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Prayer Requests

(7/30) A few days ago,I hurt my neck and back. Please pray for healing!
(9/9) Things seem to be taking longer to heal and am back to the no lifting restrictions.

Sinking Roads

September 11, 2013

We’ve been having a lot more rain the last several weeks.  This is normal though, it’s just that time of year, and it will most likely get worse.  And along with that time of year comes landslides.  At this point, thankfully, they are very small and don’t even fall too much on the roadways but give us a little warning to perhaps where we may see more problems in the next few moths.  There is a certain part of the road (a pretty major road to our part of the country that trucks and buses travel a lot.) that has been having trouble for years.  As in, the road has fallen away.  To solve this problem they just put up signs to keep people from driving too close to the edge.  There is one section where the road has started to break away for several years but has really gotten worse in the last year, but we would still drive over it.  Brian felt it was safer to drive over the road way that is falling away than to drive in the other lane around a blind curve and hit someone head on! I agree!!  However about 3 weeks ago when we drove down for my weekly chiropractor visit, we saw them drilling holes in the asphalt.   I had a sinking feeling they were not planning to fix the road, but were going to put up signs so that people couldn’t drive on it.  Well that’s what they did!  The next week we came down and the signs were up.  In the last month the road really has started sinking down more, so it won’t be too much longer before it is gone.  I was prepared with the camera this week!

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The picture below is just around the curve from the previous pictures.   This one has been like this for years, but is not as bad as some of the landslide areas. In this stretch of road there are now three areas like this that are now one lane.

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Monthly Menu Planning

September 9, 2013

I’ve mentioned before on Facebook about planning my monthly menu and a number of people have said that it sounds like a lot of work or something that they could never do.  But really it is easy and I think, in the long run saves so much time!  So, I thought I would give some ideas to help you busy ladies out!  I know there are some people who just don’t like to plan anything ahead of time and would rather work on a weekly or daily basis or rely on the weekly coupons to help plan the menus. 

This has been a progression for me… It started out as just a list of our normal meals made into categories, beef, chicken, pork, fish, and non-meat.  I HAD to have a list of something because it would come time to prepare a meal and I would be incapable of thinking clearly!! No really, I would try to come up with ideas and they just would not come and it seemed that when I did finally think of something, we didn’t have the main ingredients!  That was our first week of marriage and I decided that was NOT going to work for me. (How did my mom make that look so easy??)  So, I made the lists…. that worked for awhile, about 4 years! 
We moved to Costa Rica and I was getting ready to have a baby and needed a little more planning.  Walking to the grocery stores makes you a little more conscious of making sure you get everything you need for the week! So, I had a weekly menu to go off of that I wrote down in a notebook.  And that worked well for a while.  And then I saw this on Pinterest!  What an AMAZING idea!!!  But oh my, the work involved was a little much for me at that time.  Slowly I came to the idea in the picture below and I love it.  Where we live, this has become a necessity for me to keep my sanity. (I’m one of those planner people.)  We have to go to the capital to buy butter, cheese, paper goods, most of our meat and a number of things that we just can’t get up here in the mountains.  We try to limit our shopping trips to once every month or two.  Really, it saves us a lot of money in the long run because it is inevitable that when we go the store I will find some American thing that they haven’t had before and want to buy it, because you just never know if they will have it again. (And most of the time, they don’t!)  Well, too you know how sometimes things just “jump” in your cart!  The food comes alive! Seriously!   So anyway, here’s what I do…Sept2013 007_552

The last week of the month I plan for the following month, usually it just takes an afternoon.  Our big meal of the day is lunch, so I have to plan accordingly for that.  I print out a Word document calendar to use.  Above each day of the week I write the type of meal we will have on those days.  And then I get to work.  The very first month would be the hardest since you are starting from scratch.  I plan a meal for every day of the week, knowing there will be days we will have leftovers.  The meals I don’t make in this month will go onto the calendar for next month.  I really LOVE trying new recipes so, I generally don’t repeat the same recipe within the month and only a few will we have 2 months in a row.  But if you repeat meals, then you have less planning to do!  While I write the recipes names on the calendar, I make up my monthly grocery shopping list too.  I never make anything that has things I don’t normally buy in the recipe, so it’s a matter of calculating the quantity for my normal monthly grocery list.  After it is all written out, I put it in my 8×10 picture frame.

