Sharing, Caring, and Bed Sheets

Tuesday morning brings Priscilla back to our house at 7:30am, so the girls spent their morning coloring, building train tracks, and reading books with her. I was starting to feel the pressure of a backlog of items that needed to be sewn – and the very strong desire to run away from the taxes I probably should have been finishing up today – so I tackled a couple more urgent mending jobs and then immersed myself in a fun sewing spree.

I spent about half the morning with this friend. I have a very old singer sewing machine also, and today they sat side by side as I moved back and forth between the two, but this overlocker machine is fantastic. Matt was pretty skeptical when I registered for it on our wedding registry, and rather shocked when we got it! I’d never had a “fancy” sewing machine before, but after almost 8 years of good use, I can’t imagine sewing without it!

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Today’s fun sewing project also had practical value: bed sheets! Abi had come with me to the old part of town a couple weeks ago to buy fabric to recover the cushions on our wicker furniture, and I think it was she who discovered the sheeting material. She fell in love with the purple stripe, and when I showed her the matching solid purple (her favorite color), she did a little dance and laughed out loud! So she now has a purple fitted sheet and a striped top sheet.  And she LOVES them!

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The other set of sheets is queen-size to replace an old set that was becoming brittle and too thin. But the fabric that I found for that set is amazing. It’s the (blazing brilliant!) white in the first picture, but it’s some of the best sheeting material I’ve ever seen. It’s solid, medium weight, with a smooth almost velvety feel. Think high-end hotel sheets. And the fabric cost me half of what I would pay to buy a mediocre set of sheets in America. My time counts for something, of course, but I did make 2 sets in about 2 hours, so I think I’m ok with the time!

I also ran over to see my friend Susan again. The medicine to treat the bacterial meningitis continues to work, and she was up on her feet to meet me at the door today! She had finished all the books I took her on Saturday, so I brought her 3 more books, and a little loaf of banana bread that we had made yesterday.

The afternoon was back to more routine things – Abi and I did school while Naomi slept and Priscilla cleaned out all my kitchen cupboards. About the time Naomi woke up, I started working on dinner, because I knew I needed a little extra time today. I made a triple batch of rice and Spicy Beef with Peppers stir fry, to keep one batch for us and send the rest home with Carol for her family this evening. Carol works full time and has spent the last 14 months caring for one family member or another, herself included, as their family has experienced injury and illness almost continually during that time. The Lord has chosen a serious path for this family for this time, and I have known the blessing of not only being able to help in small ways, but also to be able to see the Lord strengthen their faith. We love this family so much and it hurts to see them suffer, but we too must trust the Lord, entrusting our friends to Him.

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Then after dinner, this happened:

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Naomi threw a dish towel over a little side table, and Abi and I were joking with her about setting the table for tea, when Abi ran off to the play room and returned with play tea set. They played for a couple minutes, then Abi had to go to the bathroom. I sent Naomi to the playroom to find a couple missing tea set pieces, while I made some tea and filled the milk pitcher and sugar bowl. When Abi came back, her eyes got big and she jumped around and yelled “We’re not playing anymore, Naomi! This is REAL tea! I’ve always wanted to do this!!!”

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So they had their little tea party. Two cups of rooibos tea apiece.

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They were very careful and didn’t spill a drop.

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It is nice to end the day with a cuppa. =)

On Our Own

Today we dropped our favorite guy off at the airport, not to see him for 9 whole days. Matt’s off to meetings and conferences in the States, so it’s just the girls here in the wilds of Africa!

So in an effort to keep him up to date with what we girls are doing, and to add a little life to the blog, I’ll post on here every day while he’s gone.

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Today’s big event was, of course, Matt’s departure. We spent the first half of the morning helping him pack, running last minute wheelbarrow marathon races with him, and enjoying him as much as possible. Then mid-morning we took him to the airport. The girls did fine, but mom might have shed a couple tears. I was just getting teary on the drive home when Abigail started asking why you can’t take bombs and knives on airplanes… and so I was distracted by explaining why bombs and drugs and such are bad to my 5 year old.

The early afternoon was fine, with rest times for everyone and catching up on Abi’s school that we hadn’t done in the morning. Then about 3 we decided to go on a field trip to the plant nursery across town to see if we could find the three types of plants that Abi has been studying in science – plants that reproduce by seeds, by runners, and by division of bulbs. We found them all at Four Seasons Nursery and *BONUS* water plants too!

