When I was in Jr. High we were a part of a homeschool group that published a monthly newsletter. Students could send in poems or short story to share with the group. I was 14 when I wrote the following story to send in. It’s fun to see what I wrote all those years ago!
Wow!! It has been a really long time since I have written anything to share with you.
I must say the last 8 months have been very full and stressful at times. In April of this year, after 2 years in Senegal, I began the process of packing, saying goodbyes and a million other things needed for a cross-continent move. It was really hard leaving friends who had become like family and saying goodbye to the boys I had worked with almost every day for those 2 years.
Before returning to Minnesota I had heard missionaries talk about reverse culture shock and about the fact that it can be hard to transition back into “normal” life. While I was aware that I might experience a time of adjustment, I didn’t really didn’t think it was something I would struggle with. Mostly because I was only out of the country for two years and I felt like I had done pretty well staying connected with all that was going on here. But in all honesty it has been a lot harder than I expected.
Thankfully it is getting easier and it is so good being with my family on a regular basis! It was such a blessing to all be together for Thanksgiving and I’m looking forward to celebrating Christmas with everyone!!
Since returning home my parents and I have been following an eating plan call Trim Healthy Mama. It’s a great way to eat healthy and yummy food! If you are interested you can read more on their website…here.
Tonight we created an awesome Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe that I just have to share! It was a hit! This recipe is a THM – S…which stands for “satisfying”. But whether or not you are eating the THM way I think you will really enjoy this casserole! Let me know if you try it.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole – THM S
Serves – 6
4 cups Chicken (cooked)
1 lb. Ham (cubed)
Swiss cheese sauce:
1 cup Chicken broth
4 oz. Cream Cheese – 1/3 fat
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 tsp. Onion powder
1/4 tsp. Garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Parsley
2 cups Swiss Cheese
4 Wasa crackers (crushed)
1/2 cup Almond flour
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
2 Tbsp. Butter (melted)
- Layer chicken and ham in a greased 2 quart casserole dish.
- In a saucepan bring first 6 ingredients of the Swiss Cheese sauce to a boil. Add in the Swiss cheese. Heat until melted, stirring often.
- Pour the sauce over the meats.
- Mix together topping ingredients and sprinkle on casserole.
Bake at 400F for 30 minutes
I am anxiously awaiting the cool season here in Senegal. A few weeks ago we had a break in the heat and it seemed as if cooler weather was just around the corner. Sadly the progress is slow going. Now I’m just hoping it cools off by the time my Mom arrives from Minnesota on November 23rd!
Yes, you read that right. My Mom is coming to Dakar! She will be here in 10 days from now! I can’t wait! It has been almost exactly 10 months since I saw her last. I am so excited to have her here with me for a few weeks! It will be fun to show her around and have her meet all my friends here.
In my excitement I am also trying to make sure I have food in the freezer so that we don’t need to be cooking the whole time. Although, we both do enjoy cooking and it will be nice to cook together again! So today I decided to make some Lentil Soup and freeze it.
This recipe is one I threw together earlier this fall and liked it so much I have made it a few times. It’s really easy to make, so I thought I should share it! You can also make it more like stew by using less chicken broth.
(I’ll try to add a picture of the finished soup when I pull it out of the freezer…I forgot to take one before I put it away.)
My Mom has been following the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating about 1 1/2 years and I have been trying to eat that way as much as possible since June. If you are interested in learning more you can check out the website by clicking here. This recipe is considered an E, which stands for energizing. It would be really tasty with a slice of homemade sourdough bread! The the recipe I use is from Gwen’s Nest and is also a THM E.
So as you being to feel the chill of fall here is a great recipe to warm up with!
Lentil Soup – THM E
4 cups Chicken broth
1 1/2 cups Lentils (cooked)
[2 cups Lentils (uncooked) and 8 cups Chicken broth]
1 med. Onion
3 cloves Garlic
2 Tbsp. Tomato paste
3 Bay leaves
1/4 tsp. Thyme
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/8 tsp. Turmeric powder
Salt and Pepper
- Chop carrots and onion. Mince garlic.
- Add everything to a pot and bring to a boil.
- Turn heat down, cover and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes.
- If using uncooked lentil simmer for at least 1 hour.
There you have it…simple! Enjoy!
Wow! It has been way too long since I posted anything here. I got on today to look for my Homemade Soft Pretzel recipe and noticed it had been three months since I had written anything. Three months! So decided I had better get on and write something…even if I don’t feel like I have much to share right now.
After living in Senegal for over 15 months I think I have forgotten what would seem new and interesting to someone who has never been here. But I think if I try to look at life through your eyes I will find things to write about that will interest you. If you have questions about life in Senegal please leave me a comment and I will try to write a post about it! My life has been so full of new things since I moved here. Things I don’t want to forget…so even if its old news I’ll start sharing some of it with you!
