Thursday, March 27, 2008

Victory in the Park!

The day began with pancakes and ended with churros, but much progress was made on Hope House and the group was instrumental in reclaiming the neighborhood park for the families, at least for one night! We have been able to introduce many of the group to different cultural experiences, including the tortilleria (where they make the corn tortillas), an open-air market bustling with activity (where I buy most of our produce), the churros maker (ok, I think Bob visited them almost every night), the local neighborhood store (where my kids buy snacks and bolis), the regular grocery store, the water place (where we buy all our drinking water) and many other places.
The walls have all been finished, the bathrooms are well underway. There are only finishing touches to be put on the house today and everyone has had a chance to work hard, play hard and be a light in San Luis. I can't wait to show you the "after" pictures with all the furniture in place, walls painted, bedding and kitchen stuff and all the great things that Southwinds brought for Hope House!! I don't know if I can even express how exciting it is to see Hope House actually come into being after three years of vision and hoping, planning and waiting. There are tears flowing from my eyes as I think about how cool this is to see happen! These guys and gals may never get to see the lives that will be changed because of Hope House, but they are as integral a part of this ministry for the work they have done here as anyone else. And God is going to richly bless them for giving of their time, their strength, their love, themselves to help change lives here in Mexico.

Last night was our main outreach and we took about 160 hotdogs, buns, chips and sodas to a park that is only a block from Hope House. (I apologize that the photos are not good - still trying to learn how to take nighttime photos) When we arrived around 7pm, the park was already full of families. We didn't realize what a miracle this was until we talked to some of the people who live right around there. They said that the gangs (and "wanna-be gangs") had taken over the park and families just didn't come here anymore. Well, last night you would never have known it! We fed over 120 children and their moms and God kept multiplying the food!! The girls in charge of the hotdogs said that everytime they looked into the pot after giving out 20 or more hotdogs, there were the same amount of hotdogs left! The students from Southwinds fed these kids and decided they would not eat a hotdog because these kids needed them more. So after spending some time playing with the kids, we all went to Chipilon Tacos (the BEST in town!!), had a grilled jalapeno-eating contest (I think a few guys will be paying for that this morning:-), and stopped on a corner to buy the best churros in town.God is at work in the lives of these folks from Southwinds, and He is using them to touch a little part of San Luis!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Day of Challenges

Today was a day of challenges for the group from Southwinds. It began late last night when the toilet got stopped up and our 25 ft. plumbing snake couldn't clear it out. The phone number for the plumber we know is no longer in service. No one we know knew of a plumber we could call. We emptied out the sewage tanks on the trailers, but one was out of water, so we couldn't even use that one. So, first thing this morning, we went to the water company to get them out with a truck to fill the RV tanks, tried to find a plumber (with no success) and dug up the sewer pipe from the outside bathroom to find that it made several very sharp turns which is why it clogged.We never got in touch with a plumber, but the team decided to dig up the sewer line and lay it in another way to eliminate two of the sharp turns. So after a long day of work over at Hope House, they came back and dug up the line, laid the new pipe and buried it again. The water truck didn't show up until almost noon and his pump kept overheating. Eventually, we got the tank filled up with water.This evening, we served a typical meal that a poor family here in San Luis would probably eat - beans, rice and tortillas. The students seemed to enjoy it and no one complained! They used no utensils - just tortillas. Tonight, we rigged up a LCD projector and they are watching a movie outside on the back wall of the house. Some of them went down to the park to watch the Mexicans play fon tennis (sort of like racquetball). Everyone is pitching in and doing their part. Attitudes are overall good, but I think some of them are being challenged in what they are experiencing culturally. There were a few kids who battled a little dehydration today (they slacked off on drinking sufficient water), but they all feel better now. We "forced" them to drink 2 quarts of water straight down and very shortly they began to feel better. It is really the desert here and the humidity hovers around 12-15 %, so you seldom even know you are sweating - it just evaporates. And the temperatures have been in the mid-90s each day, so it is critical that they stay hydrated - that means drinking over a gallon of water each day.Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow and, of course, more photos of the gang from Southwinds. I will post some photos of the work that has been completed at Hope House, too.
Oh yeah - Bob has been working VERY hard! Well, he keeps us laughing - definitely the comic relief of the week!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Southwinds Descend on San Luis!

