An Ode to our Blender

 

A couple of years ago, Mike & I decided we wanted a (very expensive) high-powered blender.  It seemed like an outrageous extravagance, but since we rarely just agree on anything, and we both thought it was a good idea, we went ahead and got one.

It was one of the things that often made me laugh: we didn’t have running water or stable electricity, nearly everything we owned was packed into the room we slept in, and we owned one kitchen appliance: a fancy blender.

There is so much delicious fresh food to work with here.  We’ve used it often for diet staples and for treats.  Most days, I make a fruit and veggie smoothie.  We use it regularly to create peanut butter, soups, hummus, butter, iced coffees, and to grind whole wheat flour.  I expect shortly we will be using it to make baby food.

However, the other day, our blender really and truly proved its worth.

Three years ago, we tried to make egg nog with our friend.  Due to several factors (including salty cream), it was a dismal failure.  The idea of consuming raw eggs on purpose makes me nervous, so I decided if we were going to do it, it had to be cooked egg nog.  I planned to make some last year, but the general queasiness of my pregnant stomach prevented me.

This year, I tried 2 times to cook egg nog on the stove, and despite my constant whipping, it ended up chunky.  But I didn’t despair, because I remembered that our blender can cook soups while it blends, so why not eggs and milk?

A brief internet search confirmed that it might be possible, and so, with high hopes, I began my third and final attempt at egg nog.

It certainly cooked, the first part was steaming – so no worrying about uncooked egg!  Then, the rest of the milk, the spices, and chilling it…   It was smooth, it was creamy, it was everything egg nog is supposed to be!

So, for the last week, we have had egg nog every day (some days including blended up with coffee cubes).  Its been a happy Christmas for us!

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Advent

After our first year in Rwanda, Mike and I went back to Canada for Christmas.  It was lovely.

We realized that being in a foreign country, with holidays that we don’t know about until they arrive, and seasons that have an unfamiliar pattern, we needed a way to mark the passage of the year; a rhythm that would be the same for us no matter what country we find ourselves in a given month.  This was pre-Beatrix, but we were also thinking about what traditions we wanted to have that would become important to our children, and help them move between homes and cultures as well.

I don’t especially feel bad about being away at Christmas.  Christmas, and the months leading up to it, are filled with too much commercialism that makes me crazy.  However, I love the time of celebration and of being with family, and it seems a little surreal that it can be December without eating too much decadent food, without extra visiting, and without the anticipation that comes as we look forward to the 25th.

The first tradition that will be part of our yearly rhythm is celebrating Advent.  It makes the time leading up to Christmas special.  If you’ve never been out of North America, its probably hard to imagine November and December without lots of sugar, constantly hearing Christmas carols, decorations in homes, the stores, the streets, extra shopping (or pride that you got it all done early), gift exchanges, egg nog, Christmas parties, etc, etc, etc.   But there is none of that here except what we create ourselves.  Advent is a way for us to spread out the celebration and anticipation.

Advent reminds us of Israel, waiting for the Messiah to come.  The most important part for me is remembering that although we are still in the midst of so much brokenness and injustice, that will not be the final word.

Last year we made an advent wreath, and we lit the candles each evening as we ate supper, and played “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” after we finished eating.  We loved the ritual, and looked forward to it each day!

This year, we started making an advent wreath, and then realized the plants we were using were covered in bugs, and both of us had a few tiny bites.  Needless to say, it went to the compost pile.

We had many pieces of bamboo left over from our fence – so this year we have an Advent raft.

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We also made an advent calendar.  Apparently, that is something people do – but all I knew before this year was pre-made ones with the waxy chocolates in them that we got as kids.  So we made our advent calendar with little notes and pieces of chocolate in them, and it has been great fun to open them each day.

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Its exciting to think of how we will adapt these traditions to be meaningful to Beatrix as she grows.

So, to those of you reading:

May you enjoy the traditions that you are a part of in this season,

May you enjoy the celebration time with family and friends, and

In the midst of whatever brokenness and pain you might be experiencing, may you be reminded anew that there will be a day when He will wipe every tear away, and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain.

 

 

Pictures of Home (at last)!

Well, I wanted to wait until we had our furniture, so that the pictures of our house aren’t just empty rooms.  Then I wanted to get a little more organized, so that we weren’t just posting pictures of chaos.  Now, I’ve been trying to get pictures when the house is all clean & tidy, and I have realized… that time may never come ;).    Its still a little disorganized, and we are still figuring some things out, but it is starting to feel comfortable.

The main part of the house is a large room, combining a kitchen and living room.  Here is our living room as seen from the kitchen (complete with Christmas tree).

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And here is the kitchen as seen from the living room:P1020613

We both love to cook, and have been managing in very cramped and/or shared kitchens.  This is a great luxury.

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Off the living room, we have a small room for use as an office, or potentially another bedroom.  (We are planning to hang up a curtain, and maybe eventually put some glass doors in.)  You can see through the living room, to the door to our bedroom.

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Off of our bedroom, we have a small storage area and a large bathroom.  Its difficult to get pictures of those areas, so I’ll just let you use your imagination.

This is our guest room!  As you can see, the bed is put together.  Our future guests will be more fortunate that our first guest, in that they won’t have to put the bed together before they can sleep in it.  (And trust me, this was nothing like assembling IKEA furniture.)

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Another luxury we decided on was two (!!) bathrooms.  So, for those of you considering coming to visit, you can see the bathroom you would use:

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That’s a toilet that really flushes, and a shower (cold water only, but often that’s all one would want)!  The sink is just out of view on the left.

We really wanted to do more fermenting (sauerkraut & other veggies, kombucha, yogurt, sourdough, etc), as well as sprouting, so we incorporated a space for that just off the kitchen).

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And that’s the virtual tour of our house!  We have a fence up now, and a gate, which gives us some privacy and more security. (And we are planning to get a dog.)  Another day, I’ll post some pictures of our yard.

Thanks to everyone who has encouraged us and contributed towards our house!   We are really enjoying it so far!