Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 29, Black and White

Today's photo challenge is a black and white picture.  I know that I have a black and white setting on my camera, but it's not obvious where it's at.  So I just used photo shop to change my picture into a black and white one.  

The cat found a new favorite spot on the book shelf.  I'm not sure why she likes it.  Maybe she can survey her world better from here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 28, Flowers

If you are alert, you'll see I skipped Day 27.  I have a picture in mind for that one, but I need to go outside and it's been raining for two days.  I'm not taking my camera out in the rain!  So I'll come back to that one when the rain stops.

Today's challenge is flowers.  My dad bought my mom flowers today.  Six red roses.  Aren't they beautiful?

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 26, Close-up

Suzanne and I saw a cute idea on Pinterest for making a scarf out of old t-shirts.  So on Saturday we went to Goodwill and bought an armful of old t-shirts.  We then followed the directions and the scarves came out pretty good.  Suzanne found a ghastly tie-dye t-shirt that she turned into a beautiful scarf.  Amazing how something tacky can become a great fashion accessory.
  We even made one for the cat but she wasn't impressed.

Today's close-up is the pile of cut up pieces of t-shirt. And here's a close-up shot of Suzanne's wedding invitations we've been working on.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 25, Something Pink

Like the color orange, I just don't have much that is pink.  I have one skirt that is completely pink and one with a lot of pink in it.  That's it for pink clothes and I don't have pink in my house at all.

I'm at my parents' house and they do have a couch with some pink highlights in it.  Here it is.  Suzanne is working on her wedding invitations here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 24, Animal

Today I was privileged to have Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, Suzanne, and some Nigerian friends of my parents'.  My niece-in-law's cat is here, so today's pictures are of her.  She is one spoiled animal!  Mom's chair is by the gas fireplace and Sparkles has claimed Mom and her chair and the fireplace as her own special property.  Suzanne has also been doing the Photo Challenge, and hers for today also happens to be Sparkles.  Check it out at Darza go Irikoy gaa.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

30 Day Phto Challenge, Day 23 Sun Flare

I left West Africa just after midnight on Tuesday night.  God's hand of blessing was on my trip in so many ways.

I had wanted to make a quick trip to the Grand Marche to buy some more cloth to start making a quilt as a wedding gift for Suz and Theo (I plan on making one for Daniel and Kelly, too).  But something unexpected came up at the office which took way more time than I thought it would take.  So I didn't leave the office until 1:00 and I still needed to eat lunch and go to the airport for the pre-flight check in.  I decided that even if I had to skip lunch I was still going to the market.  So I went down there and parked a few streets down from the market.  As I was walking towards the market, I saw a cloth shop and decided to go in there.  The seller had piles and piles of cloth already cut into smaller pieces and I found a lot in the color family I wanted.  So I was able to get what I wanted in one shop, with a minimum of time spent, and never even had to go into the market!

After I got through security, I prepared to join the line of those boarding the plane.  A man wearing a badge came up to me and so I showed him my ticket.  He said something to me about peanuts, but I couldn't understand what he was saying.  Then I finally figured out that he was talking about his wife who sells peanuts.  She's sits on the corner of our street and I talk to her every day.  He said he knows I work for "par la priere" (by Prayer...our motto).  Then he said I should follow him.  So he took me into the VIP Lounge of which he is the manager and bought me a drink.

The flight to Paris was good.  It was full, but I got a good seat.  It was probably the quietest night flight I've ever been on and I actually got some sleep.  I got a good laugh when the flight personnel declared in English that "those caught smoking in the toilet will be persecuted."  The breakfast was a teeny, tiny pain au chocolat and a glass of orange juice.  So I ended up spending almost $20.00 in Paris on a proper sized pain au chocolat, a cup of tea, a pen (somebody in Niamey borrowed mine and didn't give it back), and a pack of gum. My time there passed quickly.  I slept a bit, walked around a bit, had my breakfast, walked around some more, read my book, etc.

 The day's photo challenge was a sun flare, so this is a picture I took in the Paris airport.  I like the way it turned out.

The flight from Paris to Cincinnati was only half full, so I was able to grab a row of three seats and I got some sleep on that flight.  The seats were so close together that it would be a miserably uncomfortable flight if the plane were full.  The food was really good on that flight, too.  I was surprised that in Cincinnati you have to go through security to get OUT of the airport, too.  That took so much time and was annoying at that point in the trip.

