Saturday, February 27, 2016

Week 8: Project 365, the 2016 Edition

Monday, February 22

Taní, our trusted construction go-to guy, arrived this morning to start work on a rather long list. First up was a sidewalk/ramp in front of the garage, which will make it a lot easier to drive the car in and out.
Charlie came over again to mow for us. He mowed Friday, the 12th, but we've gotten so much rain that it needed cut again.
Not sure why we're once again having patches where the grass is dying (can't be from lack of rain!). But where it's growing, it's really growing.

Tuesday, February 23

Took a bunch of photos of this squash plant on our walk this morning and created a collage.
Like typical squash that can easily get out of hand, it goes from up by the road, down the hill and around behind the little building.

Wednesday, February 24

We had to go to Sta. Rosa to pick up some books we need for conference. As we were leaving I noticed this huge seed pod on the ground.

On the way home we stopped for lunch at a restaurant where the cook also has celiac, so they offer a bigger variety of GF options than most places. I had the best empanada in over a year! She makes the same filling for the GF empanadas as she does for the regular ones, and it was delicious. This time I ordered the cannelloni which was filled with beef and spinach and then smothered with a red sauce, cream and parmesan cheese. Oh my word!
Bonus: it was a huge portion so I brought home a doggie bag!

P.S. The trip was also a trial run to see how Ivan did in the car for a long stretch. It was four hours round trip, and he did well. I took an extra ice pack in a cooler so he had one for the trip home, too, and that really helped. He feels ready for the long trip to conference on Monday.

Thursday, February 25

We always enjoy skype calls with the kids and grandkids. Usually I'm too involved in the conversation to remember to take a photo, but today I managed to get a screen shot while talking with Tina and Betsy.

Friday, February 26

My Uncle Jack and Aunt Nan have been posting some old family photos, and I enjoyed seeing this one of my mom, Georgia Loretta, when she was about 18-19 years old.
She's standing next to her parents, Eliza Jarnigan Shepherd and James Martin Shepherd. Her two youngest brothers, Jack (left) and Martin (right) are in front. I posted this on Facebook and someone asked if it was taken during the Depression because they were all so skinny. Nope, they were just naturally thin. The most my mom ever weighed was 138 lbs., when she was 9 months pregnant with me. And she was 5'6" tall.

I've been busy getting ready for conference: baking and crafting. I made brownies with regular flour that everyone else can eat during snack time, plus GF brownies for myself. Also some GF biscuits and cornbread. My freezer is pretty full!

I'm helping with the ladies tea, doing the table decor. Today I finished the pineapple can "vases" that we'll fill with colorful flowers, and the stacks of books I covered in pretty paper.
The blue napkin helped me choose the ribbon and trim colors. I bought those napkins at IKEA 4-5 years ago and just came across them again while going through some boxes. I figured this was as good a time as any to use them.

On the work front: Taní worked all week, extending the sidewalk in front of the casita out in front of the slab next to the casita (which will become a carport), finishing the corner of the slab (because when Ivan poured it, he was using the end of a load of cement and there wasn't quite enough to do the entire slab), and installing two rows of tile along the bottom of the front exterior of the casita. Eduardo, our drywall guy, finished the garage ceiling. He installed the ceiling a year or so ago, but Ivan was going to finish it. Well, after taping and one coat of mud, he realized it was a bigger job than he could handle. He just can't work over his head like that since he had rotator cuff surgery twice on the same shoulder some years back. It's a huge space with a lot of seams, so Eduardo spent four days mudding, sanding and painting. It looks so much brighter in there now.


