Sunday, February 28, 2010

Project 365, Week 9

In spite of good intentions, I still missed a photo this week for Project 365. But I've thrown in two for Saturday so I still have seven.

Last Sunday after our service we celebrated February birthdays with empanadas and cake. The birthday boys look ready to dig in, don't they? We also watched videos from the summer camp they'd been to the week before.
This is a repeat from Monday but I wanted to make sure EVERYONE saw what a great job my hubby did on the bookshelf unit for the living room :-)  I have more photos on Monday's post.
[Still haven't finished the study/sewing room so no AFTER photos of that yet. But they're coming. Promise!]

Our friends arrive from the U.S.!
Leaving behind about 10" of snow in Michigan, they are enjoying the end of summer in Argentina. We're actually having perfect weather right now: in the high 70s/low 80s during the day and cooling down into the low 60s at night. I'm SOOOOOO GLAD the really hot weather we'd been having didn't stick around for their arrival!

As we were leaving one morning I noticed my morning glories are back! And they're all mixed in with the jasmine and roses, creating a little red, white and blue theme.
A pleasant afternoon on the back patio, getting some reading done.
Wally celebrated his birthday Saturday by taking us out to breakfast (I know, should have been the other way around but he's a giving kind of guy).
Breakfast is usually just some form of bread and coffee here. We had quite the spread, as you can see. The plate of meats and cheeses would normally be eaten in the afternoon, and I guess we attracted a bit of attention by having it in the morning. Saturday evening when we went out to dinner to a different place, another customer recognized us as the people who had had the ginormous breakfast at Vitto's. LOL

My Spanish tutor's dog had puppies a month ago and they are so adorable!
I really hope their mama wasn't too sick last night after scarfing down the whole plate of No Bake cookies I took over for the humans. Silly dog. I guess females of all species like chocolate.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

All is well in our neck of the woods

My cousin facebooked me this evening to make sure we were okay; she'd heard that an earthquake hit Argentina too. She knew faster than we did! LOL

The one to hit Argentina was much smaller than the one in Chile -- only 6.0 as compared to 8.8. Two dead reported in the northwestern part of the country; the number in Chile is expected to rise into the hundreds. MASSIVE destruction in Chile where the damage was widespread and extensive. BIG difference.

Our friends who arrived on Tuesday had a layover in Santiago, Chile, and that airport has been closed since the terminal was severely damaged by the quake. We joked that now they can't fly home and will just have to stay. 

We didn't feel a thing with any of the earthquakes, even though we heard they evacuated some buildings in Buenos Aires because of aftershocks -- and it's much farther from Chile than we are (I don't pretend to understand the science of seismic activity).

On a totally separate note...we went to see my Spanish tutor this evening and I know how much her girls enjoy my No Bake cookies so I made a batch for them. When we arrived, I gave Marce the plate and she set it on a table on the front patio while we went to look at the puppies (one month old and ADORABLE). When we went back up, we discovered Debbie, mama of the puppies, scarfing the entire plate of cookies. Had to laugh, although I hope all the butter, sugar and chocolate don't make Debbie too sick. I promised to make another batch (for the humans) when we get back from Uruguay.

It just dawned on me that it's Saturday. Guess I won't be getting Project 365 up tonight; will just have to get up early tomorrow and post. With our friends here and being on a different schedule than normal, I'm getting my days mixed up.

[Or at least that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.]

Friday, February 26, 2010

The conversation continues

I've pretty much talked non-stop since our friends arrived on Tuesday. I do let them say something now and then. It has been wonderful to be with people who know us and love us anyway :-) 

And who speak English.

Yes, I'm doing better with the Spanish. But I am nowhere near being fluent and able to say anything I want without a great deal of concentration and angst over conjugations, feminine or masculine endings, sentence structure and just plain old vocabulary.

So to be able to just blabber on and on and on in my first language is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

I worked really hard getting ready for their visit and since they arrived I've done almost no housework. A couple loads of laundry, a little sweeping...not much else.

Except talk.

And talk and talk and talk.

So much verbal doesn't leave a lot of time for the written. I'll be back to read blogs and write posts soon.

When the words run out or they fly home.
Whichever comes first.
Who wants to bet I'll still be jabbering on the way to the airport?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Resuming the Random

Have had a bit of a bloggy break recently, missing the past two Random Dozen Wednesdays. Which made me sad. There's something very soul-satisfying about answering such an odd assortment of questions.

So here we go...

1. Have you ever fired a gun or shot a bow and arrow? Does attempting to fire a gun or shoot a bow and arrow count? If coming close to the target is the criteria, then I'm outta luck. But I have made the valiant effort with both.

2. Do you know where your childhood best friends are? Actually recently re-connected on facebook with one.

3. Do you usually arrive early, late, or on time? I prefer to be on time or early. I married a guy who grew up in South America. Over time though I've become more relaxed about the whole time issue (a good thing since we're living in Argentina) and he has become a bit more thoughtful about it. It's all about the balance.

4. Are you more of a New York or California type? Neither. I'm Southern through and through.

5. Do you have a special ring tone? Are you kidding me? Half the time I can't even get my phone to work; forget about making it do tricks.

6. What is your favorite type of chip? One that's deep-fried. Okay, I think you mean brand. Give me the Lays every time.

7. Best comedy you've ever seen is ....  "The God's Must Be Crazy"  Hysterical, but best appreciated after spending a year in Africa.

8. Have you ever cut your own hair? To quote Dr. Phil, "How'd that work for ya?" Nah, but I've had a few home haircuts and treatments. The funniest was when my sister, in beauty school at the time, gave me a perm or something and while trying to rinse off over the tub, it turned into a Three Stooges type of farce with both of us getting completely soaked. Good times.

