Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Delicious Library that is. For anyone with a Mac, keep reading; for the rest of you, sorry but my Works For Me Wednesday tip won't help you. But you'll find plenty that will if you hop over to Rocks In My Dryer.

I have a few books (okay, those who know me, get up off the floor and stop laughing). When we knew we'd be moving overseas I got rid of about 800 but that still left a few (pause) Hundred.

With all that was going on in our lives this last year, the thought of getting my books organized and catalogued did not fill me with joy. But I knew it was necessary, if for nothing else, then for the shipping process.

As when we shipped all our worldly belongings to South America.

So when the son gifted me with The Delicious Library and showed me how easy it was to use, I might have spontaneously burst into song. Not really, but I did feel IMMENSE gratitude (and therefore did NOT burst into song since that would have been painful for all involved, most especially the son who has on occasion asked me not to sing when I'm next to him in church).

Bottom line is: What would have taken DAYS can now be accomplished in minutes and hours. The built-in web camera on your Mac will take a picture of the bar code on the back of your book (or CD or DVD or game...) and automatically pull up all the information from the internet and "place" the book (or CD or DVD or game...) on your virtual bookshelf. You can decide if you want to see the book covers or just simply a list of titles, perhaps organized alphabetically by author? (this is not my bookshelf, but an image from the Delicious Library website)

I L-O-V-E it! I can see at a glance that we brought 667 books and 34 movies with us (haven't catalogued our CD collection yet but that's coming). I honestly have not explored the full capabilities of this program but when I have time I'll definitely be sitting down and playing with it to see what else it will do.

Now, I will say I had one itty-bitty problem. But it was not because of the software. Oh no, it was because of the book publishers who opted for a cheap alternative to doing their job right. A line of paperbacks will often carry the same bar code, no matter the book. This is annoying and I hope they stop doing that soon. The book that kept popping up while scanning books from a particular line of mysteries was one I don't even own, nor have ever owned. So all of those had to be typed in.

BUT it's a simple matter of typing in either the title or the author and a list of options pop up and you merely double click on the one that matches your book. Voila!, all the information on the book is immediately there.

For anyone with *ahem* a few books, CDs, DVDs, games...this is a program you cannot, SHOULD NOT live without. Keep track of what you own in an easy, efficient and FUN way (while scanning books you can take time to make faces at the camera and practice your various 'mom' looks to alternately scare, intimidate or show that you'll brook no nonsense from your little rugrats).

And son, THANKS AGAIN for the gift of Delicious Library, my favorite software EVER!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Las Flores

After spending almost twenty years in the frozen north, a.k.a. Michigan, we are really enjoying a more moderate climate. That includes a wide variety of plant life, and especially flowers. While looking through photos yesterday I thought perhaps y'all might be interested in seein' some of our real purty pictures :-) So in no particular order...

I've seen air plants before but never their flowers until the neighbor was showing us around her yard. The pink and purple are so vibrant! I'd already selected these pictures and then today my tutor took us with her to Tanti, a small town nearby where she teaches an English class. While she was busy we wandered around and snapped photos with my cell phone (since the camera is back in the U.S. for repairs) and I decided to include a few of those as well.

The hubby's eagle eyes caught a glimpse of a familiar plant, a passion fruit vine like we had growing behind our house in Uganda. Have you ever had passion fruit juice? It is SO good! And we're pretty excited to know we can grow it here, too. A little farther down the road we came across some HUGE cacti. This particular cactus was probably six feet across and nestled in its spiky leaves was a single bloom. And finally a shot of wild roses growing along the fence of an old church. Not bad for a cell phone camera, eh?

Monday, October 27, 2008

From The Insomniac Side Of Things (and keep reading for the recipe at the end of the post)

It's really quiet at o'dark in the morning. I woke up way too early and after tossing and turning for an hour I decided to just get up and get busy. Good time to get a little blogging done. And since I've been speaking a lot of Spanglish lately, I'm gonna write like I talk. Only maybe not so much since I usually do use more Spanish and that might get really confusing for those who don't know any. I figure a word here and there will be understandable from the context of the sentence. Comprende?

The streetlights cast interesting shadows over our little barrio. Have I ever told you that our calle is only one block long? And some taxi drivers don't know about it so we have to describe where it is, between such and such streets and almost to the lake... One calle goes one way (south) to the lake and the other goes one way (north) away from the lake. And as you're coming south, our calle is "la ultima" (last one) before "la costanera" (coastal road). Once we turn onto our calle we tell the driver "Casi Estrada, casi, casi, a la derecha" (almost to the end of the block, almost, almost, to the right) and if he still appears confused we describe our fence which is "verde".

Since it's only una cuadra, it's really not hard to find.

Our barrio es muy tranquilo. Most of the time. Except when the young guy across the street has friends over and they work on un auto. The vrrrooom, vrrrrooom of the engines doesn't bother us so much but when they're working on the horn, radio or speaker systems it can get a little annoying. This doesn't happen too often, mainly porque su abuela no permite.

We still haven't met la vecina en frente. We're thinking she's a single mom who works in Cordoba because she's gone all day, leaving early in the morning and arriving late in the evening most days. And since her gate and garage door are automatic, we've never actually seen her outside except once when she had visitors and she came to let them in the smaller gate which is not automatic.

I think my hubby's back is starting to feel a little better and we plan to start back with the painting this week. I can't begin to tell you how anxious I am to get the living room painted, make the curtains and get them installed. With todas las ventanas, it's sorta like living in a fishbowl. In case you didn't see the post with the picture of my living room, you can check it out here.

Aside from the privacy issues, we also want to have the curtains installed before summer really hits and this room becomes a sauna. We've already experienced it a bit on a few of the warmer days this Spring. And during the winter las cortinas will help keep the room a little warmer. Without any insulation in here and single-pane las ventanas, cuando hace viento we'll need an extra barrier against the cold!

This is a pretty long post already, but I'm going to make it a little longer by including a recipe the daughter makes that's always a hit at parties. And it fits in well with Linda's Fall Into Flavor theme this week of "football finger foods". Linda herself has posted three, count 'em: THREE recipes. No doubt there'll be muchas recetas by the end of the day that we can all enjoy this football (or futbol in our case) season. So stop by 2nd Cup of Coffee and don't miss out on any of the yummy goodness.

