Saturday, September 24, 2011

I'm a bonafide CNN iReporter

Have you ever noticed some CNN stories on their website are by what they call iReporters? Yesterday morning I noticed CNN had posted a request for people to share their tips and photos for traveling in Argentina. You know I couldn't pass up that opportunity! So I decided to contribute a few of our photos and a short blurb, which you can see here. But I'm not sure for how long. I don't think those things stay up indefinitely -- which is why I'm mentioning it now. I'm pretty sure most of the photos you've already seen at one time or another; I just thought it was fun that they're appearing somewhere other than this blog :) 

Friday, September 23, 2011


Usually weekends are really busy for us, work-wise, as we travel to different churches to share about the ministry in Argentina. So generally I'm gearing up for another trip on Fridays and I'm all about TGIM on Mondays.

But this weekend is different. While we're sharing in a church on Sunday evening, we'll be at our home church that morning and, best of all, our daughter is coming to spend the weekend with us!!! AND we have friends stopping by tonight as they travel from New York back to their home in Wisconsin. Plus (I know, can it get any better?! the answer is Yes!) our county fair starts on Sunday and I am so ready for my first elephant ear in four years!

We're also really, REALLY looking forward to a few days at one of our most favorite places on earth: Epworth Heights in Ludington! This is an unexpected but VERY welcome GIFT. We didn't really think we'd get away to Ludington on this furlough (our schedule is so packed) but our friends who own a cottage there offered it to us at the best possible time and we can actually go! I've mentioned this place before, but now I'll have some fresh photos to share next week :)

I won't bore you with all the details of our busy week. Instead I'll just give you a quick run-down of what's been going on:
~ Ivan caught the flu last weekend and was pretty miserable for a few days, running a fever and coughing like a long-term smoker.
~ As I shared yesterday, I had to visit the dentist this week for a broken tooth.
~ Also visited the optometrist in an effort to find contacts that would work mid-distance. Sadly that's not working so well. Boo hiss to growing older :(
~ Had friends over for dinner one night.
~ Packed ten suitcases.
~ Worked on a little sewing project.
~ Ate at least a dozen Honey Crisp apples.
~ Finally caught up on Words With Friends (hadn't played in about a week).
~ Cleaned off the desk and sorted preparation to actually doing something WITH all that paperwork.
~ Made bread.
~ Ate bread.
~ Made brownies.
~ Ate brownies.
So that's how I spent my week.
And now I'm looking forward to a fun weekend with friends, my daughter, and elephant ears.

So what are your weekend plans?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Which is more painful: facebook changes or root canals?

Since I've experienced both today, I feel I can make an informed decision. The root canal wins, but only by a very slight margin.

Seriously, I am fed up with the constantly changing facebook. To the point that I opened a Google+ account this evening. The process of joining and "finding" friends helped keep my mind off the pain of the root canal. Sort of.

I had a big chunk of an eyetooth break off last week and at first it seemed like I'd be able to get by with waiting until we returned to Argentina (where dental work is much, MUCH cheaper) but, alas, today the pain hit, and it hit big time.

Although a big chunk broke off last week, little bits have continued falling out in the intervening days so I guess enough finally fell off and exposed the nerve. Ouch.

Thankfully the dentist I used to go to when we lived here was kind enough to get me in at the end of the day. He started the root canal and I'll go back October 4th so he can finish it. I'm going to wait until we get back to Argentina and have my dentist there do the necessary crown. Since we don't have dental insurance, I am more than happy to wait a couple months to do that. The cost of just the root canal is enough to make me say double ouch.

But back to facebook... I was late joining the facebook party because I didn't really need or want another thing to maintain. But in the end I did join, mainly because it was a way to keep up with (mostly younger) friends and family. Now, however, I'm about ready to quit. I don't appreciate facebook deciding what is or is not important to me in terms of news feed. I'm tired of constantly having to go in and manually change settings to maintain my privacy. I'm frustrated with an ever-changing way of "doing" facebook. It seems like we just get used to one change and they're rolling out another one. At this point I'm evaluating whether it's worth the hassle to stay with facebook at all.

