Saturday, August 28, 2010

A to-do list from the equator:

1. Wash some of the filthy windows. August was a WINDY month (to put it lightly) and the windows are a muddy, messy, blechy brown mess. This will prove to be much more difficult than thought because my windows have bars. The bars have spikes. No one will want to steal the grime on my windows!!!

2. Clean out the green garbage. Loja has a great garbage system and it requires multiple cans. The green can is for organic waste, and in order to keep it separate, I have a small pail with a lid that sits on my counter for all the food scraps. Its a compost container of sorts. and sometimes it gets rather... disgusting. Today is the day to clean it out.

3. Haircuts for the boys. A haircut here is about 2.00. But, Dustan insists on saving the money and taking a razor to the boys hair. Last time I razed them, I made their ears bleed, so I am now without a hairdressing job. Dustan has taken over. I can hear Weston crying upstairs. Dear grandma, please send 2.00 for haircuts.

4. Move my furniture. Last Saturday I woke up and declared "This is the day I will change my furniture." It never got done. So, it must be done today. MUST. See, I get in a funk if my furniture is too stable and unchanging. I NEED change. My very soul needs to spice things up by moving things around. After being married to me for 13 years, Dustan has finally given up on coming home and finding his living room, bedroom, or kitchen dishes in the same place. So... today... I will move my furniture.

5. Walk to the store, tienda, or market and find food for my family. We have just returned from a week at our annual spiritual life conference and we ate ourselves to the bone before we left. Unless we want to eat Marshmallows for diner (leftover from smores), I had better get us some food.

6. Jerry-rig clothes line. Since we spent a week away from home, our laundry is... well... bigger than the mountain in front of my home. My lines are full and I have several loads left. Whenever this happens, I use brooms, pipes, misc sticks, prop them up on chairs and wipe my hands, pant myself on the back, and congratulate myself on my ingenuity. Little things. Right?

7. Make granola. Because my boys (including Dustan) think that they will experience daily death without granola for breakfast. I make six gallons at a time, and it lasts far too short a time.

8. Call my mother. Because I miss her.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Taste the Rainbow: Hannah's story

Hannah Banana. She was something else. When she was little, I was a teenager, and she liked to follow me around, chattering like a monkey on steroids.

One time, I just needed a break. People often needed a break from Hannah. Like I said, she was something else. When she wanted something, she wouldn’t let go. What Hannah wanted more than anything else was attention, devotion, and love. Anyhow, I was saying... I needed a break. So, I found a closet in Granny’s house. And I squeezed in with all the shoes, bags of brand-new underwear, slips, and who knows what else (my grandmother collected things for emergencies. You never knew when someone would need a slip), and just sat in the dark and quiet.

It wasn’t long. Maybe thirty seconds, before my solitude was interrupted by a curly headed boy. Hannah’s brother Matt.

“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Hiding from Hannah.” I answered with utmost honestly.
Matt climbed on my lap and declared he also needed a break.

Hannah kept up that intense energy throughout her childhood, but she blossomed into a gorgeous young girl, eager to be loved, and devoted to making the world a beautiful place.

The one thing that strikes me most about Hannah is how much she loved to make things beautiful. She loved hair-dos, she loved makeup, she loved fashion.

But Hannah wasn’t artificial. She was just simply gorgeous, and she wanted to share that beauty with everyone.

One time she told me I should always wear bangs. “Here.” She said, after taking a pair of my kitchen scissors to the front of my hair. “Here. Isn’t that so much better?” “And you really shouldn’t leave the house without mascara. It makes your eyes so beautiful.”

I was an adult when she gave me beauty advice. Married already, with two children, and broiled over with the fugliness of early motherhood.

Hannah was 15. High-strung, slighty flightly, but with an inner kindness that sought out prettiness wherever she could find it. Hannah, made me feel beautiful. And I wore my hair with bangs for years afterwards.

Hannah tried to make everyone feel beautiful. It’s what she did. It’s who she was.

Hannah loved sparkly things. She loved rainbows, and music, guitars, her family, me, my children, and life. Because those things were beautiful to her.

I would venture to say that now her life is so full of beauty that she can’t even stand it. I bet she is downright blinded from basking in the glow of her gorgeous new home.

Because Hannah lives in a mansion now. Built for her by her Heavenly Father. She is prancing (because that is what she did- prance) down streets glowing with gold.

Hannah was killed in 2006. She was in an automobile accident and she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

Seatbelt promotions are not new. But “Buckle up for Hannah” focuses on teenagers. Because teenagers don’t think about that one time they slip the seatbelt off to root around in their purse, look for something under the seat, or scootch over just a bit to snuggle with a boyfriend.

Teenagers need a reminder of the importance of buckling up, not just for “almost all of the time”, but for every second they are in a moving car.

The one time Hannah did not buckle up, she died. And her family wants to help other families, by telling her story.

Buckle Up For Hannah has been able to pass new safety laws for teenagers, put reminders in the form of bumper stickers on cars across the nation, and raise awareness to teenagers by telling them Hannah’s story.

