when BOTH parties are RME members.

Any time I can get things for FREE, I'm all for it! I love the ease of PayPal but it just makes sense that if I can have a similar service without the fees, all the better for my pocketbook.

There are some drawbacks according to the article, like a monthly cap of $2500 (not going to be a problem for me!) and no way (yet) to deal with anyone outside the U.S. (again, not a problem for me). But for some these may be an issue.

Because it's a pretty cool service that a lot of folks on Etsy (as well as others in the blogosphere) are using, I thought it was worth sharing here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Relaxing In Front Of The Fireplace

Today has been wondrously relaxing. I did get up early (what IS wrong with my internal clock that keeps waking me up at o'dark in the morning?!) and slipped out quietly to go to the Y and work out. It's been over a week that we've been gone and my arms just flat hurt after doing the weight resistance machines. You'd think hauling boxes up and down and all around the past few days would have had some effect but apparently that didn't work the right muscles.

After breakfast I had time to catch up on some of the blogs I follow before heading out to the library (overdue books! shocking!) and the store. And this afternoon I simply read. It.Was.Wonderful! I fixed dinner but kept it simple: oven barbequed chicken, brussel sprouts, and salad. My MIL always has jello salad on hand to round things out. Now tonight I'm relaxing in front of the fireplace in daughter's apartment, watching some t.v. online and checking out some things on eBay.

There are things I probably should have been doing. Like paperwork. But it was really nice to just rest.

We head back to Michigan tomorrow. Have no idea how long we'll be gone this time. Not sure what all we'll be doing. Hubby keeps telling me the key characteristic of a missionary needs to be flexibility. So what do you think? That maybe God figures I need more practice? Yeah, I think so too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Joy of Play

I'm guessing my MIL snapped this shot before hauling my BIL off to the bathrub! It's one of the slides hubby recently digitized and it just brings a big ol' smile to my face :-) I was a prissy little thing and didn't like to get dirty, but I can appreciate the unadulterated joy that radiates from this youngun. Can't you?!

Taking a deep breath and packing to head back to Indiana for a couple of days. We have a meeting down there tonight and will have tomorrow to get a few things done at dad and mother's before returning to Michigan on Friday afternoon. Our son is going to come by on Friday morning and help with some computer stuff. One thing I'm especially looking forward to is a library software program to track all the books we're taking to Argentina. It's supposed to be super user-friendly. Which I could use a little of right now.

Not sure how long we'll be in Michigan the second time around. But it looks like we'll end up spending more time in Michigan than Indiana by the end of the month. Oh well. If I could only get my act together and remember which things I need to take with me, no matter where I go. All this back and forth can get very confusing and things I need always seem to be in the other state.

Oh well, in a few months LIFE WILL GET EVEN CRAZIER!!! We fly out the first week of August. No specific date yet as we're looking at the different airlines and RIDICULOUSLY HIGH airfares. Unless you want to be en route for over 25 hours and then you might be able to shave off a few dollars. In my view, not enough to make it worth BEING IN TRANSIT FOR OVER A DAY.

The packing doth proceedeth at the pace of a snail. I actually didn't get anything Just spent four hours filing photos in a (somewhat) chronological manner. Hadn't done it in a while (okay, YEARS) so there were well over 500 prints in envelopes, boxes and zip lock baggies that had to be dealt with. But it is DONE! I am so glad we bought a digital camera three years ago or I'd have had even more. The reality of all our pictures (NINE, count 'em, NINE photo boxes and over 15 albums) makes me think we should consider digitizing our own photos as soon as possible.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Anatomy of Packing A Box

Many miles later I am back at the parsonage and preparing to do battle with the boxes again. By myself since hubby is doing some work for friends (and that also means no vacuum packed boxes today).

We were pretty pleased with how much we were able to get into boxes last week with the vacuum packing technique...

