Tuesday, April 28, 2009

There's going to be a few dietary changes around here...

...after the hubby had his cholesterol tested and he scored way TOO HIGH. He's had problems for several years but kept it under control (more or less) with diet. This is the first time he's had it checked since we arrived in Argentina and I'm not surprised considering the amount of chorizos and pasta he's put away in the past eight months. Well, no more (or very little) of either of those for him now!

The thing he's saddest about giving up: chocolate. And who can blame him? That stash I photographed will last a lot longer with only me eating it ☺ I'm trying to be sympathetic but...IT'S MINE, IT'S ALL MINE! (insert maniacal laughter)

The doctor wanted to put him on medication right away but the hubby requested six weeks to see if we can start to bring it down with diet and exercise. He's been doing really good with the exercise, walking into town and back almost every single morning of the week.

Already on the menu tonight was homemade chicken soup with pasta. He didn't get many ravioli in his bowl. Next time I'll just do chicken and vegetable soup.

He has to eliminate chocolate, butter, pasta, fatty meat, fried foods, mayonnaise and all milk products (except skimmed) from his diet plus cut way, WAY back on the sugar and bread. It's a sad day in the House of Hoyt as he contemplates such drastic changes. Pobrecito!

On a happier note, the daughter handed in her research paper this morning! Woot! Her presentation is Thursday so she's still preparing for that but she survived her first all-nighter in college. Hopefully her ONLY all-nighter ☺ Thanks for praying for her!

Tomorrow I'll be checking out a rental place in town as part of my on-going Spanish assignment to plan a wedding. Sometime this week I also have to check at the Registro Civil about what we need, paper-wise, to get married. Hope we don't need our D.N.I.s! The hubby checked last week (we've been going every month to see if they're back yet) and the man told him it would probably be the end of the year, or even next year, before we get our national I.D. cards.

I cleaned off the desk today and caught up on filing. What a relief! Just in time so I can mess it all up again because it's the end of the month and what happens at the end of the month? the monthly expense report of course. Which you know is just my favoritest activity ever. NOT. But as I use to tell my kids when we homeschooled, "It doesn't have to be fun, it just has to be done." Never thought those words would come back to haunt me like this.

My main purpose in cleaning off the desk though, it so I'll have room to work on some sewing projects. I have a baby quilt that needs to be finished, a curtain valance to make, a number of other projects underway... Most are things I'll do on the sewing machine but I have a few handsewing projects that go along nice when we're traveling. I have a goal of finishing some UFOs that have been hovering over me for a very long time. I've been seeing some adorable projects out there, cute little clothes and accessaries that wouldn't be hard to do once you're organized. In other words, I am feeling rather INSPIRED. We'll see what comes out of it. I missed the whole Spring To Finish that Jacquie hosted; it's just been that kind of month.

But May is coming, and I'm declaring May as MY MONTH! So bring 'er on! I can't wait to see what we can get accomplished. Plus all the celebrating...a few anniversaries, some birthdays, and who knows what else (since we're living in Argentina where having holidays is a major past-time). I feel a little sad to be missing graduation open houses. Plus one very special wedding but even though we can't be there in person, our thoughts and prayers will be with the happy couple.

Referring back to the multitudinous holidays of Argentina, I guess this Friday is a BIG one. As in even the grocery stores close (that's my gauge of how big a holiday is here, because the grocery stores hardly ever close). It's the first day of May, a.k.a. International Labor Day. From what we hear, it's the biggest holiday after New Year's in Argentina. We, along with our co-workers, will be taking a group of young people to a special event at the Palabra de Vida facility in Santa Rosa....lots of sports and food on the agenda. Let the games begin!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Week 17, Project 365

Seventeen is such an odd number, but I like it because my son was born on the 17th of December ☺ Can you believe we've been doing Project 365 for SEVENTEEN WEEKS already?! I thought briefly about including 17 photos just for the fun of it, but decided that was a little excessive. I have posted ten because I'm including several from yesterday when we walked down to see what was happening at the World Championship Rally headquarters on the costanera.

My kids said it was really beautiful in Indiana this week so I'm expecting to see lots of Spring flowers and outdoor shots when I check out everyone else's Project 365 this week.

Last Sunday we were driving through a little town and saw this Museo Rural. It wasn't open but since it was enclosed in a simple fence, we stopped and took some pictures through the wires. They had all kinds of tractors and farm implements, plus brick making equipment. I haven't posted any flower photos in a while, and I don't have any this week either ☺ But I do have this shot of a palo borracho (literally translated "drunken wood or stick" because it gets a bulge in the middle of the trunk like a beer belly). But the bulge wasn't as interesting as the seriously painful-looking thorns that grow all over the trunk and limbs. Ouch! As my hubby puts it, "Sorta discourages climbing." The next photo is for my daughter. The hubby saw this in the parking lot at Walmart and had to take a photo. It's just like her car, except it's blue. Beautiful, isn't it?! He said it's in pristine condition. One day when the hubby came home from running errands, which included a stop at the grocery store, I happened to notice our stash of chocolate bars had grown substantially taller. Not sure if he thought we were going to run out or what, but I think we're set for a good long while! These aren't just any chocolate bars, they're our absolute favorite! It's not easy finding dark chocolate here, and most of what we have found is too sweet and too waxy -- not good quality at all. If I'm going to indulge in the high calorie count, I want to really enjoy it. Call me a chocolate snob, but it's gotta be pretty special to pass these lips and get onto these hips. This chocolate made with cocoa beans from Ecuador passes with high marks ☺ I've been trying for ages to get a shot of a wild parrot. They're everywhere, they're loud and obnoxious and major pests because they drop bits of thorny tree limbs everywhere in their quest to build huge nests. This week the hubby managed to get a few photos and I'm sharing the one where he zoomed in. They're bright green and usually blend right into the foliage. Finally, the Rally photos. Without a television we haven't watched any of the race and have no idea who's ahead, or even who's involved. From our walk around the headquarters yesterday we know there are teams from France, Italy, and Japan because we recognized their flags (each team has a flag displayed by their set-up) but the others eluded us. Our flag knowledge is sadly lacking I'm afraid. But here's one of the pretty cars! Y'all have heard me natter on about the YPF gas stations and how they serve excellent coffee plus many of the stations offer free wifi. We're not sure exactly what their connection to the Rally is...maybe they supply all the gas?...but they did have a "team" of lovely ladies on hand, in adorable matching outfits and umbrellas. I kept seeing people stop them to take their photo, or have a photo taken with them. Well, actually I only saw men having their photos taken with them. This truck had the coolest paint job ever! A map of North and South America wrapped around the cab. Not surprisingly, many folks make a day of hanging out so food vendors were doing a brisk business. We walked down shortly before lunch and the asado was going strong. Looks like they're ready to feed a crowd! Thanks for stopping by and checking out my photos this week!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Following a recipe is very important if you want something to turn out right

