Monday, December 27, 2010

Project 365, Week 52

Can you believe this is the last Project 365 post of the year???!!! I have a few more photos than usual to share, since I'm late posting this week AND we had some special get-togethers that deserve more than one photo a piece.
So on to the photos...

December 19th Ivan and his brother shared the pulpit at the hispanic church. After all English, all the time, it was fun to hear (and speak a little) Spanish.
(You have probably already seen this photo over on Rita's blog.)

Then we spent the afternoon with family...
me and Sharon
Rita and Mike

Ivan spent several days digitizing old family slides, including this one from when we were first engaged. I must have been looking down at my ring :)

Had a wonderful time with our kids and their spouses last Wednesday. Newlyweds Kyle and Tina hosted the get-together and everything was so pretty! This was a table by the door:
Jon had spent several days working on my computer and gave it back to me that night. Here he is explaining the new set-up:

I love how Tina has arranged her jewelry. She found this poster-on-wood and thought the bridge wires would be a great base for her earrings. I agree!
Here's the cute couple (in front of their tiny Christmas tree which you can't see).
 See their stockings off to the left? I liked her use of the old windows to "frame" them.

No photos from Thursday. Packing, packing and more packing.

Or Friday. Jon and Natalie took us to the airport in Chicago. We left mother's house about noon Friday and arrived home in Carlos Paz just after 8 p.m. Saturday. Long trip but no real snags; it's never fun to have to take the shuttle from the international airport to the domestic one in Buenos Aires for that last flight. We did end up taking a detour between airports, taking two of our four suitcases to the main bus terminal in Buenos Aires and shipping them to avoid excessive luggage fees by the airline. Since it was Christmas day the airline might have shown mercy and not charged us but we were afraid to count on that so decided to send the extra pieces by bus. It was about 1/3 what the airline could have charged.


Once we did get to the domestic airport, we had a few hours to wait (they bumped our flight to a later time) so we kicked back and relaxed:
Friends picked us up at the airport in Cordoba and brought us the rest of the way home. Joe and Gail are hanging out with us this week, as well as Ben (who visited us in October). [Ben was actually home for a few weeks and we saw him at Rob's wedding, but he came back to Argentina a week before us.] Gail had made delicious empanadas for supper -- what a great welcome back!

Fireworks are prevalent at Christmas and New Year's here and this year we had a show in our back yard -- the folks renting the house right behind us put on quite a fireworks show, which we enjoyed (from the safety of our covered patio so the ash and debris didn't fall on us).
Remember back in early November I shared this photo:
Well, after six weeks of sun and rain, here's what it looked like this morning!
The squash plant is spilling out over the fence and sidewalk! The geraniums have gone nuts too. In fact, everything in the yard is growing like crazy. However, Ben spent the late afternoon/evening de-junglefying our yard so it looks a LOT better now. But it's dark so I can't take an "after" photo.


Well, for this year anyway :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Jon and Natalie Hoyt, Ivan and Kim, Kyle and Tina Herschberger

