Lentil Soup – THM E

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.

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All of the ingredients ready to go. Except the tomato paste…I forgot to get it in the picture.

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.

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Now it’s time to bring it to a boil!

(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)
or
[2 cups Lentils (uncooked) and 8 cups Chicken broth]
2 Carrots
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!

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Birthday Blessings

Happy b-day edit

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 edit

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.

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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!

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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!

Cake 2

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!

Gardening in Dakar

 

When I decided to start a blog I told myself I would never apologize for long periods of silence.  When I was young it seemed like every letter I wrote to family or friends far away began with…”I’m sorry it’s been so long since I wrote.”  I would feel guilty because I had intended to write and just hadn’t done it.

Sometimes it’s so easy to get busy living life, that making time to connect with people who are important to us gets lost in the shuffle.

This weekend I had a phone call with a lifelong friend and I was reminded of why I began blogging…I want to share my life with you.  I want you to know a little more about me as you read my posts.  It’s important to me.

Since moving to Africa you would think I would have lots of exciting things to share, but it doesn’t always feel that way.  My mornings are filled with my ministry and the rest of the day is spent in a variety of tasks…checking/responding to emails, doing laundry, trips to the grocery store, taking  naps – I don’t know if this really can be considered a task but it is part of some of my afternoons, studying Wolof, making dinner and taking care of my garden.

But while all of these things seem very routine to me, you may still find them interesting.  So I will try to give you a  picture of what my life in Senegal is like.

 

Gardening in Dakar

 

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This picture was taken in the beginning of June. We bought 5 bags of dirt to fill empty pots that we already had and bought 3 new pots to fill.

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Here are the cucumbers growing up their trellis and their neighbors, the basil plants. The basil is really liking the hot humid weather in Senegal!

 

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The cucumbers have put out so many blossoms…but sadly no little cucumbers.

 

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Our young carrots being protected from the birds who like our roof.

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A zucchini flower! I’m anxiously awaiting eating my first zucchini.

 

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Our volunteer tomato…we are hoping for a beefsteak. We planted cherry tomatoes from seed and they are doing well too. I love how fuzzy tomato plants look!

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We have been enjoying the beautiful purples of these plants we got from a teammate. The one with the light purple flowers are Russian Sage.

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God provided me with an unfinished courtyard that I decided would make a perfect garden…I named it “The Secret Garden”.  It’s small but things are growing!

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Green bean blossoms with white fly larva. (Any hints for getting rid of white flies? I would love to hear them.)

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Look! Our first green bean…we are going to cut it into thirds and share it!

Gardening is in my blood.

It is definitely different growing plants on a rooftop garden in pots and a small sandy courtyard, then growing a 1/2 acre garden in Minnesota with my family.  But I am so thankful God has given me a way to connect with Him through growing things!

While I was writing this I took a break to go water my plants on the roof and got to enjoy a gentle rain…such a long-awaited joy!

Thanks for taking the time to connect with me.

 

God’s timing

Hello friends and family!

Right now I am in Littleton, Colorado getting settled in for my last training with World Venture!  You may remember reading in my December Newsletter that I needed to reach 60% by the end of December in order to go to Pre-Departure training in January (and if I missed that training the next one wasn’t until June).  Well, as I have seen many times in the last 6 months God provided above and beyond what I needed.  As of today I have partners for 78% of my monthly expenses!!!
 
I will be in Colorado until the 24th of January and I will be home and will begin the final stretch to the finish line.  I am hoping to be ready to leave for Senegal in early March…but we shall see what God has planned! I have to have 100% of my expenses raised before I can leave, so please be in prayer.  I know that if God wants me in Senegal in March he can make that happen and if he has a different timing planed, then it will be perfect! 
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Here is a picture of World Venture’s headquarters where my training is taking place.  There will be 18 of us involved in this training, which is aimed at preparing us for the next few months ahead and transitioning to the mission field!  
 
Thank you all for your prayers…I am so thankful to have so many Godly people in my life!!!
 
 

Family Time

The last two weeks have been full of fun family times!

Ok, so this isn’t quite what our Thanksgiving dinner looked like…but close!

My brother Mark and his wife Jenny arrived at our house the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and were able to stay until Saturday. What a blessing!!!  We enjoyed a nice visit together and an awesome Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m so thankful they were able to come and stay with us…life gets so busy sometimes that these moments of time are so precious!  

In some ways I feel like my time for special family moments is running out…

God has continued to provide the partners I need to begin ministry in Senegal.  I now have partners for 60% of my monthly support…which is an awesome feeling!  It’s so exciting to see God moving me forward on this journey!

Moving forward is good, but it can also be hard.  Starting this new chapter in the story God is writing with my life means that another chapter is coming to a close.  I have always had a hard time with knowing how to deal with change, so I have to keep reminding myself that God has always been with me and he will see me through these changes too.

So, my Thanksgiving this year was a little bittersweet…it will be three years before I am home to celebrate another Thanksgiving with my family.  But I am confident that God will see me through the times of sadness that I’m sure will come as I celebrate next year in Senegal!

