Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hints from Jello-Weez: The Joys of Mapeline

Hint #2 The Joys of Mapleine

I grew up on Mapleine syrup. I’m sure there are Maple snobs out there who only believe in real maple syrup, but probably most of you grew up on some other kind of goopy fake version like Mrs Butterworth. I can’t stand it when people take that cold goopy stuff out of their fridge and expect me to put it on my pancakes. I’m rather a fan of the easy to make, hot off the stove batch of Mapleine. It’s economical to boot.

One of the things I enjoy about Mapleine is using up the leftovers over the next few days. One obvious way is to just keep making pancakes; my helpful hint concerning that is you can keep leftovers in the fridge and just pop them in the toaster to reheat! Reheat your syrup and you’re good to go. Other tasty treats include: mixing it with plain yogurt (yum!!), using it as a sweetener for your tea, and poaching eggs in it (à la Quebecoise! Check out this article on “sugar shacks” For the eggs I would not recommend using syrup in which you have put blueberries—turns the eggs black! (Thanks, Mom, it was delicious, but…). The syrup is also superb on oatmeal. Bon appétit!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy Anniversary

The 31st of this month makes 3 years since I first met Espérance! The other day we happened to have a concert at the very place where we met all those years ago. So we took a photo in front of the stage right at the same spot where we talked for the first time :o)

Friday, March 19, 2010

House-hunting in Congo, Take 2

So the polls are in and…drumroll…we’ve decided to take the house! It’s not a done deal since we don’t have a contract yet, but we’re pursuing it. It will probably be another month or so before everything is fixed up and purchased and we’re ready to actually live there.

I admit that my dear blog readers’ comments did not influence me much. I mostly talked to colleagues here and in the end it was talking to God that won me over. I realized that so long as we don’t settle down into a place of our own we’re sort of floating in a no man’s land and we can’t really establish our ministry. The Lord gave me Psalm 107 which speaks of wandering people finding an inhabitable city to settle in. It also talks about making springs in the desert so I’m praying for more water to flow in our pipes! I also liked a question my mom posed me; something like, “Do you think you could make it feel like home?” My answer to that question was definitely yes. I really like the spacious front room and would be able to have many visitors over. The rooms are all big by Congolese standards and that counts a lot to me, especially to have a good-sized kitchen to work in.

I did really appreciate hearing from people though and would like to address the comments that were left.
Stephanie Mason said...
I love this post! I actually forwarded it to a few coworkers who also fount it very interesting. I do take so many things for granted- running water, fully stocked kitchen, even electricity! I am rooting for you to find a home you both love and look forward to more posts!
Thanks Steph! Yes, so many things taken for granted at home. We just readjust our standards here and it’s really not too hard to adapt! Espérance is easy to please compared to me since he’s used to the conditions here, but I would say he does like this house and we’re both convinced now that taking it is the right thing to do.

bo betsy said...
oh my, ca.
(the farmhouse is looking SO good!)
i think i liked the jello - weez entry better. :)
like mom, i have no doubt that things could be improved and made home-y... but, ew - i hope you don't have to be the one to tackle the bathroom! also - is it mold on the walls? seems like it would be too hot there to have mold problems...?
you amaze me. endlessly. i will pray for your decisions -- love the pros and con list - you are so good at living there!
love to you both!
Yeah, sister, it’s funny to look back at how we thought the farmhouse was inhabitable until you lived there for like 2 years :o) For sure not me cleaning the bathroom!! If they don’t do a good enough job before the house becomes our responsibility, I’ll hire a maid for like 10 bucks to come spend a day there before I move in. Um, yeah, I honestly didn’t even notice the walls because they all look like that here! It’s water damage mostly I think. Some mold maybe too. It’s humid here. Plus the quality of the walls and the paint isn’t great. It’s water-based paint which doesn’t really last.

Carrie said...
The front yard makes me sad. :( What if you decide to have a little garden (and finally grow your own basil)? where will the kiddos kick around a soccer ball? I know it's annoying, but you should also add into the thought about when people come and visit. Which I know you want. :) So, running water in the bathroom might be kinda nice.
I definitely want to grow some of our own veggies and herbs! We can do it Congolese style which means making wooden planters that are like low tables. Would be cool too because we could actually take our garden with us when we move! I’m not planning on living here forever. I could see having our first kid here and maybe moving when they’re still little (say in like 3 years). I do want visitors! But we’ll have a system in place for water. Visitors to Congo just need to be aware of the living conditions here!