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Almost ready to go home

As expected, the past six weeks have FLOWN by! Speaking of flying, we'll be doing just that out of Chicago on Friday and arriving home in Carlos Paz (hopefully) sometime Saturday evening. My mind is as big a jumble as our suitcases right now and there's no way I can write a coherent post at this point. So I thought I'd do bullets :) These are in no discernible order, just my thoughts on what we've done/seen/had to eat...
  • We've driven four different vehicles and I can't count the number of times we've come out of a church or store and had to remember, first, what we were driving at that particular moment and then, where we had parked it.
  • Self-flushing toilets are a wondrous invention but rather disconcerting when they malfunction and flush every 15 seconds while you're still seated. 
  • The newest Narnia movie is excellent, especially with the fun 3-D glasses. Will DVDs come with them when they're released in a few months?
  • I'm a fan of cheese and have only come across one in my entire life that I didn't care for (the smell alone was so off-putting I couldn't bring myself to even try it) so you know I had to try the cheese board currently on the menu at Cerulean. And it was all I'd hoped it would be, and more. The five-year aged cheddar just melted on the tongue, bringing all sorts of pleasure to my palate. I really like the soft cheese with the persimmon jam too. I had the camera with me but was so busy stuffing my face I forgot to take any pictures. BUT my daughter and her new husband did take a photo recently so I'll share that one with you:
  • I don't like the cold and snow any better now than I did when we left over two years ago. But one good thing about this time in my life is that I have "personal summers" every so often, so there's no longer any need for Cuddle Duds even on the coldest days.
  • The one thing that's more expensive here than Argentina is food. And it's WAY more expensive. 
  • I have enjoyed hitting the sales to take back a few things we need or want and either can't get there (or don't get there because it's too expensive). If you peeked in my suitcases right now you might find a new cheese plane, silicone spatulas, dark cocoa powder, the newest Jan Karon book, and some gorgeous wired ribbon in various colors. Among other things. 
  • Because we'll be flying through Buenos Aires and have to take a shuttle from one airport to the other, we decided not to take extra luggage so I'm also packing boxes to leave here until next time. Things we don't need right away. When we come on furlough next year we'll be flying directly in and out of Cordoba so taking extra luggage then will be MUCH easier! 
  • I'm pretty sure I've gained 10 pounds. Good thing they don't weigh the passengers like they do the luggage! I decided early on that I was going to enjoy myself, especially enjoy those foods that are hard to get in Argentina. Like authentic Mexican, seafood (we live in a land-locked region there), AMERICAN ICE CREAM!!!, cheese, cheese and more cheese, turkey with all the trimmings, baked ham, and more AMERICAN ICE CREAM. Among other things.
  • Tina treated me to a manicure before the wedding and it's probably a good thing I don't speak Korean or I might have been mortified by what the manicurist was saying about my poor neglected nails. I did finally stop chewing them a few short years ago but I never have been good about caring for them properly.
  • Tina also treated me to a hair cut and high lights at a very posh salon. LOVE my new cut! It's more work than what I was used to (which was basically a wash-and-wear style) but it is SOOOOO worth it, in my opinion. I never knew my baby fine, super straight hair could do this! My favorite part of the trip to the salon was the hair wash/head massage. The room with all the sinks is kept almost dark, soft music playing, and they spend a good twenty minutes massaging while they wash. BLISS!
  • Also really like my new glasses. They fit my small face and, even better, I CAN SEE with them!
  • We are so thankful the hard drive on my Mac chose to die during this trip! It meant our son could take care of everything for us and we didn't have to worry about anything. No multiple trips to Cordoba or waiting for someone to come from the U.S. who could bring a new hard drive... just turn it over to Jon and let him do his magic!
  • We're happy that Mother is happy with the basement apartment. After Tina had cleared all her things out, we put things back the way dad and mother used to have best we could remember, anyway. Mom was thrilled! She had fun seeing things that have been packed the last three years, and remembering the stories behind them. Like the clock that Alan made or the lamp that a church in Argentina gave them...
  • My heart is full. We are just so thankful for the Lord's blessings. Seeing way more people than we expected to, doing more than we thought possible... 
  • But now we're ready to go home. I think it's interesting how God prepares us for these transitions in our lives. I've had  SOOOO stinkin' much fun on this trip! And now I'm ready to fly back to our "normal" life in Argentina. Yes, I will miss my family, our friends, AMERICAN ICE CREAM. Among other things. But when I'm here I miss my friends back "home" and Venezia's pomelo rosado sorbet. I guess I'm learning more about what it means to be a "third culture" person. 
I probably won't post again until we're home. So until then, hasta luego. And...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Project 365, Week 51 -- The Wedding!!!

I have SOOOOO many photos to share...too many to post on the blog, so I'll be sharing links to facebook so you can browse through wedding photos as you have time. It was truly a beautiful wedding and we feel so blessed to have been here for it. I have to say, after seeing both my kids married in small, intimate, immediate-family-only ceremonies, I am a fan! Fun, relaxing, special, wonderful :)

But it wasn't All Wedding, All Week and I do have a few other photos to share for Project 365, so let's start with those, shall we?

On Monday good friends from Michigan came down to spend the day with us. We go way back with Jim and Peggy. I actually knew Jim before I knew Ivan, and then he was one of Ivan's groomsmen. We met Peggy a number of years ago after she started homeschooling her kids. It's a long story which I won't go into here, but we introduced them about ten years ago after they'd both lost their first spouses to leukemia. Our connection is deeper though, because they also joined us in Uganda and spent a few months helping out at Kasana Children's Center. I could write a whole post on our friendship!