It sure was good to see Suz and Theo waiting for me there.  Then Mom and Dad had a good meal waiting at home.  Today is Thanksgiving and Mom, Dad, Suz, and I will be sharing it with some friends of my parents.

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 22, Hands

I love my husband's hands.  They are both strong and gentle.  He is so helpful to me.  Neither of us are wild about doing dishes, but he does them for me several times a week and always on Sunday.  These are his hands doing the dishes.

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 21, Faceless Self Portrait

OK, if I were trying to take a self-portrait with my face in it, I'd miss my face every time.  But try to take a self-portrait without my face in it, and I get it in every time.  I finally resorted to using the timer again.

Here I am packing my suitcase for tomorrow ....night, actually Wednesday morning.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 20, Bokeh

Just in case you are reading my blog but aren't really a photographer, or, like me, you love photography and are trying to learn more, you might not know what bokeh is.  It is the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.  I think it's a cool photographic effect, though not always that easy to achieve.  It is a Japanese word.

My picture today is of some lantana flowers growing in our yard.  You can see the bokeh in the background.  Growing up at boarding school in Miango, the hill behind the boys' dorm, known as Mt. Sanderson, was covered with lantana.  I think we considered them a weed as they grew wild and profusely.  At certain times of year, they have little green seeds, that later turn black or bluish.  We would take the little seeds, put them in empty bic pens, and blow the seeds at each other.  They delivered quite a sting upon impact.  When the bushes flowered, the hill would be covered with yellow and pink flowers.  The odor of lantana is unmistakable.

Now in the US, people plant lantana as a decorative plant.  The first time I saw it in the US, John and I were on our honeymoon in Washington DC.  We were walking down the sidewalk when we both stopped, looked at each other, and said, "It smells like Miango!"  There in planters along the sidewalk we were surprised to discover lantana!  A weed being grown in Washington, DC!  And in our yard, apparently, where we enjoy it's beauty.  Let's just hope it doesn't decide to take over.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 19, Something Orange

I had to really look to find something orange!  I don't usually wear orange.  First it isn't my favorite color and secondly my skin tends to have yellow tones so I don't think I look good in oranges or yellows.
I do have one outfit that is turquoise with orange flowers appliqued on it.  I wear an orange scarf with it and interestingly enough I get a lot of compliments when I wear it.  I guess there's enough turquoise that the orange doesn't look overwhelming.

Our bedspread -- which is in a box which was supposed to have arrived on the container but didn't -- has quite a bit of orange in it.  So we painted three walls of our bedroom blue with an accent wall of orange.  So here you are with my orange appliqued outfit and scarf and our orange wall.

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 18, My Shoes

I had such a crazy day the past two days that I didn't post yesterday.  Suzanne seemed to be getting better, but then got sick again.  So we've decided that I should go back to the USA to help her out a bit and try to be an encouragement to her.  I will be leaving on Wednesday morning and there is a lot to be done between now and then.  I wanted to go for two weeks, but it's ended up to be a month.  It was half the price to buy tickets for that length of time than it was to buy for a few weeks.

So yesterday's photo challenge was "My Shoes".  Well, I don't have many, that's for sure!  Basically I have black sandals, white sandals, and brown sandals, tennis shoes, red Toms,  a pair of dressy black shoes, and black flats.  Oh and flip-flops which didn't get in the picture because they were on my feet.  Actually, in a country where most people own one pair of cheap flip-flops, then seven pairs of shoes PLUS flip-flops are a lot of shoes!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 17, Technology

Not being very technologically minded, today's challenge is a bit of a challenge.  One bit of technology I can't live without is my computer....both personal and at work.  At work, when the power goes off, there is next to nothing I can do.  Rearrange a few files, maybe.  At home, my laptop at least has a battery so I can do some things for a few hours.  Hopefully the new generator at the office will soon be operational.  The work crew has spent a lot of time getting it installed, for which we are most grateful!

Computers are necessary for missionaries.  I use mine to keep in touch with family, supporters and prayer partners.  I occasionally play games on it...Scrabble, Mah Johng, and Bejeweled being my favorites.  I kept track of our expenditures on it.  I use it as a telephone.  Since I have a Skype number I can actually call telephones on my computer.    I create brochures, newsletters, and power points on it.  All of the Bible stories and Bible studies we translated were typed and are stored on our computer.  Indeed it's a handy tool!