It's gotten cold the last few days and as an excuse to turn the oven on, I started homemade baked beans yesterday. But I missed a really important step (cooking the beans for 30 minutes after soaking) and after baking for NINE HOURS, they're still al dente. Not sure what I was thinking about, but obviously not the recipe!

I also have no idea how to set my oven to the right temperature. All the writing has been rubbed off the knob, plus in Argentina they typically don't have graduated heat temperatures anyway, rather just low, medium and high. I guess cooks just learn where to set the knob through trial and error.

Before I went to bed last night I threw a pork roast into the crockpot on low and this morning I shredded the meat, mixed in some homemade bar-b-q sauce (since I can't buy it here) and put it all back in the crockpot for a while. I made cornbread for the first time since we came, using "polenta" I found at Disco and it came out great.

Every once in a while I just get a hankerin' for good southern food! Especially after reading about Robin's travel adventures in Savannah where SHE ATE AT THE LADY & SONS (can you tell that the very idea makes me swoon?!). Savannah's one of those places I'd love to visit.

Even though baked beans are cold weather food for me, they're also a good picnic staple and with the temperatures rising in the U.S., I thought y'all might like a good baked bean recipe. Instead of opening a can of Van Camp's or Bush's, try serving your family honest-to-goodness-homemade baked beans and you'll go way, way up in their estimation. [This recipe is another from my favorite cookbook, Home-Cooking Sampler by Peggy Glass] Just make sure you don't miss that all important "cook for 30 minutes" step ☺


1 lb. small white dried beans
1/2 cup maple syrup or molasses
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 pound salt pork, scored and cut in chunks
hot water, as needed

Soak beans overnight in water to cover by three times the depth of the beans.
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Drain beans and put into a pot, adding more water to amply cover. Bring to a boil, simmer partially covered until softened but not cooked through, about 30 minutes. Drain the beans well and transfer to 2-quart bean pot or heavy ovenproof casserole with a lid.
Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Add hot water to cover beans by one inch. Partially cover pot or casserole.
Bake 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally and added more water as needed to keep beans moist.
NOTE: I'm of the opinion that baked beans are best made the day before, then re-heated. They just taste better the second day.

The rain has let up so today I'm catching up on laundry. The one load I washed yesterday spent the day on the line under the patio and still wasn't dry by last night when I was getting ready for bed. Just too damp and cold. But today we have sun and a brisk breeze so it's perfect for hanging out the clothes.

Last night our co-workers came over and brought a young friend, Anna from Norway. After a year at the Palabra de Vida (Word of Life Bible Institute) in Buenos Aires, Anna is going to help a ministry in Cordoba for a while.

So Anna had her little Spanish/Norwegian dictionary, I had my Spanish/English one and everyone else spoke Spanish with ease ☺ We played a game, ordered in empanadas, and had a great time visiting.

This is turning out to be a very nice weekend. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, too ☺

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday was the day before Friday

Today is Friday, right? Yesterday went by in a blur but I'm pretty sure it was Thursday. Crazy busy with Spanish, art class and a doctor's appointment and I had precious little time online except for that spent studying. I learned about proper table etiquette in Argentina. [Have you heard of a melon fork? What does one look like anyway?] Probably a good thing our budget won't stretch for a fancy restaurant. I might eat my peas with the melon fork and wouldn't that be embarrassing?!

Lots of ladies showed up for art class so we were pretty crowded, which prompted the teacher to turn on the ceiling fan to circulate some air in our rather warm second story loft space and then my bits of paper went flying everywhere. I had to keep either the scissors or my ruler on the stack of paper, carefully replacing one with the other when I needed to cut or measure something. Made for an interesting class. I was so distracted trying to keep my paper from blowing away that I didn't concentrate very much on the assignment.

Not real happy with the resulting piece. We were supposed to translate last week's color collage into shades of gray. Mine is just a muddy mess. Partly because it was so hard to find different shades of gray. I found light and I found dark, but not a whole lot between. Then yesterday I kept looking at my color collage for reference but I'd used a lot of pastels whose shading is so similar that it simply doesn't work well in grays. In the end my teacher suggested I use black paint in strategic places to bring balance to the piece, which is rather dark in the center and fades into light gray nothingness on the edges.

Since I have no idea what I'm doing, this could get interesting.

Maybe I'll create something so amazing that I'll sell it for a lot of money and take a trip around the world.

More likely it will end up in file 13 with the rest of my art class projects.

