Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another Day At the River

On Thursday Hetee came home from his office and announced that he had canceled the church leaders' meeting and that he wanted to take us to the river (I LOVE this guy!). I quickly boiled some eggs for a snack and threw some towels in the car and we were off!

On our short drive through the countryside we saw several animals, mostly sheep, horses and goats. This lamb was too cute. We watched him nurse then snapped this quick photo. Didn't want to disturb the wildlife, you know? Haha

We had a nice time, just the 5 of us at our favorite spot. The kids swam at the edge of the river as it was a bit flooded from all the rain we've been getting. We don't have swimsuits here so the kids swam in their birthday suits (I won't be posting those pics). I tried to convince Hetee to join them but he refused. =) I just think he didn't trust me with the camera.

We enjoyed the sunshine, the breeze, the goofy kids, and the feeling of playing hooky (since we were supposed to be having a meeting).

Thank you, Sweetheart, for making the time to make memories with us! I love you!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Frugal Friday: Rethinking leftovers

A few days ago I made a large pot of bean and veggie soup with sausage. I knew it would be a challenge to get my kids, especially Nate (5) and Abi (4) to eat it because they don't like vegetables. After several attempts with no success, I decided to reinvent.

I removed the sausage (there were only a few pieces left) and pureed everything and made dip! We can't buy chips here so I made whole wheat flour tortillas from scratch then cut them in wedges and fried them (not very healthy but I didn't have time to let them bake).

We grown-ups ate our dip in a bowl, topped with lettuce, tomato, jalpenos, and sour cream. The kids ate theirs plain but little did they know they were eating carrots, zucchini, potatoes, bell peppers and onions!

Yay! This is my first "Frugal Friday" post! Head over to Biblical Womanhood for more great ideas on saving $.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Oh Happy Day

...when I chased 13 cows away.

Yes, I counted them and there were 13. You see, my husband left the gate open again and the yard quickly filled up with cows, eager to chomp down on our ridiculously overgrown grass. Not that I mind, it's just that we have several berry bushes and, well, they eat those, too.

So, Nate grabbed his sling shot and I, the broom and we headed out. Kenny was barefoot so I slung him up to my right hip and, holding the broom with my left hand we got to work, shooing and yelling. It was muddy and the cows were obstinate. Did I mention there were 13 full-grown cows? Not like the 2 calves Abi and Nate had handled earlier this morning on their own. These cows were not going anywhere until they'd had their full of grass.

I guess it was pretty comical. I was frustrated. Nate was getting more of a response with his slingshot and yelling the Mongolian "hoosh". He got about 7 of them out then came to help me. As soon as he turned his back a big cow with huge horns tried to get back in, so he had to deal with her. He smacked her on the behind for good measure.

I tried all my best cow "threats" in the deepest, throatiest voice I could muster, but it didn't work. (all it did was make Kenny giggle) I even hit and prodded with the broom but to no avail.

I was following behind one cow, finally making some progress, but I was looking down to sidestep the mud and cow doo doo when she stopped dead in front of me. Kenny and I almost ran smack into her rear end. (She looked like she needed to do some serious kegels, too) It didn't look pretty at all back there.

We got the last of them out and, as we closed the gate, Nate wondered breathlessly why we couldn't do it again because it was so fun.

I was out of breath and ready to let Hetee have it for not closing the gate behind him. But then I thought it would be much nicer if I just went out and closed it myself after he drives off so he wouldn't have to keep getting in and out of the car. Cause it's the least I can do for such a great guy, ya know? Either that, or get my work out chasing cows to the amusement of the neighbors.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sunshine and Dreams

It's been raining here for 4 days straight. The kids are getting restless and I'm running out of places to hang the laundry to dry.

Then today as I was pulling my last tray of sesame seed/anise cookies out of the oven, the brightest light came shining through the kitchen window. I went to take a look, gasping at the brightness and half expecting to see Jesus riding on a white horse. But, alas, it was just the sun shining through the yucky gray clouds. Finally some sunshine! Now, maybe we can get on with business and actually have a SUMMER before Autumn gets here.

I don't think I've ever mentioned it on my blog before, but one of my lifelong dreams is to run my own cafe. There you have it. Maybe you expected me to have a more noble dream, like becoming a midwife or something along those lines. But the truth is, from the time I was little I loved experimenting and baking in the kitchen. Many of those sessions ended in disaster, as I thought it was so boring to follow silly rules such as letting cookie dough sit in the fridge for 2 hours before baking it, or letting yeast dough rise twice.

But I did learn a lot throughout the years and I dream of having a simple, down-home, New Orleans-y, comfy feeling cafe. In Mongolia. In Darkhan to be exact. I really think it would be a good place to start as there are no other places like that here. There are "cafes" but they are more like restaurants and they serve food. I would only serve yummy coffees, teas and maybe smoothies along with delicious baked treats. It would be a place where Mongolians and foreigners alike would gather to relax, check email (I'd have wireless internet, of course) and grab a yummy snack.

My cafe would also be a place where women could work and be taught skills that will benefit them.

The truth is, I don't know a thing about running a cafe but I hope I have the opportunity to learn someday.

All this rainy, cloudy, cold weather has gotten me inspired all over again! It's my favorite weather for baking and cooking, and the cookies I made today are going on my "One day, when I have a cafe" list. Yes, I have a list.

Monday, June 23, 2008


This morning Abi said, "Mom, Nate and I are going to spend a little time together today. But don't worry, we still love you and daddy."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mulling Over Money

With the prices of gas and groceries going up AND our rent having gone up an extra $50.00 a month, I've been under quite a bit of pressure to stretch our dollars even further. Fortunately, I've learned to enjoy and welcome the challenge. I do the best I can and am learning to trust God for the rest. He is ever faithful!

Here are some ways we're saving money these days:

  • We do some shopping in Ulaan Baatar. My husband preaches at our branch church there every other Sunday so we use the opportunity to shop at the big market there. We save a lot this way and we can buy things like broccoli and lettuce that we can't usually find here in Darkhan.
  • I don't buy bread crumbs. Instead, I trim the crusts off of the kids' bread before serving them, and dry it out in a warm oven for several hours then grind it in the blender. I have even seasoned them for certain recipes and it works great!
  • We use less beef than before. Beef just went from about $3.00/kilo to $4.50/kilo. and that's not pure meat. I still have to trim off what we don't eat but that a post for another day. I then prepare our beef and separate it into meal portions then freeze it. This way I'm not tempted to use too much.
  • The kids are learning to wear clothes longer than one day. We went through a period where we didn't have a washing machine and I was doing all the washing by hand. I made sure they got good use out of their clothes before sending them to the dirty laundry basket! The habit stuck and, even though we now have a washing machine, we are still careful about wearing things more than once. If the kids do get dirty, I don't stress about it. After all, it's what kids do. We also use our bath towels 4-5 times before washing.
  • I make oven baked French fries, instead of fried. It saves oil and it's healthier. I usually add an herb like rosemary/garlic salt or sprinkle on seasoning salt.
  • I turn off the lights when I leave a room. I'm terrible about this but I really am trying!
  • Eat beans! Fortunately, everyone in our family likes beans. They're fairly inexpensive here, too.
My main motivation for cutting back is, of course, to make ends meet. Another thing Hetee and I always try to do is bless others in some small way. From groceries to school tuition payments, we are always open to help others as He leads.

Financially, we live on the edge. Helping others financially doesn't leave much room for saving. We do save but, not as much as we "should". I seem to always feel torn between saving money in a bank account or financially helping someone who has an imminent need.

What are your thoughts on the subject?