Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Stirrings: Super Bowl Sunday Recipes

I'm back with a few recipes for Saturday Stirrings hosted by Carol at I Throw Like A Girl. It seems like party foods are in order as everyone gears up for Super Bowl Sunday.

If you like shrimp, you'll LOVE this spread. It's muy rico! I typically serve it with water crackers so the flavor of the spread really shines through and isn't overpowered.

SHRIMP SPREAD
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup seafood sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cans (4-1/4 oz each) shrimp, drained and rinsed
3 green onions, sliced
3/4 cup finely chopped tomato
bag of frozen shrimp (large), thawed (optional)

In a mixing bowl beat cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise until smooth. Spread on 12" round platter. Cover with seafood sauce. Sprinkle with shrimp, then cheese, followed by onion and tomato. If using the large shrimp, place all along edge in a decorative fashion -- by that I simply mean all the shrimp are going the same direction around the plate.

* * * * * *

If you're a fan of the chili but don't relish the thought of red splashed all over your living room, here's a very yummy AND very easy alternative.

WHITE CHICKEN CHILI
2 cups diced onions
2 cups diced celery
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 lb. chicken, cooked and diced
8 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 (7 oz) can chopped green chilies
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/3 of a 7 oz can chipotle in adobo, chopped (optional for those that like more heat in their chili)
4 tablespoons chicken base
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
1 large jar (or 2 cans) of white beans
1/2 cup heavy cream
16 oz. sour cream

In a large stockpot, sauté onion, celery and garlic in oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add water, bay leaf, chilies, herbs, chipotle, chicken base and jalapeño and simmer for 1-1/2 hours. Add drained beans and simmer for additional 1/2 hour. During last 10 minutes add chicken and cream. Garnish with sour cream.

* * * * * *

Can't neglect our sweet tooth! How about a no-bake Peanut Butter Pie? I'm all about the easy and it doesn't get any easier that this.

PEANUT BUTTER PIE
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup natural style, reduced fat cream peanut butter
8 oz. low fat cream cheese (1/3 less fat)
14 oz. can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
12 oz. fat free whipped topping
2 graham cracker crusts (I like to use the chocolate ones)
fat free chocolate syrup

Beat powdered sugar, peanut butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add milk and beat until combined. Fold in whipped topping. Divide evenly between crusts and chill overnight (or 8 hours). Cut into wedges, drizzle with chocolate syrup.

*You can also freeze the pies and serve them only slightly thawed. Delicioso!*

* * * * * *

Almost makes you want to have Super Bowl parties every Sunday ☺

Don't forget to check out the other recipes over at Carol's.

Update on my FIL

Just returned home from dinner at our co-workers (yes, it really is almost 3 a.m.) and we had an e-mail about my FIL. He had a stroke 2-3 days ago but because he's so unsteady on his feet anyway, my MIL did not realize there was a problem until today when dad couldn't feed himself because he couldn't get his right hand to work. After being taken by ambulance to the ER, dad was admitted to the hospital and will be there for several days after which he will probably need rehab. But the family is encouraged that he's already showing signs of improvement and was able to feed himself this evening. Thanks for your prayers and please keep praying!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Why oh why did Adobe do away with PageMaker?!

Today's another hot sunny day here in Carlos Paz, Argentina. But I've spent the afternoon inside, trying to figure out how to use iPages on my Macbook since PageMaker is forever lost to me. Boohoo. I was sad beyond measure to learn Adobe no longer supports PM, my favorite desktop publishing software which I've used for nigh unto 20 years. And my old software is not compatible with my new computer. I could always "upgrade" to the new software they're peddling...for a mere $200. Ugh. And who knows how long they'll support that? About as soon as I spend the money, they'll switch to another new program and require more hard cold cash to upgrade to it. Pooh on Adobe!

Let's talk about something positive! Spanish was fun. We're working on business terminology and in the course of the conversation we touched on the subject of frustrating jobs. I think being a parole officer would be highly frustrating since you keep seeing the same faces as they revolve in and out of the prison system. So that led to talking about crime. Which progressed to the specific crime of robbery, a serious problem in this area.

We know Americans who were terrorized by robbers threatening to kill them a few months back and the experience so traumatized the wife and son that they've since returned to the U.S. That happened not too far from where we live, about two barrios over.

[Okay, so you're wondering where the fun comes in, right? Be patient! I'm getting there.]

Then my tutor told me about another woman who had kinder, gentler robbers. When she saw they were taking her computer she begged them to let her do a quick back-up. And they did! She was so thankful that she was all smiles as they left with her computer and assorted other items ☺

Tonight we're having dinner with our co-workers and another family they've gotten to know. I can't remember if the husband or wife is an architect, but one of them is, and since the hubby and I dream of someday building our own house we look forward to picking their brain about what's involved in such a project in this country.

Tomorrow I'm back with a recipe or three. I've been slacking on the Saturday Stirrings for a few weeks but am determined to get back on track tomorrow. Since I'm pretty sure we'll be out late tonight, it might be afternoon before I manage to post. This girl's gotta have her beauty sleep and if we don't come dragging home until 1 or 2 a.m. I'm NOT getting up at seven! Hasta mañana.

Edited to add:
Would appreciate your prayers for my FIL who's even now in the ER waiting to see what caused the numbness in his arm this afternoon. He's 87 and pretty frail. Thanks for praying!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I was Kreativ today and I have an award to prove it

Thursday mornings I get together with Graciela, a new friend who also likes to sew and craft. This week I was ready with a little project and we had so much fun! I may have mentioned I don't like to waste anything, so it will come as no surprise that I save snippets of fabric left over from projects. Yeah, a little OCD but it could manifest itself in worse ways.

Anyway, I had some snippets with Heat 'n Bond already on the back. I cut each of us a 12-1/2" square of fabric to use as our base and away we went! We cut and snipped and fussed until we liked our fabric "pictures" and then we ironed it all onto the background.

Here's what Graciela created... Isn't it fantabulous?! Graciela is a true artist who loves color and isn't afraid to use it ☺

I'm a bit more stick-in-the-mud and not as adventurous (but I'm working to overcome that!). I'd seen an episode of Simply Quilts some years ago about how to use snippets of fabric to create bouquets of flowers. Fabric for the vase caught my eye first and it was already the right shape and size for what I had in mind. It was quite freeing to just sit and snip, snip, snip little pieces and then put them together and voila! a flower! (photos are a little blurry, sorry about that; can't seem to hold the cell phone still enough for crisp pictures)

I do look forward to Thursday mornings! ☺

Lisa at The Owl's Nest nominated me for The Kreativ Blogger award, my very first one in Bloggyville! Thanks Lisa! I thought the timing was perfect since I'm actually feeling very "kreativ" today. LOL

Yesterday I couldn't have said that. After unpacking box after box of office things, I just felt hot, sticky and tired. There are still two boxes to go and half the stuff I'm just re-packing because we don't have anywhere to put it yet. Shelves/storage yet to come. But at least now I have ready access to a stapler and envelopes. Yay!

So back to the award...now I'm supposed to pass it on to ten deserving bloggers. I'd like to say I consider the clever use of words and language to be as creative and inspiring as art or design. While I like the bells and whistles on some blogs, what keeps me coming back is the writing. Writing that draws me in and makes me feel some emotion. Now that's worthy of a Kreativ Blogger Award!