Now, my family has another opportunity to raise awareness. It’s through a contest and we need votes.

Here is the link. Please vote everyday! EVERY day!

For some reason, the link chooses to be difficult sometimes. While I try to fix it. Hannah's car is under causes and is on the second page of most popular. It is easily recognizable with a rainbow seatbelt!

Vote away.

And please, buckle up.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Feeding my skin

That's me. In my bathtub when we first moved in. I don't usually wear clothes in the bathtub. However, I also don't usually post pictures of myself on the web while in the tub.
I can't tell you how ecstatic I was to find out our house had a tub. Tubs are unusual in Loja. In fact, I don't know of a single other person who has one.
So... I am grateful, even if I have to kiss my knees while taking a hot bath (also incredibly grateful for hot water. Many houses do not have it).
Because bathtubs are rare, luxury bath items are non-existent. Bubble baths, bath oils, and the like are no where to be found.

So I made my own. I altered (slightly) a recipe I found online. It was like taking a bath in food. Really nice smelling food that made my skin ultra soft.

Peaches and Cream bath oil
Mix in a bowl

3/4 cup of plain yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp vineger
3 large eggs
2 TBS melted butter
1 cup of milk
1 cup of peach juice

Monday, August 09, 2010

Paula Dean

Dustan: I don't even know who Paula Dean is.

Weston: What IS a pualadean?

Me: It's some kind of fruit. (I learned my parenting skills from Calvin's dad)

Weston: I think you are wrong. I thinks it is a kind of soldier. I wish I was a pauladean.

A cookbook for the Dad

Dustan is having to do far more cooking than he used to. Because my work at the cafe is in the evenings, he almost always needs to make the dinner meal, and I often need help for the lunch meal as well.

Dustan, bless his heart, is not a cook. He is, however, willing. And more than that, when he isn't overwhelmed by all the decisions, he actually enjoys cooking.

So, in an effort to help us both out, I am compiling a photographic journal of our meals. I am using to edit the photos and to add simple recipe instructions.

My plan is to have them printed and then to add them to a scrapbook page with helpful tips. Like:
"Weston won't touch corn with a ten foot pole"
"Marcus would rather eat bunny eyeballs than swallow a small piece of avocado"
"You don't really have to add every ingredient. If you don't have cheese, just leave it off."
"If you don't add cheese, Esther will see no reason to eat at all."

You know- that stuff all mommies know. I will add it to the page, just so he has a reference until he figures it all out.

I also figure that it will leave me space to add alterations when I can. I make alterations automatically. If I am out of mayo, I add yogurt. If I don't have taco seasoning, I know that I can use a variety of other spices to make up for it. Dustan hasn't been in the kitchen to figure all that out.

Without further ado, here are my first two recipes for our book, glamorously named:

Wash the Dishes When You are Done! (It truly is a book of helpful hints)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Rainy Day= Cooking Day.

Loja is a cold city. One wouldn;t think it- but it is truly very cold here. There are no heaters in Loja. we just dress warmly and suck it up. However, last night was the single coldest I have ever been. I laughed when I was lying in bed thinking that if I had been in the US and my heater had been broken on a night like last night, we would have gotten a hotel room.

Living without options has changed the way I think about living. Period. No heater? Live with it. Shoes falling apart? Take them to be repaired. Short full of holes? try not to look at yourself after you get dressed. Clothes still wet after three days on a line? Wear the same dirty clothes until they finally dry. City having a shortage on gas? Cry while taking a cold shower in the frigid morning (or night) temps. (I didn't have to do that. I forfeited my showers instead. Peeeuuuwww)

Anyhow... It's raining today. No sun makes for a cold day after a long cold night, and because I didn't have Spanish class, I decided to declare it a cooking day.

Tomatoes taking a boiling hot bath. I was jealous. I soaked them for a minute or so and then transfered them to cold water. The skins peeled right off. Easy Peasy lemon Squeezy. (My Spanish tutor LOVES when I say that.)

After being frustrated with my broken budget after making granola, I kind of made up my own method. However, it is amost identical to THIS ONE. Scroll down for a budget friendly method. I do exactly like it says, use what I have and can afford.

For the Pasta Sauce, I used Val's recipe for inspiration. Next time I plan to make it exactly as written. Mine is yummy, but IMAGINE that roasted tomato taste! I don't have a blender (or the 100.00 that they cost here) but the next time I spend the day making pasta sauce, I will barter to borrow one. One blender for a jar of pasta sounds reasonable to me!

I only have two small quart sized bags left (and they are as valuable as gold here) so I froze the diced tomatoes on old butter containers. We save EVERYTHING. And what I don't save, someone picks out of my garbage. One of these days I am going to do a blog post on the Ecuadorian version of recycling. They have a tremendous understanding on the re-use portion. Anyhow, I plan to use the diced tomatoes in soups.

I will use some of my precious gallon sized bags (because I have more of them) for freezing the sauce.

Next freezing cold day, I am hoping to use all the black bananas in my freezer. Any ideas?