So it's Friday and y'all probably have really exciting weekend plans. We do too! Yessiree Bob. We have it on good authority that on Rally weekend, Disco gets in a lot of imported foods from around the world to sell to the flood of international visitors. So the hubby is doing a little reconnaissance on his walk while I'm in Spanish to see if they have anything we'd really, really like and they probably won't stock until this time next year. I'll let you know if we score anything special ☺

The hubs is pretty excited to begin discipling a new believer, a young man who came to know Christ last year. They're going to get together on Saturdays after P gets off work. He's on the maintenance staff at one of the nicer resorts in the area so now that summer is over, he's not as busy. Busy, but not as busy.

My daughter is finishing up the semester at college and I'd sure appreciate if you would pray for her. This has been her busiest, most intense semester and there's a lot happening right now. Next week she'll be presenting her research on how new media has affected the way missionaries communicate, with folks back home as well as those on the field. She's also working on a promotional video for the local United Way, finishing up projects for pottery, and preparing for finals in other classes. This morning she handed in her big paper on C. S. Lewis. In addition she works about 25-30 hours a week at a restaurant and helps her grandma care for grandpa when she can. She's an amazing girl who juggles a lot of responsibilities, but I know she is feeling a little stressed out these days.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A busy day in Carlos Paz

My friend Graciela came over this morning. We hadn't seen each other in a long time so had a lot of catching up to do. She and her hubby have been helping their daughter set up her own beauty salon (peluquería). Flor (short for Florencia) had been commuting to Cordoba 35+ km away but on weekends she'd do hair for family and friends at home.

Anyway, they found a place to rent really close to her house but it was bare bones and they had to do everything...install lighting, run the water line from the bathroom in back to the sink in front (where Flor washes the clients' hair), paint, build storage...a LOT of work!

Graciela is an artist and she painted a large mural on one of the walls in a soft impressionistic style. The whole family pitched in to help and had the peluquería ready to open in a very short time. It's so cute and next time we go I'll try and get a photo it.

We go every 5 weeks or so, because Flor is my hairdresser. You ladies know how hard it is to find a good hairdresser when you move, so you can bet I'm thankful to find such a great one so soon!

Graciela brought her book (we're reading a condensed version of Oliver Twist) but we never even opened our books ☺ We spent two hours just jabbering away! I feel pretty good at how much better I'm doing with Graciela. Being used to her speech patterns, I can follow her Spanish pretty well. And because we're good friends, I'm not so self-conscious about talking.

I know I shouldn't be self-conscious with anyone but -- reality check! -- I am. You can tell me to not worry until you're blue in the face and while I'll agree in theory, the fact is I find it very hard to talk to people I don't know in English, much less Spanish!

Last night we had our co-workers over for a pancake dinner. Dear friends in Michigan gave us real maple syrup to bring with us, and you can bet I'm careful with that syrup 'cause it has to last for three years. But this was for a special occasion; tomorrow is A's birthday! I made bacon, sausage (homemade from a friend's recipe), pancakes and fried apples. Muy rico!

It was the first time they'd been over since we unpacked our books last week so A spent a happy half hour looking through and picking out a few books to borrow. For Americans so used to well-stocked public libraries, regular and used bookstores, and garage sales, you have NO IDEA what a treat it is for missionaries to get a source of "new" books. I wish you could have seen the blissful look on A's face as she contemplated the many happy hours of reading ahead ☺

For A's birthday they're attending the start of the World Rally Championship, a really big deal here. The race begins tomorrow and concludes on Sunday. One news article I read had this to say: "One of the WRC's most spectacular and demanding events, Rally Argentina is based from the town of Villa Carlos Paz, 35km south of Cordoba and right in the heart of the stunning Cordobese Sierras."

We didn't know what was going on the other night, just wondered about all the noise. Found out the next day that the man who's won the Rally for the past four years gave a demonstration in his new car. Sébastien Loeb of France drives for Team Citroën and there was quite a crowd down on the costanera to see the show.

I'm not sure how many international teams are here, but we'll probably walk down ourselves and check out what's happening sometime over the weekend. The race takes place all over the Punilla Valley, but the teams are headquartered just blocks away.

Oh, my Spanish tutor told me about another wedding custom here. This is because of the economy and just the difficulty of being able to afford a wedding. More and more wedding invitations include a card for the reception that tells you what it will cost to attend. Yep, you pay for the dinner yourself. Wonder if this idea will catch on in the U.S. the way things are going?

Finally, my sweet hubby has spent the day painting the kitchen. With vaulted ceilings and furniture and appliances to work around, it was quite the job. It looks fantastic!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tradiciones de casamientos

My homework today is researching wedding traditions in Argentina. So far I've discovered some interesting differences...

Rather than having a maid of honor and best man, the bride's father and the groom's mother typically escort the couple in and stand with them during the religious ceremony.

This is after they've handled the legal part, or civil ceremony, first. The church wedding is usually held the same day but not always.

While the tradition of having "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" is found here also, the something blue is usually a blue petticoat under the dress. Don't know that I've ever seen a blue petticoat in the U.S.

Forget a wedding reception that lasts just a couple of hours...Argentines like to party all night long! The typical reception begins at 10 p.m. and goes until 6 a.m., ending with a continental style breakfast.

And you won't find little finger foods either. People who party all night need fortification! Food is plentiful and substantial.

Today most receptions are held in a salón de eventos. It's not exactly a restaurant - you rent the place and the catering, service, DJ, everything is included. They organize the timing of the party - serving several different courses between times to dance (appetizer, dancing, first course, dancing, so on). Dancing begins with a waltz by the bride and groom, then the bride and her father, and then other people join in. Once the waltz is over, modern and/or "oldies" from the bride and groom's teenage years are played. It's becoming more and more popular to have carnaval carioca with Brazilian music at the end.