And so I bestow this award on...

Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee is one of my favorites. Besides being funny as all get out, she's super Kreativ ☺ Who else would have thought up an "I See What You're Saying" carnival?! I love this girl and can't wait to open her blog each day to read/see what she's got to say -- you can pretty much count on it being hysterical.

6 Year Med whose stories of life as an intern make me smile, giggle, cry and cringe. All her posts are entertaining but this one had me laughing out loud!

Confessions of a Tired Supergirl is written in a lyrical style that's so refreshing. Yes, if I had to use one word to describe this blog, it would be refreshing, as evidenced by this December post. And don't we all need some refreshment now and then? (Oh, and Sue just published her first book! All I need is Jesus and a good pair of jeans is now available at amazon.com)

Fish In My Hair doesn't blog daily (or sometimes even weekly) but when she does post, it's worth reading! This woman is hysterically funny and can make you laugh simply describing a conversation with her parents.

Joy at Joys Of Home is a self-proclaimed do-it-yourselfer AND thrift store shopper extraordinaire and she has the most creative home decorating blog I've come across for those of us with non-existent budgets. I can't possibly pick just one post because she has great how-to ideas ALL THE TIME! If you're in need of decorating inspiration, Joy's your girl!

Dorcas is another published author with two books to her credit and a third one in process. Her blog chronicles her life and adventures as a pastor's wife, mom to both biological and adopted children, columnist for the local paper and she also happens to live on a farm. She's one of the women I'd love to meet some time...because she thinks a lot like I do ☺ I loved this post about Facebook.

Amy Beth's Ministry So Fabulous is a must-read-daily. Never know what AB is going to come up with next! The occasional videos show just what a lovable nut she is, and her blog is honest and funny and true. I've shared this post with you before, but it bears repeating. I *heart* Amy Beth!

Becky is a homeschooling mom to ten (well, four are grown) who writes from her farmhouse in the Midwest. Her hubby had a heart transplant a couple years ago and two of their kids are closely monitored for ongoing heart problems. Her sense of humor in the midst of the craziness that is her life keeps me coming back daily to see what's new Out Ioway.

Deb at Suburb Sanity is another that regularly moves me to emotion. Sometimes the fall-off-your-chair-while-snorting-your-drink-through-your-nose-and-spewing-it kind of emotion. So I am always careful to sit on the floor and far away from all beverages when reading her blog. Don't believe me? Then read this.

Donna's one of those amazing women who has a job outside the home but still finds time to make home-cooked meals. In fact her blog is all about being Way More Homemade. Every recipe of hers I've tried has been WONDERFUL. But it's not just a food blog. Oh no! Donna writes about all things home and mama-related.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the Kreativ Bloggers out there, but I was limited to ten. If I didn't include you, please don't feel badly -- I enjoy each and every one of you and you're all Kreativ in my book!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

WFMW - Gift Preparedness

I'll tell you what, it's hard to think of helpful things at 5 o'dark in the morning. I've been sitting here racking my brains, trying to think of something... anything that might prove interesting and helpful for all those creative and so-already-have-it-together bloggers out there. What can I possibly share that hasn't already been done? Everything I think of, someone else has already blogged about it for WFMW. This is getting to be a hard gig to play!

Oh wait, I know something! And if you've already read it somewhere, don't tell me. This fragile southern belle (*snort*) doesn't handle those things well.

So here's the thing, for years I've been picking up odd little items on sale or clearance that I think would make good gifts. Not always with someone in mind, just the idea that "Hey, this picture frame is so cute and would make a nice baby shower gift" or "Oooo, someone's gonna love this book on decorating shabby chic style." Previously I kept all these things tucked in a plastic bin under my bed, easily accessible and ready at a moment's notice.

By buying here and there when things were marked down, I spread the cost AND keep the cost down for those inevitable gifts you need to buy. Birthdays, showers, anniversaries...and of course, Christmas. You can always pick up great Christmas items at summer sidewalk sales that made great gifts in December.

Before we moved I finished gifting my "stock" and I haven't started filling my bin here yet. Actually I don't have a bin any more. Another one of those things I didn't bring and now wish I had. Oh well. But I do plan to start doing this again. And this time I'm going to add items I make. I've had a lot of fun sewing colored pencil rolls for a couple young girls recently and think they would be great items to have on hand. I have some other ideas for homemade gifts, too.

And that's my tip for this week. Y'all get on over to Shannon's for plenty of ideas from seriously creative and organized bloggers.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tired Tuesdays

There are a lot of special days in Bloggyville. Works For Me Wednesdays, Thankful Thursdays, Friday's Fave Five. A lot of upbeat, happy days.

Well, I'm going for Tired Tuesdays. I doubt I'm the only one out there hormonal, menopausal, or otherwise PMSy.

On top of that, this Tuesday I'm recovering from a little visit from my old pal, E. Coli. Not Italian although you'd think that by the "i" on the end of his name. No, E. is from the Shiga tribe that dwells in Intestinaland. But E. likes to travel extensively and decided to catch a few rays in sunny South America over the weekend, and he found it so pleasant here he stayed over an extra day. E. is spontaneous that way. But E. is a difficult house guest, hard to please and doesn't really know when to leave. You've had guests like that, right? It's no wonder that I am quite tired after his visit.

I'm glad tomorrow is Wednesday. Maybe someone will post a WFMW about how to deal with Tired Tuesdays.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Week 4, Project 365

It was 99° yesterday and felt like it was over 100°. Especially in our house because we had the power off for most of five hours while installing the ceiling fan/light fixture in the kitchen. As a former facilities maintenance manager AND one who has his residential builder's license in Michigan, the hubby gets agitated and frustrated when he has to contend with poor workmanship and things just done the wrong way. And so it was yesterday. Whoever wired this house was either color-blind or extremely lazy.

Anyway... On to pictures from the week. I didn't remember to take a photo every single day, but I did most days. So I'm fudging a bit and including seven photos even though they only cover 5 days. You'll forgive me, won't you? This is the 'empty' lot next door that's not so empty. A man who is a building contrator has been using the space to store tear-outs and other materials. Now that the actual owner of the lot has moved back from Italy and wants to build a house there, these things have to go. Yay! The bed installed! This happened Monday afternoon. For the first time since the end of April we have a bed at regular height. We decided we like it ☺ Wednesday was my day "off" and I spent a portion of it sewing. I'm working on pillow shams for my bed and I found the exact shades of brown, cream, taupe and light aqua in my fabric stash. The quilt was a clearance item picked up for way less than I would have paid just for the fabric, but they didn't have any of the accessories left. I dyed an old bedskirt brown to go with the "ensemble". Sounds so Martha Stewart-ish, doesn't it? I know I shared a similar photo last week, but this one is DIFFERENT! It has five blossoms instead of three LOL I can't help myself, I'm totally loving the roses! Between my cell phone camera and poor photography skills, this isn't the greatest shot, but I really wanted to share the corner of my yard right by my front door. I think you can probably make out the red and yellow rosebushes (2 of the 13 in our yard) and oleander bush (tree?). What you can't see are my geraniums, hydrangeas, agapanthus, and a few spider plants but they're there, just out of the photo frame. Good thing I'm not a big fan of bottled salad dressing. Not readily available although Wal-mart has started carrying a few. Notice the price on the shelf below? Well, that's in pesos of course. But still. Basically over $8 per bottle. And you know those Salad Mists are tiny bottles. Guess what I didn't buy? But I was happy to find real marshmallows and even Frosted Flakes! We never ate a lot of Frosted Flakes at our house for breakfast; it was more of a late night snack food ☺ But we've discovered it's also good in the morning..."breakfast of champions" and all that. Oh wait, that was Wheaties. Whatev. It was just a nice little taste of home.