We've had fun playing "Words With Friends" with mom on her iPad. This week she walloped me in one game -- after scoring a 72 point word! You know I had to document that with a photo :)

While Jim and Peg were here, we went to see Tina at her office and then explored the rest of the building where she works. We discovered an art exhibit on the second floor that was absolutely stunning, not only in the individual pieces but how it had been arranged. When I went back with my camera two days later, I was disappointed to find they'd already dismantled a good portion of the exhibit but I did snap a few photos. The exhibit, called "One Big GOOD: Celebration of Freedom" featured three artists. Here's what the Grace website had to say about it:
Jennifer M. Flowers BS' 08 and Christi Ziebarth BS’ 95 exhibit a visual voice of artistic abolition. This sensitive collection of conté portraiture and mosaic-montage celebrates hope and healing for Ghanaian orphans saved from present-day child slave trade.
The third, Dianna Williams, is a fiber artist who created the dolls as well as wall hangings and other textile pieces for the show. I loved how they set up vignettes showing children doing what they should be doing: playing, as opposed to being forced into slave labor.

Speaking of textile pieces, I FINALLY finished the baby quilt! Just in time to give it to the expectant parents on Friday.
I ended up hand quilting just the floral batik piece and machine quilting the other squares and the borders. Just not enough time to do it all by hand.

And now, for the big event of the week: THE WEDDING! 

Like I said, there are just too many to share here so I'm linking to my facebook album and to Michael's photo gallery (he and his wife Karina did the photography). Obviously, his are SO MUCH BETTER than mine! But then, he's the professional! I just thought you might like to see my point-and-shoot photos too. Even though I'm giving you the links, I HAVE to share a few of the photos here! Of course :)

I promised a picture of the whole crafty project we worked on the week before. I'm afraid I didn't get a very good photo of it, though. Even using the photo editing features on Picassa, I can't make it any clearer than this:
The banner says "Kyle & Tina" and it really was very cute. I'm just a terrible photographer. We used lovely papers in red, black, white and silver to create it.

 (photo by Michael Metts)

I realized last night while downloading photos to the computer that we hadn't asked anyone to use our camera and get photos of us with the couple. But here's a shot that Michael took during the wedding:

Some signage taking place afterward...
 The happy couple with Jon and Natalie. Yesterday was also Jon's 29th birthday! So the poor guy not only has a December birthday (and that whole here's-one-gift-for-your-birthday-and-Christmas thing) but now he has to share it with Tina and Kyle's anniversary every year. Poor guy :)

Kyle's niece loves her "Uncle" Tina (she hasn't quite got the aunt and uncle thing figured out) and the feeling is mutual:

Michael did an amazing job! He's based in Chicago but does weddings throughout the Midwest. I love all his photos but this is one of my favorites so far (he still has lots more he'll be posting):

My sister-in-law, Sharon, made the cake. It was so beautiful and delicious! She made thin white chocolate sheets that she wrapped around the cake (which was an almond and lemon confection of pure heaven) and sprinkled with tiny white chocolate curls, then topped it with a fresh floral piece that matched the bride's bouquet. 

At one point during dinner, Kyle and Tina read letters they'd written to their parents. Oh my! Not a dry eye in the place! I did really well at keeping my emotions in check until that point. We were so blessed by what their letters conveyed. Michael took this photo:

Okay, I'm going to restrain myself and end with one final photo. There's the tell-tale tinkle as someone taps the side of their glass ---- and the couple responds:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Project 365, Week 50

This week I have not done a very good job taking pictures for Project 365. In fact, when I downloaded photos to the computer I found only a few days worth -- but I am throwing in a bunch from those days!

On Wednesday we went to South Bend to take my computer to our #1 I.T. guy -- a.k.a. our son, Jon. He just started working at his new job on Monday so we were able to see his new office and meet one of his bosses. Here's a shot of Jon and Ivan at the table. Jon, as usual, was multi-tasking and working on his own computer while talking with his dad about mine.
We were VERY thankful it turned out to be "only" a hard drive gone bad. Jon gave Ivan another one to put in, and we were good to go. Kind of. Not sure what all Jon had to do beforehand to get it ready for us. And he is still trying to extract info from the bad hard drive. So far he was able to retrieve our address book, which was the most critical file. I was NOT looking forward to trying to recreate the almost 1,000 entries one-by-one so I'm very thankful I don't have to now!