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This month we have Sundays- crockpot meal, Monday- beef, Tuesday- beef, Wednesday- any type, Thursday- beef, Friday- chicken, Saturday- pork or fish.  Chicken is a little pricy compared to the other meats, so I try to limit to just once, sometimes twice a week.  I used to do a non-meat day to save some $$, but hubby likes his meat. Smile  I generally try to write side dishes as well to go with the meals.

For breakfast I try to do the same thing each week.  For example, every Sunday we have eggs, every Monday is oatmeal, every Tuesday is some kind of breakfast bread, Wednesday is pancakes, Thursday is a rotation of homemade granola cereal or pinto (a Costa Rican dish), Friday is some form of eggs and Saturday is Oatmeal.

For us, dinner is really light.  We do leftovers some of the time, but I have a list of different ideas, like fast soups,  tuna cakes, tuna sandwiches, quesadillas and such like that.  Those usually don’t make it onto the menu, but I’m trying to work my way into doing that as well.  If you have ideas for meals like that, PLEASE, PLEASE tell me!!!  

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The cards hanging on the bottom are the recipes for the week.  I do my weekly grocery shopping on Monday and do try to get as much as I can up here instead of the capital.  So, on Saturday or Sunday I will pull out my recipe cards (I’m still working on getting them all printed out… haven’t gotten there yet!)  for the next week.  The first group is breakfast recipes, the second is lunch and the third has my dinner list and also all the things I want to make that week.  I make my own bread, buns and granola so those stay there every week.  (Making those every week you would think I would have the recipes memorized by now, but I don’t!  Maybe it will stick one of these days!)  I make my grocery list from those recipe cards.
Doing the calendar has helped me so much with getting things together the night before that need to be prepped; like getting meat out of the freezer or putting everything in the crock pot the night before to be put on first thing in the morning.  And also with planning my day the night before, I know what time I need to start preparing lunch.  And yes, there are times where I just don’t have the time to make what was on the calendar or it really doesn’t sound good, so I do a bit of switching.  I allow it flexible but I really enjoy having the structure.  

So, there you have it!  Hope this can be a help to some of you!

A Protest and Traffic, All in a Day’s Trip!

August 9, 2013

We have just finished our second week of trips into the Central Valley (which consists of the capital and surrounding cities) for chiropractic adjustments.   About 3 weeks ago, while playing with our 14 month old daughter on the floor, I rocked back and hit my neck and head on a hard plastic kids stool.  After a week of pain that was getting worse and worse, we made our first trip into a chiropractor that was recommended to us by friends. And thus began our two and now three times a week trip into the valley.  We live in a small very laid back and relaxed town, so going to the busy valley always stresses me out!  Normally, we only make the 1.5 to 2 hour (depending on traffic, longer) trip about once a month and sometimes I can stretch the groceries to last 2 months.  Last week and the last two trips of this week were pretty uneventful.  Of course there was the normal traffic and normal “close calls”.  The Central Valley is almost 4.5 miles squared and holds more half of Costa Rica’s 4 million population.  Friday of last week we were able to make it to the office in just 1 hour 45 minutes. Monday, however, leaving at the same time as Friday we arrived in 2.5 hours, and Tuesday’s time was in between the two. 

