5 Things

I saw this on another blog and thought it looked like fun.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned about cooking in 2010:

  1. Just about anything CAN be made at home. I know there’s at least one of you on the other side going, “Duh.” But, honestly, I have figured out how to reproduce some of our favorite restaurant or boxed/canned meals from the States, here in South America, on a limited budget with somewhat limited and/or different resources.
  2. Ingenuity is key. I don’t always…scratch that… hardly ever do I have all the right ingredients to make pretty much anything. But, coming up with alternatives is no longer as difficult as it once was and it makes cooking even more exciting.
  3. Fresh vegetables are so much better than frozen or canned. They were so expensive in the States, I think I always limited myself to potatoes, onions, and lettuce. Honestly! But, now, since they’re affordable, I don’t know how I ever got along using frozen veggies.
  4. It may take time, but the end result is worth it. Here, it seems like nothing is as simple as opening a box or calling for take-out. But, all the nights I really, really wanted to just get take-out and be done with it, but took the time to cook, have not been wasted.
  5. Do not take luxuries for granted. Things like cream cheese are available here, but they’re SO expensive that it truly IS a luxury. So, we use them wisely and with great love and care. ๐Ÿ™‚ Two blocks of cream cheese went into a bunch of different meals, as well as breakfast. You just tend to use it more scarcely and with more planning than when it’s readily available.

Those are my 5. I’ve learned a lot about cooking this year – or, really, since moving here. I enjoy it more than I ever did before. My sister and I used to be SO much alike, but as we’ve gotten older, we’ve come to realize that she would rather sand and paint a room than cook and I would rather peel my fingernails off than paint a room, but I LOVE cooking. My mom has already decided that when we get back to the States, I’m doing most of the cooking since we’ll be living with them again for awhile. I’d love to take on most, if not all, of Christmas dinner or something fancy for my entire family. I think that’d be fun, whereas I can already see my sister pulling her hair out one by one if I even hint at asking her to help. ๐Ÿ™‚

Next month is our birthday (Brian and I share a birthday, just in case you’re new to this blog). Our tradition had always been a new cheesecake recipe every year. But, I wasn’t able to do it last year. So, this year, I’ve already been scouring the internet for cheesecake recipes that are do-able here. If you happen to have one that you LOVE – pass it along! I’m trying to come up with a menu for our birthday dinner, but I haven’t really discovered anything that goes, “That’s the one!” We don’t have any concrete plans for our birthday yet, but I think it would be fun to stay in and do something at home this year. But we’ll see. I don’t really care. As long as I get ONE card and ONE gift… I should be okay. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m still such a child; I’d love a giant surprise birthday party, but since I have to share it with my husband, that just wouldn’t be fair to him. And that’s okay. I suppose. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, what 5 things have YOU learned about cooking this year or am I the only one who cares about something like this??

Something… Anything…

I really feel like writing, but I’m not so sure I have much to say. Which probably means this will be really long. Here’s the random, nonsensical thinking of the day for this bleak, chilly Thursday…

~~~One of the kids I used to babysit is in the Marines now. I’m always surprised at how much stuff he can put on facebook considering he’s in the U.S. military. I thought most of that was supposed to be like confidential or something?

~~~I bought new yeast a few weeks ago in anticipation of running out of what I had. I used it last night for the first time. My pizza DID NOT rise. Pathetic. But, I don’t know if that means: the yeast is old, the yeast is no good, my water was too hot, my water wasn’t warm enough, it wasn’t warm enough in the house to rise, I used too much yeast (I had to measure it), or I used too little. I have no idea. I wanted to make like a nice, “real”, homemade meal (as in, NOT pizza or something fast – like an honest-to-goodness homemade meal) on Saturday, including this new roll recipe I found. But now I’m wondering if the rolls will rise or will I be wasting my time? Suggestions?

~~~Tomorrow is the last day of school before a 2-week long break. I don’t know who needs it more, me or the kids.

