Monday, December 31, 2007

BIG GIANT FISH

Here is a picture of the fish I caught on Roatan last week. We had a great day at sea. We caught two amber jacks (50 and 70 pounds), two wahoo (30 and 40 pounds) and a barracuda. If anyone is headed out to Roatan and looking to do some fishing I'll put you in contact with the best guide on the island. His name is Lonny. He's great guy and his wife is an excellent cook.



This is me during the fight. My father-in-law looks on while I discover why they call it sport fishing.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sunset on Roatan


Sometimes its pretty nice to live in Central America. This was one of those times...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Saturday Night

We took a walk around the neighborhood tonight with the Nelsons. Here are some pictures of what we saw....



Saturday, December 22, 2007

On the second day of Christmas Break....

A bunch of awesome purple flowers.

We planted these yesterday -- and they really tie the yard together. We are going to pick up the Nelsons at the airport in about an hour. We're having dinner tonight at a wonderful restaurant on the beach. Tomorrow Pico Bonito.

Friday, December 21, 2007

On the first day of Christmas break, Honduras gave to me...

... A Sunny Day!
We're so excited to be on Christmas break! Today, my parents will arrive in Honduras and be in La Ceiba tomorrow along with my brother. The weather looks like it will be sunny and clear for a week- it's a Christmas miracle!

We're off to get haircuts and groceries! Then back to the house to make our guest bedroom more inviting.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Our School at Christmastime

They definitely don't mess around with Christmas Lights down here in Honduras. It is serious business. We'll post some pictures of our neighborhood next week.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Guaruma

I went on a field trip today with 20 sixth graders to the small town of Las Mangas. Its quite a ways into the mountains. We visited the Guaruma Organization. Check out their website. They are awesome. They do wonderful things for the community and the local ecosystem. Today they did something wonderful for me because they taught me how to take good pictures. They tried at least. Here are some of the results.

Vote for your favorite picture and you may become eligible to win a frozen turkey. The winner may be announced as soon as Dec. 23. Merry Christmas!!!





Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like...

...well, not exactly Christmas as we've known it, but it's pretty nice here. We've been enjoying sunny days and coolish nights. In an attempt to be more active, we've been on the move around town.

On Saturday, Tom and his friend went golfing down the street. They are becoming pros on our less-than-professional golf course. They definitely wouldn't be golfing back in MN right now though! Sunday was a gorgeous day, so we went up to the Jungle River Lodge for some swimming and rock jumping. We jumped off of the 30 foot ledge into the river and swam around. It was lovely!

This gorgeous place is located at the edge of Pico Bonito National Park. The rainforest is literally in our backyard, and we finally got up the road a bit to enjoy it. Tom rode his bike with a friend, and I took a taxi with some other friends. We also met some avian friends there.

We are wrapping up the second semester at school. Tomorrow, Tom accompanies the 6th graders on a field trip up into the mountains for hiking and photography lessons. Hopefully we'll have some good shots to post from that.

This evening, we had our Spanish lesson, ate some Thai curry, and walked around our neighborhood to look at Christmas lights. It was a strange sight for us to see entire families gathered out in front of their homes under palm trees while a shirtless, barefoot man hangs lights.

We were inspired to do a bit of our own Clark Griswald-ing. Our display is not as large as many neighbors, but it puts us in a festive mood.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

We've got an ear!

So, German Shepherds are known for their large pointy ears. I think that's how they hear crime happening and help the police. As puppies, they still have cute little floppy ears. Ruby is now on her way to being a big dog. Last night, her left ear popped up and has been pretty much up ever since (unless she knows she's in trouble for any number of naughty things she's doing these days). We think it's cute.


And the whole new pool thing- supposed to be only for humans. Even though we spent the weekend training her to stay out of it, by Monday morning, she had claimed it for her own and drained half the water out the sides. Trouble- but pretty cute. Her favorite thing to do after swimming is to go play in Tom's new off-limits garden. (And her tail is enormous- isn't it!)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Week of Culture

Our week was filled with Honduran cultural activities!

Thursday Culture: I hosted a book club here at our house. 6 lovely ladies came over and we ate fajitas and talked about books. We're reading Under the Banner of Heaven for January.



Friday Culture: We went to dinner at Playa Tatys (some of the best food in town) and then to the Honduras Philharmonic Orchestra at the cathedral here in town. It was quite the formal event!

video

Saturday Culture: Tom tried out the golf course here in town with a friend. He's been talking about his wonderful caddy ever since! I took Ruby on a quick playdate at our new favorite park. It's right in the neighborhood, completely fenced in, and always empty! We ended the evening with a fantastic birthday dinner at our friends' house. One of our friends spent some time in culinary school and she's an incredible cook.

Sunday Culture: The chair man was in the neighborhood! (Guy who walks up and down the streets carrying one of these things on his back until he finds someone to buy it) I've been waiting for this day for months! $35 for two handmade wood rocking chairs- maybe next week we'll stain them.

