Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3...

This will be a quick post because it's almost 11 p.m. and I am TIRED. But I wanted to share an experience I had today.

Last week my Spanish tutor asked if I'd be interested in helping give the oral exams at a local English Institute. Having never done anything like that before, I wasn't sure how well I'd do but was willing to try. Today was the first day and it was a "light" one with just two small classes. The director and I interviewed the students individually with me asking the questions in English and responding to their answers. (The director is my dentist's sister, by the way.) Then after the student left the room, we conferred over the different aspects of language usage: fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, and structure (there was a fifth one but do you think I can remember it right now?). Each category was worth 20 points.

All of the students are in their first year and it was interesting to see how much more nervous the adults were than the adolescents. I'm not so different after all :-) I could really empathize with their look of complete terror at the beginning and then profound relief at the end of the interview! LOL

I'll be going back tomorrow for a longer period to help test the children's classes.

Tomorrow we're also having our friends, Nestor and Graciela, over for a traditional southern meal: bar-b-que pulled pork, cornbread, cole slaw, jello salad and a pineapple upside down cake for dessert. I know I should probably be serving sweet tea, but decided to go with lemonade instead. Lemons were less than $1/lb and I couldn't resist. It's been a sweet forever since I had fresh lemonade.

I'd forgotten how long it takes to put together a meal like this. I've spent hours in the kitchen today, between preparing food and cleaning up the mess. I washed dishes three times! But I'm looking forward to sharing a little of my home culture with our friends.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Our adventure

We had an adventure this weekend! As you may remember, we planned this getaway to celebrate our 30th anniversary.

And because I want to milk it for all it's worth, this will be a longish post. Consider yourself warned :-)

Saturday morning we overslept. When we did wake up and realized how late it was, we jumped out of bed and raced around getting ready, throwing pajamas in the suitcase along with everything else we'd packed the night before, and actually making it out the door in less than 25 minutes. Whew!

We were able to do that because we'd planned to just stop at YPF on the way and grab breakfast. They have a special (less than $3 U.S.) that includes café con leche, toast, facturas (breakfast pastries), freshly squeezed orange juice and the requisite butter and jam. Only our jam didn't come in little sealed packets but in tiny ceramic bowls.

Then we hit the road. "Over the mountains and through the woods..." Well, there were no woods but we did go over the mountains! Up, up, up and around lots of curves with an occasional stretch of straight. I'm not good with heights and spent a good part of the trip with my eyes closed. Or peeking through barely open eyes so I could make sure we were still on the road but couldn't see anything else. Because we were up VERY HIGH. We arrived at our destination 2-1/2 hours after leaving Carlos Paz. That's a long time to keep your eyes closed.

(Okay, so I really only closed them during the top-of-the-mountain part. But I TOLD you, I'm milking this for all it's worth.)

Whitefield lies in the shadow of Champaqui, the tallest mountain in Cordoba Province. This B&B-like place is practically brand spanking new, having just opened this year. And we were their first winter visitors.

This is the nicest place I've ever been in Argentina. Maybe anywhere. Aside from the amazing scenery there are several spacious, well appointed houses that are spotlessly clean, a separate building housing the sauna, jacuzzi, massage station...and the owners have sought to make it "green" by incorporating newer energy technology into the design. Sounds ideal.

Except I may have mentioned we were their first winter visitors?

Yeah, their green design doesn't quite cut the winter weather. After spending the afternoon with a new friend we'd met over the internet due to our interest in alternative construction methods (straw bale in this case), we returned to find our house still freezing cold.

You see, Whitefield is out beyond where the natural gas lines go so their options for heating are propane (very expensive), electricity (also quite expensive) and wood (not practical for a set-up like this). They're using radiant wall heat powered by propane -- which is very expensive, remember -- so they hadn't turned it on until the day we arrived. The radiant wall heat couldn't compete with the coldness emanating from the tile floors and exterior block walls. It was muy frio!

We climbed into bed with every blanket we could find and re-watched an old favorite: My Big Fat Greek Wedding. We watched it on my Macbook which doesn't have the greatest sound quality, so we'd also brought along a small radio/amplifier that came with one of Ivan's 18 volt battery tool kits. Unfortunately the battery on that died about 1/3 of the way into the movie. So I moved the computer to my lap directly in front of our faces and we tried not to cough or rustle the bed covers so we could hear the movie. I appreciated the little bit of extra warmth the computer radiated! I slept with my longjohns on underneath my flannel pajamas, a sweater over my pj top, and three pair of socks.

Needless to say, I was more than happy to head over to the main house this morning for breakfast. As soon as I walked in, I made a bee-line for this: Our gracious hosts (who had arrived on-site a short time earlier to prepare breakfast) felt terrible about our ordeal and wouldn't let us pay anything at all. We spent quite a bit of time chatting with them after we ate, and Ivan had a few suggestions on how they can deal with the situation. We assured them we'll be back. Maybe in summer :-) Besides, I really, really want to spend some time in the jacuzzi and get a massage! Plus they put on quite a nice spread for breakfast. But you know, it's really all part of my master plan to make this anniversary last all year :-)

After packing up, we decided to drive around and take lots of photos before we headed home. There are some quintessential Argentine towns in the area. Like San Javier where all the businesses cluster around the town square, with the Catholic church in a prominent position. This church was in an adjacent town and set back from the road a bit, rather than right on the square. Those huge wooden doors are a work of art. One restaurant had fired up the outdoor pit and was roasting a cabrito (goat). It was still a while until lunch time though, so we only stopped to take a photo. These are some seriously large cacti! We'd hoped to get some olive oil here, since we'd been advised that they had the best. But they're closed on Sundays. As was just about every other place. We finally did find one roadside store and bought both olive oil and a jar of olives. This is an area with lots of olive trees and they're known for their oil. Looking forward to trying it out! Not that I'm an olive oil connoisseur or anything. But we use olive oil almost exclusively; the only thing I don't use it for is baking. And the price was better than anything we've found around here.

The road over the mountain was closed for a while due to an accident (now that is why I keep my eyes closed!) so we spent a happy hour visiting Mina Clavero. But even with the delay, we were still home well before dark. It was a beautiful day so we decided to take a walk along the costanera, and found we weren't the only ones who had that idea. This is a block from our house.

We ended the day with an impromptu meal of baked potatoes slathered in butter, sour cream and cheese with a side of red pepper and carrot sticks and ranch dip (a shout out to my sister who sent the dry ranch mix!).

Maybe not the weekend we envisioned, but it was an adventure!

Week 26, Project 365

Woohoo! We're halfway there! How exciting is that :-)

It sure doesn't seem possible that half the year is already gone. It's doubly weird because I'm still adjusting to having the seasons be opposite of what I'm used to and my mind hasn't quite wrapped itself around the idea that it's June and WINTER. I feel sorta stuck in a time warp.

Especially when I look at photos others are posting on Project 365 and y'all are in shorts and swimsuits (well, the kids are anyway) and obviously sweltering in the heat.