We are breaking away from our regularly scheduled program to bring you news of an astounding breakthrough in efficient packing for transcontinental moves... The anatomy of vacuum packing will now be demonstrated for your viewing enjoyment...

First you pack items in a plastic garbage bag within the box, making sure you pile items several inches higher than the box is tall.

Then using a vacuum (shopvac in our case) remove all excess air from the bag.

This action produces amazing results -- you are able to fit 1/4 to 1/3 more in a box!

The tricky part is securing the box with packing cellophane before air is allowed back in causing all manner of items to increase in size and volume.

Voila! you have a hermetically sealed box ready for transport. (taking bow as everyone applauds wildly) Thank you! Thank you!

Now back to your regularly scheduled program...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Another Great Bloggy Giveaway!

Don't know why but the button isn't working so just click here instead.

Woohoo! Another great bloggy giveaway by the good folks at BloggedIn-Network. Get ready for's a $100 Target gift card. How cool is that?!

I could SOOOOOOOOOO use this gift card! Target has some great things for the house and I could use a few things for the house I will someday occupy in the great city of Carlos Paz, Argentina. Oh yes I could! Like this cute little spice rack that's stylin' and practical. Or this absolutely adorable picnic backpack (which would be more for those rambling trips to the countryside). I also really like the three tier pedestal serving plates that would work so very well when I have teas. 'Cause I'm totally taking my collection of 27 teacups and saucers.

Which I'd show you a picture of but they're already packed. The packing it is progressing. Slowly by slowly but progressing nonetheless. We're currently back in Michigan for the weekend and tomorrow will be spent working up much sweat in the pursuit of packing. But after all the miles traveled over the last few days it is now time for resting. And dreaming of Target gift cards.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Coming Up For Air

This week's just been cRAzY! We spent Monday cleaning out the garage and shed at my in-laws. Didn't get it quite done before the evening rain hit so there's still another half day of work to do. But we felt quite good with what was accomplished. Both of them are pack rats ("We'll be able to use it someday.") and so the accumulated pieces of scrap wood, odd doors and materials in the shed took up the first truck load to the dumpster. I'm sure we'll get at least one more load from the garage. But that's for another day. We did get things that are staying in the garage more organized though.

Tuesday morning we were up and out the door by 5:30 a.m. Didn't think to check online and see just where the IFCA meeting was being held until 8 p.m. Monday evening. At which point we realized it was a 3-1/2 hour drive. Ugh! If we'd done our homework ahead of time we could have gone and stayed with the SIL (who lives halfway between) the night before. Oh well. The meeting was great: an opportunity to meet with some new pastors here in Indiana and the privilege of hearing Dr. John Whitcomb speak. We've known Dr. Whitcomb for many, many years and always love to hear him teach.

And on the way home we did stop and see the SIL and some of her family and she fed us a wonderful dinner. It was 9:30 p.m. before we dragged arrived home. You'd think we'd be ready to drop. And we were but for some reason my chronic insomnia kicked into high gear and I wasn't able to get to sleep until the wee hours of the morning. I've decided to work hard today and be so tired tonight I can't help but sleep!

So got up and first thing went and worked out. Daughter has set up a family membership for us at the YMCA. Yeah! Got a good workout and then hit the library to become a card-carrying member (too busy on Monday). Checked out a half dozen books and headed home to start the laundry. Oh yeah, this gal is kickin' today!

Except I sat down to check e-mails and do a quick post on ye old blog and I'm not really sure I'll be able to get back up. Hmmmmm

We head back to Michigan after lunch. Have a pretty busy week ahead with several meetings, some packing to do, some work at a friend's house, a few lunch and dinner get-togethers...I'm pretty excited because I'll be in town Tuesday to hang out with my sewing buddies!!!!! So I'm taking my sewing machine and a couple of projects to work on. Woohoo!