We also tried to make this Sunday's pool party even bigger and badder. Since Ruby put some holes in our blow-up pool last weekend (see video), Tom bought us the type of pool with plastic sides. There is definitely room for at least 4 adults to be able to sit in this pool- and not have to touch each other! Our friends came over for a little poolside time. When the sun went down, we put a few citronella candles together and pretended it was a bonfire.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Real Story

We'd like to thank the nine brave souls who entered our Thanksgiving Mystery Picture contest. The entries demonstrated some great detective work and several of you were very close to the real story. The real story is this.

Karine is very good about reminding me to do things that I am supposed to do. I am getting better at actually following her advice, but there is still room for improvement.

The first picture is a picture of our electricity meter without the actual meter part. That part was removed by the electric company when they shut our power off for not paying the bill. Karine had been suggesting that we contact the power company to see why we had been enjoying electricity for two and a half months without receiving a bill. I naively assumed that we wouldn't have to pay the bill until we received it.

The second picture is a picture of how we celebrated not having any power. It was actually pretty fun. The power was restored the following day. Now we know that sometimes you need to pay your bills before your receive them.

This is a picture of how I felt when I realized that the power company cut our power and stole our meter.

AND THE WINNER IS.....

The Sims Family! -- fortunately for us they are already in Honduras, so they are not eligible for the grand prize, phew! Way to go Sims Family!!

Joey Van Phillips will receive a frozen turkey as a cancellation prize.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Epic Weekend

So much to report from our long Thanksgiving weekend!
Thursday morning, I made lefse for the evening dinner celebration. The "potato tortillas" were a big hit!
Friday was rainy (go figure) so we stayed home and enjoyed each other's company. Ruby has learned how to go from sitting to laying down on command.

On Saturday, we decked the halls! We bought a Christmas tree from Haylock's here in La Ceiba (plastic of course) and put the tree together. Back in July, when we were moving out of our Mpls apartment, we had a bit of a fiasco with our movers. They were so thorough- they even packed some ornaments that we hadn't planned on moving. Nevertheless, it ended up being just the right amount to make our tree look beautiful and full.

This morning, we woke up and could hardly believe our eyes. It was brilliantly sunny and warm. The whole family enjoyed backyard activities today. Tom dug us a new garden. Ruby dug and renovated her "den" under the tree, and I read a book on a blanket.

Once the garden was all tilled up, we enjoyed a little backyard pool party. It was a great afternoon! Even Ruby went for a swim!


video

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gobble Gobble!

Happy Thanksgiving! Though we are thousands of miles away, we're still celebrating Thanksgiving. We have today and tomorrow off of school and are going to have a real turkey dinner with friends this afternoon. 20 people will gather and celebrate at our friends' house. Tom has signed up to bring baked beans, and I'm bringing lefse and krumkake. Well, the plan is to bring lefse. I haven't actually made it yet, but I've got 7 hours to pull it together.

This year, we're thankful for many things...
1. Each other- this is our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple. We are blessed.
2. Families- We each have 2 now!
3. Friends near and far.
4. Ruby- our dog has brought us countless hours of entertainment, love, and a bit of mischief already!
5. Technology- keeps us connected with those we love all over the world
6. Health- the human body has the miraculous ability to come back from so much.
7 Nieces and nephews- whenever we see pictures of those kids, we can't help but smile. Happy first Thanksgiving Christopher!
8. Our house- feels like home.
9. Food- come to Honduras and try a baleada!
10. Jobs- that allow us to have this adventure and work with some of the sweetest kids in Honduras.

Well, I've got to get started on that Lefse- remember all entries to our mystery photo contest must be submitted by midnight tonight!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Out came the sun and dried up all the rain...

We woke up Saturday morning to a strange light coming into our bedroom window. No, it did not have anything to do with the Mystery Photo Contest... (See previous post). It was the sun! After 5 or 6 consecutive weekends (and all the days in between) of rain, the sun was out. Tom and I had no choice but to hit the road!
We took a taxi out to The Lodge at Pico Bonito. This luxury eco-lodge was the place Samantha Brown stayed on her trip through La Ceiba filming her Discovery Travel channel show. For $28 each, we enjoyed a private tour-guided hike where we learned all about different types of trees and plants- in Spanish!
We were very interested in the leaf-cutting ants and will tell all about them in a later post. We hiked up the mountain through the rain forest to Mermaid Falls and Las Pilas - two waterfalls with areas to swim in the freezing cold water.
We hiked for 2 hours, we swam, and then we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the hotel's restaurant. The food was wonderful, and we even ordered the Pico Bonito Welcome Drink (also enjoyed by Samantha Brown) and sat on the front porch of the lodge looking out over hummingbirds and butterflies.
It was beautiful! (My parents are sure to enjoy their stay when they visit over Christmas- the invitation is still open for anyone else who'd like a visit!)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mystery Photo Contest!!!

We invite all our readers to post stories which might explain the photos below. The contestant whose fiction is closest to the real story wins two round-trip tickets to La Ceiba, Honduras. The two photos are directly related. They depict actual events which occurred on Wednesday, November 14th.

