Sunday, August 31, 2008

Joshua Is Learning To Read!

It's really cool to hear and see what Joshua is learning in school. They are starting to learn to read in school. He's such a smart kid! Here's some of the sentences he wrote (he did get his "C" backwards) in his new notebook from Grandma and Grandpa!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Make Your Own Ice Cream Sandwiches!

You never realize how much you miss something until you go to the store to buy it and they don't sell it! When Jeremy went back to the states earlier this month, our friends here in South Africa had requests for him to bring back. One of our friends had been to the states before so she really wished Jeremy could bring back ice cream sandwiches. Of course that wouldn't be possible but I thought I would Google a recipe and see what came up (can I just say I love Google - you can find anything!) I found this recipe on Family Fun and they turned out awesome! I just wish they sold Blue Bell ice cream here. The next step would be making our own ice cream!

Here's how the kids helped:

To see this recipe, click here to go to Family Fun.
Even though it says to use margarine, I used butter and they still turned out great!
This post is dedicated to Simone Nilsson! Try making these and see how they taste!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Go Green!

I got immersed in "Go Green" when we moved to New Haven. Recycling and living "green" is a part of everyday life there. I wasn't used to that coming from TX but I quickly learned to adapt and now I love it!

Living in Africa, setting aside your recyclables in a bin isn't really a priority (at least not where we live) but there are other things we can do to live healthy and protect the environment. Here they charge about R0.31 for a plastic bag at the grocery store. An the "green" reusable bags for only R5. You can buy many things like salt, laundry stain remover, tin foil, etc. in refill packaging. It's cheaper and it reduces the amount of waste.

I encourage everyone to find out how they can help their environment in the area they live in. I don't think of myself as one of those crazy fanatics but I do think we should be good stewards of what God has given us!

Did you know...
  • 1 recycled tin can would save enough energy to power a TV for 3 hours.
  • 1 recycled glass bottle would save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.
  • 1 recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 3 hours.
  • 70% less energy is required to recycle paper compared to making it from raw materials.

Why Do I Blog?

It's a good question. I mean why not just keep a written diary so that the whole world doesn't have a glimpse into everything you do? I started this blog almost 2 years ago so that friends and supporters could keep updated on the ministry and so grandparents could see the newest things the kids were doing. I'm happy to still be able to do that, but I think blogging has turned into something even more to me. The past year I've really been struck hard with the importance of creating and being creative. Our God is so good that He would allow us to express ourselves in different ways. Some with painting, some with photography, some writing, etc. The possibilities of creating are endless. I've realized the past year the importance of tapping into our creative side and making sure we are allowing time for that in our lives. I always told myself I wasn't creative. That is such a LIE! Everyone has the ability to be creative. The past several years I've found my creative outlet. I've discovered that I love to scrapbook, photograph, and tell the stories of my photos. I feel the more I do it, the better I get (at least I hope so!) So that is why I love to blog. It's an outlet for me to tell the stories of our life in a creative way. It also makes me want to try new recipes or make up my own, find interesting crafts, and so on, so that I can pass them along to all my friends.

The past couple of weeks I really wanted to do a slight makeover to my blog. I wanted to make a banner that really captured what this blog is about. I wanted pictures that encompassed what I write about. I also wanted a title that did the same. After pondering it for several days, Jeremy said, "Why not, 'I Believe In Love?'" I thought about it for a couple of days. I really wanted to come up with something cool and catchy on my own so I was a bit reluctant to use it at first. But the more I pondered it, the more I loved it. Yes, I do believe in Love! Between my family, orphans in Africa, making up a new recipe, I have to believe in love or I wouldn't do many of the things I do. It makes me think of one of my favorite worship songs by 100 Hours. The chorus is simply, I Believe In Love... I hope as you read the words in this blog, you will see Love weaved through all of it.

