Monday, March 31, 2014

March in the Rear View Mirror

(In like a lion...)

What a busy month this has been! 

We started the month with our trip up to MO.  Little Bird was in her first play at 4 years old… the high school production of The Music Man.  She had a blast. 

Spring cleaning is DONE!!  I even got all the noncoated wood pieces oiled… lemon oil for furniture and olive oil for wooden kitchen items (cutting boards, etc).  So now I am back on my regular cleaning schedule to keep things looking good around here. 

We finished our work in the garage.  It’s so much easier to get things done in there now.  However, we had to take a hiatus on the shed, due to a combination of cold nasty weather (I’m not going to work out there when it’s freezing.  No way.) and a bunch of other commitments.  Shed work has been rescheduled for the first few days of April…weather permitting.

Also April will be clean up the yard month.  We’ve had several ice storms this year and there are soooo many little branches (and a tree!) on the ground.  Planting beds need attention too so we can start planting in May. 

Several times we had company in March, including some overnight guests.  Plus we were invited to a new friend’s home and had dinner out with our Sunday School class.  That gave us some fun breaks in our routine. 

Other fun things we’ve done include a couple of classes at Whole Foods, a book binding class for me, the reptile show and a couple of lectures. 

Nothing dull about this March!  And April is already looking exciting…  

(...out like a lamb!)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Who Would Have Thought It?

I am constantly amazed at the things on Pinterest.  It could be art… nature… home décor… just about anything.  There is so much I’ve created a board called “Cool Things”. 

Here are a few pins from that board you might think are amazing too.

These tiles change color with the temperature.  It’s like being inside a mood ring!

Now is this not a fun way to store fruit? 

I want these ice cube trays! 

Who’s up for a ride in a glass boat?  I am!  I’d love to take this out on the lake near our house to see what’s in there.

Fun!  (The price… not so fun…)

Absolutely the best snow gauge I’ve ever seen. 

OK, is this not the best bed you’ve ever seen? 

Beautiful.  Scrap metal artist fascinate me.

Another stunning horse.

I could see this bookend set on my shelves.

“Alice Through The Looking Glass”.  Perfect!

This makes me want to get another hermit crab.

Awwww… baby octopus! Even they are cute as babies.

I’d take the keys to this!  Best paint job ever.
Fun stuff, eh? 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Going Green: Recycling Simply

My next “going green” project has been to start recycling.  We don’t have curbside recycling here… we don’t even have curbside trash service!  Nope, out here at The Sticks we have to take our trash 6.5 miles to the “convenience center”.  And all that is, is a bunch of dumpsters in a fenced in area run by the county landfill.  But it’s not a bad thing since we drive past it every time we go into town and it is open 5 days a week.

However, while one dumpster is for general unsorted trash, there are many others specifically for recycling! 

Each one is labeled so it is easy to sort.  There are plenty of categories too so a wide variety of items can be recycled.

I’ve set up a recycle area in the garage so we can participate.  Each drawer corresponds to one of the bins at the center.  Large boxes are stacked on the top of the drawers (that’s my kitchen compost bin sitting there now).  

To the right of my recycle area is an area  to hold our burned out florescent tubes.  All the downstairs lights are florescent tubes, as are the closet and bathroom in our master suite.  The big box hardware stores have an area for recycling compact fluorescents but not the big tubes. 

A couple times a year the landfill holds a special event called “hazardous waste day”. 

This is when you can get rid of anything you have that is considered ‘bad’…chemicals… cleaners…

… old paint.. batteries… computer things… microwaves…anything and everything.  All you have to do is to get it down there.  They unload it for you and send you on your way quickly.  I had a load of really old paint and about 15 florescent bulbs. 

It was great to get them cleaned out of the garage!    