9. If you were going to have an extreme makeover, would you rather it be about your house or your personal self? House. There's a lot more potential there.

10. Are you allergic to anything? Some medications. Smoke of any kind. Public speaking. 

11. Why is it so hard to change? Because we've always done it that way! 

12. One last question dedicated to February love: CS Lewis said, "To love is to be vulnerable." Please share one example of that assertion or share any thought you'd like to about this topic. Just started reading "This Momentary Marriage" by John Piper. In the foreword his wife writes: 
The pendulum of our marriage oscillates and sometimes wobbles, but it is suspended from above and is firmly attached. By God's grace, it will not crash to the ground. 
I love this image and am thankful that, by the grace of God, my marriage has not only survived but thrived and I look forward to the best years being ahead!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Our friends arrived! and sound after a loooooong trip, at least for K. It took her four hours to get to the Detroit airport on Monday because of the weather, arriving just in time to board the plane. Which then sat on the tarmac for two hours while the plane was de-iced. But she eventually made it to Florida where she met up with her hubby who'd gone down early for a conference, and they flew out of Miami around midnight. I hear she was asleep before that plane left the ground :-)  After a four-hour layover in Santiago, they arrived in Cordoba this afternoon at 3:30 p.m.

We've already enjoyed sitting out back on the patio, some of K's special tea after dinner, and a good start with the on-going conversations that make our time with them so precious. Estoy muy contenta.

They're out for a little walk before bed, in the warm night air that's quite a change from the 20° howling winds of Michigan. I'm charging my Kindle (!) after putting away the goodies they brought. Besides transporting my Kindle they also generously brought the parts to fix the dryer, re-chargable batteries for Ivan's power tools (his one and only lithium battery had been fried when someone plugged the charger into a regular outlet instead of the transformer), a book I'd won from The Bobwhites, some much needed cotton undergarments, a couple of spices I couldn't find here, the last two issues of Southern Living magazine, zip locks in every size from snack to gallon, and probably some things I'm forgetting...and did I mention my Kindle?

Now I'm going to kick back with Southern Living.

Southern. Living.

Have I mentioned, estoy muy contenta.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Check off another project: DONE!

Ivan picked up the wood this morning, built the final bookshelf (to house the monitor/t.v. set-up) this afternoon and we installed it this evening next to the two bigger bookshelves in the living room. Also added the bookshelf from the study to create an L-shaped unit that fills one end of the room. How is this for organizational brilliance?!
My husband does good work!

I am so, SO, SO happy to have this project checked off our list! We not only have room for all our books now, between this unit and the one in the study, but there's also space for a few special momentos. This wooden "world" tree is from Argentina; we bought it back in 2003 -- way before we moved here. And the basket is one of many I brought back from Uganda.
I also tucked in several tiny watercolors we picked up on our first trip to Ireland in 1999. 
They're about 4" square and after our trip I found the white ceramic frames at Michael's (on sale!).

Each and every item has meaning for us...a story and memory attached to it. There's a pretty blue paperweight we picked up in County Kerry on a day we drove way out in the boonies trying to find the ancestral village of a lady in our group. We wandered up and down narrow roads and came across the home/studio of a glass artist out in the middle of nowhere who was kind enough to invite us in and demonstrate his craft. The scarf on top (beneath the African drum) is from Argentina and quite old. This wooden canoe with two men is a roughly carved piece from Uganda and the artist dressed them in bits of bark cloth.
Aside from the whole finally-getting-organized bit, there's also immense satisfaction in being able to display some of our favorite things.

[For those who are wondering about the study/sewing room project; it sort of got stalled last week when we ended up going to Sta. Rosa...but I have high hopes of finishing it this week!]

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Project 365, Week 8

I was not good at taking photos for Project 365 this week, missing not one but two days :-(  Can't get too discouraged though; just have to figure there will be weeks like this every once in a while.

I've been meaning to share the progress on the house next door. The men have been busy plastering the exterior (stucco). In this photo you can see the block that hasn't been plastered yet. They're doing a really good job and it will look fabulous when it's all done. I wonder what color they'll paint it?
Houses are generally on pretty small lots and the buildings usually extend right to the edge of the property line or very close. Here you can see how near our house is to the neighbor's.
Have to say, I'm happy they don't have windows on the side by us -- can you imagine how awkward it would be to look out our dining room windows and see them inside their house less than six feet away?!

We spent part of the week in Sta. Rosa and Ivan really wanted me to be able to use my computer to check e-mail and blog. On Monday he wasted spent a lot of time on the phone with tech support trying to figure out how he could get the 3G thingie to work with my Mac. At one point he was trying to read tiny little numbers on the chip inside the 3G but couldn't so he took a photo and then enlarged it so he could see them better.
(I've blurred out the numbers since they identify our particular chip -- who knows what nefarious characters might be reading my blog and could use those numbers in the commission of a felony?)  (Okay, I have a seriously overactive imagination.)  (But I figure it's better to be safe than sorry.)  (And no, he never got it to work with the Mac.)  (Which wasn't a huge loss since the 3G thingie didn't work that well out there, period.)

On the way to Sta. Rosa Tuesday I had to make a pit stop. This was the sign outside the bathrooms.
Translation: MR. USER DON'T DIRTY THE TOILETS. Thank you very much.