A different take on a common tradition, the bride wears multiple garters and gives them away to the single women in the party. In some cases, the new husband has to take off the garters - one by one - and put them on the legs of single women. Awkward!

Another tradition is to have lots of ribbons on top of the cake. Before cutting it, each of the single women take one of the ribbons and pull. The ribbons have trinkets tied to the ends. One is a ring and the whoever pulls it is supposed to be the next to get married (similar to catching the bouquet).

And because Argentina is a country of immigrants just like the U.S., you'll have odd little traditions popping up that represent the couple's heritage...be it French, Italian, German, whatever.

This is what I've uncovered after just an hour or so of research. Anyone have anything to add? I hoped to find information about wedding traditions of the indigenous Indians in the north but haven't been successful yet.

My homework assignment doesn't stop with this research. In coming days I'll have to interview those who provide different services, develop a calendar/schedule complete with a budget, and track down all the items that would be needed for a full-fledged wedding.

I'd hate for all this work to go to waste. You remember that we have to get married here, right? Argentina doesn't recognize our marriage license from the U.S. so... Couldn't get my hubby to renew his vows on our 25th, but our 30th is coming up! ☺

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Week 16, Project 365

I'm starting to realize I take a lot of similar photos...on our walks, food, pretty flowers. So I tried to mix it up a little this week but you know what? I'm fascinated with things I see on our walks and with food ☺ Flowers, too, but I didn't take any of those this week. But thinking about it has made me TRY to stretch myself and look for things out of the ordinary (at least for me). We'll see how it goes in coming weeks.

As always, you can check out the photography of other 365 participants by just hopping over to Sara's place who graciously hosts us even when she's had a rough week with the flu. Hope you start feeling better soon Sara!

There's a place near us called La Cocina (The Kitchen) that cooks primarily for take out. They do have a couple small tables but their focus is not on serving customers on site. For working women especially, La Cocina provides great food at a reasonable price. One of my Spanish assignments was to interview someone who worked there and find out if there is something typically served at Easter. Paella was on the menu the day I stopped by, which was Good Friday, a.k.a. a meat-free day on the calendar for Catholics so La Cocina offered a traditional seafood dish. Forget plain old fish, look at all that other stuff! My dear hubby tackled the dining room this week. He spent all day Monday stripping the floor of old wax build-up. What a job! This is a house we often pass on our walks and I just love it! How the fence mirrors the rounded room on the corner of the house. We were driving through farm country and had to stop to pay toll so I quickly snapped a picture of the almost-ready-to-harvest sorghum. This window display caught my eye. I just thought it was too cute! Yes, another house from a walk. I loved how the ivy was climbing all over this place and the bougainvillea just under the balcony...can you imagine having coffee on that balcony in the morning? This just looks like a happy house! We traveled to San Francisco on Saturday. San Francisco in Cordoba Province ☺ We passed quite a few large estancias on the way to this city on the plains. It's about three hours due east of where we live and it's amazing how completely flat it is such a short distance away. Here's hubby at one of the plazas in town with the flag flying in the background. Not a whole lot happening here, but we enjoyed the calmer ambience -- even the traffic is more well-behaved.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The First Annual Bloggers Quilt Festival is here!

Two posts in one day ☺ When I posted earlier I didn't know about the wonderful First Annual Bloggers Quilt Festival going on over at Park City Girl's place for the next week.

Click on that cute button and check out the many quilts on "display"!

I didn't have to think long or hard to know which quilt I wanted to feature in my post: my first "art" quilt. I'd been wanting to try my hand at interpreting a painting of some sort, and knowing my skill level had decided that cubism was an ideal place to start (there are big blocks of color and the corners don't have to meet). I'd also been wanting to make a gift for a dear friend who spent some years in Spain but is now living in D.C. So when I found the work of Juan Gris, I knew it was perfect! It was hard narrowing it down to which of his paintings I wanted to interpret, though. I love his work, and he created some wonderful monochromatic pieces as well as beautiful vibrant ones.

I finally settled on "Landscape with Houses at Ceret" because it is discernibly a landscape (not all cubism is identifiable) with houses and this was to be a housewarming gift. Plus the bright colors match my friend's personality! It was SO much fun to choose the fabrics and materials to use in this project, a chance to use some dimensional items (cording, buttons, beads) for a little more interest. For someone who'd done primarily very traditional quilting, this was a challenging and stretching experience! I loved every minute of it. Many months worth ☺ I didn't have a lot of time to work on it...a morning here and there, and an hour or so in the evenings a few times a week.

I carefully cut and pieced the top together like a puzzle. Literally!
Then I quilted it by hand, adding the dimensional objects as I went along. Each block of color is quilted differently, depending on my mood at the time. The finished piece is about 3'x5' (sorry, but I didn't measure it before I gave it away). It now hangs in my friend's dining room.
This quilt was a turning point for me, as I became more and more convinced of the value in making quilted wall art. I'd love to make everyone I know an art quilt ☺ There aren't enough hours in the day, but now I have several projects under way and I keep an expanding journal of original ideas. While it was a lot of fun to interpret an existing piece of art, I began to see the possibilities of designing my own. It liberated my creative side to be bolder with color, shapes, design...and the use of other materials (metal, stone, paper, found objects and so on).

It's also the reason I'm finally, after all these years, taking an art class. I'm hoping what I learn will translate into better art quilts.

The theoretical vs. the practical

Just finished another test in Spanish. I don't have a clue how I did; I just know some concepts are still a struggle. Theoretically I understand them (i.e., when to use preterite and when to use preterite imperfect) but when it comes to actual usage...whole 'nother ballgame!