~~~I’m so ready to meet my baby girl. As much as I’m genuinely enjoying being pregnant these days, Brian and I just can’t keep from wishing it would just be over so we could hold her! I know it’ll come soon enough, but with this being our first, I’m excited.

~~~The study on “Ruth” that I’m going through with my friends is amazing. I’m so thankful for it. It’s just what I needed for this time in my life. Now if only I would buckle down and finish this week’s homework…

~~~Our car is still not done. I cry when I truly think about it. We bought it in April. Granted, it needed a lot of work and the mechanic is doing it at a great price, as long as he can take his time. But, seriously. Since April? And then we find out two weeks ago that he didn’t even know Brian was married, much less that I’m 7 1/2mos pregnant and we NEED the car. Brian’s heading down there today, we hope, to check on it and see how much longer. I hope not much longer. It’d be so nice to be able to go to church and to the store on our own time.

~~~A new phase of culture stress has set in. I’m looking forward to two weeks of no school and a week with just Brian, no schedule, for so many reasons I can’t even begin to count them. It’d be great to have the car so we could go do some baby furniture shopping, too, but I don’t know if that will happen. Regardless, for the first time in who knows how long, Brian and I will get some time to ourselves, with no schedule and no interruptions, before the baby arrives. I’m literally dreaming of that week. Between living with parents for almost two years and then living on a campus where Brian is at everyone’s beck and call 24/7, I’m ready for some time alone with him. A little mini-vacation to recharge and regroup and feel like I can finish out this year strong instead of barely alive.

~~~I translated from English to Spanish yesterday for a women’s brunch for the first time ever. I was intimidated and nervous, but had to keep reminding myself that I talk on a regular basis, in Spanish, with everyone in that room so they all know me and my Spanish-isms and understand me, so it should be okay. Was it, though? I have no idea.

~~~It is super cold today. This is one of those days where I just wanna wrap up in a blanket and my big fluffy robe and read all day, drinking hot chocolate. But alas. That will not happen. Maybe Saturday. We have actually had some sun lately and WOW does that feel amazing. Yesterday felt like spring. I heard from a friend, though, that this has been the coldest winter on record for Lima and she gave some crazy high number of people that have died just from the cold this year. And honestly, it really doesn’t get below 55! But, when there’s drizzly rain, no insulation, no heat, and some of the poor people don’t really have roofs or very sturdy houses – you can see how the cold would be a big issue.

