Friday, November 18, 2011

Increasing Our Curb Appeal, Crafty Fun, and Another Tarakan Birthday

It all started last Saturday night when Chris said to me,

“You know, the front of our house is kind of boring, it’s just white.”

I agreed.

“Maybe we should paint part of it or something.  And the overhead light on the porch is kind of ugly, maybe we should get some different lights.”

The decorating wheels in my brain immediately started turning.  Within a few hours I was on the computer looking up paint schemes, by the next morning we bought supplies at the electrical store and then moved on to the paint store.  I stood sweating in the stuffy store in front of the display of paint colors.  You don’t have the option to take home paint chips or buy a little can of paint to sample the color you are thinking of here, you just buy a gallon and hope for the best.  Chris patiently stood by as I agonized between a safe beige and an orangey coral (the color I really wanted but was a little afraid to get because I thought it might be too crazy). 

“What do you think?”  I asked Chris for the eighth time. 

“Well”, he replied with a smile, “if you are worried about what other people will think then the beige will probably be a safe bet, but if you want to go big or go home, the bright color would be best, it’s up to you.”

Well, when have I ever really gone the safe, conservative route with paint colors?

We bought the coral.

We were back home by 10:00am and I was painting the wall sconce lights by 10:15 (I liked the style of them, but not the color), while Chris ran out to get a few other supplies and tools.

As the sun went down that night we finished the project, two coats of paint on the light sconces and the walls, wiring in the sconces, attaching them to the walls, and cleaning everything up-I don’t think I’ve ever conceived, started, and finished a semi-major home project all in one day.  It was rewarding, but oh so tiring!  Here are the results:

Oh, I forgot to mention that we bought the wrought iron bistro table and chairs on the porch from an MAF family that is heading home in December, so that was part of the motivation to spruce up the front of the house.  I really love how it turned out.  It’s especially pretty at night-it has kind of a low-lit café feel.  Much more appealing than the glaring bare halogen bulb that used to light our porch and front yard!   

I have been feeling crafty lately, so I got together with one of my other friends who loves to craft, and while she made some cute cotton ball Christmas wreaths, I made this fabric pennant (bunting?  I’m not sure what to call it)…

I bought the fabric at the local fabric store, made a template for the flags, traced and cut out two of each color, and sewed them onto a long piece of ribbon.  I think they add a little extra fun to our orange wall in the kitchen.  Are you noticing a theme here?  Apparently I like orange.  And bright colors.  But you probably already knew that!

I was feeling a lack of Thanksgiving décor, so using some fantastic free Thanksgiving printables I found and some origami paper from one of the local stores I put these together…

The big one is attached to a CD case – nothing like a lack of supplies to spur on creativity!

I also used more fun printables and sate (pronounced sah-tay, a popular meal here, chicken is twisted onto wooden skewers, grilled, and served with rice and peanut sauce-yum) sticks to add these flags to my Fallish mix vase.

It’s fun thinking of easy decorations to make here…well I think it’s fun, but at times I suspect I am prematurely becoming a grandma, sitting on my couch and stitching and watching old movies.  I just watched “It Happened on 5th Avenue” the other day and it was so cute!  Yes, yes, I’m old, it’s okay, I am embracing it!  So, on “Murder She Wrote” the other day, I noticed…just kidding I haven’t quite moved to the Angela Lansbury viewing stage…yet.

Speaking of getting older, my birthday was last week.  As you may remember from last year, my birthday turned into something of a misadventure involving tasteless shrimp with eyes and ravenous, too-friendly cats.  Unfortunately, I can’t say this year was a big improvement.  I did have a very fun get-together with some of the other MAF ladies the night before my birthday and they made a beautiful, delicious cake, and we watched “The Help” (loved it), so that was great.  However, about midnight I started to feel sick to my stomach and thus began a stomach bug that had me alternating between the bed, the couch, and the bathroom floor for the next 24 hours.  The night was actually the worst of it, but I still spent most of my birthday in bed and had to cancel all my fun plans-it was sad.  Chris stayed home from work to take care of me, which I so appreciated.  He even made me chicken noodle soup, what a guy!  I started really feeling better on Thursday, and I think I am pretty much back to normal now.  The result of being sick has been that my birthday has extended throughout the week with friends coming over to drop off fun gifts and visiting, so that has been fun.  Also, I received many sweet messages and several packages from home on my birthday, which cheered me up very much.  Thanks to everyone for being so good to me!  

