Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday melts into Sabbath

The approach of Friday is good news for people all over the world. It means the end of the work week, the start of a relaxing weekend with family and friends, and time to do all the extra things that get put on hold during the week. But for me, Friday means even more. It brings a flurry of activity during the day, but as the sun sinks toward the horizon, the busyness and hurried pace give way to a sense of peace and relaxation. As sunset approaches, I realize that my bustling can stop, that whatever I haven't gotten accomplished by now can wait for another 24 hours, that for one day I can just rest.

So tonight I'm celebrating Fridays in general, but especially Friday evenings. There is nothing sweeter than the start of the Sabbath rest, the relaxed evening to spend with God before the hustle and bustle of getting ready for church the next morning. I truly think Friday nights are my favourite time of the week.

Some things I loved about this Friday were:
...the arrival of a package (even if it wasn't for me)
...spotting this framed printable whenever I was in the kitchen
(oh, and leftover candy canes... :)
...finishing a dish (fresh food is good, but I'm always happy
when a dish gets finished before it goes bad) a few of my books a new home!
...welcoming the Sabbath with a mug of frothy hot chocolate
...finding a favourite book to re-read
...and letting it speak to me yet again

The Sabbath really is one of God's best gifts! Happy Sabbath to you all!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Kupikia Tanzania cookbook

A few weeks before Christmas I saw a very interesting post on the Cradle of Love Baby Home Facebook page. Cradle of Love is the orphanage I volunteered at while I was working in Tanzania two years ago. Another former volunteer, Angela, decided to go back to Tanzania and work with Tanzanian ladies to learn traditional Tanzanian recipes. She then put all the recipes into a cookbook, which she is now selling, donating all the proceeds to three organizations in Tanzania that are special to her heart. Cradle of Love is one of the three organizations who benefits from the profits of this cookbook.

As soon as I heard about the "Kupikia Tanzania" cookbook, I immediately went to the Blurb page for the book (Blurb is the company Angela used to make the book) and added it to my Amazon wishlist. Then I went back to my normal life. What a surprise for me when, about a week after my birthday last month, I got a package and found this cookbook inside! My amazing sister, Bryna, had bought it for me! I browsed through the cookbook right away, noting that all of my favourite Tanzanian dishes were included. Mmmm, chapati, chipsi myai, and mandazi! I can't wait to try out the vegetarian recipes and bring a little bit of that beautiful East African country that I love so much into my kitchen!

Thank you so much, Bryn, for your wonderful birthday gift! Come visit me sometime and we can cook and eat some of the dishes together! :)

Thank you also, Angela, for taking the time and energy to learn the recipes and to create this beautiful cookbook! I know Cradle of Love is already benefiting from your generous work and I'm sure the other organizations are as well.

My new cookbook!
I love the Kiswahili tips page! I definitely need to brush up on it.

If you are interested in purchasing the "Kupikia Tanzania" cookbook and assisting three worthy organizations who are helping people in Tanzania, go to the Blurb page for the book: Kupikia Tanzania: An Exploration of Tanzanian Cuisine. You can either buy the PDF version, which will come to you instantly after your purchase, or the softcover book version. For more information about the cookbook and the organizations it's helping, go to the Kupikia Tanzania website.

Friday, February 15, 2013

52 Lists

One of the blogs I read mentioned a challenge on this site to write 52 lists this year. Ummm, a challenge to write lists? Yes, please! I am a huge fan of lists and list-writing. Sometimes, when I have nothing better to do I just pick a topic and write a whole list about it (I have one going on right now to list all the churches I've been to...I already have more than 50 churches listed, and that's just SDA churches... Yes, I am that nerdy.) So for this challenge, Moorea Seal, the blog writer, posts a topic each Tuesday and for a week you make up a list on that topic. Sounds like fun to me! I'm going to do the challenge. If you are a list-writer, too, take a look at the site and join in!

52 Lists in 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day, home-style

Valentine's Day is an extra special day to me. While my siblings and I were growing up, my parents always did something special for us on Valentine's Day. We had a small gift (often a small Lego set during the early years) waiting for us on our breakfast plates in the morning, and my mum would always make a fun and different breakfast for us that morning, pink pancakes or French toast with hearts cut into the middle, etc. Of course we did the whole Valentine's cards exchange at school, but that was never really what the holiday was about for us. We grew up knowing that February 14 was a day to show love and appreciation to those we care for the most, be they family, friends, or significant others. I still see it as just an awesome day to love people, and not as a particularly romantic holiday as it seems to be touted in the media and in advertising these days. Good job, Mum and Dad, for showing your kids the true meaning of Valentine's Day. You guys are the best and I love you so much!

