Thursday, January 30

Magazines and Whoopie Pies

Have you read a magazine recently? Even just flicked through one in a shop?

It may sound strange to those living in the 'West' but reading a magazine is considered a real luxury here in this part of the world, where they are either completely unavailable or wildly expensive! So much so, that they get passed from person to person to person in the ex-pat community and you often find yourself reading magazines that are a year or two old!

If some of my friends walk into my house and spy a magazine, their eyes light up and they always have a quick flick through, ask if I have read it yet ... and of course, if they can borrow it! So as an aside, if you have friends who are missionaries in more remote locations and you have an old magazine sat around, you may just think of sticking it into an envelope and sending it to them. It may be expensive to post but I can guarantee you it will be read by a whole community!

One that we had passed onto us a couple of weeks ago, had a recipe page that immediately caught the eyes of both my girls, Whoopie Pies! Being the lovely mummy that I am, I promised that during the Christmas break we would try to make them and on the very last Sunday of the holidays I kept my promise!

They were even more of a treat because one of the ingredients, marshmallows, is difficult to get here, usually you have to wait until a trip to Dar Es Salaam to stock up! Admittedly the whoopie pies were a bit more of a faff than I'm used to when it comes to baking, but the girls loved them and from the photo below, you can see they didn't turn out too bad at all! (The recipe is below too!)

  • 250g unsalted butter, chopped, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 150g vanilla and strawberry flavoured marshmallows
  • 80g white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup hundreds and thousands
  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper.
  2. Put 200g of the butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 5 minutes or until light and creamy. Add eggs and egg yolks, then beat until combined.
  3. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and ginger over butter mixture then fold until a stiff dough forms
  4. Divide into 24 pieces and roll each into a ball with your hands. Arrange balls 7 cm apart on trays, bake for 20 minutes or until firm, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  5. Put marshmallows and remaining butter in a small saucepan over a low heat and cook, stirring until melted.
  6. Remove pan from heat, add white chocolate and beat until smooth. Set aside for 5 minutes or until cool.
  7. Spread 1 heaped Tbsp of marshmallow mixture onto a flat side of 1 biscuit, then sandwich with a second biscuit. Repeat.
  8. Spread hundreds and thousands on a plate, then roll edges of each whoopie pie to coat.

Monday, January 27

My Anthem

There are few things going on right now that are taking up a lot of my emotional/will/brain power. Times like this can easily frustrate. They can leave you grumbling and miserable. 

Or not. 

Not that I get things right all the time ... I know I don't. At this point in time, the only reason I'm feeling level-headed and peaceful is that instead of running from God, getting wound up about things, I've been running towards him.

I may be a 'missionary' and as a family we are often perceived (incorrectly) as having a hotline to God. But just like anyone else, life can often keep me from quality time and relationship with my main source of power and strength.

Over the last couple of weeks I have consciously tried to redress that balance, knowing that without prioritising God right now, I wouldn't be able to get through whatever was going to be thrown in my direction. 

The peace and calm that has been the result, the feeling like whatever happens I (and we as a family!) can get through it, is certainly not coming from me. My source of strength rocks!

I love Mandisa and her newest album and title song is slowly becoming my anthem right now! Click on the link to see and hear it (the words are below!). As a rule I don't dance, but this makes me want to bounce and party however I'm feeling!

Mandisa - Overcomer

Staring at a stop sign
Watching people drive by
T Mac on the radio
Got so much on your mind
Nothing's really going right
Looking for a ray of hope

Whatever it is you may be going through
I know He's not gonna let it get the best of you

You're an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You're not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it's hopeless
That's when He reminds You
That you're an overcomer
You're an overcomer

Everybody's been down
Hit the bottom, hit the ground
Oh, you're not alone
Just take a breath, don't forget
Hang on to His promises
He wants You to know

The same Man, the Great I am
The one who overcame death
Is living inside of You
So just hold tight, fix your eyes
On the one who holds your life
There's nothing He can't do
He's telling You

Friday, January 24

Sanity Saver

This month's guest post comes from a missionary mum right here in Dodoma. Naomi Jones and her husband are here serving with SIM (Serving in Mission) Australia and are originally from Melbourne. While Andrew is involved in Entrepreneur Training, Naomi is using her background in Family Psychology in both school and hospital settings. They have four children. Today Naomi shares how to survive the sometimes hard slog of being a missionary and a mum here in Dodoma!