I pray this blog is a source of inspiration, entertainment, and fun for all who visit. If nothing else, it pleases my heart to creatively document our adventures. I promise it won't turn into: This is what I did today, brushed teeth, got dressed, ate breakfast...

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to express myself and thanks for visiting our blog!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Strawberry Shortcake

In addition to loving apple desserts, I love strawberry shortcake! I mean how tasty are those red berries when they are in season! I discovered this recipe several years ago from my Better Homes And Gardens cookbook. It's a delicious dessert you and your guests are sure to love!

Strawberry Shortcake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup milk

Cut 1 pkg. of strawberries into chunks. Place in airtight container and pour 1/4-1/2 cup sugar over strawberries. Let sit in fridge for several hours to let juices gather.

Preheat oven to 450F. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter till mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl combine egg and milk; add all at once to dry ingredients and stir just to moisten. Knead gently on a lightly floured surface. Pat or roll to 1/2 inch thickness. Shape or cut into 9 biscuits. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for about 10 minutes or until golden. Cut in half. Top with strawberries and fresh, whipped cream.
*To make cream, whip 1 cup fresh cream with 2 tablespoons sugar until soft peaks form.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fill Our Desperation...

We meet as a leadership team once a week. This past week, as we shared what God is doing in our lives and then sang some worship songs, I was struck with something. As we sang "Would You come? Would You fill our desperation?", I was reminded of the need to allow God to fill MY desperation. Lately I've realized how overwhelmed I get when big projects start coming up. And we've had our share of big projects lately. Believing God for the money for University Village, DTS, the upcoming staff conference, building a care center later this year. As I look at the tasks ahead, I get overwhelmed. God really convicted me recently on that. Why do I get so overwhelmed when I have such a good God that takes care of me? If I just give it to Him, He will faithfully give me what I can handle. Why is that so hard for me to do!? With all the projects, I definitely recognize, that we can't do it on our own. We need God to do it and then it is a testimony of how great He is! I look forward to seeing God's hand move in miraculous ways in the upcoming months!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Traditional Dances

We went to Mbonisweni a couple of weeks ago and none of the kids were there! They said it was because there were traditional dances going on. We heard them nearby so we went to watch them. As we were walking back, they told us why they were doing the dances. You see, they hold circumcision camps for the teenage boys and girls. From what I understand, they don't have a choice. They have to go. They take them away for a few months. I don't know all that they do but they do circumcise them. We've known kids who are forced to go against their will. I guess after their time away they come back and do this traditional dance throughout the community. Please pray for these kids. Thinking of girls getting circumcised horrifies me and circumcising teenage boys with the same knife horrifies me also. Another way AIDS is getting spread...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Iced Tea Lemonade

Being that it's lemon season here, we juice a lot of lemons to make fresh lemonade! We've also come to love making iced tea lemonade. If you haven't made it but you love iced tea and lemonade, you have to try it! Just make iced tea. We usually do 5 bags of tea (steep tea bags in hot water for 5 minutes) with 2 liters of water and 1 cup of sugar. You can either buy lemonade concentrate at the store and mix it up or if you want to make it homemade, here's the recipe we use:

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2-3 large lemons)
5 cups water
1 cup sugar

Then add half of the tea and half of the lemonade mixture. It's very refreshing!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Some Of My Favorite Products!

Being on the other side of the ocean, I try to stock up on some of my favorite products from the states. It always makes for heavy bags when we return from the USA but then I don't have to buy toiletries for many months! And I always love the challenge of finding what I want on sale. I certainly miss those buy one, get one free sales!