Let’s go back 7 months ago today.
On December 25th, at 2 am I flew out of Dakar. I was headed home to Minnesota for my brother’s wedding! About 22 hours later, I was getting some of the best hugs of my life! What a sweet Christmas memory! I wasn’t expecting to be home at all during my two years here in Senegal, so it was extra special to be home for Christmas. God is so good! My brother’s wedding was such a special day and the time with all of my family was truly a blessing! I’m so thankful that God worked out the details for me go home for a visit and that he knows our needs even before we do.
Here are some pictures of my trip. I didn’t take all the pictures I should have…but I enjoyed each moment with family and friends! Which is sometimes more important than capturing the moments in a pictures right?
Wow! It has been way too long since I have taken the time to sit down and write a post to share with all of you. I’m still alive in case you were wondering! Life in Dakar is going well and I have been enjoying getting to know new friends and my surroundings better. I will try to post soon about some of the things I have been up to in the last few months. But for now I want to share with you a recipe for a chemical-free household cleaner I have been using.
Do you ever get annoyed by those recipes or ideas you see on Facebook that don’t have a link to a website? You want to be able to Pin them to one of your Pinterest boards but can’t? Sometimes if there is a recipe that I really like I will save the picture to my computer so I can find it again, but that really isn’t as convenient as having it filed away on Pinterest…at least not to me. The cleaner I want to share with you today is one of those Facebook finds.
When I saved this recipe to try I wasn’t sure how well it would really work, but I liked the basic ingredients it had in it. A big plus for me was that I have easy access to all the ingredients here in Dakar! So without further ado here is the recipe…
“Sparkle & Shine” – Chemical-free Cleaner
Into a spray bottle mix:
4 oz. Lemon Juice
8 oz. White Vinegar
10 oz. Water
2 oz. Dish-washing liquid
Now make your house sparkle!
I have to say that this cleaner worked far better than I anticipated. Some times I do have to spray and wipe my shower more than once to get the sparkle to return…but it does return and it really doesn’t take much elbow grease on my part! I really love how shiny it makes my bathroom sink, tub and toilet!
I did have a friend try this cleaner without as much success. I’m not sure exactly when it didn’t work as well for her, but I think one difference maybe that I use this spray in combination with a microfiber cleaning cloth. When I use just the cloth on its own or just the cleaner on its own I don’t get the same results. So you might want to consider that before making this cleaner for yourself. Also, remember that If your shower has a bad build-up of soap scum it may take a time or two of cleaning to get it sparkling!
Here are some pictures…sorry I didn’t think to get any before I cleaned!
*Please test it first before using on delicate surfaces, just to be safe!
What do you enjoy doing to relax? Maybe you take a walk, read a book, go shopping, watch a movie, hang out with friends, sit in the sun or any number of things. For me relaxing depends on my mood, the weather outside and how tired I am. Today my form of relaxing was to bake.
I think one of the reasons I like baking so much is that I get to enjoy taking a few basic ingredients and turn them into yummy food! It’s always fun when the things you bake turn out as good or better than you expected…today was one of those kind of days!
I started the morning by mixing up dough to make English Muffins. I have never made them before today so I was a little nervous to see how they would turn out. I found the recipe for them on Pinterest…click here to go to the recipe. The recipe was very easy to follow, but mixing/kneading the dough was a little harder. The dough is very elastic and somewhat sticky, it would be best to use a mixer that can handle bread dough (like a KitchenAid). But in the absence of such a mixer I mixed/kneaded by hand with a wooden spoon. After I was done mixing I set the dough aside to rise while I began my next project. In the end I was really happy with how the muffins looked and I can’t wait to taste them tomorrow morning!
My other baking project today was making soft pretzels. Homemade soft pretzels are one of my favorite baked goods to make. If you haven’t tried making them before you should definitely give it a try! They are really quite easy to make and are a fun kitchen project to make with the kids in your life. If you want to read more about my love for pretzels and see the recipe I use you can read my post called Homemade Soft Pretzels. (Sorry there aren’t any pictures with the Pretzel post…I need to fix that.)
I hope you are having a nice Saturday and take some time this weekend to relax!
One thing that took awhile to figure out when I moved to Dakar was…were to go to church. I visited some Senegalese churches mostly for cultural immersion, especially since they were in French. Some Sunday’s I stayed home and listen to my pastor’s message online or watched a sermon. A handful of times I went to church a Dakar Academy (Christian school for missionary kids and international students) just a short walk from my house.
