10 Things About Peru

Lydia at Renewed Day by Day has put up a meme of 10 quirky facts about your state. Beth answered it in the previous post about her adopted state of Texas.

Now, I love memes so I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of this one. However, I saw that Lydia tagged Susan to do one for Georgia, and I didn't want to take the wind out of Susan's sails, so I decided to pick a different place. Most of you probably don't know much about the country of Peru in South America (where I grew up), so I'll enlighten you:

1. There are two national languages in Peru: Spanish and Aymara. The latter is a descendant of the ancient Incan language. Most of the population speaks Spanish, though.

2. A native and popular drink of Peru is called "Chicha Morada". The Incas used it as a sacred drink, and it was fermented. The non-fermented drink is also very popular today. It is made from purple corn, and usually things like cinnamon, apples, and pineapple are added to give it a sweet taste.

3. Peru is the home of the modern potato - discovered and spread throughout the world by the Spaniards when they invaded and conquered Peru in the late 1500s. Peruvians often have both rice and potatoes at their main meals.

4. Peru is one of the few countries in the world where Coca-Cola has a presence and is not the most popular soft drink. (I read somewhere once that there is only one other country - Sweden, I think - but I can't find the source now to verify.) This is due to the enormous popularity of Inca Kola, a local soft drink that is bright yellow and tastes like bubble gum. At many restaurants, it is the only soft drink available. (In 1999, Coca-Cola purchased the brand of Inca Kola.)

5. Peru was a colony of Spain from 1532 until 1824, when it gained independence following several rebellions. Peruvians celebrate their independence day on July 28. They call it the "veinte-ocho".

6. Peru has three major regions: the desert (narrow strip along the west coast), the Andes Mountains (in the middle, dividing the country), and the Amazon jungle (bordering with Brazil). The capital of Peru (Lima) and where I lived was located in the desert. It never rained the entire 9 years I was there.

7. Peru's Andean region is known for being the home of some members of the camelid family: the llama, the alpaca, and the vicuña. The llama is used as a pack animal and for meat, helping the farmers in the mountains. The alpaca is known for its soft and warm fleece. The vicuña was in danger of being extinct due to its fleece being the world's most valuable natural fiber. Peru is also home to the Andean Condor, the world's largest flying bird.

Cuy is a delicacy in the Andes of Peru. It is compared to rabbit, and it's very economical to raise. What is it exactly? I'm sorry for all of you who love them as pets... but cuy is "guinea pig".

9. Paddington the Bear is from "darkest Peru". Apparently, his aunt lives in a Home for Retired Bears in Lima.

10. The city of Lima has roughly 8.2 million people. The entire city relies on the Rimac River for potable water. If you look at the picture, you will be surprised - and understand why we couldn't drink the water the entire time we were there. :-)

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Don't Mess with Texas

I've been tagged by Lydia! So here is a fun-filled meme about my adopted state of Texas. I have stolen all of this information from various websites around the Internet, since I'm rather new to this state and am a little behind on Texas trivia. So I'm learning, too! For those who don't know, Hubby is a native Texan, while I'm a tranplanted Georgian. Sometimes I poke fun at Texas' unique sense of state pride. They seem to think everything is bigger, longer, larger (and fatter--I've heard that Houston has the highest incidence of obesity) in Texas.

Here it goes:

