Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No, you can't have him, he's mine!

The other day I took a mini-vacation and spent the entire day with the kids! We played games, watched Narnia twice, ate when we were hungry, did absolutely nothing that was work...you get the picture. :) Miguel, however, bless his heart, decided to work on the mountain of laundry so I snuck a couple of pictures from the kitchen window, heehee. Yes, I felt a bit guilty for taking it easy while Miguel worked, but in my defense, the kids were HAPPY with all the special attention from Mom. We had a great time...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Trying a New Recipe

There is a Christmas dinner at church tonight and I was asked to bring a guisado, a meat dish. I had the lady explain exactly what was meant by "guisado" since it can mean different things in different countries. She explained that it could be anything from sliced turkey to roast beef to meat sauteed with onions and tomatoes...so, pretty much any meat dish that could be served on its own alongside the other food (something like spaghetti sauce wouldn't work). Other people were to bring other parts of the meal, like vegetable dishes, salads, and desserts.

Since I only found out about the dinner last night (we've had a crazy week with school Christmas parties/programs and the church programs/rehearsals and Miguel had forgotten to inform me!), it didn't give me much time to think about what to take. So I peeked in my freezer to see what the options were...thank goodness I went shopping yesterday! I had two packages of "falda de res" (literally "beef skirt"-flank steak, I believe), which would have made a good shredded beef dish, some ground beef, and a medium-sized pork roast. I decided to go with the pork since it's a traditional Christmas meat here. So I got that out to thaw while I looked up recipes online. Almost all of my recipe books and recipe cards got left in Venezuela...but you can find just about anything online! Allrecipes is one of my favorite places to look.

Unfortunately, we forgot to bring our crockpot home from the Spanish study office where we'd used it to heat tamales for the Christmas party last Tuesday, so it was either stovetop or oven...amazingly, the first recipe I came to caught my eye as it called for pork, pineapple, and craisins, all of which I had today! :) I adapted the recipe for the oven instead of the crockpot and substituted fresh pineapple for the canned.

Here is what I did...first I let the pork thaw a bit and then I rubbed it with salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder, thyme, and rosemary. Then I seared it in a little oil and put it in the oven. While that was heating up, I added the pineapple chunks and chopped craisins to the pan I'd seared the pork in, adding about 1/3? cup of brown sugar and maybe a cup of water. I let that simmer until the pineapple was cooked, maybe 1/2 an hour or so?

When the pineapple was done, I took the roast out of the oven and turned it over, covering it with about half of the pineapple mixture. I covered the whole thing with foil and put it back in the oven for a while (can you tell I'm a bit foggy about the time? When it comes to times and measurements, I'm not exactly precise...LOL! I can't even tell you the temperature because the oven only has numbers from 1 to 5! I put it on 3, in case that helps). Anyway, I estimate that the time in the oven was somewhere around an hour, total, plus about 10 more minutes at the end where I turned the pork one more time, added the rest of the pineapple mixture, and put it back in the oven uncovered.

I have to tell you that the whole time it was baking, the house smelled SO GOOD! After I took it out of the oven and Miguel and I tasted a bit, he said, "Don't take it!" :) We couldn't resist tasting just a wee bit more...but there was still enough to send to the dinner (I was asked to send enough for 10 people). Ironically, Micah got sick this afternoon and I have a terrific headache/migraine, so Miguel went on his own with Gracia and Jojo. Oh well, I am thinking that I might fix this same dish for Christmas dinner, it would be SO good over mashed potatoes or even with roasted potatoes...hmmm...now there's a thought!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Jkaile is learning to unzip!

Probably to show off his hairy chest...LOL!

Doesn't he just crack you up??!!


Thanks to a link over at Simple Mom, I have been introduced to a new winter craft called a snowstorm! The instructions call for using round labels and dental floss, but I cut out circles and glued them together over fishing line. I also used two different sizes of circles to stagger it a bit. It was a lot of work, I think it took me about an hour? to make these. I am thinking I might make them to go over my kitchen window! It doesn't have a curtain and it's not like I'd have to take them down after Christmas...now the wheels are turning about how to vary this idea for different seasons and/or occasions!

