Food.

One of the things I wanted to blog more about is food. I have become a closet foodie… not a very good one, but I like to pretend I’m good at it. I certainly enjoy cooking and trying new things! I’d sure weigh a lot less if food wasn’t so darn good! 🙂

This weekend I made granola. In fact when I’m done on here, I’m going to go make more. I found the recipe on Pinterest back in Peru and tried making it then. But, I didn’t have honey and the oats must’ve been different because it just plain didn’t work. It was very sugary and didn’t have the “granola” consistency I was looking for. I made it last night again with different oats and honey and it worked! It’s so good and I don’t feel bad eating it because it’s full of protein. It’s very simple:

2Tbsp creamy peanut butter

2Tbsp honey

Melt them together in the microwave

Add in some cinnamon and vanilla extract (like 1/4tsp each)

Mix in 1c of quick-cooking oats

Back at 350F for about 10min or until it begins to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool before eating. It gets nice and crunchy.

So good!!

In Peru, we went out to lunch every Sunday after church. It was convenient, yummy, and cheap to get Chinese as we zipped home. Here, going out for lunch on Sundays might be convenient and yummy, but it’s definitely not cheap. So, I’ve been trying to come up with quick lunches for when we get home that’s not just sandwiches. Last week I used a crockpot – something I haven’t done in like six years. I put in

a big bone-in chicken breast, some cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, potatoes, and broccoli, with lots of seasonings. Got home, turned the broth into a gravy on the stove, and baked up some canned biscuits to go underneath of it all –

and voila – wonderful lunch that even Brian said, “I’d rather have this than Subway!” (that’s huge!)

This week, we did a taco dip. I put the rest of a can of refried beans (something we seriously missed in Peru!!) on the bottom of an 8×8 and topped it with ground turkey that I browned up last night. I mixed up some taco seasoning and put it in an empty oregano shaker, so the meat tasted like taco meat without the need of a seasoning packet (so much more convenient!). I refrigerated that overnight. When we got home, I put salsa and cheese on top and threw it under the broiler while I cooked Elena’s hot dogs and shredded cabbage. Funny story about the cabbage: Brian was sent to buy a head of lettuce and came home with cabbage. When I asked him why he bought cabbage instead of lettuce, he said it looked like a really pretty head of lettuce and was way cheaper – he had no idea it was cabbage! But, it has a very mild flavor and has lasted us about two weeks and it cost us just pennies! So it worked out just fine!

Anyway – after broiling the cheese (the whole thing didn’t get hot, but we were okay with that), I topped it with sour cream, tomatoes, and shredded cabbage, and we ate it with tortilla chips. Not a new recipe; just something cheap, fast, and convenient for lunch today.

This week, two things I’m going to try are broccoli cheese soup (which I’ve done before and love, but this is a new recipe which doesn’t call for Velveeta) and “bubble up pizza” (basically giant flaky biscuits with pizza toppings) as well as little crescent rolls apple pies. Wednesday I’m taking a meal to a friend who just had twins and I’m going to double it so we have the same thing – spaghetti and snickerdoodle brownies.

What’s on your menu for the week? 

Tranquilidad.

It’s so peaceful and quiet in the house right now. I just had to write about it. 

For the last four years, we have lived on a Bible Institute campus. There were about 50 people who lived there with us, a mix of students, missionaries, and staff. Brian was head of maintenance, so if there was ever any kind of emergency, from vehicle to building, he was the go-to guy. For awhile, we even had copies of all the keys to every building on campus in our home. Do you know what this meant? People at our house, from dusk ’til way past dark, every single day of the week. Peruvians have a way of letting their presence be known, too. By yelling. Your name. At the top of their lungs. Until you answer the door. We have been unable to answer the door before and have had people outside yelling for us for more than half an hour at a shot. When you’re trying to put a fussy baby down for a nap, or are in the middle of nursing a newborn and can’t get up, or you’re sick or asleep – the yelling gets old… very quickly.

We also had people in our home frequently. Not just guests, but students – the Bible school and my own students – and friends. Every once in awhile, we’d get a day where someone didn’t come over. But, those were very few and far between. We had one weekend when we were all very sick – the whole family – and people STILL came to the house for stuff. Let’s just say it’s awkward when you’re running a fever, nauseous, still in your jammies, have a house that smells like vomit from a sick child, and you need to entertain visitors. 

Fast-forward to where we are now: Missionary Retreat Fellowship – full furnished housing for missionaries home on furloughs. The stillness is almost deafening. I’m sitting here and all I hear is the breathing of my children who are napping on either side of me on the sofa. The internet is apparently slow enough at this moment that Hulu is taking a break on the TV. It’s snowing like crazy outside and you would think there’d be some noise with that, but there’s not. It’s not even windy – the snow is falling straight down. The fridge isn’t even running at the moment. Literally all I hear is breathing and keys typing. Oh, there goes a plane. I guess it’s not completely quiet.

The other day I took the kids to the playground here on the property and it was so weird being the only ones around. I didn’t have to make small talk, move over for someone else, or worry about Elena getting pushed down the slide. It was so weird. Almost too quiet.

Looks like my baby is waking up and in need of food so my moments of silence are coming to a close for today. When it’s quiet like today, though, I’m reminded of this passage in Scripture:

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

-1Kings 19:11-13

Sometimes the best way to hear the Lord is to just get quiet and listen to the stillness. I know that’s when I hear Him best. Tranquilidad… peacefulness. Isn’t that what the voice of the Lord brings, too? We all need the peace and rest from the struggles of daily life, but we’re too busy to listen to the stillness. Yet that seems to be what God wants us to do – put aside the issues and just stop for a few minutes. It’s rest physically and rest for the soul since that’s when He can re-energize us. If we’re constantly going and not taking time to be in the quiet, we will not only not get recharged physically, but our spiritual tanks will empty out as well. Just some food for thought on this quiet afternoon.

