Friday, April 22, 2011

Stew So Good You May Just Cry

This, my friends is comfort food at it's finest! And being that just last night we got another six inches of snow, here in the place that could be known as the springtime arctic, comfort food is still eliciting it's siren call.

Red Wine Beef Stew with Potatoes and Green Beans

I found this recipe on the Food Network website, where once again Dave Lieberman has worked his culinary genius. Want the recipe? Go here:

Mmm! The red wine, the beef broth (use beef, not chicken. Trust me!), and the rosemary combine to add a depth of flavor like none other. Not to mention the wonderful deglazing that occurs once you add the wine and broth. Heavenly I tell ya, heavenly! Add a chunk of crusty buttered-bread and a crisp green salad and you'll swear off overpriced restaurant meals for good. Oh but wait, dining out = no dishes to be done. I digress...

Now, if you don't find yourself crying tears of joy after your first bite, don't go blaming me. The truth may be that my tears aren't those of joy, but tears of sorrow over the fact that we're still needing comfort food in what should be spring.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The way to my daughter's heart

I've just learned that the way to Ashlyn's heart is through the baby bunting I've been promising to sew for her baby doll for the last six months. I'm now proud to announce that the bunting is, indeed, finished! Never mind that winter is over too!

* Sewing skills credited to the teaching of my talented seamstress-of-a-mother as well as my years in 4-H back in the day.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Why "OH"? Because, oh, when you taste this you'll thank yourself for making it. Or maybe because your friends will, oh so profusely, thank you for the gift of granola and beg you for the recipe.

Beg no more my friends, you're in for a treat!


8 C. rolled oats
1 1/2 C. wheat germ
1 1/2 C. oat bran
1 C. chopped almonds
1 C. chopped pecans
1 C. chopped walnuts
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. maple syrup
3/4 C. honey
1/2 C. vegetable oil
1/2 C. unsweetened apple sauce
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 T. vanilla extract
2 C. dried fruit of your choice (I like a mix of raisins, cranberries, and cherries)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.

2. In a big ol' honkin' bowl combine the first 6 ingredients. Next, in a saucepan, stir together the remaining ingredients, only omitting the dried fruit. Bring to a boil over medium high heat then pour evenly over the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir thoroughly so as to coat evenly. Spread the mixture equally between the two baking sheets.

3. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring at the ten minute mark. After the granola is cool, stir in the dried fruit and store in Ziplocs or an airtight container.

Really? This granola is so, so good! I like it as a snack (dry), in yogurt with fresh berries added (think parfait), in a bowl with milk and fresh banana, or even stirred into pancake batter to make granola pancakes. The possibilities are endless! And this travels well. My granola has now seen Costa Rica!

And can I share with you my favorite little secret about this here granola? It has all the taste of a full fat granola with half the fat! That's right, among the modifications I've made over the years, it's been to cut the oil amount in half. That applesauce? It's a fat replacer and you'll never miss the real thing.

So go enjoy yourself some granola, just remember to thank me later!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jigity Jig

Just a short little update to say that we're baaaaaaaack!

I'm feeling ready to dig back into things, and that includes digging into some delicious dishes. Be on the lookout for yummy food photos and the accompanying recipes.

Till then, love well and fully! :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Volcano Poas

What an amazing day! While we did have an important meeting today, the morning was dedicated to a fun excursion and what fun it was, indeed!!

Today's (Wednesday's) agenda looked like the following:
* Breakfast at a breathtakingly beautiful cafe with views that stretched all the way to the Pacific.
* Touring Volcano Poas with an EMI staff couple.
* Meeting/interview with the America Latina director.
* Dinner with the same couple whom we toured the volcano.

And since I've been asked for photos containing Zack and I, there will be a few! Enjoy:

The temperature at the base of the mountainous climb to Volcano Poas.
The temp at the top. The blur reads 57 degrees. Temperature change?!?
A view of the area where the lava flow had occurred.
Volcano Poas. Yes, it's active but hasn't erupted since, I believe, 1957. It's gotta be due to blow soon, huh?
Us , as proof that we were there.
One more view of the volcano itself.
On the walk to the volcano viewing area we encountered incredibly gargantuan leaves. We took a photo with EMI staff member, Josh, as a scale reference.
A view of the counter at which we ate breakfast.
A typical Tico (Costa Rican) breakfast: caramelized plantain, eggs, rice and black bean blend, a tomato relish of sorts that I asked for on the side (that was delicious), and a small corn tortilla with a wedge of cheese. I really do LOVE the simple yet tasty way Ticos eat!
Our view at breakfast. Keep in mind that this is at the end of the dry season, which is the hottest time of year. It's still so green. Imagine the fauna during the rainy season!
The obligatory self-portrait as we started our day.

