Friday, June 25, 2010


...because it has been a LONG week! I've been wanting to get online and post but we've just been too busy... in Sta. Rosa until Tuesday afternoon. Then there was the laundry (lots and lots of laundry), the English class I teach, Spanish classes, housework, paperwork, two trips into Cordoba...

This afternoon we, along with our co-workers, took a group into Cordoba for a concert at the university. A Christian school in Jacksonville, Florida, has an orchestra, choir and drama team that travels and performs. Our co-workers' daughter (who's a student at Bible Institute) is one of their translators while they're in Argentina.

I do have lots I want to share, but it's going to be a while before I have time to write about it. Meanwhile, I hope to get around and catch up on some blog reading this weekend. ¡Hasta luego!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Project 365, Week 25

When I finally downloaded photos today I realized all my photos from two weeks ago were of houses and lots for sale. SERIOUSLY. Every.Single.One. I thought about making a collage out of "Vende" signs but decided that was more work than I wanted to get into. So no photos for week #24.

But I do have some from this week, starting with this photo of downtown after Argentina's win against Nigeria in the World Cup last Saturday. No, this was not an organized parade or anything -- just people everywhere waving their flags!
We got together to watch the game but I kept running home to switch loads of laundry and the streets were EERILY silent from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. while the game was on. Normally the costanera is a busy, busy place on the weekends but in my forays back and forth to the house I only saw a total of five people (and they were all women! LOL). That changed as soon as the game was over -- people poured into the streets to celebrate the win!

We arrived in Sta. Rosa Monday evening, ready to tackle a few big projects. I'm sure I've shared photos of the house, but here's a close-up of the front. Doesn't it look sort of like an English country cottage?
Tuesday brought the realization that our expectations might have been a tad too high on what we hoped to accomplish in the few days we’re here. New goals were set: I was only going to paint the upper kitchen cabinets and Ivan planned to install the new water tank and chop what wood he could. But before we got started, we took a walk down to the river. Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the eucalyptus.
This eucalyptus tree is about 60 feet high, and that nest you see is about 40 feet up. Those pesky wild parrots are EVERYWHERE and build humongous nests.

One of the highlights of this trip was that the house was clean when we arrived! After I whined incessantly for months suggested we find someone to help clean occasionally, Ivan found a dependable woman who came and cleaned last week. She even did the windows in the main living area! Cannot believe the difference clean windows make :D 

In the past I’ve always spent the first day or two cleaning house before being able to start on any other projects. And most of the time we only get to come out for a day or two. Which may explain why I haven’t really done any other projects until now. Plus, you know with the recent 5-day retreat for 21 that we held here last month, the house was in serious need of cleaning!

Anyway, with the house all nice and clean, I was able to start painting first thing Tuesday morning (and relax on Monday evening!). That was SOOOOOOOOO nice!

Tuesday night we received a call from an older couple who had decided to come out and visit us on Wednesday. They brought a yummy apple cake for merienda, and Ivan picked Julio's brain about the water tank project. Julio has built a lot of things in his 76 years, including a few houses, so he was able to give Ivan some suggestions.
The inside of the cabinets were raw wood, old and very, VERY dry. They sucked paint like a hungry infant does milk.
It has taken four coats and probably could have used another one or two but I’m calling it good. The cabinet doors ended up with three coats on the inside (again, raw wood) and two on the exterior. I’ve spray painted the hinges black.

It took Ivan WAY longer to install the water tank than he anticipated -- three LONG days. Had some problems with leaking where the old and new pipes joined which precipitated breaking into the cement to dig out more of the old pipe. Not fun! He finished just before dark on Friday.
We're putting the cabinets back together this weekend and cleaning up the week-long mess we made (three days without water meant I only did the basics since we were using water we'd saved in the bathtubs and buckets). Our co-workers suggested we stay through Monday to finish up the work and since Monday happens to be a holiday here, they're going to come out with a crew of the teen boys to help Ivan chop and stack all the wood from the two trees. Isn't that nice!? 

Typical that any kind of home improvement project will TAKE LONGER AND COST MORE than anticipated. But at least the end (of this week's projects) is in sight.

[For those who don't know, the house in Sta. Rosa belongs to Ivan's family. His parents built the house over 40 years ago. It's been a great place to not only get away ourselves, but to use for ministry as well. What a blessing it has been!]