So while the root canal was/is painful, the latest facebook upheaval runs a close second.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sharing a link

Not a lot of time to write today, but I wanted to share this link I saw on facebook: "The Kind of Man You Want" by Lori Frank. As another commenter said and I can heartily echo: "I wish someone had told me these things when I was young. Fortunately, God provided me with a wonderful husband, in spite of my early mistakes. :~)"  A worthwhile post to pass on to the young women in our spheres of influence. 

And now we're off on a short three day trip. Hasta luego!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Haven't been able to keep up with much of anything blog-related this summer, so I have no idea if the Thankful Thursday meme is still going on, but decided to do my own bit of giving thanks today. Because there is MUCH for which I'm thankful!

Up first, the many, MANY, MANY miles of travel safety. Not that I haven't mentioned ALL THE TRAVEL a time or two ;)  But how great it has been to have the opportunity to see so many wonderful people!

And that brings us to the second thing: we wouldn't have been able to do all this traveling if it hadn't been for the generosity of our home church, that bought and insured a lovely little Saturn for us to use while in the U.S. Thank you to our "family" at Countryside Bible Church!

That same "family" has helped out in a myriad of ways during this furlough: friends from church are letting us use a house, others helped furnish it, we've received fresh vegetables from various gardens, a large quantity of beef from a family that raises their own cows... I could go on and on. It's such a blessing to be part of a loving, supportive church.

The blessings don't stop with our home church, though. We've been encouraged and cared for by many other churches as well. Everything from a gift toward my medical expenses (one church) to funds to buy a projector (another church) to an increase in support (yet another church). And that doesn't include the folks who have hosted us, fed us delicious meals, and taken time out from busy schedules to hang out with us.

I'm also really thankful for the wonderful men and women who work at the home office of Biblical Ministries Worldwide. What we love most about them is their servant hearts, an attitude that they will do whatever they can to help, in whatever way is needed. It's a privilege to work with such a great group of people!

And then there's family. Those who know us so well and love us anyway :)  Son, Jon, our IT guru, has been a huge help as we've replaced computers and figured out what software we needed and how to use it. Kyle and Tina provided cell phones for us to use while in the U.S.   Ivan's mom and siblings cheer us on, encourage us when we're down, love on us, and make us grateful to be part of the Hoyt clan. My sister is my #1 cheerleader. Extended family support and encourage.

Like I said before, I could go on and on.

But bottom line, all of these and MORE are gifts from God. All that we have comes from His hand. We've seen time and time again His care, in ways both big and small.

Let's talk about some of the "small" ones... 

Next year we'll be building a not-so-big-house/garage on our lot in Carlos Paz (the square footage for our living space will be about 700 square feet). We need to do this as economically as possible and one of the ways we plan to keep costs down is by buying used-but-still-in-good-condition items whenever possible. We'd heard about, but had never been to, the Habitat for Humanity ReStores. That all changed this trip, as we've tried to visit as many as possible! So far: six stores in three states. Each one is different, because it depends on what's been donated, and from what we've been told, materials flow in and out quickly so it's a good idea to keep checking back if you're looking for something specific.

[NOTE: For those not familiar with ReStores, they're kind of like Goodwills but for construction materials. People who are renovating can donate the items they take out of their home, and then others can buy them very inexpensively, and the money is plowed back into the Habitat program.]

Obviously we can't fit a lot into our suitcases, but have been able to find some smaller items that we can take back. Like faucets. People, do you realize how expensive new faucets are these days?! And they cost even more in Argentina, where everything is imported. So we were THRILLED to be able to find both bathroom and kitchen faucets for $8 to $10/each. Also towel bars. One of the ReStores had brand new ones for $8/each! I've also been collecting small, round, white ceramic knobs to use on cabinets. And we scored brand new cabinet door hinges. A very good thing since Ivan will have to build all our cabinets.

Small things, but we're saving a huge chunk of change.