  1. The phrase "Don’t Mess with Texas" is a slogan for the Texas Department of Transportation, and was developed to reduce littering on Texas roadways used as part of a statewide advertising campaign in 1986. More than its immediate success at reducing litter, however, the slogan became a Texas cultural phenomenon and the slogan has been appropriated by the citizens of Texas for general use.
  2. The Alamo is located in San Antonio. It is where Texas defenders fell to Mexican General Santa Anna and the phrase Remember the Alamo originated. The Alamo is considered the cradle of Texas liberty and the state's most popular historic site.
  3. The state was an independent nation from 1836 to 1845. Texas is the only state to enter the United States by treaty instead of territorial annexation. (And they let you know it, too. Hubby seems to think the state could easily secede if they ever feel like it.)
  4. Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. The Dublin Dr Pepper, 85 miles west of Waco, still uses pure imperial cane sugar in its product. There is no period after the Dr in Dr Pepper.
  5. Texas is home to Dell and Compaq computers and central Texas is often referred to as the Silicon Valley of the south.
  6. The worst natural disaster in United States history was caused by a hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900. Over 8000 deaths were recorded. As a result, the city of Houston, an hour north, grew in population and is now the 4th largest city in the country.
  7. Texas is a very big state. The city of El Paso, Texas is closer to Needles, California than it is to Dallas. With more than 267,000 square miles, Texas is as large as all of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois combined. (But Alaska is bigger. Like I tell Hubby, if you cut Alaska in half, Texas becomes the third largest state :-). )
  8. The Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is the world's largest rose garden. It contains 38,000 rose bushes representing 500 varieties of roses set in a 22-acre garden.
  9. Houston is home to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The largest rodeo in the world, it attracts more than 1.8 million visitors each year.
  10. Houston is also home to the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world, with a local economic impact of $10 billion. More than 52,000 people work within its facilities, which encompass 21 million square feet. Altogether 4.8 million patients visit them each year.

Information "borrowed" from these websites:


Thanks for the meme, Lydia!

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Purposeful Abundance

I'm quite good at procrastinating. I find it very easy to get distracted when I have so many things going on. It's not that I'm lazy and sitting around doing nothing, it's that I find it more interesting to be reading or knitting than cleaning or organizing, so the "fun" tasks tend to be done before the more urgent ones.

As a result, my main "projects" this week have been put on the back burner. My goal was to clean and thoroughly reorganize my kitchen, but many distractions have eaten away at my time. The refrigerator has been cleaned out, but the cabinets are still in disarray and the counters are cluttered. I hope to get to them soon, but I'm sure my time will vanish more quickly than I'd like!

While only completing this one extra task has been discouraging, I noticed something about my refrigerator. A lot has gone to waste. I threw out half a pound of asparagus that I bought last week. I tossed an almost unused bag of mozzarella cheese that had turned blue. I cleaned out a storage container with leftovers that had spoiled. I think back to my grandmother's generation, where every last scrap of food is used up. And here I am, throwing out a relatively large portion of what I buy!

When it comes to food, I've got to be more purposeful with my abundance. Hubby and I can afford to eat fresh produce and meat, but I sometimes let it spoil because I forget about it, push that certain food aside to make something else, or just decide to eat out instead. I need to be more purposeful about the way I use up food. Instead of throwing out the old bananas, make bread. Instead of buying lunch, use up leftovers. Once I do that, I hope to see how much more richly God has blessed us in this area of life.

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Homemaking Meme

Stolen from A Gracious Home. :-)

Aprons – Y/N? If Y, what does your favorite look like?
I've never owned one, but I keep thinking it would be a good thing to have, especially since I usually cook in my work clothes!

Baking – Favorite thing to bake

Clothesline – Y/N?
No, but we have a drying rack that we use all the time.

Donuts – Have you ever made them?
Nope - not that ambitious. :-)

Every day – One homemaking thing you do every day
Open all the blinds to get some light in my house!

Freezer – Do you have a separate deep freeze?
nope, and I wouldn't have anywhere to put it if we did!

Garbage Disposal – Y/N?
we have one, but I'm not used to using it because I didn't grow up with one

Handbook – What is your favorite homemaking resource?
"Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House" by Cheryl Mendelson

Ironing – Love it or hate it? Or hate it but love the results?
"Hate" is a very strong word. Let's say, too lazy to do it :-)

Junk drawer – Y/N? Where is it?
Well we have "misc" drawer in the kitchen, but it's pretty organized

Kitchen – Color and decorating scheme
Creme cupboards, light wood-looking countertops, medium-wood-looking laminate floor, pretty pale peach and creme stucco-looking wallpaper... our dishes are all bright reds, yellows, blues, and green... a Mexican theme! When we move into our first house, I'll probably tie the walls into the Mexican theme, but for now I take what I can get :-)

Love – What is your favorite part of homemaking?
Having everything clean!