And now here's a little look at how the homey Valentine's Day celebrations went at the Gerrans'.
Homemade Valentine's dinner
Homecooked/Asian-themed meal, apparently
My love! :) 
Homemade cheesecake with strawberries
Heart sparkler that my mum put in our Christmas stocking
It sparkled really well!
Valentine's package from my mum which, unbelievably, arrived today! 
Exciting mail, haha
The 2013 calendar my mumma made (all her own amazing pictures in it!)
Us on our second married Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Weekfull of awesome!

If you thought the big snowstorm of 2013 was the most interesting thing to happen to us this past week, you'd be wrong. A whole lot of other great things happened this week. Let me show you!

Both Jonathan's and my extended families do a Christmas name draw every year. I haven't known a Christmas without it, and I wouldn't change the tradition for anything in the world! When we got married, I was thrilled to find out Jonathan's family does it, too! This Christmas Jonathan's aunt and uncle sent us Amazon gift cards. Could there be a better gift for a young couple working to outfit their new apartment?? We were thrilled and knew we wanted to use them for things we needed for our apartment. We waited until most of the kitchen items we'd gotten for our wedding arrived, and then looked through our stash to see what we still needed. Below is what we got: a bamboo utensil holder, a bamboo flipper (to replace Jonathan's plastic one from college that was getting pretty floppy and useless), a can opener, a spice funnel, and a hand-crank paper shredder.
Our awesome Christmas presents!
I love them all, but guess which one I was most excited about?
Yep, the shredder, haha!
It's cute and little AND my arms get a bit of a work-out each time I use it!!
So then, what did I have to spend the rest of the day doing?? Why, going through papers from college and shredding those with too much personal info on them (like grade reports), of course!
How in the world did I get 100/100 on this French test when my essay had tons of corrections? 
Apparently drawing the Vancouver Olympic symbol was more important than
taking notes in World Religions... (as was writing notes to Jonathan)
The Recycle Pile at the end of the day
The shredded remains

So the big decision of my day was how to organize my office supply drawer. After we got the new utensil holder, we were going to give the plastic one Jonathan had from college (which was too small for our new silverware) to Goodwill. As I walked by it on Tuesday afternoon I had an idea that it could be repurposed into a office supply organizer, at least until I get the rest of my things. So before you know it I'd reorganized my drawer and loved the new look. Then I realized I hadn't taken a 'before' picture, and since I'm insane, I actually took a few 'after' pictures and then did another quick re-reorganize, putting all the things back the way I'd originally had them. The only problem was that I re-reorganized better than I had originally organized, and all the things fit into my drawer much better than they had at the start. So then I really had a dilemma: which option to choose? I just couldn't decide, so I left it up to my Facebook friends, haha. Most people voted for the silverware organizer, and I agreed that was the better choice anyway, since I was then left with the little white bins to organize the top drawer of my nightstand. Win-win, and now you get to see two pictures instead of one!
The reorganize (winner)
The re-reorganize (loser). Two of those little white bins are now in my nightstand
and the third is holding small cooking bottles in my kitchen cupboard.

Two awesome things happened:
  1. A plumber/electrician from our church came over in the morning, and he and Jonathan worked together to fix our blocked-up washer drain. It took them two hours, but they finally got the blocked section cut out, then rigged up a new system with PVC pipes. Yay, we can do laundry here finally!! It is already a million times better than going to the laundromat. I am thrilled!
  2. We finally found the perfect pantry cabinet!! For about a month we've been looking for a pantry cabinet to add more storage space to our kitchen. We even bought one from Lowe's, brought it all the way up the stairs, and opened the box before realizing that flimsy thing was not going to work for us. Back to Lowe's it went, and I started keeping an eye out for a cabinet on Craigslist. My vigilance finally paid off this week when I spotted a cabinet for sale right in a neighbouring town. We called and it was still there, so we hurried off to pick it up. Getting it into the house was a little bit challenging, but we managed (mostly Jonathan's doing, haha), and then we spent a good portion of the afternoon reorganizing our kitchen and putting all our nonperishable food into the cabinet so we could put more of our dishes in the other cupboards. Ahh, it feels great to have a kitchen space that is useful and comfortable for us!
Freshly-washed laundry air drying (our electric dryer isn't hooked up yet)
I love our new pantry cabinet!

