Monday, August 25, 2008

Never a dull moment. . .

It's been a good but hectic weekend. Four of our supporters from Houston arrived on Friday for a week long visit. We are enjoying so much having them here with us.

We went to visit several house churches yesterday. The first photo is across the bay in Maxixe. The second is at David's house, just behind our house.

And of course, I've come to expect the unexpected.

Our gas bottle ran out of gas as I was in the middle of cooking dinner for eleven. Thanks to my small electric double burner stove, we were able to cook on the floor. (Thank you Nancy for your help!) Because there is apparently a shortage of gas, we are unable to buy a second bottle which leads to it running out while I was cooking.

Next, the dryer went out. We thought the problem was fixed thanks to the help of all the men (even if temporarily, until we get the new part) but this morning the belt broke, so now we're back to line drying again.

The kids are off to the beach while I stay home and catch up on grading for school, working my next deadline, and enjoying a bit of quiet.



PS. One of my subscribers to my blog told me today that not all of the posts arrive in her email box. If you're having that problem as well, I'd like to know so I can find out what to do about it. You can email me privately here. Thanks!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Shopping ABC's

It's been a long time since I stepped into Target where I could buy shoes for the kids on one end and pork chops on the other. Things are done a bit differently here.

This first photo is my supermarcado or supermarket. I go here for clean rice (verses rice where you have to pick out the rocks) cheese, ground beef, and canned goods.

Family Fun sells yogurt, fairly good ice cream, and cones.

This last photo is of our bakery that sells decent bread and pastries.

These are only three stops of many, though. There are a number of Indian shops where we buy things like oil, butter, dishwashing soap, and popcorn. And don't forget the open-air market. I'm getting to know a few of the women there who sell mainly fruits, vegetables, and spices. I'll post photos of them in another post.

And since the selection here is limited, we always stock up whenever we have to go to the capital or South Africa on things we can't get here.

Over all, though, I'm loving experimenting with the local foods and coming up with new recipes. Look for my version of Indian Coconut Chicken in the next few days.

And if you haven't yet signed up for my yahoo newsletter, be sure and do so as I'll be holding another drawing to give away a few copies of my latest books for those on my subscriber list. You can sign up here.



Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Too close for comfort. . .

One of the positive things about all the traveling we do is the educational benefits that go along with it. When we were in Brazil, we studied the Amazon, then went for a visit. We've studied birds and animals at the game park, and flew over Victoria Falls and learned about one of the most incredible falls in the world.

There are a few things though, that I'd rather not study quite so up close.

A couple of weeks ago dozens of blue bottle jelly fish showed up in the tide. I made the kids get out of the water, but let them study one without touching it. At home, we surfed the internet to find out more about them. One thing I learned, was that vinegar would help ease the pain of a jelly fish sting--just in case--so I decided to start carrying vinegar in my beach bag. Well, sure enough, this week, Gabriel was stung. The good thing was that vinegar really does help with the pain of a sting and it didn't turn out to be serious, though I certainly had hoped we wouldn't have to find it out first hand!

The photo above is a storm coming in along the coast. If you look carefully at the photo you can see a rainbow. Below is a photo of the moon I took from our front yard.

UPDATE ON MY MOM: She went to the surgeon and her leg is healing well with no infection! She's continuing with the physical therapy and gaining strength as well as mobility even though she can't put any weight on the leg for another few weeks. Thanks for your continued prayers!



Thursday, August 14, 2008

Interview and chance for a FREE book

If you have a chance, drop by my good friend and fellow author Lena Dooley's blog to read an interview on my latest release, Baker's Fatal Dozen and a chance to win a free copy of the book.



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back to school

This past weekend, we attended a small house church across the bay and met Jose. Jose is an first grade teacher and very enthusiastic about what he does. When a child enters the school system here, most of them don't speak Portuguese, but once they get into first grade, everything is done in that language.

Since we've been looking for a language teacher so we can continue learning Portuguese, Jose seemed to be a perfect fit. He will be coming to our house four days a week at seven thirty in the morning for an hour of lessons. Scott studies with him two days, and I study with the kids and Emily the other two days. Today was our first day and I think it's going to work well.

Update on my mom: We've been calling my mom every day and she seems to be doing well and is good spirits. Tomorrow she meets with the surgeon to see how she is progressing and how long she will need to stay where she is. The facility is wonderful with lots of physical therapy and an atmosphere my mother likes.

Thanks so much for your prayers, emails, and calls!



Monday, August 11, 2008

If it seems to good to be true. . .

You know the rest of that line, I'm sure. If it seems to good to be true. . .well. . .it probably is.

I'm always amazed at how many forwarded emails I receive promising me something--for nothing. Some of them seem harmless. Pass this email to eight people and you'll receive a cell phone or a laptop computer. Others that ask you to take a short survey and they'll deposit a lump of cash into your bank account. And even others ask for your help in smuggling money out of a country for a percentage.

Here's the catch though. Some are nothing more than bothersome urban legends that only waste your time. But in 2006, the Internet Crime Report showed that these kind of criminal activities targeting Americans had resulted in an estimated loss of almost two hundred million dollars. Thousands of people were scammed in such infamous con games like the Nigerian scam, fund transfer scams, and mail-order-brides.

That's two hundred million dollars people lost in one year. And this isn't a fictitious tale I'm spinning. Scary isn't it.

It's also the premise of one of my upcoming books due to hit the shelves next month.