~~~I’m counseling one of the girls that came down with the group about her future. I’m so excited that this trip has really impacted her heart like this. I remember being in her shoes almost 10 years ago. This was our prayer for the group – that at least one would have their life flipped upside down because of the trip. I don’t know where she’ll end up, but it’s exciting to see the possibilities.

~~~A girl from Germany is arriving on Sept 3 and will be here for 11 months. She’s going to be helping in the school as one of the things she’ll be doing. I’m praying this goes well. She’s going to kind of take over during my “maternity leave” and that makes me very relieved. I just hope we can work together. I have some work to do during break to revamp the school system and fit some of her activities in. Fun Fun!

I think that covers it. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my husband? I don’t know what I’d do without him these days.


We haven’t been back to the States for a year and a half now. Honestly, that’s not that bad. We are scheduled for a furlough this coming December, coming back early March. Short, sweet, and to the point. That’s all we need. Anymore time and you have to readapt, find someone to take your place (which requires training them beforehand), find housing, find a vehicle, etc etc etc. So, three months gives us just enough time to visit family, friends, supporters, and churches, and be back before I start school again. Perfect.

In some ways, I’m not looking forward to going back. I rather enjoyed Christmas last year with just my husband. I like summer in Peru. I consider this home. My house is comfortable and cozy and mine. My baby will be acclimating to her new surroundings. This is home. And you all know I’m not a big fan of traveling.

But then… I’m starting to think and dream more about going back for a visit. There definitely are things I’m looking forward to. So, here’s my list of things I really am dreaming about for when we return for our short visit:

  • Obviously, #1 is introducing everyone to our baby girl!
  • Snow and cozy fireplaces
  • The scent of home. Smells are one of the biggest triggers of memory and I love how my mom’s house smells. She always has candles burning during Christmastime, plus she bakes like incessantly (especially when she knows the whole family will be home shortly). Then, there’s the wood smoke from their fireplace. My dad’s after shave. And just… the scent of home.
  • Panera Bread. God and I used to have coffee dates there on a monthly basis and I fully intend on having at least one when we’re home. Hopefully sans baby and husband – just me and God and my asiago cheese bagel with low-fat, sundried tomato basil cream cheese!
  • Subway. You’ll quickly notice a lot of the things I’m looking forward to are restaurants! Subway is one restaurant that Brian and I always agree on. I actually saw a Subway commercial on TV the other night and about DIED. Most of our channels come from Argentina or Mexico, but it made me wonder – could it be?? Is one coming to Peru?? One can only dream.
  • Red Robin. One of our Peruvian co-workers is coming to the States for awhile in December as well and we’ve already promised him a trip to Red Robin for REAL burgers and bottomless fries!
  • Two more restaurants and then I’m done — Old Country Buffet — because this is one of the few restaurants my mom, who has a strict diet, can eat at, so it’s always, always, always a family thing.
  • Last one – Sheetz. I know it’s not a restaurant. But, it’s my favorite convenience store and it’s just down the hill from our church. We stop there frequently on the way to… anywhere. Great coffee, food made to order – anything from vegetarian wraps to chili cheese fries – and just one of those places that reminds me of life before the mission field. Lunch Sunday afternoons, a quick stop on the way home from a friend’s house because I’m cold and want something warm to drink, even dates with Brian before we were married would end up at Sheetz for snacks and drinks.
  • Road tripping. No, I’m not a big fan of bus or plane travel, but car travel, with my husband? Love it. We love making road trips together. L-O-V-E IT. We have our route down pat from PA to SD, with our favorite places to stop and favorite places to see. I love stocking up the mP3 player with music and my wonderful books on Cd (that drive Brian nuts, but hey if I’m gonna do half the driving, I’m going to listen to what will keep me awake!). We stock the car with random snacks and drinks and pillows and blankets and then just cruise. Normally starting at 4am (which may change with the baby this time!). So fun. This trip back, we’ll be driving to VT, WI, and SD and everywhere in between.
  • Christmas with my family. There’s not much on this earth that compares to having Christmas with the family.
  • South Dakota with friends. Two new babies will have arrived by then and I can’t wait to meet them, plus my niece and nephew that we’ve never met. Plus spend time with some of our closest friends in their cozy coffee shop. And eat real steak.
  • Going to church Sunday mornings…. so cozy and homey and welcoming and just… wonderful.
  • Meeting my other niece for the first time (brother’s daughter) and getting cousin pictures done!

I could probably keep going. So, I guess the good outweighs the bad. With how fast the first half of this year has gone, I’m positive the last half will fly… especially with the baby coming in just TWO MONTHS. We’ll be picking up the crib the beginning of August and then we’ll start organizing the room, I’m sure. Hopefully the beginning of August we’ll get the dresser as well and then I can start washing and putting away clothes. One of my friends, who’s also pregnant and due soon, keeps talking about being sure she’s “sitting right” so the baby is in the right position. Oh goodness. I have enough to worry about without making sure I’m constantly in the right sitting position for my baby! She’ll come out however she wants and I’m not going to add THAT to everything else I need to think about! But anyway.

Two months til baby. Five months til the States. It’s going to FLY.