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

1 cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
16 ounces sliced bacon
2 (8 ounce) cans water chestnuts, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).Cut bacon slices into thirds. Cut some of the bigger water chestnuts in half. Wrap chestnuts in bacon and secure with toothpicks; place in a 9x13 pan. In a saucepan, combine ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce; heat just to boiling. Pour sauce over bacon and water chestnuts. Bake in preheated oven until bacon is completely cooked, about 45 to 50 minutes.

These are muy delicioso!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Worship Time: "A Living Prayer" by Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss has such a pure, lovely voice and her Gospel music is simple but beautiful. The video is merely a compilation of pictures from the rural Georgia mountains which look enough like Kentucky to make me homesick for the hills.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Goodness of Baked Oatmeal

Years ago I came across a recipe for baked oatmeal in an Amish cookbook. In the original recipe, sliced apples were layered on the bottom of the pan over melted butter and brown sugar sprinkled on top before spreading out the oatmeal batter. It created this giant oatmeal cookie but with a wonderful gooey apple bottom. LOVED it!

Than came the sad day when I got up to make this for breakfast and there were no apples in the house! *gasp* Forgetting the breakfast plan we'd munched down on all the apples with popcorn the night before.

So what's a cook to do? Improvise of course. The sad truth was we had no fruit of any kind in the house. BUT we did have chocolate chips.

A new and grander tradition was born! If I even thought of making it any other way after that, there was a mutiny. So I present The Goodness of Baked Oatmeal that is like a Giant Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie. Yet another vehicle for the chocolate that is my friend :-)

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter (or substitute oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips. In a smaller bowl, beat together the milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Mix wet and dry ingredients together just until blended. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish that you've sprayed lightly with oil.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

I always served this with a pitcher of warm milk to pour over the oatmeal. Some of us like a lot of milk, others not so much. There is no right or wrong way to serve it. Let everyone doctor it up as they like.

And for the goodness of others offered on Saturday Stirrings, go check it out at I Throw Like A Girl.

While this is in no danger of becoming a recipe blog (or a quilt blog or any other kind of specialty blog), I've participated in two recipe exchanges this week 'cause I felt like it. Nothing more complicated or devious than that. I tend to get in a rut with my menu planning and cooking, and these exchanges shake it up a bit and motivate me to try something new. And we can all use a bit of that sometimes.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Loco Friday

It's Friday and what is usually our slowest day of the week suddenly speeded up as we try dealing with things in the U.S. from far, far away.

Like getting our voting ballots. Sorta left that one too late I'm afraid. Had looked into it briefly before moving, calling our local election official and doing some online research into what it would take to vote from overseas. BUT failed to follow through once we moved here. Until now. When it's too late. Seeing as how we have to have the ballots MAILED to us, rather than faxed or e-mailed as we'd hoped. And then we'd have to MAIL it back. And there's just not enough time left.

But lemme tell you, if there's a way to get it done, the local election official back home will make it happen! He's checking out mailing options as I type and I will call him back in half an hour to see which, if any, of them are viable.

It's gonna kill me if I can't vote. Not literally but it will make me muy triste! I've voted in EVERY SINGLE FEDERAL ELECTION and most state and local ones, too, since I came of legal age. I'm a firm believer in the adage that our vote DOES count.

So I'm pretty mad at myself for getting so caught up in trying to adjust to life HERE that I neglected my responsibility THERE. *sigh*

[UPDATE: Just talked to the local election office and they can get our ballots to us in 1-3 business days! And pretty sure we can get them filled out and sent back in time. Woohoo!]

I've also spent time a ridiculous amount of time trying to get some banking done. Online banking is supposed to be oh-so-easy but when your bank erases your request to make a payment and the credit card company imposes a late fee almost equal to the paltry amount owed that the bank didn't pay as requested, well let's just say Mama Ain't Happy!

This is just the last in a long line of frustrations we've had with this bank. And I've had it. Since I'm the one who does the banking/bill paying/record keeping in this family, changes are a comin'! I called our hometown bank back in Michigan to see about re-activating our account there. Forget messing with this big ole bank that keeps adding fees upon fees and losing payment requests and doesn't allow you to talk to a real person when you need help. I KNOW the ladies at the hometown bank (worked there for three years) and I know just who to call when I need help.

Like I did this morning. Called for help I mean. And talked to a REAL LIVE PERSON who then called me back to finish our business. I'm giddy with excitement!

And the hubby's been a little busy as well. He walked to the telecentro and faxed our request for the voting ballots and is now on his way home to grab an addressed envelope, pop our broken camera in, and rush to the airport in Cordoba to catch some folks leaving TODAY for the U.S.

The camera quit working properly on Tuesday evening. Calls to the service tech yielded the sad info that it needs professional help (who doesn't?!) and they are not set up to service it here. So we need to get it there. And while FedEx would gladly take it for us, they would also charge about $100 (I'm not making this up). So we've been trying to find someone going back to the U.S who can take it with them and drop it in the mail there for around $10. And found this group leaving TODAY from an airport about an hour away. Thank you Jesus! And help us catch 'em in time!

All this is why our normally tranquilo Friday has become loco Friday instead.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Migraine For The Ages

Headaches come and headaches go but a migraine is forever. Catchy little phrase, eh? After two days of continual ice-pick-stabbing-pain-behind-the-eyes it seems only too true. Self-diagnosed the problem as partly due to stress (duh!) and partly due to that wonderful time we women euphemistically call mid-life but is really just agonizing-years-of-hot-flashes-insomnia-and-crazy-mood-swings with the occasional migraine thrown in for good measure.

I'm also blaming the excessive use of the en dash on those things.

But hey, the sun is shining, a chocolate cake is cooling on the kitchen counter, and I just watched the most recent episode of NCIS and got my Leroy Jethro Gibbs, a.k.a. Mark Harmon fix for the week.