Friday, January 23, 2009

That was one EXPENSIVE package!

The package I was expecting from my daughter finally arrived. And was held up by customs at the main post office in the provincial capital. So this morning the hubby dropped me off there while he took care of other business. He could have done a lot in the ALMOST TWO HOURS that it took me.

Oh.my.word. I grabbed a number. I was 87. They were on #75. Not too bad, I thought.

Ha!

About an hour went by and the lady I was talking with told me they'd called my number.

Wrong. They were only on #82. More waiting.

I decided to stand closer to the action and it was interesting to see people moving back and forth between postal workers. I finally figured out that one man signs you in, then you wait. Another man finds your package and asks if it's okay to open it. [I wonder what would happen should someone say no? Hmmmm.] Then you wait some more. Until another man fills out the paperwork. People, there was nary a computer in sight. Or even a typewriter. Everything was written out longhand.

And there were numerous papers involved in the process. Each customer is signed in on one form, there are tax forms in triplicate, and another paper is attached to them, and when you finally get your package you have to sign it out on another sheet.

When my number was finally called I knew the drill.

But that didn't make it any less painful. I ended up paying 55 pesos in import taxes. For a book, several packets of dry Ranch dressing mix and Goya seasonings, zip lock bags and some kitchen scrubby pads. And let's not forget the 13 pesos they charged FOR STORING MY PACKAGE.

Okey-dokey.

The charges seem arbitrary. My language tutor shelled out even more for a package her daughter sent from Colorado, where she's an exchange student. True value matters nada.

The hubby just grinned when I told him. He thinks it's good for me to have this experience. I'm pondering that.

As Americans we have no clue. Absolutely no clue what it's like for those living overseas. I get it now, those conversations with missionaries who discouraged me from sending them packages. I thought they were a little ungrateful, you know? But if they're having to spend hours retrieving the package and pay huge import and storage fees, it's just probably not worth it. At least that's how I feel at this point. This ended up being one very expensive package! I paid a total $22 U.S. to pick up my package. And that doesn't include the gas into the capital or the time spent at the post office.

The daughter has sent books before and those came through without a problem. So I'll be able to have the occasional book sent -- or piece of fabric ☺ -- but no more bulky items that cause a package to get flagged by customs. Lesson learned.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's 4 a.m. and pretty quiet in my neighborhood

An upset tummy woke me up and since I can't seem to sleep I thought I'd drag my tired body over to the computer and see what's happening in Bloggyville. And for a while I've been wanting to figure out how to do some things so I've been exploring the layout page this morning and all it offers. But I've determined that being half asleep is not conducive to intellectual pursuits or blog layout possibilities. Although I did activate a couple of cool features, like letting people easily subscribe to my blog and showing the list of followers. I was surprised to find I had followers! Happy dance ☺

I knew my blogger 'clock' was set at Pacific coast time but didn't know how to change it -- until this morning when I finally found the place to do that. Now we're set at the correct Buenos Aires time (not that we're in Buenos Aires but that's the right time).

Wednesday was a really nice day. The hubby gave me the afternoon "off" by leaving the house and giving me some alone time. Some people re-charge their batteries by being with other people, they need that interaction. Others of us re-charge with alone time. I go a little bit nuts if I don't get some alone time periodically. And we were fast approaching that point of craziness.

I posted on the blog, did some laundry, started working on the pillow shams for my bed, worked on Spanish, took a nap, had Spanish class, worked some more on the pillow shams... As I re-read that sentence, it appears there was a lot of 'working' going on but it was fun work, creative work, that I also need to do frequently or the crazy comes on and things get ugly.

The hubby dropped off some lunch early on, having stopped at a little Middle Eastern restaurant where he found pita bread and hummus and tabouli. Yum! When he returned about 9 p.m. we heated up leftovers and settled in to watch an episode of 24.

So how great is that?! A quiet day of just catching my breath and relaxing a little.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

WFMW - Moving Mayhem


Moving is one of my strengths. Or used to be anyway. After this last one I'm beginning to have some doubts. But maybe that's just 'cause I'm getting older. And slower.

Anyway, because of my vast experience in moving -- 12 times before I went to college and 16 times since I've been married -- and because I'm a bit OCD, I've developed a system that really helps. It takes a little more time up front but saves LOTS of time at the end.

First thing I do is buy a new notebook. I could use an old one that still has pages in it but where's the fun in that? Nope, new notebook for each move.

As I pack a box, I list every item that goes in. I label each box on all four sides and the top with my code. B-1 would be the first box of bathroom items, K-3 would be the third box of kitchen items. See? So I can later look in my notebook and see that K-3 has the mixing bowls, the Pyrex 9x13 pan, some dish towels and all my spices.

Labeling the boxes according to the room where it belongs helps in the actual moving process, too. "Oh," I can tell whoever is helping us, "K-3 goes in the kitchen."

Of course, it isn't completely cut and dried. Because I like to use my towels and bed linens and some clothes to wrap more delicate items. I usually label those boxes "M" for miscellaneous. But because my notebook clearly tells me that M-2 has all the framed family pictures wrapped in our long underwear, I'll know to have the box put in the spare room and I can get to it later. And should I need that long underwear Pronto! I can easily find it.

I put books in smaller boxes because of the weight and although I could have a list of which books are in what box, I am not that OCD. I just label those boxes BOOKS.

When I'm using plastic bins that I really don't want to write on, I write the label on a piece of paper and tape it to the top of the bin. Didn't catch the hubby in time this last move though so some of our bins will forever be M-6 and K-7. Or something.

This time I quickly typed up the info because we had to provide a shipping manifest to the customs people and, while I was at it, I grouped all the K boxes together. (Not so neat and tidy in the notebook.) This was also helpful, but not absolutely necessary.

Let me tell you, at the end of the move you will be SO GLAD you have the master list of everything in those boxes. No more searching through 15 before you find the potato peeler, because the notebook tells you that all the kitchen utensils went into K-4.

This system works equally well for things you just store seasonally or temporarily in the garage or attic.

And that's my tip for this week's Works For Me Wednesday. You'll find tons more ideas over at Rocks In My Dryer!

Monday, January 19, 2009

As I pry open my eyelids, I see it's a beautiful day

A brief thunderstorm on Saturday night brought cooler temperatures which were much welcomed after a week in the high 90s. This morning I'm actually sitting here with a sweater on as I sip my drug of choice coffee and try to wake up. It is 9:13 a.m. I woke up at 8:10 and could.not.get.up.

Lest you think I'm a total lazy bum, let me explain that we were invited to someone's house for supper last night. We began to eat at 10:45 p.m.