Valentine's Day!! I love Valentine's Day (but I'll admit that I love every holiday - even Groundhog Day is special to me, haha)! But, that's enough for now, so more on that tomorrow! :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bible Verse 7

A few weeks ago I memorized Philippians 4:19. When I found that verse, I also came across a passage earlier in the chapter that I loosely knew, but realized I wanted to sharpen up on sometime during this year. This past week I found a blog written by a girl I went to college with and her husband. They have recently moved to Peru to work at a home for girls for a year and started this blog to share their journey with others. As I read one of their blog posts, I saw Philippians 4:6 & 7 mentioned, and I took that as a good sign to memorize that verse this week.


"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 4:6 & 7 NKJV

I am often anxious about a lot of things, many of them things that don't even really matter in the grand scheme of things. I want the peace of God to take away those worries and leave me with a peaceful and happy heart, one that focuses more on Him than on the cares of this world.

Picked after reading Kyle & Kayleigh's mission blog post from January 31.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snowstorm of 2013

We survived the big, bad snowstorm of 2013! Up here in mid-Maine the snow started coming down on Friday night and didn't stop until sometime Saturday night. Church was cancelled for us on Saturday, but our collegiate Sabbath School class decided to have our lesson study via teleconference. I was scheduled to teach, and while teaching a lesson over a conference telephone call is not the easiest thing in the world, we made it through and I think all the main points got across. After we said goodbye to our class members, Jonathan and I read some in Patriarchs and Prophets and mostly just had a nice relaxing day watching the snow come down.
Snow drift against our door
Our snowy driveway and yard

In the afternoon we donned warm clothes and headed outside where I made a snow angel (that got ruined as soon as I tried to stand up) and we walked down our road and took a peek at the main road nearby. While the temperature wasn't all that chilly, there were large gusts of wind that made it seem a lot colder than the thermometer read. After our short little walk, I was quite cold, so when Jonathan said he wanted to drive his van around a little bit to make sure it was still running well, I happily hopped in after the bit of snow at the front was shoveled away. We had seen several other cars driving around already, so we knew that if we got into any big trouble, there'd be people around to help us. We had no problems, though, as the roads were all plowed and cleared off. We drove around and explored the nearby Indian Island, home of the Penobscot Nation of native Americans. It was interesting and I'd like to bike around the island sometime when there's less snow on the ground. Once back inside we warmed up with hot chocolate and spent a cozy evening in our snug little apartment.

On Sunday we again ventured outside, and this time we were greeted with dazzling sunshine and a crisp blue sky! Jonathan brought out our snowshoes, taught me how to put them on, and we were off into the drifts. I'd never snowshoed before, but I found very quickly that it's not a hard skill to learn. I had a lot of fun and it was great to finally adventure around the property behind our house.
Small and big in fresh new snow
Jonathan breaking the trail
Me realizing that breaking a trail is hard work...
"Lazy Ali will you get up, will you get up, will you get up..."

After blazing new trails and exploring the fields and woods behind our house, we went around to the front of the house and started a snow fort in the giant plowed-up pile of snow next to the driveway.
Digging out a cave
Not exactly the kind of look-out hole we had planned...
The real look-out hole
Scared Jonathan
Help me get out!
Safe again
Ta-da! Presenting our snow fort!
We live in the top floor (minus the top-front section) of this old farm house

We had a wonderful  snow-filled weekend and we can't wait for the next good snowfall to grace our area!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Downsizing my dresser

A few weeks ago I tackled a BIG job: going through a large box of clothes that I hadn't seen (or missed, really) for at least two years (if not longer). I knew it would be too tough to sort through by myself because, while I am the perfect person to help others clean-up, purge, and organize their things, I have huge nostalgia problems when it comes to going through my own items. I have no idea why clothes, among many other things, are so nostalgic to me, but they are. Many of the clothes in this box were from high school or my early 20s, and since I hadn't so much as looked in the box for two years, I knew there were many things that I needed to give away. So I asked Jonathan to help me as I went through the clothes. Anything he said didn't fit me anymore, or was too out of style or faded or stained to wear out in public, would go into the Give Away pile. It worked! I tried on almost all the clothes in that box that night (there are just socks and pajamas left to go through) and put a good chunk of them into the Give Away pile. But some of the clothes, in order for me to be OK giving them away, had to have one last picture taken. Just for me to remember them by (cause it's not like I don't have any pictures of me wearing them earlier in my life, right?). Now don't worry, I'm not going to post all those pictures here, but I did want to share two of the more memorable (read, hilarious) items with you, just because they make me laugh and you might get a chuckle out of them, too.