Have I mentioned what a wonderful thing the internet is? It allows me to download favorite shows like NCIS, skype with my kids, talk with them and others in the U.S. on the Vonage phone, look up the correct spelling for euphemistically, locate the recipe for Darn Good Chocolate Cake, and be a part of Bloggyville.

The internet has made the ice-pick-stabbing-pain-behind-the-eyes bearable. Well, that and the Ghirardelli chocolate chips. Which is why I made the Darn Good Chocolate Cake. The cake is merely a vehicle for the chocolate chips. So is the chocolate ganache that will be used to frost the cake. One cannot come up with too many uses for the Ghirardelli.

As I learned from the pro, Mama Daisy. That woman single-handedly went through 10 pounds of chocolate chips in less than a year. The first five in about three months. Mama Daisy didn't start helping me until we'd been in Uganda for a month. She loved to bake [and we loved to eat what she baked!] so every day we could count on not only fresh bread but also some kind of treat. She was making a lot of chocolate chip cookies -- don't worry, wasn't eating all of them myself but sharing with others in our little community -- so I suggested she make peanut butter cookies one day.

She made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

So then I suggested she make chocolate cake which uses cocoa instead of chips.

She dutifully made the cake. And then melted chocolate chips to make the frosting. Hey, who do you think I got the ganache recipe from?

Granted, she didn't quite get the concept that chocolate chips were a precious commodity, only available from the U.S. She, being from the bush and making only rare trips into Kampala, thought everything could be found in the capital.

But she finally 'got it' when we ran out the end of October and had to wait until January for the second 5 lb. bag that friends brought when they came to visit. But to be on the safe side I began portioning out the chips, filling a small jar each Sunday night for use that week, and hiding the rest beneath my underwear. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. And no one, not even the venerable Mama Daisy, was going to make me run out of chocolate chips again.

'Cause when the stress is high and the migraine lays you low, ain't nothin' like a good ole handful of Ghirardelli. And don't you forget it, ice-pick-stabbing-pain-behind-the-eyes!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday - Line Drying Tips

There are always such great time-saving, money-saving, sanity-saving ideas shared on Works For Me Wednesday hosted by Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer. Don't miss any of them, hop over and check them out!

Today I’m sharing line drying tips discovered due to extreme absent-mindedness. Moving from the apartment to the house took over a week and I forgot to take the clothespins with us in the beginning. So when I washed the first load of laundry, I thought “Now how am I going to hang them out to dry?” I’d already learned that while heavy things would (generally) stay on the line if you just drape them over, lighter items would inevitably blow off within minutes.

So I had the bright idea of hanging shirts, nightgowns, and dresses on hangers and then putting the hangers out on the line. Worked a charm! And it didn’t take this girl long to realize I’d stumbled onto a good thing. ‘Cause putting things on hangers right out of the washer eliminates a step -- they go straight from the line into the closet! AND this also eliminates those little pinched lines you get with clothespins.

I’m thinking of buying pant hangers so I can do the same with trousers and shorts.

Another thing I do is sort socks as I’m hanging them, putting them in pairs so once they’re dry I can fold them together before I even take them off the line. They drop into the basket ready to be put into the drawers.

I’m all for anything that streamlines housework and takes less time in the end. I tend to approach most things with an eye for using less energy and achieving higher productivity. So while it may appear I’m just being anal exacting, I’m really just being EFFICIENT! *wink, wink*

P.S. Liberal use of fabric softener in the wash translates into much softer line dried clothes -- even towels!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Around The Yard

Although we haven't made a lot of headway inside, the yard is looking pretty good. Except for the overgrown ruda plant just to the left of the gate as you come in. These are traditionally planted in that spot to ensure "good luck". And it's been used medicinally all over the world for everything from toothaches to intestinal worms. But the smell? Ewwww! I guess another use is natural insect repellent if you can stand to rub it on your skin. Don't think I could! It smells like flatulence every time you open the gate and disturb the plant. Welcome to our home!

The hubby plans to either take it out entirely, or cut it way, way back.

But the roses are glorious, aren't they? One rose bush or another has been blooming ever since mid-September. We also have honey suckle, oleander, irises, and these cute little purple flowers. But they're not what we thought they were (portulaca or moss rose) so looks like we need to get a book about flowers!

Here's a photo of the front of our yard along the fence. Whoever lived here in the past put in a lot of work to plant the wide variety we are now enjoying.

Both sides of the yard are also lined with rose bushes, hostas and other plants. And in the backyard is a peach tree! Oh to think of the succulent peaches we'll be able to enjoy in a few months! The hubby says it's so loaded we'll probably have to prop up a couple of the branches or they'll break under the weight of the fruit.

The covered patio out back is a favorite place, especially with the parrilla right there. Every Monday we get together with our co-workers for a little planning session/food fest. Last night while the guys worked on the asado (bar-b-q Argentine style), we ladies kicked back out there and chowed down on some homemade salsa and tortilla chips. It was a lovely evening!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Apple Puff Pancake OR Tarta de Manzanas

It was an easy decision to participate in Linda's Fall Into Flavor this Monday because twice in the past week I've served this dish that's so easy and so fast to make, I'm sure it will become a favorite at your house too!

And because both times I was asked for the recipe, which required some translation (i.e., chewing of nails, looking in bilinguial dictionary, asking the hubby for help and finally having my Spanish tutor proof it -- Thanks Marcela!), I'm sharing it in English AND Spanish!

Apple Puff Pancake

3-4 apples
2-3 T. butter
1/3 c. brown sugar
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 t. vanilla
2-3 T. powdered sugar
Cook peeled and sliced apples in butter in a large skillet (I use my cast iron skillet but you can use any kind) until apples are soft. Add brown sugar and stir for one more minute, then take off heat.
Beat together the eggs, milk, flour and vanilla until well mixed. Pour over apple mixture and bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes. I know that's a wide range of time but it depends on your oven and skillet. When it has puffed up the sides and turned golden brown, it's done.
Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes (the hardest part!), dust with powdered sugar. Slice and eat.