Here's some of my favorite products:

Herbal Essences Volumizing Hairspray: The smell is so nice for a good price!
Garnier Fructis Shampoo: Again I love the smell and the way it makes my hair feel.
Revlon Colorstay: This foundation goes on smooth and doesn't leave an oily feeling.
Basis Cleaner Clean Face Wash: This one is hard to find but it leaves your face feeling so fresh and oil free. You can find it at Drug Emporium (in West Texas) or at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
Tom's Toothpaste: Did you know that most toothpastes contain artificial sweeteners? I am allergic to artifical sweeteners so when I went on the hunt for a toothpaste without them, this is what I found. I like the one with baking soda to make my mouth feel extra fresh!
Tresemme Big Boost: This spray really does work! I spray it in my hair before blow drying to give it extra body.
Cover Girl Simply Powder Foundation: I like the powdered look from this inexpensive choice.
Loreal Voluminous Mascara: Makes my thin lashes look fuller!

And some of my favorite products for the kids:

Tom's Toothpaste For Kids: I might as well choose the healthy choice for my kids!
Suave Bodywash And Shampoo: Again inexpensive and available in a variety of scents.
Suave Detangler: Very much needed to detangle little girl's hair. The apple scent smells yummy!

Those are a few of my favorite products. I actually got turned on to many of these through the Walgreen's rebate program. If you don't know about it, you should check it out! Every month Walgreen's puts out a rebate catalog. Often they have a few products for totally free! You purchase it, send in a rebate, and get a check back in the mail for the price you paid! And if you choose to get it back in the form of a gift card, then you get an extra 10% back so you can actually get even more back! It's definitely worth the trouble of filling out the rebate form.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Turning 31...

Yesterday I celebrated my 31st birthday. My husband did an awesome job making my day special! First he treated me to a haircut at:

I had an awesome conversation with Tisha while she cut my hair. We talked about orphans, YWAM, Ten Thousand Homes, Oprah. It's becoming a tradition to get my hair cut on my birthday. I guess that's what happens when you wait so long in between haircuts!

(My SLR's battery was dead so I had to settle with my point and shoot. Hence some of the bad picture quality!)

Then it was off to Mugg and Bean for a little refreshment!

After that, Jeremy dropped me off at home and gave me a couple of hours to myself. Boy, was that nice! I read, relaxed, and took a little snooze (unfortunately I was feeling a little under the weather with a mild sore throat). Then we got all dressed up for at dinner at:

with friends...

I felt pretty snazzy in my new outfit Jeremy got me from Gap while he was in the states.

And the food was spectacular! We all enjoyed a glass of sparkling wine by the fire before being seated at our table. I ordered the beef fillet and the beef just melted in my mouth! Jeremy and I shared creme brulee for dessert. I definitely give Oliver's 2 thumbs way up!

Thank you my wonderful husband for making my day special and for celebrating my life! I love you!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Say You're Proud Of Me!

On our Mbonisweni Saturday visits, I've had the privilege of helping to man the craft station. It's fun because I love crafts and I get to talk with the kids. I've been struck, once again, with something that kids growing up without mommys or daddys miss out on. The need for someone to be proud of them. After the kids "create" their art project, they are quick to show us. After complimenting them on their awesome creation, a huge smile appears on their face. Here's some shots of their necklace creations:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

As Per My Brother-In-Law...

After reading my post, "What Do You Miss The Most?," my brother-in-law commented, "hey jen, how bout a blog on the top things you like in rsa but cant get in the usa?" I don't want to give the wrong impression about living here, but I think many times you don't realize how much you miss something until you don't have it. But let me tell you what I love about South Africa:
1. The amazing waterfalls. The beauty is breathtaking.
2. The slower pace of life. It's taken time to get used to but I like being forced to slow myself down.
3. Living right next to Kruger National Park. Instead of my kids growing up going to the zoo, they are growing up seeing animals in the wild! How cool is that!

So, Zach, I know you were being your sarcastic self, but nonetheless, this blog post is dedicated to you!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Joshua's First Cricket Match!