Whether I want to get up off the couch or not, I have to. Promised the daughter I'd make that amazing pasta with mushrooms and peas dish that I found online a while back. It is so incredibly delicious my mouth is watering just thinking about it. So TTFN!*

*(ta ta for now)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Siblings & Friends...& Books

When I was going through photos the other day for the Mother's Day contest hosted by 5MinutesForMom, I came across these two pictures that make me smile. From the early days until now, I'm so glad my kids are friends! I see so many siblings who fight like cats and dogs and are just plain mean to each other. That just breaks my heart.

Because we homeschooled I had a little more control over their social life and I remember days when they'd be fussin' at one another and I'd call a 'time out' with the instructions to "Work it out because neither of you is playing with anyone else until you can learn to get along with each other!"

It just warmed my heart when the Son, on his first spring break from college, decided he wanted to take a road trip WITH HIS SISTER! How cool is that? They had a blast driving down to North Carolina to visit family friends. Having car trouble going and coming didn't phase them in the least :-)

It also helps us as we prepare to leave the country to know that the Son is just up the road, less than an hour from the Daughter. Okay, I'm starting to tear up just thinking about this but it does my heart good to know that he'll be watching out for her. [In addition to all the rest of the family in the area :-) She'll have no lack of "watchdogs".]

Looking at pictures always does this to me...sets me to thinking about all the blessings in my life and what God has done over the years. And because of this I know I can trust Him for the years ahead. Even when it's a little scary to think about leaving this life I know and love. Leaving family, leaving friends, leaving LIBRARIES people, the source of all that's good and free in literature. *sigh*

Okay now my thoughts have left the poor Son and Daughter in the dust because all I can think about is BOOKS. I know there are people in the world who don't care to read. I'm not one of them. I'm a compulsive reader. COMPULSIVE! I have to read everything, from cereal boxes to the classifieds. Okay, maybe not everything, I'm becoming a little more selective as I get older. If a book doesn't grab me by the third or fourth chapter now, it gets put aside. There are too many GOOD books out there to waste on drivel that should have never made it into print.

Obviously I'm taking a few books with me when we move. Currently I'm working on finding some books I want, as well as some my co-worker would like in order to finish off some series she has started. I don't leave the house without my lists. Who cares about clothes or things for the house? I'm much more concerned about books! And if there's a 12 step program I don't want to hear about it. I am quite content with this compulsion and have no desire to change, thankyouverymuch.

And now I think I'll go read my book. Oh, what am I reading? Since we just moved and I don't have a library card yet (but will get one tomorrow!!!) I found a couple of old favorites at the Goodwill and am reading one of those. Yes, I'm also one of those weird people who re-reads books again and again and again. Which is a very good thing considering I will be stuck with THE SAME BOOKS FOR THE NEXT THREE YEARS we are in Argentina. Guess what I'll be doing as soon as we step foot on U.S. soil for our first furlough?!

Oh, and while I'm writing this post, hubby is checking airfares to Argentina. Usually the end of July/beginning of August would be the low season and tickets would be cheap, cheap, cheap. But with gas prices so high, all the airlines have raised prices to TWICE what they were a few months ago. Ugh! I'd rather think about books.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Stupendously Delicious Chicken Salad

When I popped over to check out Saturday Stirrings at It Coulda' Been Worse, I saw Deedee's sharing a wonderful grilled chicken salad recipe that I'm gonna have to try. But it reminded me of the other kind of chicken salad that you make to put on bread, not necessarily in a bowl. I couldn't just call this plain old chicken salad! This is the best stuff I've ever had ANYWHERE! Every time I serve it I get requests for the recipe, including the bridal shower Daughter and I hosted a couple weeks ago. So for this week's Saturday Stirrings hosted by Deedee over at It Coulda' Been Worse, [and just in time for picnic season] I present...

