Tuesday, August 30, 2011
We thought perhaps they were lost - but now they're found!
We thought perhaps they were stolen - but now they're here!
We thought maybe they were just delayed in coming - apparently so...two months delayed in one case!
But God is faithful and has answered our prayers. In perfect timing, might I add!
Not just one...
Not just two...
but FIVE all in one day!
AND a letter from a sweet younger sister in the Lord!
Three of the packages were from my family (thanks a million Mom and Dad!) containing a re-supply of the vitamins and natural immune-boosting supplements that I am going through pretty fast AND a new batch of ProActiv which I am desperately in need of as the dusty Bolivian air has wrought havoc on my skin.
Two of the packages were from a friend, who, when she saw our handy-dandy toothbrush system in one of the blog posts, wanted to contribute travel sized toothpaste to our cause. It just so happened that, a couple days after she emailed me about this, the ministry she works for (Care Net Pregnancy Center) where I also used to work, received a generous donation of travel sized toothpaste...that they couldn't use. [smile]
Guess who my friend thought of instead?
The Bible says, "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."
In that case, today, I've been basking in Niagra Falls.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Banana bread is one of my all-time favorite goodies to bake! This recipe, our family standard, has been a hit with tías and niños alike here at Casa de Amor House II. Yesterday, a little buddy and I made a double batch and it was delicious as usual! Just wanted to share the yumminess with you...
1/2 c. oil
1 cup brown sugar or honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. ripe bananas (or regular bananas cooked on the stove top)
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350. Mix wet ingredients in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients. Pour into greased muffin tins or bread pan(s). Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes. Bread will take 45 minutes-1 hour usually. A knife inserted in the middle should come out clean when done.
Let cool and devour!
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
As I recover from another round of stomach trouble, I took some time during my restful morning today to read Ann Voskamp's blog. Having just finished her book, One Thousand Gifts, and longing for more of the beautiful, poignant, inspirational writing she has shared with the world, I am delighted to find that her blog is like a continuation of the book...so there's really no need to close the cover and stop reading after all! The pages continue at: aholyexperience.com and are even complete with lovely photography and additional, helpful links.
I was especially blessed by this post giving inspiration for a cozy, history-filled, beautified homeschool room and this post about simplified homeschooling. I know I'm not a homeschooling mom yet...but it never hurts to store up thoughts for the future! :)
One more thing.
This video, a feast for the eyes and for the soul, as it describes the whole message of the book, is a must-watch.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Today, the cooking adventures continued! I must say, for a girl who's never been particularly keen on spending time in the kitchen except when absolutely necessary, I have discovered a newly awakened joy in food preparation lately. Is it the desire to create a taste of home? The motivation for healthy goodies? The outlet cooking and baking provides for creativity? Perhaps all of the above.
This morning, as I (slowly) woke up and thought through the day's forthcoming activities, I felt a strong desire to take on the cooking duties for the day, thus freeing my partner tía for other responsibilities and making sure leftovers would get used effectively!
Considering that our leftovers consisted of a bowlful of pasta not quite generous enough to feed 16, pizza seemed like a logical (and not too complicated) lunch to prepare with it. I also knew we would need dinner, and since we are trying to feed the children something fairly light for supper, French toast casserole sounded like a new, tasty idea to try.
Having only one can of pizza sauce in the pantry, I got online to search for a sauce-from-scratch recipe. I was quite amused to find that the first three recipes I clicked on called for canned tomato products. Doesn't anybody else consider the words "from scratch" to mean from real, whole tomatoes? Finally, I found a recipe that looked promising and possible. Next, I searched for French Toast Casserole and quickly came upon a recipe using simple ingredients that even I have here in Cochabamaba.
Armed with these new recipes as well as one for our family's favorite pizza crust, I headed downstairs to begin operation pizza deluxe.
Next, it was time to make the crust and sauté the veggies. [Note to self: when making anything with yeast, always remember to use warm water. It makes a difference! Okay, so maybe my crust didn't rise like it usually does at home, but it was still tasty.] On our veggie pizza, I included carrots, onions, garlic, bell peppers, spinach, cheese, and some leftover chicken I discovered in the fridge. Now that's what I call supreme! :)
I also discovered half a pineapple in the refrigerator desperately needing to be eaten, so it was only logical to make our second pizza a Hawaiian one. Let's here it for using up leftovers! With a personal stash of lunch meat ham thawed from the freezer, pizza number two was set to go!
In the middle of pizza making, the children needed their mid-morning snack, so I quickly whipped up a batch of stove-popped-popcorn. As you can see, my morning of cooking was turning the kitchen into quite the disaster-zone! I usually like to clean as I go, but alas! we had no running water inside for most of the day. That might help explain why it seemed like I used almost every dish in the house for my culinary adventures!