I mentioned the other day that Jon's office is the coolest ever. Just look at the views!
I'm not sure I'd ever get any work done there because I'd always be looking out the windows!

I've also mentioned my intention (hey, that rhymes!) to eat my way through this visit. I was quite excited to go back to the Thai restaurant in South Bend while we were there Wednesday. [Note to self: MUST find recipe for Drunken Noodles!] Another food checked off my list this week was Kentucky Fried Chicken, original with the traditional (another rhyme!) sides of cole slaw and mashed potatoes with gravy and biscuit. YUM! 
Despite my southern roots, I have never been able to make decent fried chicken myself. But why bother when the Colonel does it so well?!

Tina and I spent an afternoon on a crafty little project for the wedding. Here's a sneak peek at one small part of it. Can you guess what it is and what it's for?
I'll include a photo of the entire thing next week with all the wedding photos!

This is how it looked yesterday morning. And all day long. The snow just kept coming and coming and coming...
The roads were not great, but not absolutely terrible either. Just typical winter roads. Ugh. Did NOT miss this at all, and will be happy to leave it behind in 11 days! Meanwhile we continue to enjoy time with family and friends. A special treat was getting to see the new Narnia movie with my SIL, her sis and a bunch of others. GREAT movie, especially with the fun 3-D glasses!

Project 365 has been such a great way to keep track of the past two years; without this record, I would have forgotten a LOT of what's happened. It's so fun to go back and look through the photos and be reminded of all that the Lord has done in my life, and the lives of those I love. So despite the fact that I haven't done a very good job with the photo-a-day part, I'm pretty sure I'll continue with the Project next year. It's just become a part of our lifestyle. Thanks Sara, for continuing to host it!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2nd Cup Christmas Tree Linky Party

Since we're in the U.S. for our daughter's wedding (which is next Friday!) but I still wanted to participate in Linda's party, I am sharing photos from last year.

We put the tree in the space between the dining and living rooms, and just off the kitchen so you can see it from just about anywhere in the main living area. We took a fake, pre-lit tree to Argentina with us because we knew pines would be scarce. I chose a really skinny one since I figured we wouldn't have a lot of space for a tree -- and I was right!
I have many special ornaments, most of them homemade. Like this adorable Wise Man that my friend Betty gave me many years ago.
We had a tradition of buying an ornament per kid each year, and I always tried to make it meaningful for that year (for example, Tina received a patriotic Santa the first year she could vote). I couldn't continue that tradition once we moved overseas but our first year in Argentina I did get me and Ivan special ornaments. After 27 years it was just the two of us again. So we picked a pair of pears :-) [Yes, the corny Hoyt humor and love for word play strikes again.] Can you guess who's green and who's blue?
I always threatened to do a "themed" tree when I had the chance, but you know, I discovered I am a traditionalist at heart and I couldn't bear to NOT put up our precious, memory-laden ornaments even if they don't match all that well. If I had space for more than one tree I'd probably do one designer-style tree (all blue and white and silver) but since I barely have space for the one tree, it's a mute point.

I'm not sure if our co-workers have decorated in our absence or not. We told them to feel free to get the tree and decorations down from storage and put them up if they wanted. Just not sure they've had time with all they've had going on. I guess we'll find out when we get home!


Our son hooked us up with another hard drive and MAC IS BACK! 

It did require Ivan's delicate touch to install, because in his death throes Mac had apparently thrown a little piece of himself where it didn't belong, blocking a spot where the new hard drive had to go. So Ivan printed instructions from (GREAT site for parts and instructions on Apple repair!) and had Mac up and running in a short time.

Meanwhile our I.T. guy performed intricate brain surgery on the old hard drive and was able to retrieve our address book! How totally cool and wonderful is that?! Thanks Jon!!!!!