No photos on Wednesday (spent all day cleaning) or Thursday (didn't even remember to take photos of our company even though I put the camera on the coffee table!). We had a lot of fun with our friends, the two Jorges and their families, who came over for asado. One of the Jorges just moved back to Argentina with his wife and three daughters after spending many years in the U.S. The girls will have a big adjustment when they start school next month! While they understand Spanish, they don't speak it much.

Friday we had other visitors. Ricardo and Ivan have been friends since they were teens. We always have a lot of fun when we get together with his family. Their two oldest boys had to stay in Buenos Aires for school and work. They love getting away to Sta. Rosa every year (and who can blame them -- it's a great place to get away to!).
Saturday we made it back to Carlos Paz in time for lunch with our co-workers and some of the soccer boys.
It's been raining off and on all week; not a lot cumulatively but it's greened everything up nicely. This afternoon we've had a steady, gentle rain and I snapped some photos of the flowers in our yard. Here's our jasmine -- it smells so good!
The next few weeks will be pretty busy for us. We have friends arriving from the U.S., our annual missionary conference coming up the first week of March, and then a few days visiting Bs. As. Hopefully I'll do a better job documenting our activities with photos.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm here but not really

I've been on a cleaning frenzy for the past week.  Closets, windows, cupboards... Not that it seems I've gotten so much done but it has consumed my waking hours (and I've even dreamed about cleaning some nights).

Our transmission has been making noises for a while and Ivan decided we needed to get that taken care of before we head to Uruguay at the end of the month for our annual missionary conference. He'd talked to a mechanic he trusts in Sta. Rosa the last time we were out here, so we decided to "kill two birds with one stone" and bring it out here to be fixed while we get the house ready for our guests who are coming. They'll be spending a few weeks out here later in March.

So we've been in Sta. Rosa for a couple of days now, LAND OF THE SUPER SLOW INTERNET. Couldn't get it to work on Tuesday. Yesterday I was able to check two e-mails (out of seven) before it went down and would not come back up. Ivan got it to work later in the day while I was fixing supper but by the time I could get to it, it was back down. This morning it's working. Kind of. It went down once already but then came back up.We'll see if I can keep it going long enough to post.

Not sure how long the car will take but meanwhile we have plenty to keep us busy at the house. After a summer of different families using it, the house was ready for a good scrubbing. The yard is coming back, too, with the rain we've had recently so Ivan has been busy outside.

Recent visitors Mirta and family started the job of reviving the terrazzo floor in the main living area. A while back I had looked up what to do on the internet and the different sites I found said you had to strip it with a special product for terrazzo floors before sealing it again. We hadn't been able to find that special product anywhere. Then when we had dinner with Mirta and family recently, they said no, you just had to make sure the floor was clean and then start putting on the sealer (wax). Lorena said it would take several applications over a few months to bring back the luster but it would definitely return. Since they were coming out that next weekend, they said they'd start the process. Even after just one application of wax, the floor looks so much better! I'm going to apply another coat this time and again when we come back with our friends next month. I'm excited to see the floor revived!

My back is still hurting so I continue to move slowly. It's frustrating but I have only myself to blame for moving all those big bins of fabric instead of asking Ivan to do it for me. That'll teach me to be impatient.

Yeah, right. When do I ever learn that one?

Praising the Lord for cooler weather this week. It has made cleaning much more pleasant. We've had more rain too, which is much needed. It rained the whole trip out here Tuesday and through the night. I love waking up to the sound of rain on the roof.

Hoping it doesn't rain this evening though. We've invited friends over for asado and the outdoor grill here is not covered. Yesterday I cooked up beets and today I'll boil the carrots for a colorful salad. Each are cut into matchstick shapes and refridgerated until chilled (separately). When I'm ready to serve I season one or the other with salt, vinegar and oil and at the last minute toss in the other vegetable and lightly mix. The bright orange and purple look and taste fabulous together but if you mix them too soon or too much the dish gets muddy looking.

I'm going to try making brownies for dessert. We'll see how that goes! My last batch wasn't awful, but it did fall a bit in the center. Not as much as the other batches though.

We'll (hopefully) be back in Villa Carlos Paz by Saturday (I still have a lot of cleaning to do there!) but it's all dependent on the car. Until then you won't hear much from me. I'm here, but not really.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Project 365, Week 7

I had so hoped I'd have some AFTER photos of the study/sewing room project that has consumed the last few days but, while a good portion of it is done, it is not FINISHED. Maybe next Sunday.

About 3 p.m. today my back loudly protested all the hauling of heavy objects (large plastic bins of fabric weigh a LOT) as well as the weird positions I've been in during the cleaning binge that expanded beyond the study to include the guest room. So even though I've gotten a little done this afternoon/evening, it hasn't been nearly what I'd planned on.

[I almost included a photo of my bag of frozen corn that has been my friend today; it works GREAT as an ice pack on ouchy backs. But Ivan came up with a much better photo :-) ]

I decided to send back some letters with Tina to mail and a few gifts she'll deliver. I couldn't send as many as I would have liked but I especially wanted to say "thank you" to some special people who have blessed us greatly in different ways. This is one of the things I sent; it's a wooden salad fork and spoon set. The greenish sections are palo santa which is a very aromatic wood. I thought the parrots added a fun element to a functional item. (And are so appropriate considering how prolific they are in Argentina!)
Monday my friend Gaby stopped by with her mom and her daughter. Mavi is one of the little girls I made a quilt for last Spring. Isn't she a cutie?! She's normally a very happy baby but that afternoon she was teething and rather fussy so Tina and I took turns entertaining her. Not altogether successful, but at this point she was still smiling.
While Ivan and Tina were out picking up last minute things on Tuesday they stopped by to see the new puppies at Marcela's. Her dog had six but two died within the first few days. This little fellow quite liked being held and snuggled right up to Tina.
Tina's flight left at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday which meant she had to be at the airport by 2:30 so we left the house at 1:30. None of us were feeling very photogenic at that hour of the morning but I did snap this photo of Tina's "man" shoes that she bought in Cordoba. They were very comfortable for traveling and easy to slip off and on.
Despite concerns about the weather (multiple delayed and canceled flights in Chicago on the day before she left) her trip was smooth and on schedule and she arrived safely home later that night.