Bonus photo: This one isn't mine at all; someone posted it on a private group on Facebook.
Boy, did it bring back memories! When I was a kid and we'd visit family down home, it was always a treat to go to the local grocery (that also served as the gas station, post office, clothing store, feed store, and whatever-else-you-needed store) for an ice cold RC cola and a nickle's worth of pickled bologna -- there was a huge glass jar sitting on the counter and the owner would reach in, pull out the long ring of bologna and whack off a section, and he'd throw in a handful of saltines for free. If we were really good, we'd also get a Moon Pie!  Back then RC (Royal Crown) was the only cola company willing to deliver to those back country stores, often found way up a winding dirt road.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Week 7: Project 365, the 2016 Edition

Saturday, February 13

Went into town this morning to run a few errands. While I waited for Ivan at one place, I noticed a new store across the street. The bright purple exterior is eye-catching to say the least. I also got a kick out of the name; when I saw Romeo, I immediately thought of Juliet -- but no, it's Ramona!
No, it doesn't take much to amuse me.

Monday, February 15

Ivan harvested our grapes this year. He planted the cuttings (from mom's grape vine in Sta. Rosa) two years ago. I was surprised we had any at all, since the plant is not very big, but we enjoyed our small handful of fresh grapes.

I took several pictures of the vine, but it's hard to get a good shot because it's on the fence next to the empty lot next door that's completely overgrown so the greens just all blend in together. 

Wednesday, February 17

Stopped at our neighborhood vegetable store. We go several times a week to get fresh fruits and vegetables. Usually Ivan goes alone, when he's out running errands and, unless he's super busy, the owner inevitably spends time talking and sharing a slice of fresh fruit.
Lately we've been enjoying sweet corn, peaches, pears, avocados, and other yummy goodness.

Friday, February 19

I ran out of a certain color thread I needed, so we made a run downtown. Something new this year (since they put in a new main street with pavers instead of cement) is that all the restaurants have extended their space outdoors with sidewalk eating areas. And some company must have been giving a discount because they all have the same type of awnings now. Which, I have to say, looks more uniform and, in my opinion, nicer. In this photo, the awnings are all red, but we've seen orange, green, blue... But they're all the same style.

We've had thunderstorms almost every night for the past week. The one Thursday night was what we call a "gully washer" and it truly did wash some gullies out! This is a side street that tees into our street a couple of houses down.
Granted, the road wasn't in the best shape before this, but it's infinitely worse now.

My focus for a while has been making these fold-up totes.
This shows most of the totes done and folded, one open, and pieces to the next one. My initial goal was for twenty, but I decided to make a couple of extra, just in case.

Our annual conference is coming up the first week of March and I wanted to have enough to give each woman at the ladies tea. I made a few in December and thought at the time it would be a fun, relatively easy project. I haven't changed my mind, but it did turn out to be a bit more time-consuming than I thought. Probably because I had to spread it out over a long period of time, sewing one here, three there, until I finally finished yesterday. Twenty two in total!

It was an even better choice than I imagined at the time, because the theme for the ladies tea is going to be Books! Our area director's wife is putting together a list of books she recommends, and we're doing a book exchange -- so those totes will come in handy! I'm helping with the tea this year, and made the invitation. Here's what I came up with:
For centerpieces I'm going to wrap books in pretty paper and tie them together in stacks of three or four. I'm also repurposing some cans (that pineapple came in) and turning them into book-themed vases for flowers. Hopefully I'll remember to take photos at the tea; I can't tell you the number of years I remember after the fact, when it's too late.    

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Record of What I've Read

I've started a list, well, actually two lists this year. One includes each book I read, with the date I finish it. The other records the ones I give up on. Thankfully the first is longer (11) than the second (5). At this point, anyway. 

I used to HAVE to read a book to the end. It was an unhealthy compulsion and one I've, thankfully, outgrown. There are too many good books out there to get bogged down finishing the poorly written ones.

I'm thinking a lot about reading because I knocked my Kindle off onto our hard ceramic tile floor and shattered part of the screen. It has a case, but the case was open because I was reading at the time. I can read the lower half, but not the upper portion, which basically renders my Kindle useless. And makes me quite sad.

But not for long. The timing of this accident was actually pretty good. Our annual conference is in two weeks, and the speaker who is coming from the U.S. has graciously agreed to bring my new Kindle. So I only have to get through the next two weeks.