Mop – Y/N?
Only when we have an un-housetrained puppy :-)

Nylons – Wash by hand or in the washing machine?
I rarely wear them, but when I do I usually throw them in the washing machine

Oven – Do you use the window or open the oven to check?
Well I peak through the door unless it's almost done, and then I open it!

Pizza – What do you put on yours?
Cheese and pepperoni - I'm boring

Quiet – What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?
Usually do something related to email or my blogs... I also like watching TV shows on DVD

Recipe card box – Y/N? What does it look like?
Nope, although I suspect I will get one as I start cooking more

Style of house – What style is your house?
A townhouse... How else can I describe it?

Tablecloths and napkins – Y/N?
Neither, though we do use placemats

Under the kitchen sink – Organized or toxic wasteland?
fairly organized - I keep most of my cleaning agents in the laundry room which is next to the kitchen

Vacuum – How many times per week?
whenever company comes over :-) (which translates to, one every couple of weeks!)

Wash – How many loads of laundry do you do per week?
Hmm I mostly do laundry whenever we are completely out of clothes, and then I do like 5 loads... but I'd like to get on a schedule for laundry and I think that would be about 2 loads per week

X’s – Do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off?
Only in my head :-)

Yard – Y/N? Who does what?
We don't have one. The apartment complex takes care of the bit o' grass in front of our townhouse

Zzz’s – What is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?
Usually some tidying up and getting ready for tomorrow

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Other Things to Note

A few snippets from blog readings today...

Shannon at "Rocks in My Dryer" needs your help! She is trying to collect 675 comments on her blog of people letting her know where they live. Shannon and her boys will then mark the locations on a map. (This is their pass-the-time-while-icebound game. :-)) As of now, she has over 400 comments so head over there and add your input! (Besides, it's fun to see where everyone is from!)

Jules at "Everyday Mommy" is hosting the First Annual Hidden Treasure Blog Awards. Head over there to read the rules and then begin your own treasure hunt. :-)

Kelli at "Living in Grace" responded to BooMama's fundraising drive here. Almost $8800 was raised to help Kelli and her kidney transplant!

Lizzie at "A Dusty Frame" has a thought-provoking post about loving those who hurt you. I discovered her blog recently, and am challenged by her openness and honesty. She's going through some difficult times, but God is teaching her so much and I admire that she's willing to share it with the rest of us.

Joanna at "Keeping Feet" wrote some interesting things about statistics regarding marriage and our society today.

What are some posts you have read and enjoyed recently?

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Carnival of Beauty: The Beauty of Bread

Sarah over at To Motherhood and Beyond is hosting this week's Carnival of Beauty: The Beauty of Bread. It's a share-a-recipe week, so be sure to check out all the great recipes other folks have submitted! My previous post about banana bread was my submission for the Carnival.

To learn more about the Carnival of Beauty, click here.

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Practicing Hospitality: Banana Bread

I may not be much of a cook, but I do love to bake. When I was growing up, my mother would always make banana bread and give it to our neighbors or people just moving to town. I remember many a day, wrapping up banana bread in saran-wrap or foil to take to someone. I hope to continue the tradition on my own. This weekend, I made banana bread and brought some with me to visit my dear friends, the Garrisons. I used my new mini loaf pan that I got from Pampered Chef. It makes the cutest little loaves that are perfect for giving away. Here is the banana bread recipe I use:

Banana Bread
1/2 cup shortening or 1/3 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1-2 beaten eggs, optional
2-3 bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon of lemon juice, optional
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine shortening, sugar, and water. Then add eggs, bananas, and lemon juice. Combine separately and add flour, salt, baking soda, spices, and vanilla. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 375 F for 45-60 minutes.
The result is delicious! You can also add chopped nuts, but I usually avoid that since so many people are allergic to nuts.

I think overall, the point is to practice hospitality. Whether you bring banana bread, or just a kind word, it is much appreciated!
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:8-10

Note: This is a reprint of a post from last August as a submission for the Carnival of Beauty.