Tomorrow, on our final day here, I'll (Jennie) head to Hogar de Vida (the orphanage EMI partners with) for a morning of hanging out and caring for kids while Zack spends time in the office. Lunch will be at Hogar de Vida, and then we have our final Q&A and Cafesito with staff. During that time we'll have coffee at a staff member's house while everyone has an opportunity to ask us any final questions they have and vice versa. Lastly, we'll have dinner at one more staff couple's home.

Zack and I find ourselves so thankful for this trip and look forward to seeing how God leads. We love, love, love all of you at home!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Atenas' Snowcone Equivalent, much more delicious and rich!
Breakfast. We've never tasted a more delicious pineapple!
Just one of the very different plants that abound.
Our bungalow at Poco Cielo Resort.
The infinity pool that we are yet to visit here at Poco Cielo.

Phew, what a packed day yesterday was! We hit the ground running and fell into bed exhausted. The good news is that we feel like we are getting a good idea of what the area, schools, housing options, people, EMI office, and churches are like. Of course, there's always more to learn!

A few fun facts:
- An iguana running on a metal roof sounds like nothing you've ever heard before. If I had to guess, the one we heard was LARGE (but they're harmless).
- Geckos chirp, and chirp fairly loudly. Those "monkeys" I thought I was hearing? Those were geckos. Funny, because we heard them chirp while traveling in Africa and they weren't nearly as vocal.
- Costa Ricans call themselves Ticos/Ticas. So most everything around is referred to as Tico Style.
- Language school would actually probably take us A YEAR not six months. We should know more after our visit to the language school in San Jose this afternoon.
- Speaking of San Jose, there's a great sign we saw as we were driving around looking at homes. One arrow pointed toward Los Angelas, the other arrow toward San Jose. Are we in California?

Thanks for following along. We are enjoying the adventure this trip has been, and we thank everyone of you for your support, prayers, and interest. We couldn't do this without you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

First Impresssions

We're here!!!!!

Poco Cielo Resort's Pool Area, courtesy of

We arrived in San Jose, the capital city, well after dark last night. Getting through customs was a snap, and before we knew it we were being wisked away into the night by three of the four full time staff members of EMI, America Latina.

Poco Cielo Resort is gorgeous to say the least, and will make a fine home away from home as we visit.

As we turned in for the night, the trees were alive with sounds: birds, what I'm assuming were monkeys, and insects. About three in the morning the roosters started crowing as they anticipated the rise of the sun which occurs at 5:30 here! And can I tell you that one of the roosters crowing reminded me of a young boy entering puberty? It's cock-a-doodle squeaked through many an octave as it practiced it's crow!

On today's agenda:
- Appointments at two different elementary schools in Atenas to foresee what schooling options abound.
- EMI office tour and time of worship while there.
- Women's lunch at a staff member's home.
- Tour Atenas neighborhoods with a staff family.
- Dinner with a staff family.

Since the sun rises at 5:30, the day, too, begins at that time for most. And once the sun goes down, around 5:30 p.m. the day ends and most folks are in bed by 8 p.m. So we've started early and will turn in early tonight!

Much love to all and we covet your prayers! And please forgive any typos. The spell check is in Spanish and is indicating that just about every word is wrong. Feel free to spell check as you read and offer grace accordingly! :O)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Atenas, Costa Rica, here we come!!!!

Atenas Photos
This photo of Atenas is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Zack and I depart tomorrow morning for our much anticipated peek at what our future life may look like, Lord willing. Pray for our time if you would. We'll be gone April 3rd-9th and the kids will be home with my mom.

And I hope to have at least a couple posts brought to you by yours truly while there. Be watching for them because it could be nearly like you're there with us, right!?!

Adios amigos!