I have lived here in Dodoma, Tanzania with my husband and 4 children for almost eighteen months now.  Amongst the many pieces of helpful information I was given before we came (and again on arrival) was that if we wanted to stay even a little sane while on the mission field, we needed to bring some of our hobbies with us.

It felt like obvious advice at the time; of course we would try to fit into our daily schedules time for leisure/fun/relaxation as we had always done. But on arriving here the truth began to settle. Life in Tanzania can often feel like a “hard slog” and lots of daily tasks are time consuming and tedious. This, combined with the very real and endless needs of the people around us, can sometimes make leisure time and associated activities feel a little too decadent. 

I began by assessing my options. My “sanity saver” of choice has always been exercise; surely a simple activity to pursue in Dodoma I hear you say? Well not exactly! Swimming was ruled out first. The nearest “lap” pool is out of town and too far away to visit in between work and school commitments. The local hotel boasts a gym on it’s website which I was quite excited about until I saw it in the flesh. Not so much as a gym as a room with some old equipment lying around waiting to be repaired. Exercising outdoors is do-able if you don’t mind the (usually unwanted) attention, the uneven surfaces and the inescapable heat factor. Fast losing inspiration, I was spurred on by friends and family at home who reminded me how much enjoyment I used to get from these activities back home. At that point, I mustered up some courage, put aside my inhibitions and made do with what Dodoma had to offer!

I can truly say now, that exercise has acted as a “transition object” for me in the time we have been here. It is something familiar and predictable in a place where not much else is. When life feels overwhelming, I know that I can count on running to give me the usual endorphin rush, or on walking up a mountain to give me the same sense of peace that it always has. I believe that God wants us to engage in the activities that we love and that are “life-giving” while we are here on the mission field, without feeling guilty. Sure, it is a more challenging task at times, and sometimes it may even involve asking others for help with say, childcare, but at the end of the day it is truly worth it!

Thursday, January 23

Rainy Days

The English are known for their talk of weather. The English are also very used to grey rainy days!

This last week or so the rain has been coming fast and furious. A big relief to the local people especially the farmers. While it has come a month or so later than expected, the rains are finally here in Dodoma ... making some roads a lot more difficult to negotiate!

While this next statement may seem a little bizarre to my Brit friends ... the rain is a very welcome relief! A relief from the hot glaring sunshiny days that are much more typical. Instead of being depressing, it's almost both comforting and refreshing to see looming grey clouds, feel the slight chill of a breeze and run around in the heavy downpours of rain.

On Saturday we had just one of those days. The power was off, the skies were grey, it was much cooler than normal (I even wore a sweatshirt, not because I needed to but because I could ... and there really is a difference!) and the whole family were still in pyjamas at 10am playing board games by the light of battery operated lamps! It was wonderful! 

By mid-afternoon the four of us were under a tent of four chairs and a sheet, sipping water from teeny tiny tea-cups and eating apples and biscuits off small plastic plates.  An indoor tea-party picnic, what else?!

A day of old-fashioned family fun in weather that reminded us of 'home'. It's amazing how comforting and wonderful it felt and how sometimes you realise that even though you've having the time of your life, you also miss things about home more than you really think you do!

Friday, January 17

One Kali Mama

My Swahili study has taken a bit of a back foot recently, not because I don't want to but just because so much other stuff has been going on. I have already shared some of the Swahili-isms that amuse me, adding '-i' onto English words or when words are repeated.

'Kali' (pronounced car-lee) is one of those words in KiSwahili that make me smile. It can mean any of the following; {violent}, {wild}, {bitter}, {vehement}, {ferocious}, {fierce}, {mean}, {strict}, {cruel}, {distressing}, {hot}, {intense}, {scorching}, {severe}, {urgent}, {sharp} or {sour}. Here are just a few example's of how it can be used ...
  • jua kali - scorching hot (intense) sun
  • mbwa mkali - fierce dog
  • kisu kikali - sharp knife
  • mama mkali - strict/severe mum

In some ways, one word having so many meanings means less vocabulary to learn (always a bonus!). But in other ways you have to learn ALL the meanings and in Swahili depending on the context you have to add a different prefix too!