While waiting to hear from her I kept busy cleaning out the kitchen cupboards. Which led to being motivated to start on the study/sewing room on Thursday. That, in turn, led to me being basically absent from Blogland the past few days except for quick daily posts. I've already shared this photo of the dining room, where chaos ensued after moving almost the entire contents of the study in there so I could sort and organize while Ivan built the shelving unit for over the desk. But since it's the only thing I photographed that day, I'm repeating it here. (Only 3/5 of the fabric was sorted at the time of this photo and NONE of the office stuff.)
Same deal on Friday, with these GORGEOUS shelving units Ivan built. Frankly, I was doing good to take ANY photos the past few days :-)
Ivan, having done his part in the project, went to help a friend today. His aviation buddy built this plane but had a slight mishap upon landing it one time so he's re-engineered part of it and Ivan's helped with the re-construction on several occasions. [Julio is the one who had the accident with the plane propeller on a different plane a few months ago.]
That's all for this week. Make sure to stop by Sara's and check out the other Project 365 participants.

Friday, February 12, 2010

More than half way there

Ivan finished the second shelf unit after we arrived home from Cordoba today. Isn't it a thing of beauty?
We were gone until after 4 p.m. but after hauling all the stuff in from the car, we started on our respective tasks. While he put together the shelving I finished sorting and folding fabric. DONE! If I'd only gotten that done I would have felt good about the day, but once he installed the shelves I started moving his books into the study. Not all of them fit on the top shelf which we'd designated for them, but most did. He doesn't have many left in the living room.

Then I cleared off the bookshelf we'd had in the study because we're going to move it into the living room with its brothers. The study is just not big enough and we don't need it now with the desktop unit. It will be great to have that space to set up the ironing board when working on a quilt.

I started sorting through office supplies but the fatigue suddenly hit and it was 9:30 p.m. so I called it quits. I don't really feel like eating's just too hot...but I kicked back with another tall glass of grapefruit soda and some chips and salsa. If I'm still awake at eleven o'clock I'm going to watch at least the beginning of the opening ceremony for the winter Olympics.

Hopefully we'll get the study finished tomorrow. There's still a lot of organizing to do but we feel like the bulk of the big stuff is done. Sort of depends on the extent to which we suffer DMD (decision-making disorder) about where-to-put-what on the shelves, in the closet, and so on. We've been living in this house over a year and I still spend a lot of time looking for things because I can't remember where I put it -- it just hasn't been long enough (and we haven't had adequate storage) for everything to have its place.

Like the heating pad. I woke up with a neck ache early last weekend and never did find it; Ivan finally un-earthed it from our closet (where I'd already looked. TWICE!).

But little-by-little we're getting settled. I'm sure being more organized in the study/sewing room will help tremendously.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Study/Sewing Room Project

I'm taking a quick breather and posting a photo of my dining room which is complete chaos.
Let me back up. Cleaning the kitchen cupboards yesterday motivated me to tackle the study/sewing room today. I got up, showered, and started taking out everything except the heavy furniture (desk, bookshelf and filing cabinet). I also took everything off the closet shelves. All of it -- every last bag of buttons, embroidery hoop, pair of shoes, ironing board, stapler and more (much, MUCH more) -- went into the dining room.

Which, as you can see, is still in complete disarray at 9 p.m.

My motivation was mightier than my energy.

Not that I've been slacking, but between the heat and feeling about eighty-eleven years old today, I am moving SLOWLY.

After the room was cleared out I scrubbed the study/sewing room.

[We won't even talk about the four buckets of soapy water it took to accomplish the task. It would be too embarrassing to share what an awful housekeeper I've been. Nope, we won't mention that at all.]

You know the domino effect? That played a role in the whole taking-more-than-a-day-to-clean-the-study. It meant also cleaning out the closet in the guest room, taking all the bins from the cubbies under the guest bed and scrubbing that room down too. Because guess what was in that closet and under the bed? Yessireebob, MORE fabric.

Hello, my name is Kim and I'm a fabricaholic.

I'm also a bit OCD at times.

How did that manifest itself today? Cleaning under the bed prompted me to strip the bed linens on top and since they're white I added the towels and while I was at it I threw in the sheets from our bed only then it ended up being two loads...BUT now all my whites are clean. 

All that before I could actually begin the job of sorting and organizing. I started with my fabric, taking time to fold neatly and separate by color. I'm in the habit of rummaging through the bins in search of just-the-right-fabric and not taking time to be neat about it. You can kind of see them at the back of the photo. I'm about 3/5 done with the fabric.

That still leaves a lot more to sort and organize: the remainder of the fabric, all the sewing notions, office supplies and the miscellaneous junk that accumulates in a study/sewing room.

While I was working on that, Ivan has been busy building shelving units to set on top the desk (which he custom built some months ago to fit the space). Having that storage will be WONDERFUL.

I can hardly wait to get everything back in all neat and tidy!

But wait it will. Until Saturday since tomorrow we have to make a run into Cordoba.