Exhibit A:
Sporting my way-too-big and bad-colour-for-me Math Contest T-shirt
I acquired this T-shirt in the spring of my grade 11 year by winning a spot in a math contest sponsored by the local university, Okanagan University College. Yes, I am completely serious, I was in a math contest. When I was in grade 11 our math teacher had all the grade 10-12s take a not-for-credit math test. The top two scores on the test in each grade went on to the valley-wide math competition. I came in third in my class (not such a huge accomplishment since that year there were only fourteen grade 11 students, but the girl who got first was an exchange student from Japan, and I did beat out the science-and-math guy who eventually managed to become valedictorian). It turned out that the girl who got second didn't want to go to the competition and backed out. So I was the next in line and I decided that even though I had guessed on a good number most of the questions, a day off of school to do the competition and then tour the OUC campus wasn't a bad idea. I must say, the test went terribly! I probably still have the paper with the results somewhere. I know I was in the bottom section, and the worst part was that there was one girl at the competition who I knew from violin lessons. She had been a student of my violin teacher until a few years before, so I recognized her and knew her name. She ended up near the top of the list, probably in the top 10 or 20. Yeah, so that was a bit embarrassing, especially since the results sheets included our names, schools and scores... Anyway, so that's the story about my much-too-large, very-yellow math contest shirt. A kind of good memory, but quite a terrible T-shirt that was only ever used as PJs. I hope someone who really likes math finds it at the Bangor Goodwill and really enjoys it, haha.

Exhibit B:
Trying on my Tootsie Pop toque
The rest of the saying on the back
So the first year I was at Southern, 2007-2008, my younger siblings surprised me with a gloriously random birthday present. It was so much fun to open the present and pull out all kinds of fun and crazy things they'd bought at Wal-Mart. Crazy fuzzy socks, colourful tights, some T-shirts, candy (of course), and this Tootsie-Pop toque (or, beanie, as they say down here). Bryn and Tyler thought it was hilarious, and I agreed. None of us had ever seen a Tootsie Pop or watched any commericals about Tootsie Pops, and it was only when Bryn and I showed the toque to our friend and suitemate, Danielle, that we figured out what the saying meant. Thank you ever so much, Danielle, for explaining about Tootsie Pops to us. We might still be in the dark if you hadn't filled us in! So, I think the only time I ever actually wore this toque was for a picture right after pulling it out of the bag of presents. Since I have a plethora of toques (all except for two of which are too big for my puny head), I decided I could give up this one. Hopefully it will keep someone's head and ears warm for the rest of this winter and into the future!

Of course I have stories about all the other items I managed to pry out of my life, but since I've already told them all to Jonathan, I'll leave you with only the two above, and just show you the pile I donated to Goodwill.
The clothes that didn't make the first round of Revamp My Wardrobe
Ahh, it feels good to have these clothes-that-never-really-fit out of my life. I still have a lot of clothes, many that I hardly ever wear, but for now I feel really great for going through the ones that I hadn't worn for the past two years and probably never would have. I'll go through my wardrobe again some other time (my closet needs a thinning out next), but for now it's nice to have a bit more space in my dresser and be able to see all the clothes in my drawers!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Fresh bread!

This past fall my mother-in-law showed me how to make bread in a Bosch. It was a pretty interesting process and much easier than making it all by hand (yay for machines doing the kneeding for you!), but I wasn't quite convinced that I'd ever be able to reproduce that yummy bread smell with just some ingredients and a Bosch machine (not that I have a Bosch right now, but if I ever did have one). Well, on my birthday a week and a half ago, I opened a present from my parents-in-law and was delightedly surprised find a new breadmaker sitting comfortably inside the large cardboard box. They even sent along a breadmaker cookbook and a large bag of yeast to get me started!

On Monday night while we were out doing other errands, Jonathan and I picked up the few more ingredients we'd need to start making our own bread, and yesterday we tried the new breadmaker out for the first time. I know lots of you out there are pretty amazing cooks and do cool things like making bread by hand. I wish I were that cool, but I think I'll start off easy and learn my way up the bread-making ladder. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to try out the first loaf of bread that we made! (How excited was I, you might ask? Well, I took 21 pictures of the first loaf, if that's any indication... :)

Thanks so much, Mom and Dad Gerrans! We're really looking forward to using the breadmaker to make a lot of yummy breads in the future!

It's done!
Cooling before we dig in
First slice
Raspberry AND peach in a fruit spread! Can jam get any better than that?!*
Mmm, such a good-tasting slice of bread!
*Searched long and hard for that high fructose corn syrup-free jam - it tastes great! (Boo Smuckers for making all your jams with HFCS...)