The flash didn't go off when I took this picture,
but it turned out kind of cool!

I think I got them a little too long...

Girls and shoes...

Gracia came home yesterday with a bag full of "loot" that she bought at the Kinder store with the pennies she's collected for good behavior. Judging by the amount of stuff she brought home, she's been a very, very good girl! LOL! And since she's the only girl in the class, there isn't any competition to get the "girl stuff". After she got home, she immediately changed into her pretty dress and tried on her new shoes! Her comment pretty much sums up girls and their footwear...
"I needed these shoes!"

Miguel took one look at her mincing around the house
with her dainty little steps and said, "Uh-oh!"

Tragedy in the Stable

Tragic events in the stable, folks! Somehow a shark got into the manger scene (well, there's actually two manger scenes, you will notice...Gracia made a paper Nativity at school) and killed off everyone except Baby Jesus and the angel (I guess they are considered to be immortal?). See if you can spot the offender...
A close-up in case you had trouble finding it...this poor
sheep is in mortal danger!

I'm thinking that this is probably somewhat irreverent? But it sure is funny what kids come up with! I wonder where they get their over-active imaginations....hmmmm....and just in case you were wondering, the offending sea creature has been removed and all is back to normal in the stable once more. For now.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Odds and Ends

The pile of presents is growing!

Someone was giving away some Christmas decorations,
including this village. The kids are having so much fun with it
that I decided to let them keep it even though it's breakable...
mostly because we were able to borrow this bookshelf! Having
it set up on the top shelf keeps Jkaile out of it...right now
it's also home to all of my Christmas cards and wrapping paper-also
to keep it out of Jkaile's reach.
This morning I noticed that one of the shepherds was
being attacked by the sheep!
Notice that Samson has also joined the Nativity scene...

Our school's Christmas program was put on this last Friday.
The kids were supposed to wear hats and/or scarfs for part of the program.
Micah was quite a sight in his pointy hat, sports goggles, and ear muff thingy...

On Friday mornings, I usually take care of Haley and Anna for a couple of hours.
Jojo SAYS he doesn't like to play with girls, but he sure has a lot of
fun with them while they are here! :) They
were just too cute out there jumping on the trampoline.
Haley and Anna's family is leaving the field this week...
we sure are going to miss our little friends!

Jojo and Jkaile got out these plastic snowflakes (also in the box
of giveaways) and added them to the tree. Poor little tree
is just a tad bit overwhelmed! It was really cute to see
Jkaile working so hard to get them to stay up there! He did
a pretty good job, though, considering! :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Home from church...again...

I am home from church again today...seems like church attendance is pretty hit or miss these days! With the six of us, seems like one or the other kid (or parent...okay, usually me) just needs to stay at home. Today it's Jkaile...he has a terribly nasty cold with watery eyes and green, gunky nose (and face, and shirt, and hair...you get the picture). I am confident that they don't want THAT in the nursery! And there's no way that I will be holding that little bundle of joy for 3 hours of Sunday school/church!!! And we'd have to hold him because he loves to RUN...one time I put him down inside the church building and he made a beeline for the front door (two rooms away!) and was nearly out in the parking lot before I caught up to him...church was full of people standing around and he had the advantage of fitting between everyone's legs...I had to politely manouver my way through.

Last week everyone was healthy and we made a huge effort to get ready. Baths for the three youngest (one at a time in the plastic tub in the shower), showers for the rest of us, fix hair, clothes, pack snacks, books, toys, Bibles, diaper bags, extra clothes in case of accidents. We were just walking out the door when a friend called to say that the church service was canceled because the construction workers fixing the street outside the church building had broken a gas line. Argh! All that work...

Anyway, I decided to read and study on the book of Philippians while I'm home today. One of my favorite ways to read/study the Bible is to print out a portion of Scripture from Biblegateway. Today I printed out the entire book of Philippians in the New Living Translation. That way, I can underline, scribble notes, or highlight to my heart's content! I do that a little in my regular Bible anyway, but I think I feel more free to do it when it's on a printout. And reading a familiar passage like Philippians (one of my most favorite books!) in a different version helps me focus more on the message and meaning of the words instead of it being so "rote".