Last weekend I missed posting photos for Project 365 because we were in Sta. Rosa and the internet was completely uncooperative. We were there so Ivan could install the bathroom floor. As you may remember, he'd torn it all up in the process of replacing the pipes the week before. Before he could put the tile down though, he had to grind, grind, grind the cement slab until it was smooth and level, apply a thin coat of cement-like stuff (that's the scientific term) and then FINALLY lay the tiles. Using glue that didn't come with directions. It was a long and sometimes frustrating day for him. Here he is during the grinding process. The photo isn't fuzzy, that's the cement dust creating a haze. Let me tell you that was fun to clean off every.single.surface in the house the next day. NOT! My husband is a man of many talents. He's also growing a winter garden which is a source of great enjoyment as we watch green things grow. I feel like I should paste a warning in the corner of this photo: "Objects may be closer than they appear." This is CLOSE-UP people, these lettuce plants are only about 2-3" tall. Monday was our monthly marathon shopping day in Cordoba. While we were downtown checking on our D.N.I.s, I noticed this pharmacy (or farmacia) that just tickled my fancy. We went here to check out baseboard options to finish off the bathroom in Sta. Rosa. I could spend hours in this place! Because it's full of great little stores selling every kind of construction material you can imagine. A mall of home improvement -- whoever thought this up was a genius! Ivan snapped this photo along the costanera. Wild parrots are actually rather pesky birds and leave a mess everywhere they go. But they sure are a pretty green. We skyped with both kids when they got together for dinner one night. I was trying to take a photo of the screen with my camera when my son explained I could just take a screen shot with the computer. Duh! I've only had this computer a year and a half. Can there be anyone more technically challenged than me? Anyway, here's the candid shot I took while he was still explaining the finer points. LOL On the left are photos he'd sent of his new haircut and which I'd opened in another window. Or something. I'm not really sure how they're up there along with the video shot of the kids. I'm sure he could explain it to you though. Did you know that fresh mozzarella is almost impossible to shred? We found it's easier to just slice thinly with a cheese slicer. Ivan has gotten to know a man who has designed and built several planes over the years, and Friday I met him and his wife. She's an artist so we took this photo of her with one of her sculptures that's currently in front of their house. Would you believe she actually created it in her living room?! It was a commissioned piece for a plaza in our city but the new mayor reneged on the deal. Meanwhile she provides a little extra pizazz to the neighborhood. Magdalena was telling us she's seen complete strangers stop and take pictures with it. Reminds me of the time we stopped at Wall Drugs in the middle of South Dakota and proceeded to take our photos with everything from a dinosaur to a cowboy sitting on a bench. Does everyone have this odd human compulsion to take photos with any inanimate object as big as (or bigger than) us?

So what's the weirdest thing you've ever had your photo taken with?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Y'all are the best!

I have the best blog buddies! Thanks for the info on how to auto post -- so glad it's a simple function :-) The hubby reminded me we have that 3G thingy which provides internet access via the cell phone so we should be okay. But I think I'll still get the post ready today just in case. If nothing else, I'm pretty sure uploading photos will be quicker and easier from here.

The DMD continued throughout yesterday as I compulsively kept going back to the website to look at frames. I ended up sending a few more options to my "selection committee" and my daughter likes this pair; she says "they're smarty pant glasses, and you're a smarty pants, so they'd work for you". She even says she'd wear them!

They're certainly different from anything I've ever had before.

She suggested getting them in brown.

The other two options are these (which the daughter also liked, in either blue or silver) and these (which the son preferred in brown).

Decisions, decisions.

Anyone else want to weigh in with their pick?

I've decided to wait until next week to order because the DMD? It is severe. As in I CANNOT MAKE UP MY MIND!!!

It's funny. I can make quicker decisions when it comes to more serious issues. Why is this paralyzing me?

One decision I didn't have a hard time making at all is to go for a root canal. (You're wondering who in their right mind would want a root canal, right? ME!) I have a molar that has been worked on multiple times over the years and when the dentist cleaned out the cavity last evening, there wasn't much tooth left. So I have a temporary filling and go back next week for a root canal and then a crown. My thinking on this issue? Just get it over with already!

I also didn't have to think long about whether to put off our trip this weekend until tomorrow so we could attend a book fair today. Books in ENGLISH! Spanish, too, but I'm obviously more interested in the ones in English. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high, but I sure hope they have some good ones. A local private school where they teach English is hosting the fair, but there will be a number of different vendors. Yeehaw! Books! What a great way to start the weekend :-)

Hope y'all have a good one too!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Just random stuff in no particular order

I had planned to post last evening but was just too whooped. My brain was like mush by then. But I'm encouraged at how much more I'm understanding each week. I still don't get it all, but I'm doing better each time.

By the grace of God.

Had a great conversation with Graciela in the morning about everything from ill parents to weddings to free concerts. She told me about a place near Buenos Aires that I'd really like to visit sometime. Villa Gesell was founded by German immigrants (the Gesell family) who planted thousands of pines along the six plus square miles of sand dunes they bought on the Atlantic coast and, in the words of Wikipedia, it has been a popular tourist destination since the 1940s. During the summer there are free concerts every night. AND free camping but you have to get your reservations in early!

I also learned a new cultural tidbit in Spanish class. While in the U.S. we use the phrase "single mother" to denote anyone raising their kids alone, whether single, divorced or widowed, here that phrase is used only when referring to mothers who have never been married. Good to know so I (hopefully) won't embarrass myself by using it inappropriately.

Toward the end of our Bible study with Nestor and Graciela, an older man stopped by who sometimes hires Nestor to help him. He's a sign maker and Nestor does specialty woodworking. He was meticulous and kept telling Nestor to "make a note" as he went over what he wanted him to do. Graciela told us later that he takes his work very seriously, and pays attention to every little detail. Anyway, the point is that this man is 82 and amazingly spry. He's from Cosquin (across the lake) but yesterday he traveled into Cordoba, then came to Carlos Paz before heading back to Cosquin. Without a car. He took buses where he could, walked where there were none -- over 100 km altogether. Eighty-two years old! I want to be like him when I grow up.


I spent a portion of yesterday trying to pick out new frames. I need new glasses and thought I had it all figured out, had gotten input from my kids and sister-in-law a week or so ago and ultimately chose a really cute pair. Then yesterday morning found out I couldn't have them because they're too thin for bifocals. Bifocal lenses apparently have to be at least 32 mm high. Not a single pair of frames in my "selection pool" were tall enough. Totally back to the drawing board. Looking only at frames with lenses 32 mm tall AND paying careful attention to the width of the lenses/frames as well. I have a small face and don't want frames that are so large they look ridiculous. It wasn't easy finding lenses high enough and yet not too wide. Ugh.

It looks like I'll end up with a pair that's almost a twin of my current glasses.

It's either that or go with a pair of retro aviator frames. I say retro but they're not which is why I won't choose them.

That and I don't look good in them.

I really wanted cool new frames.


After deciding I had wasted spent enough time wringing my hands and torturing myself with a severe case of DMD (decision-making disorder) I sent the possibilities to my kids and sister-in-law and stopped thinking about it.