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We had a great time – even if I can’t get them both to smile and stand normally at the same time. =)

Then on the way home from the nursery, we did something I never thought I’d do in Malawi.

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We went  to a drive-thru! Seriously! KFC opened up just a couple weeks ago, and they have the very first drive-thru in town (in the country?)! It was at the same time a very African and a very American experience. The American experience was 1) order at the speaker box, 2) pay at the first window, and 3) pick up at the second window. It felt normal and very odd at the same time. The African part was that right next to the drive-thru lane they were digging up what appeared to be a broken septic line. That also felt normal and very odd at the same time.

It’s been about 10 years since I had KFC, and I think I could probably go another 10 years without it. I think Naomi is in agreement with me on this one. Abigail, however, for the first time in her life, declared that she loved mashed potatoes. The part of me that makes 98% of our meals from scratch sighed very deeply at forfeiting this major victory to KFC.

The rest of the evening was normal, but bed time was a little difficult for Naomi. She cried and cried about “Dada, airport!” We walked up and down the hall, finding him in every picture hung on the walls. Then we prayed for him and I sang her a couple songs before she said she would go to sleep. Sweet girl!

Now I sit quietly in the dark, thankful for the inverter that Matt installed to give us enough power for computers and internet when we have a power outage. It’s been a good day, but a little emotional. Matt and I haven’t been apart for more than 3-4 days since… December 2007? I know that we’ll be fine and that the days will fly by, but I think I can speak on behalf of all three Floreen girls in the warm heart of Africa: Absence make the heart grow fonder.

End of Strawberry Season

I had given up on getting any more good strawberries here in Malawi. It’s the end of the season, so the price is going up and the quality is going down.  Sadly we missed most of strawberry season while we were in the States, so I didn’t get a large batch of strawberries frozen for smoothies throughout the year.  I mentioned that to Matt the other day… and then today he came home with 13 kgs of great strawberries for me.  That’s 29 pounds of strawberries!  And he got a great deal on them!

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Bowls and bowls and mounds and piles of strawberries!  So guess what I did today…

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I cleaned strawberries for about 2 hours.  We kept a bowl of them to eat, and froze then bagged the rest to keep in the deep freeze for the next several months.

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Almost done!  The last quarter of the box remains.  I think we’ll have strawberry pie tomorrow, and then smoothies throughout the hot season!

Pumpkin Season

 

I have had the WORST time cutting pumpkins here in Malawi.  They are SO tough.  I would poke a knife in the top, hammer it in with a meat mallet, and then smack the whole pumpkin on the ground until I could get the knife through.  Whew.  Blood, sweat, and tears.  Then I asked a Malawian friend how she cuts open a pumpkin.  She said – throw it on the ground.  Really??… OK.  So I tried it.

IMG_0953Ha!  Look at that!  It split in half perfectly, ready to roast!  And after my previous experiences with pumpkin here, throwing one on the ground with all my might felt very satisfying!  =)

 

Crocodile for Dinner

We’re usually up for a good adventure, and tonight it was crocodile… for dinner.

Crocodile for dinner 1We’ve had crocodile at a restaurant before and it was so-so.  We were pleasantly surprised tonight, and actually enjoyed fixing and eating it at home!  It kind of has the taste and texture of a pork chop.  Two tips in case you ever find yourself cooking up some crocodile: cook it from frozen and use a fruity marinade, like a peach and apricot chutney.

This is one of the very few crocodile experiences we’d be happy to repeat!

 

My Apples are in Mozambique

It’s not every day we see a sign like this, but we did see one last week when we went shopping:

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Thankfully the produce made it through customs, and we have apples this week!  =)

This is Not a Cooking Blog, But…

I have a new obsession – drying mangoes.

My friend Mirjam taught me that you can dry sliced mangoes on a piece of cotton fabric, draped over a clothes drying rack and covered with mosquito netting, in the sun for 1-2 days… and you have wonderful dried mangoes.

And since it’s mango season here in the southern hemisphere and you can get local mangoes for about 3 cents apiece, my “dehydrator” has been in use all week.  We’ve done quite a few mangoes, but also some apples and peaches.

My sticky assistant likes dried fruit, but especially favors the apples.  She never turns down dried mango though, and now we’re looking forward to having mango all year long!