This is my first foray into the New Living Translation...so far, I like it! I grew up using the King James and now usually read the NIV, so it's interesting to try something different. Okay, I'm off to do some horizontal worshipping. :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Fun

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Tasha gave me her leftover fall miniature squashes/gourds. As I thought about what to do with them, it ocurred to me that it would be very funny to "recycle" them for Christmas and give them right back! And it was! We got some good laughs about this yesterday as she unwrapped each one. I forgot to take "before" pictures, but here are some of the end result (minus a green spotted one that I hadn't quite finished...similar to the red-spotted one). I think they turned out pretty cute!

My favorite one, I think...

Second favorite? It was hard to choose...

I've got some other projects that I'm working on that shall have to remain secrets until after Christmas so as not to ruin any surprises...so much fun! :) Last night I found a video on how to make little boxes, which are perfect for some of my creations.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas is coming!

I love Christmas! I love the Christmas story...Joseph and Mary, the angels and the shepherds, Baby Jesus, the Wise Men...I love the colors and the bows and the lights...and the presents, of course! And it's fun to pass on traditions to my kids. Every year is a little bit different for us since we're usually either in a different house or even a different country! Since we're new to Mexico, our Christmas decorations are slim, but we're getting creative and making do...we're pretty happy with the results. I am going shopping tomorrow to pick up some more things, but this is what we have so far...

We borrowed this door ornament from a friend at church.
Miguel even repainted the door! The bow
made it look pretty shabby...

The kids and I have been hard at work making paper snowflakes!
We are hanging them in the windows
and on the front door.

Along with the snowflakes, we have lights in the big front windows...

I also added a couple of strips of colorful wrapping paper
to the top and bottom of the glass...looks festive!

I set up a small table with a green tablecloth for
the presents and the manger scene...the kids have already spent
quite a bit of time rearranging it to their satisfaction.
Good thing it's kid-friendly!

Our diminuitive Christmas tree...it came complete with lights and
ornaments already attached! They are all kid-friendly and
since they are attached, Jkaile can't get them off.
He can, of course, pull the whole tree over, which
he's already done several times.
But no worries, I just stand it back up!
I highly recommend it for families with small children! LOL!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jewelry Giveaway!

Okay, you really have to go check this one out...a jewelry giveaway from Simple Mom! It all looks beautiful! Click here to see what the fuss is about. :)

Simple Mom also has a wonderful post about "quality 'nothing' time" that I really needed to hear today!

Monday, December 1, 2008

I keep painting

I am still painting when I can get the time...I am working on some original, hand-painted Christmas cards, I'm enjoying painting on rocks, and I also finished the set of paintings for my bedroom. I am not entirely happy with the results...will I ever be? Who knows...at any rate, the second yellow picture turned out much darker than I meant it to be-I wanted it more like the top one. And the background of the picture on the right also turned out a lot darker than the other one even though it looked okay while I was painting. rats. BUT, they are interesting and give me something to look at on that wall...and I'm learning more every time. :)

We rearranged the bedroom and put the bed against the opposite wall as the paintings, which is why the dresser is now under the rectangles...which I "stacked"-they look much better that way. I also found out that I can use masking tape to paint cleaner, sharper lines. I've been experimenting with that...so much fun! :) And remember...that's what my painting is all about anyway...HAVING FUN!


I am starting a new list over there to the right...yeah, over there...down just a little...a list of popcorn words from around the world. For some reason, I am getting a kick out of collecting these! Does anyone have any to add?

Play with your food

I was talking to my mom last night on the phone and she recommended that I try out a new fruit? vegetable? called 'chayote'...I'm not really sure what it is (looks like a pear, tastes like raw green beans?), but it's supposed to have some good, nutritious qualities to it. I found a couple at the store, but when I got them home and looked a little more closely at them, I just couldn't resist playing with one of them a bit...now how am I supposed to eat it when it's so cute??!!

Btw, if you need a good laugh, look up the words "play with your food" or "food play" on the web and see what you find... :)