Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sarah's New Found Feminism

I have recently noticed that I am becoming much girlier. It's not that I wasn't a girl before, I have been since  birth, it's that my tastes and preferences are changing to more feminine things. I used to be the type of gal to wake up, throw on a pair of jeans and a tshirt, put my bed head in a ponytail and head out the door. Now, I think about what I want to wear, I (usually) do my hair, I paint my nails, I use hairspray. I have decided that I want to start wearing lipstick (and I'm on a journey to find the perfect shade). I want to learn how to do more hairstyles. I want to learn how to cook more and better meals. I think these little picture collages are a reflection of my new found feminism. 

1). I'm not sure if this dress would look good on me (it might make me look preggo or like a square), but I sure think it's nice.
2). I love this quote by itself. But cutting it out of paper makes it even more lovable.
3). I really like Oxfords. They're dressy and casual all at the same time. And I adore these Steve Madden oxfords. But who doesn't love Steve Madden?
4). People. This is literally (did you get that bolded, italicized action goin' on?) the most flattering dress I have ever tried on. I went to anthro after work and tried some stuff on. I almost died from this dress's cuteness. I want to wear it to our reception in UG. Too bad I don't have $168 sitting around.
5). These boots are so cute. I love that they're kind of plain, but they could go with a lot of different outfits. They also remind me of autumn : )
6). Again, I don't know if this would look good on me, but I love the concept. I love the colors and the print of bows on this dress!! Ahhh, I die.
7). I don't think I could ever actually buy this cookie jar because every time I would see it on my counter, it would just cause me to crave ice cream. But it's ca-ute!
8). This colorful, striped maxi dress could potentially make me look really wide because of the horizontal stripes, but I think it's darling. I first saw the dress on this blog and I fell in love with it. So lovely.
9). I want to use these straws whenever I drink anything. They make me happy.
10). I am in love with this little shirt dress. It seems really versatile and easy to pair with other things. I want to wear a big belt with it.
11). I am currently searching (in my own closet and beyond) for a perfect outfit to wear while traveling. Frank and I will be traveling for more than 24 hours when we go to UG, so I want to be comfortable. This skirt would be perfect, I think...
12). Coconuts. I have quite recently discovered that I like coconut flavored things. We currently have almond joy flavored coffee creamer, I just had the mocha coconut latte from Starbucks (delish!), and the other day I had the most delicious coconut flavored frozen yogurt (thanks for taking me out to lunch, Sally!!) at Red Mango in Schaumburg. Mmmm. So. Good.
13). This ring is just so simple and darling. It reminds me of my marriage vows and the fact that I am forever tied and sealed to my husband. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Kelsey: How-to Friday! How to make sugar.

When I live in America I pay very little attention to where my food comes from. I mean I love the farmers market, if given the choice I shop local produce. But everything that comes in a package could come from Indonesia for all I know. I watched the movie Food Inc (recommend it) about a year ago and was very disturbed about many things in the American food system. One of them being how much of the packaged food I eat is just corn made into different looking and tasting things, all because corn is cheap and plentiful because corn is subsidized. Anyways point being that I never knew really where my sugar was coming from until I lived in Uganda.

I dont exactly know the process of turning sugar cane into sugar. It was explained to me but I was only half listening. I also took a bunch of pictures but they all pretty much look like this...

And this.

Lots of pretty pretty machines. But more importantly this is where it starts...

Sugar cane
This picture was taken at the annual agricultural show held in Jinja. Its a big deal, the president comes. The show lasts for one week and tons of plant life are on display. It reminds me of the flower show in Chicago. Its kind of bizarre to do all this planting and landscaping for a one weeks show. 

Dorcus disappearing into some sugar cane

We grow sugar cane in our backyard. Dorcus loves this plant like it is her own child. I kind of get it. I mean you give it some love and water and it gives you some yummy sugar. 

This is way more fun when it is done with a machete
Dorcus cuts off a piece of sugar cane about once a week. I believe she trades it at school like we used to trade pogs. Remember pogs? I guess she could just be bringing it as a snack but sometimes she brings home sugar cane when she did not go with any... Something is up.

Our own personal jungle
Sugar cane can be eaten right from the ground. Just cut it, peel it and eat it. It is a three step process and totally machine free. 

This piece is waiting for me to eat it.

Easiest to just peel it with your teeth. 

