Thursday, December 24, 2009

On Encountering Deadly African Animals...

I've had people ask me if I see lions and tigers and elephants in Africa (definitely not tigers, as they don't live in Africa, I often have to explain).  The answer is that I do see animals, but it's probably not any more exciting than the animals that you see.  Then again...maybe my evening last night accounts for an exciting African animal encounter.  

After a busy evening out at the mall and movies with our friends, Matt and I made our way over to the place where we were house sitting.  The mall had been packed that evening, and we walked around quite a bit, so we were both ready to settle into bed.  I stayed awake a little longer than Matt, thoroughly engrossed in my book.  Finally, as sleep overtook my eyes, I settled in and turned off the light, snuggling in close to Matt.  

As soon as the room turned dark, I heard a small crunching noise.  I froze...was someone in the back yard?  The dogs didn't seem to rustle, but I was sure that I had heard something.  Then, I heard it again, its duration lengthening this time.  Surely this was something that my valiant husband, not me, should deal with.  I shook him lightly, but he continued sleeping.  Finally, overtaken by fear, as I realized the sound was much closer than I initially thought, I poked him repeatedly in the collar bone as hard as I could.  

"Matt...are you awake?"

"Yeah...that hurt," he mumbled.

"Do you hear that?"



There was the crunching noise again.  It sounded almost as if a small creature was gnawing on a piece of wood.  

"Rachel, it's just a mouse and it's probably in the roof somewhere," he said as he turned over to go back to bed.  I was not about to settle for that explanation.  

"No, Matt.  It's not in the roof.  It's in this room!"  Matt turned on the light and got up for what I thought was a diligent search of the room.  Instead he stumbled to the bathroom in a semi-conscious state to use the toilet, leaving me alone with the mysterious crunching sound. Images of a rogue rat climbing up the covers and biting me filled my mind.  What if it was infected with the Black Plague or rabies or something?!  I didn't move.  I heard the sound again and said in desperation, "Matt, the sound is in this room, and I think it's behind the chest of drawers beside my bed."  

The chest of drawers is probably less than two feet from where my precious head sleeps.  I was not about to doze off into slumber, knowing that there was some sort of animal inches from my bed.  It was like those childhood fears of monsters under your bed, but real this time.  Matt returned from the bathroom and decided to move the chest of drawers out.  On his second attempt to move it forward, the culprit showed his face.  Faster than my drowsy mind could comprehend, I saw the little brown body of a mouse zoom out from behind the drawers and under our bed. I shrieked and jumped from the floor to the bed, distancing myself as much as I could from the foreigner. 

The good news was that I wasn't crazy, but now this mouse was seeking refuge under the bed.  This was  not a good enough solution.  Matt started pressing the mattress down with his elbow to try and oust the mouse.  Suddenly, it zoomed out from under the bed and scurried under the crack between the bedroom door and the floor.  We were safe, for now.  

Matt began to crawl back into bed.  

"Are you serious Matt?!  If the little guy can get under the crack between the door and the floor, he can surely get back into the room."  I looked for anything small that I could stuff between the crack.  Finally, I found a pile of magazines and began stuffing them in the crack.  

"You're crazy.  It's not going to hurt you."

"Well, I don't want to find out if the thing is a nice mouse or a mean mouse.  I just want him to leave me be."

A couple of seconds of silence follow...

"Oh, I forgot to tell you, Rachel, they (the owners of the house) told me that they thought there was still a mouse in their house."  We knew that they'd previously had a mouse, but we thought he had left the premises for good.

"And how did you manage to remember to tell me only now?"

"I don't know, I guess it just slipped my mind."  He sort of smiled and then rolled over and turned out the lights.  

So, my husband did defend me from the African beast, albeit quite reluctantly, and it seems that no matter what country you call home, mice can still be pesky little creatures.  

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cooking with Rachel

As the minutes tick by, we draw closer to the InsideOut Christmas, and Matt has been working nonstop this morning on his message for tonight.  

Being the domestic queen that I am, I decided it would be profitable to whip up some sort of baked creation for him this morning.  I seem to go through various stages in the kitchen.  

There was a time where I measured everything, down to the pinch of salt.  That didn't last long.  Too many dirty dishes afterwards.  

In rebellion to my previous cooking habits, I then went in the kitchen with a boldness that thought I didn't need to measure anything.  This worked about fifty percent of the time.  The other fifty percent of the time it was just never ending unmet expectations.  

My most recent kick was cooking without refined sugar.  I'd substitute honey or molasses for the sugar, but it seemed that my final product just wasn't that satisfying.  "There's no refined sugar in these muffins, honey.  Can you believe it?" I'd ask Matt.  "Oh, yes, I can believe it" he'd reply. He'd stomach them down, but there were often leftovers, something that doesn't happen unless the food is REALLY bad.  

But, there's one thing that hasn't changed in all of my cooking phases.  Every time I cook, I always make some sort of haphazard mistake.  Fast forward to today.  I decided on coffee cake; easy enough, right?  Yes, it would have been if I'd read what size pan that I was supposed to use. Midway through pouring my mass of batter into a very large rectangular pan, I glance at the recipe only to see it calls for a much, much smaller square pan.  Great.  

So, I scoop everything out of the bigger pan only to find that I don't have a square pan.  In fact, I just have this oval corning ware dish (which now I'm thinking is much too small because it was only supposed to take 25 minutes to cook, and it's getting close to 40.) 

So...will my blueberry apple (it became blueberry apple because I ran out of blueberries) coffee cake be edible?  Only time will tell...

(Pause as I go check for the 4th time)

Well, I have a feeling the consistency will be anything but uniform, as the edges of the oval seem quite crisp and the middle is as soggy as a wet sponge at this point.  

:Sigh: Rachael Ray makes it look so easy!

InsideOut Upside Down Christmas

Well, well,'s been a while since my last post, but I've been on quite a few adventures this past month, which I'll get to next time.  

For now though, I am super busy planning for our InsideOut  UpsideDown Christmas.  This is our Christmas event that we're creating for our teens and their families and friends.  It's happening tomorrow (Saturday) at 7pm.  We're having a variety of vendors coming in who will be selling food as early as 6:30pm.  

I don't want to give too much away, but it will be similar to our other events, with games, prizes, and a few words from my lovely husband :)

At InsideOut, we've been talking about kingdoms, focusing on the fact that everyone lives their lives for a kingdom.  Matt left us all in suspense and tension at the last InsideOut, as he informed us that oftentimes, our kingdom and God's kingdom will collide.  At IO Christmas, Matt plans on resolving a bit of that tension.  

Although I'd love to write more, I need to put some last minute touches on our games for tomorrow night.  

Expect more updates soon with...

      -stories from my trip to America

      -an update on InsideOut

      -adventures in Cape Town

      -and pictures of our home!!!!! (we bought a digital camera in America!)