I got a kick out of watching the children's delight upon discovering that one of their pizzas actually had pineapple on it! Apparently, they've never seen that kind before. And the ham was a special treat!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I had a dinner casserole to prepare and a mountain of dishes to tackle!
If you would like to know the secret to cleaning a kitchen-turned-disaster-zone with no indoor running water, let me know. Believe it or not, it is possible! :) Welcome to missionary life.
Here are the recipes of the day:
Homemade Tomato Sauce from Scratch:
(makes enough for 1 large pizza)
- 5 cups bread cubes
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup white sugar, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly butter an 8x8 inch baking pan.
- Line bottom of pan with bread cubes. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt and vanilla. pour egg mixture over bread. Dot with margarine; let stand for 10 minutes.
- Combine remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Bake in preheated oven about 45 to 50 minutes, until top is golden.
[Katrina's Notes: I was not here for dinner, but from what I heard, this recipe was a winner with the children! They kept asking for more! We will definitely be making it again, only I think I might triple the batch next time instead of just doubling it. Oh-so-easy!]
Friday, August 19, 2011
I was elated when I encountered what I thought to be whole wheat flour at the supermarket up the road. Based on my past experiences, such a discovery is pretty rare in foreign countries.
Alas, when I opened the bag yesterday to do some baking, much to my dismay, I learned that it was white flour after all! Apparently, flour labeled as "wheat" simply refers to the fact that it is derived from the wheat plant, thus distinguishing it from yucca flour or some other type.
Oh well. Even though I can't bake with wheat flour, I am grateful I can still buy whole wheat bread!
On another note, I have been looking forward to baking some corn muffins with a favorite recipe from home, so I picked up a box of cornmeal the last time I went grocery shopping.
At least, it was supposed to be cornmeal.
It was located on the baking aisle and came in a yellow box just like the kind at Walmart! There was an unfamiliar Spanish word on the box, but I assumed it referred to the "meal" part of cornmeal.
Yes, it's true. I now have an entire box of cornstarch in my baking cupboard that I have no idea what to do with! Historically, I believe cornstarch has been used to relieve diaper rashes, but considering that we have no babies living here at present, I think I'll be going on the hunt for recipes instead. (If you have any favorite baked goods that call for cornstarch, please let me know! I have plenty of it.)
I have to admit, those corny-carrot muffins I so looked forward to making just didn't taste the same made with white flour (instead of wheat) and lacking cornmeal. They were a bit on the bland side, so in an attempt to redeem them, I slathered butter and honey atop their golden peaks. Much to my delight, my hungry brood of youngsters scarfed them down with relish. They even complimented my baking skills and exclaimed with glee that I was a real cook!
I had to smile. :)
My last cooking adventure about which to tell you didn't even really involve cooking. Today, we celebrated the birthday of one of the staff tías, and by default, I was elected to decorate her cake, despite my protests that I'm not very talented in this department. Nevertheless, with the help of some fluffy white icing and cheerful candies, my humble decorating attempts brought a smile to our dear Tía Anita's face, so I was satisfied.
The not-so-corny-carrot muffins can be seen pictured in the top right-hand corner. :)
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Lately, I have been learning that when you are a little boy...
...nap-time really means an opportunity to build a fort out of blankets draped all around the bunk bed.
...in the process of putting away clean dishes, bowls were meant to be worn on the head and pot lids become steering wheels of invisible vehicles complete with sound effects.
...sticks = swords.
...getting ready for bed does not mean putting on pajamas and brushing teeth; it means wrestling on the ground and beating each other up with stuffed animals.
...bandanas were meant to be worn around the waist, knees, elbows, and wrists as you assume karate poses and try to look tough.
...old bicycle wheels transform themselves into mushrooms as you cook up delightful delicacies in the backyard after being inspired by a movie about a rat who learned to cook. (In which case, sticks equal cooking knives used to help with food preparation.)
..."helping" do laundry really means playing with the hose as you use it to fill up the washing machine and "helping" do dishes really means playing with running tap water as the dishes to be rinsed stack up all around you.
...burping is hilarious.
...food was not always meant to be eaten; sometimes throwing it across the table at your neighbor is preferable.
...bungee cords make great swings when attached to tree limbs at either end.
...the most fun activity to do at the local park is play in the ditch and throw mud at each other.
...taking a shower means rubbing soap over your belly and legs and then declaring yourself "clean."
...bedtime hugs and kisses are still desired as you're tucked in for the night.