It tastes vaguely fruity. It is sort of tropical. I thought it would taste more like straight sugar. 

Alisha likes it. But she also eats paper and soap so her opinion might not hold a lot of weight.

And voila you can now make sugar. Basically.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Memories of a Grandmother. by Sar

My grandmother is one of the most inspirational people I have ever known. I never had to say "grandma Irene" or "Grandma Mulder" because she was my only grandparent I was ever close with. I never knew either of my grandfathers, and within the past few years I've begun to know my dad's mom. But in terms of my childhood and memories, she is my only grandma.

One year ago today, she died. Because her death was so close to my wedding, (a week and a half prior) sometimes I worry that I didn't grieve in the way I might have needed to. Sometimes I still cry (not in a bad way) when I think about her (like right now). To celebrate my gram, I want to share some stories and memories I have of her.

When I was little, maybe like 3 or 4, my gram had a poodle named Pierre. It sounds cute, but he was the devil. I was petrified of Pierre. I can distinctly remember that Pierre the poodle came up to my waist (so I must have been really young). One time when I was over at my grandma's house, she gave a piece of bologna to snack on. Since Pierre was the perfect height, he snatched my bologna right out of my little hand. I was heartbroken (and petrified). My gram went to the fridge, got another piece of bologna, took me over the couch, and let me eat my new piece of bologna in her lap.

This next story takes place, again, when I was little. As long as I can remember my grandma has had dentures. To this day, I have no idea why. Did her real teeth fall out? Did she hate the way they looked? I don't know...anyways. My gram used to entertain me by taking her dentures out. The idea that someone could remove their teeth was outrageous to me. I thought my grandma was magic.

Once, gram and I were driving in her car and we stopped at a 4-way stop. I wasn't paying much attention, but I started to get really annoyed when she didn't go through the stop sign. We sat there for a good 30 seconds before I asked what we were doing. She said (in her super thick Southern accent), "I think there's money in the road. Get out and see." So I got out of the car and walked to the middle of the intersection. a $20 bill was just laying there. She let me keep it.

My grandma loved to fish. But she didn't like to go alone. In the summers during high school, I would take her up to Lake Erie, we'd get some bait, and then we'd sit on the pier and fish for hours. We didn't really talk--she wasn't much of a talker--we just sat together and hoped for a bite.

In college, my grandma would randomly call me. There was no rhyme or reason for the call. And they would never last for more than two minutes. She would just call me to say hi. She would (unknowingly) always end the call with, "Alright, well I love you baby."

The summer she died, I took her grocery shopping a couple of times. However, we couldn't go to the super Walmart in Norwalk. She didn't like the people who greet the customers at the door. She said they were snobs. So I would drive her up to Sandusky (a town 15 miles away) to go to the Meijer. She liked the people better there. She would go around on one of those buggie things and I would get the groceries out the freezer and off the shelves for her.

During big thunderstorms, she would ask my mom and I to go over to her house and keep her company. She hated bad weather. She also kept a cool, damp washcloth with her dab her face if she got too hot.

We made plans for me to go over to her house and have a baked potato.

Irene Mulder was a loud, kind, honest, loving, modest, strong woman. My grandma was a loud woman. She was not afraid to raise her voice to tell you what she thought. For most of my life, she swore like a sailor. Seriously. I'm not lying. My grandma cared for people. She cared for her family, neighbors, and complete strangers. She wasn't afraid to tell you what she thought. But then once she voiced her opinion, she would let people go on with their lives. She didn't pester...much. She loved. She loved anyone and everyone and Jesus. When my sister talked with her about her faith, my grandma said, "I believe in Jesus. I've tried to live a good life. If I had a biscuit and my neighbor didn't, well, I'd share mine." Her faith and love was simple, but strong. Gram didn't have a lot. She grew up in the hollers of West Virginia and when she was really young, her mama died in a car crash. She and her siblings basically raised themselves and relied on each other for everything. Her life was not easy. She went through and overcame so many obstacles in life. She was strong.

Gram (on the right) with her older sister Betty Jane
You want to know something? I have my grandmother's eyes. The exact. same. eyes. And that makes me feel special. Like, a visible part of her is with/in me. I hope one of my kids get her eyes, too.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lucky Husband

Today, my husband gets to come home to this:

Today, I stopped by Sephora after putting my time in at the GAP. I wanted to try out some lipstick. While I was there a girl put the lipstick on my lips (like I don't know how to do it on my own...), a huge electric toothbrush cleaned the back of my hand, and I got a free sample of this stuff. I don't really know what it is or does, but I love free stuff. I'm still letting the mask dry while I'm writing this (it has to dry for 30 minutes) and now I can't even open my lips because my face is so stiff (as opposed to the pictures above, when I had just applied the mask). This mask is intense.