We started with homemade empanadas which were some of the best I've had yet. The filling was just the right mixture of meat, hardboiled eggs, raisins, onions, olives and seasonings encased in a flaky crust and pan fried to perfection. Hungry yet? I never eat more than one empanada. I ate two. They were SO GOOD!

Then we sat and chatted a while longer. Now we'd been chatting up a storm ever since we arrived about 7:30 p.m. and gathered in the sun dappled orchard to pick plums. Right through a time of sharing in the Word around a picnic table, and continuing inside as we watched a 4-D ultrasound DVD of the baby due in April (Ahhhh! she's sticking her thumb in her mouth and sucking!), and as we looked at all the digital photos Oscar took at the Dakar Rally up in the high Sierras this past week...

Our hosts, being of Italian descent, enjoy talking long and talking loud (I am positive I have to have some Italian blood in me!). Topics ranged from approaching parenthood to proper protocol in the grocery store (more about that in another post) to a card game called Truco to... Quite honestly by the time we began to eat at 10:45, I was so tired I was only processing about one word in ten. Or twenty. But that was fine because I could enjoy my food undistracted by the conversations that ebbed and flowed around me.

It was like I was on an island enjoying a meal in solitude ☺

Back to the food (where it always goes, right?). We had churipan which is a wonderful combination of fresh bread rolls with a tasty chorizo sausage tucked inside. These were so good I didn't even add any condiments to mine. Just a leaf of lettuce for some crunch. There are many varieties of chorizo and the ones last night were closely akin to Polish sausage according to the host. He first made a vegetable broth by throwing carrots, onions, and celery into a pot of water and bringing it to a boil. After a while he threw in the chorizos and let them boil for about 20 minutes until plump and bursting at the seams.

After two empanadas I could definitely eat only one churipan. And then sit there feeling a bit like a beached whale at midnight. Estuve muy satesfecho! Y muy cansada tambien. Pero no terminamos!

No, we were not finished yet. There was still more conversation! And dessert. My co-workers who are on a diet brought pretty multi-layered fat-free jello and I made a totally non-diet apple cinnamon cake. Guess which I went for? We sat and talked long enough between the churipan and dessert that I was actually a little hungry and able to eat a small slice of cake.

I don't know what time we made it home. I was too tired to lift my wrist and look at my watch. Eventually I will get used to the Argentine way of eating late but I'm not quite there yet. I don't want to sound like I didn't have a good time. I had a fabulous time! I'm just saying it was a stretch for me. Having never been much of a late night person, this is taking some serious adjusting. But as I see progress with the Spanish, so I see progress with this. Five months ago when we arrived, I would have pooped out by 10 p.m. Last night I made it to midnight in a semi-coherent state. No idea how I was after that. But the hubby hasn't said I did anything to embarrass him so I guess it's all good.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Week 3, Project 365

Many who read my blog are from the U.S. where y'all are suffering through some bitterly cold weather right now. Even my southern pals are shivering in the single digits. So to remind you that winter doesn't last forever -- the U.S. is NOT Narnia before Aslan! -- I offer some photos from my yard... I was pretty excited when the hubby pointed out we have morning glories on our wall! I adore morning glories ☺ The roses just keep blooming. Since I found the box with bud vases last week I picked a few to enjoy inside. The pine tree isn't in our yard but at the house in Santa Rosa. This is going to be one ginormous pine cone! Hard to tell in the picture, but it's about 6 inches long. Okay, enough nature pictures. We were downtown this week and I had to make a pit stop. This was the sign on the door of the stall. "Please put the toilet paper in the waste basket. Thanks" There were trash cans on either side of the toilet.

I may have mentioned a time or four that I love doing laundry. Weird, I know. A big part of why I enjoy the chore is that my darling hubby built me the cutest and handiest little washing closet. It has a shelf above for all my laundry paraphernalia, a large hook beside the washer so I can keep hangers at the ready, and it's all safely ensconced in a cabinet on my patio that I can lock and keep secure when not in use. I tried taking a close-up of my washer which is another big reason I love doing laundry but I couldn't get a decent shot. Maybe next time.

And finally I leave you with a (not very good) photo of something that caused GREAT REJOICING AND LOUD HALLELUJAHS when the hubby brought it home. For those new to my blog, I have been searching FOR FIVE MONTHS for this. While Argentine food is amazing and I love it, I have been sadly, sadly disappointed in the cheese selection. Every cheese I've tried (except the hard ones like parmesan) are bland, bland, bland. Like most Americans I have an ongoing love affair with... After months of fruitless search when, yeah, we had even contemplated giving up...it showed up in our grocery store!

Lest you get too excited, though, we're pretty sure it's a limited time offer. We've had this happen with other things we like a lot; one day they have it, the next they don't and when we ask, we are told it was just for that one time. So, the hubby is going to take the wrapping to our favorite little cheese store to see if he can't get it in on a regular basis. The cheese IS produced in Argentina so it shouldn't be that hard to get. We hope! 'Cause we are so lovin' the CHEDDAR!!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Here are the pictures I promised of the bed platform project

Which isn't quite finished yet so more photos will be forthcoming but I wanted to post current progress and give y'all an idea of where we're going with this.

Warning: recycling old wood is great for the environment and the pocketbook but IT TAKES WAY MORE TIME. The hubby is happy he was able to utilize some of the pallet wood, but oh my word, it is taking so much longer to build the platform. Can't just buy the wood, cut, glue nail, and paint. Oh No! You must disassemble the pallets, remove all nails and other foreign matter, then plane the pallet wood. Piece.By.Piece. Before you can even get started.

Just sayin'.

So here you have it...First up is a photo of three of the cross support frames built using pallet wood. Next is the center support and cross supports in their final configuration. And a close-up of the support system. Sliding the platform top onto the support frame... Finally, a view from the foot of the bed. See how it angles in? That's to prevent stubbed toes which we had issues with on the last bed platform.
That was a trial run to make sure all the pieces fit and make any necessary adjustments. Then we took it apart and now we're in the process of painting the individual pieces before final assembly. The hubby is also going to put rubber "feet" on the edges of the cross supports since floors here are not so even. That will also raise the platform enough to offset the teeny tiny error in measurements made that currently have it a little low for the bedskirt I plan to use.

This platform is shorter than our last one, and that is entirely due to the bedskirt issue. I had a really long skirt last time that allowed a very tall platform. Since I have a longer bedskirt for the guest bed, that platform will be taller. One of the nice things about building your own furniture is that you can custom build to suit your exact needs ☺

Some might prefer to start with the size bins you want to use under the bed, build to suit and then buy a bedskirt to fit. I don't have that luxury since bedskirts are not a common commodity here. Gotta use what I brought from the U.S.

And what I brought was a denim blue tailored bedskirt which doesn't really go with the brown, cream and light aqua quilt I'm going to use. No problema! I spent the morning dyeing the bedskirt dark brown...

...along with some linen that I'll use with other fabrics to make some custom funky pillow shams. Photos to follow!

