Thursday, July 31, 2008

Make Your Own Playdough!

We decided one day to make our own play dough! I had no idea it would be so easy and turn out just like play dough! The kids were even amazed! I just googled the recipe and this is an easy one I found:1 cup flour, 1 cup warm water, 2 tsp. cream of tartar, 1 tsp. oil, 1/4 cup salt, food coloring
Mix all ingredients except food coloring. Stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from pan and knead with food coloring until smooth and colors are even. Place in a plastic bag or airtight container when cooled.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bran Muffins - Watch Out...You Can't Eat Just One!

This is another recipe given to me by my mother-in-law. These muffins are amazing! They make about 5 dozen so they're perfect if you have guests coming, you're hosting a get together, or having a meeting at your house. It's great because you mix them up the day before and just pull them out to bake!

Bran Muffins

Heat to boil...2 cups water
Pour over...2 cups 100% Bran cereal
Set aside.
Cream together...2 1/2 cups sugar and
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons shortening or butter
Add & beat well...4 eggs
Stir in...2 tsp. salt,
5 tsp. baking soda,
4 cups buttermilk,
Add first mixture.
Mix in...6 cups flour
Stir in...4 cups 40% Bran flakes

Grease muffin tins and fill 2/3 full. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes. Store in refrigerator up to 6 weeks.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Progress Continues On University Village!

We have been working nonstop the past few weeks trying to get some rooms at University Village ready to house some short-term teams and also so one of our staff couples could move in. It's been awesome to see change take place! As I've worked out there painting and cleaning and painting and cleaning some more, I get excited knowing that soon the place will be filled with students getting discipled and trained in construction skills, computers, hospitality, and so on.

I've also had the privilege of decorating the rooms. I love finding good, cool stuff on a cheap budget! I decided to go with the animal/earth tone theme since we are so close to Kruger Park. It's turned out nicely. I so enjoy making a place feel like a home and practicing hospitality. My goal is always, when someone walks into a house or a room, they would sense a warm, cozy, peaceful feeling. We still have lots more work and decorating to do but I think we're off to a good start. TJ, one of our staff member's teenage son, walked into the house the other day and said, "This place looks like a hotel!" Thanks, TJ!

Our Hospitality Rooms

Some Other Parts Of The House

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Love The Office!

Have any of you ever watched The Office? I must say, despite Steve Carrell's uncomfortable humor, it's one of my favorite shows. We just finished watching Season 3 on DVD (thanks Mom!). Some of it's priceless! Like Jim coming to work dressed up as Dwight. Or when Jim puts Andy's cell phone in the ceiling and then keeps calling it. But let's not forget the episode "Women's Appreciation!" I mean how funny can you get! We are anxiously awaiting Season 4 to come on DVD so we can continue the hilarious laughs! If you've never watched it and you're in the mood to laugh, I highly recommend it!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Safe In Your Mother's Arms...

The kids have been battling a cold the past few days, so at night, sometimes they have trouble sleeping. The other night Emma Grace was tossing and turning, crying, and just really uncomfortable. I went in to her room, picked her up into my arms, and sat down on her bed. I looked down and noticed that, despite her eyes being closed, she was smiling. I thought about how she must have felt safe in my arms and totally at peace. It was such a sweet moment.

I then started thinking about the children living in the communities here. I suddenly felt emotion as I thought of the many 3 year old girls living without their mommies and daddies. How they must long to know what it feels like to be safe in their mother's arms or even to feel safe at all. Can you imagine your child growing up without feeling that sense of security?

Sometimes I get overwhelmed when I look at the numbers of orphans here. They are staggering. But then I remember that I just need to touch and love every child that I can. I pray that through our family, these children would see a glimpse of the Father's heart and feel safe in His arms...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thank You, Grandma!

The kids have really been missing their grandparents lately. They keep asking, "When are we going to see Grandma and Grandpa? When are we going to Pops and Hannah's house?" They've been reliving memories they have. I'm really glad that even though we have never lived near the grandparents, the kids know them and miss them and want to see them.