2 1/2 c. diced cooked chicken
1 c. finely chopped celery
1 c. sm. seedless green grapes
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 tsp. minced onion
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream, whipped
1 c. mayonnaise
In a bowl, combine chicken, celery, grapes, walnuts, onion and salt. Whip cream and mix it with the mayonnaise. Fold this dressing into the chicken salad mixture. Cover bowl and refrigerate for several hours. At serving time, serve salad on greens with garnishes (which I leave to your discretion since you know what your family/guests will eat and I don't).

We typically serve it on croissants for special occasions like bridal showers and such, but for regular we eat it on bread, crackers or, as they suggest, just piled up on a big ol' lettuce leaf with tomato wedges on the side.

And while I usually cook up a whole chicken and de-bone it for this recipe, I've also been known to use rotisserie chicken from the deli department. We especially liked it the time I used the lemon pepper rotisserie. Clearly a recipe you can adapt as you see fit. But DON'T mess with the dressing of heavy whipped cream and mayonnaise. That's what makes it so yummy!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mother's Day Giveaway Contest at 5MinutesForMom

I may be too late to enter the contest. Just found out about it and decided to give it a try! Since we just moved in with my in-laws for the duration of our time in the U.S., I don't have any pictures with me except those on my computer already. So not a lot to choose from but here's one of my favorites.

Although it's not a crisp clear picture it says "Motherhood" to me on so many levels. First of all, I'm with my daughter. But the time in Uganda was also the year my 14-turned-15 year old girl found her own place as a "mama" to many of the youngest orphans at Kasana Children's Center. And here we are with Sammy, one of the first babies at Hope House (you may remember I wrote about it here).

We take so much for granted. The privilege of being a mother in a country with so many opportunities for our children. I'm talking basics, like adequate food and housing, medical care, education. Living in a third world country was an amazing experience and it also broke my heart. I wanted to bring a bunch of kids home with us! Especially Sammy. We have no idea what happened to Sammy's mom. When he was about 10 months old (best guess the doctor's could make) he was dropped off on a busy road in a nearby town. A jajja (grandmother) saw him start to crawl into traffic and ran to pick him up. She called the police who called the social worker who called Kasana. And so Sammy became one of "our" children. Because we lived just a few doors down from Hope House we spent a lot of time there helping out. Besides me and my daughter, there was a young lady named Kristina who had taken a year out of her life to help get Hope House up and running. And we weren't the only ones. So many other staff ladies and older orphans stopped by to hold, feed, play with Sammy that he had a whole VILLAGE of mamas! As did all the young ones at Kasana.

So this pictures sums up motherhood for me. What I'm all about as a mom. What others are all about as moms. We are in this together. And the blogosphere has created another place where we can support and encourage one another in this amazing adventure called motherhood!

P.S. For those who might be interested, Sammy was later adopted by one of the Ugandan couples on staff at Kasana.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Missionary Memories

Good times today at the Luncheon for Retired Missionaries & Volunteers hosted by GBIM. Like Old Home Day with all the former and current missionaries and MKs (missionary kids) plus volunteers. For hubby 'twas truly special seeing these men and women he grew up calling "Aunt" or "Uncle" as well as those who were fellow MKs. Catching up, reminiscing, lots of laughter! Here's a picture of hubby's folks (on the right) and another couple who served with them in Argentina, along with one of their sons.

Hubby grew up in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, with whom his parents were missionaries in Argentina for 43 years. It's a small enough fellowship that you're likely to know one another whether you live across the country or half-way around the world. And as any missionary or MK can tell you, being part of a missionary "family" is a unique culture.

My in-laws retired to Winona Lake, Indiana, where Grace Brethren International Missions is headquartered. It's also the location of Grace College & Seminary and Grace Retirement Village. Which means there's a strong Grace connection so it isn't hard to get them together for events like this :-)

I thought it interesting that the retired missionaries there today represented almost 700 years of service when combined. Whoa, that's a lot!

At the end the director called up missionaries who had served in France for 50 years along with a young lady who is currently raising support to go to France. What a blessing!