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Some randomness and I'd like your input into a little decorating dilemma


In case you hadn't heard :D

Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0 in their first game of the World Cup. A goal by Gabriel Heinze just six minutes into the game gave them the lead that Nigeria was never able to break.
(photo from
I made homemade granola bars for our game-watching get-together today at Centro Esperanza. We also had homemade pizza, as well as hotdogs and potato chips. I was trying to catch up on laundry so kept running back and forth between our house (just a few blocks away) and it was downright weird how EERILY QUIET the streets were from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. while the game was on. Seriously, I've never seen the costanera so deserted on a weekend. In my trips home to switch laundry I only saw a total of five people -- and they were all women! LOL  Once the game was over, people headed outside to celebrate by waving the flag and congratulating one another on having such a fine national team :D

Next up: the game against South Korea on Thursday.

I didn't get any of the granola bars and have been craving a little chocolate so decided to make brownies tonight. Now I've been trying a lot of brownie recipes lately since, although you can occasionally find brownie mixes here, they're not as common (or as good, in my opinion, as what we can buy in the U.S.). Anyway, I found a recipe I really, REALLY like and, of course, I have to share it with you. Because bloggy friends share the important things, especially when it comes to food :D

Dark Chocolate Brownies
3/4 c. Dutch processed dark cocoa powder*
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 c. melted butter, divided
1/2 c. boiling water
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/3 c. flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 c. nuts
2 c. dark chocolate chips
Combine cocoa and baking soda. 
Add 1/3 c. melted butter and boiling water and mix well. 
Add sugar, eggs, vanilla and other 1/3 c. butter and blend. 
Add flour and salt and mix well. 
Fold in nuts and chocolate chips. 
Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes.

* Yes, you can use any old cocoa but unless you use the Dutch processed dark cocoa powder it won't be as rich and chocolatey. I like this recipe because it's not so sweet but it is VERY chocolatey. YUM!

Okay, I have a decorating dilemma. I don't have to make a decision right away because we have to wait until the roof is fixed before tackling the project BUT I've been thinking about this for a while and keep going around and around and around... Finally I decided to just throw it out there and see what y'all think. Sometimes I get so caught up in the details I "can't see the forest for the trees" so I'm appealing to your inner design diva for help!

So anyway...the project in question is the laundry room at Sta. Rosa. Poor old laundry room has become a catch-all for everything from empty water bottles to a collection of buckets and a cheap plastic table and chairs that get hauled inside or outside as needed. As well as the stationary sink, and the ironing board, brooms and mops, and old washer we bought used from our neighbor (it IS a laundry room, after all).

I'd never really thought about doing much with the laundry room until I started seeing all these laundry room make-overs on different blogs. But it makes a lot of sense, considering how much time the average woman spends doing laundry!

So here's my dilemma: I have to work with a very *ahem* DISTINCTIVE floor tile.
A lot of camel, with bits of beige and cream and touches of black thrown in. This tile is in both the laundry room and the adjacent study (which has since become a small bedroom). The tiles are 10" square I think (the photo is of four so you can see the design that's created by the way the tiles were laid).

Now I absolutely love the color aqua (or turquoise) and have to get my daily fix by checking out House of Turquoise to see what loveliness Erin has posted. Recently she had a post about some of the favorite shades by different paint companies (Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, etc.) and I really, REALLY liked "Rainwashed" by Sherwin Williams, a shade so light it's almost a white with just a hint of color. Ever since seeing that post, I've been itching to paint a room -- any room! -- that color. And I've seen some absolutely STUNNING laundry rooms done in aqua.

But can you see aqua working with that tile?

I'm also very fond of the color green, as I've mentioned a time or thirteen, and have thought a nice, soft green would be a happy color to put on the walls.

Or I could play it safe and just paint them white. Ugh.

Besides painting the walls, I plan to sew a skirt for the sink, curtains for the large window, and make a new ironing board cover. We'll also install a new, longer shelf above the sink and washer so there's space for all the cleaning supplies and not just the laundry detergent. We'd like to be able to hang the ironing board and iron on the wall but so far I've been unsuccessful in finding the hanging rack for that. I've searched in home improvement and department stores. Ivan might have to rig something up for me to use.