Then there's the whole how-many-suitcases-will-we-need dilemma. We've been collecting items we want to take back -- everything from melamine dishes to faucets and towel bars to fabric -- and it's definitely going to require more than the two-bag-per-person the airlines allow. This was a two-part dilemma: (1) acquiring the additional suitcases needed, and (2) actually transporting the suitcases.

Part #1 is coming along nicely. I've been able to pick up a few suitcases at Goodwill and other thrift stores. At church last Sunday they announced we needed suitcases and we've gotten one through that already. Then yesterday I hit the mother lode! A group of women hold a large rummage sale every year to benefit a nearby college. A friend called me at 9:30 yesterday morning to let me know they had a ton of suitcases at the sale. I rushed right over and scored seven for $14! Woot! I'll be packing suitcases over the next week or two and think that what we now have will be sufficient. And if it's not, I'm trusting God will provide what's lacking.

Part #2 is also coming along nicely. I believe we'll have two groups coming to visit next year, and between the two, looks like they can bring all the suitcases. DOUBLE WOOT!

You can't see me but I'm doing the happy dance :)

So, yes, I have a lot to be thankful for, but most of all I'm thankful for a God who cares about the small stuff. You see it in Scripture and you see it in our lives. Can I get an Amen?!

What are you thankful for today? Anything in particular?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Project 365, End of Summer Edition, Part 2

This Project 365 post is longer than usual because it encompasses our trip down south and a bit beyond. I still missed a lot of photo opportunities but to make up for it, I'm sharing multiple pics from some days. Mainly because I am having a bad case of DMD (decision-making disorder).

A lot of you have already seen an almost duplicate of the following photo since Robin and I had the server take photos with both our cameras.
It was so fun to finally meet a blog (and fellow Project 365) friend! We got together for dinner while Ivan and I were at the mission headquarters outside Atlanta. I'm just sorry I missed Skoots, who was out of town -- but we're already making plans to get together when we're back on our next home ministry assignment!

Also while in the Atlanta area I met another quilt fanatic enthusiast who showed me some of her recent projects, including this gorgeous Christmas quilt:
I was so inspired by her studio too. We took photos of her set-up in hopes we can duplicate some of her smart, space-saving ideas. And bless her heart, she gave me some fabric! This was the third gift of fabric I received in August, which brings me so much joy :)  All three benefactors are quilters who share my passion for fabric and wanted to help as I gather supplies and materials so I can teach quilting when we return to Argentina.

[And last night another friend said she was going to give me a cutting mat/ruler/rotary cutter combo that she no longer uses! I'll add those to the ones I've been picking up with my 40% and 50% off coupons at Joann's. My goal is to have enough for a class of 4-6, with some sharing as needed.]

Anyway, back to Project 365...

We left Atlanta and headed to South Carolina to visit family, taking the route that went through Savannah, a city I've always wanted to visit. We parked at the south end of Forsyth Park and started walking up Bull Street. Talk about hot and humid! Within a block my bangs were matted to my forehead and I was sweating like a pig "glowing" as they say in the south.

But I did love our short time touring a bit of the city! The gnarly trees are so picturesque and I am determined to make a quilt based on this photo.

I had no idea that Paula Deen's restaurant, Lady & Sons, was right smack downtown, and better yet, we were able to have lunch there! I'd heard how hard it was to get in, but we're guessing it was a slow day because of (1) the HEAT, and (2) the hurricane. During our very short wait I was fascinated by these doors between the restaurant and her store. Those are frying pans, people!

I was enthralled by this "secret garden" spied through some of the ornate ironwork that's so common in Savannah. Can you imagine having this private space in your back yard?!