Ok. Picture time!

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Hunting for the perfect Christmas tree!
Mimi – Angela – Papa

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Angela – Auntie Kim

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Here’s our perfect tree!!!

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The girls had lots of fun decorating the tree while Papa watched!

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Mimi’s good at reaching the high branches!

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Our puzzle project…didn’t quite finish it. Maybe next time!

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Angela…the little baker girl!

 

Fun Fact Friday

 

Did you know that there is a pink lake in Senegal? 

Well, there is and here are some pictures of it!

Lake Retba – Senegal, Africa

Senegalese men collecting salt from the lake.

Salt collector’s boats

So Why is Lake Retba Pink?

The pink color of Lake Retba is the effect of high density of  Dunaliella Salina algae in the lake. You might think that this makes this lake dangerous and you cannot go near it. Quite the contrary, a sizeable population of people in the Cap Vert peninsula of Senegal make a living out of Lake Retba. The lake has a high concentration of  salt  in its water and the locals  harvest it for a living.

Lake Retba is Therapeutic!

The pink water might not be enticing to swim in, but the Dunaliella Salina algae and salt rich water  has anti-oxidant properties. A quick swim in these waters is not all that bad an idea, especially since floating in the highly salty water is rather effortless (simple principle of buoyancy). More importantly mineral deposits from the Lake Retba are used in the cosmetics industry for various product. The food industry also uses the salt extracted for special purposes. Though the minerals themselves are widely sought out, the locals who collect the salt deposits from within the lake floor have to apply a coat of protective butter to prevent excessive dryness and skin reaction from over exposure to salt.

Facts about Lake Retba found here.

For more information and pictures check out the following website…http://www.lakeretba.com/

Isn’t God amazing? He is always giving us something new to learn and beauty upon beauty to satisfy our souls!!  I’m looking forward to the chance to visit Lac Rose for myself someday…who knows maybe I’ll be able to rent a kayak and paddle around!  

The Johnson’s Harvest Party – Minnesota Event Photographer

Here is a post from a dear friend about a Harvest Blessings Party we had at our house recently. Enjoy!!

Whispers of Light Photography

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”
— W.T. Purkiser

My lovely friend Kim is preparing to head out to follow a call into serving God in Senegal. She and her wonderful family are some of the dearest people you’ll ever meet. They thought it would be fun to gather together some friends out on their charming farm, and have a sort of harvest party– a time of fellowship to come together and thank the Lord for all that He gives.  Friends dressed in 1800’s style costumes, games, great food, a pie contest, a dance, and a whole lot of family-fun ensued, and I got to capture just a bit of the beautiful evening with my lens 🙂

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Thank you, lovely Johnson Family, for being such great friends to so many people, and for hosting such a special…

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Minnesota Summers

As I was driving into town today I was thinking of all the things that I enjoy about summer time.  Living in Northern Minnesota really makes you appreciate summer, as the winters can sometimes be unbearably long and cold.  Now, I’m sure there are some who live in states where their summer’s are HOT, like much of my extended family who live in New Jersey, that may say that our high 70’s – low 80’s is a bit chilly for summer.  But it suits me just fine.  I have also been savoring the changing of seasons here more, knowing that when I am in Senegal the seasons will be much different then I am use to.

To change the topic of just a moment…I’m sure many of you have heard of the book One Thousand Gifts – A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are At by Ann Voskamp.  I first heard Ann speaking about her book on one of my favorite radio programs, Chris Fabry Live.

Here is the publisher’s synopsis of her book,  “Drawing heartbreaking beauty out of the simplest of details, Ann Voskamp invites you into her grace-bathed life of farming, parenting, and writing—and deeper still into your own life. Here you will discover a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of living that is fully alive, and a way of becoming present to God that brings you deep and lasting joy.”

Last winter I read most of the book and while it was very good, I’m embarrassed to tell you I didn’t finish it.  I have a bad habit of reading most of a book but never quite finishing it (unless it’s a novel).  Another thing that slowed me down a bit was Ann’s writing style it very poetic and that made it a little hard to follow at times.  But, that being said, I still really want to read the whole thing sometime.

Anyway…ever since reading One thousand Gifts – A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, I have been making my own list.  But, so far this summer I’ve been very lax about actually writing anything down.  So, I’ve decided to share some of the things I’ve found myself being thankful for this summer.  Feel free to leave a comment with things you thankful for today!  The more we look for the beauty around us the more we see and know God!

 

1. The lush green of the fields, forests, ditches, yards, and gardens

2. The smell of strawberries fresh from the garden…I really wish I could bottle that smell for the cold winter days

3. A swarm of bees flying overhead, looking for a new home

4. The smell of dirt after a rain

5. Potlucks with dear friends

6. Hanging wash out on the line

7. The warm clothes just off the line that smell of summer and sunshine

8. Evenings spent with friends sharing how God is at work in my life…drawing me to Africa

9. Phone calls with a “little” brother far away

10. Watching my niece profess her faith in God by being baptized

11. Eating perfectly ripe raspberries out of the garden

12. Moments of working together with my Mom

13. Drives to work in the morning with my Dad

14. A perfect sunset

The list could go on and on…but to be perfectly honest, I have had to stop and consider what to write here.  God has given each of us so much to be thankful for, even when life is hard, but so often we take it for granted.  Or, at least I know I do.  I have been trying to soak in the little moments of joy that come my way so often, to acknowledge the gifts God sends my way every day.  Even when I am pulling weeds in the garden, washing dishes or mopping a floor, there are things to be thankful for.