Those are all the major goings-on here.  Chris is flying today (Saturday) to make up for missing work on Tuesday (when he was home taking care of me), and I just got back from meeting him for lunch at the MAF hangar.  He had to do an emergency flight this morning to pick up a pregnant woman from a village who was having complications and bring her back to Tarakan so she could be taken to the hospital.  After he ate with me he was just going to begin his regular flight schedule for the day, so he will be home late.  I have thank you notes to write and emails to catch up on, so I will be keeping busy as usual.  Plus I still have the crafty itch, and I’m thinking about cute stuff for Christmas.  I’ll keep you posted on my latest do-it-yourself conquests! 

Thanksgiving is next week (in case you didn’t know, ha-ha), so I am getting ready to contribute several dishes to the huge dinner we are having with all 13 MAF families in Tarakan.  I will try to take some pictures because it will be a zoo with tons of people (27 adults and 28 kids!) and mountains of food-I’m really excited about it!  I hope each of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Because I'm SO NOT a good photographer...

This past Sunday was the Muslim celebration of Idul Adha.  It was marked in Tarakan, and I'm sure throughout the world, with extended services at the Mosques on Saturday night at sundown, more pronounced early morning prayers, and the sacrifice of cows (and other animals) in many Mosques, homes, and even in the street.  Chris went out to visit some of his Muslim friends, while I unfortunately stayed home with a yucky stomach.  One of the other guys on the MAF team, Dave, is an amazing photographer and he captured Idul Adha beautifully.  So, as I said, since I am so not a good photographer, here's a link to Dave's blog so you can get a peek at this holiday that I didn't even know existed until I moved to Indonesia.

Aren't the children gorgeous?

Isn't the devotion amazing?

I'm convicted by the commitment to prayer as a community you devote yourself to prayer like that with fellow believers?  I know I don't.

Living here is humbling in so many ways, I am constantly aware of how much I have to learn, how far I have to go.

I pray to keep growing, to listen and learn more than I speak, and share whatever I am able to.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eye of the Cat

This week I headed out to grocery shop and stopped at a very important store to us here in Tarakan.  It is called Toko Buah 88, which essentially means ‘fruit store’…not sure what the 88 represents.  This dim little store is run by a woman who is a bit gruff, but she is willing to order imported goods that other stores do not.  Because of her we can now get mozzarella, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, lemons, celery, cilantro, bacon-ish meat (it is bacon, just not cut in the way we think of bacon in the west, it is in chunks instead of strips), real butter (not butter in a can-disgusting), and heavy whipping cream.  I would have liked to get a picture of her, but I felt a bit shy to ask, so here is at least a (bad) picture of the inside of the store…

During my trip to the store this week I noticed hanging from a metal bar in the store in mesh bags were a type of fruit that is known as ‘Mata Kucing’, translated as ‘Eye of the Cat’, and I decided to buy some to try… 

These fruits get their name because, well, I think you can see why…

The black part in the middle is a pit that should be thrown away, but the white part around it is eatable.  I think Mata Kucing are part of the lychee family.  They are similar to lychee in taste, although not as perfumey (if you have eaten lychee before you know what I’m talking about), a bit sweeter, with a hint of saltiness.  They are definitely unique, not a fruit you would find at a typical grocery store in the States.  Although the bag I bought was a bit overripe, we have still enjoyed having a new fruit to try.

Here is the rest of the produce I picked up at Toko Buah 88 this week, it’s drying after I washed it off.  We are so blessed to be able to get such a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other goods here, both local and imported.

Now if I could only find a way to get Italian Sausage…ah well, we can’t have it all, right?!

Not too much else to report from Tarakan.  After several days with spotty water availability, (the city randomly turns off our water, no one knows why), we are so thankful that our base manager helped us hook up our gutters to a 1200 liter tank so we can collect rain water to use for bathroom needs, laundry, and washing dishes.  Life without electricity is annoying (and thankfully our electricity has been pretty stable lately), but life without water is downright difficult.  It seems like a theme of our time here so far has been periodically being without a working toilet, which is obviously the case when there are problems with the water-so not my favorite thing, especially when the food here can be a bit *ahem* unsettling to say the least. 

Living here is such a challenge to my very Western ideas of having rights to everything, rights to running water, rights to consistent electricity, rights to drive surrounded by others that adhere to traffic laws…I could go on and on.  It’s a constant culture shock and an excellent lesson that most things in life aren’t rights to be demanded, but privileges to be appreciated.  Now, just because I am pointing this out doesn’t mean I react with peace and acceptance when things don’t work like I expect them to…there are meltdowns, yes, many meltdowns…but maybe, little by little I’m learning a different way to think.  Okay, I’m realizing there’s a different way to think of and react to things, and that’s the first step toward change, right?

With those deep thoughts, I will sign off for now.  I’m realizing it’s 2:00pm and I haven’t really eaten anything today besides sugary dessert-type food…could be why I’m suddenly ravenously hungry!  Thanks for stopping by, more later!