Even though the room isn't finished, I'm encouraged with what was accomplished today. Photos of the finished product will be forthcoming.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

At least she made it to Miami with no problems

Tina called a few hours ago as she was walking to her gate to catch the flight to Chicago which -- Hallelujah! -- was not delayed at that point.

Sounds like northern Indiana might have gotten a little snow though, so she'll have fun on the final leg of her journey.

I'll be back tomorrow with a lucid (for me) post after I've caught up on some sleep. We made it home from the airport around 4:30 a.m. and I managed to catch a little over four hours but it's not really enough for me to be coherent.

Used the nervous energy while waiting for her call by cleaning out the kitchen cupboards so the day hasn't been a total waste :-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'll be back later this week

Today's the last day with the daughter :-(

'Nuf said.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Almost no computer time

But I have a question and hope somebody has an answer:
I've been trying different brownie recipes in preparation for our annual missionary conference (I'm in charge of snacks) and EVERY SINGLE BATCH has risen during baking and then fallen flat as a pancake when I take it out of the oven (or even before) leaving a heavy, kind of gooey brownie. Tastes good but the appearance and texture are a little off-putting.

They've each been a different recipe, since I initially thought that was the problem. But after three batches I'm pretty sure it's something else. Anybody have a clue?

I'm not a fan of baking; my daughter enjoys it and I gladly let her take over most of the baking when she hit age 10. Obviously since she doesn't live here, it falls on me to do any baking that gets done. I was pretty dependent on box mixes but I need a good recipe to make from scratch for conference. HELP!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Project 365, Week 6

Lots of photos this week and even a video! We packed quite a bit into the week, with a trip to La Cumbre, another to Alta Gracia, dinner with friends one night, and Ivan and Tina took the Aerosilla up to the top of Carlos Paz. So let's not waste any time with wordiness. On with the photos!

All that talk about trips and fun stuff and my first photo is the bottles we're recycling. They don't recycle much here but we do what we can. We save these for our friend at the ferreteria (hardware store) because he buys huge containers of pool chemicals and then re-packages them in bottles like these. Obviously we need to stop just collecting and actually take him the bottles (it's been a few months).
On our trip to La Cumbre on Tuesday we stopped at the Eden Hotel in La Falda so we could get some photos of the hotel where Hitler supposedly vacationed (a rumor only, no documented proof) when the hotel was owned by close friends and Nazi supporters, Walter and Ida Eichorn.
The main purpose of our trip was to visit the Paseo de Los Artesanos, a winding dirt road leading into La Cumbre where a colony of artists have built homes, studios and stores. A lot of it was the same old-same old stuff we see in every tourist store in every city, but there were some unusual things too. We found gorgeous items handcrafted from alpaca silver at this place. Striking store front, isn't it?
I talked about the amazing meal we had with friends in Cordoba on Wednesday. Here's Guillermo getting dessert ready and then the final product. Gorgeous and delicious!
I've been working on a couple of small wall quilts with the idea of having a little etsy store to fund my fabric addiction. Here's the first piece I finished for it.
"Friendship is cozy, warming me like fresh, hot tea. Endless refills please."
Overcast skies and rainy weather pushed Ivan and Tina's trip up the mountain to the end of the week. Finally the sun came out long enough for them to take the Aerosilla (ski lift) up.
Even though it was looking a little iffy with the rain on Saturday night we headed to Alta Gracia once again, and this time the clouds blew over and we enjoyed our visit to the Encuentro Anual de Colectividades (Annual International Food and Music Festival). Here's a collage of  the Jesuit enclave that fronts the millpond where they hold the festival. Parts of it date from the 1600s.
We weren't so impressed with the food. Wanting to pace ourselves, we bought one thing at a time and shared it (the theory being that we wouldn't get full too fast). The bagna cauda from the Italian booth was pretty good but the stuffed pork from Poland, not so much. Shish-cabob from France was okay. The line at the German booth was ridiculously long when we were ready to get dessert so we grabbed something from Italy and it was disappointing. Oh well. Like fair food anywhere, there are really great things and not-so-great ones.

The only entertainment we saw before leaving at 11:30 was the Argentine folk dancers. Love their traditional costumes!

Make sure you stop by Sara's and check out the other Project 365 participants.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Paper makes the world go round

Weren't computers supposed to make us use less paper? Anybody else find they're using more? LOTS MORE? 

I spent a good part of today doing paperwork, both on the computer and writing personal thank yous with an actual pen and paper. I prefer the pen and paper. But some of what I was doing would be laborious and time-consuming by longhand so I do see the advantage of having a computer and cool software.

Wish I had the cool software.

Another frustrating hour or so spent wrestling with iPages which is SO NOT USER FRIENDLY. I miss, miss, miss PageMaker!

Okay, now that I've vented a little, let's talk about something a lot more fun.

Leather flowers.

I've seen them and adored them, but that's it. Until I discovered our local craft store stocks leather. REAL leather, in a variety of thicknesses and colors. And they have a box full of bits and pieces left over that they sell fairly inexpensively. I want to try my hand at making some leather flowers, and just spent a fun half hour looking at tutorials online. I'll let you know how that works out.

Last evening we headed to Alta Gracia for the big International Food and Music Fair but although it was only overcast here in Carlos Paz, the closer we got to Alta Gracia the harder it rained. Oh well. We turned around and headed back. Today has been sunny and clear except for a few fluffy white clouds so we're going to attempt it again. Ivan discovered that because they've been rained out half the week, they're extending the fair through next Tuesday. But we decided to go now, while the weather is cooperating. Who knows what Monday or Tuesday will be like?

