Friday, December 24, 2010

Catching Up (again...), part 2

Two graduations.

Garrett from 8th grade, and Ansley from high school.

I am so proud of Garrett!  He is such a good guy - a good friend, a good son, and a good student.  And look how tall he is!

And look how pretty.  I just wanted to cry looking at how beautiful Ansley was during her graduation.  She has LOVED high school and I know it is just a shadow of all the good times and good friends in her future.  I have never, ever had to say one word to her about studying.  She is very self-motivated in her schoolwork and made excellent grades.  I am so proud!

Today we spent the whole day making Christmas goodies.  I feel like I've taken a sugar bath.  But it was fun.....
Merry Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Catching Up (again...)

Oh my.  I've been a horrible blogger lately.

If there are any of you out there still reading this, here is what's been going on around here.  Probably the reasons why I've been a terrible blogger!  Oh well!

1.  Visit to the "new" chacara.
Our church has always helped support a drug rehab center outside of the city.  It is called the Youth Center for Recuperation.  But we just call it the "chacara" which means little farm.  This year we had made plans to worship with them in December and take them a Christmas gift.  The week before we had planned to go out there, the chacara was robbed.  This is the second time that this has happened.  The chacara location was once very removed from communities and population.  But things are growing and now it is very near to several neighborhoods and commercial areas.  As always, drugs continues to be a big problem in these areas, and the chacara, unprotected by fences or walls, is an easy target.  Fortunately, the chacara has another location - this one very far removed from the city.  So, the week of our visit, the director of the chacara decided to move everyone out to the other location.

So on our Sunday morning visit, we loaded up several cars and made our way by caravan out to the new place.  It was beautiful out there.  But the living conditions are VERY rustic.  There is a lot of work to be done.

We had our worship with them - and it was beautiful.  Matt, our teammate, gave a great lesson.  Then we shared communion together.  During communion we sang some songs that talked about how we are all ONE and we are a family.  It was very humbling and moving to sing with these guys who have gone through so much and are trying to get back on track.  Who knows what has happened to each of them in their lives, but yet they are redeemed by Christ's sacrifice - just like I am.  I'm pretty sure that everyone there that day shed some tears.  I shed a lot!

It was an awesome worship time.  We loved visiting with the guys, eating lunch with them, and seeing all the many opportunities that God has given us to help them out.

2.  Our Second Bazaar selling cookies.

We participated in the Christmas Bazaar at Sogipa, our club (like a YMCA), the second weekend of December.  We had lots of fun, again made new friends, and sold lots of cookies!  We got lots of ideas for the future.  All in all the start to the cookie business went really well.  We made enough money to help out with Bronwyn's return plane trip back to the US in January.  We thought we had made half the amount - until we found out the price of the tickets.  *gulp*  Oh well, more incentive to get after those cookie sales for next year!

I'll continue catching up tomorrow...  Still to come - Bronwyn got home for Christmas, Trip to Gramado, Our Annual Christmas Party,  Garrett's graduation from the 8th grade, Christmas crafts and baking, and Ansley's High School graduation which is tonight!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our First Bazaar

Our first attempt at selling cookies was last week at a "bazaar" at our kids' school.  "Bazaar" is the word they use for arts and crafts fair.  The bazaar lasted from Monday through Thursday.  It started at 9:00 and went until 6:30.  But, after the first day, we figured out that we could open up earlier (like at 7:30 when our kids got to school) and sell cookies for the kids to put in their lunch boxes for snacks.  After the bazaar closed, we would come home and work on making more stuff, or get up super early the next day.  So, the days were long. BUT.......It went really, really well!  We sold over 1,000 cookies in those four days!  It was a great start!

Here are some pictures and interesting things that we learned from our first bazaar.

1.  There is no way that I could have done this on my own.

Carys painted plates and hers sold better than the ones I had painted.

Leni was a HUGE help.  She would get to school early and stay the whole day selling - and she is a great salesperson!  Much better than me!  We were able to pay her for helping us and she was worth every penny.

And the best helper was Kevin.  Can you believe that my husband who NEVER has cooked or baked anything in our married life, is now the chief cookie chef??  I showed him how to make the recipes, and he has been mixing up batter and freezing the dough ever since.  He still needs a little help in the baking department, but that is the hardest part because our oven is freaky and you kind of have to know how it works.  For the next bazaar that we are doing (which starts tomorrow!), I haven't mixed up one batch of cookies.  He has done it all.