And it's not like I'm without any books at all to read. It's just that 99.9% of them are in Sta. Rosa. And it will be at least another week before Ivan's ready for that two-hour drive. We do have to go out  there before conference, because I have to gather some books I'm taking to give away/exchange. Our theme for the ladies tea this year is books, and we're having a book exchange. But I'm taking some extras in case anyone forget to bring theirs.

I did have on hand Chaim Potok's "The Chosen" because it was next on the list to read out loud with Ivan. We're reading mostly non-fiction, but like to throw a novel into the mix every so often. We started that this weekend. I could also read Kindle books on my computer but I find my eyes hurt after a while when I do that.

It's also not like I have a lot of time for reading this week, since it's my goal to finish the fold-up totes I'm making for each lady who will be at conference (20). I've finished ten but that leaves ten to go. So most of my spare time will be spent at the sewing machine, not with a book.

My list of "books I gave up on in 2016" include the percentage of book I read before giving up. On my Kindle it doesn't show pages, but a percentage at the bottom. With three of the books I gave up at a measly 6% but I got up to 22% with one and 39% with the other. I really wanted them to improve, because the plot lines showed promise. But in the end I couldn't handle any more and admitted defeat.

Ivan and I had been in the middle of reading "The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction" by Adam McHugh and it is really, really good. I knew I wasn't a very good listener, but I didn't realize how truly horrible I was at it until I started this book. But then, that's the whole point of reading it: to learn how to become a better listener.

My queue of books to read is long, and I look forward to getting my new Kindle. My old was a 4th generation and the new one is 7th generation. The biggest difference I see is that the new one is touch screen, and without the keyboard at the bottom, they were able to make it shorter. Which meant I needed to get a new cover, too, and I'm pretty pumped about the pretty blue one I picked out. I'm also pretty pumped about being able to get a refurbished Kindle and save some moola.

Would love to hear what you're reading these days. Any especially good books? Here are my favorites from the past few months*:

Nobody's Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle
A great book about female relationships, and how we need girlfriends who are there for us, through thick and thin.

Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good by Steven Garber
Excellent! Cannot recommend this highly enough. Ivan and I read this together and it's one I want to read again, slowly the next time, with a notebook and pencil at the ready to take notes.

Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon
Love the Mitford books, and this was a stand-out as we see Dooley and Lacey finally tie the knot.

The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
When I saw this marked down, I snapped it up. I loved Konigsburg's "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" and this one was just as entertaining. The book weaves together the disparate stories of four kids who make up the 6th grade Academic Bowl team. Technically children's literature, I found it quite engrossing as an adult.

*Note: I finished all of these in 2015. Of the 11 I've read so far this year, they were okay but not necessarily outstanding. The one I absolutely loved I'll share about in a future post. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Week 6: Project 365, the 2016 Edition

Had a pretty stormy weekend; the kind where you stay inside and hunker down. Which was just as well, since Ivan was still experiencing severe back pain and had to spend most of his time in bed. He found one position that was moderately comfortable and had to pretty much stay immobile. We were beginning to think it might be kidney stones. Not a fun time.

Monday, February 8

It was still a little drizzly but I walked anyway. With all the rain we got over the weekend, the river was a lot higher than normal.
The nearby bridge has meter marks, showing it was three meters high. Normally it runs at about 1/2 meter.

A dear friend went home to be with Jesus this morning. It was not unexpected, as she'd received a diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer in October and had been going downhill quickly, but it was still difficult. Our hearts go out to her husband, kids and grandkids, extended family and all those who knew and loved Donna. She will be greatly missed but it's also a blessing to know she's through with suffering and now enjoying being in the presence of the God she loved and served.

Tuesday, February 9

After the long holiday weekend, and learning that the specialist Ivan had hoped to see was on vacation until the 16th, we took the advice of our pharmacist and went to a clinic in Cordoba. Darío said they had all the equipment necessary to run any kind of test he might need. But it turns out they were running on a skeleton staff since almost all the docs were on vacation, so Ivan ended up seeing the equivalent of an ER doctor who gave him a cursory examination, declared he had pulled a muscle and sent him away. Aaarrrrgh! So frustrating!