Life Accomplishment List

Debbie at Suburb Sanity always brings a fresh perspective to the table. That is to say, the girl is nuts and she cracks me up! A perfect example is her take on the Life Accomplishment List -- which I just loved! I'd seen the "real deal" on a few blogs and have to agree with Debbie that the list was a little too "sweet". With that special Debbie twist, the List is now more in keeping with something the rest of us can relate to realistically. You are supposed to copy the list onto your blog and highlight the ones you have done.

HOWEVER Debbie, I'm sorry but I am excessively somewhat a bit OCD and having 32 on the list just set my teeth on edge. Hope you don't mind but I rounded it up to 40. Nice even number divisible by 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, & 20. I like numbers that are highly divisible by other nice round numbers.

40 is also an age I remember with fondness. 40 was a very good year for me although I didn't realize it at the time. I was too busy immersed in the mediocrity of my life to know it would be the last year of "normal" I would probably see for the remainder of my lifetime.

And so I give you Debbie's Life Accomplishment List with a few additions I feel sure many of you will be able to relate to, some more than others.

1. Started something you actually finished
2. Stood at the bottom of a mountain and thought "wonder why people climb that?"

3. Been booed off a karaoke stage
4. Visited Detroit
5. Given someone food poisoning
6. Walked to the top of a flight of 8 stairs

7. Grown your own hallucinogens
8. Seen a reproduction of famous artwork done on black velvet
9. Slept on a train or other public transportation and not known why
10. Held a possum
11. Driven by an area where people were running a marathon
12. Taught yourself your native language
13. Told someone to quit complaining since they appear to have enough money to be satisfied
14. Wondered about the whole "Michelangelo's David" relationship
15. Been bought a meal in a restaurant by a stranger (or the owner after you skipped out on the bill)
16. Looked up Africa on a map
17. Ran along a street by moonlight with nice gentlemen in blue escorting you
18. Had your mug shot taken
19. Ruined a business
20. Eaten a whole box of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting
21. Threatened a Girl Scout if she tried to take back said cookies.
22. Read a book
23. Had your name in the newspaper in a section other than "police blotter"

24. Been on the wrong end of a jury
25. Walked all over town with old underwear hanging out the bottom of one pant leg
26. Forgotten to pick up one of your kids until someone called you to ask if you had been in a terrible accident
27. Eaten an entire container of ice cream - not the small one either - from the container with a spoon - in one sitting
28. Hidden the evidence of #27 under something really disgusting in the trash can
29. Ducked behind furniture to keep from answering the doorbell to some person collecting for something
30. Hidden in your bedroom/bathroom/closet to eat something so the kids wouldn't know
31. Bought something and hidden the evidence from your spouse.

32. Interpreted that "7-second rule" to be any multiple of 7, and then served the saved item to guests.
33. Had your young children tell you they think it’s time for you to go take a “time out” or, even better, a nap.
34. Consistently gotten lost while navigating through Detroit on your visits
(see #4).
35. Wrecked your first car after 8 days, your 2nd car after three months. [Hence the nick name “Crash”]
36. Sewn a quilt to your lap when quilting while watching a riveting episode of 24, which then required more than 20 minutes of concentrated and careful seam ripping to prevent permanent damage to both the quilt and your clothing.
37. Gone through 20 lbs. of chocolate chips in one year.
38. Have relatives whose chickens and pigs run through the house and where a trip to the bathroom means a trek through the chicken coop.
39. Lived without electricity -- and thus the ability to use a curling iron to do something with your baby fine, totally straight hair -- for a year.
40. Made a major move in middle age, starting over from scratch with a lot less money, energy, and stamina than at any point in your life. And loved it!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Have you ever been so tired your brain just sort of buzzes?

That's about how tired my brain was last night. But it was a good tired. I spent Thursday morning with a new Argentine friend who also likes to craft. She's a very accomplished artist and seamstress so I took a pair of my capris over and she explained how to go about altering them.

I took two years of home ec in high school. At the end of the two years while everyone else was making complete new outfits -- oh, how I loved Edith's turquoise corduroy pantsuit! -- I was 'allowed' to make four placemats. The memory, though over 30 years old is still too painful to talk about so I can't go into details...

Suffice it to say I needed help with altering instructions.

I also took a baby quilt project I'm working on (I have a couple in progress right now) and we just had us a fine time talking about sewing, creating, our families and faith. At least I'm pretty sure that's what we talked about.

Oh I kid.

That's exactly what we talked about. I'm sure we didn't understand everything each other said but we got most of it! We're going to start hanging out on Thursday mornings since that's one of the times the hubby meets with our co-worker to discuss the men's ministry.

After the hubby picked me up we stopped at a Sherwin Williams paint store. People, you have no idea how happy this paint store makes me. Our first paint purchases left me in despair. More like whitewash than paint, I could see many future days of touching up because YOU CANNOT WASH THE WALLS OR THE PAINT COMES RIGHT OFF. And you will remember that all the walls are white. *sigh*

And when the hubby was building my washer cabinet, he was more than a little frustrated with the paint for that. He's an experienced painter and the cabinet looked terrible! I finally convinced him to go to the Sherwin Williams store that we had seen and we are so much happier with the products from there. My washer cabinet, with a fresh coat of S.W. paint, looks fabulous.

So we buy all our paint there now, including what we picked up yesterday for the bed platform. I hope to have photos up of that tomorrow. Hubby didn't have much time yesterday to work on it but is planning to do more today.

I'll also buy the paint for the dining room at Sherwin Williams. It's the one room that hubby is letting me paint something other than white and I'm going with a soft green. Oooo, happy dance! The dining room is not really a dining room at all. We set up chairs when we have gatherings here, or a table for Spanish class if it's at our house, and it serves as a craft center when I have anyone over for that. So with as much time as I spend in there, I'm really glad it will have a nice color on the walls.

Yesterday I had Spanish with Marcela in that room, which still sports scuffed and dirty white walls for now. Aside from the actual, you know, class work we got done, I told her about an idea I have. When I'm more fluent with the language I'd like to start a blog in Spanish! I just think it makes a lot of sense and she agreed with me ☺ So I'm hoping by the time I approach my one-year mark with the class (September) I'll be ready to launch. Or maybe sooner if progress comes a little faster.

Anyway, by the end of class my brain was just flat TIRED from all the concentration on Spanish. It will be so nice when I get to the point that a day of Spanish won't knock me on my behind. But you see why it will be a while before I'm ready to start blogging in Spanish.

My goodness, it was about all I could do to mindlessly iron for an hour, make supper and take a shower. I had no idea the brain could just sort of shut down after a hard day at the office. Quite honestly, I went to bed a little worried last night but I feel fine this morning and the brain is fresh as a daisy. Hallelujah!

I'm raring to go but wanted to post before I started. Didn't want to let another day go by without checking in. I did visit a few blogs last night but not many. I have some catching up to do! And for those who wanted to see photos of the platform, check back tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

WFMW - Bed platforms instead of bed frames

Edited: Several have asked about photos. I will take some as the hubby builds this platform and will post them in a day or two when it's finished.

We've always lived in fairly small places so storage (or lack thereof) is an issue. My hubby came up with an idea some years back that really helped in our bedroom. We replaced the bed frame with a bed platform. The hubby built it so it had a solid plywood top supported by a frame consisting of one middle support going down the center of the bed lengthwise and perpendicular supports every 18" or so. This was a seriously heavy duty platform because at the time we had a king-size waterbed mattress (the kind with multiple tubes).