Tarta de Manzana
3-4 manzanas
25 g. manteca
1/3 taza azúcar negra
6 huevos
1 taza harina
1 taza leche
1/2 cucharadita esencia de vainilla
azúcar impalpable
Pelar y cortar en rodajas las manzanas. Cocer en manteca en una sartén grande hasta que esté blanda. Agregar azúcar negra y cocer un minuto.
Batir los huevos, la harina, la leche y la vainilla hasta que tenga consistencia uniforme. Vertir sobre las manzanas. Cocer al horno a 180°C por 20-30 minutos.
Remover del horno y espolvorear con azúcar impalpable.

I'm not much of an apple snob when it comes to cooking with them. I'll use whatever is on hand. Now for eating out of hand, nothing beats a good Honey Crisp. Unfortunately that variety has not made its way this far south yet. So y'all eat a few for me, okay? And be sure to check out all the other great recipes that folks are sharing!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Worship Time: "Come To Jesus" by Chris Rice

I am totally stealing this idea from Carol at I Throw Like A Girl. For some time I've been enjoying her Sunday Worship videos. There are weeks I listen multiple times to whatever video she's posted. 'Cause the music, it is powerful!

Today I'm sharing a video that I think was part of a competition. Not really sure but there are a bunch set to this music on YouTube. I didn't watch ALL of them, but from the ones I checked out, this was my favorite. They've used engaging and thoughtful footage that goes well with the words of the song.

We bought our first Chris Rice CD back in '01 just before we went to Uganda. That CD saw a LOT of play during our year there. He's a really talented song-writer as well as performer and I hope you enjoy this:

And in case any of you have trouble viewing it on my blog, go here to listen.

On a side note: Today is Mother's Day here in Argentina. So Happy Mother's Day to Mom back in Winona Lake!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Hubby's Exciting Excursions To The Post Office To Mail A Package For Me

I'll get to the story in a minute. But what I said about no boxes, no laundry, no cleaning? I lied.

We were home by 1 p.m. and the afternoon stretched out before me. Thought briefly about sitting down with a good book but just couldn't. So the cleaning commenced, as did the laundry.

The living room is clean, cleared of the detritus of moving, the floor swept and mopped and our two Poang chairs comfortably settled on the long side with the wicker trunk serving as a table between. Looks a little spartan in there, but much better than before.

The very last box of household goods was unpacked.

And three more loads of laundry were washed and (mostly) line dried. I was frantically putting the last one on the line right before Spanish class. During class quite a little storm brewed up but the hubby, disabled though he is with a bad back, got everything off the line and under cover before the rain hit.

The hubby, whose back was doing better, messed it up again doing yard work yesterday. It's actually worse this time than before, which is often the case when you re-injure something. Please pray for him. He's leading Bible study tonight.

So I'd promised you a story and then got busy cleaning and didn't get to it. But here it is....

A month ago I held a little give-away to celebrate my first blogiversary. We were up in Resistencia at the time and the plan was to mail the gift as soon as we got back. Hmmmph. Didn't happen. A few days after our return the hubby brought home an envelope for me. The exterior dimensions were right, but it was just a bit too small inside for the wallet to fit.

It was another week before the hubby was back downtown to the post office and bought a bigger envelope. It was really big. (This is starting to feel like a modern day re-telling of Goldilocks but it's not.) He said there wasn't anything between the two. I told him a plain old manilla envelope would do just fine, but he thought I needed to use these special envelopes you buy at the post office to send stuff overseas. Okeydokey.

And he was leaving for Buenos Aires the next day. I figured I could get it ready and he could take it to the post office when he got back. He arrived home A WEEK LATER completely wiped out and in no shape to go anywhere. And the container arrived that Monday with all our stuff.

If you've been reading my blog, y'all know we've had a crazy couple of weeks since then.

But in the midst of it hubby did take that package to the post office. He had several errands to run, including a Very Important Stop to pick up our modem so we could have internet and that place was closing at 7 p.m. so he had a deadline. There was a long line at the post office but hubby waited patiently.

Finally, 20 minutes before 7 and it's his turn! He gets the lady we will call Miss-Government-Efficiency-Herself. Miss-Government-Efficiency-Herself says, "You have to fill out this form." Oh goody! So the hubby walks to a cubby where he can fill it out. And his pen runs out of ink after two letters. So he goes back to Miss-Government-Efficiency-Herself who grudgingly gives him a pen to use. He fills out the lengthy form and returns to Miss-Government-Efficiency-Herself who oh-so-slowly inputs the data on the computer and then looks at my hubby and with a perfectly straight face says "That will be $92 pesos." I Don't Think So! "Oh yes, that's what it costs when you use that envelope." Aaargh! So he takes the envelope and leaves.

He rushes from the post office in an effort to get to the place and pick up the modem before they close. He arrives...only to find out they've moved the office. Across one of the bridges to the other side of town. The clock is ticking. He grabs a taxi and gets there just in the nick of time. Whew!

An Aside: For anyone reading this who has lived overseas and dealt with the typical bureaucracy you are probably nodding and laughing and remembering similar good times you yourself have had. Most Americans won't get it. That NOTHING is ever easy or simple. Even the most simple things they manage to make complicated. The easiest thing we've done since arriving? Seriously. Contacting the American Embassy to let them know we're here. We did it online in like 5-10 minutes.

Okay, back to the story. Hubby was a little irate as you can imagine by the time he got home. However, I was pretty sure we could probably find the box of office things I'd packed that included envelopes in various sizes, including bigger ones. In about 10 minutes we had a 6"x9" envelope in hand and had it addressed and ready to go. The clasp had gotten a little rusty in transit and I wondered about whether the sticky flap would stay sticky so slapped on a piece of tape for good measure. Then decided to slap on another piece at the other end. Just in case. I mean I wanted the wallet to arrive intact.

So two days later the hubby returns to the post office. Guess who waits on him? Yes, Miss-Government-Efficiency-Herself! She looks at the envelope, sniffs condescendingly and tells him, "You cannot put tape on it." Well. The hubby, not to be deterred this time asks, "If I get all the tape off, will that be okay?" And she gets a little snippy and says, "Well we can't do it if it tears the paper at all." At which point the hubby smiles sweetly and says, "I'll be VERY careful." He just goes a couple steps away and slowly, very carefully begins to try peeling the tape away.

