Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Gift Ideas...

With Christmas fast approaching I thought I would pass along a few things that I thought were cool Christmas ideas. Joshua got this book last Christmas from his Uncle Caleb. It is so awesome! It's filled with projects, history, information, everything! We learned about the Southern Hemisphere constellations from this book!

I came across Stubby Pencil Studio through another blogger. They sell eco products for creative kids. I love finding cool art supplies for my kids. The smencils really intrigued me. Scented pencils made out of newspaper? Check it out for fun stocking stuffer ideas!

And then, of course, there's those 2009 calendars I keep pushing. If you haven't purchased one yet, head on over to my Lulu store to buy yours today! Not only are you getting a great product but you're helping to support missionaries in Africa! I bought a couple myself and I have to admit they look pretty good!

What about you? Have you found any Christmas gift ideas that you want to share?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Lovely Meal...

We have been trying lately to eat fish once a week. I read in a book that it's healthy to work it in to your diet at least once in the week. I really like salmon and I love sweet potatoes and salmon together. I don't know what it is about the combo but I really love it! This combo makes a lovely meal! (Sweet potatoes in SA are white!)

Easy Salmon
Drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle fresh dill and salt over top. Cover with foil. Bake in 350F oven for about 20 minutes.

Sweet Potato Wedges
(This recipe comes compliments of Everyday Food magazine from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living.)
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Peel 3 sweet potatoes; cut in half crosswise and then into wedges about 1 inch wide. Crush 1 garlic clove in its skin.
2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the sweet potatoes with the garlic, 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Roast until soft, about 30 minutes.

Green Beans
Boil fresh greens for about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Rooibos Tea

There's some things that I can't find in the stores here or some things that just don't have that familiar taste that I've been so used to in the states, but I must say that South Africa has some amazing rooibos tea. I love it! And the best part is that there is no caffeine it. Perfect for me who can't go to sleep if I have caffeine past a certain time. When all of you come visit :) you must have some!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Zucchini Nut Muffins

Another great recipe I found in Gifts From The Kitchen. Didn't think I would like the almond flavoring but it really added to the taste. And I had to add a little bit more milk to the mix. I'm telling you - these are very yummy!

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ginger

1 large egg
1/3 cup oil
1 cup grated zucchini, with peel
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. almond flavoring
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Make a well in center.

Add remaining 7 ingredients to well. Stir until just moistened. Fill 12 greased muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake in a 400F oven for 18 min. Let sit in tins for about 5 min. before removing to wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving today! I found this little cartoon funny. I've always been intimidated by cooking a turkey fearing that it would come out dry. If only they were this easy...

The Safest Flight I've Ever Flown

After 20+ hours of travel, we landed safely in the states! As usual, the kids did great, and we had a little excitement on the way!

I was amazed to see the progress of the transformation of the Joburg airport. They've been working on a makeover for a couple of years now in preparation for the 2010 World Cup to be hosted in SA.

After a quick stop for schwarmas at Anat's, we were off to check-in. As we entered the international check-in counters, we spotted one of my favorite worship bands, Hillsong United! They were checking in for their SAA flight. We stood there in awe for several minutes. We even spotted Brooke Fraser. That's for you, Courtney! (Although it's not like we heard her sing or anything.)

I thought, "Wow! Add that to my list of famous people I've seen!" At check-in we were told to go straight to our gate because the plane was already boarding. We hurried only to discover the opposite. They hadn't even started! Oh, well, we sat down to wait. But then everything - the wait, the beefed up security - it all became so clear as none other than former President Jimmy Carter walked past us with his secret service entourage to board our flight! We couldn't believe it!

As we boarded the plane, the secret service were scattered throughout. We fastened our seat belts still buzzing with the excitement. Suddenly I look up to see President Carter walking down the aisle shaking hands! What do you say to a President? "Uh, nice to meet you, sir?" Well, that's what fumbled out of my mouth as my heart skipped a beat! He leaned down to Emma Grace and said, "What's your name, you pretty little thing?" Of course, she didn't give him the time of day. If only she knew... I was too in awe to think about my camera (and nervous if that was even allowed, those secret service scared me!) until he walked up the next aisle, and I snapped a quick one.

With a former President on board, comes many secret service. There had to be around 15 on the flight. So now you see why Delta flight 35 was the safest flight I've ever flown...

What about you? Any stories of meeting or seeing someone famous?

*To read more about President Carter's visit to Africa, visit MSNBC.

Joshua's First Book Cover...

Watch for it in stores in about 15 years...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reading...The Abduction

I thought I would branch out from my John Grisham reads to explore a new author. I was a little hesitant to read a book about a child abduction, having small children myself. I don't want to give the ending away, however, the twists and turns kept me reading. Although, the jury's still out if I like this author. I would like to read his bestseller, The Color of Law, before I make a final decision. Anyone read it?


I've added a new sidebar! To the left, you will now see my current reading list! If you've read any good books lately, please let me know! I'm always looking for a good read!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Eggplant Parmesan

Click here for an updated version of this recipe.