They arrived on Saturday before dark, to set up camp for 31 people in our back yard. Most of them are youth, and the rest are young at heart. They came from Tracy, CA, for a week long missions trips to help Hope House get finished and ready to open their doors to single moms and teen girls who need a place of refuge and training.After a wonderful day of celebrating our Lord's resurrection, they got down to work and got dirty, sweaty and very tired! They are doing a myriad of projects including building 4 additional bedrooms inside the main room of the house, demolishing damaged sheetrock in the bathrooms and redoing, as well as adding shower inserts and shelving. They will be working on the kitchen to get it up and running, and they will be painting a second coat on the outside and the new walls and bathrooms on the inside. There may be even more projects I can't remember at the moment, but everything is going very well!
They brought a huge cargo trailer full of donated items for Hope House including beds, dressers, sofa, table and chairs, sewing machines, and more things than I can think of to mention! The whole church has gotten behind their mission here and blessed us abundantly!Many of the young people of spending time playing and "conversing" with the kids in the neighborhood. They are learning many words and phrases in Spanish and we have several bilingual folks available to help out here and there including my kids, Cody and Alissa. They are having a blast hosting this great group!The ladies in charge of food are doing a fantastic job! And I have not been as stressed as I thought I might be with 36 of us sharing one shower and two bathrooms in my small house! The kids have not complained at all about having to take cold showers outdoors. They have all chipped in on keeping the place clean and mostly neat, and doing their chores without complaint.God has been touching some of their hearts with compassion for the poor and lost through the poverty that surrounds us and the children who have congregated around them. My husband has challenged them this week to look for Jesus in unexpected places, and to spend time doing what Jesus would do - loving the little ones, helping those in need, preferring one another in love, being a friend to the poor and downtrodden, caring for the orphans and widows.We are hoping to introduce them to a few of the single moms who will be working with us at Hope House, as well as a few of the potential residents.It is shaping up to be a tremendous week with a really great bunch of people! I am totally blessed by them and hope that this week will be life-changing for many of them! I will post more photos as the week progresses, so check back for updates and photos.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Typing Speed Test

Ever since I have made my children begin taking typing, I have wondered exactly how fast I really type. Well, today I found out.
96 words


My kids think I am the fastest typist in the world, but I knew there were many others faster! However, since I don't work at it and just type when I am on the computer, I am pretty please with my speed.

I want to warn you, if you are at all obsessive (and competitive), this test might drive you crazy! Don't start if you are going to keep trying all day:-). But enjoy if you would just like to find out how fast you can actually type. I found this linked over on It Coulda Been Worse - Thanks!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Making Recycled Newsprint Purses

This week has found Penny (our missions intern) and I learning how to make recycled newsprint purses. We are using a local Mexican newspaper and celophane wrapping plastic (to make it waterproof and shiny).
We begin by cutting both into pieces measuring 2"x4 1/2" and folding them into the "links" for the chain.
Then we slide them into each other to make the chain. We have made several chains so far of 60 pieces each. We will need about 6 chains to complete the purse.
Then we will be "sewing" the chains together with clear fishing line, attaching a zipper and making and attaching a clutch wrist strap (that seems to be the desired handle).

It is fun, but very tedious and time-consuming. I will let you know when we finish and are able to post onto our Hope House Etsy Store. You can see other items there now, including some candy wrapper purses, recycled shopping bag tote and rag quilt.

This is what works for me - check out more Works For Me Wednesday tips over at Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Successfully Cutting Homemade Granola Bars?

Today on Kitchen Tip Tuesday, it is a backwards edition where you ask a question. So here is my question - I love to make homemade granola bars, but I have not yet been successful in cutting them. I use the recipe from Alton Brown (Good Eats) because I like them crunchy, but if I wait until they are cool to cut them, they break all apart and the bottoms stick a little (even though I butter the pan). Any ideas or advice? Please? I would like to have BARS, not CRUMBS!!

For more kitchen questions, go to Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Our Home School Science Fair and Science Show

Each year, our homeschool support groups hosts a science fair, complete with science show. One of our dads is a Chemistry teacher and he puts on quite a fun show for us all! This year, he even did the Mentos in Diet Coke things (from Mythbusters - a favorite show in our home)!
There were a number of entries in the science fair and all the kids did a great job!
What a fun way to promote science among our home school groups!
Does your group have a science fair? And if so, is it judged? Do you feed into your local county science fair? As a support group leader, I am interested to hear how your group does it. And how large is your group? Thanks for your input!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Healthier and More Natural Health and Beauty Products

Over the last several weeks/months, I have been trying out a few of the ideas I have seen on the internet about health and beauty products that are more natural and healthier. I have decided to let you know about some of them and how they are working for me.

First, a few weeks ago I started using extra virgin olive oil on my face as a moisturizer. I read alot about it first, then tried it very hesitatingly. I actually love it! It is a great moisturizer, does not cause greasiness or breakouts, and makes my skin feel great! I have even been putting it on my kids faces from time to time. Now, my skin has always been dry, so I am not sure how this would work on a different skin type, although what I read said that even oily skin folks have great results. Here are a few links so you can read about it if you are interested:
The Olive Oil Source
Olive Oil: The All-Purpose Remedy

Another thing that we have been trying is using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to brush our teeth. This started because I read about how hydrogen peroxide would whiten your teeth. I have known many people over the years who used this instead of toothpaste, so I thought I would give it a try. After just a few days, I have noticed my teeth getting whiter! And they feel SO clean! My kids and husband have been using it, too. The taste takes a little getting used to, but not too bad. I simply pour a little hydrogen peroxide on my toothbrush, then dip into some baking soda I have put in a small sealed container in the bathroom. It sort of foams up in your mouth, so you have to rinse very well. Here is some info about it for those who are interested:
How to Make Baking Soda Toothpaste
Mr. Rogers' Homemade Toothpaste for Kids
7 Tips for Natural Teeth Whitening
And here is one my daughter will love: Whiten Your Teeth With Strawberries

Thanks to my friend, Penny, I can now once again use a safe and natural deodorant - Naturally Fresh Deodorant Crystal! You can usually find this at WalMart, but ours don't carry it anymore. So she brought me several when she arrived this week to work with us here at Hope House. It is made from mineral salts and works better than the many other deodorants I have tried that do not have aluminum chlorohydrate (harmful to your body - may cause breast cancer).

