Category Archives: daily life

Hypermart!

We had a bit of culture shock yesterday, and we didn’t even leave our little town, which isn’t quite so little any more.  We just got a Hypermart!  That may not mean much of anything to most of you, but to us here in the relative backwaters of Indonesia, a store like this means that many of those items we could only buy in Jakarta or Bali and ship home can now be found here!  We’re talking about stuff like:

  • Prego pasta sauce
  • large selection of dry pasta
  • FRESH MILK!!! (usually we only have powdered)
  • very, very large selection of meat (with the exception of “the other white meat,” which isn’t acceptable to the majority religion here)
  • good beef sausages
  • paper towels (we could always get them, but not very many at a time and frequently out of stock)
  • Lock & Lock (really good  Asian tupperware stuff)
  • pancake syrup
  • Hershey’s syrup
  • DECAF COFFEE (yes it’s only instant, but still…)
  • CHEESE!!!
  • peaches, grapes, plums, broccoli, lettuce, and much more produce
  • hamburger buns (you don’t know how much you will miss them until you can’t get them)

This was a seriously overwhelming shopping trip, and we had to keep reminding ourselves that we were here in our town, not in a big city.  Here’s a few pictures to summarize the trip.  For most of you used to Target and Costco, these pictures might seem pretty normal.  For us, this is a giant leap forward for what we can get locally, and grocery shopping will never be the same.  We might actually be able to get everything at one store now!

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Daddy-daughter date!

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Today daddy and Elizabeth went to Royal Chocolate Donuts 🙂

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Elizabeth’s 4th Birthday!

It is really hard to believe, but our little girl just turned four years old! Elizabeth is a bright ray of sunshine in our lives, and we are so thankful to celebrate four wonderful years with her.

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Originally I was planning a ballerina party for her, but a few weeks ago we were talking about it and she said, “No, Mommy. I want a rainbow party!” She stuck to it, so a rainbow party she got. Her birthday fell on a Sunday this year and she wanted just girls, so we had her party over lunch yesterday. There were 5 little girls that came, and they had so much fun together!

Here they all are, with the birthday girl in her rainbow dress!!

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We decorated everything with rainbows and rainbow colors.

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All the food was rainbow. Rainbow pizza, rainbow veggies, rainbow pinwheel cookies, skittles, watermelon cake (rainbow colors), rainbow kool-aid,  and of course rainbow cake!

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We did a LOT of fun rainbow crafts and activities. The girls used colored pasta to make rainbow sun-catchers, they played rainbow bingo while they ate all the food, and then they made Fruit-Loop necklaces (thanks to a box that my mom sent that made it JUST in time the day before the party!) before cake and presents. And then after stuffing themselves full, they went outside to play with water balloons and swing (and burn off all that sugar!).

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Happy Happy Birthday to my sweet Elizabeth girl!

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Life in our new home

Last Tuesday, we headed to the village to stay in our recently completed home there for the first time as a family.  It was exciting to finally get there! This has been a project for two years now, and seemed interminable.  After all the construction work, expense, delays, and complications it was a relief to live there for the first time. 

We expected it to be a stressful trip, and although some things are different about life there it wasn’t nearly as difficult as we’d feared.  Maybe that’s because we had two years to get ready for this!  Our girls loved life there once they met some of the other little girls and they had a fantastic time feeding chickens and rabbits, playing in the mud, and last but not least enjoying the beach about 50 yards from our house (it isn’t all rough and difficult Smile).

There will be much more to share, but for now we’d at least like to give you all a few pictures and a glimpse into village life in our part of the world.

Out our front door:

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And another one, with a bit of our car in the picture.  That’s the church up above on the hill.

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Our girls playing.

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Looking back into the house.  A view of our dining area (bedrooms to the left):

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Our bedroom:

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Elizabeth and Charlotte’s room:

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From the back of our house, looking to the front.  Dining area is to the left:

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Our kitchen, with on of our wonderful helpers!

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Our kitchen again:

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The bathroom, complete with squatty potty!   