But it was the first day Ivan didn't have that really intense sharp pain ALL the time, and it felt really good to be out of that bed so he wanted to walk a little. Right across from the clinic was the Museum of Industry and it turned out to be free, so we took a few minutes to check it out.
Didn't take long. The top left photo was taken at the door leading into the large exhibit room. There are things on either side wall that aren't shown in the photo, but not much. The top right photo is a retired air force plane (always of interest to my aviation loving husband). Lower right shows an enormous pill making machine. The sign nearby said it had been used by Arcor, one of the largest food companies in the world, and apparently also involved in the pharmaceutical industry. And finally, the lower left photo is the Popemobil (seriously, that's what the sign said... in Spanish of course). It was used by Pope John Paul II in Argentina in 1987 and again in Brazil in 1997.

The museum has quite a mixed assortment of items from different industries, but mostly automotive. We also took a quick walk around the round house outside that was designed to be able to change its orientation to the sun by rotating, but it isn't working at this time. The whole tour took less than half an hour which was just right for us on that particular day. It gave Ivan a little exercise without overdoing it.

Wednesday, February 10

Even though Ivan's been in too much pain to walk in the mornings, I've continued on my own. I know I've shown photos of this line of trees that gets pruned way back every winter so they tend to look like they're dead. But every spring that leaf out, and come summer they're a glorious burst of blooms.
Crepe Mytle 

Thursday, February 11

I haven't shared any grandkid photos lately, so it's about time, don't you think? I'm going by age, starting with the oldest.

Simon loves tot school! Tina puts together activities that keep him occupied AND learning. Win/win! He especially loves matching games and in this photo he's doing some letter matching on a Valentine's heart.

Adalyn looks very serious about her pho, doesn't she? And this was her second bowl!

Betsy's latest weekly photo. Isn't she just precious! Can't wait to hold that sweet girl and kiss her whole beautiful face!

Bonus photo! I had to share this one, because it's just so sweet. Adalyn sat patiently and let her mom give her a Jamberry mani. Matching manis -- love this photo!

Just a bit about our continuing medical saga this week...
After many, many phone calls -- seriously, does every doctor in Argentina take his vacation at the same time?!?! -- Ivan was able to find a urologist with clinic hours locally. His appointment was after 8 p.m. and he had to wait a while, so didn't get home until after 10, but at least he finally found a doctor who took the time to do a thorough examination. His conclusion: probably a bulging or herniated disk in the lumbar region. But no way to tell for sure without an MRI...

Friday, February 12

...So at 8 a.m. Ivan started making calls to the three places in Cordoba that have the equipment to do MRIs. The third one was significantly cheaper than the other two; Ivan was able to get all three tests that the doctor wanted for less than what just the MRI would have cost at either of the other two places. And they take credit cards, which was good since we didn't have that kind of cash on hand. And they were able to get him right in that morning! The other two places said it would be next week before they could fit him in.

The MRI confirmed the doctor's suspicions. Ivan has two herniated disks in the lumbar region. It was nice to finally have some answers! Ivan went back to the doctor that evening with all the test results. Until the inflammation goes down, he will continue to take Ibuprofen during the day, ice his back frequently, and go each evening for an injection (so he can sleep). Once the inflammation has died down, he'll begin seeing a physiotherapist, and thankfully we have a really good one right here in Carlos Paz.

Each day he's seeing improvement. He's still experiencing significant pain but it's not the intense sharp pain he felt ALL the time for the first week. We are grateful for each bit of progress. He's found that icing his back especially helps. Poco a poco, as they say here.

