Saturday, January 30, 2016

|| old fashioned food ||

It humours me (read:  it is ironic, once again!) how an opinion from the past is absolutely changed with life experience.  (insert: big, cheesy, knowing I-told-you-so grin)

Hands down, my least favorite meals as a kid are now my go-to meals now that I am a wife and mother.  They are:  beef or chicken stew, stuffed bell peppers, beef or chicken roast, and the crown -- broda (a family meal that we have dubbed "German").  

Beef stew was just - yuck - in my opinion as a kid.  Beef or chicken roast was -- boring.  Broda was -- really??!!  And I have a funny memory about stuffed bell peppers.  My Mom had planned that as a meal one night after candy selling.  But then my Dad rescued us all and said, "Let's go out!" This happened two or three nights in a row.  And I specifically remember one of my brothers (who shall remain nameless) being exceptionally relieved that we weren't required to eat stuffed bell peppers.  

Fast forward to the present and this is how it goes.  Someone's coming for dinner? Roast.  Thursday night after church? Stew.  Too many peppers in the garden?  Stuffed bell peppers it is.

And now, Leon's newest favorite is broda which my parents introduced to him on our holiday.  At first, I was super reluctant because for some strange reason, it was my most loathed meal as a child.  I have no idea why because my adult taste buds LOVE it!!!  And so does my time schedule!  It is such an easy throw together, pop in the oven dinner.

Broda is a chicken cut up, 1 cup of uncooked rice, potatoes peeled and sliced in half, carrots peeled and left whole, chicken broth to cover, salt, pepper, and bay leaf for seasoning and the secret is half cup of ketchup mixed with half cup of water poured over the top.  Cover and bake.  I taught our cook how to make it and she loves it, too, because of its convenience.  

I had to document the first time I made broda on the farm for my parents.  For me, I felt as if I had reached true "wife/mom" status with that dish.  :)  I'm glad broda will live on in our family and hope that Liesl likes it, too!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

|| our house: bathroom ||

Way back in '09 when my youngest brother came to Z for a missions trip, one of my questions to him upon his return was, "What was the missionary's house like?"  I had the common disease that I now refer to as "the missionary perspective" which equals disease + dirt + death.

It is funny to me now because this is home.  But I'm sure many still wonder, "What is it really like there?"  Are their houses normal {American normal)?  What do they look like?" I don't know.  What do you all think when you think about our houses here?

I have been wanting to do a post on our house because it has such nice character.  However, the lighting is horrific.  And there's always "just one more project" to do.  There are many imperfections but we love our little cottage.

Before I moved here, my sister-in-law told me there was a lot of space behind the door in the bathroom for shelves.  There are no closets in our house.  (insert surprised, shocked, horrified face -- I know!).  In the kitchen, there are two small cupboards underneath the countertop and one cupboard on the wall which is helpful.  The bedroom has two stand-alone cupboards but we are hoping to get built-ins sooner rather than later.  

The bathroom desperately needed the shelves in the corner.  With a growing family, that was storage expansion project #1.

We finally got them this past week and I feel like I have a new house!!!  ALSO, I found a toilet paper roll holder on our monthly trip to the big city this week.  (That was really hard for me not to type in all caps.)  I have been looking for one for 2 1/2 years.  

So here's a few before pictures:

--tons and tons of wasted space--crowded, crowded, crowded--

--lots of temptations --errrr, fun -- for Liesl in those baskets--

--this is the only thing I have done to the bathroom for decorating since May, 2013--hung this grouping together--

NOW::here we go....

--built by my brother-in-law--it far surpassed my expectations--

I know there's a lot of white going on here but with time, I'll add some more color.

--da-da (water) easily keeps Liesl entertained for 15 minutes plus--

--more space--

To the left of this picture is a shower.  For such a small house, we have a spacious bathroom which includes a separate tub and shower area.  And now with the new corner cupboard, I could just dance and click my heels together.  (well....almost!)

So there you have the first of our house tour.  A little unexpected that it is the bathroom but...the most improved lately. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

|| a new school year ||

For us, we have just begun our new school year.  I actually enjoy how the school year is played out here.  A new term begins in January which is a new year with new goals for everyone.  Last year because of planned holidays, we did school around the holidays.  In the past, I have been guilty of scheduling in lots of holidays before even knowing what the year would bring.  This is a huge mistake with our farming life!!  We "go to school allllll yearrrrrrr lonngggg" but with lots of breaks in between -- holidays, sick days, Lusaka days, beading days, birthday days (sometimes!).  There are too many times school is shortened or cancelled so we just plan to do school each day and break when needed.