Which wasn't that hard since I spent most of the day trying to communicate in a foreign language and that's a rather time-consuming project all by itself.


I realized yesterday that we're going away this weekend and I'm not altogether sure we'll have internet. So I may or may not participate in Project 365 on Sunday. If I can figure out how to do auto-post maybe I can get it ready Friday before we leave. Anyone have any words of wisdom or instructions on how to do auto post? (Is that even what it's called? You know, when you set it up so it posts automatically at a specific, pre-determined time.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An internet break I wasn't looking for...

The internet was working great when we arrived in Sta. Rosa on Friday evening, Saturday morning not so much, and then it basically quit. Periodically it would work for a few minutes and then stop. Drove.Me.Nuts.

Totally missed participating in Project 365 on Sunday. I plan on doing two-weeks-in-one this coming weekend.

Cleaned house Sunday, dusting and sweeping and mopping up the thick layer of dust that settled everywhere during the bathroom floor installation on Saturday. The hubby had to grind (and grind and grind...) the cement slab so it was smooth and even before putting down the tiles.

But now the house is clean and ready for our co-workers to enjoy this coming weekend.

We arrived home with just an hour to shower and get ready for Sunday meeting; I didn't even finish unpacking before we had to go. Afterward one of our friends and his daughter came over so we could watch a home video. Our friend is from Paraguay and he'd gone back a few months ago for a big surprise party for one of his cousins.

What a party! Amazing amounts of fabulous looking food that left me drooling, especially the huge pan of paella (no kidding, that pan was probably four feet in diameter!). The birthday boy's wife owns a dance studio and there were close to a dozen groups or individuals who performed. Our friend did a traditional folk dance with the-cousin's-wife-who-owns-a-dance-studio, both in full costume. Very cool! It was funny because at first his daughter didn't realize it was him on the video -- here she is looking intently at the screen just before it dawned on her that she was watching her dad.
Monday was our monthly all-day shopping trip into Cordoba. Didn't get home until ten last night and boy, we were tired! Checked on our D.N.I.s (still not in), went to a mall full of businesses selling various construction materials, then stopped at a home improvement store similar to Lowe's, a warehouse place kinda like Sam's Club, and finally Walmart. We'd planned on eating supper when we got home but we were SO hungry by the time we hit Walmart, we succumbed to the lure of McDonalds. Sad but true. The last three stores are all on an end of town where there are simply no restaurants, except for in-store cafés like McDonalds.

It feels like I've been through a drought after I couldn't blog myself, or read anyone else's for several days. A mound of paperwork awaits my attention so it will probably be a couple days before I get caught up. Those I follow are safe from silly southern comments for a while.

When I do comment, it may be in Spanglish.

I've been trying to think in Spanish. Which is sorta kinda like talking to myself. Either way, I'm not very good at it yet. I can't figure out what I'm trying to think half the time. What's scary is that I'm beginning to forget my English too. Soon I will no longer be able to think at all!

And with that happy thought, I'm going to go sort receipts.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Coming to you LIVE from the Calamuchita Valley

We headed to Sta. Rosa yesterday afternoon so the hubby could finish the bathroom project. Last week he and a friend replaced pipes leading from the main bath to the septic and then he had to wait for the cement to set up in the bathroom floor where the repair took place. The plan was to replace the tile floor and re-set the toilet this weekend.

Things aren't exactly going according to plan.

First off there was a problem with the float valve which didn't shut off completely so the floor not only didn't dry but actually got a little wetter. So he drained the tank (which is in the wall, not the back of the toilet) and mopped up as much as he could; now he has a small heater and a fan going in there to speed the drying process.

He also forgot a few tools. Not a big deal, this man knows how to improvise! But it will just make the job a little more complicated.

It was quite warm yesterday (short sleeves!) but the house was COLD when we arrived. Did you know water condenses on cold block walls? So it was damp as well as cold. Brrrr! Hubby built a fire once... twice... three times before it finally caught. The free wood is pretty green and still holds a lot of moisture. It's also pine so it burns quickly. But it's still FREE.

(He noticed this morning that the firebox on the heater is in pretty bad shape so once winter is over, he plans to overhaul the whole heater and repair/weld whatever needs it so that it functions better next year.)

He also put together an older thingymajobbie that you hook up to a small propane tank to create an instant space heater. So he called the propane delivery guy first thing and in less than an hour he brought a tank out for us.

We set that up in the back bedroom near the functioning bathroom and left it going all night. Did a nice job taking the chill off and drying out the space. Have I mentioned cold causes condensation on block walls?

I brought flannel sheets and more blankets this trip so we were toasty warm in the "new" bed we bought from our neighbor in Carlos Paz. I also brought a nice, thick quilt my friend Lori made for me which is backed in flannel. Mmmmm, can we say snuggly?

We went into town for a few groceries last evening about 8 p.m. and I should know better than to go on an empty stomach. I indulged in several snack treats...some honest-to-goodness tortilla chips (Mexican cuisine is becoming popular here) and a small can of Lays (as in potato chips Lays) salsa. Later today we'll see how it all tastes. I'm making soft tacos with chips and salsa on the side for lunch.

I also bought something from the bakery section that looked a lot like glazed donuts. They weren't. The hubby laughed and laughed at the expression on my face when I took the first bite. Rather than a soft donut, it was a crunchy pastry called rosquitas. I did get the glassadas part right, though. Not bad at all, just not what I was expecting.

At least it didn't have dulce de leche in-or-on it.

Not that I have anything against dulce de leche. I'm quite fond of it. IN MODERATION. But people, they put it on just about every.single.pastry. From cakes and pies to candy, cookies and "donuts" and any other kind of sweet you can think up. It gets a little old.

The ants here don't seem as fond of sweets as those in the U.S. These ants are particularly fond of wood and wood products. So their 'stuff' looks a little like dark sawdust. They've been very busy since the last time I was out here -- there was a huge amount of their 'stuff' under the kitchen sink. Yuck! We came prepared, however, with a full container of ant poison. They are as, if not more, productive as the ants in Carlos Paz. Ants everywhere are preparing for winter it would seem.

Although the warm weather we've been having would make a Michigander think it was Spring instead of fall/almost winter.

In contrast to yesterday's sunny skies and temps in the low 70s, today is chilly and overcast. The overcast part might have something to do with the fact that the internet is really, really, REALLY slow this morning. I hope it's sufficient to post this once I finish writing it.

Last evening, just after I had the computer up and running, my daughter skyped me and it worked! That was a first for out here. We talked for just over 40 minutes without any problem. Like I said, yesterday was clear and I am pretty sure that affects the connection (which is via cell phone frequencies, not through cable or a landline telephone because there are no telephone lines out this way).

I have a lot of cleaning to do this weekend. Sweeping, mopping, dusting, cleaning the baths, scrubbing down cupboards... But I did bring the baby quilt which I hope to finish by Sunday so I can give it to the parents of the almost-three-month-old child. I have five more blocks to quilt and need to finish the hand-sewing part of the binding.