A package arrived from Grandma and Grandpa Wednesday via one of our short-termers. The kids were extremely excited. Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa for the books, crayons, coloring books, stickers, and pencil pouches (although Emma Grace thinks hers is better used as a purse!)

Joshua's excitement when he realized the books were about the same Horton he had seen in the movie!
Loving the stickers!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Making Butterflies!

We made these cute, little butterflies as one of our art projects. It was another fun craft to do with the kids. All you need is:

Wooden clothespins
Black acrylic paint
Pipe Cleaners
Round coffee filters
Watercolor paints or markers

The day before the craft, paint the wooden clothespins black with an acrylic paint. Cut small pieces of pipe cleaners and fold them into a "V." Use a hot glue gun to glue them to the top of the clothespins. Spray the coffee filters (we couldn't find round coffee filters at our local grocery store so I cut pieces of crepe paper into circles) with water. Let the kids paint the coffee filters. The water will make the colors bleed. Let the "wings" dry. After they are dry "crunch" them in the middle and slip it into the hole of the clothespin. You can even attach a magnet to the back and display on the fridge.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Breaking The Wishbone Brings Back Memories!

My mom would always save the wishbone from the chicken for my brother and I to break. You know, you make a wish, pull your side, and whoever gets the top part, their wish is supposed to come true. Kind of silly but fun nonetheless. I started saving the wishbone for my kids. They have fun with it. Although Joshua is usually pretty upset if he doesn't get the top part. He's a lot like me. He plays to win! While Emma Grace could really care less. Well, this time she won.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Does anyone else think of Dustin Hoffman in the movie Meet The Fockers when you hear the word chimichanga? I was looking through my Southern Living All The Recipes From 1993 cookbook the other day when I came across this recipe for chimichangas. I was so excited. There are NO Mexican restaurants here in our area and we long for the tasty cuisine that we are so familiar with. So we had a mexican night complete with chimichangas, bean salsa, and tortilla chips (which you can find at only one store here). It was great! And it tastes great topped with sour cream or guacamole (I have an incredible advantage - we have an avocado tree in our backyard!) Here's the recipe I used. It was really simple!


2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1/3 cup sliced green onions
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (16 ounce) jar salsa or picante sauce, divided
8 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese, divided
Vegetable cooking spray

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large saucepan; stir in 2/3 cup salsa. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring often. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of chicken mixture just below center of each tortilla; sprinkle tortillas evenly with half of cheese.

Fold left and right sides of tortilla to partially enclose filling. Fold up top and bottom edges of tortilla (making a square). Place folded side down in a lightly greased 13 X 9 X 2 inch baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas. Bake at 475F for 13 minutes.

Heat remaining salsa in a small saucepan; pour over tortillas, and sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese. Makes 8 servings.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What Joshua's Learning At School...

Last week Joshua came home with 2 pictures made out of eggshells. Kind of cool but not when it made a huge mess in the car. So, anyway, I found out why they made pictures out of eggshells. They studied different animals during the week and what foods came from each animal. He now knows that milk and cheese come from cows. Jeremy told him to tell his teacher not to forget about T-bones! Here's his artwork:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Baking With The Kids...

I don't know about yours, but my kids love baking and "helping" in the kitchen. It is fun and something interactive and I like that they want to help. (Joshua is now an expert at grating cheese!) And they love to tell daddy what they made when he gets home. We tried out this new recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins from Family Fun. I thought they turned out pretty tasty. Chocolate chips are a wanted commodity around here (they taste better in the states so we usually try to stock up) but I think they were worth using in this recipe.

Here's a sampling of how it went.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

There's A Fire On The Mountain!

We've played many games with the kids including the traditional ones of Duck, Duck, Goose; Red Light, Green Light; London Bridge. But their all-time favorite is definitely Fire On The Mountain!


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Why I Love Birthdays!