Sunshine means I was able to do some laundry and hang it out on the line. Yay! The smell of line-dried clothes is intoxicating. But it will also be nice to get the parts to fix the dryer so we can use it when we have a cluster of rainy days like we've had this week. Our friends are bringing the parts when they come later this month.

Actually they're bringing a variety of things we need and/or want. But best of all, they're bringing themselves. They're some of our most favorite people in the world and we are looking forward to our time with them. They're a big part of why we're here now; their support and encouragement have proven invaluable over the years.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.  -- Psalm 27:9
Their counsel helped us clarify what we needed to do in the whole process of deputation and how to go about it. Over cups of tea and an occasional shared meal, they consistently took time from their very busy schedules to guide us, both with their input and how they lived their lives.

Do you have friends like that in your life? What have they meant to you?  

Friday, February 5, 2010


pro⋅lif⋅ic [pruh-lif-ik]  -- adjective
2. producing in large quantities or with great frequency; highly productive:
a prolific writer.

At, the second explanation/example for prolific involves writing! Why was I looking up that word? Susan D. at This Day! passed along this award to me today. Thanks Susan! [Yes, I knew what the word meant but I wanted to copy and paste the definition here.]

The responsibilities of the recipient:
1. Every winner of the prolific blogger award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!
2. Each prolific blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.
3. Every prolific blogger must link back to this post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.
4. Every prolific blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners. (Click here for the Mr. Linky page.)
When I followed #3 to read about the origin of the award, here's what the person who started it had to say: "This award is to all those prolific bloggers, who read voraciously, blog tirelessly and have made the blogging community such a vibrant place."

This award comes during a time I've challenged myself to write at least a little every day. I'm not sure I've made the blogosphere any more vibrant but I do think I've made it a little hungrier with all my descriptions of food and photos.

Like this...
Seafood sampler platter. Yum!

I think the award was originally for bloggers who review books. I love to read but rarely review what I'm reading. Mainly because 99% of what I currently read are books I've already read and liked enough to bring to Argentina with me. [I'm one of those weird people who can re-read a book 10 times.]

BUT we just ordered a Kindle so I'm pretty excited about being able to get new books much easier! Maybe I'll be inspired to write some reviews then.

Of course the first book on my "wish list" is food related  :-)
Yes, really.
Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India
By Madhur Jaffrey of Indian cookbook fame.
This has been on my wish list for about a year.

Even if I can buy books used in the U.S., shipping is prohibitive (books can get heavy you know) so my sweet hubby, who knows how much I miss the library and used book stores, suggested we use some of our tax refund to get a Kindle. I.Am.So.Excited!

Friends are coming later this month and will bring it with them. Definitely do not trust the postal system enough to have it shipped.

Anyway, I think I got a little sidetracked by the talk of food and books about food and the Kindle. So...

From the number of links at Advance Booking, there are a LOT of prolific writers out there, and more are being added daily.

My way of adding is not strictly by the rules BUT I'm really horrible at picking people to pass awards to (just ask my niece-by-marriage). So I've decided to pass this on to anyone who reads my blog and considers themselves PROLIFIC. Congratulations!

[Plus I have to finish this ASAP in order to get in under the wire and get it posted TODAY and not TOMORROW.]

Thursday, February 4, 2010

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

Our internet has been down most of the afternoon/evening. Rendering me unable to look up about half a dozen things I had questions about, preventing me from checking or responding to e-mails, and totally unable to read any blogs (guess which I missed the most).

I did, however, get some quilting done on a little wall quilt project I have going.

This morning Tina had her hair highlighted. She was the first appointment of the morning so had to get up earlier than normal. Not a big deal except we were out late last night (we are such party animals) so we're pretty tired tonight and I'm planning to finish this post and go to bed with a good book.

I'm re-reading an old Joseph Lincoln favorite, Galusha The Magnificent (published 1921). I discovered Lincoln's books in a library a looooooong time ago. All the ones I have read were set in New England in the latter part of the 19th century or first part of the 20th; the characters are a hoot and the plot lines entertaining. Here's a bit that prompted a chuckle:
Mrs. Buckley had not attracted his notice, she had seized it, served a subpoena upon it, and his provokingly contrary memory persisted in recalling her face, probably because he so earnestly desired to forget it.
We've all known people like Mrs. Buckley, haven't we? 

One of my greatest fears is that I'll BE a Mrs. Buckley to someone.

Okay, after that burst of honesty let's talk about food.

I've had some really good food the last few days. Last night we had dinner with friends in Cordoba; he's a chef and prepared a wonderful Mexican style meal: homemade tortillas with a spicy chicken filling. It was great but the highlight of the evening was dessert, of which I took numerous photos. Of course. One will no doubt make its way into this week's Project 365 post. But let me describe it for you now: miniature individual chocolate cakes topped with real whipped cream, nestled on a bed of berry sauce and drizzled with chocolate sauce. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

Today we picked up fresh ravioli from Santa Margarita's (our favorite fresh pasta place) along with a creamy mushroom sauce that I reheated while boiling the pasta. More fresh lettuce from the garden tossed into a salad finished off the meal. Simple, easy and inexpensive. This is what I'll miss when we go to the states on furloughs.

I had more to share but am fading fast. Any exciting plans for the weekend? I'm hoping we make it to Alta Gracia because the big International Fair is going on, with food and music from around the world. I missed last year because I was sick but did share one of Ivan's photos on the blog. His favorite part of the program was the Paraguayan lady who kept getting bottles added to the top of her head until a stack of like 15 tottered there while she gracefully danced. He also had some great cake in the German booth. So definitely hoping we make it to that, weather permitting. Rain is in the forecast all weekend. Which we really need and have been praying for, but just hoping God arranges for it to rain before and after but not during the event.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Random Dozen

Yes, it's that time of week again...more of the Random to entertain and amuse. Reading what others have answered is always good for a healthy dose of medicinal laughter and I look forward to it each Wednesday. I'm sad to say I didn't make it around to everyone last week; so many participated and I just didn't have enough time. But those I did visit brought a smile to my face.
 And prompted trips to the bathroom.
From laughing a little too hard.