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Our girls enjoying a bath:

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The moon was huge and incredibly bright while we were there.  No city lights also helps:

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Our girls playing in the sand outside our front door.  There’s a nice puddle from a leaky water pipe:

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Our girls and some new friends playing:

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Walking down to the beach.  That’s the side of our house on the right:

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Matt and Elizabeth walking on the beach:

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Another shot of the beach:

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A local fisherman heading out for the evening:

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Charlotte being her cute self:

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On the road home:

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That’s it for now, but there will be much more to come!  Matt will be heading up once or twice by himself during December, but given how busy the Christmas season is here our next family trip will be in early January for a few weeks.  We’re already looking forward to it!

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A glimpse.

Recently we made a short, amateur YouTube-style video update for a church back home, and we would  like to share it here too.  It’s full of pictures and video clips of what we’ve been up to in the past year or so, and it’s only about 2 minutes long.  Enjoy!

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My Diagonal Life

I think that someone should come live in my house and study the different cultural viewpoints of objects in space. How’s that for a statement?

For example…

There is a little neighbor girl who lives across the street. She is eight years old and very sweet and kind and loves to play with our girls. Every day. Anyway… One of her favorite things to play with at our house is the little toy kitchen and table. And every time she comes, she rearranges everything. The exact. same. way. Every single time! It’s really quite amusing. Can you see my smile from there?

Actually, after my initial annoyance at having to put everything back after she leaves, I find it quite fascinating. She has such a different understanding of everyday objects and how they should be arranged. I would never ever think to put things where she does! Also, recently I rearranged our little toy area and put the little toy table and kitchen on a diagonal. Woah.

It took two whole weeks for her to stop straightening them. And I still have to remind her sometimes. 🙂

Really it makes a lot of sense. No Indonesian house that I have ever been in has ever had anything on the diagonal. Usually the furniture is pushed flat up against the wall all the way around the room. Very rarely a table will be in the center of the room. So my living room must really throw them for a loop. Actually, they probably have just as hard of a time understanding why I have a rug, chairs, sofa, coffee table, and end tables floating in the middle of the room (on a diagonal!) as I do understanding why the neighbor girl rearranges the toys the way she does. It really is a fascinating cultural study!

Actually, maybe I am crazy for putting things on the diagonal. At least, living here in this country. Such a mish-mash of culturally mixed up situations at my house! I hope at least that our daughters feel comfortable moving in and out of different furniture arrangements. If only it were that easy to move in and out of different cultures. But I guess they have a good shot at it since their crazy Mommy rearranges their toys to be on the diagonal, and then their sweet neighbor girl friend straightens them all out again.

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Peel a Tomato?!?!

Yes. Have you ever? I have. As of Tuesday I can now cross peeling tomatoes off my bucket list (HA!). More on the tomato peeling adventure in a second.

This week I only got to two new recipes. And I think that was the only two times that I cooked. It was a bit of a crazy week. Nothing in particular was crazy, but when you put it all together it felt really busy. We went somewhere almost every day which is not normal for me here in Indonesia.

And Friday was my birthday!! The big 29. It feels so strange to be in the last year of my 20s. I remember when my mom was 29, so now I feel really really old. Just kidding, Mom! I actually had a really great day. Matt took the day off and we just had lots of family time. I didn’t cook, and then in the evening I went to do karaoke with all my girlfriends here in our little city. It was SO MUCH FUN!! I didn’t have a camera with me, and I was really too busy having fun singing and dancing my heart out to tunes that really date me to take any pictures. Yay!

Okay, back to peeling a tomato. Do you know how? I started making this Tomato Bisque at about 4:45. We usually eat at around 6:00. After getting everything out for the recipe I noticed this tiny little word next to the word tomatoes, “peeled”. Okay…. no canned tomatoes here, so I had to figure out how to get my rather ordinary tomatoes on my cutting board naked. Quickly. So I did what every person my generation and younger does… RUN to Google! If you would like to learn how to peel a tomato, this is the website that taught me how. I also made these Biscuits to go with the soup. It was a frantic hour! Overall, Matt liked the soup and Charlotte, Elizabeth, and I did not. However, we ALL loved the biscuits. Here is a picture!

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The other recipe I made was Cheesy Spinach Macaroni. It was a really quick recipe and pretty good. I only had linguine pasta on hand and it probably would be better with a smaller noodle that could hold on to more of the cheesiness. Next time I might try adding chicken, too. I didn’t get a picture of this one so to console you I will leave you with a couple pictures of our cute little girlies.