This week we celebrated 3 birthdays of people on staff with us. It made me remember why I love birthdays so much. I always plan a big party for my husband and kids and try to make a special cake. Sometimes I feel I go a little crazy but I LOVE celebrating birthdays. It honors the person and it's a day to celebrate their life. Isn't that reason enough to make a big ado about their birthday? I think so! And I admit I like planning a party and then seeing it come together. Here's the birthdays we celebrated this week.

Brittany & Keri
(He turned 30 so we threw a surprise party!)

Friday, July 18, 2008

New Bee Movie Poster?

When Joshua watches a movie, he loves to get out his art kit and a piece of paper and draw the characters from the movie. He's done Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Shrek, and his newest creation, Bee Movie! I think it could be the new Bee Movie poster! What do you think?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tomato Penne Pasta

If you like pasta, you have to try this easy pasta dish. And the tomato mixture is perfect for homemade bruschetta.

Tomato Penne Pasta

salt and pepper
1 lb. penne pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
2/3 pound cherry tomatoes (2 cups) halved or quartered
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water cook the penne according to package directions until al dente, about 13 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until just golden, about 1 minute. Add the cherry tomatoes, oregano, crushed red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, until tomato juices run, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the penne, olives, parsley, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese to the skillet (or bowl) and toss to combine. Serve with more cheese if desired.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Time For Haircuts!

The kids got haircuts over the weekend. Here's some pics of them posing with their new do's!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Make Your Own Bath Paints!

We made our own bath paints and it was so easy and fun! This is all you need:

Corn starch, food coloring, and 1/2 cup clear or white handsoap

It creates endless hours of fun in the tub!

Their goal was to paint the whole bathtub! They gave up after a while and dumped it all in the bathtub which made a huge bubble bath! Joshua gave himself a beard and Emma Grace started making "recipes." I think they had more fun doing that than painting!

For detailed instructions, visit Family Fun.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Kind Of Story That Breaks Your Heart...

Our local contact in one of the communities we are working in called us the other day and told us a heartbreaking story. A 12 year old girl, homeless and with no clothes or anything, had a baby 4 weeks ago. She was kicked out of where she was staying when the baby was born and had nowhere to go, so our friend took her in. We were all heartbroken to hear this, knowing that the circumstances in which she got pregnant could not have been good and knowing that this happens all too often in these communities. We took the girl and the baby some clothes, shoes, and blankets. She is a depressed, young girl who now has to do things way beyond her maturity level. Please pray for her and all the other young girls living in these communities who are vulnerable and not safe. It reminds us that we, as the body Christ, have to respond to this pandemic and show the love of Jesus to these children. Thanks for your prayers...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Creating Kisses!

Lately the kids have been creating "new" kinds of kisses. I don't know where they got the idea but I know Emma Grace sure loves the attention she's getting from her brother. Here are some of their creations:

The Nosey Kiss

The Thum
by Kiss
The Forey Kiss
(Like Forehead but they corrected me when I called it a Forehead kiss.)
The Bummy Kiss
The Exploding Kiss

(This looks like a regular kiss but it actually "explodes" at the end!)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Admit It...I Do Online Surveys!

My husband laughs at me because I do online surveys. I just love free stuff and I love being able to do something so simple and get compensation for it. I belong to 3 different groups, MySurvey, E-Rewards, and American Consumer Opinion. Each one has different types of compensation.

Every time you take a survey on MySurvey, you get points. You can redeem the points for gift cards to different places, small appliances, cookware, and more. You must reach 1000 points before you can redeem for any prizes. If you want to join, please see the MySurvey icon on the right of our blog page or click here.

With E-Rewards, you get dollar points which you can redeem for airmiles on popular airlines as well as gift cards to Target, Starbucks, and Macy's. You can also get magazine subscriptions and much more.

At American Consumer Opinion, you don't get points but instead, if you are selected, you can get checks in the mail for completing certain surveys. Sometimes it's not much but it's fun nonetheless.

These are just a few that I've used for a few years now and have been happy with. I've received compensation from every one of these panels. It's been fun to give my opinion as well as try out new products. If you're like me, and you like free stuff, it's worth a try!
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