...the world is a wonderful place full of adventures waiting to happen.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Perhaps some of you have heard of a recently released Christian film entitled Divided. Well, today I discovered that it is available for viewing online for free until September. I just finished watching it and was thoroughly impressed by the content and the quality! This film contains a stirring message desperately needed by our generation! As it explores the controversial topic of the modern youth ministry, it's message is delivered graciously with conviction and thorough research to support it. Please take an hour from your day to watch Divided, or turn it into a family movie night. I feel certain you will be blessed by the way the Lord's Word is exalted, and perhaps challenged to re-think youth ministry!
(You can click on the "X" shape in the bottom right-hand corner to blow it up.)
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Sometimes sweet and sometimes sassy, Little Miss S is growing up...and learning how to grow in the Lord's ways. It's hard to believe she turns 7 today! She seems so much older at times. We celebrated her birthday by going out to dinner last night with her younger siblings. It was a fun time!
And delicious, might I add. :) I had the best hamburger - tasted like a Fudrucker's with a homemade bun. Afterward, we all split a small brownie and chocolate ice cream sundae.
And delicious, might I add. :) I had the best hamburger - tasted like a Fudrucker's with a homemade bun. Afterward, we all split a small brownie and chocolate ice cream sundae.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
I just received this video today, compliments of my sister and brother-in-law in Ukraine. It showcases my niece's latest antics and accomplishments. What she lacks in hair, she certainly makes up for in smiles and wrinkly-nose cuteness!
Friday, August 12, 2011
"Holding my head in my hands, I ask it honest before God and children and my daily mess: "Can we really expect joy all the time?"
I know it well after a day smattered with rowdiness and worn a bit ragged with bickering, that I may feel disappointment and the despair may flood high, but to give thanks is an action and rejoice is a verb and these are not mere pulsing emotions. While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving.
True saints know that the place where all joy comes from is far deeper than that of feelings; joy comes from the place of the very presence of God. Joy is God and God is joy and joy doesn't negate all other emotions - joy transcends all other emotions.
Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!
...Thankfully, God never gives what is deserved, but instead, God graciously, passionately offers gifts, our bodies, our time, our very lives. God does not give us rights but imparts responsibilities - response-abilities - inviting us to respond to His love-gifts."
- Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
August 4, 2011
146. A view of the starry night sky that nearly took my breath away
147. A soft and sweet newborn to cuddle
148. Mrs. Baldwin's colloidal silver gel to put on chapped hands and knuckles
149. God's provision of eggs in a baking pinch!
150. Children's artwork made with love
151. The eyes of a child - windows to the soul
152. Brownies that turned out to be a sweet success!
153. The joy of looking forward to making well-loved recipes from home
154. The discovery of whole wheat flour at the grocery store
155. Watching formerly abandoned/street children play "house"
August 9, 2011
156. Catching up with Mom on the phone yesterday after three weeks of no communication
157. Hearing of God's wondrous works in China!
158. Orange sunrise muffins fresh out of the oven
159. The delight of giving tastes of yummies to eager little people
160. Beholding gratefulness
161. New friends at church
162. Cool breezes
163. Mountainside beauty
164. The rich, velvety pink and purple colors of a bougainvillea in full bloom
165. God's patience with me
166. Spiritual discussions with the older children after watching the Train film at a church fellowship
167. Volleyball under the palm trees
168. The coming of travel sized toothpaste from God's provision at Care Net!
169. A taxi driver's extra kindness and care for our crew during night travel
170. Encouraging phone conversations with two very good friends
171. My niece's adorable smiles
172. A Spanish book from which to study
173. Granola bars baked with Sara
174. Getting the stomach bug on my days off!
175. A return to health
176. Chatterboxes whose constant prattle reminds me to be grateful that they can at least speak
177. Fond memories from RGBI as another school year starts
August 11, 2011
179. Baby dimples
180. Newborn coos
181. Green salad sprinkled with a confetti of colorful veggies
182. Hymn singing to sick babies
183. The discovery of a favorite cook book at House 1!
184. My Ergo baby carrier
186. Babies sleeping peacefully
187. Toddling steps and outstretched arms
188. Provision of a ride home with Tío David
189. New light bulbs
190. The smell of freshly baked bread
191. Warm sunshine
192. Gifts of snack foods in the grimy fists of children eager to share
193. Flowers worn in the hair
194. Refreshing cool patches in shadows cast by towering trees - a taste of forest!
195. Twittering birds in the trees
196. Childlike fascination with a small broken bird's egg
197. An obedience lesson learned
198. Heaping bowl-fulls of fluff white popcorn
199. Water from a container outside to supplement our lack of water in the house today
200. Sweet sleep
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Casa de Amor's newest arrival
Cute and snuggly!