Kids are back to sleep and the snow is falling harder – those giant flakes that remind me of Charlie Brown and the gang catching snowflakes on their tongues. So pretty! Kind of wish the kids would wake up so we could go play in it! 🙂 Or… maybe I’ll go get a snack and some cocoa…

Valentine’s Day #9.

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 Today is the 9th Valentine’s Day with my husband. We’ve been married for 7 of them. When I stop and think about it, it’s really not that long – not in the scheme of things. But, it feels like a long time. I’m so thankful for my husband. I hated Valentine’s Day until he came along. Now, I look forward to them. He’s always sweet and doesn’t need any reminders that it’s coming up. This morning he surprised me with my annual gift: a stuffed animal, a box of chocolates, and a sweet card. He knows me so well; the chocolates weren’t the normal chocolate-covered-whatevers – they were Hershey’s chocolates – my favorites. I Love Him.

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E insisted on having her picture taken with my puppy. She’s convinced it’s hers.

So, here we are embarking on another new adventure together and frankly, there’s no one else I’d rather do this stuff with. He’s a wonderful husband, an amazing husband, and a Godly man. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day, too, with your loves!
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Just FYI: making valentines with a 2 year old = epic fail. I took 3 pictures and that’s about how long this craft lasted! Apparently she inherited my love of crafts! Oh well, maybe next year.

Shopping in America.

The time has come. We need to grocery shop again in America. By ourselves. For a family of 3 (Joseph’s still nursing). If you’ve never lived overseas (especially in a 2/3 world country) and then returned, you probably don’t understand the significance of this. Let me see if I can explain a little bit:

In Peru, we were blessed to have the choice of shopping either at an open air market or at a regular grocery store that was similar to Wal-Mart in that it had everything you need on top of food items. Because of my weak stomach, we chose to shop at the grocery stores. But, there’s a difference – and not just because the Peruvian “sol” is worth less than the dollar. The options are far fewer than in the States. Here, we have an aisle of cereals – on both sides of the aisle! In Peru, you have half an aisle, on one side of the aisle, with mostly just different brands of corn flakes. Instead of having 10 different kinds of, say, yogurt, you have maybe 4. Things like peanut butter and honey are so expensive, you just bypass them anyway so it doesn’t matter that there are only two options of each. There might be one or two different sizes of products, but that’s it. The biggest choices are veggies and that’s because all of them are fresh and year-round. There is not the problem of being tempted by frozen, canned, processed, or packaged foods because for the most part, they just don’t exist. Frozen vegetables were a brand new thing when we were leaving and were so expensive, it was completely not worth the space in the freezer they were in.

Jump to the United States. Here, we have aisles of options. Too many options. I mean, seriously – who is lazy enough to actually purchase frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches without crusts?! Seriously? You can’t take the time to slap on peanut butter and jelly and cut off a few crusts? Who needs honey inside of your peanut butter? Or 20 different kinds of popcorn? I’m not sure I understand the point of steaming your vegetables in a bag in the microwave and then pouring packaged cheese sauce on top. I’m sorry… but, yuck.

So, basically, we come from 4 full years of shopping with very little variety, no need to compare prices/brands/sizes because it’s all basically the same – to the land of infinite options, a variety of sizes, and enough of a price difference that it makes a true difference what brand you purchase. Tag on impatient fellow shoppers and screaming children, a migraine from the overload, and the stress of living on a missionary budget and you have an inkling of what we’re up against right now.

I’m busy scouring the internet looking for tips on saving money and still eating healthy. I need healthy options for a toddler who, thankfully, is not overly picky (yet). And we are living on the strictest budget of our lives.

I have to admit, though, after two months of not cooking for ourselves, it feels so good to be back in the kitchen even if our meals are small and not overly interesting! =)

Just another part of this new stage in our lives! Once we get into a routine, we’ll be just fine. This first month is… stressful, though. Our mealtime prayers are much more sincere – we’re so thankful there’s even FOOD on the table at all! – and we are holding fast to the truths of God’s Word – that He will provide our needs and He knows them before we even ask! My Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills; I’m sure He can provide us with a steak to split every now and then.

Rewind. Start Over.

So, I haven’t blogged on here in… months. I’ve been a little busy with these:

P1000345..and this:

DSC01307…and this:

P1000036

..and this:

P1000147

In case you didn’t catch that through pictures, I’ve had a baby, moved internationally, celebrated Christmas with both families, and traveled halfway across the country and back all since late September. Blogging was kind of the last thing on my my mind!

We are now back in PA and officially done with our time in Peru. It’s strange being back in the U.S. and not having any international travel plans for the near future. I keep thinking I need to be getting ready to pack for a big move or get ready for a new school year and I have to remind myself that no, I don’t! I’m done, I’m here, and that’s all I need to worry about for the time being.

As we’re beginning this new stage as a family, I thought it would be fitting to change up my blog a bit. I’m a mom of two little ones now, which changes life dramatically. Point in fact, I’m typing this while my four month old lies in his bouncy seat at my feet and screams a fit of defiance while trying to fall asleep.

So, the things that are a big part of my world right now are

#1: my kids.

#2: cooking.

#3: reaching children with the love of Christ. 

Therefore, I think my blog should reflect those three things. This should help me get my focus back on track and give me things to actually write about. The “Task at Hand” is going to receive a slight makeover! Let’s just hope I can keep it up…

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