After the craziness of Christmas, lots of visitors and a trip to the beach, a fun but topsy-turvy month or so, it has unfortunately meant that my two girlies have been a little bit cranky-pants this week! Which in turn has meant that I have become the mama mkali while I whip them back into shape! 

It's not really my favourite part of parenting but to be fair it has all been pretty straight forward and they are now a lot less stroppy at the end of the week than they were at the beginning! The naughty chair may have had a little bit more of a workout this week but they are pretty slick at the whole routine now. And as the weekend looms I can return to being a yummy mummy again having lots of fun and being super silly rather than being the mama mkali!

Tuesday, January 14

Two for One!

Apologies for the slackness of my blogging for the beginning of 2014 (only one post so far!) but I've been far too busy relaxing on holiday! To make up for it here's the first recipe post of the year with two different versions!

Avocado's are cheap, readily available and HUGE here in Tanzania ... at the moment the ones I am buying are coconut size or bigger. Ready made food or more specifically dips are not available or if they are, are in Dar Es Salaam and not cheap. 

So I asked a couple of friends for their delicious guacamole recipes. I knew I wouldn't be disappointed as they were already tried and tested! The recipes are very different though ... one is a hot and spicy variety that only me and a select few enjoy, that I got from American friends who are third generation missionaries in Mexico, the other one is a family friendly recipe from Swiss friends here in Tanzania!

Hot and Spicy Guacamole ... (pineapple and feta versions!)
  • 2 avocados
  • 3-5 jalapeños depending on size, spicyness, and desired level of spicyness
  • 1/4 - 1/2 of a medium onion depending on how much you like onion
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic 
  • 7 juicy limes
  • Salt to taste
  1. Sauté jalapeños with onions, adding garlic toward the end. 
  2. Put in blender and add avocados, salt, and squeezed limes. 
  3. Add just enough water to allow the mixture to blend.
This is the base recipe to add the pineapple to. If you want to make the feta cheese version, it is just a bit different. Same general ingredients, except in place of limes and water, use milk. Just enough milk to make it blend, then add feta/Bleu/ or other yummy cheese. (Just remember don't blend the pineapple or cheese ... mix them in afterwards!)

REALLY easy family friendly Guacamole ...

The amount of each ingredient will depend on your own personal preference but this is what to mix together in your bowl ... (photo above is this recipe!)
  • avocado's ... squished with a fork or blend if you want it smooth
  • salt
  • pepper
  • lemon juice (fresh is best but concentrate works too!)
  • tomatoes ... finely cut
  • crushed garlic (not too much!)
  • grated cheese (quite a bit, helps to get the consistency you want!)

Need to work on a recipe for tortilla chips now, as they also have very limited availability here!

Friday, January 3

Published Author

I think I've shared once before that one of the things on my bucket list is to write a book! This Christmas, in a roundabout way, my husband has helped that dream to become a reality!

While I haven't sat down and put 'pen-to-paper' with any of the million ideas I have for an 'actual' book. Believe me there are so many ideas but with two little ones and no time to actually act on them, for the time being, this is most definitely the next best thing!

Mark used a website to have my blog posts made into a book from the beginning, the very first post and gave them to me as a Christmas present. Two volumes, one for each full year that I've been writing 'The Missionary Mum', with the potential to continue in the years to come.

I love that my husband can surprise me with great presents that I don't expect. I love that I now own two books that I have written, even if I am the only person to own copies of them. Living here in the middle of Tanzania, presents like this are like gold dust! It may even give me the incentive to start putting some of my other ideas together into something a little bit more solid too!

I shared earlier this week how things are up in the air for us at the moment. That doesn't stop the day-to-day stuff (nothing can stop that unfortunately!) or keep me from striving to achieve goals and dreams, even if it is with baby steps. It keeps me thinking ahead and not dwelling on the uncertainties of the here and now ... as that could be a little depressing. It doesn't mean that I am living in a dreamworld unaware of what's going on, I'm just trying to make the most of it in the meantime and trusting that God has my back!