Am trying to figure out what I want to do about the next baby quilt. I had a really cute idea if it was a boy, but since it's a girl I have to re-think my design. I'm torn between a bright primary colors quilt maybe featuring hot air balloons and a soft, pastel and very pink girly design with lots of floral fabrics.

I also brought my homework. Of course. I'm working on the subjunctive now and it truly makes my head hurt. We don't use the subjunctive much in English but it's used frequently in Spanish. Me parece muy importante que entienda el subjuntivo.

Y'all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A little poetry with my peaches, please

We just finished off the last of the peaches we froze in January. For a while we've been enjoying the occasional peach and orange fruit smoothie. The frozen peaches make it slushy without having to use ice and dilute the flavor.

After taking off several weeks because of busy schedules and being sick, Graciela and I had our regular Wednesday morning get-together today. I love hearing "how we met" stories so I asked about hers. I thought our engagement/marriage was fast but she has us beat. Although they met two years before they started dating, he lived out in the country while she lived in town and they never really saw each other. But then at a fiesta on the 4th of July (not a holiday here, by the way) he asked her to dance, a month later he proposed and a month after that they were married! That was 32 years ago. I guess there's something to be said for these fast paced romances :-)

This evening we had a Bible study with her and her hubby but before we settled down to studying, we started talking about food. Growing up on a farm, he has lots of stories! On days a farmer butchered, they'd have a fiesta and the neighbors would all pitch in and they'd end the day with an asado (Argentine barbque). That led to me ask if they have an equivalent to headcheese (if you have to ask, you don't want to know) and they do! It's called queso de chancho. Then we also talked about recipes. One day soon we're going to have them over for a real southern dinner with some pork barbque, beans, cornbread and greens. But no headcheese :-) My daddy from Tennessee used to make it but I never really developed a taste for it. I remember being extremely unhappy the one time he served us pizza with headcheese. That's just wrong on so many levels!

In Spanish class we talked about poetry by Mario Benedetti, a famous writer/poet of the 20th century who died last month. Anyway, I've never been good at deciphering what poetry means and trying to do it in a foreign language is muy difícil! But I did enjoy listening to some of his poetry on various youtube videos. Here's one in particular you might enjoy:

Overnight the ants ate a good portion of one of my geraniums in front and when I went to see how my garden was growing I found them actively carrying off a portion of that too. Aaarrrgh! We get rid of them one place and they pop up in another. Anyone have suggestions on dealing with really aggressive ant colonies?!?

Today was absolutely gorgeous! The sun was shining and we had a nice wind so my laundry dried in about an hour. The forecast is for sunny skies and temps in the 60s for the next week. Definitely liking the winters here. With this kind of weather I won't be so jealous when I hear how warm it is in the U.S. or how yummy the fresh tomatoes taste or what fun you had on summer vacation.


But don't push it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I can drink cold things again

I really like our new dentist. She has the most gentle touch of any dentist I've ever been to, and she's very careful about monitoring the pain level. Today she filled the cavity in a front tooth that's been very sensitive to cold recently and this evening I have no discomfort whatsoever. Yay for good dentists!

A group from Palabra de Vida (Word of Life) is coming next month and will be doing several programs in one of the public schools. Through a connection with my language tutor, the hubby and our co-worker met with the school director today who gave permission for two programs, during both the morning and afternoon sessions. (I think I've already explained that a facility shortage has schools running two or even three sessions per day, haven't I?) This particular school also has an evening session with a different director so the hubby and our co-worker are over there now to see if they can also do an evening program.

My energy level was pretty low today. Thankfully these days are few and far between now, but when I do have one, not a whole lot gets done.

I'm absolutely starving and smelling the meatloaf and oven fries is killing me while I wait for hubby to get back. Do you think he'd mind if I snitched a bite?

Speaking of food, the group from Palabra de Vida is thirty strong so my co-worker has already cooked a big pot of locro and frozen it. Along with bread and dessert, that should feed the group well.

I was reading an article about high altitude wind machines and am trying, in my technologically challenged way, to figure out how that would work. The skies are already over-crowded, especially in air space above big cities. Which is where they'd need the most energy produced by the high altitude wind machines. Would there be pockets of "no fly" zones where the machines were protected from planes that had to maneuver around? That would make the skies even more over-crowded. Of course at the rate energy costs are rising and airlines are going bust, no one will be able to afford to fly anyway.

And that's all I have the energy to discuss tonight. Right about now I could use some of the power one of those machines would produce.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday Meanderings

I worked on a new quilt project for a little this afternoon. While it would be nice to actually finish a quilt, I just had to try out my idea and see if/how it would work. I'm very pleased so far. Maybe by next Sunday I'll have some photos to share.

Because laughter is like medicine and we're trying to live a more healthful life, I do my part in keeping my husband amused. Today he received his daily dose while proofreading my Spanish. I meant to say "Thanks for stopping by my blog" but apparently my vocabulary missed the mark because what I really wrote was "Thank you for giving birth on my blog".

We had butternut squash soup for lunch today and it was delicious! I roasted the squash first, and while it was in the oven I sauteed some onions. Then I scooped the squash out of the shell and threw it in a pot with the onions, some homemade chicken broth and a little nutmeg. After simmering for 1/2 an hour I pureed the whole mess, put it back in the pan with a little cream and voila! really yummy soup. Along with some of the homemade bread I made this morning.

Still lovin' the bread book!

Tomorrow I have a dentist appointment (postponed from when I was sick) and just in time; the tooth with the cavity has gotten very sensitive over the last few days.

The BBC has a new show that's absolutely hysterical! Kingdom follows three lawyers in a small coastal town in England populated by a cast of zany characters. What a hoot! Definitely the best thing on TV this summer.

I need to get back to Spanish. Now that hubby has corrected my work, I need to get my Spanish blog updated with this week's Project 365.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Week 24, Project 365

Another quiet week on Canning Street. I promised the other day I'd show some photos of my house on this week's Project 365. It's really not so different from homes in the U.S., just smaller and different construction materials (we were used to traditional stick-built) but basically the same. What you have to realize is we started from scratch when we moved. We brought two chairs, a dresser, a wicker desk and a couple mattresses from the U.S.

Oh, and pictures to put on the walls (which are not actually on the walls yet).

It's a slow process, this getting settled. After spending two years getting rid of STUFF before we could move overseas, we are trying to be careful about what we accumulate here. Plus we're cheap but have expensive taste and haven't found things we like at prices we're willing to pay ☺ Which means at this point it's lookin' a little bare. But that's fine with us. There is joy in the journey! Finding something that we need and will work in our space makes us very happy!