ELIGIBLE ENTRIES MUST BE SUBMITTED BY MIDNIGHT, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24th. WINNER ANNOUNCED SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26th.

The runner up will receive a frozen turkey.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Slackers go blogging!

To all of our faithful readers, I feel that I must apologize for our slacking lately. We've been so busy having fun that we don't get to writing about it.

In the news... On Friday morning, a tarantula was spotted on our back patio. He was kind of old and gray looking. I scooped him into a dustpan (the dustpans down here have 4 foot handles) and carried him back to a peaceful place in our back yard. I think he probably breathed his last spider breaths there, judging by the way he didn't scurry too much.

We spent the weekend relaxing and taking it easy. My big project was sorting wedding photos down from about 2000 to 300. No easy task, but it had to be done. My next step will be loading all our favorites into one of those "create-your-own-magazine-style-photo-book-online" deals.

Tom took Ruby for a run on Sunday while I made krumkake. We're having a staff Thanksgiving dinner party on Friday evening. I'm bringing krumkake for 20 and Tom's bringing mashed potatoes. Luckily, we got that electric mixer for a shower gift. Tom will really appreciate it when he makes his... Speaking of potatoes... I was very excited to find a random shipment of potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes) at the supermarket this weekend. Tom wouldn't dream of serving these at the staff party, but boy was I happy... Lefse- here we come! (Maybe next weekend)

Here are a few pics of the krumkake (pronounced kroom'-kah-kah) making process...

1. Mix up the eggs, sugar, flour, and butter.


2. Put it on the iron for about a minute
3. Carefully remove the hot krumkake using the pink napkin

4. Roll it around the cone form
5. Let cool and enjoy
**Special note for those making krumkake in wet, tropical climates- Though krumkake may seem firm and crispy right away, they will lose form and get soggy if left out. Freeze and bake in the oven for a few minutes before serving to retain crispiness.**

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

We have it MAID!

Our maid is awesome! She mopped our floors, cleaned all the burners on the stove, vacuumed the floor (after never using a vacuum before) and made the house smell all pretty. We love it!

We had our Spanish tutor teach us more tonight. We're learning many palabras! Well, Tom has his gig at Expats tonight, so we're going to head over a bit early and have some dinner. Have a great night!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Rainy Season Has Begun!

It's been raining for almost a week straight! Our backyard is a small pond and it's actually cool outside. We've been going about our business in spite of the rain though...
On Saturday morning, our friend stopped by with her dog, Fischer. Jana and I enjoyed coffee outside on the back patio (covered from the rain) while our pups (Ruby, 3 mos. and Fischer 6 mos.) romped around in the backyard for an hour and a half. It was still raining most of the time, but the dogs had a blast. They were slipping and sliding and turning our backyard swamp into a backyard mudhole! Here are a few pics of muddy Ruby and her new friend.

(Ruby would'nt stay still enough for me to get a good shot, but she's covered in mud)

After the puppy-playdate, Tom and I ventured out in the rain to the best store in all of La Ceiba. Ace Hardware is awesome! It's a brand new store here, and it's as close to shopping at Target that I've come. We bought a lot of fun stuff- a concrete drill bit (our house is made of concrete and we broke all our other regular bits trying to hang stuff up), new dog toys, flower and vegetable seeds, a shovel, and a mailbox! When we got home, Tom was so excited to try out his new shovel that he went to the plant store (not to actually dig at the plant store, but to buy some plants so he could dig at home). He got all of these plants for around $75- a fantastic price for all we got. Tom spent the evening digging up the small front lawn and planting them.


While Tom was plant shopping, I went down the street to meet our new maid, Mercedes. She's currently cleaning for another friend of ours, and she's coming over tomorrow for her first walk through with me. I really do think this is the most difficult house to keep clean I've ever lived in. There's so much humidity and a dirty dog (and her owners) going in and out of the house, that it's really hard to keep up. I know that many of you might shake your heads at the thought of us needing a maid, but it's a good deal for both parties.

Today, I went grocery shopping while Tom worked on his grad school assignments. Our grocery store is notorious for getting shipments of random things. They'll get a box of something, and you'll see it on the shelf, and it will never ever be there again. This week, I was elated to find actual Thai curry paste. I bought both red and green. I've been looking for Thai curry ever since we got there, and I'd just given up when I found these! Not everything was quite so lucky.


I've been wanting to make chocolate chip cookies, so I thought I'd buy some ingredients. Honduras does a few things differently- no chocolate chips and no brown sugar. So I improvised with some chocolate candy bars, extra white sugar and a bit of Karo syrup. The cookies actually turned out okay!

It's now Sunday night, and Tom and I are all hunkered down for our favorite Sunday night activity. It's a tradition that goes back a few years. We don't have a Tommy and Casey to share it with, but we do have Domino's Pizza, Extreme Home Makeover, and Desperate Housewives!
Have a great week!