So, have you ever peeled a tomato?

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Recipes this week – and Indonesian food!

I know you are all dying to know what I cooked this week. And so rather than keep you in suspense any longer, I will go ahead and disappoint you. I did not get to all four new recipes this week. (Sad face) I only got to three. We had so many leftovers from all the yummy food this week that I decided that we had absolutely NO more room in our fridge, and that consequently we must eat a dent into the leftovers before I cook any more food.

The first new recipe I tried was a delicious Creamy Carrot Soup that my friend Meagan emailed to me. It was absolutely delicious. And easy. And quick. Did I say it was delicious already? Matt kept going on about it and Elizabeth was very excited that we were eating Carrot Stew just like the Tawny Scrawny Lion! Because Meagan emailed it to me, I can’t link you to where she got it from, but if you would like the recipe, comment or email me and I can find out where the original source was. I did serve this soup with grilled cheese because I am never sure about soup with two little ones – will they eat it or will they not? Turns out they both loved it.

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The second new recipe was also a winner. For ease and for taste. It was really really really easy. I made this Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken. The only thing I would say about it was that it was really really sweet. Next time I might try cutting back on the honey just a tad. And possibly add a bit of soy sauce? I didn’t have any chicken thighs like the recipe calls for, so I made it with chicken breasts, but it was still nice and moist. I can see how the thighs would probably have absorbed more of the marinade/sauce in the cooking process, though. All those nooks and crannies. Oh well, next time!

The final new recipe this week was also quite tasty. But LABOR INTENSIVE. Especially since I didn’t make the tortillas the day before. I spent an hour and a half making 24 tortillas in the morning, and then another hour and a half cooking everything else in the afternoon. But now I have 12 tortillas in the freezer waiting for next time – yay! Oh yes, the recipe: Baked Chicken and Spinach Flautas. I was tired by the time this meal got on the table. So tired, in fact, that I forgot to take a picture. Sorry! They were still really good, despite the fact that I dumped the entire tray of freshly rolled flautas on the floor while attempting to keep a crying Charlotte away from the 450-degree oven as I put them in. That was a low point. But rather than eat nothing, I salvaged what I could from the floor and they were still quite edible. And we are still enjoying the leftovers! Hopefully with no more dumping on the floor.

Now, I want to show you a bit of the yummy Indonesian food that we eat. My helper gets all the credit for this. She is a wonderful cook. I will try to share the recipe as best as I can. I don’t think it’s written down anywhere (in any language), so I’m going to approximate and hope for the best!

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Coconut and Tomato Basil Shrimp (I’m inventing the name on the spot!)

2 T. vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 small red onions, smashed
2 stalks of lemongrass
4-5 lime leaves
4-5 candlenuts, ground into a paste
2 lbs. shrimp (peeled, or whole in shells)
2 T. water
1 1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
1/2 c. – 3/4 c. coconut milk
small handful Thai lemon basil
1/2  green onion, thinly sliced

Heat oil over high heat in a large wok. Add the garlic and onions and cook until fragrant. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves. and candlenut paste and cook for about 1-2 mins.

Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp are pink/red and begin to curl. While the shrimp cook add the water to the wok to prevent the spices from sticking and to help the shrimp steam a little bit. Add tomatoes.

When the tomatoes begin to soften add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. The amount of coconut milk that you add depends on how much yummy sauce you want to be able to pour over your rice. Add the basil and green onion and cook for 1 – 2 mins., until the leaves begin to wilt. Serve immediately with rice.

Hope you enjoy this little taste of one of our favorite meals here in Sulawesi!

This is Matt’s recommended drink with this meal. Coconut water with chunks of coconut. Fresh. He loves it. I hate it.

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Today…

…I put away the suitcases. We have been back in Indonesia for 5 weeks now. I unpacked in the first two days that we were back home, but just moved the 8 empty suitcases over to the side and let them sit in a pile. For a while I was leaving them out just as a visual reminder to myself that I shouldn’t expect to feel settled yet because we really did just come back. And then for about a week they were still out because I wanted to pack them up and go back to America. But for the past week they have started to bother me. Time to feel settled here, and happy here, and put the suitcases away!