But there was one church that after being there a few times I started to feel comfortable, International Christian Fellowship. It’s a church full of people from all over the world who are in Dakar for a dozen different reasons, but are all looking for a place to worship God.
I can’t say that I feel super connected there yet, but I like the fact that everyone is very friendly and genuine. My hope is to push myself to get involved in small ways and start to get to know more people. But for now, I’m very thankful to have a church that is involved in reaching out to the people in this city!
Tonight I enjoyed an evening of singing Christmas carols with this new church family. Although it’s December in some ways it felt more like the 4th of July…everyone sitting on blankets and wearing their sandals. (Even though it was in the mid-70’s I was feeling quite cool.) It was a special evening and beautiful to be a part of an outdoor candlelight service (keeping the candles lit proved to be quite tricky). I will still miss being a part of the Christmas Eve service at home this year, but I’m thankful for new experiences!
Thursday I turned 29. This past week has been filled with blessings…birthday gifts from God.
The week before my birthday I was treated to lunch by some friends as an early birthday present! Not only did they buy me lunch…they also showered my with some very thoughtful gifts!
[PICTURES TO COME…]
All week God has been showering me with beautiful sunsets! These pictures are a poor replacement for the real thing…the color and layering of clouds has been truly breathtaking!
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and this year it was my birthday too! I traveled with some friends to our teammate’s house, about an hour and a half away, to celebrate the holiday together. On the way there my friends sang “Happy Birthday” to me and I received some lovely cards from my “nieces”! We also saw a monkey running across the road…that was a first! I wish I had a picture of that to share with you.
I am so thankful that although I am far from home God has giving me “family” to celebrate special days with! Not only did I have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and pie…I also had a yummy chocolate cake to make my day special!
As a perfect ending to my day, I spent 1 1/2 on Skype with my family! It was so nice to talk to all of them! My 2-year-old niece sang “Happy Birthday” to me and gave me so many computer hugs and kisses! Then the big girls joined the call and sang to me again! I can’t wait to see them all next month!
Today I arrived home and was greeted by a surprise…I cake made with a mix and frosting my mom had sent! I had no idea she had sent a cake for my birthday, it was such a sweet unexpected surprise! So my friends sang “Happy Birthday” to me and we had some chocolate cake together!
I’m not a big fan of change. But God has brought me through many changes in my life. Some of them normal changes that everyone faces at sometime or another…and some less common.
I don’t like change much more now, then I did as an 8-year-old. I remember one night getting out of bed and crying to my Mom and Dad…why was I crying? Because I didn’t want to grow up. I experienced those same feelings many times throughout my growing up years, I can remember many nights thinking, “I wish I could go back to being a little kid again.” Finally in my mid to late teens I decided I didn’t want to go through the work of growing up again…so I had better get use to the idea of becoming an adult.
It’s funny thinking about that now! It seems so long ago. I glad I can look back on my life and see how God works through the changes…how he has shaped me into the woman I am today. But even still, I sometimes still find myself struggling to stay the same, to avoid change.
Some changes are so necessary in our lives. Such as repenting of sin and choosing to allow God to wash us clean. One big change for me this year has been moving to Senegal…choosing to face a big change in my life in order to follow God’s leading. It is not easy and some days I wonder why God has asked me to make such a big change. I’m so thankful that if I take the time to look back on my life, thus far, I can see God’s hand in it all changing me and shaping me. I am choosing to respond with trust in God to the changes I face.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
By the way…do you like the changes I made to the blog? 😉
I have been pleasantly surprised that since moving to Africa I have missed very little when it comes to food. That’s not to say I never miss any easy-to-come-by food from home. But in general I am very content with the food I eat here. Traditional Senegalese food is very good (even if you are a somewhat picky eater) and someday soon I will write a post about some of the most common Senegalese meals…but today is about American food!
Before I even set foot in Senegal I had heard of the “American Store”…where desperate Americans go when they need Frosted Mini-Wheats, Betty Crocker cake mix, Starbucks coffee and other hard to find essentials. (Or if they just really love American brands and don’t want to buy a French brand of apple sauce from a local grocery store.)
The New “American Store”
Recently, while on a trip to the American Embassy to pick up my renewed passport we stopped in at the new “American Food Store”…which is just down the road from the embassy.
Here is what I found that couldn’t live without…
Okay…I could have lived without all of this but it is nice to have a taste of home!
But when you live thousands of miles from “home” you pay the price to eat like you were still living there…
The exchange rate here is around 500CFA to $1.00.
So here is what my receipt would look like in dollars…
A&W Root Beet – $1.20
Hidden Valley Ranch – $3.20
Reese’s PB Cup – $1.30
Gold Fish – $0.80 x 4
Borax – $8.20
Total – $17.10