Needless to say, my husband is a lucky man : )


Kelsey: Bedhead

Sarah posted her bed head so I am posting mine.

This is as much of a smile as I can muster in the morning
Please notice the 3 inches above my head where flyaways and frizz live. My frizz is 3 inches high. Seriously if you click on the picture and make it bigger you can see a cloud of hair around my head. Its like my hair has its own hair and that  hair is trying to get as far away from my head as it possibly can. But I have very low expectations for my hair. I expect that if I go to bed with it wet that I will wake up with it dry and somewhat curly. Then I will keep it that way all day long. Even if it looks like this...

This was taken two years ago, I wonder how many days I have
had like this since then...

Have I mentioned that I am cheating on this blog? This is my other blog that I write with my childhood friends Becky and Robyn. Blogging with friends is awesome, you should consider it. Robyn lives in LA and works in show biz (seriously she does) and Becky lives in Michigan with her awesome hubby Sam and she does something very smart that I still do not entirely grasp (seriously). But you can read about it and try to explain it to me if you are so inclined.

- Kels

Monday, July 25, 2011

Speaking of Lists...

Yesterday I had a big scare. All of my pictures from  my travels (to Haiti, China, Kenya, Arizona, etc) are on an external hard drive because they take up a lot of space on a computer. When I was writing this post, I wanted to put up one of my favorite pictures that I have taken. I connected my computer to the external, and started looking for my pictures. Well, they were gone. It's getting to be that time where I am extremely hormonal, and I lost it. I just started crying (more like sobbing) and mourning the loss of all my pictures. TO make a long story short, my husband figured out that he accidentally deleted them (he felt beyond horrible that it happened) and he spent the rest of the night trying to recover them. Which he did! Crisis adverted!

I agree with Kels. I think most women do like making lists. I know I sure do. I like making grocery lists, to do lists, things I want lists, the list of lists goes on.

This is a list of 10 Things that make me  h a p p y:

1). This picture I took in China. I love it.
2). Hearing my husband giggle as he makes birds explode while playing angry birds.
3). Daydreaming of our upcoming trip to UG.
4). Anticipating the coming of my little niece/nephew very soon.
5). Thunderstorms. There have been so many of them the past couple of days.
6). Drinking black tea in the morning.
7). Summer Clothes
8). Sharing the show LOST with Francis.
9). Listening to The Civil Wars all day every day.
10). Dreaming big for our future.

What things in your life are making you happy lately?

Happy Monday,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The word list has lost all meaning

I have a theory that all women like lists. Its either that or the ones who don't are keeping silent because the list likers are so aggressive. I love lists. I think most people enjoy the satisfaction and the feeling of accomplishment they get when they cross something off their list. For me the standards are a bit lower. I feel accomplished and satisfied just at the mere action of writing something down on a list. I make multiple lists a week that I then immediately forget about. I think I can up my satisfaction level if I share these lists here, also maybe that will increase their likelihood of getting accomplished. And by that I mean maybe someone else will see the items on my list and accomplish them for me. Honestly I would get much more satisfaction out of doing it that way...

Denis headed to Kampala this weekend. I tried to wiggle my way into the trip but was shot down. I even got all dressed and he was all um where are you heading to? Rude. But I really only wanted to go so that I could visit a big fancy supermarket full of imported food. So I made a list.

Things I want from Kampala

- Chex! (I am dying to make homemade chex mix)
- Tortillas, corn or flour
- Tortilla chips
- Hummus
- Cheetos. I know that is kind of gross but they are cheesy!!!
- Boursin cheese. (I love this french cheese and heard a rumor you can get it in Kla)
- Brie cheese (also heard a rumor that there is decent brie to be found)
- Jalapenos (If I dont eat some salsa soon I will die, not exaggerating.)
- Zucchini, the best of all veggies.
- Apricot jam, to go with the brie
- Cream cheese
- Fancy crackers, must have fancy crackers to go with fancy cheese!
- Granola (This is a pipe dream but I can hope)

Things Denis brought home

- Inedible Brie. Was immediately thrown away, far away.
- Totally edible and yummier than remembered Boursin cheese! This was ten dollars and was consumed within 3 minutes of arrival. So worth it.
- Zucchini. This is waiting for me to cook it for dinner tonight! Yum!
- Apricot jam. Does not taste like I remember, tastes very weird.
- An order of Tortilla wrapped chicken with chips (fries).  Also the tortilla was a chapatti. So close...
- A wooden gazelle named Moses.