Kinda like art. Theoretically I understand use of color and form, but trying to put into practice what I'm learning...not so easy. Yesterday we created paper collages. My art teacher told us to bring old magazines but since I don't have any I took bits and pieces of paper left over from various projects (remember, I don't throw anything away!). I ran into problems when I needed larger pieces because we were instructed to keep our designs simple, along the lines of modern cubist art.

Next week we'll be doing a similar project but in shades of gray -- back to the concept of light and shadow. Since I don't have much in the way of gray paper, I'm going to have to scrounge and ask friends if they have old magazines. Should be an interesting exercise, though.

This week she wanted us to play with color, to use muted shades for the most part with the occasional pop of brillente to keep it from being boring. It appears I like the color green since I had a LOT of many different shades in my bag of scraps. I also had a considerable amount of lavender (from when I was making bridal shower invitations).

One of my new words is boceto: sketch. After playing with pieces of paper, arranging and re-arranging them on my cardboard for over half an hour, the teacher suggested I draw a sketch of what I wanted my final project to look like. She said it would help. I think she was afraid I'd NEVER finish at the rate I was going ☺

[She was right. My boceto did help and I had covered 7/8 of my cardboard at the end of three hours. I'm really, really tempted to just cut off that final 1/8 section and call it good.]

Toward the end I was looking at my collage with a critical eye, knowing it lacked pizzazz but having no clue what to do about it. The teacher came along, I explained my feeling and she immediately grabbed a block of red, slapped it on near the center and voila! it was perfect. How did she do that?!

That's how I feel in a lot of cultural situations also. How do you KNOW what to do?! We'll have an "experience" and later we'll talk about it, wondering if we should have said or done something different. Often we have NO CLUE.

Spanish. Art. Adjusting to a new culture. All things I understand theoretically...

It will get better ☺ I just keep thinking about a year down the road...I'll be able to communicate more than I do now. I still may not get everything right, but I'll be able to say and understand more. My art is never going to hang on the walls of a museum but what I'm learning is enriching my life. And -- hopefully -- we won't be making as many cultural gaffes in a year's time either. Surely we'll have a better idea of what's expected and what NOT to do.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

FREE Books! Yes, you read that right...

5minutesforbooks.com is hosting a wonderful book giveaway! They will have one giveaway a day between April 15 - 25, giving away a total of 17 books worth over $225. There will be novels, memoirs, other non-fiction, and books to encourage a mother's heart. What's not to love about that?! You'll see the button on my sidebar so you're just a click away from possibly winning a free book or seventeen ☺

Books are very much on my mind today as the hubby finished the third bookshelf last night and today we finished unpacking our books!!! We had to stack a lot of the paperbacks two deep in order to fit them all in, so it's a good thing he made the shelves 10" deep.

Two of the bookshelves are in the dining room. Each of those is 34" wide and 76" tall. A smaller one (24" wide, 76" tall) went into the office. I could spend a lot of time just sitting and looking at the loveliness of all my books finally unpacked. *blissful sigh* It has been a long and lonely nine months since I packed 667 books into 17 boxes.

He already plans on building another bookshelf since these are already so crowded but the pressure is off...ALL the books are shelved, even if many are double stacked. He'll come back to this project after we get a few more pressing ones out of the way.

Like a desk for the office.

As well as a pantry cabinet in the kitchen.

Plus the remainder of the painting (kitchen, bath and hallway).


Meanwhile I can now have the daughter start sending the books I've picked up on eBay and Amazon in recent months. I am ever vigilant for books at greatly discounted rates and special deals. Because one can never have enough books. Never.

Or enough bookshelves.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

So did you know...

In case you didn't hear, an Argentine won the Master's this year! Angel Cabrera is a "most unlikely champion" according to ESPN. Not being a fan of sports, this important information might have gone completely unnoticed in the House of Hoyt were it not for a conversation with friends from the U.S.

Our internet connection with friends and family back home provides not only up-to-the-minute news and information, but also allows the hubby to trouble-shoot water heater problems from 6000 miles away and permits me to make online banking way more complicated than it needs to be. *sigh*

But then you stop and think...it's truly amazing that we're able to be this connected. The daughter is doing some preliminary research into how missionaries use various technologies these days, and it's mind bloggling how far we've come in just a short time. When my in-laws were on the field, snail mail was about the only way to communicate. Phone calls were rare and very, very expensive. I remember early in our marriage when the postal service in Argentina went on strike and we had NO WAY to communicate with my in-laws for months. Some missionaries used ham radios but few had the equipment and know-how.

Then along came fax machines. It made doing important business a little faster and easier, but still time-consuming. You had to find a business that offered the service, coordinate with those in the other country, and it often took multiple trips to complete the transaction. I remember the story another missionary told of traveling two hours to the capital city for a fax, waiting in a long line at the central post office for several more hours, and then paying $2 per page to receive a birthday message someone had sent to one of their children, with one letter per page! It cost them a day of travel and waiting and $32 to "receive" the message. I'm sure the person in the U.S. thought they were doing a nice thing, but it was a very frustrating experience for the missionary.

We happened to be in Uganda during 9/11. Deep in the bush where we had no electricity (used solar power) but we DID have a cell phone. And our son called us right after the second plane hit the World Trade Center so within minutes of the attack we had our radio tuned in to the BBC and listened to the events unfolding half a world away. The hubby was picking someone up at the nearby hospital, and while he was waiting he visited a friend who had his television turned on and they saw the towers collapse. Later that night all the Americans in the area gathered at the hospital to watch CNN as they broadcast the news via satellite all over the world.

So now fast forward to today...we have e-mail, Skype, Vonage (VoIP), blogging and personal websites, cell phones, texting (SMS/MMS), and networking sites (like Facebook). Yikes! Any wonder that I panicked yesterday when my internet went down?!