But folks, I had used the heavy duty packing tape. Two inches wide and...well, heavy duty. So it was really, really slow going. The man behind the counter, next to Miss-Government-Efficiency-Herself, leaned over and whispered "There's a stationary store across the street. Go over and get another envelope and I'll get it done for you." So that's what hubby did. At the store they sold him an envelope and then gave him a GLUE STICK to use to seal it after he'd transferred the contents. And the man at the post office took care of him without making him wait in line again.

And so Elizabeth, your wallet is FINALLY on its way! I'm really sorry it has taken so long. Hope you enjoy it! I'm sure every time you use it you'll remember what your poor uncle had to go through to mail it :-)

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm Up And Moving, That's Enough For Now

After pushing hard for several weeks, I have "hit the wall". I'm just flat out tired. The adrenaline only takes me so far and then I feel like a balloon that's been popped, the air seeping out as I deflate into a little puddle of plastic on the sidewalk.

So I'm really glad we'll be gone most of today. No boxes, no laundry, no cleaning. ForOneWholeDay! This morning and into the afternoon we'll be meeting with other missionaries and national pastors and their wives for a time of prayer and fellowship. They try to do this monthly but it doesn't always work out. This month we're meeting in Cordoba; there will likely be pastors and wives there from several smaller towns as well as Cordoba city.

And this evening I have Spanish class (on Fridays it's in the evenings). We'll find out how I did on my first test. I'm not really nervous. Not exactly anyway. Why be simply nervous when you can have a full-blown panic attack?

I have a story to share but not enough time this morning. So hopefully tonight I'll be able to get back on and tell you all about The Hubby's Exciting Excursions To The Post Office To Mail A Package For Me. The man has patience! And you need lots of that when doing anything here. It would be funny (and it is) if it weren't so painful.

But this morning I'm going to share what gets me going. After indulging in the wonderful concoction that is cafe con leche at YPF for many mornings when we lived in the apartment, we are trying to re-create our own version at home now. And while it's not the same -- can't afford the fancy milk frothing machine -- it tastes pretty doggone good! It helps when you find really, really good coffee and have a nifty little French coffee press and heat your water to exactly 200° and let it "brew" for only 4 minutes. My morning repast (I've always wanted to say that) includes bread and what we can buy here is pretty amazing. This pan frances is a favorite for breakfast (or lunch or dinner). Just that perfect blend of soft and chewy. Yum! I lightly, lightly butter the bread and add a thin slice of cheese. I'm a fan of the cheddar, especially sharp white. But alas! it is not available here. This morning we're having Fymbo cheese. The hubby picked it up while running errands the other day. Since I don't always hear correctly the Spanish (all those soft letters and dropped endings common to native speakers throws me off) I asked him to spell it. Upon which he put it to the tune of B-I-N-G-O. I have a feeling kids songs will be in my head today. Because that led me to humming Old McDonald Had a Farm.

Anyway, I get the coffee brewed just right, assemble my bread and cheese and half a sliced apple on my plate and settle down with my friend, the computer, for a time of checking my favorite blogs. Ahhhh! Life is good. Sorry about the quality of photography, especially that last picture. But whaddya expect? I'm up and moving, and that's enough for now.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Am Connected! WOOHOO!

Can you tell I'm excited?! :-) Actually I think this must be some kind of record. It only took 10 days after we moved in to get our internet hooked up. Okay, for clarification I must admit we submitted the request three weeks before that. BUT I still think it's a record. With little competition there's just no incentive to move quickly on any kind of service. We have friends who waited SEVEN MONTHS and then it never did work right and they finally canceled it and gave up. So people, this fast service is cause for a few Hallelujahs!!!

Thanks for everyone who shared their laundry tips. Although Sharon, I think I'll have to pass on your suggestion. Not that it wouldn't be an interesting experiment but all the yards here are fenced, gated and LOCKED.

It turns out the washer was not supposed to take TWO HOURS to do a load of laundry. So we ended up taking it back to the store and getting a different one. This one has 'fuzzy logic' which I love. I just have to tell it what temperature water to use and it intuitively determines water level and length of wash time. How cool is that?!

I have spent the past week unpacking 57 boxes, sorting and organizing and then repacking a good number of them. Until we have finished painting walls and scrubbing floors, most of our stuff will reside in boxes in the garage. But we sorta had to clear floor space before we could get back to the business of painting and cleaning.

Packing to move here I used clothes, towels and bedding to wrap more fragile items. So one box might hold knick knacks, dishes, pump-style ceramic soap dispensers, sheets and clothes. Sort of a mish-mash of everything. So the unpacking, sorting and re-packing will make my life easier in the long run. Now I can go to box B-1 and know that ONLY BATHROOM items are in it. Or M-1 has all those knick knacks.

The hubby will be building various shelving and storage units once his 'shop' is organized. I've put in an order for LOTS of bookshelves to line the dining room walls, some kind of pantry unit for the kitchen, a shelf for the bath, platforms for the mattresses (better than a regular bed frame 'cause I can store boxes underneath), and an L-shaped desk/work area for the study/sewing room. Gonna keep that man busy!

When he's not out doing ministry that is (well, life IS ministry). Which might mean it will take a good long while to get all the things on my list. He's had some great opportunities to build relationships with different ones in our barrio as well as those coming to the gatherings of our little church plant.

In addition to just getting out and spending time with people, Ivan shared from the Word last Sunday and will again this coming weekend. Can't call it "preaching" because it's much more informal. It's more like a Sunday School class with everyone sitting in a circle and interacting. But instead of 45 minutes we usually go for an hour and a half. 'Cause this group likes to sing! And pray. Then we study.

I'm doing better at understanding more of the conversation during meetings -- it helps because I know the 'lingo' of church :-) But by 9 p.m. I'm starting to flag a little and the tired old brain starts shutting down. This will become more of a problem as we get into the summer schedule of starting later on Sunday night. Tourism is the main industry here and summers are so busy I guess everything changes for a few months. Interesting challenge to church planting!

I have to keep this short 'cause in less than three hours my Spanish tutor will be here and I HAVE A TEST TODAY. Yikes! So definitely need to continue my reviewing.