Because it was just the mattress, the platform could be higher than a bed frame and we had lots of storage space underneath. Forget those wimpy little bins made for underbed storage. We bought large plastic bins 14" high that easily fit into the cubby holes and allowed us to store great quantities of things! A bedskirt kept things hidden but didn't impede access.

This worked so well that now the hubby is building bed platforms for our bed and the guest bed. Since we brought queen-size Select Comfort Sleep Number mattresses with air chambers instead of tubes of water, the platform doesn't have to be quite so hefty. So we won't have as many cross supports and cubby holes but the cubby holes we do have will be larger. Again, we will only be using the mattresses and not the box springs so the platforms can be pretty high.

So that's my tip for Works For Me Wednesday. Any of you with handy hubbies who like to build things, for very little outlay of cash you can build yourself a storage unit that doubles as a bed ☺

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Workin' on the Spanish

In the past week I've felt so much better about how Spanish is going. Amazing what a difference feeling better physically makes on language acquisition!

This afternoon I decided to write a paragraph using verbs in pretérito y pretérito imperfecto. In the past I'd write it in English and then translate it into Spanish. But people, I realized part way through the first sentence that I was automatically doing it in Spanish!!!

I stopped and did a little happy dance ☺

For anyone who has learned a language, you know what a HUGE step this is and can rejoice with me. For everyone else, trust me, this is worth celebrating!

This doesn't mean I'm "there" yet. I have so far to go that I try not to think about it because that simply overwhelms and paralyzes me. I just enjoy and rejoice in each baby step of progress.

While I'm in class the hubby runs errands, doing any shopping or bill paying or whatever, and every day for over a week I've had him check our post office box but still no package from the daughter. She sent some things in a large envelope three weeks ago. I can't imagine anyone wanting the contents (cocoa powder, some seasoning packets, a book on worship and some nylon scrubby things for the kitchen) so I'm just hoping the delay is due to the holidays. I've just had such a hankering for vegies and Ranch dip. The original dry Ranch dressing mix is one of the things in the package so you can see why I anxiously await its arrival ☺ The book on worship is hubby's birthday gift, said event occurring last Monday.

Oh, and progress report on the bed: hubby picked up some parts he needed this morning in order to fix his planer. That done, he's back to working on the bed platform. A short while ago he finished planing the pieces of wood scavenged from pallets we used in the move.

He was so busy with that, and I was so immersed in Spanish that we both forgot the green beans simmering on the stove. Suddenly I caught a whiff of that awful scorched scent so common from the early days of our marriage. I salvaged about half the beans; trying not to be sad about the other half. We do love us some Southern style green beans -- cooked to death with smoked pork. Forget al dente when it comes to beans! There's nothing like beans so soft they melt in your mouth, and flavored with good old fashioned fat.

Hmmmmm, maybe I could write a paragraph about Southern food for my tutor. Now how would I say fatback in Spanish...

Monday, January 12, 2009

This morning it was raining...

...so we didn't get our walk in. But I enjoyed sitting inside with a cup of coffee and listening to the pitter patter of rain on the roof. It slowed to a sprinkle by the time I left for Spanish and had stopped entirely by the end of class.

Wouldn't have mattered either way because I've been inside doing paperwork all afternoon. I'm so behind on thank you's that it's embarrassing. People are going to think we're ungrateful wretches.

The hubby figured out that by re-using some of the pallet wood from our move along with wood left over from the garage loft project, he'd have enough to make a bed platform. He was absolutely gleeful because the man does love figuring out how to utilize the last little bit of anything.

But the project came to a grinding halt when something broke on the planer while creating mounds of wood shavings from the pallet wood. Since he can fix pretty much anything I have no doubt things will soon be humming along. And by tomorrow I will once again be elevated to new heights. While sleeping at least.

Viewing the blocks posted on Project Improv's flickr site yesterday inspired me to go make one myself. Using scraps left over from other projects (the hubby isn't the only one who likes figuring out how to use the last little bit of anything) I created this: A wonky log cabin-ish block in pinks and oranges. This is my block for charity. Although... I had so much fun and there are still lots of scraps left, I just might have to make another one ☺

If y'all haven't peeked yet, you really should go to my sidebar and click on the Project Improv button. Even non-quilters will enjoy all the color going on over there!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Week 2, Project 365

As promised, more pictures from our early morning walks...



There are many reasons for walking early in the morning: starting our day out on a good note, avoiding the crowds of tourists, walking when it's cooler... But there's another reason, a hidden reason and I'm finally going to 'fess up. Any other time of day and one of the THREE gelato places we pass on our walks would be open. And I would be tempted, oh yes I would!

The walks can still be hazardous even without Venezia's. Most mornings we're really good and come home to eat yogurt and homemade granola. BUT one morning the peaches were on my mind and I kept coming back to a particularly tasty way of using them: over pancakes! Mmmmmm, good! Buttermilk pancakes with powdered sugar and peaches and a side of homemade sausage...what could be better? My food pictures aren't coming out all that well. The color is just washed out. Maybe the indoor lighting? Next time I'll take the food outside and see if that helps ☺ But this food didn't last long enough for a trip outside. It was SO good!

My sidekick on walks, with the peaches, in all of life, is the sweet man I'm proud to call my hubby. He encourages my obsession with being creative in whatever form it takes me...quilting, crafting, writing... He is one of the biggest blessings in my life and I'm so thankful for him!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I spoke too soon yesterday...

...because today has been just as busy, if not busier than the rest of the week. I've sorted through more than a dozen boxes, washed three loads of laundry, fixed several meals, and worked on some computer stuff.

Since we ARE in South America though, it's been at a pretty relaxed pace ☺

I snapped some photos this morning so you could see what we see on our walks. It's so peaceful and beautiful in the early hours before floods of tourists pour onto the beaches and sidewalks and streets. Here's one photo and I'll post more tomorrow for Project 365.

Part of what I did on the computer today was open my own flickr account, to be tied to this blog. This needed to be done because I'm one of over 100 quilters participating in Project Improv. We'll be posting photos of our own projects as well as charity blocks that will be combined into quilts for charity. Each member of Project Improv will donate at least one log “cabinish” block, and those who are able will be getting together to piece the quilts together. [Obviously I'm a little too far away for that] Jackie of Canton Village Quilt Works and her friend Pam have offered to quilt the charity quilts on their longarms FOR FREE.

I'm REALLY excited about Project Improv because the last few years there's just been this passion to create freestyle, letting my imagination run wild. And since the whole point of this group is to IMPROVISE, it's a great fit! Each participant is asked to make at least one improvisational piece, with no restrictions except that it is to be improvised, not made from a pattern. We individually decide on the size, the scope, the fabrics, the style, and method of construction. Doesn't this sound like fun?! Woohoo!

Jacquie from Tallgrass Prairie Studio is hosting Project Improv. I've been following Jacquie's blog for a while and her work is so inspiring! And after seeing the blocks others are posting on the Project Improv flickr page, I can tell the inspiration meter will go sky high!

And now I must get back to the boxes. TTFN! (ta ta for now!)

