Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happiness is domesticity!

Kristen says...

I am feeling slightly domestic today...I spent the morning at the bank getting my Internet banking set up (thank you translator Maricarmen!!) and this afternoon making (the most perfect chocolate chip) cookies and enjoying having CURTAINS IN MY APARTMENT!!!

Yes, you read the caps correctly, thanks to the ladies at the Mi Esperanza maquilla, Chris and I, after 7 months, have total privacy (if we want it) in our apartment.

Let's compare: before and after!

Guest bedroom:

Master bedroom:

Here are some close-ups of the fabric in the living/dining room:

All-in-all, I am really, really happy with them! The great people at Mi Esperanza came to the house to get a feel for the color scheme/size of the place, went with me to pick out my fabric, gently gave advice when I thought I wanted something not suitable to the space, created the curtains, delivered them, and fixed them when they needed a bit of tweaking. And, they did all this for a VERY reasonable price/window, much less than I would have paid for the same thing in the States or by buying pre-made curtains down here. I highly recommend them for any fabric-based project you might have, or if you're looking for a one-of-a kind gift. They have a lot of Lenca pottery and other things custom made for them, and you can see it all on their web store at Go there and buy something awesome! (The best part is, you're buying great stuff and helping out Honduran women at the same time!!)

So now I am sitting here at my dining table eating delicious cookies and enjoying looking out curtained windows. Now, I hate to brag, but I've been told that I make a pretty mean chocolate chip fact, the children of these two women:

(the children of course being my parents--on the left is my mom's mom and on the right is my dad's mom, both chocolate chip cookie aficionados) have told me that my cookies are on-par with their mom's...which I consider high praise indeed! SO, I don't want to brag but, today I made grandma quality chocolate chip cookies:
Which, frankly, has been a long time coming. I feel like I've been in a bit of a cooking rut lately, things just haven't been going my way...I tried out a few new recipes this week, Dinner in a Packet and Rice with Black Beans, and neither was totally spectacular. Nothing was wrong with them, exactly, but they lacked a little bit of wow...then I cooked dinner for poker night on Thursday (for something like 8 or 10 guys).

I used a tried and true Fink family recipe, Cheesy Chicken, and I was SO disappointed, they took forever to cook! I used a different type of chicken than usual, because they didn't have Pollo Rey at Pais (our grocery store), and I can tell you, I will NEVER do that again. I will go to a different grocery store before I buy any other type of chicken, that is how much better Pollo Rey is. I was cooking in bulk, something I had never done before (having only cooked for Chris and I) and ended up having to move the chicken to two smaller cooking vessels and hiking the baking temperature up 50° or so just to get the chicken to cook.

Then, when they were finally cooked, I ended up just piling the chicken on a plate which looked SO unappetizing I didn't even take a picture because I didn't want you to see my sad failure. The guys all said it was good, and the thing that saved the evening for me was that I remembered one of the guys was lactose-intolerant and made him cheese-free chicken, but still. Fail.

Also, I had made cookies for the dinner. In general, I am finding that many Hondurans don't have the sweet tooth that we US-ians have, so I tried to make molasses cookies, which are more spicy and less sweet...trouble was, I ended up having to substitute brown sugar-flavored Karo syrup for molasses because I couldn't find any, and the cookies stuck to our cookie sheets and our crap-tastic spatula wouldn't get them off cleanly, so I was embarrassed to serve those, too...

So today's cookies are a much-needed boost. I'm not sure why they turned out so perfectly, but I have some theories:
1) I use the most perfect recipe ever, the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, with a Kristen Fink tweak. (and, may I add, I think my cookies look better than the ones in their picture)
2) I bought new cookie sheets at Stock today, while I bought my 7lb bags of brown sugar and chocolate chips (LOVE!)
3) I was due for something to go right in the kitchen.

Whether or not any of these are true, the cookies are delicious and I'm feeling like I can get back in the kitchen and cook with confidence again...I may even keep trying out new recipes...Chris got me a Masala Dabba (Indian spice holder) for Christmas, and brought back all kinds of spices, so I know we are both anxious to get a little more Indian food back into our lives...I will take pictures and post them as soon as we make something worth sharing.
(Starting from 9:00--green cardamom, whole red chilli peppers, cumin,
brown mustard seeds, mace, black cardamom, and in the center is coriander--YUM!)

No tatting lately...but the day is still young... :)


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Motif #2, Placemats are on their Way...

Kristen says...

I used this morning to get ready for this coming week of school, and this afternoon I have been relaxing and doing what I want. :)

I received quite a few DVDs for Christmas, and I thought I should watch them at some point. So, this afternoon I watched "The Young Victoria," an excellent movie with excellent acting and an excellent storyline. Plus quite a few of my favorite actors are in it, so that made it even better.

While I watched the movie I thought I would continue working on my Victorian hobby. I said yesterday that I wanted to make placemats for our table, and so I started on that today...and it only took me an hour, but here is the motif:
I eventually hope to get to this place (taken from "The Tatter's Treasure Chest," a Dover Needlework Series book edited by Mary Carolyn Waldrep):
The pattern calls for 8 strips of 12 joined motifs for each placemat...that means (for those of you who don't want to do the map yourself) I will need 96 of these motifs for each mat, plus the ones in the center. Then, of course, I want to make at least 4 mats, so 96x4=384 motifs! If my current "speed" of tatting holds true, it will take me at least 400 hours to complete this! That is daunting. Good think I have forever and ever to finish them. :)

Just add it to the list: books I want to read, Rosetta Stone to finish, and now 383 more motifs for placemats...looks like I just found my summer job! :)


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hobbies and a Hat

Kristen says...