There is a huge list that I made our first week back here and it includes house projects, cleaning projects, the cooking projects (from the previous blog post), and furniture that we hope to buy. Huge list. The cleaning and house projects are what I’ve been focusing on the most – when I’m not cooking. And taking care of the girls. As I’ve worked on things like updating family pictures, making a spot to store my makeup and hang my cosmetics, and rearranging small things here and there, I have been thinking a lot about why I want to make the things around me not just livable but beautiful as well. I really want to be creative and make the girl’s rooms cute and have order, creativity, inspiration, and beauty around me.

Then I came across a verse in Exodus. I started a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan in January and, yes, I know it’s May and I am just now finishing the February readings. But, hey, I’m getting there! Anyway, that’s not the point. The verse that I found was Exodus 28:2. God was giving directions to Moses on Mount Sinai for the temple and the priestly garments and after giving lots of specifics he said, “for glory and for beauty.” God is the great Creator of all things orderly and inspirational and beautiful. He wanted some of those decorations that way for the sake of glory and for the sake of beauty! As I have thought about why I want order and beauty I realized that practically no one comes in to see those parts of my house, so my sinful motivation of other people seeing what a great job I did at making something creative in the bathroom doesn’t get “fed” all that much, if you know what I mean. If I’m going to be completely honest that is usually my primary motivation. But what do I do with that? I have worked on confessing it to God and then offering up my creativity as an act of worship to Him. It is not a sin to want things beautiful and to look for creative ways to bring order to little things around my house. It is another way I can worship God for who He is.

Oh what a long way I have left to go. But realizing this has brought me some freedom in the “hum-drum” activities of menu planning, re-arranging the kitchen, and figuring out where to put toilet paper and hang my necklaces. How about you?

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Recipes!

Last week I began to feel settled enough to start back into the routine of cooking here in Indonesia. Cooking Western food, I mean. Which means my list of things I need to make (from scratch) so that I can cook said Western food includes:

  • Chicken stock – done!
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Pizza Dough
  • Yogurt – done!
  • Bread
  • Granola
  • Tortillas
  • Muffins – I made these, but they’re already gone. Yummy!

Tomato sauce is on the schedule for tomorrow, and I have to make tortillas before Thursday to use them in a new recipe so I had better get busy! I actually really enjoy making this stuff myself, but it’s just challenging that it ALWAYS has to be made from scratch and when I’m tired or the girls are cranky I can’t just whip out the box (or whatever) I have in the pantry from the grocery store.

Thanks to Pinterest, the newest apparent source of endless inspiration, I have come across some recipes that were pretty easy to come up with all the ingredients. So… I have tried some new recipes this past week. Three in fact! With some mixed results.

I made this Roasted Lemon Garlic Herb Shrimp. It tasted really good, but next time I’ll cut down on the oil a bit and not cook it quite so long. The shrimp that we can get here are actually REALLY REALLY fresh, but I overcooked them and they got a little rubbery. I’m still getting used to cooking in our smaller gas oven again. With Celsius… sigh. Here is a picture I got of the final dish. Will definitely be making this one again!

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I also made these Baked Chicken Fajitas ( I made a small batch of tortillas that afternoon just for this recipe). They were really good and easy (even easier if I had tortillas made already in the freezer). My spices are not the freshest (I really need to find replacements somewhere), and it would’ve been better still with chili powder that hasn’t sat in 90-degree humidity for 2 years. Keeping spices fresh (ones that I can’t get locally) is a real challenge for me here. More on that later. Will definitely be making this recipe again!!

Last new recipe this week was this Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken. Good, easy recipe, but again I overcooked it slightly. Chickens here are smaller than in America, so I think that it could’ve done with maybe an hour less cooking time. Also would’ve been better with fresher spices. But really, really easy!

Sorry I didn’t get pictures of the other two. It gets dark here at 6:00 every single day and that’s the same time that we eat (two very hungry little girls), so the camera is usually the last thing I’m thinking about until the food is completely gone.

On the menu for this week – 4 new recipes!! One of them was just sent to my by a friend from Houston. Making it tomorrow night, so Ill let you know!

It’s exciting to try new things here, but at the same time I am really trying to find recipes that are worth the amount of work that I put into them – i.e. they taste REALLY good.

That’s all for now from Indonesia! If you have suggestions of good recipes, comment or send me an email. Thanks!

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