I've decided to buy the fabric for all the sewing projects BEFORE I choose a paint color. Here are some possibilities (not the exact fabrics, but more for a "feel" of the concept I'm going for).
(Amy Butler August Fields line)
Something like these would incorporate shades of beige which might help tie in the tile and allow me to go with a pretty green.

A bright, bold fabric choice works with green or aqua...
And I like the idea of adding pops of red as an accent color, which would be easy to do if I used a fabric with a little red in it. (I just LOVE this fabric! It's got the FUN VIBE I'm going for.)

This is another bold fabric, but the colors are more subdued.
(Michael Miller Water Lily)
It would create a more serene room, don't you think? I am one of those weird people who finds laundry a relaxing activity, so serene works :D

Finally, I've played with the idea of using a black and white fabric, trimmed out with green or aqua. Doing that would also allow me to do something else I've been wanting to, after seeing it on a lot of blogs -- paint a big ole' flower on the wall.  But it would have to be something simple since my drawing skills are minimal. What about this?
(Windham Neo Geo line by Jackie Shapiro)
Those flowers are pretty large, which is the look I'm going for, and simple enough for me to freehand on the wall. In all honesty, it would probably be easier to find something like this than any of the other fabric "concepts". I've spent plenty of time in fabric stores and the selection is a lot more limited here, both in terms of colors and designs.

So what are your thoughts? Anything you really like? Hate?

It's fun to think about fixing up a space, even if it's something as mundane as a laundry room.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It feels like Friday

This has just been a LONG week. A good one, but a long one.

Skoots, thanks for the info on how to fix my broken headphone jack! As soon as we get hold of a straw, we're going to try it. And Sarah, appreciate the tip that 1 egg white equals 2 tablespoons -- that's a handy bit of knowledge.  Google is great, but my bloggy friends are a great source of info too!

We've been doing a bit of house hunting lately. Out of those we've looked at, only one got me the least bit excited. It needs some work but it's solid and has good "bones" with definite possibilities. It also has a large yard and some pretty nice views of the surrounding mountains...
We walked around the yard before going inside, and off in a corner we discovered this:
It's a sign, I tell you! LOL

I am a HUGE fan of the bathtub. My previous favorite way to de-stress and relax was to take a long hot bubble bath with a good book and a bit of chocolate. Sadly that's not possible where we live now since we only have a shower. Tubs are actually a very rare thing here. So when we saw the tub just sitting there under the trees, I got pretty excited! It's cast iron and could easily be refinished.

But all thoughts of house hunting/buying will have to be put on hold for a week while we travel to Sta. Rosa to do some much needed work on that house. Ivan will be chopping up the TWO cottonwood trees he had a crew cut down the last time we were there (he would have done it then but the chainsaw broke)...
And he'll install a new plastic water tank on the roof to replace the existing poured cement tank. We could fix it, but it wouldn't STAY fixed so we decided to go with the more permanent solution provided by the plastic tank. Meanwhile I'll be painting the kitchen cupboards. White, of course :D  I do love a white kitchen!

We're going next week because it's supposed to be sunny and pleasant (low 60s all week) which is perfect considering all Ivan's work is outside, and I'll need to keep the windows open for ventilation since the paint is oil-based. Now that we're using the house more for ministry purposes, there are some things that need fixing sooner rather than later (i.e., the water tank). Other projects aren't so imperative (i.e., painting the cupboards) but we I'm anxious to get to them. Hopefully I'll remember to take some before photos so I can share the progress.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Just yesterday we googled the following things:
~ houses for sale
~ Spanish phrase for "cream of tartar"
~ recipe for some chocolatey goodness
~ ideas for my English class
~ how to fix a little problem with my Mac (the headphones broke off in the jack)
~ aerial view of one of the houses for sale
~ what to do when skin comes in contact with a harsh chemical
~ when will The Closer start its new season?

That's what I can remember. I'm sure there were other things too. I hop on to google whatever info I need throughout the day. Sometimes when I can't find what I need, I e-mail someone who might know (for all things technical I e-mail my #1 I.T. guy, the son :D).