It'll be interesting to see what the daughter's research uncovers. How does all this technology help a missionary get to the field, stay on the field, be more effective on the field?

I love being able to stay in touch with friends all over the world. This morning we received an e-mail from a friend in Uganda. She shared about a group of MKs (missionary kids) from Russia who came to work at Kasana Children's Center and how "they did an outstanding presentation in our classrooms on Russian life and culture. The favorite of the kids was learning to sing the song Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes in Russian and seeing the different letters in the Russian alphabet."

How cool is that?! Orphans in the African bush learning songs from a group of kids originally from the U.S. but who now live in Russia and whose story about visiting Uganda is being transmitted around the world via e-mail, blogging, and who knows what other format?

How can you NOT get EXCITED to hear what God is doing in Argentina, Uganda, Indonesia, Thailand...as well as Dallas, San Francisco, Cleveland Tennessee... I'm very thankful to be a missionary in this new era of technology ☺

Monday, April 13, 2009

We were a little down, then the internet joined us

Although this has nothing to do with the topic today, I just had to share: this morning during devotions we were reading in Ezekiel and the hubby chuckled when he got to 3:1, because his parents liked to quote this verse at the dinner table when he was growing up: “Son of man, eat what is set before you.”

Sometimes you just gotta stop and pop the odd thing in there, right?

What I really wanted to talk about is how the Lord brings along what you need when you need it. We’ve been a little discouraged lately. Last night we got online and listened to a message our pastor preached in November and it was exactly what we needed to hear.

An exposition of Romans 8:28. As Pastor said, one of the most claimed AND misunderstood promises in Scripture. Paul isn’t talking about God giving us all the things WE want. Not.At.All. Paul is talking about how God’s predestination is focused on an intended outcome: our conformity to the image of Christ. What is GOOD then, is that which will accomplish our transformation. God makes GOOD all things that will aid in this process of conforming us to His image.

Sometimes that means we need to experience His sufficiency in suffering.

Not that we’re languishing or suffering exceedingly. We’ve just been discouraged with the slow pace of ministry and with my health issues. Like the thorn Paul kept asking be removed, until he realized God.Had.A.Purpose.For.The.Thorn.

Because you know what? God has the power to take every event, every experience in our lives and make it GOOD, use it to conform us into His image.

Can I just say: AMEN!

Our internet went down mid-morning and a call to the company indicated it could take 72 hours to get properly fixed.


Apparently we have noise on our phone line and the noise was really loud all day. This evening the connection came back for a very brief period [I've only been checking every hour on the hour...okay, every half hour all day], then it went down again...we'll see how long it stays up this time.

Meanwhile the hubby was actually getting some real work done, stripping years of wax build-up off the dining room floor. Back-breaking work. Said back is now saying it does not appreciate the contortions required to get the floor done.

Believe me, we’ll be a lot more careful with the next rental to make sure these things are not our responsibility! We thought we were getting a good trade: lower rent in return for doing the cleaning and painting ourselves. Not only has the work far outweighed the difference in cost, we’re realizing that there was no difference because tucked into the contract was the stipulation that we pay the property taxes. Know what that does? Brings the rent up to the going rate, or a little beyond.

Live and learn. Wonder how this is helping to conform us?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Week 15, Project 365

Easter is different for us this year. I missed being able to go to our Good Friday service and I'm thinking longingly of the Sunrise Service back home (taking place even as I type this). But no matter where you are today HE IS RISEN! And we can rejoice in His resurrection and the new life that brought us. Hallelujah!

Even though Sara's hosting Project 365 Monday instead of Sunday this week, I'm posting my photos today as usual. I'm afraid if I get out of the routine, I won't get back in! I'm amazed I've stuck with it this long ☺ First up is a not-so-good photo of the matching mother/daughter aprons I made this week for my sister and her girls. By the time I finished them it was late and the ceiling light created a glare on all my photos. We've been hearing about this amazing bakery and their scrumpdelicious cakes. I'm just here to tell you, it's all true! We stopped by this week. Lovely box, heh? It's actually a pretty big box, and we bought the smallest cake they had (about 7" across) so it seemed sort of dwarfed inside the box. But you couldn't tell once we opened it up and took it out... ...and sliced into it...and before I could stop and take a photo I had to take a bite! Can you blame me?! Yes, it is delicious as it looks. It is so dense and rich and chocolatey that it will take us a week or more to finish it, tiny slice by tiny slice. This first piece was way too big! It took two sittings to finish what I thought was a small slice.

Yesterday I mentioned going to the XXVII Feria Internacional de Artesanians and promised more pictures. There were over 700 artesanos stretched over several buildings and it took us hours to make one pass through the entire show! A veritable feast for the eyes ☺ We thought our daughter, who's taking pottery again this semester, would enjoy a picture of one of the ceramica displays. The feria was also a feast for the ears. Here's one of the artesanos playing an instrument he handcrafted. Sheep, vicuña and alpaca (cousins of the llama) wool are used to make lovely sweaters, shawls, scarves, socks, gloves and ponchos. This wood carving artesano kept working despite the chaos and cacophony surrounding him. Thousands of people crowded the feria, buying beautiful things made from wood, leather, bone, wool, silver...by artesanos from all over Latin America. No quilts, but we did find this artesana who called her things "patschwork" -- leather goods of all sorts, created by piecing bits of leather together. We enjoyed the show tremendously -- what talent, what inspiration.

