Birthmonth 2014

I am a social butterfly, and if I have an excuse to host a party or schedule an outing, I jump on it.  That is usually the case with my birthday, but this year it just didn’t work out that way.  With Granny’s passing and new teammates coming in, life was pretty much a whirlwind during this time.

What happened instead?  I was greatly blessed to see the fruit of beautiful Peruvian friendships in action.  This will be a mish-mash of photos, but that is the most perfect way for me to document my last birthday here in my home of Arequipa.  I remember Greg and me talking about moving to Peru.  At the time we were talking, we were planning to move here with two of his best friends in tow.  It may sound selfish, but I felt that it was so unfair to not be moving here with a best friend as well.  I will never forget Greg mentioning to me in this moment, “maybe you will meet a Peruvian that will become a best friend.”  Almost 6 years later, I have been abundantly blessed by friendships that have cultivated in this time.  I couldn’t see it six years ago, but I know that my heart will ache for these dear friends that I shared this chapter of my life with in Arequipa.

I give thanks to God for beautiful friendships, and I give him all glory for providing a circle of people that have loved and cared for me in our time here like sisters and brothers.

January 15… my actual birthday.

Greg usually teaches his theology class at the cafe in the early afternoon.  He walked in the house a little early with a huge bouquet of flowers, my favorite chocolates, and a new wallet (I had lost my wallet in a taxi earlier in the week).  What a guy!

they were HUGE
they were HUGE
Coral is one of my absolute favorite colors.
Coral is one of my absolute favorite colors.

I went to a Bible study in Sandra’s home that afternoon.  I always meet up with Etelvina and Bethany to walk over to her home.  Etelvina not only surprised me with a wonderful “snack” of Papa a la Huancaina, but Areli showed up (in the pouring down rain) with my most favorite cake in the city, La Tradicional (from Capriccios), chocolate cake with manjar and chocolate icing.  What fun!

rain drenched Areli and my cake
rain drenched Areli and my cake
sweet Etelvina
sweet Etelvina
Sandra was a little sneaky in this pic
Sandra was a little sneaky in this pic

IMG_0901

IMG_0906

Sandra and Harold
Sandra and Harold

I need to mention that in the middle of reading a chapter in Mark, my phone rang twice.  I decided to take the call, and what was on the other end?  Emilia’s sweet voice singing “Happy Beerthday to you” all in English.  I loved it.

The next day, Emilia called me and gave me strict orders to not make plans for Friday lunch.  Areli, Paty, and Emilia were scheming behind my back.

Friday came, and the girls took me to eat ceviche (a favorite of Peruvians and a favorite of mine).  I missed Paty (family emergency).  With Ana in tow, I enjoyed a lovely lunch with my two Peruvian besties: we shared an appetizer, ceviche, and crab empanadas.  It was out-of-this-world-good.

they put a candle in my empanadas!  Ha!
they put a candle in my empanadas! Ha!

IMG_0914

IMG_0915

Ana lovin' on Emilia (who moved to Canada this January as well)
Ana lovin’ on Emilia (who moved to Canada this January as well)

 

IMG_0917

 

Manuela loves to make us a lunch for our birthday present.  One week after the 15th, she brought Adobo to the house.  It was perfect planning considering I had delayed my plans to make my birthday dessert for this day.

the delicious Adobo
the delicious Adobo

Chase and Briana were sweet to offer and make me a birthday cake.  I quickly responded with a “no,” and explained to them that baking is a hobby of mine.  I love nothing more than to try a new recipe for my birthday.  This year, it was Bakeorbreak’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake that caught my eye.  I couldn’t resist… (pretzel crust, peanut butter cheesecake, chocolate syrup and toffee crumbled on top).  I will save my review for a later blog post, but I had a ball making the cheesecake, and I was blessed to share it with Manuela, my family, and my new teammates.  (I missed sharing with Kyle and Larissa and their family.  Thanks Sissa for the cheese cake pan!)  Oh… and CUDA employees might have benefitted from the left-overs the next day as well.  🙂

Delicious!
Delicious!