In the process we were able to tour our son's new place of employment. He has the coolest office EVER! It's the top two floors in the tower of an old building in downtown South Bend. The views are AMAZING. They have the work stations set up on the next-to-top floor and a relaxing "play" area at the top.

Jon's excited to be working close to home for the first time in over three years AND to be doing more programming. In the business he co-owned with two others, his primary responsibility was to do on-site repair, maintenance and installation, which left little time for programming. It also kept him on the road (throughout northern Indiana and Ohio and southern Michigan) and on call evenings and weekends.

Now he works for Ordered List, which both contracts with other companies (for example, NewToy, recently bought by Zynga, on Words with Friends) and they're working on their own products, and Trying to understand the tech world is even more daunting than trying to learn Spanish so that's the only explanation you'll get from me as to what he does :)

I'm still just trying to figure out how to use the "new" computer. For instance, with old Mac I could click once on the "address line" (not sure what that's called at the top where you navigate from one site to another) and it would highlight the entire thing and I could start typing the next place I wanted to go. With this Mac I have to click three times: first click just places me on the spot, second click highlights one word and third click finally highlights the rest. There are new icons to get used to, I'm trying to set things up that I use a lot, and so on. Might take a while to get to where I'm feeling back "at home" but HOW WONDERFUL TO HAVE A HOME TO COME TO :)  Because all joking aside, there was no way we could afford to replace Mac at this time.

I add a hearty "AMEN" to what a friend said yesterday: "I am grateful that it happened while you were here so that your favorite and most trusted tech can care for you and it."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ben's No Bakes

I know most of those participating in the Cookie Exchange at Sara's are sharing their favorite Christmas time recipes. Me too! You see, in Argentina it is HOT at Christmas! Usually up in the 90s which means this southern girl does NOT want to turn the oven on. So what's a cookie-lovin' girl to do? Make No Bakes, of course!

Now some of you may remember my battle with the No Bakes last year (I finally succeeded on my 6th attempt). But today I'm sharing a different recipe, one that Ben Parker gave me when he visited a couple months ago. He's known as the No Bake Aficionado and his recipe is EVEN BETTER than the one I'd been using.

So for any others living in warmer climes during the holidays, I encourage you to try this one -- I'm sure Santa would appreciate a plate of these and a tall glass of icy cold milk :)

Ben's No Bakes
½ c. (1 stick) butter
2 c. sugar
½ c. milk
¼ c.  cocoa powder
½ c. peanut butter
1 t. vanilla extract
3 c. quick-cooking oats
In a medium size saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Add sugar, milk and cocoa powder and whisk until well mixed. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Allow to boil a minute to a minute and a half, then remove from heat.
Immediately add peanut butter and vanilla, mixing well. Add oats (increasing to 3½ cups if the mixture is too wet) and blend quickly. 
Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper and allow to set for 10-15 minutes. Store in airtight container.

DISCLAIMER: THESE BABIES ARE ADDICTIVE. Bake at your own risk is all I'm sayin'.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Mourning

I'm posting from my mother-in-law's iPad After my Macbook suffered a terrible death last evening. At least I assume it was a terrible death since it was so abrupt and happened much too soon. Poor Mac was only three. I have no idea how old that is in computer years, but it can't be any more than dog years, can it? Which would make Mac only 21. "sigh"

Ivan and I were watching "Building Green" while I fixed supper when Mac keeled over and our attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. An autopsy will be performed in the next few days, as soon as we can transport the body, er I mean shell, to the I.T. Specialist (aka our son). Complicating matters is the heavy snowfall in I.T.'s town, which makes traveling there a challenge.

What is really sad is that we never took the time to record Mac's memories since we had no idea he'd be with us such a short time. A reminder that we should use the time we have wisely (AND BACK UP REGULARLY!!!!!).

Our greatest loss is all the people Mac knew...hundreds of them -- almost a thousand, actually, and now we'll have to painstakingly try to contact them one-by-one. Methinks that is a ginormous project. And one I cannot even begin to tackle until we fly back to Argentina at the end of the month and can access the print-out I made over a year ago of our address book. Some (about a fourth) are in our yahoo accounts but the vast majority were only in Mac's memory (hard drive).