I love all the windows in our living room. Light floods the space during the day. But for security at night AND to keep that burning light out during the hot days of summer, I made floor to ceiling curtains that go all the way around two walls plus part of a third -- used 20 yards of the blue fabric and 10 of the plaid. My fabricaholic tendencies came in handy for this project! The two IKEA Poang chairs we brought from the U.S., along with the wicker chest and decorative items. The rustic table in the corner is one the hubby's brother made many years ago. We brought it back from Sta. Rosa to use until we find some of our own. The dining room is the emptiest room at this point because we don't actually have a dining table and chairs. We're using a folding table meanwhile. A tablecloth hides a multitude of plastic. The hubby built the bookcase (and there's a matching one on the other side of the arched doorway) and we bought the dresser from our neighbor this week. It will do nicely to store napkins, tablecloths, games and miscellaneous items that have nowhere else to go. The kitchen is the largest room and I'm just showing you a portion. Once the hubby gets my pantry cupboard built and we find a small table and chairs, there will be more to show. This is the sum total of my cupboards at this point. The stove is what we'd call "apartment size" in the U.S. It's unusual to find anything larger here. That big white thing in the corner is an on-demand water heater which I LOVE because it means I never run out of hot water. It was hard to get a photo of our guest room because it's so small and no matter where I stood in the room I couldn't get it all. So I went with the one showing the bed and the window. You can see I have the guest bed all made up and ready for visitors. Visitors who just might get breakfast in bed on the cute little wicker tray if they're really good and bring me a hostess gift of chocolate *wink* Our room has just what you see in this bare bones photo: a bed and two nightstands. There is literally no room for anything else. Good thing the room comes equipped with a large closet that includes shelves where I can store small plastic bins with underclothes, serving the same purpose as a dresser. I also have cubby-holes under the bed platform where I keep large plastic bins with extra sheets and towels. I have some lovely watercolor prints to eventually hang on the walls. And obviously I need to find some fabric and sew curtains. With the shutters, curtains haven't been such a high priority item. And that concludes the tour. You're not seeing the study until the hubby builds the desk and storage in there, and the bath...well, you're NEVER seeing that!

Our winter garden is coming along, although I'm very sad to report that ants ate our peas right down to the ground. Most disappointing! We'll see if they come back (the peas, not the ants). And the green onions are doing well in one spot but not another. Lettuce, cabbage, radishes, swiss chard and beets are doing great, as are the calendulas. We already had parsley and chickory. We foresee some tasty meals in the future! I'm loving this winter weather. Not only are the roses still blooming, but my geraniums suddenly perked up. Aren't they pretty?! The hubby and his buddy spent two days working on the plumbing at Sta. Rosa. Here's our friend hard at work. They replaced the line from the main bathroom to the septic. We'll have to go back out soon after the cement has had time to set, replace the tile floor in the bath and re-install the toilet. Hopefully this will eliminate the problems that have plagued the system for years. I enjoyed my quiet time at home -- sewing, of course! I finished the shopping bag started last week and made another one using scraps from other projects again. I love the bright cheery colors on this one! I also made a clothespin bag to replace the gallon size zip lock I've been using for nine months. Here's a close-up of the clothespin bag so you can see the sweet little buttons I used for detail. Just because it's a utilitarian bag doesn't mean it can't be cute. When I found these in my button bag, I knew they'd be perfect! That's it for this week. Now hop on over to Sara's and check out what she's been up to, as well as all the other participants.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A little game of tag

This day has been set aside to meet Mari’s challenge! But first I need to have that 2nd cup of coffee while I allow myself to be still and know that God is with me, because it is good to wait quietly on Him. I desire to start the day finding sacred in the common and as I raise my hands, His glory is revealed.

On days when I have time I love to get out bits and pieces of fabric, common threads, and all sorts of supplies and be an artsy craftsy babe. I brought boxes of material with me although it’s possible I will work for fabric when it runs out.

Most days we’re involved in ministry so fabulous I don’t have time for anything else. We love to host people in our home and often have someone over on Thursday for dinner when I make everything way more homemade than I would have in the U.S. because I can no longer run to Greg’s General Store to buy the ready-made products.

(There are a lot of things I can’t get here so no daydreaming about grits, fried okra or cornbread and beans!)

Here in my little corner of the world, I often feel like a resident alien. People are nice but it’s still hard for me to follow the threads of conversation in Spanish. As tough as it is, I have to remember that it coulda’ been worse -- God could have sent me to some country where the lingua is even more difficult!

Do you ever think about how people see you? I wonder, because of my limited linguistics, do I come across as the village idiot savant? Does being quiet because I don't know what to say translate into haughty like a Queen B? Or does my goofy humor prove I’m just a fun old hag?

From my perspective, there’s only one thing I can do to help others see me the way I’d like to be seen: Be more like Christ. And I do that by daily Scripture reading, prayer and obedience to His Word.

Don’t look now but it’s YOUR turn to play tag! If you’re reading this, you’re IT!

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's going to be a sew-sew day

Seeing as how the house is clean (we're not even going to think about the telarañas) and I just finished with Spanish and because the hubby is off fixing pipes at Sta. Rosa, I have the WHOLE AFTERNOON to do whatever I want.

And what I want is to do a little baking (so the hubby has something nice to enjoy when he returns) and a lot of sewing. I'd like to finish the shopping bag I started last weekend, and make a clothespin bag -- to replace the gallon size zip lock I've been using for nine months. That zip lock is a mighty durable piece of plastic but it is showing some signs of wear ☺ Plus I have a lovely piece of green fabric that just needs hemmed and then I can use it as a tablecloth in the dining room.

As I sew I plan to think through the tag from Mari and try to formulate my response. She was so creative with hers!

If inspiration hits, I'll be back later today. If not, I may not leave the sewing room except to come out for food. Hasta luego!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A day in the kitchen

My head is buzzing. Bzzzzzzzz. I've been whipping around the house today, cleaning, cooking, packing, doing laundry... The hubby and a friend are going to go to Sta. Rosa to work on the plumbing Friday and it could turn into a two-day job. That means he needs clothes and I'm sending clean sheets and towels, too. I've been cooking up a storm in order to send plenty of food so they don't have to stop and cook themselves. I think the oven was on for close to four hours as I roasted a chicken, made bread and then fixed a coffee cake.

You're probably wondering: why didn't she do more than one thing at a time? My stove, and therefore the oven, is tiny. What we'd call an apartment size stove in the U.S. Here it's the most common size.

That made me think that maybe you'd like to see photos of my house. Not that it's so different from a house in the U.S., just smaller in general. All tile floors, stucco walls, metal window and door frames... Hmmmm, can't think of anything else off the top of my head. Anyway, I went around today taking lots of pictures which I'll share on Sunday with Project 365.

A few things that are in the photos that wouldn't have been there a few days ago include some nightstands and a dresser (which I'm using as a sideboard in the dining room to hold napkins, tableclothes, games, etc.). I've shared our frustration at trying to find decent furniture at a reasonable price and that we'd about come to the conclusion that the hubby just needed to build everything.

Our neighbor, who doesn't actually live next door but owns the house, has decided to rent it and needed to clear out all the furniture still left there. So we were able to buy a few things we'd been looking for, like the nightstands. We also scored a small, very old but functioning washer to take to Sta. Rosa. Yay!!!!

AND perhaps most importantly: a used-but-in-very-good-condition mattress set for Sta. Rosa. Yes we have beds, but the mattresses are pitiful. As much as we love going to Sta. Rosa, a few days out there and we can barely walk because the mattresses are so uncomfortable.