See what I mean by mish-mash?  🙂  Greg always laughs at me when I refer to celebrating my “Birth Month.”  It actually felt like such a celebration this year!  Bring it on Year 33…

Advertisements
Birthmonth 2014

Ana and Art 2014

Ana's art class on a field trip
Ana’s art class on a field trip

Something I have discovered here that I LOVE is the classes offered during the summer months.  Institutes and schools offer “talleres,” or workshops, to kids of all ages during January and February.  One can find classes for instruments, dance, art, swimming, etc.  Ana took swimming classes last year.

Ana got some Christmas money from her grandparents, and we decided to put it toward an art class this January.  She meets 3 times a week, 2 hours at a time.  She loves art, and this class has not disappointed us.  We live in a culture of many “starving” artists.  Arequipa values art, and it is not a surprise to see an art exhibit in the city center or displayed in a place for the people to notice.

Today, I enjoyed accompanying her on a class field trip.  I have been so impressed with the various techniques she has been learning.  Today was no exception.  The teacher, her “profe,” took them to a popular spot in Arequipa (walking distance from their art institute) to sit in the grass and paint the trees around them.  It was a beautiful morning, and I had a lot of fun taking pictures.  The profe actually recruited me to take pictures of the whole class in action for him to use in a pamphlet.

We are so proud of Ana and her love of something so creative.  It has been fun to see her learn actual art techniques.  We are already considering another art class for February, and possibly signing her up for something throughout the school year.  Might as well for the price! 😉

AG in tree art action
AG in tree art action

anaart2

her profe let her use his really cool art stand set-up
her profe let her use his really cool art stand set-up
Ana isn't content with just trees.  She had to add a fountain and the volcano Misti.
Ana isn’t content with just trees. She had to add a fountain and the volcano Misti.

Some other art pieces she has brought home this month…

painting a vase sitting on the table that day
painting a vase sitting on the table that day
exploring color combinations
exploring color combinations

DSC_0366

potato stamp art
potato stamp art
potato stamp art
potato stamp art
potato stamp art
potato stamp art
Ana and Art 2014

Coffee Toffee Bars

DSC_0369The rainy season has begun in Arequipa.  Today is a little bit cool from the overcast skies.  This past week was a hard week for me.  For the first time, I experienced grieving for a family member that was very dear to me… far from my family.  Part of grieving is being with those that you love, and I am thankful to live in a time of wonderful technology.  Watching a live stream of the funeral service and getting to see family members shortly after the service provided closure for me that I don’t think I would have experienced.  I am still working on a post to honor my Granny’s memory, but today was a day to rest from all the tears that have been cried the past week.

With the weather and the emotional toil my body has been through, baking, chocolate, and blogging serve as great therapy for me.  What is more perfect than a Coffee Toffee Bar and a hot cup of peppermint tea?

DSC_0365Coffee Toffee Bars

Click here for the link

DSC_0368a little bit of chocolate + a little bit of peppermint + feeling loved + rest = a perfect afternoon

Coffee Toffee Bars

Amish Sugar Cookies

deliciousness
deliciousness

A sweet friend, Teena, posted this link the other day on Facebook, and I knew in my great big sweet-tooth heart that I needed to try them… ASAP!  And boy, did they not disappoint.  Since I really needed another sugar cookie recipe to make here right after the holiday (wink, wink).

I love my SIL’s, Deborah’s, recipe for sugar cookies that you actually roll out and cut into shapes.  But these cookies are wonderful just the way they are.  They are soft and crumbly, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

They were super easy to put together, and when they say tsp size for putting them on the cookie sheet, they really do mean it.  I couldn’t believe that such a small ball of dough made such a wonderful perfectly-sized cookie.  Next time you want a yummy cookie recipe to try… look no further.  Thanks for posting this the other day, Teena.  🙂

Click here for the Taste of Home Recipe

cookies2

Amish Sugar Cookies