I didn't grow up eating eggplant but since it was growing in the garden, I thought I might explore actually cooking with it! This recipe was adapted from a recipe featured on the NY Times. I was also curious to look up the health benefits of eggplant, or other names for it would be brinjals or aubergines.

"An eggplant's fiber content is high, which helps our digestive process and also acts against coronary heart disease. Eggplants not only feature a number of vitamins, proteins and minerals but also contain important phytonutrients. These phytonutrients are known to act as an antioxidant. Potassium in eggplants brings a balance in salt intake and maintains a nice level of hydration. It also plays a role in regulating blood pressure. Eggplants also contain folate, magnesium and niacin as well as copper, manganese and thiamine (vitamin B1)."

Eggplant Parmesan
2 lbs. (about 2 large) eggplants
coarse salt
1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 lbs. mozzarella, shredded
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup packed fresh basil

Peel and slice eggplant. Arrange one layer in colander. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat until all eggplant is in colander. Weigh down eggplant with 2 plates. Let sit for 2 hours. The purpose of this is for the eggplant to release some moisture.

Meanwhile combine tomatoes, garlic, and 1/3 cup olive oil in a food processor or blender. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

When eggplant has drained, press down to release excessive moisture. Wipe off excess salt and lay flat on paper towels.

Mix bread crumbs and flour in shallow dish. Beat eggs in separate shallow dish. Put a deep skillet over medium heat and pour 1/2 in. of olive oil in it. Coat eggplant in flour mixture, then dip in egg. Fry on both sides in oil. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with all eggplant.

In 9X13 dish, spread one cup of tomato sauce. Top with 1/3 of the eggplant slices. Top eggplant with half of the shredded mozzarella. Sprinkle 1/3 of the Parmesan and half of the basil on top.

Make a second layer of eggplant, topped with one cup of sauce, remaining mozzarella, half of remaining Parmesan, and rest of basil. Add remaining eggplant, and top with remaining sauce and Parmesan.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Through The Eyes Of Children

When we went into the park, I brought my point and shoot along for the kids to also take photos. Here are some of the shots through their eyes...

Update...Joshua's Sleepover

Well, Joshua survived his first sleepover (by sleepover I mean sleeping with non-family members). Not only did he survive but he had a blast! I mean how could he not enjoy it? All his friends from class, playing together, roasting marshmellows, watching a movie... Oh, the life of a 6 year old!

Weekend Kruger Sightings

Some photos from our sightings in Kruger last weekend...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Joshua's Graduation!

Wednesday we attended Joshua's graduation from Pre-Primary School! Although I was thrilled to attend my firstborn's graduation, the lines from The Incredibles kept running through my head...

Helen (Mrs. Incredible): I can't believe you don't want to go to your own son's graduation.
Bob (Mr. Incredible): It's not a graduation. He is moving from the 4th grade to the 5th grade.
Helen: It's a ceremony!
Bob: It's psychotic! They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity, but if someone is genuinely exceptional...

I shared this with Joshua and he thought it was hilarious and started acting out Mr. Incredible's actions through this scene! I love that little guy!

True to traditional graduation form, they called each student's name out and handed them a certificate. Our crew gave Joshua the loudest cheering and applause! Those Americans!

After receiving their certificates, the kids sang some Christmas carols! As usual they sounded brilliant! The last song is something about saying goodbye to the pre-primary school as they move to the next school. It's a bit dark because they turned out the lights and the kids held candles.

Joshua's classmate and best friend. These two are always acting silly when I fetch him from school!

Tonight Joshua has his first sleepover. Every year the Grade R's have a sleepover at their school with their teacher. Oh, the things I'm still getting used to that would never fly in the USofA. He's very excited about it but I'm interested to see if he makes it the whole night.

Pumpkin Pie

Made with butternut? Maybe I should call it Butternut Pie. We made it for our Thanksgiving celebration Saturday. I probably wouldn't have even thought of using butternut had my sister-in-law, Anneke, not mentioned it to me. Pumpkin is not always easy to find here but the butternut is so similar that you couldn't tell a difference! Did you know in Australia it is actually referred to as butternut pumpkin because it is so similar? My nose is not used to experiencing the familiar smells of autumn without the crisp, cool, fall air, but it was a pleasant experience nonetheless!

Pumpkin Pie
3 cups pumpkin or butternut, cooked
3/4 cup honey (you could also use 1 cup sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
4 large eggs
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk

Slice pumpkin or butternut, leaving skins on but scooping out seeds*. Boil for about 30 minutes. Strain and let cool. After cooled, scoop out and discard skins. Blend until smooth. In mixing bowl, mix butternut or pumpkin, honey, and spices. Beat with mixer until well blended. Add eggs and milk and beat again. Pour into prepared pie crust (see below for pie crust recipe). Bake at 425F for 15 minutes. Then turn oven down to 350F and bake another 45 to 60 minutes. Pie is done when knife inserted comes out clean.
*Save your seeds to plant in your garden or toast!