This purchase is noteworthy not only because we're looking forward to having a decent bed to sleep in ourselves, but all future guests will (of course) be granted the right to use the comfy bed ☺ Eventually we hope to replace all the mattresses. Since we do foresee occasions when there will be a full house.

Last night it was SO nice to be able to set my glass of water on the nightstand right by my bed and not have to get up to get a drink when I woke up thirsty (which I do every.single.night). And to have the box of tissues handy since yes, I am still congested.

But I sort of forgot the nightstand was there in the middle of the night and couldn't figure out why I couldn't just knock the extra pillow off the bed like I usually do ☺ It's a miracle I didn't knock the glass of water over in the process.

Now that we have nightstands, we can start looking for little lamps to put on them so we can read in bed without having to use the blinding overhead light.

Little by little we are getting settled.

During Spanish class today my tutor had me give a tour of the house, explaining not only what was in each room but the story behind the objects. Like the fact that we brought the two chairs we use in the living room from the U.S. Or that the tables in there were handmade by the hubby's brother many years ago. I added a few words to my vocabulary and had fun showing my tutor our "new" furniture items.

There was a lot of shifting of furniture yesterday to make room for the new stuff. Like any project, there was an order to the process. Had to move the desk from the guest room into the dining room so that we could put the small bookshelf from our bedroom in there, leaving room for the nightstands in our room.

It meant my house got cleaned ☺

Which made it possible for me to take those photos today because otherwise I would not have been so brave. I'm not a terrible housekeeper, but we generally live in the midst of some amount of clutter.

Did you know that the word for cobwebs is telaraña?

We might have one or forty seven. Remember I told you I learned some new vocabulary words? The house wasn't as clean as I thought.

I think that's enough honesty for one day.

So what are you doing this weekend? Anything exciting planned? Or are you just looking forward to a quiet, relaxing couple of days?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The news is a mixed bag

"Ten of the nation's largest banks were given the green light Tuesday to repay $68 billion in government bailout money, freeing them from restrictions on executive compensation that they say are making it hard to keep their top-performing executives."

Call me crazy, but if they can afford to give back the bailout money, then they didn't need it in the first place.

"The baseball diamonds and bleachers are filled with tales of moms and dads pitching in to put their kids on the field -- Foreclosureville's version of "Field of Dreams." North Rialto Little League has seen its annual $45,000 sponsorships shrink to a mere $3,000. Parents have lost their jobs, even houses, amid the nation's economic woes. But the families in this corner of California's economically ravaged region known as the Inland Empire have kept the aluminum bats swinging and the crowd roaring. Not a single game has been missed because of hard times. The families and the league had no choice but to rally around each other when the sponsorships plunged. Bread-and-butter small-business sponsors closed up or lost too much revenue to help the league. Many of the parents are working extra hours to try to make up for plunging commissions or work once done by laid-off colleagues. "We had to ask some of our parents to gather up some of their used cleats that maybe their kids had outgrown, or maybe some used gloves," Ruiz says. "We had to supply some kids with used equipment just so they could play."

The other side of the coin in this economy has parents doing what they've always done...whatever it takes to help their kids.

I'm not an economist (although my son majored in economics in college, does that count for anything? ☺) but it seems to me that a lot of what the government is doing these days doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Probably a good thing I'm six thousand miles away and don't have a television at this point or I wouldn't have any fingernails left. I'd have chewed them to the nubbins. I forced myself months ago to quit looking daily at our retirement fund status. It was pathetic even before the crisis but it became downright anorexic. Or maybe bulimic is a better word, 'cause it was heaving cash in chunks. These days I have no idea what shape it's in. For my peace of mind, it's better not to know. Playing ostrich is my coping mechanism.

Besides, our plan all along has been for our kids to get good paying jobs so they can afford to put us in a really nice retirement home ☺ (Just kidding, kids!)

On to happier things... The sun is shining and it is a gorgeous day! It was a chilly 39 degrees this morning but it warmed up to close to 70 degrees by midday. My geraniums have suddenly come to life and are blooming like crazy; ditto the roses. This just blows me away, considering it's the equivalent to December in the U.S. Michigan in December is like a barren wasteland of gray. Carlos Paz is a riot of color. Hmmmm, I think I like this better ☺

This coming Sunday we'll have our first meeting in the little house just across from the lake. A stepping out in faith and trusting God to do great things!

Word just in that our friends had a baby girl. I haven't finished the baby quilt for the other baby yet. Boy am I behind! I think the next one I'll have to machine quilt. Not sure what to do...is it the cultural thing to go visit the new mom and dad? Wait until they're home from the hospital? I can't do either since I'm still all stuffed up and I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate me passing on these germs. But the hubby wants to do whatever we're expected to do. Just not sure what that is yet.

Had a nice long chat with the daughter this afternoon. First time in a while because of her crazy busy schedule. Things have finally slowed down for her. She was actually getting ready to go to the library for fun books to read. Ahhhh, what I wouldn't give to be able to do that very thing! The library is definitely one of the things I miss most. I told her to check out enough books for the both of us.

Y'all are heading into summer which I will always and forever associate with the library and lovely long hours of reading. What books have you read recently? Anything you can recommend? Periodically I find used books on amazon or ebay and the daughter forwards them in care packages. But when you go to this much trouble, it's nice to know the book is worth it. So tell me: What do you think I should read?

We have a winner!

First, look at the big bowl of entries ☺ And guess who won? Regina from Accelerando, that's who! Thanks to all who took time to leave a comment/enter the giveaway. That was fun! Once I get an address, Regina, I'll pop your package in the mail. Remember it's coming from South America so it might take a while. At least the reverse is true. It usually takes 2-3 weeks for me to receive anything from the U.S.

You can bet I'll be waiting with great anticipation for my own prize! I won a giveaway from Mrs. Schmenkman Quilts. Woot!

For my regular blog buddies, I'll be back later today with another post. Just wanted to get the winner of my giveaway announced this morning. If everyone is as bad as I am, they hate the suspense ☺

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's all SEWN up

I hopped on the party bandwagon last night and said I'd give away something good. Being so late I didn't really expect much of a response, but over 40 of you are either insomniacs or live on the other side of the world where my night was already your day.

I thought I'd take a moment and show you what I've put together. A few pieces of fabric. Of course ☺ I've listed the widths on each piece. All, except for the FQ are selvage to selvage wide. I thought these pieces coordinated well and would make a nice little doll quilt, wall quilt or miniature. Or you can add to your stash and do something bigger.

I'm also including this (roughly) 8"x9.5" batik we brought back from Uganda: I occasionally visited the craft village next to the National Theatre in Kampala, looking at baskets, batiks, wooden carvings and other things made by local artisans. The basket ladies (as I called them) sat on the ground making baskets and chattering away. Every vendor had a big smile and a great sales pitch ☺ I just browsed and got to know them throughout the year, and by the end knew what I wanted (and could still afford ☺) and was able to buy quite a bit because of the relationships we had developed. The batiks were a no brainer since they packed flat and I absolutely loved them.