So today, with that in mind, we left at the same time, 8:00 for a 10:30 appointment, with hopes of not hitting traffic again.  We made great time up and over the first mountain (about 45 minutes into our trip) and were getting ready to head up the next mountain when we came around a curve in the road and noticed there were a bunch of cars and bikes parked on the sides of the road.  We then noticed that there were people standing in the road in front of the bridge that was being blocked by large branches and a rope.  Ok, what is going on you might ask.  Well, Brian yelled (kindly, and of course in Spanish) out the window to anyone that would listen, “When is it going to be opened?” and a lady turns to another and said, “I can’t understand him, he’s speaking English.”  Ummm, ok.  When she walked up to the car, Brian repeated his question.  It was funny to see her face when she realized he was speaking Spanish. (It always makes me chuckle inside at those shocked expressions when my husband starts speaking.)  As it turned out, they were protesting the bad state the road was in and wanted to get the government’s attention by refusing to allow people to pass.  It would not be open until “much later.”  Of course with it being at a river, there was no way around it.  And no, they were not going to let us pass.  Brian explained we had a doctor’s appointment but the lady wanted to see the paper for the appointment (for socialist medicine here you have to go to a certain office to make the appointment and they give you a paper with you appointment time on it.  You have to then take the paper with you when you go to your appointment.) She wanted written proof that we did indeed have a doctor’s appointment.  My chiropractor is a private practice and so, does not give any papers with the appointment time.   After going back and forth with her about me being able to have an appointment with a private practice without a paper, she finally said he was right, but still, we could not pass.  Thankfully, Brian knew another way down (though, we have never driven it before) without going all the way back to San Marcos and out the other side of town.  (which would have taken 45 minutes back and another 2+ hours back out the other side. We would have had to cancelled the appointment and tried to re-schedule.)  But we only lost about 35 minutes backtracking and going down the other way but it put us into more traffic for a longer period of time.   And boy did we hit traffic!  Worse than it had been any other day we had been down!  It seems to be one of those things that if you are running late for an appointment, you will be stuck behind every slow truck, bus and car on the road and hit every stoplight red.  While it is true that the culture is more laid back than in America and time is not kept the same, there is still the expectation that if you have an appointment you have to be there on time.  Some places make you pay a fee or pay for what the appointment would have cost.   I called to let them know we would be late and then realizing we would probably miss my window of time altogether, called and thankfully they could fit me in later in the morning without any fees!  So, we ended up being 20 minutes late for my original appointment (because speed limits are only suggestions, right?).  Not too bad, really.  We did ask the secretary to write the appointment down for us just incase they are protesting again when we go down Monday.  Smile

Refrigerator Makeover! Trial and Error…

July 29, 2013

Last November before we moved from our furnished apartment in the capital to an unfurnished home in Santa Maria we bought a refrigerator off of a missionary that had left the country.  It was $350 for this 5 year old used refrigerator, which was an amazing deal when a new refrigerator of the same size and brand is about $1,000 plus.  It had some superficial problems… but the way the kitchen was set up, it wouldn’t show at all.

But then we moved into my in-laws house while they are on furlough.  And as you can see, it greets you as you walk in the door!  Really, who cares, right?  It’s not a big deal.  Certainly not a big enough deal to buy a new one, because it works just fine!

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I will admit, I have a bit of any obsession with a certain website, but, it can be a really good thing, because so many times Pinterest has saved the day!!  I saw that you can make your refrigerator into a chalkboard and thought, “How cool is that?!”  So after a google search, found out what you need to make chalkboard paint (because we didn’t want to run all around creation looking for a store that might have it.)  It turns out, I happened to bring down a container of plaster of Paris that had been given to me!  I looked at several different websites for a “recipe” and they all said something different, so I just picked one, 4 tablespoons plaster of Paris, 2 tablespoons water, 2 cups paint.  I followed the directions for mixing the first time and it turned out really, really bad!  The plaster of Paris was way too thick and I had to keep adding water, then, (not having worked with plaster of Paris before) I didn’t have my paint open and ready to pour, so the plaster of Paris hardened.  I added more water and it was still kinda clumpy, but thought the paint would smooth it out.  Ummm no, that didn’t work.  So I had lumpy paint, and too much of it!  Not one to let things go to waste (especially paint that is kind of expensive to begin with), I went ahead and painted the refrigerator.  I tried to pick out the lumps, but it was hard to get them all.  After and hour I did a second coat.  It looked bad, honestly…  the next day I took a putty knife and scraped off all the little bumps… then it looked really, really, really bad!  I let it go for a couple of days and tired to get my courage up to try again.  After another google search I found a 1 part water 2 part plaster of Paris and 3 parts paint.  I thought that sound a little better.  But again I had to keep adding water, just about equal parts, I think.  I had the paint all ready this time and added it quickly.  It mixed beautifully!!  So, here is the finished result!  It really doesn’t work as well as a chalk board, not one to write on and erase a gazillion times anyway.  Wiping it with a damp cloth to get the chalk off, some of the paint comes off onto the rag.  But if I don’t wipe it a lot, it should be fine. Smile  Looks a lot better, huh?