1. Do you use the labels various charities send you as “free gifts?”  Absolutely. I'm certainly not going to make the effort to send them back, and it would be silly to just throw them away. Sorta miss that feature of junk charitable mail.

2. What is your favorite time of day (or night) for skywatching?  This is another of those should-be-simple-but-it's-not questions. One of our favorite pasttimes in Uganda was to sit on the veranda and watch the sun rise or set. Of course, sunsets took all of ten minutes so you had to be ready and waiting or you'd miss it. But the sunrises lasted a little longer and were best enjoyed accompanied by a cup of coffee and piece of fresh bread made by Mama Daisy (our house help).  We rarely take time now to enjoy either...faster pace of life, more distractions...not sure exactly why.

3. What is the most adventurous you've ever been with trying a new food? (Keep it G-rated please)  Chinchulin (cow intestine) which is a favorite at Argentine asados. Did not care for it and haven't had it again. Same could be said for morcilla (blood sausage). Had the opportunity to try python in Uganda but declined because it smelled so foul. Also could not bring myself to eat the termites that were popular, fresh or fried. Ewwwww!

4. Have you ever heard a rock sing? (Trust me, there's a reason for this one!)  When you skip rocks on water they make a singing sound. Is that what you mean?

5. If you could learn a language you don't presently speak, what would it be?  Spanish. LOL  Seriously, I'd love to speak Italian. Which is a kissing cousin to Spanish so maybe there's hope that by the time I'm in my 70s and finally have a handle on Spanish, I can start working on Italian.

6. Al Capone's tombstone read, “My Jesus, Mercy.” If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?  Jeez, I can't come up with anything even remotely appropriate first thing in the morning.

7. If you were a famous musician who was known by one name, like “Cher,” “Sting,” or “Jewel,” what would it be? It doesn’t have to be your first name, but it can be, if you’d like.  The idea that I could be a famous musician is so mind boggling I cannot even fathom the possibility; I do not have a musical bone in my body. BUT if I were a famous author I think it would be really cool to be known by one name... maybe something faintly exotic sounding like Simone or Fiona

8. Have you ever been inordinately “into” a television show?  More times than I care to admit... McMillen & Wife, The Waltons, Cagney & Lacey, Homefront, Due South, West Wing, The Closer... Due South is my hands down favorite all time TV show though, with West Wing in second place.

9. When you sneeze, do you go big, or do you do that weird “heenh!” sound that makes people think you’re going to blow your brains out? Any other variation we should know about?  I think my sneeze is pretty normal and Ivan agrees. Not too loud, not too "heenh", just right.

10. Do you still read an actual newspaper that you hold in your hands, or do you get your news elsewhere?  Haven't subscribed to a newspaper in FOREVER. Once in a while we'll pick up a newspaper here but it's because of something else that comes with it, not for the paper. Mostly I'm an internet news junkie with CNN, FoxNews, and the BBC providing my fixes.

11. Are you a good speller?  Yes, although I find myself looking up words more often these days. I think my hard drive (a.k.a. my brain) needs to be defragged and cleaned up. Since buying a new and improved model is not an option.

12. At what time each day do you start thinking about Lost lunch?  When I'm thinking about breakfast. My fragmented brain works something like this: "Since I'm going to have such-and-such for lunch, I'll have this for breakfast." Supper often plays a part in the internal discussion as well. Gotta coordinate those calories you know.


P.S. Small Town Runner is having a giveaway! Stop in and check out her blog; she writes with a dry sense of humor. My favorite kind.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A post that's all over the place

Not sure if it's the high humidity, the fact that I haven't taken a shower yet tonight, or that I just ate grapefruit sorbet that melted faster than I could eat it, but I'm feeling rather sticky.

We took a drive up the valley today and finally made it to La Cumbre, a quaint town with English overtones. Our primary destination was El Camino de los Artesanos, a dirt road out in the country where a lot of craftsmen have their studios and stores.

The air in the Fiat has never worked that great but it really didn't function well today at all so when we got back to town Ivan dropped us off at the house and went straight to the mechanic. He later said it was a long story he wasn't going to bother sharing because I wouldn't understand it anyway but suffice it to say the air is working better, but we won't have h*** come July.

Whatev. At this point the "h" word is not something that's passing my lips and I'm trying really, really hard not to think about it.

Started reading blogs and then saw what time it was and knew that if I didn't stop reading immediately and instead compose a post, I would totally mess up my personal goal of  not missing a day.

Try reading that out loud without taking a breath.

I experienced pain almost as bad as childbirth today. Or at least what I can remember about childbirth, which is clouded by the passage of over 23 years since my last baby was born.

Anyway... I'd gotten a pretty bad sunburn on my neck and shoulders Saturday when we had asado at Abram's. Today Ivan was teasing me and, forgetting the burn (which was semi-covered by a shirt with a collar), he grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and rubbed really hard. I.Thought.I.Was.Going.To.Pass.Out. I couldn't breathe the pain was so intense and I was afraid I was going to cause a scene so I ran outside.