You can enter by leaving a comment on this post or the previous one from last night. Right up until midnight GMT. I'll pick the lucky winner out of a hat tomorrow. Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you. It would just be too sad if you won and I had no way of letting you know.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

SEWN launches tomorrow!

SEWN is being launched tomorrow! I'm way late to the party, but better late than never, right? They're having TONS of giveaways, by the new site as well as a bunch of bloggers who have jumped in to help the launch. I've just spent some happy time hopping around and entering a few of the giveaway contests. Most end tonight. But since I'm late, I'm keeping my giveaway open until midnight Monday GMT. I'll post the winner on Tuesday! I'm not even really sure what I'm giving away but I promise it will be good ☺

SEWN will "have just about everything you can think of that you would want online as a sewer. There are forums, online advice from industry experts, conversion charts, colour wheels, free patterns and class listings.

There will be interviews with all your favourite designers, quilters, patterns makers and authors. There will be tutorials with me and with other sewers from here and overseas, podcasts and coverage from shows and articles about all maner of exciting things.

Best of all, there are great unique gadgets - Fabricmatcher, which is an online tool which lets you match patterns to fabrics and see what your project will look like without sewing a stitch, and Find Fabric, which is the niftiest thing that will find the fabric you are looking for without you having to search for it for hours on the internet. It's so clever it even searches shops in your vacinity first to save you on international postage. How cool is that?

Plus there will be an online buy and sell area called SEWiNg, which is where you can sell the stuff you sew to the people out there who don't sew - and some of the ones who do :)"

To enter my giveaway, just leave a comment. If you've made it all the way to the end you'll be too tired to do more than that! At last count there were over 150 bloggers linked up! Party on!

Week 23, Project 365

Right up front, I apologize for my lack of interesting photos this week. A bad head cold kept me cooped up for five days with only minimal forays into the back yard to hang up laundry. Life within these walls has been a tad bit boring, but I'm so happy to say I'm on the mend -- I can BREATHE this morning through my nose. Mostly. Sort of. Okay, minimally, but it IS an improvement.

But boring or not, these photos pretty much represent my life this week. This has been my location for the past 134 hours...but who's counting? I have been very grateful for the two heaters we have in the house (remember, no central heat). This is the one in the kitchen, a ventless gas log heater. It fits perfectly in the little corner. I didn't take a photo of it, but the hubby installed a small fan on the wall higher up to blow the warm air into the living room. Otherwise it has a tendency to stay in the kitchen and rise up the vaulted ceiling. I made a great discovery at Walmart a while back and forgot to share my lovely find with you. We always used flavored creamers in our coffee in the U.S. and there's nothing like that here. I miss my Hazelnut flavoring! But was excited to find (on the rack of international foods, of course) this bottle of amaretto coffee flavoring. I've been enjoying it occasionally...like dessert in a cup. Yum! You know things are desperate when I start taking photos of potatoes! But isn't this an interesting shaped spud? Despite its odd shape, it made splendiferous oven fries! I never showed you the one shopping bag I finished during our weekend in Sta. Rosa. Well, here it is all packed with things for my art class. (LOL -- Just realized I managed to get my stacks of Fine Homebuilding in Project 365 without even trying! That's what's in the background.) Final measurements are 14" high, 12" across and 7" deep. You can fit a LOT into this bag! Yesterday I started working on another bag, same pattern, and have the outside sewn but not the lining yet. I used leftover fabric bits of various lengths and widths to create a scrappy look to the front and back, and some funky paisley (that coordinates well with the colors) for the sides and bottom. I'm going to line it with the same dark green flannel as the handles. These go together quite fast and will make great shopping (or craft) bags.

FINALLY managed to load the 2-1/2 minute video of the school kids folk dancing. Here it is for your viewing enjoyment ☺

Hopefully this week will be back to normal and I'll have more opportunities to take interesting shots ☺ Meanwhile you can enjoy lots of great photos from the others participating in Project 365. Hop on over to Sara's and check them out!

Thanks for indulging me my "mama bragging rights" yesterday. I don't fall into the "mommy blogger" category but I am a mom! I wish there had been blogging when they were little because it would have been great to record all those cute things they used to say and do. Like how our son always called helicopters "holly hoppers". Or when our daughter was two and, after falling asleep while running errands, informed us quite seriously that she had "used up" all her sleep in the car and therefore could not take a nap.

At 27 and 22, I'm not sure they say cute things any more but even if they do, we're not around to hear them. Sometimes I miss my kids a whole, big bunch and it helps to talk about 'em.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Chocolate Pudding Cake

I really need to figure out how to get all my recipes in a list. Just spent half an hour going back through all my posts to see what I've already shared...'cause it just wouldn't do to repeat a recipe. Although some bear repeating twice, they're so good.

This is one of them, although I really haven't posted it before (that I could find anyway). When you need a serious chocolate fix, this is guaranteed to do the job ☺

1 cup flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the topping:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1-1/2 cups very hot water
Whipped cream garnish:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter an 8-inch round or square baking dish or casserole.
Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Combine the milk, butter, egg and vanilla. Whisk together and stir into the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Spread the thick batter in the prepared pan.
To make the topping, in the same bowl combine the sugars, cocoa, and coffee powder. Sprinkle over cake batter.
Pour hot water over the topping and place pan on middle rack of oven. Bake until cake is firm, about 40 minutes. The pudding-like sauce will have sunk to the bottom and will be soft. Cool 15 minutes.
Whip the cream, adding sugar and vanilla, until soft peaks form. Serve the warm cake with chocolate sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with sweetened whipped cream*.

*Feel free to substitute ice cream for whipped cream ☺


My Project 365 post will be mighty short this week. A bad head cold and uncontrollable fits of coughing mean I haven't been out of my house in five days except to hang clothes on the line in the back yard (and I had a shot of the laundry in a very recent Project 365 so don't want to do that again).

I suppose I could have taken photos of our neatly stacked Fine Homebuilding magazines since that's been my view most of the week, but didn't think you'd appreciate such a prosaic picture. I did take a photo of a potato though!

After a couple batches of the basic bread, today I'm trying my hand at a different one: Vermont Cheddar Bread. Which in my case has nothing to do with Vermont cheddar at all. I've mentioned the difficulty of finding cheddar before. We do have Lincoln cheese, however, which has a similar taste in our opinion. Of course, our cheese is from Buenos Aires, not Vermont.

I hope that isn't as confusing as it seems to be.

Anyway...with some of the dough in the last batch of basic bread, we made an AMAZING American-style pizza. It was SO GOOD! Thin and crispy crust, just the way I like it. Loaded with onions, mushrooms, red peppers and olives in addition to a liberal amount of ground beef and three cheeses. It made a pretty big pizza, of which we ate just over half last night. We're saving the rest for a quick and easy supper after church tomorrow night.