There are a lot of houses for sale. Not so many in our price range, in the area we like. Yesterday we did drive by one that has possibilities, but it's hard to tell until we can get in to see the house. The aerial view shows the home sits pretty far back on the lot. Which is a drawback in our opinion. We tend to utilize behind-the-house space more than in-front-of-the-house space. But the property is in a location we like, it has the requisite two bedrooms and even has covered space for a car that could easily be enclosed for a shop area. Definitely worth a look-see so now we're waiting to hear back from the realtor as to when we can go look at it.

Cream of tartar can either be cremor tártaro or crema de tártar. Not sure which is used here but I'll find out!

The reason I need cream of tartar is because I want to make Chocolate Meringue Cookies. I've been making a LOT of homemade chocolate pudding lately (it's one of my favorite comfort foods when I'm sick) and since it calls for only the egg yolks (three, to be exact), I have a stash of egg whites in my fridge to use up. What better way than meringue cookies?! And how fortunate that the chocolate meringue cookie recipe calls for three egg whites. That means I have enough for four or five batches.

I'm pretty sure my English class will enjoy the cookies!

Everything we're doing in class I pulled off the internet. I had no idea I'd end up teaching English so I didn't come books, no materials of any kind, no preparation. This is truly one of those by-the-seat-of-your-pants endeavors!

Still not sure what to do about the broken off headphone jack. But we're working on possibilities.

Didn't think to look up how to deal with harsh chemicals right away, but the treatment (soaking in water mixed with baking soda) still helped half an hour later. The white splotches on Ivan's hands mostly went away after the soaking.

The Closer returns July 12. Yay! I just adore Brenda Leigh Johnson, don't you?

Since it's possible you might end up with an excess of egg whites at some point in your life, I wanted to share the chocolate meringue cookie recipe with you. They are scrumpdillyicious!

3 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup white sugar
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 c. semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 300° F (150° C).
Combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla. 
Beat until the whites form soft peaks. 
Slowly add sugar; beat until stiff peaks form, and mixture becomes glossy. 
Fold in cocoa and chocolate chips. 
Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls on to a greased cookie sheet. 
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  

Now I'm off to find cremor tártaro or crema de tártar so I can make some of that chocolatey goodness myself.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Project 365, Week 23

I've been down pretty much all week with a bad head cold. And the coughing. Oh.My.Word. the COUGHING! Which continues but not as continuously. I'm pretty sure I pulled a muscle coughing. Ugh. But here are a few photos from my week...

Last Sunday I was still delusional and thought if I just stayed home and rested I'd get better quicker. So like a good girl, I stayed home and rested. Except for a little time at the sewing machine, trying out an idea I had spent half the night thinking about because I couldn't sleep DUE TO ALL THE COUGHING. Overall I'm pleased with the end product, but I'll do a few things differently next time. Just thought these would be a fun item to have on hand for gifts.
Ivan picked three roses and put them in a vase where I could see them from the couch. I enjoyed them for an entire week! They were the biggest roses we've ever had, and I have no idea why these were so ginormous. I took this photo with a playing card so you could have some idea of how large the blooms were...
My constant companions for the past ten days...cough drops, inhaler, tissues, lip balm, glass of water, eye mask...
I haven't shared any photos of the house next door in a while. Construction continues, slowly but surely. They've put in a sidewalk and driveways, and have been laying plaster on the interior, plus putting the roof on. Lots of debris resulting from all the work, so they've been filling this dumpster regularly. (Sorry this photo isn't very good; it was taken after dark.)

Friday we made our monthly trek into Cordoba for some heavy duty shopping. Also had to stop at the telephone company to finalize getting our cell phones put into our names (now that we have our D.N.I.s). In the same plaza was this "Temple of Soccer" which cracked us up. So true for most Argentines! They are PASSIONATE about soccer and with the World Cup starting this week in South Africa, the excitement is palpable.
Finally I have a photo from atop one of the nearby mountains. A realtor took us to see a couple of houses yesterday and then wanted to show us an empty lot. The cost of just the lot was equal to the houses so it's not a viable option for us, but you have to admit, the views from the lot are absolutely stunning!
Lisa @ Blessed is hosting Project 365 this week while Sara's on vacation with her family. Thanks Lisa!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'll be back when I'm feeling better

...the things I find necessary to keep near me at all times.