Friday, January 9, 2009

TGIF

Garbage workers were on strike for a few days, but not long enough for things to get too stinky. Garbage is picked up every day here (well, every evening) and our garbage "bins" are itty bitty baskets on a pole so it wouldn't take long for things to get out of hand. We are understandably happy that the strike was short. It ended at midnight on Wednesday and they immediately revved up their engines and hit the town. Yay!

We've had bags of peach refuse every day for a while. In an effort to getitoveralready, we invited friends to come pick peaches on Sunday. But alas even with their help we still have peaches. As our Ugandan friends would say, they have about "defeated us". And so each evening, out goes another bag of peach peelings and pits.

My co-worker came over this afternoon and we spent several fun hours preparing crafts for the kids for our upcoming missionary conference. We're trying to get some done each week so we're not overwhelmed at the end. Conference is the first week of March.

This week the hubby built a loft in the garage and I'm in the midst of going through boxes so we can store the things we don't need/can't use yet. Today he began putting together his larger, stationary tools since the area under the loft will be his "shop". He can pull the car out during the day and have space to work. Not sure who's more excited -- him at finally having a shop, or me because now he'll be able to start building bookshelves and bed platforms and a pantry cabinet and...

I'm feeling pretty good about Spanish although still understanding very little when I listen to the radio. Which may be a good thing since this morning the hubby suddenly turned to a different station after exclaiming, "That's downright raunchy!" I asked my tutor for recommendations and she gave me the number on the dial for the station she listens to. She also said that during the summer the talk shows often interview entertainers in town for a show and they're not always very appropriate.

But I just feel like I'm starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. Getting a better handle on verbs we use a lot, increasing my vocabulary, and gaining confidence in conversations with others. I have a LOOOOOONG way to go, but I feel like I've turned a corner. Woohoo!

Also feeling pretty good about getting up every morning and walking first thing. That was a hard thing yesterday because I was so tired, but I did it anyway. The rest of the day was pretty much a wash since my energy level was almost nil, but at least I walked in the morning.

With all we've had going on, TGIF! I'd like to leave you with a picture of what's outside my living room window. [Ignore the container and messy yard next door. We're pretty excited that it will be gone before long, as the property owner is getting ready to build a house there.] Look at all the flowers! Roses, trumpet vine and agapanthas. Around the corner you'd find hydrangeas, honeysuckle, oleander, and more roses. Yay for summer!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Just can't think of a good title today

Heidi, a friend who is currently raising support to return to Uganda as a full-time missionary, shared this article with us in a recent e-mail. She said, "it expressed everything I have been trying to explain to my patients and co-workers for two years but haven't been able to articulate very well." Matthew Parris, an avowed athiest, writes that "as an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God".

Please take time to follow the link and read the article. The point Mr Parris makes can be applied to continents other than Africa. Right here in South America the cultural walls I alluded to in yesterday's post are just as pervasive as tribal customs in Africa.

It's refreshing to hear from an athiest who doesn't demonize evangelical missions and missionaries ☺

At the opposite end of the spectrum, ministry can often be glamorized and those in ministry put on a pedestal by others who don't see the inner workings. On Monday Amy Beth posted about the reality and messiness of ministry. This example happens to be from our own home culture, but she pretty much nailed it for ministry in general, anywhere in the world.

Just some food for thought in the middle of this first full week of 2009 ☺

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

From Spanish to littering, my mind does wander a bit

The holidays are over and it's back to work! Marcela and I resumed Spanish class yesterday. I've been rather lazy over the past couple weeks but I'm ready to dig in and get busy again.

Sunday I happened to notice the hubby's radio that came with his tool set. It runs on an 18 volt battery and is small enough to carry from room to room. I had an "Aha!" moment when I realized it was just the thing for me to use. Marcela's been telling me it would be good to listen to talk radio but I can't get it to work on my computer and it's just a hassle with the one hubby uses. Monday morning I listened while cleaning the kitchen. Did you know that radio personalities sound the same no matter where you go? Seriously, they really do! That same voice inflection and way of speaking. Interesting. So even though I was only catching words here and there, I could totally tell when a commercial came on ☺

Auditory is definitely my weakest area. This has become more evident as I read about "The Gentleman in the Rusty Armor". I read chapter one out loud to the hubby and did okay. He read chapter two out loud while I read along. Chapter 3 he's been reading without me looking at the book and boy, is it hard! I concentrate really hard but even so, by the time he gets to the end of a sentence I've forgotten what was at the beginning ☹ He'll read a sentence in its entirety and then we'll go word-by-word or phrase-by-phrase. S-L-O-W!!!

Hopefully listening to the radio will improve my auditory ability.

With the holidays over, we're also getting serious about eating healthier and exercising more. We're walking first thing in the morning -- even before coffee! That's how you know we're serious ☺ The coastline around the lake starts filling up with people by mid-morning but early morning it's still pretty quiet except for a few others walking.

One of the things I've noticed is the amount of litter. It's hard not to notice because it's staggering! There are a few spotty trashcans here and there but they're small and fill up quickly. But more importantly is the attitude most people have that it's somebody's job to clean up after them so they have every right to just throw things on the ground. It's the concept that their trash gives someone employment.

And there are people whose job it is to clean up the litter. But there aren't enough of them and the result is a constant landscape of paper and bottles and garbage strewn about. Sad really, because it's so beautiful here and would look much nicer if everyone just took care of their own trash. And isn't not littering a matter of good stewardship?

I remember a huge push back in the 60s and 70s to prevent littering in the U.S., especially along roadways. Lady Bird Johnson got the ball rolling when she was First Lady and I remember having lessons about it in school and seeing commercials on TV. Who could forget this one from the early 70s?

You gotta admit, that was some pretty powerful advertising, especially for children! I know it didn't take too long before we started ragging on parents or anyone else who dared to litter. Boy and Girl Scout troops would often tackle a portion of road or a park to clean up. It was "the" thing to do back then.

I'm trying to convince myself that littering is one of those "it's not right or wrong, it's just different" situations but it's not easy. I'm learning some things are so ingrained that it'll take dynamite to dislodge them. *sigh* But it helps me understand a little better how strong the cultural pull is in a society. We're coming up against some cultural walls that make it very difficult to reach people with God's Word. Knowing how bull-headed I am about certain things shows me how other people can be bull-headed about their own cultural strongholds.

Monday, January 5, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY HUBBY!

The hubby had really hoped to be in Argentina before he turned 50. Didn't happen. But we're here for his 51st birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, honey!

My hubby is an amazing man. I fell in love with him the first time I saw him over 30 years ago. Seriously! I went back to my dorm that night and told my suite-mates that I'd met the man I was going to marry and they just said, "Yeah, right."

He's kind, loving, generous, funny, smart, optimistic...with his "can do!" attitude he can fix almost anything. I love his puns (even though I groan at some of them) and can always tell when he's going to tell a joke by the way he purses his lips a little and his eyes twinkle. I appreciate the way he takes care of me (like not letting me peel and slice the peaches because he knew the occasional worms or bugs would gross me out) and how he loves his family. He's got a servant's heart and shows his love in the things he does for me. One year for Christmas he cleaned out the garage (no small feat!) so I could park in there during winter. Serving is how he shows his love to others, too, and he's always ready to help someone with a project.