Although I basically would have fainted if he had found tortilla chips and jalapenos, I did appreciate the creativity shown with the list. I also appreciated the heck out of that ten dollar cheese!

Feel free to share a list.

- Kels

Friday, July 22, 2011

How-to Friday: How to help a cow miscarry

This is going to be a pretty weird post. Warning upfront - the pictures could be considered gross. They don't really bother me at all, I mean obviously, I took them. Generally I like pictures of pretty things, but how often do you see a cow miscarriage.

So this situation started when we saw a cow giving birth in the field by our house. We waited for a little bit and realized that the calf was not coming out, it was hanging part way out but was making no more progress after 30 minutes.

Apparently the cow was having a miscarriage and the calf was stuck. Also we were told this can be very dangerous or the cow. By the way this is not our cow and we barely know the owner. This was a neighborly situation.

The boys began by throwing a rope under the cow and tying the back legs together.

Next step was to push the cow over onto the ground. Or what we in the midwest call cow tipping!

And then the cow will pop back up. Who knew cows really hate to be tipped?

Add one more guy and push the cow over one more time.

Cow on the ground someone needs to hold the rope tying the legs so the cow cant pop back up.

This is where it gets gross. Next step is to grab the dead fetus and start to pull.

Keep pulling

And you have successfully helped a poor suffering cow! The calf was buried right in this field... which does not belong to any of us.

Dont forget to untie the cow.

- Kels

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back in the Saddle

Around August of last year, I started to get really tired of my sewing machine. I have a Singer Inspiration machine. I didn't do a lot of research before I got it and now I totally regret it. It is not a simple machine to maneuver and I'm constantly bringing out my handbook to figure out what the heck is wrong with it. So I took a break from sewing. Which sucks because I love sewing (I'm not all that good at it yet, but I still love it).

But the other day, I was feeling kind of down because I haven't sewed in almost a year. And even though just the thought of using my (awful) sewing machine makes me frustrated even before I take it out, I was desperate to sew. I decided what I wanted to make, gathered my materials, and took out the demonic machine.

Here's how to make a fabric garland:

What you'll need: Various kinds of fabric, scissors, sewing pins, sewing machine, colorful thread, & a hand-made stencil.

1). Pick the fabric you want. I chose some fabric that isn't matchy-matchy, but slightly coordinated.

If you're like me, you have to choose from a lot of fabric.
Final Choices
2). Iron all the fabric that you've chosen.

3). There are probably multiple other ways to do this, but I made a stencil so that each triangle is exactly the same size. So, cut a stencil from a heavy paper-product (I used part of a box). If your fabric has a print, face the printed side down and write on the non-printed side (that way, when you sew the triangles together, you won't see the marks!). Remember that for every 2 triangles you trace, you will actually get one finished triangle. So if you want 4 triangles of one color, trace 8. Start tracing!

4). Cut out all of your triangles. This is one of the longest steps, but you can do it! Then, if you want, pin the triangles together to make sewing them easier. That's what I did (but I forgot to take a picture of it). Be sure to pin the non-print sides of the fabric together, so that both sides of the triangle will be pretty! Don't worry if your triangles don't line up perfectly, you can fix it later!

Cut out Triangles
5). Take out your (non-demonic) sewing machine, choose a thread (I chose a bright orange that will show up on the triangles to add character), and thread your bobbin/machine. Start sewing your triangles together!

6). Once the triangles are sewn together, if they don't line up, then take your scissors and trim 'em up!

My trimmed, finished triangles.
7). Now you need to make the trim (I don't actually know what its called. But I'm referring to the string that holds all the triangles together). For this step, there are many possibilities. I chose to use long fabric that I already have, but you could purchase thick ribbon as well. So I just cut a long, thin piece of fabric from some awesome African fabric that Kels brought back for me from UG. 

8). Then I ironed in both sides, so that it doesn't fray and so it looks nice. Next, fold the whole thin piece of fabric in half and ironed that.