Friday, March 28, 2014

Children's Laughter (A Guest Blog by Himself)

In 2007 I wrote about visiting a Maasai child that we sponsored.  In 2008 I wrote the story ‘A woman named Grace’ about meeting a Maasai woman on the Kenya savannah en route to seeing that child.  One event planned, one unplanned.  Both memorable.  Yet another event happened while returning from meeting a sponsor child that had just as great an impact on me.

In preparing to see your sponsor child you are given info about them to make the meeting go smoothly.  While this helps bridge cultural gaps, it can be a bit intimidating -- especially when you don't know what to expect.  But some meetings are spontaneous.  Although unexpected they can also be fun.  And special.  Why special?  Because interacting with others in this type of setting can make a difference in young lives that don't have much else. 

Returning from seeing our sponsor child we stopped by an African Methodist church to drop off the pastor who had ridden out with us to see that child.  This pastor also ran a 'feeding program' for AIDS orphans at his church.  In dropping Pastor Julius off we arrived at his church during one of the meals.   By 'word of mouth' AIDS orphans hear of people who are trying to help them in their dire situation.  With both parents dead due to AIDS they find help where they can.  For his part Pastor Julius managed to feed 50 children four meals per week.  (The other times the kids had to find food wherever they could...if they could.)  Julius wife – through her ladies group -- would scrounge up whatever they could find to feed these children--usually only beans and rice, but sometimes greens or meat. Whatever was obtained & prepared made such a difference in their lives.  After their bellies were fed, they tried to feed their hearts and minds with encouragement – with singing, Sunday school stories, and perhaps even helping with homework.   It makes a difference.

Not knowing this situation when I walked into the church, I saw rows of children of all ages in the middle of the serious chowing down!  Observing the large amount of food on their plates in the form of beans, small dumplings and some greens I asked, "Why so much?"  They answered, “This is their only meal today.”   They also mentioned that these kids ‘were the lucky ones’. The ones who had survived.  Outside of the happenings in that church for part of four days per week most of these kids lived on the streets.  Some had an aunt or grandparent who might still be living but many slept in the streets while trying to keep warm by bunching up like a pile of puppies.  And, like puppies, any attention they received was like a lifeline to their little hearts, for they just wanted to be near you.  And like any children they responded beautifully to attention and affection.

Backing up here, one thing Teri thought to bring from the US was small gifts to give away at schools or wherever there happened to be children.  In her backpack that day she had 120 funny little metallic rings.   After Pastor Julius’ wife Tabitha told Teri about their orphan feeding program she invited Teri to ‘come see the orphans’ who happened to be eating at that time.  Teri grabbed her bag of rings & asked if it would be OK to give them to the children.  Of course!  I ended up jamming on music-director James’s keyboard in another room.  After playing a bit, James suggested that I 'go play for the children'.   Off I go with keyboard in hand while James went looking for his guitar.  The kids?  Looking up from admiring their new rings they paid me little attention as I entered the room -- their glittery rings were MUCH more interesting!    Once the keyboard was set up, James asked me to play a hymn – ‘something the children would recognize'.   Great.  I'm a million miles from home and in a culture I don't know, and I'm supposed to know something these kids would recognize.  Yeah, right.   

But then...

Recall how I sometimes mention in my writings how Jesus 'whispers into one’s heart’ to do something?   Well, He did.  He put into my heart a song that I was to play with one finger until the children recognized the song.  I did...and they did.   It was so strange and yet beautiful -- after adjusting the volume over all the chatter, I started playing the song He put on my heart to play.  Starting slowly and playing with that one finger, soon silence filled the room as little heads popped up.  Then little voices started singing (quietly at first, then picking up in volume) -- some in English, some in Kiswahili.  After one verse I switched to both hands and filled in with beautiful chords to add to beautiful children’s voices.   And we shared.  The song I played starting with one finger?    

'Jesus loves me, this I know...'  