I'm thinking the Vermont Cheddar Buenos Aires Lincoln bread dough would make a nice pizza crust too. This batch makes 4 loaves of bread and can be used any time over the next 7 days, so maybe the last quarter of dough we'll make into another pizza.

I am LOVIN' this bread book!


Just have to take a couple minutes and brag on my kids. They're grown and on their own, but they're still my kiddos ☺

Our son and his wife have two dogs, two cats and a crazy busy life. He's a partner in SabreTech, a computer business based out of Michigan. He lives in Indiana and does on-sites for business customers in Indiana and Ohio as well as Michigan. Recently he's also gotten into software design and programming. He blogs about this stuff which I cannot even begin to explain. You have no idea how glad we are to have our own personal I.T. guy "on call". And he even pays for the phone calls! Yep, he set us up with Vonage before we ever moved and he takes care of the bill every month.

You've already heard all about how the daughter was a grooms'person' in her friend's wedding recently. What you may not know is that she will graduate from Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana, in December with a degree in communications. Her senior research paper was just accepted by the Religious Communication Association to be read at the Pre-Conference in Chicago this fall. Woot! She blogs but not very often because of her busy schedule. Which will ease up a bit when she finishes the promotional video for her local United Way.

There. Got that outta my system ☺ I don't want to be obnoxious but I'm awfully proud of my kids and a mom just has to brag every once in a while!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A random post about blogging

First off, thanks for the nice comments on my new "look". Am I the last blogger to be so completely clueless as to the wonderful free stuff out there?! I was up way too early yesterday morning and spent the pre-dawn hours surfing the net. I noticed my friend Christy has a new background (very cute!) and on a lark I clicked on the little icon in the corner. Which, of course, took me to Aqua Poppy Designs.

I LOVE Chelsea's style! And I must not be the only one because now that I know what to look for, some of my favorite bloggers also use her backgrounds. I'm in good company ☺ Chelsea offers bloggy makeover packages too, so you know what's going on my birthday/Christmas wish list.


Good news! I launched my Spanish blog ☺ The hubby came up with a great name, Vivencias ("things experienced" or "things lived") but unfortunately that name was taken (by someone who blogged for a bit back in 2002 and then quit, but still that means the name is taken). We played with a bunch of others and finally settled on aconteció que... which means "it happened that..." I started on Sunday with a condensed version of Project 365.

And went back yesterday and added another of Chelsea's free backgrounds.


The next goal is to put together a "memory" blog from our year in Uganda, incorporating e-mails sent and received, photos, and additional commentary. What better way to gather all that stuff together in a fun format that's accessible to friends and family and anyone else who might be interested?

After having so much trouble finding a name not already taken for the Spanish blog, I decided to go ahead and see if the name I wanted for the Uganda blog had been used yet. It wasn't and I snatched it up. So now I have the blog designed and just have to start figuring out what all I want to include.

One thing I know: it will require a HUGE amount of time to type in the information because while I have hard copies of those e-mails (thanks to a dear friend who had the foresight to print them and keep them for me) I have nothing else. Africa is death to computers; we went through three the year we were there, and the e-mail host I used at the time did not save what we sent or received.

I'm thinking I should do it backwards, putting in the last e-mail first and so on, so that when it's done the blog will read in chronological order from the point of opening it, sort of like a book. Since it will not be an open-ended blog, but have a definite beginning and end, it makes sense to do it that way.


Is there such a thing as blogging addiction? I remember when I started and hardly ever posted because I didn't think about it very often. Plus I felt I had nothing to say. Well, we all know you can say a whole lot of nothing with an excessive amount of words ☺ I've found blogging to be a great tool for keeping in touch with friends and family, making new friends, and fulfilling this compulsion to write. To write something, anything! And now I'm seeing all these other possibilities...like the memory blog for our year in Uganda.

It causes me to ask: Why do you blog?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wherein my head did not explode and all is well

Nothing was wrong with my computer.

Which makes me very happy, don't get me wrong. But what was up with the craziness on Monday night?!

It is my theory that God works in mysterious ways because we are so completely clueless at times.

Let me explain.

The only reason the hubby went into Cordoba was to get my computer fixed. That's where the nearest Apple store is located. But after he dropped it off for them to look at, he decided to go back to Walmart to have them look at the tires we had put on recently. Despite having them balanced locally the car still vibrates.

I do not understand, nor will I go into detail here, all the problems that ensued. BUT I will just say that the hubby discovered some things had been done (or rather not done) when he had the tires balanced that could have led to a very dangerous situation. Plus other parts are in the process of failing too. This entailed a lot of running around to different places, both in Cordoba and later in Carlos Paz. He was a bit frazzled by the time he made it home, about 11 hours after he left. But we think he has the problem figured out and the parts we need to make things right.

Meaning he has his work cut out for him today. He'll do what he can himself and take it to the mechanic for the rest. Hopefully not the mechanic who didn't screw those things back in place last time, leaving the car an accident just waiting to happen.

And we would not have found all this out if he hadn't taken my in-perfect-working-order-but-bonkers computer in to be fixed.

You may think we were a little hasty in rushing it to the computer doctor so quickly. But let me explain: my computer has ALL our contact information stored in its address book and saved documents that are part of the "office work" I have to send in to our mission each month. It also has bookmarked links to sites where I do Spanish exercises. It isn't just the computer I write my blog on; it is my right hand man, my secretary, my assistant to all things, my gal Friday.

Besides he had Tuesday somewhat free ☺ He can't say that about too many days of the week.

So let's just give a Hallelujah! to a God who protects us when we don't even know we need protecting.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


My computer went bonkers yesterday...I couldn't type or even surf because ALL THE KEYS were possessed and doing their own thing. Totally weird! So today the hubby took it to the nearest Apple store (Cordoba) and of course, it's not acting up for them at all. So the hubby is having them check the fan to see if overheating is the problem.


Meanwhile I'm using the hubby's computer and it WILL NOT let me open some blogs. Why?!! It opens some just fine but absolutely will not open others, timing out repeatedly.


Hopefully hubby will return with a functioning computer so my head doesn't explode and make a mess right here in the living room. Because I am in no mood to clean house.

I have made four loaves of bread in the past four days. They are small round loaves, about 5"-6" across. I will be a small round person much bigger than 5"-6" across if I keep eating this bread!

But it goes so well with the soup I've been throwing together: potato soup, homemade chicken soup, cheeseburger soup... Didn't somebody have a soup carnival last year? I'd really like to go look at all the soup recipes because I love the soup when it's cold outside.

I also made an apple crisp with the apples that needed to be used pronto. Apple crisp is much easier than apple pie for a crust-challenged person like me. I have never made a decent pie crust in my life, although it isn't for lack of trying. I've tried using ice cold water, hot water, tepid water; I've used butter, lard, Crisco; I've used a light hand... But every crust I've made from scratch was virtually inedible. Thank goodness for Pillsbury! But here I haven't been able to find that kind of pie dough (they sell a pre-made dough for savory pies which I've tried but it doesn't work so well for sweet pies). Hence the apple crisp.

Until I get my computer back, I'll be scarce in Bloggyville. Have a great week!