2.  Working at the bazaar during the day was really fun, and I made lots of new friends.  This girl, Katia, was at the table beside mine.  Her table was the most popular table at the bazaar, by far.  At first I was kind of sad about this (that my table wasn't as popular), but that lasted about a second.  Because, Katia is SO nice and was SO helpful to me.  And, this is the only means that her family has to get money right now.  Her husband is not working because of health reasons and is waiting for a surgery.  He has been waiting for 9 years.  (That's public healthcare in Brazil....)  So, she is selling her "sweets".

She sells little homemade truffles and candies, but her most popular item at the bazaar was her little cups.  She fills up little plastic cups with caramel-like stuff in different flavors.  (If you know Brazil, then it is the same thing used to make brigadeiros, etc.)  She has chocolate, caramel, condensed milk, cappuccino, strawberry, and more. The kids come up and choose what flavor they want, then (this is the fun part) they get to "dip" their cup into M&M's, chocolate balls, chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc.  They love it.

During this bazaar, Katia was so tired every day.  Because she was also doing another bazaar at another school at the same time.  Her sister, who works with her, was going to that one.  And, she had 2 or 3 other bazaars to do before the bazaar that I am participating in tomorrow.  She works hard, but always with a smile.  I personally am glad that we are not doing 6 bazaars right now.  Just these two are enough for us this year!

Katia and her family are strong Christians, and I am really thankful to have met them and look forward to seeing them more in the future.

Here is another friend, Daniella, hiding behind her little dolls.  They are really cute!
I know there are more things that I wanted to blog about, but I can't think of all of them right now.  I have cookie making to do.  At the next bazaar, we are selling other things like cinnamon rolls and maybe cupcakes, which are all the rage right now in Brazil.  Before this first bazaar, I was super stressed and worried - I guess just because of the unknown.  But, I am much more relaxed about this next one.  I'll let you know how it goes!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Play-by-Play

Well, today ALL of our family (almost) is in Memphis celebrating Thanksgiving together.

We are also celebrating here.  Tonight we will have Joao and Clarice Spencer and their sons, Joca and Levi,  over to try their first Thanksgiving meal.  Natalie will also be here, as well as our teammate, Matt.

I am cooking by myself today.

So, as a little motivation for myself, and some Thanksgiving Day entertainment for my family in Memphis, I am going to try to give you a play by play of our day.  My apologies to anyone else reading this blog who hoped to possibly read something interesting or meaningful....

Here goes.....

8:00 AM
This is the kitchen.  Ansley and Garrett were home by themselves yesterday while we took Natalie to Gramado.  Needless to say, they didn't clean up the kitchen at all.  Oh well....

These will be pumpkin pies....  (The pumpkins, not the diaper rash powder in the photo.  Not sure why that's in the kitchen, but not surprised, either...)

Fresh green beans.....

Sweet potatoes that aren't orange.  I thought about cooking a carrot with them so they will be closer to the right color.  Or would anyone even care about that?

My morning helper. Watching Ratatouille and repeating every other phrase to me.

My other morning helper - going to run.

That's it for now.....
Hopefully at 9:00, I'll have some progress to report!

9:00 AM
Wow!  That hour went by fast!
Kitchen cleaned and sweet potatoes cooking in the biggest pot I have.

Pumpkin cooking in the oven.

Started the dressing.  (I had made the cornbread Tuesday.)

Helper is now watching Spongebob and has a dirty diaper.

More later....

11:45 AM
Well, I got the turkey cooking.  Check out this contraption!  The top of my roaster oven broke, so it has a hole that has to be stopped up so the heat won't get out.

The "pumpkin" is done and the pie crusts are chilling.  I had to make an emergency grocery store run because I only have one pie plate.

I got the strawberry-pretzel salad started......

and exercised and took a shower.  Carys and Natalie are home from Gramado, and Kevin has gone to pick up the other kids.  We are going to try to watch a Thanksgiving parade on the computer (while cooking, of course.)

I wonder if anyone in my family is even looking at this??

3:30 PM
Our guests will be here in 3 hours - which means 3 1/2 here in Brazil....

The dressing is done, just needs to be baked.  These two helped turn the cornbread and bread into bread crumbs.

Carys helped chop the onions - with eye protection.

The turkey is also done, as well as the strawberry pretzel salad.  We only have a few more things to make.  Anderson is babysitting Giovanni who just woke up from his nap for the second time, Ansley is teaching English class, and Kevin took Garrett to soccer.

And check out these pumpkin pies!  They smell SO good!

5:30 PM

Almost ready!

Turkey sliced (and Vera showed up just in time to clean out the cooker!  Yeah, Vera!!)

Me and my best helper of the day!

The table is set and looks so pretty.  More pictures soon.......


Everything went great and we are having a great time.  
Here are the pictures....

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!