I can't close the post today without saying that my prayer is for each of you to have a blessed Easter, reflecting on the risen Savior!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ferias are fun

I went to my first feria yesterday, the XXVII Feria International de Artesanians in Cordoba. Wow! Over 700 artesanos from all over Latin America showing everything from items made with leather, bone, wood or silver to hand-woven fabric to pottery to stained glass to... You get the idea. Not your average junk-in-a-tourist-shop stuff either. From what I understand, this is a juried feria so in order to be accepted you have to pass some basic criteria. I'll be posting a few more photos tomorrow (Project 365) but here's one to whet your appetite. These guys were doing some impromptu jamming at a booth where they sold handcrafted drums. There was also a booth with wooden flutes and wind-type instruments commonly used in music from the Andes Mountains and those artesanos played as well.

We spent hours just doing one pass through the multiple buildings to see all the vendors from Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru... Can you believe I bought NOTHING? Neither can I! The overwhelming array of options paralyzed my ability to do more than just look.

A few things stood out though. The wooden vases, platters and jewelry boxes were gorgeous! Several stained glass artesanos displayed stunning doors, lamps, and decorative pieces that made me wish I had unlimited supplies of money. Or the ability to make them myself.

Seeing all those beautiful handcrafted items was inspiring. My hubby saw pieces he thinks he can duplicate, like a floor lamp for the living room that was part wood, part metal, welded together in a very interesting fashion.

Once again I longed for the ability to knit or crochet because there were vendors selling lovely, lovely, lovely skeins of yarn AND others selling beautiful hand-turned wooden hooks and needles.

I did not see any quilts. Lots of handwoven items made with wool from sheep raised in the mountains or down in Patagonia, but no pieced work. Except in leather. One booth had a sign saying "Patschwork" and the lady had purses, vests and rugs made from pieced leather.

An altogether fun time at the feria! We went with my language tutor and because she'd been there before she knew the most efficient way to conquer the feria. And I don't use that word lightly. It was sorta like going into battle against the hordes of people crowding the aisles and clogging up intersections between rows. Next year we'll try to go earlier in the week when it's not so crowded.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I am a material girl

Yesterday we stopped at the local fabric store and they have flannel! Only in two prints, one light blue and one light pink, but I was excited to find it at all. It's called viyella. Since I use flannel for backing baby quilts, pink and blue will suffice. I picked up a meter and a half of the blue for the blue/green baby quilt I want to start soon. There's just something about the feel and smell of new fabric ☺ I know some women get excited about buying new clothes or shoes or accessories. For me it's books and fabric!

I miss being able to get right up to the fabric and look at it and touch it and carry it around to compare with other fabrics, because here it's all on shelves BEHIND the counter requiring that you ask for it. I wonder how it is in other countries? Sarah, in Indonesia do they have fabric stores and do they keep the material out where you can touch it? What's it like in Portugal, Lara? Anyone else reading from other places and want to add what it's like where you live?

Thanks to all who encouraged me yesterday. I'm not feeling so badly about only getting two words in the Spanish exercise the other day. The hubby only knew four the first time through, and my SIL (who taught Spanish at the university level) six. We won't talk about how they could have figured out the remainder on a second run while I only had two words after listening again and again and again for over an hour.

Today I did two more listening exercises online and did MUCH better. On the first I missed one word -- well, actually only a letter, I wasn't hearing the "o" on the end of a word -- and all CORRECT on the second. Woot! These were movie trailers with more than one person speaking in each, so that makes me feel doubly good ☺

Time to get back to Spanish. I haven't gone through my vocabulary cards yet today. I did add some to the pile, though, while reading a blog post by an Argentine quilter. All the quilters I've found online are in Buenos Aires. Would sure be nice to find someone in Carlos Paz, or even Cordoba which is 1/2 hour away. I think I just might have to talk some of my new friends into becoming quilters ☺

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spanish, it's gonna kill me

I sometimes despair that I'll EVER understand Spanish. Seeing the words written is so very different than hearing them spoken. My homework was to listen to a song online and fill in the missing blanks.

People, after an hour I had figured out TWO words. TWO WORDS! After an hour. *sigh*

Iff'n you'd like to give it a whirl, go right ahead and try. And don't tell me if you do a lot better than two words after an hour, 'kay?

I was much more successful with my sewing project. Yesterday I finished the matching mother/daughter aprons for my sister and her two little girls. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, considering I didn't have a pattern and made it up as I went along. The hardest part was trying to shrink the pattern to fit the girls. (Have I mentioned math is not my strong suit?) But I think they are about the right size. Hope so anyway! I bought the fabric for these aprons over a year ago. Not setting any speed records, am I? But hey, at least they're done now. And going out in the mail as soon as I get an envelope!

While we're on the subject of sewing...we'd like to make some puppets but the website my co-worker thought would have the patterns charges big bucks. Anyone have a clue where we can get FREE or very inexpensive puppet patterns?

While I was happily cutting and sewing, and ripping out seams (did I just admit that?) and trying to do a little math, my hubby was installing the light fixtures in the living room and bath, running the gas line to the spot in the kitchen where we have a heater now, installing another outlet in the kitchen...AND he took time to make an amazing lunch! He whipped up a yummy asado and we thoroughly enjoyed eating on the back patio. The tomatoes and peppers are from our "garden" (i.e., plants along the wall). We're finding our favorite way to cook the readily available butternut squash is simply to roast or grill it. The sugars caramelize and make it so tasty!

Mondays are always pretty low key as we unwind from the weekend. Most people unwind on their weekends. For us, weekends are usually our busiest. 'Cause that's the best time to hang with people ☺

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Week 14, Project 365

Something so satisfying about writing Week 14 ☺ I just love checking off another number and I'm sure many of you feel the same way!