Amy said...
It's actually not that bad of a house! :) I've seen worse here, as I'm sure you have. :) I'd love to see the "after" pictures, since we've now seen the "before" pictures. :)
Thanks for the vote of confidence, Amy! By Congolese standards this is a pretty nice house. Not lavish or anything, but definitely better than average.

maggie said...
in my opinion, running water is a must, especially in the kitchen. your home should be your refuge, not just another place for you to have a cross-cultural experience. if they can't figure out a way to make that work, then you should keep looking.
Mags, I was really surprised that after all the places in the world you have lived, you still need running water! Guess Congo is kind of bottom of the barrel. Besides the people who live where we’re living now and the people who live on the center where I work, I don’t know hardly anyone who has good water here in Brazza. Even if we were to find a place that has water now, in 3 months it could go away and not come back for a year. The only reliable water source is to have your own well and pump. One day we’ll build a house and dig a well but that costs like 10 or 20 thousand dollars! We could keep looking, but the odds are not in our favor. This house is already above par just by virtue of the fact that we don’t have to leave our own yard to search for water!

Daniel and Natalie said...
the hardest part of house hunting is that feeling of losing time on your decisions. It is one of the biggest things we have to look at and it has to be done in a very short amount of time. The questions are endless. I know this doesn't help but just wanted you to know i get what it feels like. good luck!
It’s good to realize that house-hunting is a hard decision no matter where you are in the world! Once again, I’m glad I have Jesus to help me make choices. It’s so much less stress to go by faith than to think that everything depends on me!

photos of Papa Gabriel's

Hi! Check out these cool pics my friend Brian took with his awesome camera on our recent trip up the north road to a favorite swimming hole. It's refreshing to get out of the city!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bride price in Congo

Here's an interesting blurb about getting married in Congo: I've seen this in real life as my friends have prepared their weddings.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

House-hunting in Congo

I’ve never had to house-hunt before; my options for lodging have always been pretty straightforward. Not so now that I’m married! Espérance and I have been renting the annex at another mission’s compound and this has been an excellent transition point for us, but ultimately we’d like to find a house and actually set up a home of our own. Thus has commenced my very first house-hunting experience.

In spite of my lack of experience, I have a sneaking suspicion that this process works slightly differently here in Brazzaville than it would back in Salem, OR. First of all, unless the house you’re looking at is in the forest, in the US you would never question the owner about whether or not his house has running water and if the electricity comes regularly! I’m currently evaluating whether running water is a non-negotiable for me or not…

Second of all, the process of actually locating a house that is available is quite different. If you want, you can hire an agent to take you around and show you houses. But you have to pay them for this each time and there might be 5 other agents showing 20 other people the same house. If you’re lucky enough to know someone in the business, you can just pay their transport and only give them money when you actually get a place. Otherwise, you have to just get a hold of inside information about when a house is becoming available. But you better act fast or someone else will snatch it up before you.

We’ve taken the semi-passive route of waiting for the information to come to us. So as of today we have seen a total of 2 houses in the past few months. The one we saw today is posing me a decision-making problem.

Pro: the floor plan is good for us, spacious rooms, 3 bedrooms
Con: it needs a lot of work to fix everything that is broken, missing, or dirty
Pro: most of what needs to be done we can pay them to do and they’ll take it out of our rent
Con: the location is not super close to where I work, adding at least 20 minutes each way to my commute
Pro: the location isn’t as far away from my work as a lot of other places in town and it’s close to the market where I shop and on a good bus line
Con: the water only comes out of the tap at night and never comes into the kitchen
Pro: I’m already accustomed to taking bucket baths and there are several options for rigging systems to make the water more convenient
Con: investing in fixing up and making a place home when you’re just a renter and will leave it all behind eventually is kind of a drag
Pro: it’s got plenty of space for the kiddos, so we could end up staying there for a number of years without needing to see something else
Con: What if there’s something better?
Pro: What if we don’t find something better and I regret not taking this place?
What do you think?

This is where I would park my car

This is the front gate

This is the spacious living/dining room

This is the stinky bathroom that they desperately need to clean. The shower is ridiculously tiny, but otherwise it's nice with all the tiling.

This is the master bedroom. Walls are being repainted white.

There are also two smaller bedrooms

Here's the front yard

This is the kitchen. I would need to use our wedding funds to purchase our fridge and stove and everything

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Hints from Jello-Weez

I’m starting a new column on my blog as a spoof off of the famous Heloise. I’m no domestic goddess, but I’m learning, and living here in Congo sometimes forces me to come up with creative solutions to things. Plus a lot of the missionary women around me are truly homemaking geniuses, so I have no shortage of hints to share. Hope you enjoy it and find something helpful from time to time.

Hint #1 Yummy snack (and it’s gluten and dairy free!)
I just wanted to share with you my new favorite snack. I started eating it a couple of months ago, but now it's especially dear to me because I’m doing a gluten and dairy free diet to try to get rid of my eczema. I call it my Peanut Butter Banana Boat. Ingredients: one banana, spread with peanut butter, topped with chocolate chips. So cute and yummy, no? It’s only unfortunate that I have a limited supply of American PB and Choc chips. But bananas are cheap and plentiful here in central Africa!