In spite of that, I'd rather receive a "real" letter any day.  I think real letters take more thought and more time.  Therefore it seems like people are sending more of themselves with a letter.  I know I've gotten out of the habit of sending hand-written letters.  For one thing postage is so expensive here.  For another for awhile the US had banned mail from Niger since somebody tried to send meat through the mail service. And then there's the time it takes to write a letter.  I do have a goal of writing a hand-written letter to Daniel and Suzanne once a month.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 16, Long Exposure

This is our side of a duplex.  It used to be one apartment and half of another.  It's kind of a strange shaped place, but it's our place, and there's no place like home.  Looks like the lights are on and nobody's home.  

I took these a couple of nights ago when we were out, just for the fun of it.  I knew they wouldn't really work out since we were moving and it was dark.  This is the lights of the new bridge taken from the old bridge and some of it is reflection in the water.

This last one I took stopped at the round about waiting our turn to go around.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 15, a Silhouette

Here in West Africa the moon is really bright.  This is a picture of a tree and the corner of our house silhouetted against the setting moon.  Even though it was not full and was setting, it was still bright.  When the moon is full, you have no need for a flashlight.  I have even read outside by the light of the moon.  When we lived in the village and slept outside we would have a hard time falling asleep because it felt like somebody had left the light on.  I like how you can actually see the stars in these pictures. The green light at the bottom center of this picture is the neighbor's porch light....not sure why it looks green, though.  And yes, I usually get up while it is still dark out.  This picture was taken around 5:30 a.m.  And yes, I also take a nap later in the day! :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 14, Eyes

I don't really like pictures of just eyes.  They seem to me like they are missing something.  Kind of like a dismembered body part.  I've often heard the expression "eyes are the window to the soul".  But they are windows, meant to look into something or out from something.  They aren't meant to just be all by themselves without the person attached!

Still, I've always loved these eyes.  Can you guess to whom they belong?  It shouldn't be too hard!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 13, Me and 13 Things

I like to have something special for breakfast on Sunday morning.  Sometimes I'll make something on Saturday; sometimes we'll go buy pain au chocolat (choco pain au lah as Suzanne used to call it when she was little); or I'll get up early enough to make something.  This morning I got up and made Jiffy Cinnamon Rolls.    This is not exactly a flattering picture, but it was Sunday morning, so what do you expect?

The 13 things are:  
1.  flour
2.  sugar
3.  baking powder
4.  salt
5.  margarine
6.  milk
7.  brown sugar
8.  raisins (actually, I think they were currants)
9.  a bowl
10. a muffin pan
11. a wooden spoon
12. cinnamon
13. my home-made cookbook (ok, it's behind me and didn't quite make it into the picture.

Here's the recipe:
In large bowl, mix:
2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
(Or you can use Bisquick or prepared biscuit dough if you live in a country where such things are available.  I don't!)

Cut in until crumbly:
1/4 cup butter or margarine

Make a well in the center.  Pour into well and then stir in:
1 cup milk (I use skim)

Stir to form a soft dough, adding a bit more milk if necessary (I actually used a little less than 1 cup of milk).  Turn on lightly floured surface.  Knead 8-10 times.  Roll into rectangle about 1/3 inch thick and 12 inches long.

Cream together:
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon

Drop 1 teaspoon of filling into each of 12 greased muffin tins.  Spread the remaining cinnamon mixture over dough rectangle.  Sprinkle over top:
1/3 cup cut up raisins or currants  (cut up?  You've got to be joking!  I don't do that!)

Roll up, then cut into 12 slices.  Place cut side down in muffin pan.  Bake in 400 F oven for 20-25 minutes.  Turn out on tray.  Makes 12.  Top with glaze made with 1/2 cup icing sugar and enough milk to make a thin glaze.

I don't do the glaze as they are sweet enough without.  Enjoy for an easy Sunday breakfast!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 12, Sunset

Where we live it is really hard to get a picture of the sunset.  We have a lot of trees in our yard and are surrounded by walls and other houses.  So pretty much we just don't see the sunset.
But tonight we went across the river to the school for a Harvest Festival.  We timed it just right to catch the sunset over the river. To our advantage was the fact that a truck had broken down and was causing the traffic to move across the bridge at a snail's pace. So here are a few pictures of tonight's sunset, and it was a beautiful one!

Friday, November 11, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 11, Something Blue

Our bedroom is blue....well, mostly blue.  Last week the container arrived with some of the things we had shipped. We got the pillow shams, but not the bedspread.  Hopefully it will arrive some time!  We got three out of four of the curtain panels.  So my bedroom isn't really finished.  But I found this blue blanket we've had since we got married and it doesn't look too bad as a bedspread.