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Kelli Follow-Up

A few days ago, I wrote about Kelli here. For those of you who are so inspired, I wanted to say that today is the day BooMama posted a link for people to donate money to help Kelli pay for her liver transplant. Please see more information on BooMama's blog here.

God, I thank you for the generosity of these men and women throughout the blogosphere. I pray right now that you hold Kelli and her family tight in your arms, refusing to let go. Please provide for her in ways she can't even imagine - both financially and health-wise. Thank You for letting us come to You with these petitions. You are an amazing God! Your daughter, Ashley

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I was wondering what my first main "project" could be while celebrating my Year of Abundance, when it was wonderfully thrown in my face. I was invited to a baby shower this past week, and I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to try to make something for the mother-to-be, instead of buying something at the store. I thought I'd try my hand at knitting something (like a hat or booties), but I didn't think I had the needles or skill in order to make something. So far I can knit, but not purl. I've only just learned this over Thanksgiving.

Then I thought about all of that fabric in my closet. I love blue and yellow together, and I found that I had previously purchased tons of fabric in those colors that I had never used. (And since the happy couple don't yet know the gender of their baby, I thought this combination would be perfect.) I found a simple pattern online and began quickly, since I only had 5 days.

Once I cut up all the fabric and began sewing, I realized that I didn't have enough of light blue and yellow floral fabric. Instead of panicking and buying a suitable replacement, as I didn't have another similar fabric, I decided to make the corner blocks with a solid yellow square instead. (It's hard to make out, but you can tell the top right and bottom left squares are different.) So here is the finished result!

The whole thing was done by machine, a first for me. I've only hand quilted before, but because of time constraints and my newfound knowledge of sewing from making skirts, I found machine quilting wasn't that hard after all. Also, the quilt is only 3 feet squared, so that made it easy as well.

I was quite happy with how this came out. And it was all free! In the end, I'm so glad I tried to make something by hand, and I hope it will be more meaningful for my friend than if I had quickly picked something up at the store.

On a different note, I've begun walking to work. I used to take the light rail in to work, since I only had to travel 2 stops north to my job. However, the light rail recently discontinued a five dollar monthly pass, which I used to purchase for my rides. Now, the monthly rate is $31.50, which is very difficult to cram into Hubby's and my monthly budget.

Now, I walk to work, which in itself has become a great blessing. I now have more time to reflect on the Word, and on top of that I get great exercise. The walk is 25 minutes one way, and half of the journey is indoors, so I should be fine when rain comes. (It doesn't really get cold here in Texas.)

Next up, I plan on cleaning out the kitchen: reorganizing, finding cans of food I never knew I had, getting rid of old appliances I never use, etc. Anyone want a almost-never-been-used waffle maker or George Foreman grill?

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For Kelli

When I read about this on Becky's blog, I nearly cried. You can read about Kelli's story on her blog, part one and two, and especially her letter to God.

Also, please check out BooMama's site for a way we can all help Kelli.

The 24-year-old in me can't imagine being in this situation. I don't know what it's like to face death in a very real way. I can't imagine what this woman is going through, but I know that we serve a very awesome God who can perform miracles. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and His plan for Kelli was written before she was even born.

If you could take a moment right now and prayer for Kelli and her family, and perhaps leave her a note of encouragement on her blog, I know she would appreciate it. Let's surround her with love just like her Heavenly Father holds her in His hands right now.

"He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many." 2 Corinthians 1:10-11

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Psalm 8

Whenever I have down time, during my commute or when walking around the hospital, I try to reflect on verses that I love or ones that apply to struggles I'm currently facing. I've come to appreciate this "quiet" time to think. So far this practice hasn't come easy, since so many of the verses I learned as a child have left my brain, and of course, my thoughts tend to wander. I hope to spend more time in the Word this coming year, and I plan to memorize some of my favorites Psalms for these times of reflection.

Psalm 8 is one of my favorite Psalms--I remember my chemistry professor reading it to our class the first day of college. I have once heard from someone that this Psalm is Genesis 1 set to verse. As a scientist, it so wonderful to ponder on God's handiwork and creation as I'm studying His world.