No photos of our own, but I will share a picture that made us very happy today: seeing mom the day after her surgery, looking alert and smiling!
She had a rough week, most of it spent in the hospital as they got her Coumadin levels down so she could have the surgery. An intestine had gotten kinked due to scar tissue from a previous surgery, and boy, did that kink cause problems! We're hearing that she might even get to go home Sunday.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Weeks 4 & 5: Project 365, the 2016 Edition

Saturday, January 23

Love these ladies! Marcela and her daughters came over for lunch. It was the first time we'd seen them all at one time in two years since the oldest lives in Europe and the youngest was in Canada for a year and a half.
We had build-your-own-taco-salad for lunch and homemade chocolate pudding with whipped cream for dessert. The pudding is super simple and quick to make, which is even more appealing in the summer -- no one wants to spend any more time than necessary over a hot stove! I make it in winter, too, but it's my go-to dessert for summer. I actually shared the recipe on the blog last January.

Tuesday, January 26

Had to run errands in town this morning and stopped at McDonald's for a little treat. We discovered that their vanilla soft serve ice cream is gluten free! It was such a gorgeous morning we ate it on the rooftop where they've set up tables with umbrellas.

Wednesday, January 27

I worked on a gift for a dear friend. It folds out to hold colored pencils, a notebook, and also has a zippered pouch on the end for little things like a pencil sharpener, small ruler and eraser. Her favorite color is yellow and I've had this fabric forever and it's gone into multiple projects, including a shower curtain we used for years. I bought yards of it the first time I went to the quilt show in Paducah, back in 1989, and I still have some left!

Thursday, January 28

Finally made some seeded gluten free bread, using this recipe. One change I made was to add cooked quinoa. I liked the added texture and heartiness, but will need to reduce some of the liquid next time to account for the added moisture of the quinoa. The recipe calls for making the bread in a cast iron skillet, which I did, but I think that's spreading the dough too thin so it rose less than 2 inches. Next time I'm going to use a pan with a smaller footprint and see if that helps. I'll also let it rise longer.

But overall we were pleased with this first attempt. We used the bread for several kinds of sandwiches, plain and grilled, and it worked out well.

Friday, January 29

We traveled to Venado Tuerto to visit friends, stopping on the way to have lunch with other friends in Sta. Rosa. He owns a tire store, and was getting ready to make a delivery to another store he supplies.

Saturday, January 30

Our friends in Venado Tuerto have a lovely home, and a gorgeous yard. We stayed in the study/guest house you spy in the lower right hand photo, that sits in the corner of the property.

That evening we spent a couple of hours with Dora, a contemporary of Ivan's mom. In fact, the Nuñez' cared for dad and mom's house in Sta. Rosa for those many years when there were no Hoyts in Argentina. The two families go way back. Although she's had six operatons since she broke her hip over a year ago and is now in a wheelchair, she's in good spirits and continues to paint each day in the bedroom she turned into an art studio.

Sunday, January 31

We enjoyed a wonderful asado with Jorge and Pola and mutual friends from Tancacha, Gabriel and Silvia. Gabriel is one of the elders in the Grace Brethren Church in Tancacha and is also heading up the task force regarding stewardship for the national church in Argentina.
The meat you see on charcoal warming rack was the first of many; the meat just kept coming and coming! The time together was such an encouragement and blessing.

Wednesday, February 3

I put together a little collage of our kitchen. I took these not too long ago.
It is rarely this clean in real life.

Friday, February 5

Woke up to a thunderstorm and it has rained most of the day.
Perfect weather for soup! I happened to cook a chicken in the crockpot yesterday so had ingredients on hand for a yummy chicken tortilla soup that we topped with chopped avocado, shredded cheese, fresh salsa, and homemade plain yogurt for lunch. This is a picture of the soup before we added the tortilla chips.

It's been a rough week. I wasn't feeling very good at the beginning of the week, and then Ivan put his back out three days ago, about as bad as it gets. This evening he'll go just before the pharmacy closes for an injection, and hopefully that will allow him to sleep. Plus he's had hiccups almost constantly since about 11 a.m. today. Praying he gets some relief soon!