So on this sad and snowy Tuesday we mourn the loss of our friend and hard working partner, Macbook the First, even as we eagerly await the arrival of his replacement.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Project 365, Week 49

Another action packed week here in the snowy Midwest and, as usual, I have more than seven photos to share for Project 365. It's just TOO HARD to pick only one per day sometimes!

We were still in Michigan last weekend and my photo for Sunday is an odd one. I was too busy visiting with people to take photos at church, or at lunch with all the elders and their wives, or even at church in the evening. No, my photo is from the very end of the day when we were enjoying tea with our friends. I had too much fun reading all the tea descriptions :) Here's just one for you (I'll be writing more about tea later in the week):

You'd think from my photos we didn't see hardly anyone on this trip because I never seem to remember to get the camera out when we're WITH people. Does anyone else have that problem? So there are no pictures from our lunch on Monday with John and Jennie. I've known J&J since I was in high school. We were just too busy catching up on Monday to even think of taking pictures. Next time!

Monday afternoon we headed to Charlotte, Michigan. Richard is not only a friend but also one of the pastors at a supporting church, and he and his wife are always so gracious. Adrene loves decorating for Christmas and I snapped these photos of two of her village scenes, one over the kitchen cupboards and one on top of a cabinet in the living room.
Aren't they lovely?! This is just a small portion of her decorations; I'm not even sharing photos of the trees and other vignettes she's created around her house and she still wasn't finished when we were there. She said last year one little boy who came to an open house they hosted counted all her nativity scenes and found over 30!

But we did think to ask our waitress to snap a photo Tuesday morning when we went to breakfast. I totally adore American-style breakfasts! Good thing we thought to get the photo before I ate my blueberry pancakes or I'd have a purple grin :)

Tuesday night we were back in Indiana and went over to help Kyle and Tina. Well, Ivan helped by installing some shelves and a new shower rod. I just enjoyed sitting and watching everyone else work. Then they asked us to take some photos for their "Save the Date" cards. This isn't one they're using, but aren't they cute?
Even though the wedding is immediate-family-only, they're planning a big blow-out party next summer for extended family and friends.

Woke up Wednesday morning to this...
and decided it was a good day to stay home! I didn't go outside at all, unless you count poking my head out the front door to snap this picture.

Thursday we helped mom decorate her little tree. She has lots of lovely ornaments and we couldn't fit them all on the tree, but we did our best to put on as many as we could.
That evening we enjoyed a fabulous meal cooked by my sister-in-law, Sharon. For dessert we had a lemon cake she was "auditioning" for the wedding cake.
In the end she decided that wasn't the recipe she wanted to use, and we sacrificially offered to taste-test any and all recipes she needed to try :)

I finally finished the baby quilt top on Friday. It's a little bigger than I planned (this seems to happen a lot when I do the designing) so I had to piece the back as well. Now I need to get it quilted in the next two weeks so I can give it to the expectant parents.

Saturday was my birthday and I have to say it was one of the best ever! We spent the day with our son and his wife. They took us on their traditional Saturday morning shopping expedition... to the meat market, a farmer's market and finally a grocery store. It was so much fun! I especially liked the farmer's market. For lunch they took us to a great Thai restaurant in downtown South Bend (how did I make it to this age before discovering Drunken Noodles?!) followed by hot cocoa at the South Bend Chocolate Cafe (I have one word to say about the dark chocolate hot cocoa there: A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!).

Then we headed back to their house where they put together a wonderful birthday dinner. I helped out some in the kitchen, but also just enjoyed playing with the dogs. Bailey jumped off the couch before Ivan snapped this photo of me and Leo. Leo thinks he's still a puppy and he tried to sit on my lap. Bailey is so little he can literally walk under Leo, but they are the best of friends and are so funny together.
The cats aren't as friendly and Libby spent most of the day outside. Dickens is not quite so stand-offish and this is his favorite spot in the house. Weird cat!
Kyle, Tina, Alan and Sharon joined us for a fabulous dinner of Chicken Marsala over pasta, salad and bread followed by a TRIPLE layer devil's food cake with the BEST CHOCOLATE FROSTING EVER! As you can see from this photo, we were having a very good time.
We ended the evening with a game of Apples to Apples and LOTS of laughter. I totally scored with some great birthday gifts too :) Like I said, one of the best birthdays EVER!