He loves the Lord and seeks to follow Him. This has taken us many interesting places ☺ I am so thankful for a man who loves me, but loves God more. His priorities are straight and because of that I know I can trust him to do what's right. Thank you sweetie!

We fell in love back in 1978 and that love has only grown stronger. I'm so thankful for the years he's given us together so today I just want to wish him a Happy Birthday and a year of blessings to come.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Week 1, Project 365


This has been around for a while, and I loved the concept: a picture a day for a year. However, knowing how unreliable the internet is anywhere we travel here, I didn't think it would be practical for me to try.

But then I heard what Sara from Make Music From Your Heart To The Lord, Eph. 5:19 is suggesting: Posting a week's worth of pictures each Sunday. I think I can do that!

Since the year began in the middle of the week and today is January 4th, I'm just posting four pictures today. Remember, these were taken with the only camera we have right now, the one on my cell phone. So the quality isn't stellar (but then neither is my photography skill). Our camera did make it to Argentina but seems to be stuck in Buenos Aires with friends. Not sure how or when we'll get it.

I have mentioned a time or six that we have a peach tree. The hubby has spent hours (and I do mean HOURS) peeling and slicing. But we still have plenty on the tree. Here's proof. He does the hard labor and I get to play with the fruit, making cobblers and pies and other yummy treats. I posted the recipe for this peach cobbler yesterday and here's how mine looked, fresh out of the oven. It tasted SO GOOD with vanilla ice cream!

I couldn't wait any longer. It may be a month or more before we can get the study/sewing room set up and I have a NEED TO CREATE. So I set up my sewing machine on a folding table and just started playing with fabric. I've seen some wonky block quilts on a few websites and I just loved their playfulness. Here's one of the six blocks I've made so far.
And finally I'd like to share a rose from my yard with you. You can pretend I've given it to you in a bud vase ☺

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cooking, Eating & Other Culinary Delights

I started thinking about cooking, eating, and other culinary delights after reading Linda's post this morning about teaching her son to cook.

I don't remember which of my kids made this observation about a year ago, "Is our family kinda weird or what? We are either eating, talking about what we ate, or discussing what we shall eat at the next meal. Are we a bit obsessed with food?"

I feel I should point out, my kids are better cooks than me. This is not to say I'm a terrible cook, I do okay. But they are EXCELLENT cooks. They are inventive, adventurous...and they have the knack.

I have always believed that people are born with various gifts. Things they find easy to do without a lot of effort and training. For some it's cooking. Or sewing. Or gardening, decorating, keeping accounts, fixing things... You get the idea.

The rest of us can LEARN these things, but they do not come naturally.

Cooking is one of those things I learned. There were meals early in my marriage that were literally un-edible. The first time I used wine in a sauce and it curdled but I didn't know that's what had happened so I served it anyway. Yuck! Or when I put a whole bag of rice into a medium size pan with only a fraction of the water needed. Stinky mess!

But over time I have learned enough to follow a recipe and even on occasion, change it a little.

My kids learned from my mistakes. After all they were right there when I made some doozies. Both the son and daughter enjoyed hanging out in the kitchen. The son was always interested in the science of cooking. The daughter would sit on the counter and demand to stir something, or pat it into a pan, or whatever needed done. From the time she was two-years-old she was my #1 kitchen helper.

We have been reaping the benefits the last few years whenever the kids would cook for us. It's not unusual now for the son to call up and tell me what he and the wife making for dinner and how they're going about it.

And it's not unusual to spend a good amount of time talking about food with my daughter as well. So when she tells me about a date? 90% of the conversation isn't about the guy but about the food they ate. LOL She's working her way through college by serving at a really nice, upscale restaurant where she can't afford to eat very often. She gets 50% off at the end of her shift, but 50% off a $40 entree is still $20. Sometimes she gets an appetizer, soup or sushi roll. But she LOVES working there, and frequently tells me about the special of the week or something new they've added to the menu.

Um...yeah. I know for a lot of people, food is merely something that must be ingested to sustain life. I find that very sad. We derive great enjoyment from our food! We read books about food. Garlic & Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise was very good! So was Julie and Julia : 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. The hubby and I listened to Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living which we'd downloaded from Audible.com (and now I have Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life on my iPod). I also like to listen to podcasts of The Splendid Table, and watch videos on The Food Network website. I subscribe to the weekly e-Newsletter from America's Test Kitchen and was quite happy this morning to see they have a slimmed down version of fettucine alfredo, one of my favorite comfort foods. [Go to their website, scroll down a little bit and the sign-up for the free e-Newsletter is on the left of the screen. You're welcome.]

So yeah, I guess you could say we're a bit obsessed with food.

Anyway, is it any wonder I participate in every recipe exchange I find in B'ville? ☺ With the holidays behind us, Carol is once again hosting Saturday Stirrings. So when you're done here, be sure to go there and see what else is being shared. Yum!

Today I give you my Peach Cobbler recipe. Seeing as how we are drowning in peaches at the moment. Not a bad way to drown, eh?

PEACH COBBLER


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 lbs. fresh peaches, peeled and cut into chunks or slices
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch (or 2 tablespoons flour)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

For the crust:
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons milk

Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly butter 9 inch pie plate or baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter.
In a bowl, combine prepared fruit, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt, stirring to mix well.
Turn fruit into prepared baking dish. Dot with remaining tablespoon of butter.
To make the crust, beat shortening and sugar together. Add egg and vanilla and beat until light. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt and add alternately with milk, mixing until dough forms.
Drop spoonfuls of dough over the fruit filling, covering as much surface as you can.
Bake on middle rack of oven until crust is browned and filling is bubbly, about 45 minutes.
Serve slightly warm with vanilla ice cream.

Friday, January 2, 2009

This will be a short post because...well, I'm tired. Aren't you?

I've had a lot of fun the past couple weeks but all the partying and staying up way past my bedtime has caught up with me.

This morning I decided I couldn't get up until I'd read another chapter in "El Caballero de la Armadura Oxidada". This is my homework over the holidays and --horror of horrors -- I sorta forgot about it ☹ I put it into a drawer while cleaning as we prepared for our Christmas dinner and poof! the memory of needing to read it went right out of my head. Until I was looking for something and came across it the other day.

So, NOT going to have it done before Spanish lessons resume next week. *sigh* I used to be so organized and together. It's like middle-agedness just sucks all your intelligence out along with the hot flashes and insomnia.

But aside from getting a late start, the book is muy divertido (very entertaining)! It's about a knight in shining armor who thinks he's good, generous and loving but whose wife finally gives him an ultimatum: Either get out of that armor once in a while, or she and the son are outta there.

In chapter one he attempts to get the armor off but not even the strongest man in the kingdom can help him. So in chapter 2 he's off to the forests to find Merlin, the magician.

Even though this is a children's book, and I'm doing surprisingly well with occasional help on words from the hubby, it is time-consuming to read in Spanish. It took 1-1/2 hours this morning to read chapter 2. I think as I get more of the vocabulary down (many words and phrases repeated, obviously) it will go faster.

Aside from that I'm just cleaning house and doing laundry today. Kinda nice to be back in the old routine again ☺ Is everyone else just recovering, too? Or do you have special plans for this weekend? Inquiring minds want to know!