I would truly love to hear some of the things you are finding to be thankful for…please take a minute to share!

Old-Fashion Strawberry Pie

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I have to start off by saying that I really enjoyed this pie!  I don’t know why I have never made a baked strawberry pie before…but I certainly will be making one again!

We had a great strawberry crop this year, harvesting 21 lbs of berries so far (I’m hoping to pick our last pound or two tomorrow), so I have been fun finding news ways to enjoy our berries.  Most years we  freeze some of the berries for a winter treat, make a strawberry shortcake or two and make some jam.  We did make our traditional strawberry shortcake, but I have also made a few batches of strawberry Italian water ice and most importantly this lovely pie!

When I decided to make a pie I started scouring Pinterest for the perfect recipe.  At first I thought I wanted to make a pie with strawberries topping a chocolate ganache, it sounded really yummy, but not quite what I was looking for.  Then I came across this recipe and realized that it was just what I was looking for!

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Dark Chocolate Strawberry Pie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Pie Dough

2½ cups flour, plus ½ cup extra for kneading

2 tbsp sugar

½ tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter, chopped into small chunks

2 tsp vinegar

5 tbsp ice-cold water

Filling

5 cups strawberries, rinsed and halved

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar (reserve ¼ cup for sprinkling at the end)

½ tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp quick tapioca

Juice from 1 lemon

¼ cup dark chocolate chips

2 tbsp butter

Instructions –

For the pie dough, combine flour, sugar and salt.  Use your fingers to combine (Or a pastry fork, it’s up to you…I prefer using my hands). Add in butter chunks and continue mixing until small crumbs form. Gradually add in liquid, until a dough forms. Don’t worry if it is too sticky.

Remove dough from bowl and knead on a clean floured counter for about a minute until it is no longer sticky. Divide dough into two even sized balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about one hour.

Roll out one batch of pie dough to fit into a greased pie pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the bottom of the pie shell.

Combine berries, brown sugar, ¼ cup white sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and tapioca.

Pour strawberries into the pie shell (You may not want to put all of the juices in with the berries, as it may cause too much spilling out).

Roll out the second pie crust and cut into strips. Form a lattice topping on top of the strawberries with the pie strips.

Cut the 2 tbsp of butter into tiny pieces and dot them in between the opening piece of the lattice-work. Sprinkle the pie with the remaining sugar.

Bake for 1 hour, 20 minutes.

I love this old rolling pie...it was my grandma's!

I love this old rolling pie…it was my grandma’s!

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My not so yummy looking filling.

Here it is with the chocolate chips.

I love a little sugar on top, it makes it look so special!

I love a little sugar on top, it makes it look so special!

The finished product.

The finished product.

Old-fashion Strawberry Pie!  Mmmm!

Old-fashion Strawberry Pie! Mmmm!

 

I did make one small change to the original recipe…I changed the cornstarch to tapioca.  I’m sure cornstarch would work fine too, but I had recently bought the tapioca to make another pie (one that never got made) so I decided I had better put my tapioca to good use.  It didn’t look very pretty before it was cooked, as I’m sure you noticed in the picture, but the pie turned out great so I think I’ll have to try using tapioca again in the future!

Also, I’m not sure if I will use chocolate chips again in the future.  I couldn’t really taste them, so I would like to see what it tastes like without the chocolate.

What are some of your favorite strawberry recipes?  I would love to give them a try!

Walking…

I decided last month that I needed to start taking a walk at least twice a week…but due a busy schedule, bad weather, etc, etc, I failed to begin my weekly walks.

My desire to start walking comes from a desire to be healthier.  During my senior year of college (2008) I spent evenings working out with a number of my friends.  We would lift weights, run around the gym or up and down the stairs, do crunches during movies, all which added up to me being the healthiest I have been as an adult.

In the past five years my exercise habits and hence my health has had its ups and downs.  This winter I began to feel especially sluggish, so this spring I began to realized that I really need to be more motivated to take care of my health.  Thus the bi-weekly walks.  Beyond my physical need to get out and walk, is my spiritual need to get out and walk.

One of my favorite ways to connect with God is to spend time surrounded by beauty of His creation!

Yesterday, I made the first of hopefully many walks this summer.  I didn’t walk as far as I hoped I would…but I’ll get better!  It was really nice to get outside, exercise, spend sometime talking with God and soaking in the beauty God has placed all around me!

Here are a few pictures remind you of some of God’s simple blessings in our lives.

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What are some of your favorite ways to connect with God?