Poor Ivan felt just terrible and I know he didn't mean to hurt me. It took about five minutes to catch my breath, stanch the tears, and stand up straight. The searing pain subsided but my neck and shoulders throbbed for hours until we got back home and I slapped our medicinal pack of frozen corn on the area to bring down the swelling.

Oh, you don't use frozen corn in that way? Well, why on earth not? It's perfect for that...the frozen kernals conform to whatever body shape you put it on, it stays cold a pretty long time, and since it's all self-contained in the handy-dandy plastic pack there's no messy clean-up like you have with regular ice. Plus it lasts a long, long time. Like almost forever. We've been using the same pack of corn the whole time we've lived here.

While I'm working on this post, Tina's working on a job application.

Yes, she's already started the job search process, and it's all been done online from 6,000 miles away: searching for openings, sending resum├ęs and cover letters, filling out applications. It's a whole new world!  Wouldn't it be a hoot if she has interviews lined up by the time she goes home next week?

And yes, her time is almost over. She's ready. I'm not. She's a fresh college graduate anxious to begin her "real" life. I'm a momma who's already mourning the loss of my "baby".

Yeah, I know, get over it.

So I'm trying to focus on how exciting it will be to see where God leads her next. I'm her biggest cheerleader so I'm dusting off the pom-poms and getting ready to do a little SIS-BOOM-BAH routine.

Right after I mop up my tears with one of the pom-poms.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Meanderings - Mainly about health care

Not to make y'all jealous or anything but I just put some fresh cannelloni into the oven. They're filled with beef and vegetables and covered in a tomato mushroom sauce. Tina and I picked them up at our favorite fresh pasta place on our way home from downtown. A very satisfying supper along with salad using fresh lettuce from the garden.

I know you hate me right now. But I can live with it. While I stuff my face with fresh pasta.

The car had some issues over the weekend. It's always SOMETHING it seems. Ivan was afraid we'd have to get the alternator rebuilt but when he took it to the mechanic this morning, he said it was just the belt and he could have it ready by noon. Ivan was heading out of town with a friend so it fell upon me to pick up the car.

It rained earlier in the morning and felt much cooler so I decided a pleasant walk was in order. About a block from home I started to feel a touch of moisture in the air; not rain exactly but definitely something wet. A few more blocks and the moisture was thicker, more apparent, like a fine Irish mist (you have to say that last bit with a brogue, rolling it off the tongue -- mine sounds more Scottish than Irish but who's to know since I feel like I'm just talking to myself anyway). I picked up the pace for the remaining ten to twelve blocks, arriving a scant two minutes or so before the downpour hit.

The car was finished but still inside which made it really nice since I didn't have to get wet getting in. By the time I drove home the rain had let up a little and I didn't get too soaked between the car and the house.

So thankful for the rain! Not only is it cooling things off but that lake still needs a LOT of water before it's back to normal.

I wish Americans could get a taste of the REAL national health care in other countries, and not the oh-how-happy-we are-because-everyone-is-covered illusion. Ivan took a friend with prostrate issues to the hospital on Saturday because he was in so much pain. The only doctor on duty, a young female, REFUSED TO EXAMINE HIM. She gave him a prescription for anti-inflammatory medicine and sent him home. Come on! Are you kidding me?! If you have a problem examining the male anatomy, you have no business in medicine! How ridiculous is that?! We felt so badly for our friend.

Most people pay for additional health insurance so they can go to 'private' clinics, which are a step up from the public health care facilities but not by much.  How would you ladies like to go for your annual PAP smear and be asked to disrobe but not be given an ugly gown or even a large piece of paper to cover you during the exam? And that's in a 'private' clinic. Guess who's waiting until she's stateside before she gets another one of those?

Yes, medical expenses are lower. But you know what? You get what you pay for.

Or take the situation with my glasses. Went to the optometrist, then took the prescription to an optical store to order glasses, but when they came in they weren't right. Back to the optometrist who checked and said the prescription is right so we return to the store. Now we're waiting to hear what the lab has to say... The system here seems so disconnected; I prefer the all-in-one process in the U.S.: you choose your frames or contacts through your doctor and they make sure they fit well, and all is good. None of this back-and-forth business.

I've decided to try contacts again, so  I called my optometrist back in Michigan this morning with some questions and he spent a good 20 minutes on the phone going over my history and giving me some great information I needed so I can order contacts.

I'm not trying to be an "ugly American" who thinks that we do everything the "right" way but in this case, I really do think our health care in the U.S. is light years better than anything else we've experienced overseas. In my humble opinion the problem in America is with our litigious nature and settlement cases getting completely out of hand so that insurance rates for doctors skyrocketed and so did the price of medical treatment.

When I was expecting Tina twenty-four years ago, we lived in south Florida; Broward County to be exact. My OB-GYN told me at my first appointment that he "didn't do babies" -- meaning he delivered only, and he required a pediatrician be on hand, in the delivery room, to take over from there. State law required a secondary surgeon also be on hand, so when Tina was born the operating room was filled with three doctors, the anesthesiologist, several nurses, me and Ivan. The reason for the overcrowding? Through-the-roof insurance premiums had shut down most of the OB-GYNs in the area and made the remaining few a little "gun shy" -- hence mine was willing to handle the delivery but not the baby once she was born.

I get a little worked up on the subject. Can you tell?

We've experienced medicine in a third world country (Uganda, East Africa) as well as here and in the U.S. I'm sold on our system. Maybe I've been spoiled by having great doctors and, for-the-most-part, good experiences with health care in the U.S. I've always been to doctors in clean, well-stocked offices and hospitals, and been cared for by professionals who did their job well and with a smile on their face. What's not to love?

So what's been your experience? U.S. or otherwise?