Imagine finding out that your father has fallen victim to one of these long cons. After disposing of all his stocks, mortgaging his house, and maxing out his credit cards, George Taylor flies to Europe to meet with the man who promised him millions for his help in expediting funds out of West Africa. It’s a fortune he will never see.

When Lindsey Taylor tries to save her father from losing his life savings to the Internet scam, she discovers that losing everything you have isn’t the worst thing that can happen.

Take a quick sneak peek here for more information on FINAL DEPOSIT.

In the meantime, I'll also be posting some tips in the coming weeks as well as a chance for you to win a copy of the book. (See, there really are a few free things in the world that aren't scams!)

My tip for the day: It might seem elementary, but if something seems to good to be true, check it out. It just might save you a lot of heartache in the end.



Friday, August 08, 2008

The Death of Hermon

No, this isn't one of my latest book titles, instead it's my refrigerated sourdough like bread batter. . .named Hermon. (And no, I'm not the one who named him.)

It all started a couple days ago when we made muffins from my oatmeal batter that is supposed to stay fresh in the fridge for six weeks. Jayden and Mariah took the first bites.

"They taste. . .different, Mommy."

"Bad?" I asked.

"No. . .just. . .different."

"Then eat them," I say. "There's nothing wrong with them."

Except there was. The batter, after one week, had gone rancid. They admitted that they hadn't said they tasted bad because they didn't want to hurt my feelings.

I dumped out the rest of what I thought would be a quick breakfast for our busy mornings. No more oatmeal muffins.

Later that morning I remembered that Scott had mentioned that something didn't smell right in the fridge. I decided I'd better check on Hermon.

Hermon was another one of my time-saving ways to help prepare quick meals. I've found tons of great basic recipes from a cookbook compiled by a number of African missionaries. Hermon is a starter you keep in the fridge, feed every few days, then you can use it to make things like bread, pancakes, pizza.

I took a sniff of Hermon then frowned. It was definitely Hermon, smelling far too fermented than he should have.

Sigh. So much for my quick meals.

So, I'm not sure what caused the demise of Hermon. My refrigerator is working fine. It must be the combination of too much heat and humidity.

Despite the loss of Hermon, I have found a great recipe for those of you who love Thai food. Cashews and coconut are readily available here, so this recipe is not only practical for us, but delicious.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Thai Cashew Chicken

1/2 C soy sauce 4 chicken breasts thinly sliced
1 1/2 T hot pepper sauce 1 T sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced 3 T brown sugar
1 T minced ginger root 1 large onion, sliced
3 T creamy peanut butter 1 C unsalted cashew nuts

1. Marinate your chicken with the soy sauce, hot pepper sauce, garlic, and ginger for two hours.

2. Heat sesame oil over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar until it dissolves. Next add the onion and cook until tender. Add the chicken without the marinade and cook until browned.

3. Add the marinate and 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil. Cook until the chicken is cooked. Stir in the peanut butter until blended.

4. Serve over rice and top with coconut, and cashews.



(The photo is of Jayden playing outside our yard with one of his friends. It's amazing at the games they invent with simple objects.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Good-bye Pricilla

No, no one died, or even really left. It's just that it's not always easy saying good-bye to someone. . .even when it's a character from a book.

Okay, maybe it sounds a bit crazy, but when I turned in my the third and last manuscript for my Cozy Crumb mystery series this past weekend, I have to admit that I was a little sad. It's been so much fun to write about Pricilla and her quirky adventures that always manage to get her into trouble as she tries to solve a murder mystery.

For those of you who missed the first book in the series, it kicked off with Recipe for Murder. Pricilla Crumb, a superb cook and articulate hostess, plans an informal buffet for her son, but the dinner party turns to chaos when a guest is found dead after sampling one of her salmon-filled tartlets. Pricilla’s determination to save her reputation and find out the truth begins her unofficial career as a novice detective.

Book two, Baker's Fatal Dozen, comes out this month and is just as quirky and fun. Get ready to cook up a second helping of Pricilla Crumb and her hilarious schemes to serve up justice. When Reggie Pierce, who runs Pricilla Crumb’s favorite bakery, is found dead, Pricilla finds herself hot on the trail of another sticky scandal that begins with murder.

So if you love a good mystery, be on the lookout for Baker's Fatal Dozen. You can order a copy directly from me here or check out the official Heartsong Presents: Mystery site. The club offers four books every six weeks for a fantastic price of only $13.99.

And once again, I'll be holding a contest in my upcoming newsletter. If you haven't signed up, do it now because I'll be drawing THREE names from the subscribers list toward the end of this month. Each winner will receive copies of BOTH Recipe for Murder and Baker's Fatal Dozen.
You can sign up for the newsletter here.

UPDATE ON MY MOM: She's now in an transitional facility where she will receive therapy for her leg. She will be there for the next couple of weeks. Thank you so much for your prayers and emails!



Saturday, August 02, 2008

Update on my mom

Since so many people responded to my last post, I thought I would just send a quick update here again. Mom had her surgery late Thursday evening and was back in her room about 11 pm. They put a rod in her leg and everything went well. She had her first physical therapy session Friday, and was able to spend some time in a chair.

We spoke to her yesterday and while she's doing well, she's obviously very tired and is in some pain. She will be in the hospital until Monday. Because she has to be off the leg for eight weeks, there are a number of decisions that have to be made in the next few days. Please continue praying for my mom and my sister and her family who are caring for her.

Thank you so much for your prayers and words of encouragement!