And the best thing of all - ALL of these will save you money! So you can be frugal AND healthier! Hope you have enjoyed learning about these more natural ways to health and beauty. If you have tried or do try any of these, let me know what you think and how it works for you.

Find more ideas over at The Homesteading Carnival hosted by Rachel's Reasoning and The Festival of Frugality hosted by I've Paid for This Twice Already.

My Favorite Homeschooling Moments...Reading To My Kids

My favorite time that I spend home schooling with my kids is when we snuggle on the couch and I read to them. I try to do this daily, but it happens usually 3 or 4 evening a week. To me, this is my favorite time and I hope they never outgrow it. I had a friend back in Myrtle Beach who told me that even when her kids were high school age, they still wanted her to read aloud to them together. That is my hope! And now my kids are 13 and 11, and they still beg me to read almost every night. I love it! It is the most precious time to me. It makes me stop the busy-ness of the day and just be with them. We have read all kinds of books - some that make me cry, some that make me laugh, some that are difficult to get through (written at very high levels) and some that are just quick and easy. I hope we never lose the closeness that we share when we read together!

Go on over to Heart of the Matter to see what others have said about their "Favorite Homeschooling Moment."

A New Look for My Blog

Well, I changed my template today for a fresh look (and to accommodate my new account with BlogHer Ads). Let me know what you think of it!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Recycled Shopping Bags

I have finally finished my first (because I plan to make more) shopping tote crocheted from WalMart grocery bags! It came out so great! And wasn't hard at all.

It is pretty roomy - holds a good bit more than a gallon of milk and would be great for frozen food since it is made of plastic! If you are interested in making something out of "plarn" (plastic yarn) and using up some of those gazillion shopping bags, check out My Recycled Bags. She has dozens of great patterns and ideas!

Find more ideas to Make It From Scratch over at GreenStyle Mom

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I signed up for PayPerPost!

I have been working very diligently on my blog in order to increase traffic to a place where I can begin to make some money. One of the ways I am pursuing is to get paid to blog at PayPerPost. Have you ever heard of it? You get to select from different topics that you would like to blog about and they pay you to do it. This is my first time to try this and I am hoping to generate a little extra income each month to help pay the bills.

I found out about PayPerPost from another blogger's site that I visit often that wrote a post about blogging for money and how to make money with your blog. There is always a clear link at the end of the post to let you know if that post was sponsored. That way readers are aware and can be linked to PayPerPost if they are interested in taking advantage of this great opportunity for themselves.

There are so many different topics to choose from, you can surely find something that is of interest to you. I love to blog about food, cooking, frugal living, home schooling, family, crafting and sewing, so that gives me lots of room to choose. If you would like more information or check it out for yourself, just go to PayPerPost and see if this is something you might like to try.

I will keep you posted about how it is working for me and how much money I am able to make over the next several months. I will be your "guinea pig" so you can see if it would be worth your time, too. I figure it is worth a try to find any and all ways to add a little to the frugal budget in the our household.

Candy Wrapper Purses Now On Sale on Etsy!!

I am very excited to announce that we have the first four candy wrapper purses now available for sale on Etsy at our new Hope House Etsy Store! Feel free to go over and check them out. All proceeds will go to support our mission work here in Mexico at Hope House International, which is a place a refuge and training for single moms and teen girls.

Hope House International -
Creating a Refuge, Equipping for Life, Preparing for Eternity!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Salad Dressing Recipes Galore!

I was searching for a recipe for a salad dressing similar to the Romano Dressing that Pizza Hut used to have when I was a kid, and I found this wonderful booklet of salad dressing recipes ( over at Creative Homemaking.

It is 10 pages in pdf format that you can download and print out for future reference. I made a jar of the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing and it is very good. Just click on the link above in the brackets and you can download the booklet.

You can find more tips over at Tammy's Recipes and the Festival of Frugality today! And don't forget to check out Make It From Scratch, too!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Candy Wrapper Purses

I just came upon these, but apparently they have been around for awhile and are a fallback to the days when we made these chains out of gum wrappers. We thought they were adorable and will be making and selling them to raise funds for Hope House International.

Here is a link to the best step-by-step directions that I could find on the internet, in case you would like to make one, too.

Apparently, you can make them from all different kinds of things including newspaper (covered in celophane), wrapping paper, gum wrapper, candy bar wrappers, cookie wrappers, and more!

For more ideas of things you can make, check out Make It From Scratch!