Once again, I am finished with the attic! It’s such a relief. I have to do this about 3-4 times a year, but especially when seasons change. Since we have very little closets in our home, we can only keep what we are wearing at the moment. And we have a wide range of temperatures here. Very cold winters and very hot summer. And all the in between weathers. So we need everything from sleeveless things all the way to winter boots and snowsuits. Sometimes I dream how it would be to live in a place where all you need to do when seasons change is just put on a sweather or thin jacket, LOL. But then I guess I would miss the beauty of the seasons or get bored. So, all our out of season clothes have to be packed in the attic. It’s always a big job, especially since the weather plays often tricks on us and the season change can last a long time. For example this fall I had to start pulling out winter things in September, because it got so cold. But then it warmed up suddenly and I couldn’t put away the thin clothes either. So the attic has been in chaos for almost two months. But finally, everything is packed in boxes and suitcases, marked and labeled and I think we done till spring with this. It took me several years to figure out a system, but I think I finally have it. I have clothes in suitcases and some boxes, which I labeled with numbers. Then I always take a sheet and when putting things in, write on the sheet what kind of clothes are where. This way if I do need to pull out some things before the season changes, I know where to look for. For me and hubby it’s not so complicated. We only have one trunk, where we fit all our off-season clothes. But for our 5 children it’s more complicated, since they grow so fast, so clothes need to be tried on every time and resorted according to their growth-spurts. We pass down cloths to the younger children, but I make sure every time I sort and organize the clothes, that I get rid of some that are either too worn out, torn, totally out of style or we have too many in one size. So, this is a good time for decluttering as well. I do the same things with the children’s shoes. I have boxes marked, where I sort all the out of season shoes or those who are waiting for a next child. I do have an old wardrobe in the attic. This is where we keep our coats and jackets. I also have a small cabinet, where I put all our extra toiletries and such, since I have no place to put it downstairs. I have a love-hate relationship with our attic. I am glad we have it, but it’s very hard to keep it organized. In the house we are building I am hoping to have enough storage space in our living area and built-in closets, so I hope I can make this easier. But that’s going to take a while still. Until then, I am learning to make the best out of what I have.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Monday, November 07, 2005
Speaking of Slovakia, (see previous post)I just wanted to share what I cooked today. This is one of the most famous Slovak meals and if you are ever in Slovakia you have to try it! The translation of this would come closest to “Potato dumplings with fresh sheep cheese”, LOL. Bryndza is a sharp soft sheep cheese, looks a bit like ricotta in consistency. It is used and many Slovak specialties. We can not get it here in Serbia, so when someone is visiting from there, we always ask for it. It’s not a very complicated meal, but it does make a mess in the kitchen :-) . Although the original is the best, when we don’t have any bryndza, I make with fresh cow’s cheese or something like ricotta. Although not identical in taste, it’s still very very good. When we have this food, a garlic potato soup is almost always the first course. Here is a quick pictorial journal of making this meal: First, potatoes are peeled and either grated finely (traditionally) or I put them in the food processor and grind very finely. Then I put the potatoes in a bowl, add an egg or two, some salt and flour. Stir the batter until thick, but not too tough (it must be still spreadable consistency). Bring a big pot of water to boil with some salt. Now, tradionally the dumpling batter was spread on a wooden board and then an experienced homemaker could form the dumpings by cutting little pieces with a knife straight from the board into the boiling water. I watched my grandma do it when I was small. But today there is also a little gadget that make the task much easier and faster. You just put it over the pot, put some of the batter in and by moving the top back and forth, the batter goes through the holes into the water and forms tiny or larger (depending on the hole sizes) dumplings. The dumplings cook pretty fast and when they rise to the surface you take them out with a slotted spoon. I like to put mine into a colander over a bowl, so that the excess water can drain. Meanwhile you prepare your cheese in a large bowl (traditionally wooden). The cheese is usually a bit hard and wouldn’t mix very well. So it needs to be mixed with a bit of milk to make it spreadable consistency. The cooked dumplings are mixed in with the cheese. In the meantime, you take a nice piece of bacon (ours is usually home-smoked by my father-in-law) and cut it into small cubes. The bacon cubes are slowly fried until you have little bacon bits and some grease =). Some of the bacon is served over the dumplings in the bowl, the rest on the side for everyone to add later to their plate. I never measure any of this, but just in case here is a recipe that has some amounts in it: 1 ½ pounds uncooked potatoes, ¾ pounds flour, ½ pound bryndza or other fresh cheese, 1 egg, ¼ pound of smoked bacon, salt.