Although a simple song, at that moment it was a most wonderful song as dozens of children's voices sang in unison.  And along with their voices their child’s eyes -- and child’s hearts –  

After that?   James picked up the pace and it was a free-for-all as the kids started do dance.  You wouldn't believe the dances -- everything from a Conga line, to 'The Twist', to Boot Scootin' Line Dancing!    When Teri wasn't laughing she was trying to take photos!   Me?   I tried to keep up with these kids while wondering, "WHERE did they learn how to LINE dance?!"   But after awhile I gave up the thought and just had fun.   The children?  For a short time they had laughter in their lives.      

A child with their meal for the day.

During the meal.  I’m guessing there was some sort of instructions
going on at this point due to their attention.  Trust me, at times all
you saw was the top of their heads as they were chowing down!

Some of the kids listening in with music director James in the background.

Starting to ‘pick up the pace’!

Kids in a Conga-line.

The Twist!

Line dancing.  Now, WHERE did they learn that?  They were better at it than I ever was!

Showing off some of Teri’s rings.

Showing off a smile...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pass The Lega Tibs Please! Mesob Restaurant in Nashville.

Last month Himself and I found out our favorite Ethiopian restaurant had been sold, and it wasn’t good anymore. 

After a bit of research I found a different restaurant that seemed to have good reviews.  Last night we had an event in Nashville so we decided to try this new restaurant out. 

The restaurant is called “Mesob”    .  The name comes from the word for the ‘basket’ thing that is their traditional table.  What is funny is that the restaurant is name “Mesob” but they don’t serve on them!  

This is what a mesob looks like and how it is used.  The food is sitting on injera pieces, which it the Ethiopian bread.  

Here is the restaurant… very ‘normal’ looking.  

To try things out quickly, we each ordered an entrée, plus a vegetable combo.  From the top going clockwise: yellow split peas with garlic, ginger and turmeric (yeater kik alicha we’t); collards with onions, green pepper & garlic (gomen we’t); potato & carrots; cabbage with garlic, ginger, & carrots (Tikle gomen); lega-tibs – beef sautéed with butter, onions, tomato, hot pepper, & rosemary; red lentils cooked with spicy (very) berbere sauce (yemisir kike we’t); beets with garlic and ginger (qey sir); and in the middle I’m not sure what it was… lentils with, I think, horse radish and I’m not sure what else.  It was pretty hot.  

Himself’s doro we’t (spicy chicken and hardboiled egg cooked very spicy berbere sauce) and ayib (Ethiopian farmer’s cheese) to cut the heat. 

Was our meal good?

Yep!  We had very, very full tummys! 

We’ve got a new Ethiopian restaurant to go to!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Salud! at Whole Foods: Pasta and Sauces (Recipe Rustic Tomato Sauce)

For several years I have wanted to take a pasta making class at Whole Foods.  But either the class would be full or it wouldn’t make at all.  So I was absolutely delighted when Himself and I had the opportunity to volunteer for a pasta class!

Whole Foods instructor Cindy showed the class how to put together a basic pasta dough.

And how to knead it out (it’s different from kneading bread dough).

Then she demonstrated the pasta machine.  A little rectangle of dough goes in…

…and gets longer…

…and longer…

…and longer…

…and even longer!

This little machine is going to be my next kitchen purchase!

Once you get the pasta rolled out to the thickness you want, you can either keep it in a sheet like this shows or you can roll it through the cutters for fettuccine.  

When Cindy finished her demos, it was time for the students to get their hands into it.  Some worked on making dough.

While others used dough already made for the class and started using the machines to make the pasta.

Perfect fettuccine.

That’s how you do it!

The most tedious part is separating the strands when you hang them up to dry.

I was surprised at how easy it is to make pasta.  It can even be done when you are multi-tasking! 

The pasta sheets were used to make hand-cut ravioli.  Not much different from making wontons.  

Raviolis in all shapes and sizes.

Dinner…  Pumpkin Ravioli with brown butter sauce, Tagliatelle with rustic tomato sauce, and fettuccini with prosciutto, cream, and nutmeg.