Ok, so I don't have clue what the rules of cricket are. I know some of the words associated with this game are wicket, bowl, bat, safe, out... Sounds a bit like baseball but it is very different. For one they hold the bat down instead of up, and the ball actually bounces before the hitter hits it. I don't really know the rules but it was fun cheering Joshua on (he did really well bowling) and snapping pics of my son's first sports match. By the way, they won! Here's some of the many photos I took:

Interesting facts about cricket:
1. The sport is played in over 160 countries.
2. The modern form of this sport originated in England. It started out as a kid's game.
3. There are 11 players on a team.
4. The bat is not more than 38 inches long and the blade may not be more than 4.25 inches wide. Bats typically weigh around 3 lbs. with the handle covered in rubber to enhance grip.
5. Cricket can be traced back to the 13th century but may have existed even earlier than that.
6. Typically matches are played over 3 to 5 days with 6 hours of cricket played each day.
7. In 1844 the first international cricket match took place between the USA and Canada.
To see the rules of cricket, you can click here or the shortened Wikipedia explanation.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Christmas In August!

We just had Christmas in August! Our friend, Peter, came to visit and brought gifts for the kids. (Thank you Peter and Lisa!) And then Jeremy came back from the states. After seeing the grandparents (on both sides!) and Zach and Anneke, he had plenty to give the kids (and me!) This is the display of the loot after the kids got a hold of it!  Thanks everyone!
And thanks Peter and Lisa!

Jeremy's welcome home gifts (made by the kids) and my boys modeling their T-shirts:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ministry In Kabokweni...

I went to Kabokweni for the first time this past week. We've been taking the short-term visitors there 3 times a week. I've been busy with the logistical side of the teams, so I decided it was time for me to go out and actually see what they were doing. Elizabeth was excited to see me when I pulled up. I think because she's been to my house a couple of times but I had never been to hers. She excitedly showed me the land where we hope to build a care center later this year. Elizabeth is our local contact who lives in Kabokweni. She's an amazing woman of God who has a huge heart for the children. We spent the whole day out there cooking lunch in the morning and then serving the kids after they got out of school and also squeezing in some play time with the kids.

Here we are cooking lunch...

Emma Grace's little friend...

The kids playing on the site of the future care center...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pretty Nails!

Susan was one of our short-termers who came this month. She brought with her lots of great stuff for the kids including nail polish for the girls! What girl doesn't love nail polish? I know these girls loved getting pampered for an afternoon!

Thanks, Susan!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tie-Dyed T's!

The kids and I made tie-dyed T's the other day! It was lots of fun! I had never made them before, but I've always wanted to. When I spotted a kid wearing one, it inspired me to find out how! We used the twisted tie method from Family Fun. Click on the title of this post and it will take you to the Family Fun link with instructions on how to make them!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Future Chef?

My kids are getting old enough now that we can somewhat sleep in on Saturday mornings. When they get up, we get them their breakfast and they pick out a movie to watch. It's nice because we can get another hour of sleep. One morning Joshua picked out Ratatouille to watch. After my extra hour of sleep, I came out to the living room to find this:

I guess the movie inspired him to make his own Ratatouille. Will he follow in his uncle's footsteps?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

We were having people over for brunch one day so I went searching for something new to make. I've thought about making cinnamon rolls in the past but, for some reason, was always intimidated by it. I think it was the whole yeast thing. It seems so temperamental to me. Anyways, I found this recipe off of some recipe cards I had been sent several years ago from Easy To Bake, and it was actually very easy. And the best part...they tasted delicious!

Cinnamon Rolls
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package quick-rising active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
6 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Grease a 9X13 pan.

2. Combine 2 cups flour, granulated sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in water, 2 tablespoons butter and egg. Beat until smooth; gradually stir in remaining flour until soft dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

3. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 15X12 in. rectangle. Spread with remaining butter. Mix brown sugar with cinnamon; sprinkle over surface. Starting with a 12 in. side, roll up tightly.

4. Cut into 12 slices; place cut side down in prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap; place on wire rack set over large pan of hot water. Let rise until buns double, 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375F. Uncover buns. Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Cool for 1 minute.

5. To make glaze, mix 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, 2-3 tablespoons milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Drizzle over cinnamon rolls.
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