We have a thing for architectural art, and by that I mean art with buildings or bridges or something of an architectural nature. And because prints are flat and lightweight, we've determined to try and collect those from our travels. Of course there are many art galleries and studios in Savannah and it wasn't hard at all to find LOTS of gorgeous prints but we ended up settling on a small, inexpensive but lovely watercolor of this home, which we hunted down to photograph so we could keep it with the print:

We picked up another print while in Charleston, South Carolina, visiting family. It will be fun to frame and hang those back home, remembering this particular trip and the fun experiences. While we didn't choose a print by this artist, he was the only one who was working on-site at the City Market in downtown Charleston, and he didn't mind when I asked if I could take his picture.
Our nephew, Philip, took us on a tour of the city as well as a trip out to Fort Moultry (which is on the mainland across from Fort Sumter).
We had so much fun hanging out with Philip, Roz, their daughter Rachel, and Ivan's brother Lynn. It was a relaxing weekend that culminated in a special tri-fold communion with their church. Our background is Grace Brethren which practices tri-fold communion (including foot washing), but we've been members of a Bible church for many years now and it had been probably close to 25 years since we'd participated in a tri-fold communion. I am sad to say I took very few photos of the weekend (except at Fort Moultry).

Monday, August 29th, we headed to North Carolina, stopping briefly at Columbia International University where we picked up some information on their post graduate distance programs and drove around campus (too hot to get out and walk!).

That night we enjoyed catching up with dear friends, Jim and Gina.
I could use a week at their house on the beautiful and peaceful there!

Here's a kitschy photo we took at the first rest area in Tennessee. Gotta love a place that provides rocking chairs and a view of the mountains!
Yes, that's Ivan in the rocker :)

Okay, here's a teaser photo...
Guess what I'm working on?!

And finally, here's one of very few photos we took this past weekend while Ivan's youngest brother and his wife were with us.
All our photos were of plants we took on a walk by Lake Bawbeese :/  Not a single photo of them or them and us... Oh, and by the way, that plant is jewelweed and you might want to take note of what it looks like, because it helps prevent and/or heal poison ivy and other rashes!

And that finally brings us to the end of the End of Summer Edition!

Project 365, End of Summer Edition, Part 1

This posting once-a-month has become a habit I'm hoping to break soon. I don't want to sound like a broken record but my excuse continues to be ALL THE TRAVELING, often without internet. And even when we do have internet, I'd rather be spending that time with the friends we're visiting!

What I discovered when I finally sat down this morning and started sorting through photos was that I have too many to share in one post. So let's begin with Part 1...

Back in July we realized we needed to start carving out some time with our kids. Between our busy weekend schedule and their busy weekday schedule, it's not easy finding a time when we can all get together. But by planning ahead we were able to get together on August 13th at our son's house in Elkhart. Jon has become quite the smoking guru and after working with a smaller store-bought model for a year or two, he and Ivan built a monster smoker this summer:
We thoroughly enjoyed the meal, but ever more the time with Jon and Natalie...
as well as our nephew, Stephan, and his wife Karen...
and I'm sure you recognize Kyle and Tina in the background.

On August 17th we visited an older friend, Don, who is 90 and still going strong. He has a unique ministry -- he bakes bread to give away! And we're not talking about a loaf here and a loaf there. This man is SERIOUS about making bread! He has picked up industrial size equipment, like this ginormous stand mixer:
He mixes 15 cups of bread flour with 11 cups of cracked wheat (which he gets directly from the farmer and then cleans, toasts and cracks) which makes a whopping big chunk of dough!
Don also has a machine that kneads the dough and shapes it into loaves ready to pop into the pans. Unfortunately I failed to take a photo of that process because we were having too much fun :) Don made a delicious lunch of grilled cheese (using homemade bread of course) and tomato soup, and then gave us a couple loaves to take home. He makes bread twice a week and gives it all away -- that's 26 loaves per week!

While in Jackson one day we decided to grab a bite at a little Mexican restaurant that makes their own tortillas and the MOST AMAZING carnitas ever. Be still my heart! Marinated in a secret blend of herbs and spices and then slow cooked until the meat is falling-apart-tender, these tacos are sooooo delicious.
They generously sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro on top, which makes it even better!

Ivan met an old friend for lunch one day. We go back over 30 years with John. He and his wife were instrumental in our choice to homeschool and we have stayed in touch although we haven't been able to get together very often.

So that takes us through about ten days, wherein I missed many other photo opportunities with friends because I was too busy talking and visiting to remember to take pictures... even though I make sure to carry the camera every where we go, with good intentions to document everything with a photo.

Not sure I'll improve, but one can make goals and hope...