But I had to take a few minutes and post. Oh, it's good to be back!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Need Some Laundry Advice

After having access to both a washer and dryer my entire adult life, I'm now without a dryer and trying to figure out a few things...

Such as how do you get clothes, especially jeans, to not feel all stiff and rough? I'm using fabric softener in the wash but what else can I do?

Gotta say, I do love the smell of things dried on the line. Quite a heady scent!

Over the past couple days I managed to get six loads washed, dried and put away. Major feat considering the washer takes about 2 hours to do a load. But that's just about enough time to dry a load on the line. On a sunny day.

Which it's not today. We had a storm blow through last night and the rain looks poised to continue off and on all day. So those final three loads will have to wait a day or two. And by then I'll have another one or two. I am so very grateful for the washer!!!

The hubby put his back out helping our friends on Thursday. I think it was wrenching out those fence posts. Anyway, he's had to spend a couple days recuperating from that so we haven't done any heavy duty stuff at the house yet.

He did put together our Poang chairs and they are SO comfortable!

And he's been browsing the papers for used cars, too. After talking to taxi drivers, shop owners, and anyone else he thought to ask, we've decided that a Renault, Peugeot or Fiat would be best since service and parts are readily available for those makes.

For some reason cars do not devalue as much or as rapidly as in the U.S. So while a new Fiat Uno is $26,000 pesos, a 1997 model is still $19,000! Someone explained to us that the wear and tear on an engine is not factored in, but they do count any kind of work they've ever had done on it, even new tires. Seems a bit odd since tires wear out and need to be replaced every few years, but that's the custom.

You can figure on three pesos to the dollar, give or take a little, so that $19,000 is basically $6,300 U.S. dollars. For an eleven year old car that's small and usually doesn't have any bells and whistles but does have lots of miles and the engine requiring an overhaul soon (if it hasn't already been done at least once).

Finding something decent that we can afford now is proving difficult but we continue to pray for God to provide the right car at the right time. Just like He provided our rental house, and allowed us to file all our D.N.I. paperwork in one day, and actually get our container through customs in a week. All of these have been huge blessings and we know He'll provide a car in His time. Meanwhile the hubby is getting quite the education on cars!

My education in Spanish is progressing as well. Some days it seems I can understand more of what is being said and other days I only manage to catch a few words here and there. And talking on the phone? Impossible! But both my hubby and tutor say they see improvement. Yeah!

In the coming week we hope to re-pack and store items we won't be using right away and keep chipping away at scrubbing the floors and painting the walls. Oh, and I'll be looking for the fabric to start making curtains for the living room. We found a store with the hardware we need to hang them up close to the ceiling.

Doing laundry, learning Spanish, buying a car, getting settled...all of it "poco a poco".

Thursday, October 9, 2008

No Internet Yet

I'm just a Southern Girl and I'm an internetaholic.

Whew! Had to get that out of my system. This is the first time in three days I've been able to get online and it's been driving me nuts! We don't have internet at the house yet and have no idea how long it will be before they hook us up. Until then YPF is our last hope for wifi.

But the past few days we've been too busy to do anything, most especially relax at YPF with our computers. Or even unpack at our house.

Our co-workers built a home 1-1/2 years ago and when they moved into it, his parents moved down from Corrientes and into the house they'd been renting. Well his folks have now moved to be near another son. They were supposed to leave the third week of September but the truck they hired did not arrive here until October 5th! Since our co-workers have to give the landlord the keys to the rental house on Friday, we've been cleaning, painting and hauling like crazy people since Tuesday to get that place back into shape. What a job!

So our house pretty much looks like it did on Monday evening. Except I did finally clear off the kitchen counter today. I don't have enough cupboard space so all the dry food items went into a box on the floor until we can buy (or hubby can build) a free-standing pantry.

Tuesday evening our co-workers had to go into Cordoba and we went along and ended up buying both a fridge AND a washer! Woohoo! You have no idea how happy that makes me :-) Both are new, too! We'd planned on getting a used washer but we found a place that had some appliances with minor dents and dings at reduced prices. Plus the dollar is pretty strong here right now. Which meant we were able to get both appliances new.

Because there's no water pressure, the washing machine takes a really long time to fill up. So a medium size load takes 2-1/2 hours from start to finish and a small load a mere 1-1/2. Guess I'll have to stay right on top of laundry or it will "defeat" me.

Today is really hot and sunny (great for drying clothes) and everyone was very tired so we decided to take a few hours off to rest and then finish the job when it's a little cooler this evening. We're back at the apartment where the hubby is snoozing away while I catch up on e-mails and post a quick one on the blog. And we'll pack the rest of our stuff and haul it to the house when our co-workers pick us up.

End of internet-whenever-I-want-it for now :-( Not sure when I'll be able to get back online. Probably not until some time over the weekend. Just so you know, I MISS Y'ALL! And if you don't hear from me, it's not because I've forgotten you, it's because I can't.

Pray that they hook up our internet SOON!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Estoy Muy Cansada

It bears repeating: I am very tired. What a day!

The truck arrived about 11 a.m. and the man with the fork lift came right over. Within the hour all the pallets were off the container and mostly in the garage. An hour later everything was in and we stopped for lunch. I haven't told y'all about Junior B's yet but I'll just mention that it's only one block from our house. Junior B pizza and Coke soon restored our energy and back to work we went...

Nothing goes without a hitch :-) Our co-worker wanted to help hubby put the bed together but we could not locate the transformer. Which we really needed to run the pump and inflate the air chambers for the mattress. It wasn't on the pallet it was supposed to be, nor any other pallet that we could find. The guys tore apart several in our search. I'm sure we're overlooking it and will find it. Eventually.

But in the interest of time our co-worker ran home, brought his transformer back and before long we had a bed. Yeah! A little more searching and we had sheets and pillows. But where was the mattress pad? Couldn't find it anywhere so went ahead and made the bed. Then kept searching for bathroom necessities. And found the mattress pad. Yes, I remade the bed. Wouldn't you? Never found the quilted spread either but after sleeping in twin beds for almost two months I am SO ready to sleep in our comfy bed together tonight!