Pie Crust
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water

Combine flour and salt. Cut in butter. Add water. On lightly floured surface roll out dough or simply press into 9 in. pie pan.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

DTS Begins January 10th!

Our DTS staff of 4 have been busy preparing for the DTS. Interviews with potential African students, scheduling speakers, praying for the students, to name a few things. Please continue to pray for us as we decide which students to accept. We have interviewed a total of 9 African students. We encourage them to pay what they can but we are also looking for sponsors. $2500 will allow one person to go through the school, go on outreach, pay for their books, as well as a passport. This is an incredible opportunity for these guys to grow in their walk with God as they are challenged to see the needs in their own country and respond. If you want to help sponsor a student for this lifechanging opportunity, please email me at

We've also seen the walls of the classroom go up right before our eyes! It will be a nice open air classroom for those extremely hot summers! The school starts January 10th and ends May 30th. If you know of anyone who is interested, they can email us at Downloadable apps can be found at our website,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Day Of Critter Sightings

The other day I couldn't help but notice all the critters that had come out after all the rains. Like the slugs. Although there are many different species of slugs, many of them come out after the rains.

Then there's the millipedes. We see these quite often. Did you know that an adult millipede can be up to 10 in. long? They have a lifespan of about 7-10 years pending unexpected death by humans. They actually only have 100-400 legs. Still quite a lot for moving around so slowly.
Then I spotted a ladybug perched on my coriander (or also known as cilantro in the states). I found some interesting ladybug facts here. Ladybugs are excellent for your garden as they feed on unwanted pests such as aphids. You can attract ladybugs to your garden by planting things they are attracted to. The most popular plants have umbrella shaped flowers such as fennel, dill, cilantro, caraway, angelica, tansy, wild carrot & yarrow. Other plants that attract ladybugs include cosmos (especially the white ones), coreopsis, scented geraniums, and dandelions. Be careful not to spray insecticides as they are very sensitive to them, and if most of their food source is gone, they won't lay eggs in your garden.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Celebrating Thanksgiving...

What!? But it's a little early. Yes, I know but our friends, Rich and Lynn, wanted to host a Thanksgiving dinner here in Africa. Since a lot of us will actually be gone by the 27th, we decided to celebrate here early. I certainly don't object to TWO Thanksgiving dinners! Thanksgiving has to be my favorite holiday. You get to fellowship with friends and family around a feast of wonderful cuisine without the pressure of giving gifts. It's awesome!

I just couldn't have a Thanksgiving meal without traditional pumpkin pie. It was yet another chance to make something from scratch seeing as how you can find canned pumpkin here. Look for the recipe in a future post...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Swimmer's Ear Home Remedy...

With Joshua and Emma Grace both in swimming lessons, we've had bouts of swimmer's ear. Lots of kids swimming in the same pool... So Jeremy started researching online and found some great home remedies to help with this painful nuisance. If your child already has swimmer's ear, you can mix equal parts water and white vinegar and drop into the ear twice a day. We tried this and it really did work! To prevent swimmer's ear, you can mix equal parts alcohol and water and drop into the ear immediately after swimming. I love home remedies so this tidbit of info was a great find!

Reading...Nobody Ever Said AIDS: Stories & Poems From South Africa

On our getaway to Pretoria, I picked this up on sale for a mere R15. The title definitely caught my eye. AIDS is so taboo here and it's true, "Nobody Ever Said AIDS." The next catcher? The last line of the first paragraph of the introduction. "It is creative responses such as these that remind us of the power of art in foregrounding the human face of suffering."
The book is a compilation of different short stories and poems. It is an opportunity for those living with HIV/AIDS or those who have seen loved ones living and dying with HIV/AIDS to have a healing, creative outlet to express themselves. In a land where the words are unspeakable, I say YES to this book. Read their stories and your heart will be opened to the pain of their reality...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pear Butter

I loved making Apple Butter so much that I thought I would try my hand at Pear Butter! It's as simple as Apple Butter yet does have its own distinct pear taste. I love it!

24 medium pears; unpeeled, cored and quartered
3/4 cup concentrated apple juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger

Place pears, apple juice, and lemon juice in crock pot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or overnight. Blend pears and a little of the juice until smooth. Return to crock pot. Add cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Cook one hour longer. Spoon into sterilized jars. Makes 4 - 1 pint jars.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Family Bonding

We're having lots of fun with Jeremy's brother, Zach, our sister-in-law, Anneke, and their 2 kids, Arielle and Zoe! They are visiting us for a couple of weeks. This is the kid's first time to meet Zoe and the last time they saw Arielle, she was only 2 weeks old. So lots of family bonding is going on! I'll let the pictures explain all the happiness! I took the last picture of Arielle yesterday morning. She woke up in the wee hours of the morning and ended up sleeping next to me for a couple of hours!

Time To Wrestle

Time To Sing And Dance

Time To Bathe

Time To Read

Time To Eat Ice Pops

Time To Look Cute

Time To Feed

Time To Love

Time To Sleep
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