Sides are folded in and ironed
Then fold the whole strip down the middle and iron.
9). Figure out the order of which you want the triangles. Mine are in random order, but you can do a pattern if you want. Then stick the triangles individually in the center of the trim and pin them there, one at a time. Pins are required in this step, because the triangles won't stay in the center of the trim otherwise. Space them out as you like. Mine are kind of close together.

10). Sew it all together.

Just keep sewing, just keep sewing...

The finished product!
Voila! You have garland! Tell me if you make any--I'd love to see the final product!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


In Uganda people say Hanger. When you want to eat you have anger/unger. When you are mad you have hanger. Also when you yawn it means you want to eat, it has nothing to do with being tired. Anyways I am angry. I think it has to do with the rain and the fact that it refuses to fall. My garden is drying up. The maize is wilting. The grass is dried up and brown. The dirt has lost all moisture so it is disgustingly dusty everywhere. It gets in my hair and my eyes, it makes everything in the house covered in a thin film of dirt within hours of cleaning. Its pathetic. I think without the rain we are wilting along with nature.

Today it sprinkled for 10 minutes. It was not hard enough to even feel it but only to barely hear it on the tin roof. It was a cruel tease.

Other than the rain my anger comes from problems with my witch of a neighbor. I am not calling her names, she actually practices witchcraft. That, somehow, is not even my problem with her. If I were to call her a name it would probably rhyme with witch... She is being evil to the members of the Otema house. It is such a long story that I don't think I will write it here. But it gets worse everyday and makes me want to scream.

The woman does not actually live next door but is the owner of the property next to us and rents a house to multiple families, who we get along with very well. Because she doesn't live next door I almost never see this woman. Denis will not tell me where she lives because he thinks I will march over to her house and give her a piece of my mind. A few weeks ago when this was all starting I never would have done that. I do not yell at people. I work things out. I am not afraid of conflict but I do not instigate it! Well not serious conflict, Becky will tell you that I constantly instigate small conflicts. But seriously I was stomping around the house seething but I would not have gone to her house and seethed! Is seethed a word? I think yes.

Well the woman has stopped coming around the property next door. Everyone (I mean everyone in the neighborhood who knows her and also knows the situation, news travels fast here) assumes that it is because she knows she is in the wrong but she can't back down now. It is good for me that she doesn't come around. Weeks ago I would have sat down and talked with her. At this point I have so much dislike for her that I would probably yell, or stomp, or slam a door, or kick a rock. I would definitely do something VERY smart. So good thing she stays wherever she is and I can stay here and try to learn to love my neighbor, who I really Really dislike.

Project Makeover

Have any of you ever sanded anything by hand before? I have not. But when I got this old fashioned sewing box for Christmas from my mom, I knew it needed a makeover.

This is the said (ugly) sewing box turned planter.
However, I was unsure what exactly I was going to do with it. Seven months later, I knew that I wanted to spray paint it white. Have you noticed that white furniture is popping (I accidentally wrote pooping instead of popping. haha) up everywhere? I have, and that's where I got my inspiration. BUT...I have no idea how to sand anything, or how to do it well. So I googled "how to spray paint wooden furniture" and I got some ideas. So I headed to good 'ole Walmart to get medium-grain sandpaper, wood primer, and spray paint.

Necessary Materials
I headed to my apartment complex's backyard, crossed my fingers, and began the long process of sanding. 

One down, three to go
Is this what properly sanded wood is supposed to look like?
I still have no idea if I did it correctly...
Then it was time to prime. Priming apparently allows the paint to show up more vibrantly or something? I'm not sure of the details, haha. I just wing it. I added several coats of the primer and waited for the coats to dry before I started spray painting.

All primed and ready to go.
I forgot my hair-tie in the apartment, and it was hot outside. So I figured out a way to use my sunglasses to keep my hair up.

Now comes the part that I actually know how to do. Point the spray can at the thing you want to paint, press down, and spray. I didn't want to get paint all over the grass (because I know someone will complain about it), so I tried to contain the paint in the tub while I sprayed.

If you don't get paint all over your hands, then
you're not doing it right.
I waited overnight and then added two more coats the next day to get the finished product!

For my first time sanding something to completely transform it, I'm rather proud of the way it turned out.

Stay cool, people! I really mean stay cold. But stay cool, too.