My mom gave me this hanging chart for Christmas way back when I student taught.  I've never really found a place for it but refused to part with it.  I finally am using it this year!!  It hangs on the door of the office and I was able to use several cute things that my Mom has sent to me for school.   

In our little homeschool, it seems as if motivational ideas get lost in the shuffle of every day living.  So our two motivational plans for the year are in the hanging chart -- easy to see and not forget.  

Also, I have painted a piece for a small chalkboard on the wall.  We've had a small, easel chalkboard but that is cumbersome to use in a small office.  This is already working out great!

It's funny (ironic!) how time changes a persons opinions.  Way back in my "very wise and super educated" college days, I was so sure I wanted to homeschool my children if there ever was an opportunity.  I still do!  But my, how the reality of homeschooling has settled into my heart since homeschooling my two nieces.  Wow.  It is a huge responsibility!!

I think homeschooling gets such a bad reputation because parents have this idea of "Oh! We're going to homeschool.  Get some books.  Fill them in.  What's the big deal?"   When in reality, it is such an enormous, (to me) overwhelming responsibility that is not taken lightly at all.  I'm glad to have the opportunity to see this for myself from personal experience before schooling Liesl.  

On the other hand, I am so excited to begin homeschooling her with a nursery curriculum next year!!!  It is exciting and thrilling.  Yet SO very humbling.  

Any additional thoughts on homeschooling?  Some people are so against the practice.  Others completely for it.  Some are caught in the middle.  

Monday, January 4, 2016

|| our Christmas season ||

--Christmas morning and her new broom-broom!!--

Whew! The Christmas season has come and gone.  Every year, I say I'm going to make it a slow Christmas season.  To which all normal mothers promptly roll their eyes and say, "yah. right.".  

So what do we do here?  Are there Christmas activities?  Are there decorations?

Answers:  Lots.  Yes.  And, pretty much depends on where you are.  

If you live in the capitol city, there's a larger variety of Christmas things to do.  And there's beautiful decorations in the malls.  A huge win-win for this Northern girl!  I looooove going shopping at Christmas time.  And the week we went, the crowds were not too bad.  It was great!

For decorations, Leon insisted on a real Christmas tree this year.  The closest we could get to a fir tree is a small cyprus.  We are going to pot it in a large cement pot and every year, haul it inside.  It was a little bit of a wonky Charlie Brown tree.  I was less than thrilled until a week before Christmas, Leon rearranged the lights and a few other aspects of the tree and it became cuter.  I think my Mom has sent new Christmas decorations every year which is amazing!  My collection is growing.  

We received barrels at the beginning of December.  

Barrels any time of the year is amazing but at Christmas it is doubly so!!  Thanks, Dad and Mom!!!  It was such a huge treat and LOADED with goodies.  Italian sausage, coffee, spices, gumbo mix (!!!!!!), Hershey's chocolate syrup, presents, Christmas decorations, Christmas cards, more things from my closet that I forgot I had, etc..etc...SUCH  A TREAT!!!

A group of 11 of us ladies did a Christmas cookie exchange.  The lady who organized it said we must each bring 500 grams of cookies for each lady.  So that was 5 kilos of cookies to bring and 5 kilos of cookies to take home. 

That doesn't sound like a big deal until.......
.........the electricity starts to do this low voltage business and you can't use the oven. have decided to make cookies with white chocolate chips and you only have two bags and one dozen cookies is only 400 grams. you make batch B which is oatmeal cookies.  Upon proceeding to take them out of the oven 2 1/2 hours before the scheduled departure time, they are flatter than flatter than a fritter.  
.......Upon which you absolutely, positively GIVE...UP...!!!

And, not all of the ladies made 500 grams.  I totally did not feel guilty about mine not being 500 grams because E for effort, that's all I'm saying.  

It was a fun group effort, though.  Next year, my SIL and I are combining our efforts.  We had 10 kilos of cookies on this farm (as if we need twenty pounds of cookies around our houses!!).

--excitement running high whilst we wait--

Last fun mention of the Christmas season was the homeschool play we hosted on the farm.  Months prior, I volunteered myself to write and direct the Christmas play.  (Insert:  what was I thinking??!!!?)  But when it was all said and done, the entire experience was a lot of fun.  Lots of work but lots of fun.  

One of the homeschool moms helped me direct the kids.  She was amazing!!

The kids did do-it-however-you-want face masks of a barn animal.  And we told the Christmas story from the perspective of the animals in the barn.  It was quite fun.  Lots of moo-ing and neigh-ing and cluck-ing going on that night!

All in all, December was a great month!  And we are excited about the start of 2016.  Hopefully, lots of fun stories to post in the upcoming months.