Praising God today for my Ergo Baby Carrier that got a lot of use as I cared for the four little sickies in the isolation room. They were happy for several hours and then all decided to cry at the same time...for a long time. I found that by putting one in the Ergo and holding the other, two out of four were happy!
Pacifiers...another wonderful invention. This little guy finally quieted down right before I left for the night.
And she slept peacefully after being cradled in the Ergo.
Whew! What a day!
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
This morning it was my turn to bring a refreshment to the ladies' Bible study I am a part of. I thought about baking our family's favorite banana muffin recipe, but the hostess had baked banana bread two weeks ago, so I thought something a little different would be preferable. However, I love muffins and was excited to try out the new muffin tins I had purchased at the local supermarket! Orange muffins sounded like a winning idea, especially considering that we always have oranges on hand here at the house, so I went on the hunt for an orange muffin recipe on that trusty website, allrecipes.com.
As you can imagine, there were a multitude of recipe ideas listed. After reading ingredient lists and reviews, I settled on an old Mennonite recipe. It seemed to get the best reviews and it contained ingredients I could easily find here in Bolivia. Before making it for the ladies' Bible study, I whipped up a trial batch this past weekend for the children and tías here. The muffins were DELICIOUS and a big hit with all my eager taste-testers!
Since the recipe is so yummy and can be made quite healthfully, I thought it was worth sharing with you all!
Orange Sunrise Muffins
2 cups flour (I used white, but read a review saying wheat works too...looking forward to trying that!)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar (I used honey with great success)
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
2/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup melted butter
Optional Topping (definitely delicious!):
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (I used white sugar since we don't have brown sugar here)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine wet ingredients and orange peel. Dump flour on top and add dry ingredients. Mix everything together thoroughly. Pour into greased muffin tins or baking cups. Blend together topping and sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
I actually baked the muffins and then added the topping. The first time it worked beautifully. This morning though, as the pictures show, I couldn't get it quite right and even after three attempts, it turned out lumpy. So I think next time, I'll do as the recipe says and put it on before baking. :)
Hope you all enjoy these as much as we did!
Sunday, August 7, 2011
"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord."
~ Lamentations 3:22-26
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Today is the 186th celebration of Bolivia's independence. In honor of the occasion, a few of our children participated in traditional folk dance presentations at their school this past week. They did a great job, and it was fun to watch them look so Bolivian! :)
Friday, August 5, 2011
"What is this that I feel sitting here, coursing through me relentless, hot, ardent? I have to seek God beauty. Because isn't my internal circuitry wired to seek out something worthy of worship? Every moment I live, I live bowed to something. And if I don't see God, I'll bow down before something else."
"God is present in all the moments, but I do not deify the wind in the pines, the snow falling on hemlocks, the moon over harvested what. Pantheism, seeing the natural world as divine, is a very different thing than seeing divine God present in all things. I know it here kneeling, the twilight so still: nature is not God but God revealing the weight of Himself, all His glory, through the looking glass of nature."
"Why am I out in this evening field, lying under moon? Is eucharisteo opening the eyes wider, the heart deeper? Is this paradox - that giving thanks for what is, creates an appetite for more - not for more things, but for seeking more of God to give more glory?"
"I look down at the stained skirt of my apron, washed in moonlight. And I think I can stand here? I think I can brave this Beauty? Not an empty, tinny beauty but a Fierce Beauty, Flaming Fire who burns through the thick masks and leaves the soul disrobed. I am naked and I am right ashamed. I know how monstrously inhumane I can be. Raging at children for minor wrongdoings while I am the one defiling the moment with sinful anger. Hoarding possessions while others die of starvation. Entertaining the mind with trivial pretties when I haven't bowed the head and heart in a prayer longer than five minutes in a week. My tongue has had a razor edge and my eyes have rolled haughty and my neck has been stiff and graceless and I have lived the filth ugly, an idolater, a glutton, and a grace thief who hasn't had time for the thanks.
'God blesses those whose hearts are pure for they will see God.' (Matthew 5:8) What am I doing out here? I am filthy rags. Is sight possible? I've only got one pure thing to wear and it's got Made By Jesus on the tag and the purity of Jesus lies over a heart and His transparency burns the cataracts off the soul. The only way to see God manifested in the world around is with the eyes of Jesus within."
"I was lost but know I am found again, Jesus, and I know what I want: to see deeply, to thank deeply, to feel joy deeply. How my eyes see, perspective, is my key to enter into His gates. I can only do so with thanksgiving. If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can't I give thanks for anything? And if I can give thanks for the good things, the hard things, the absolute everything, I can enter the gates to glory. Living in His presence is fullness of joy - and seeing shows the way in."
By Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts