Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I will post pictures from Azure's party tomorrow so hang tight and don't let the monsters bite!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Making Cookies

Azure brought home a note from school last week explaining to the parents that the school will be celebrating Halloween with a party. The children are requested to bring a dozen homemade cookies with them to the party.

I read this note with glee excited for Azure since we weren’t sure if the kids here in Costa Rica went trick-or-treating or not. But at the same time I thought, homemade cookies? Very cool and against everything we have learned about the American school policies. I remember when Azure first brought home a note from school back in the States explaining that kids would be allowed to bring treats to school to share for holidays and birthdays but NOT homemade items. I had felt a sigh of relief since I hate baking but at the same time I felt sad for all those children who would never enjoy homemade chocolate chip cookies at school.

So, being Azure (those of you who know her know what I mean), we endured several days of her looking at every recipe she could find for baking cookies. Finally, we decided on a recipe of my Great Grandma C.‘s rich sugar cookies. I remember these cookies from my childhood as being thick and soft and melt in your mouth delicious. MMMM! I could only hope ours would taste as good.

After some trouble finding the correct ingredients, we were set start. We began mixing the ingredients and the mixer decided to overheat since the margarine wouldn’t soften enough. I ended up mixing everything with my fingers (which didn’t work too well). I worried that the cookies would be a disaster but figured it couldn’t hurt to bake them and find out.

Sunday we baked the cookies after allowing them to chill overnight per the recipe. Here was another dilemma since the card said to bake 10-20 minutes. That’s a huge timeframe! I set the timer for 12 minutes figuring that would be safe. The cookies appeared to be done at 10 minutes. We started singing “making cookies, making cookies” which was a twist on the song from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas movie.

Luckily the cookies didn’t taste too bad but they definitely were not my Great Grandma’s cookies. Plus, singing that song reminded us that the movie would compliment the occasion so we watched it during dinner.

Azure enjoyed baking the cookies so much (and Patrick enjoyed eating them) that we have decided to buy a new mixer and make cookies more often. There goes my diet!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The guy living in the attic

I’ve thought about writing this story for several weeks now but never felt the time was right since it never really had an ending - until now. So, please indulge me on this one since it is part learning to cope with a new move and part silly story (but entirely true).

The very first week we moved into our new house we began hearing noises. Now all houses have their strange noises but some of these we couldn’t identify. First we needed to adjust to the sound of the metal roof. During all times of the days the roof makes different sounds –adjustments to the heat during the day and cool air in the evenings, fruit falling from the trees, animals scampering, etc. Speaking of fruit falling, the sound of the thud on the ground is something that still startles me!

But clearly the sound we heard one particular night appeared to be scraping from the other side of the wall close to the floor of the second level family room that we happened to be using to sleep in until our furniture arrived. The sound occurred near our heads since we were laying on the floor reading. I immediately began pounding on the wall and floor thinking that the mouse on the other side of the wall would be frightened enough to leave until we had a better opportunity to “get rid of it”. Well apparently the rodents here in Costa Rica do not frighten easily.

A few nights later while sleeping, I heard the stairs creak. Convinced that someone broke into the house I ran through the house searching for the intruder. After searching everywhere, which was easy since we still only had dirty clothes in the house at the time, I didn’t find a thing. Patrick giggled and insisted it must be the mouse. Whatever! A mouse could NOT have made the stair creak (by the way the stairs are VERY creaky when Patrick and I walk on them and not so much when Azure uses them –hint –weight).

So, that evening I determined we had a “guy living in the attic”. This guy theory would explain why we heard all these strange noises and why things were always misplaced. Especially clean clothes and cookies J

In the meantime, Patrick decided it was time to investigate the attic. I seriously was terrified for him. I kept envisioning the squirrel from the Christmas Vacation movie that attacks the family and leaps at Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s face! I love that scene yet wouldn’t want it to happen to Patrick while he was up in the attic and by rats teaming with rabies! I waited patiently outside and watched through the window. After safely exiting the attic, Patrick admitted that he found no signs of any rodents in the attic. Yet, we continued hearing scratching noises.

Finally, he decided he better put some poison in the attic. Unfortunately, we still heard noises and even though we tried banging the ceiling the noises continued. Patrick said we must have squirrels in the attic and sought to find a solution. One lady suggested mothballs. She swore that squirrels hate the smell.

We bought two boxes and Patrick headed up to the attic. By this time, I didn’t panic anymore when he headed into the attic. But, a few minutes later I thought the world was coming to an end. I looked up and Patrick had missed a step and his foot went through the ceiling just like in Christmas Vacation! Well, not quite but almost. Luckily only one foot fell through and he was okay. If he had lost his balance completely, the fall to the tile floor could have been deadly.

So, the story ends with mothballs in the attic and no further scratching. Yeah! Plus, a lot of busy work repairing the hole in the ceiling… Bonus would be that we get to pick new color paint for the living room. But that is another project for another day.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fall Here in Costa Rica

I was under the impression that the weather here in this part of Costa Rica would be Spring-like all year round. This sounded good me. Actually to the entire family since we were anxious to leave the Minnesota winters behind us. Even Summer in Minnesota never was quite perfect with the high humidity and army of mosquitoes which made it difficult to enjoy the evenings outdoors.

Fall has always been my favorite season. I’m not sure why except that as a kid I would always look forward to playing in the leaves and of course I anticipated Halloween even more than Christmas. But I truly enjoy the weather of Fall, too. I love the crispness and the heat of the sun on my face even with the chill in the air. Some may say that Spring is the same but I disagree. So, I expected to miss the Fall season dearly.

Well, I am happy to say that this past week has been very much like the Fall I love so much. In between all the rain (1 ½ inches yesterday and 1 ¾ inches the day before) the sun has made the cool air feel wonderful (for a short period of time). I even get to wear my favorite long sleeve t-shirts without over-heating!

I have been doing a lot of gardening and the leaves are falling from some of the trees in the yard. Yet some of the other trees are starting to blossom which I admit is all too confusing to me but I definitely enjoy the mixture.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tackling the Mold

Within the past few weeks, we have been trying to get a handle on the mold problem that has crept up on us. Patrick noticed the “plague of blackness” first. Honestly, I thought he was imagining the spots at first. Having moved from the upper Midwest, I have only seen the green form of mold before this move. Now I know it also has a more subtle black color that can be deceiving at first glance. Some of the mold I believed to be dust but upon further inspection and Patrick’s insistence, I gave in to my fear and had to admit that we have a problem.

The biggest concern turned out to be Azure’s bedroom. Even though we had initially cleaned all the walls in the entire house with disinfectant before the furniture arrived, Azure’s bedroom wall had turned black. Not entirely of course, but enough that Patrick had to hard scrub two walls. Then he changed out her light bulb from the energy saving then to a 60 watt. So far, it seems to be helping.

The strangest place that we have found abundant amounts of mold growing has been on the back of the tv. The hardest things we have found to clean and somehow prevent the mold from growing on again has been our shoes. Patrick’s Birkenstocks were horrendous.

The best thing we can hope for would be to keep better control of the mold by opening and closing the windows at the appropriate times of the day (which is harder than you would think because of all the rain) and getting more light in the rooms and closets.

Wish us luck!

How about some more photos from the Independence Day festival and parade (which I promised to post for my Mom a long time ago)!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Laptop repaired

We finally have our laptop back. Yeah! We went down to San Jose last week after receiving an email saying the laptop worked. Turns out they replaced the entire system board - which is cool since it works better than ever now.

When we arrived at the shop, I turned in our receipt and waited a while. Finally, a woman arrived with the laptop and told us to turn it on. It seemed it took a while to boot up but all was fine. Then Patrick signed something and we left. Simple as that. None of the hidden charges that we were worried about and no hassles at all. We are very lucky that we found complete warranty coverage here in Costa Rica and are very pleased with the result.

I’ve been meaning to post these photos for a while now, but never got around to it…
This MotMot enjoys some of the fruit in one of the trees in our yard.
I’m proud to show the first bunch of bananas we enjoyed – these were picked right in our yard from one of the trees behind me.