You'd think with seven shower curtains in my possession, I could find one but you'd be wrong. But I did come across a liner and for now that will do. In the interest of full disclosure I'll admit it was no trouble finding a towel. Because I have a multitude. Toward the end of our time in the states I compulsively bought just about every white towel I saw on sale. I don't have an exact number because I quit counting. It was just too embarrassing. But not so embarrassing that I hesitate to share it with the world at large.

Blogger is being obstinate tonight and won't allow me to post any more photos so you can't see the mess I currently call my house or the comfy bed just waiting for me to crawl into it. I'm sure you're beyond disappointed.

For some reason a song from "Three Men And A Baby" keeps running through my head. So I leave you with...

Good night sweetheart, well it's time to go. Goodnight sweetheart, well it's time to go. I hate to leave you but I've got to say, Goodnight sweetheart, goodnight!

The Truck Arrives Today!

Even as I type, the truck with our container is getting closer and closer. Yeah! Mid-to-late morning the hubby and our co-worker will begin unloading. Since I have Spanish this morning (as always), I've given him a list of MUST HAVE boxes from each pallet so we can (1) make up a bed to sleep on tonight and (2) have the kitchen items we'll need.

The weekend was spent in a frenzy of cleaning. We hired two younger, much more limber women to help. They were able to get into places my old body can't. By the end of Saturday we had finished the windows, doors and door frames, 2 of 3 closets (hubby was working on the floor in one bedroom so we couldn't get to that closet), bathroom and the remainder of the kitchen cupboards. Whew!

Yesterday the hubby touched up a few spots on the floor he'd missed on Saturday and put a couple coats of fresh wax on. Looks so much better! This photo shows the doorway into the hall so you can see what a difference in clean and icky tiles. This was prior to applying the fresh wax so the clean floor isn't gleaming in the photo as it does now. You can see now why we thought the floors were black -- they are until you scrub and scrape them and see that they're brown!

We are so enjoying the beauty of our rose bushes. One was full of blooms last week, spilling over the front fence. Unfortunately the hubby had the camera with him in Buenos Aires. But here's a picture of one on the side of the house I took Saturday.
Until we get internet at the house I won't be able to get online as often as I have been. But since we'll be coming back to the apartment for supper, I think I'll be able to hop on and maybe post an update then.

Hasta luego!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

STRIKE! You're Out!

Okay, not that kind of strike. But yes, the strikes continue to follow us.

My hubby was on his way home and I knew only two things about his trip: he'd left at 11:30 a.m. and expected to be home by 11:30 p.m. and his bus only went as far as Cordoba where he planned to catch another bus for the last leg of the journey.

Then our co-workers called yesterday afternoon to let me know the inter-city buses were on strike again (the last time was when we were trying to get back from Resistencia). And I had no way to call my hubby, en route from Buenos Aires, because his cell phone battery was about dead and he had turned it off in hopes he'd have just enough to call me when he got in so I could go up and unlock the gate.

I won't bore you with all the ways we tried to reach him. It reached epic comic proportions and we finally just piled into the co-workers' van and headed to Cordoba, hoping to intercept him before he grabbed a taxi (the only other alternative for getting the last 30 miles home).

And Praise God because we actually managed to connect with him at the bus terminal. Which was a mad house since not only were the inter-city buses on strike, they weren't letting any other buses load or unload in the terminal so buses were pulling over wherever they could on the perimeter of the bus station.

The hubby remembered too late his determination after the first bus strike to always get a bus straight through to Carlos Paz. And you can't blame him after the week he's had. I'm hoping he'll either do a guest post about the customs experience, or give me enough information so I can write about it.

So even though I wasn't referring to that kind of STIRKE! in my headline, I think he does feel like he spent a good deal of the week striking out in this crazy game they call customs.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Heading Back

Just talked very briefly to the hubby since his phone battery is about dead. But HE'S ON HIS WAY BACK!!! I don't know the details but apparently everything came together this morning and he caught the first bus he could.

He told me last night that the stevedore strike only lasted for a few hours (see, God answered all those prayers!) and late in the day the computer system came back up and he was able to get a copy of that report. He was planning to be at the customs office first thing this morning to schedule the container pick-up.

So about midnight the hubs will be home :-)

I was beginning to wonder if strikes just follow us (sort of like cold weather did)...first the electric company strike when we were trying to get utilities lined up at the house, then the bus strike during our trip back from Resistencia, and now this stevedore strike...but our co-workers assured me that strikes are simply part of the fabric of life here. Everyone goes on strike at some point, some more often than others.

The plan is to let the hubby rest up over the weekend (he must be exhausted after so much running all week) and the truck will arrive with our container first thing Monday morning. It will be so nice to start moving into our own place!

Although it will have to be done in stages. Couldn't find anyone to do the floors professionally so we're going to have to do them ourselves. Our co-worker did find a place in Cordoba that rents the equipment by the day. And since the ENTIRE HOUSE needs the floors cleaned, we'll have to work on that before doing much unpacking.

But we will IMMEDIATELY set up our bed. Or at least the mattress. We brought a couple of queen size Select Number air beds (except ours are older versions without the numbers). This is so we can stay there at night and thieves won't be tempted to rob us blind. Even with the new security system in place, our co-workers are saying it's best to sleep there.

And of course we'll be spending most days there, too, continuing with the cleaning and painting. But until we get a fridge and put the stove back together (had to disassemble parts of it to clean it well), we'll come back to the apartment to cook. A lot of shuttling back and forth but, hopefully, only for a week or so.

As soon as we get the floors and walls done and can start unpacking, I'll go through the boxes of material and sewing notions to find just the right fabric to make curtains for the living room. Remember all those windows? That will require a LOT of yardage and I know I have two, maybe three, pieces that will work. But which to choose?

If anyone would like to put their two cents worth in, that would be great. The two walls of windows are actually big metal units with the windows set in and we won't be painting the metal so it will stay a pale yellow. The other two walls will be given a fresh coat of white. The tile floor is a pale yellow also.

Anyway, I have a light blue damask and a tiny dark green and cream check, and possibly a rusty red with a slight sheen. All are upholstery weight fabrics and would work well for floor to ceiling drapes. Our furniture, what little we have, is off white. To be honest I'm leaning toward the green and cream check because it's what I have the most of, and green is a neutral shade in my book. Can't show you the exact fabrics obviously, but I found photos on eBay of some that are really close.