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Now, isn’t this a “welcome”-ing sight! Hehe! (Incase you don’t know, bienvenido means welcome). Winking smile

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Cool New Fruit!

July 29, 2013

Ok, so it’s not really a new fruit, but new to us!  Brian helped a family move the other day and at the house they were moving from had these cool fruit trees.  Even though Brian has lived here for over 18 years, he has never had this fruit before.  We’ve been seeing them a lot lately on our adventures exploring the area, but had no idea what kind of fruit they were.  The family cut some for us to try and I LOVE them!  In Spanish they are called níspero, and after a google search, found out that they are called loquat fruit.  I know your just dying to see a picture, so I won’t make you wait in suspense any longer…

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It has a very thin skin that you just peel off…

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But be careful, they have some larges seeds!  The first I had only had 1 seed, but they can have up to 4.  It has a very soft texture, almost like a very ripe pear, but creamier and it is sweet with a bit of a tartness to it.

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This one had 3 seeds… I’m going to see if I can get them to germinate to have a tree of my own, though, I read it will take up to 10 years before it is fruit bearing!  I’m not sure I can wait that long!  Too bad our friends moved from the house that had them!!  I’ve yet to see them for sale at the markets.

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Roasted Green Beans

July 24, 2013

I’ve been trying to get more veggies into my family, which has been a challenge since hubby is not a fan of veggies.  Yesterday, when I was racking my brain to come up with something that he would like, and that wouldn’t take a whole lot of time, I came up with an idea.  Hubby HATES cooked green beans (it’s a texture thing), but I thought if I put them on a cookie sheet and bake them with seasoning, they wouldn’t be mushy and hubby may actually like them.  And he did!!  Yesterday I cooked them about 30 minutes, a little too long in my opinion.  So, I made them again today (with the very little that I had left, as you can see), and cooked them about 15 minutes and they were really good.  Hubby liked them better cooked longer, though.  I’m sure this is not something new, so I’m not claiming that it is my idea.  I’ve made asparagus this way and thought green beans might be good too! Here’s what I did…

Cut the ends off of the cleaned green beans and lay out on a cookie sheet….

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Drizzle with a little olive oil, but not too much, a little goes a long way.  For this little bunch I had, I used maybe 2-3 teaspoons.  Then sprinkle some Kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano.  I’m sure adding other herbs and spices would be good too!

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Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Every 5 minutes or so, it is a good idea to stir them around a little.  Enjoy!

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Green beans

2-3 teaspoons Olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon Pepper

1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon Oregano

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Clean green beans and cut off the ends.  Place on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with Kosher salt, pepper, garlic salt and oregano.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until they are done to your liking.  Stir every 5 minutes.

The Highways and Hedges…

July 18, 2013

Today we took another little um, I mean a long 2 hour drive farther up in the mountains to an area we haven’t been to before.  Last week we took the same road and only went a little ways up the mountain since we had no idea where the road would lead.  When we got home from that trip Brian got on Google and found out where the turns were to make a compete circle!  So today we headed out at 7:30 to see what we could see!  The sights are just gorgeous and I can never do justice to the beauty and the enormity of these mountains in the pictures!  The route took us through 12 towns, most were very small and others tiny and of course there were a number of houses scattered along the way.  When we got home, and I found a map of the 3 counties in this zone, and realized we had not even scratched the surface!  After doing some research, I realized there are 56 towns/villages that are marked on the map in the 2 counties we drove through. (It is possible that there are more, but aren’t marked on the map.)  The two counties together have a population of about 30,000. This includes the largest town in this area, San Marcos with a population of 7 or 8,000.  The rest of the towns have 2,000 down to less than 100 people.  In some of the pictures below, you can see along some of the ridges and in some valley some of the towns and villages.July2013 005_382


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At one point the road turned to a rocky dirt road.

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This is the reservoir for the hydroelectric dam.  As you can see, last years rainy season that wasn’t very rainy, is still having an effect here.  When we visited this area in December 2011 the water was to the tree line.

reservoir from 2011 and 2013

We are praying about how the Lord can use us up in these areas as well.  There is just so much that needs to be done!  Yes, our focus has been on the Indians, and learning their language, but we cannot forget those around us as well.