To the left of the door is our dresser and wardrobe.  That's about all that fits in our room!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 10, A Childhood Memory

If you're supposed to use a picture you took today, how can it be a childhood memory?  So I guess the idea is to take a picture of something that evokes a childhood memory.

So here we go. This is the old generator at the office being removed and this is the new one that will take it's place. Today we had a seven-hour power outage, which means no work got done at the office.  So this new generator will be wonderful to have!

You may be wondering how this brings up a childhood memory!  Well, when I was a kid growing up in Igbaja in Nigeria, we didn't have electricity.  The mission station had a huge old my mind it was big enough to take up a building....but maybe it was just a shack!  Basically they ran it from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., which meant everybody had an enforced curfew.  The lights would blink, giving a five or ten minute warning that the lights were going to go off.  If you planned to stay up late and read or whatever, it was time to light the lanterns!  

Occasionally they would start up the generator during the day if they needed to do recording in the studio.  My parents said on those days somebody would start up their electric coffee pot and inevitably neighbors would end up dropping by for an impromptu coffee break.  Not being a fan of coffee, I can't say that I remember that!

Everybody had two kitchens and two stoves.  The "back kitchen" had the wood stove in it and was used mostly for boiling all our drinking water, though some baking was done there.  The house kitchen must have had a gas (butane) stove, but I don't remember details like that!  I think we had a kerosene fridge.  We did not have ceiling fans or any kind of fans and we lived in an area of Nigeria that was very hot and humid.  At night, especially in March, April, and October it would be so hot I could hardly sleep.  My mom would come in and rub my back and tell me that if I laid real still I'd feel a breeze.  Some times it was true....if you quit thrashing around you really did feel the breeze coming in the window.  But sometimes it just didn't happen!  
In spite of the heat, it was a childhood that I would not have traded for anything! 

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 9, Someone I Love

The people I love most in the world are my family members.  Most of them don't live on this side of the ocean, so I can't really take their pictures.  Of course, the one I love MOST is John! I didn't take this picture today, I must admit.  I took it last week.  It is a picture of my husband planting cilantro, parsley, and tomatoes for me.  He's so good to me!  And here's hoping everything grows.

These two beautiful ladies, Fati and Ouma, are some others that I love. They work with me at the office.  Fati is the receptionist.  She noticed that every morning I went into the "kitchen" to make hot water for tea.  So now she makes the hot water and brings me a cup of hot water for my tea every morning.  I feel like an executive or something!  Both ladies have hearts of service and joyous smiles.  They are a privilege to work with.  This picture is from today.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 8, A Bad Habit

I really wanted to take a picture of somebody picking their nose.  That's a bad habit, right?  But how am I going to get a picture of that?  And anyway, when you live in a climate of below 10% humidity, face it, everybody picks their nose once in awhile.

So then I thought I'd take a picture of somebody cleaning their ears with their keys.  Yep.  I've seen that.  Again, somebody might think it was kind of strange for me to take a picture of them cleaning out their ears with a key.

Instead, I took a picture of our neighbor who has a very bad habit of running around in circles in our yard squawking his head off, jumping around on our roof where he sounds like he weighs about 30 pounds, and just generally makes a nuisance of himself.  Yes, it's a bird. No, it's not just any ordinary bird.  It's a guinea fowl.  If you've never met one personally, they can be very obnoxious especially early in the morning.  I know this guy is kind of strange.  Usually they are black.  I guess this one must be an albino.  All I know for sure is that he's in danger of having his skinny little neck wrung and of being eaten for dinner.
OK, to make this a little more personal, this is my bad habit. Yeah, I know, it tastes so delicious.  And the Coke they make here in Niger is WAY better than American stuff in a can.  So maybe I just can't help myself that I have a bottle of it a day.  I mean, I do limit myself to one a day. And it's helping the local economy, right? But really, delicious doesn't equal healthy.  I know I don't need the sugar, or the caffeine, or whatever is in it that supposedly eats through nails.  So I am trying to cut down to drinking it twice a week, or at most three times a week.  Last week I had it three times.  And today is my third day in a row without a Coke at all.

Monday, November 07, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 7, Fruit

One of my favorite tropical fruits are guavas.  I don't like the smell so much, and especially not the way the smell of them makes everything else in your fridge taste like guavas.  But I do like the taste of them and they are very nutritious. I prefer the pink variety over the white ones, though I did get a few white ones in this bunch.  It's pretty much impossible to tell them apart from the outside.