So what do you think?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Update On Getting Through Customs

Hubby called this afternoon to say he's running into some snags:
(1) He needs some kind of report before he can proceed and the computer system that generates these reports is down.
(2) At 2 p.m. today the stevedores went on strike. Nothing happens at the port without the stevedores.

So we're asking folks to pray that these two matters are resolved quickly. As of tomorrow the hubby will have been gone a week. Now it looks like this may drag into next week and that just makes me TOO SAD for words.

Getting Through Customs

I might have mentioned a time or three that the hubby is in Buenos Aires this week to get our container through customs. We suspected it would be a costly experience in terms of both time and money. And we were right. Day Four of the process has us hoping he'll be able to schedule a loading time for the truck to pick up the container today (Lord, please make it today!) from the customs warehouse/yard. If that happens, he'll be heading back tomorrow with the truck.

Had to load more minutes on my cell phone yesterday so I could call him but finally got through last evening. I guess there were two customs officials playing the "good cop/bad cop" routine, threatening to make life very difficult for us because of the small trailer we brought (a 4x8 that folds) and some new books (remember all those hymnals?), among other things. Even though the trailer isn't a vehicle they could have made like it was because it has wheels. And new items that are donated (as the hymnals had been) are supposed to be separated and held until additional paperwork arrives verifying their donated status.

But in the end they let it all through. PRAISE GOD!

Although I won't feel really good about it until the truck is on its way here. There's still a chance someone could step in and say, "But..." Not sure there won't be more expenses, too.

So what I'm sayin' is y'all keep on prayin'!!!

Pray about getting the container here AND being able to find able-bodied people to help us unload things once it arrives. The truck won't get here until really late Friday so the hubby is seeing if we can put the trucker up in a hotel for the night and then unload early Saturday morning. 'Cause I don't think the man with the forklift will be willing to come over at midnight on Friday. But he might early on Saturday.

After spending over three hours scrubbing wax and grime build-up off the floor in one of the bedrooms and having only a small one foot by four foot really clean area to show for my labor, I cried 'Uncle!' Or as my Ugandan friends would say, "It has defeated me!"

Talked to the hubby and he wants me to see if we can hire someone to do the floors. Someone with the right equipment! The only thing that worked for me was down on my hands and knees with little metal scrubby things. And the scrubbies kept disintegrating, leaving bits of metal everywhere. What the whole house needs is some serious floor cleaning machinery. So I called our co-worker and he's going to get right on it and line someone up. Yippee!!!

Yesterday a nice young man from the security company spent the day installing our new system. Since the home is older and of block construction, there was no way to run cable in the walls. But this guy was very careful and did a GREAT JOB putting the cables either up flush with the ceiling, along the tops of windows (so I can hide those with curtains), or just above the paneling in the kitchen (the kitchen has very, very tall ceilings and plastered walls but the previous owner put wood paneling up to about the five foot mark). He used a fancy glue gun to affix the cables to the walls. Hopefully he used really good glue so we don't have dangling cables in a few months.

After giving up on the floor, I worked on cleaning more of the kitchen cupboards and the window "sills" in the bedrooms. All the windows slide sideways, so there are no "sills" but more like what you have with sliding glass doors with all those grooves to clean around. I had to empty the bucket and get fresh water after each and every window! Nasty.

Saturday I'll have one, possibly two young ladies helping me clean. Yeah! They can get back in that corner cupboard in the kitchen that no amount of contorting on my part can reach. Hey, I'm proud of what I HAVE been able to do and am not gonna feel guilty for what I can't.

I was finishing the last window about the time the security guy finished his job at 4 p.m. so I called it a day, too. Walked home, stopping to buy a few things at the grocery store. Because this older back didn't appreciate all that time I spent on my hands and knees scrubbing, it did not allow me to walk very fast. So it took me almost an hour to walk back (but that includes the 10 minute shopping stop). I think the walking is good to work out those cleaning kinks.

In Spanish I'm working on my food vocabulary, in particular my fruits and vegies. I do so love my fruits and vegies! Am thinking we'll need to take some time next week and plant some tomatoes, peppers and other things at the house. Just missed the tomatoes the daughter was growing -- they came in strong the week after we left. Of course since it's only spring here, the 'maters aren't very tasty and we've only bought them once or twice because it's just too sad to eat mealy, tasteless...can't even call 'em tomatoes.

We did finally get our phone turned on at the house. Which is great timing, since the security company needed one before they could activate their system. Not sure if we'll have to get some kind of modem from the phone company in order to access our internet. If they don't have an office and we can only reach them by phone, how do you get a modem? Do they deliver it? Mail it? Guess we'll find out. Just not sure we'll have our internet up and running when we move in. But it shouldn't take too long to get connected. I hope!

Just seeing how God is putting everything in place is such a blessing.

Another blessing was participating in Linda's "I See What You're Saying" carnival. That was fun! I'm still working my way through the other videos, as well as trying to respond to everyone who commented on mine. I do love a party!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Queen of Zip Locks

I love me some zip locks in all sizes. And I do mean ALL sizes! Wishing I'd brought more with me 'cause can't find them all here, only the quart and gallon sizes. Back in the U.S. I had snack, sandwich, quart, gallon, gallon and a half, two gallon and MONGO size zip locks.

Zip locks are great for everything from bits of nuts, dried fruit, spices and other food ingredients (if you like to shop at the health food store) to assorted keys and other items usually found in the junk drawer. They are good for storing the vegies and salad fixings after you get said items home from the store and wash them before putting them in the fridge. Zip locks can be used to store ANYTHING in the kitchen (or other room of the house).

You could store half of Manhattan in the ginormous bags...or at least the 10 pounds of whole wheat flour you bought through the co-op. And it's easier to open a zip lock than pry the lid off a large metal can. Just sayin'.

And that's my contribution for Works For Me Wednesday: The Kitchen Organization Edition over at Rocks In My Dryer. Hop on over there for ideas on how to sharpen your organizing skilz!