Last Sunday afternoon the hubby and I spent a little time "just a swangin'" in our hammock. I took some pictures of us, our feet and the view from the hammock. This is the only one that made the cut. Even though our feet were clean, the tan lines from our sandals make 'em look dirty. I figured there's only so much I can expose y'all to before you quit coming back!
We're back to walking most mornings so I have a few shots from our paseos. First up is about two blocks over; I loved how these two very different houses sit side-by-side, one with its modern sensibilities and the other with it's classic lines. Aren't those garage doors great?!
We like interesting architectural details, like this undulating fence. We're starting a "scrapbook" of things we really like, so that if we're ever able to build a place of our own we'll have lots of ideas to work with. This next photo is dedicated to some friends of ours, whose last name is Chopp (hey, Chris & Amy!) and who we knew would get a kick out of this "Chopperia" ☺ A step up from a bar, it's basically a place to drink beer. Thursday they buried a former president of Argentina and flags were flying at half mast. This flag sits in a plaza in front of a nearby grocery store. The plane is a French-made Mirage and dates from the Guerra de las Malvinas I mentioned in Thursday's post.
Friday's trip into Cordoba yielded only four photos (too busy doing other stuff). One I shared yesterday. The hubby took this one while sitting and drinking coffee as I perused this fine establishment with all things household related. Reminded me a bit of Pier 1 Import but it had more furniture. They have a lovely tall, blue vase I'm not yet at the point where I want to buy things like that...it would be better to wait until I have a table to set it on ☺ Seven of my thirteen rose bushes are in bloom. I'm wondering if it's the last hurrah before winter. It was 55 when I woke up this morning! Brrrrr! I know some of y'all would love to have it that warm, but after 80s and 90s, 55 seems quite chilly. This photo shows the two bushes on either side of our front gate. I'm going to pick a couple of the buds to finish blooming inside so I can enjoy its beauty all day long and not just when I'm out in the yard. Just a final note...I'm sure most of you know that Sara's Aunt Mary Nelle passed away last Sunday. If you haven't had a chance to read Sara's Tribute, take time now. It's a beautiful testimony to the life of Mary Nelle Grusendorf...and Sara!

In the midst of all that's going on in her life, Sara has continued to graciously host Project 365. Thank you Sara!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

To build or to buy? That was the question.

We traveled into Cordoba Friday for our monthly pilgrimage, although this time we didn't take such a long "to do" list. For one thing, the place where we'd been buying just about all our non-food items (cleaning, paper, personal care products) burned down recently and we haven't found comparable prices elsewhere yet. Meanwhile we're just buying locally on an as-needed basis, rather than in bulk.

The primary purpose of this trip was to look at furniture, seeing what's available and pricing different pieces. We spent three hours hitting a three block stretch filled with furniture stores. After you've been in a few, you've pretty much seen it all. But the reconnoissance proved helpful as we debated how much the hubby should build and what we'd be better off buying ready-made. Considering how ridiculous some of the prices are, the hubby's project list just got a LOT longer!

We did get some good design ideas, surreptitiously snapping photos of things we especially liked. Our favorite is arts & crafts (or mission) style with straight, clean lines and little or no ornamentation. Which is good, since that will be easier to build. The hubby brought tools but not for the fancy schmancy stuff. In addition to the things already on the list, he's going to build nightstands, end tables and a coffee table. Wish he could build a couch! After sitting on a good many VERY uncomfortable pieces of furniture that were quite expensive, we're sort of discouraged about what's available in the area of sofa beds. Maybe we'll find something we like better. No big hurry; we just need to have a couch that doubles as a bed by the end of the year when we're expecting a house full of company.

We did find two light fixtures (living room and bath) so that's exciting. No more dangling light bulbs! Plus we picked up a storage bin for potatoes, onions and other vegetables; it's got three wire "drawers" that slide out, and the piece fits perfectly under the kitchen sink. I love getting more ORGANIZED!

And we made the requisite stop at Walmart for tin foil, wax paper and peanut butter, a few of the things we just cannot buy locally. Gotta have my p.b. and banana sandwich periodically! What's your favorite peanut butter sandwich? Plain? With jelly? Banana? Something else?

Can you imagine life without peanut butter?! I'm so glad I don't have to ☺

Thursday, April 2, 2009

History in the making

Today is another national holiday. This one is to honor those who served and died in a little conflict the rest of the world called the Falkland Crisis, but which is known here as the Guerra de las Malvinas (War of the Malvinas).

School children in Argentina are taught the Malvinas belong to their country; my hubby was an adult before he realized the population spoke English and flew the British flag on the Malvinas. His younger brother, with dual citizenship, almost fought in the Conflict (he was 19 when the war broke out).

It was truly a haunting experience listening to my hubby and his brothers sing patriotic Argentine songs during one of our family reunions. I imagine their feelings are a lot like ours when we hear The Star Spangled Banner or America The Beautiful. I remember goosebumps on my arms during a memorial event at the American Embassy in Uganda shortly after 9/11, when we stood to sing our national anthem. Doesn't matter if it's a Little League ballgame or a swearing in ceremony for new American citizens, there's something about our flag and the songs that convey how we feel about being part of one of the world's greatest democracies.

Today is also the day they buried Raúl Alfonsín, the first democratically elected president of Argentina after the Guerra de las Malvinas and fall of the military dictatorship. President from 1983 - 1989, he was booted out of office due primarily to hyper-inflation and a populace unhappy with how slow the wheels of justice were turning for those implicated in the "Dirty War" of the 1970s. But today was a day for remembering the positive things he accomplished and Argentines by the thousands descended on Buenos Aires. Probably good that it was already a national holiday because I think the funeral would have brought everything to a stand still anyway. I'm learning about Argentine history and, like our own, it's complicated and not as black and white as the textbooks try to make it. These holidays and events like the funeral help bring home what's important to this people, to this culture. The learning curve is immense when you move to another country, and we ex-pats can use all the help we can get! I'm an American and will always be a proud citizen of the U.S. but I can appreciate what my new country has to offer, and learning the history is the least I can do.