I will also take this chance to do a tutorial on making guava jam since that's what I spent much of my morning doing.  First, slice off the ends and then cut each guava into quarters.  Put the pieces in a saucepan and add just a little water.  Cover the pan with a lid, then simmer on a medium heat, stirring often, cooking until the guavas are soft.  It helps to break them up with a wooden spoon and even to mash them with a potato masher.

 When the guavas are cooked down, let them cool a bit.  Then put the soft guavas, a little at a time, into a Foley food mill.  I've had mine at least since I got married 25 years ago.  I'm not sure if I got it new or if it was passed on to me from someone else.  But I checked on line and you can still buy of those necessary items for your kitchen that you might not use that often, but it sure is nice when you need it. What it does is pushes the good parts of the guavas through into a bowl below while keeping back the seed and peeling junk that you don't want in the jam.  When you've turned and turned it and all that's left in the mill is dry stuff (which really doesn't look very pretty!), then you've gotten all you're going to get out of it.

The next step is to measure the guava sauce into a measuring cup, and then dump it into the same saucepan you cooked the guavas in.  Then measure out the same amount of sugar and add that to the pan. Finally, throw in some lemon juice.  I used about 6 tablespoons for the amount of guavas I had.  John squeezes lots of lemons at one time and then freezes the juice in ice cube trays.  So all I had to do was use three of the ice cubes.

Return the pan to the stove, keeping the burner on medium-low.  My modus operandii in the kitchen is to cook at high speed, but that's not a good idea with guava jam.  For one thing, you'll scorch the jam, giving it a nasty taste.  And for another thing, once it starts boiling, if it's on high heat the jam will spatter everywhere making a mess to clean up.  And it will spatter on your hand, burning you.  You also need to stir constantly, especially when it really starts boiling.
So, how long does it have to boil?  I really don't know.  I go more by the consistency of it than anything.  If it drips very slowly off the spoon, you have cooked it long enough.

I got one large jar and half a small plastic container of jam.  When we moved from the village to the city I got rid of all my canning stuff.  We thought we weren't coming back to Africa, and I didn't have a place to store it.  Now I wish I'd at least kept some of the jars.  So I was limited in how much I could make. But that size jar is good for just the two of us.

The final thing you do is enjoy!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 6, From a low angle

Today's challenge is to take a picture from a low angle.  We have a HUGE tree in our yard and this is what it looks like from the ground looking up.

This is known as a gao tree.  It's scientific name is Faidherbia albida. These trees are interesting in that during the rainy season they don't have a single leaf on them.  When the trees begin to leaf again, you know that the rainy season is drawing to a close.  They then have leaves on them during the long dry season of no rain, making them a favorite shade tree.  When the leaves begin to fall off, you know the rainy season can't be long in coming.
I'm told that it's a nitrogen-fixing tree, which helps fertilize the soil. When its leaves fall off during the rainy season they become organic fertilizer. 

Just to put it in perspective, here's what the tree looks like from a distance.  Our house is the building to the left.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

3 Day Photo Challenge, Day 5, From a High Angle

I love my kitchen!  It's a bit on the small side, but for a small kitchen I have a lot of cupboard space.  I love that it's got red touches to it.  I'm pretty sure John loves that good meals get cooked in it.  I love that John helps me wash dishes! :)  

The challenge for today is a picture taken from a high angle.  So here is my kitchen taken with me standing on one of the kitchen counters.

A while back I did a blog asking your opinion on several pictures or posters that I liked as possibilities for my kitchen.  The thing is, I wasn't really crazy about any of them.  So I ended up using Photoshop to put a verse on one of my own pictures which I then ordered from Snapfish as a really nice canvas print with a frame. It says "Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.  Proverbs 11:25".  As part of my ministry, I provide a lot of hospitality. (For one of the pots on the stove I was preparing something for having guests for supper and in the other pot was something for a team coming in early Monday morning.)  Most of the time I enjoy it, but sometimes it gets to be a bit much especially since spending time in the kitchen isn't something I do just for the fun of it (even though I DO love my red kitchen!).  So this verse, hanging over my stove where I spend a lot of time, reminds me that providing a meal, sharing a good conversation, encouraging somebody who isn't sure what they're doing here are all parts of refreshing others.  And as I refresh others, I will myself be refreshed.