Moving Forward.

WOW. This week has just flown by. I honestly can’t remember what my last post was even about. It’s been a tough, tough week in many different, varied aspects. And yet, it was a great week at the same time. I think maybe that’s why it was such a rough week; too many emotions for this pregnant woman.

The team arrived technically Friday morning, a week ago – the 2nd. Brian and I did their orientation Friday morning. It was really fun talking with them, leading them around the campus and our little town, and seeing their reaction to this new world. They jumped into action Friday afternoon and got a ton of work done. Their task was to take down a pre-fab building at a neighbor’s, then transport it here, and rebuild it. Brian thought it would take most of the week. But, they tore down the entire buildingย their first day! Brian was so excited.

The weekend was filled with ministry, then they went back to work on Monday. I had fun having two of the girls in my afternoon classes every day helping out. I was most excited about it because I got to see if my little girls are genuinely understanding English or not and they’re doing much better than I thought they were, which is exciting.

We had the group over Tuesday night for dinner. While Brian and the boys went to town to get dinner, I got to talk to the (very tired) girls. It was nice getting to know them and having them get to know me. Even though this is our sending church, we didn’t have a lot of interaction with the teens, so we didn’t really know them. After dinner, Brian and I shared our testimonies. It’s been awhile since I’ve shared my entire testimony. I think I took a long time. I went into detail because I felt like a lot of it was important, especially when talking to teenagers. It was only towards the end that I realized so much of my testimony includes my father. I never realized that before. But honestly, God really used my father in my life, even when we didn’t really get along. At all. I still needed him and he still really impacted my life.

Immediately after dinner, I felt funny. I couldn’t figure out why, but I thought it was just being really tired. Wrong. Woke up violently ill Tuesday night. WOW. Been probably a few years since I’ve been sick that bad. Honestly. I mean, I’m sick a lot, but this was like violent, painful ill. I was surprised at how quickly it passed because by Wednesday evening, I was really starting to feel quite a bit better. I took Thursday off from school as well, though, just because I was utterly exhausted and sore like you would not believe. Plus, I knew I would be busy Thursday night with chapel and a surprise birthday party for two of the team members. We found out Wednesday morning that one other girl had been sick all night as well. Then another one got sick. Then another. Praise the Lord, only three of them got sick and only one was actually more sick than I was (even though at the time that seemed impossible!). I was terrified it was going to spread through the entire team, but it hasn’t! Praise God.

Regardless, the team got tons done – miles more than Brian had planned on. They have expressed to us time and again how much they’ve loved their time here. The three male leaders have already figured out what they’d like to do the next time they come! We have one of the leaders who is interested in teaching in the Bible school. So cool. After all my worry… things turned out wonderful.

I’m so glad the team got to keep going. As soon as my flu/food poisoning/whatever it was passed, I got a cold. I haven’t gotten an actual cold since I got here either, so this whole week was rather depressing. I made it to class Friday, but everybody kept telling me I should’ve just stayed in bed another day. Saturday, I stayed home all day and felt just awful, but today wasn’t so bad. Tonight I feel it coming on again, but oh well.

We so completely enjoyed having the team here, I can’t even express it. We had a wonderful time getting to know them and we were so incredibly impressed with how they just jumped into activities whole-heartedly. They came well-prepared and excited to do ministry. They went out of their comfort zone so many times, from food to Spanish music to crazy games and mime make-up. So. Proud. Of. Them. We just pray that this truly impacts their lives for the future.

In the midst of all that good, I had a rough week mentally. Getting sick two weeks ago was bad enough, but getting sick twice in one week – with two different things – two weeks later?? It really did a toll on me mentally. A whole slew of other things happened that just really got me down. I don’t want to go into it all because I really just need to not dwell on it all for awhile, but honestly, I think Satan just took my mind and played yo-yo with it this week. I rarely – and I mean RARELY, if EVER – want to go back to the States permanently. And this week, that’s all I could think about. Just to be honest. It was a rough, long week. I stayed home yesterday from the street ministry and while I did dishes, I prayed. Halfway through, I realized I was crying so hard I couldn’t see a thing. When Brian got home, I cried some more. We talked through an issue we had this week and that sincerely helped. By evening, I was feeling much more put together, in control, and positive. I still have some things to work through and I don’t think God is done with me yet. But, the dark cloud of serious depression is finally lifting and I don’t feel quite so, well, depressed.

I’m going through a new Bible study with my friends and it talks about “weeping forward.” I feel like that’s where I’m at right now. Weeping forward – it may be rough to keep going, but crying as you keep going is much better than just standing still and definitely better than going backwards.

So. Life is just never boring, I guess. Where God is working hard – like this week with the group doing so much work and things going so well – Satan will work harder. Boy is that obvious. Time to leave it behind and go forward, though.

So here we go.

July 2010
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