Psalm 8

A Psalm of David.

1 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.

3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

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Kalamata Lemon Chicken

We tried a new recipe this week that we really liked. It was very easy, and the result was tasty. It will definitely be on our menu again in the future! (It said it serves 4 but we didn't have any leftovers between the two of us. I think it could serve 3 comfortably. Also, I skipped on the kalamata olives because I DETEST olives with a passion.)

Kalamata Lemon Chicken
Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: 35 minutes
Oven: 400°F
Makes: 4 servings

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2/3 cup dried orzo
1/2 cup drained, pitted kalamata olives
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
1/2 of a lemon, cut into wedges or chunks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried Greek seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Hot chicken broth (optional)
Fresh oregano leaves (optional)

1. In a 4-quart Dutch oven brown chicken in hot oil about 5 minutes, turning once. Stir in orzo, olives, broth, lemon wedges, lemon juice, Greek seasoning, salt, and pepper. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart rectangular baking dish.
2. Bake, covered, in a 400°F oven about 35 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink (180°F). If desired, serve in shallow bowls with additional hot broth and topped with fresh oregano.

Per 3 ounces chicken + 1/2 cup orzo: 309 cal., 11 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 91 mg chol., 837 mg sodium, 24 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 27 g pro.
Daily Values: 1% vit. A, 14% vit. C, 2% calcium, 12% iron
Exchanges: 1 1/2 Starch, 3 Lean Meat, 1/2 Fat
Actually now that I type that up I realize I forgot to put in the lemon juice. Oops. :-) I served it with warm pita bread wedges and a salad, and we both thought it was delicious. It's an easy meal to have on a weekday if you don't mind waiting 35 minutes for it to bake (which we don't)!

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2007 at Onward & Upward

When Beth and I started this blog, we wanted it to be a place to minister to Christian women, especially working wives without children. We have both enjoyed writing in it these past few months, and hope you have enjoyed reading it! It's hard to keep up with a daily post, since we both also have personal blogs and are busy with full-time jobs and taking care of our households. However we hope you find it worth your while to come visit us!

Beth and I keep a running list of topics we like to write about on this blog. However we'd also like your input on what topics you'd like to hear about. Would you like to know more about our personal lives? Would you like more posts on devotionals or inspirational verses/stories/etc.? Would you like us to address some hot topics like abortion, feminism, etc.?

I have a few posts in the works, including a book review (my first blog book review ever!), so be sure to look for those!

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I usually seem to make half-hearted attempts at resolutions, wearing out before January has gone. With my resolutions this year, I have the same gusto, but as I plan on posting about my progress, I hope I will keep on track! Along with spending more time growing as a child of the Lord and appreciating my family more, I am going to Celebrate a Year of Abundance. As I mentioned before, this idea has struck such a chord with me that I had to jump on the bandwagon.

Like Sallie, I don't want to do this to limit and deprive myself. That is not the point, although on the surface it may look that way. I want to cut back so I can appreciate what I do have, and I have so much!

I plan on adopting this Depression-era motto for this coming year:

Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
Do without

Since lists tend to help organize my thoughts and keep me on track, I thought I'd post some of the ways that I plan on celebrating this year of abundance:

1. Cut back on clothing purchases, and sew my own clothes instead. This would cut back significantly in clothing costs, and it's always great to learn a new skill!

2. I love doing crafty stuff, especially knitting, quilting, and cross-stitching. I have so many projects started (and not finished!) or the supplies in storage that I could easily keep myself occupied for a year without buying any more.

3. Drink tea instead of coffee. I have quite a collection of black and green tea in my pantry, but instead I buy coffee every morning. I plan on drinking all this tea instead. And it might take me a year to do it.

4. Bring lunch to work instead of buying it.

5. Go through all my old stuff that I never use and give it away.

This list isn't meant to be exhaustive, and it's only a starting point. To me, this will be more about a change in mindset than a set of rules. I don't want to be legalistic about this. Instead, I want to celebrate the Lord and all His blessings in my life. I think it's so wonderful to use the resources God has given us wisely, and I can't wait to get started!

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