So, I have a hobby.

Well, ok, I have a few...I love to read (and collect books...I have thousands, as you may have read about before), I dabble in photography (as you've no doubt noticed by all the gazillions of photos on this blog), and...I tat.

Do you know what tatting is? The Spanish word for it is "frivolite," and basically it's using a needle (or a shuttle, although I haven't mastered that yet) to make lace.

Here is a good picture to illustrate: (Full disclosure: I borrowed this picture from Wikimedia Commons. I did not take this picture. The rest of the pictures on this site are mine or Chris' or have been taken by family and used with permission)

Is the lightbulb flashing in your mind? Is a misty memory of your mother (or grandmother) coming back to you now? Do you have decades-old lace in a box in the attic? I don't, but I do have random pieces of lace that I made recently hanging around my house.

For example:

Tatting is a really simple thing to do--I would argue that it's easier than either crochet or knitting because, while those types of needlework have multiple stitches to learn, tatting has only one! :)

And where did I learn how to do this? Not from my Grandma, but from an internship I had at Living History Farms in 2005. I worked in the 1875 town in the Flynn Mansion as the maid, and one of the skills I learned was how to tat. I spent a lot of my time (when I wasn't interpreting the history of the home) sitting in a chair tatting random things (because, you know, maids in 1875 would have been sitting around tatting??) :)

Anyway, the reason I am talking about this right now is because I spent a few hours last weekend in Amapala and today working on this needlework hobby. And what I did was to adorn a hat I bought a few months ago at the open-air market Mayoreo.

Here it was before:It's a beautiful hat, and I like it a lot, but it's a little plain. I decided to jazz it up a bit with some black lace:
Here is a close-up shot of the lace:

It's not a big change, but I think it adds...but I am interested in your opinion: lace or no lace?

Of course, you can do lots of other things with tatting...I'm currently working on placemats for the table, and I made a bonnet for my nephew Ezra:

(Notice I don't have any pictures of him wearing it, because, 1) technically it's not finished, and 2) I don't think my sister wants her baby BOY wearing something that looks pretty girly...but I live in hope that someday I will know somebody with a baby girl who will want one... :)

I have about 15 tatting books (most are still in Iowa because they are thick and heavy) and there are literally hundreds of tatting websites about it (and blogs, I'm finding) so there are no end of fun things to try out! For example, the cross, doiley-thingy, and lace for the hat were from books, the bonnet from this website.

Anyway, that's what's happening around here this weekend...nothing too exciting. Chris spent most of last night on the phone (for work, he's on call this week) and most of today sleeping, so I got to work on some school things and finish the lace for the hat.

Hope you're having a relaxing weekend too! I'll put up more pics of lace stuff sometime...besides wanting placemats, there is a thing called the 25 Motif Challenge I think I'm going to try.


Thursday, January 20, 2011


Kristen says...

We went to Amapala last weekend (again!) are some pictures/video for you from various trips :)


PS: And yes, that is a HUGE jellyfish! :-S

Poor Pip!

Kristen says...

Well, I knew it would happen--it was inevitable, and of course it would happen on the busiest, crappiest week ever!

For those of you who are not aware, the tap water in Honduras is not for drinking...and that's not just for gringos like us, it's for pretty much everyone. I know Hondurans who won't even bathe their babies in Honduran water because it harbours all manner of creepy-crawlies and diseases (cholera, anyone?) and other icky things you don't want in your tummy.

Or your dog's tummy, which is what happened this week.

We give Pip the same water we drink, the stuff from the big blue 5-gallon water jugs (pictured below)
and he's been perfectly healthy since August...until yesterday.

I came home to a full bucket of water and mop, and Chris informed me that Pip had chucked his breakfast. This isn't totally un-normal for Pip--he has a history of stomache trouble--but then Chris texted me today at school and said Pip was sick again...

Chris is on call this week, which means he can't get farther than about 5 steps away from the phone, which means he couldn't take Pip to the, I got to take a trip to the emergency vet today...which was an experience in itself because, while our "regular" vet speaks English, the emergency vet spoke none at all... But, luckily my Spanish is getting better (slowly) and we were able to understand each other most of the time, without too much repetition.

The vet did a fecal and, if my translation is correct, he said it looked like the organisms were playing football when he looked at Pip's...poo...under the microscope...ew.

So, we have 2 types of medicines we're taking 2 and 3 times/day...and hopefully it will fix his issue quickly!

And how did he get the buggies? Well, one way might have been from the mar at Amapala this weekend, but since he didn't get sick until Wednesday, a better guess might be from the bath he had Tuesday night...I do think he drank a little bit of the shower water, and apparently a little is enough...definitely makes me resolve to keep my mouth shut during my shower tomorrow!

Hoping your tummy is bug-free! :)


Friday, January 7, 2011

Some things I really love about Honduras...

Kristen says...

...saltine crackers are referred to as "cookies" (and then when you ask, "huh?" they clarify by calling them "sodas"), and are found in the cookies aisle at the grocery store. Sweet.

Also, they put the words " salud es belleza" (health is beauty) on the bottom of the screen during beauty product commercials. Love it.

Also, my husband is here! I just picked him up from the airport. Let the adventure begin again!