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Well, the fall vacation is over! The children are going to school tomorrow. And all 4 of the girls are going in the morning. That is nice, but on the other hand also requires a change of schedule. I do have a new master daily plan for November printed out, but this week I am not going to implement it completely. The reason is that on Friday I am going on a trip without my family (gasp!) I have never done that before (in the 13 years that I have been married and have a family. But I have an opportunity to go with my father and brother to Slovakia for 4 days. They are going on a conference and I have recently gotten my Slovak passport, so I can go visa-free. Let me explain. My mom is from Slovakia and most of my relatives live there. When I was little, I spent a lot of time there at my grandparents and with my other relatives. But since then things changed a lot and after the war here, it became really difficult for us to travel anywhere. There is hardly any country where we can go without a visa (and they cost a lot of money). But since my mom is a Slovak citizen, I was able to get a Slovak citizenship as well. So, I can travel to Hungary and to Slovakia without any problems. In the meantime my brother moved with his family there as well, and my sister married there. We see each other very little and I miss them so much. So, when this opportunity came up, I accepted, although I am hesitant to leave my family for 4 days. I am very excited, but also feel kind of guilty. But I have my family’s blessing and both moms are going to take turns helping hubby take care of the children. But since I am leaving on Friday morning, there are many things I have to accomplish until then to leave them with a clean house and everything prepared for the weekend – family and ministry. So, instead of following my usual master and cleaning schedule I am going to make a list of all the things I have to accomplish till Thursday night and then try to organize my time according to that. Here are some of the major things I need to do: ~ prepare message for ladies prayer meeting ~ translate two lessons for the children’s clubs ~ prepare 4 worksheets ~ clean all the floors ~ do all the laundry, including mending and ironing ~ finish organizing the attic (putting away all summer clothes, taking out thinner hats and scarves) ~ print some pictures of the children and make a little album to take with me ~ finish sewing Mimi’s PJ top (maybe even make the pants) ~ take care of all important emails ~ clean the bathrooms ~ wash towels There is probably more, but this is what I can think of right now. I am planning to get up as usual at 6am, have devotions, get children to school, exercise and then work at least 2hours (cleaning and stuff). Then hopefully I can keep my boy occupied so I can work for an hour on the things that have to be done on the computer. Then cook lunch and the afternoon belongs to the children. So, that’s my plan.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
It’s a pretty busy weekend for us. I do not have much time blogging. On Thursday night we picked up all our children and brought them home. It was a happy reunion and this mom can honestly say that she is rested and energized for the busy family life! We played Monopoly together and even taught the younger girls. They were so excited to play a “big people” game. They can count pretty well now and we are helping them. It is a joy to watch them how they try to play just like the older ones. Yesterday was a family outing day. We had a slow morning (and let daddy, who took a day off, sleep in). Then we packed up and headed for the closest city of Novi Sad. We do not do that often, mainly because we really don’t fit in our 5 passenger car. We really had to go and buy a few winter things for our children that I couldn’t find in our little town. It was a real challenge, because all the prices are so high that it’s unbelievable anyone can even afford that. But we did find in the end the three jackets that we needed badly for the children (sometimes you just can’t keep passing down the things forever, they do get worn out after several children =). Even though we paid a little more than we had hoped to, we praise God that we were able to find what we needed. And then we went for a treat. Grandfather had told us to take the children to McDonald’s that he would pay for it. So we did. It’s a special treat we don’t get to do very often. The girls are reminded of America and the younger ones have a blast at the little inside playground. We also walked through downtown and really had a good time. Especially our little boy, who could chase the pigeons on the town square! In the evening we still played monopoly together. Today we borrowed the ministry van, took a few girls from town and headed for a Christian Camp where we lead a youth group this summer. Today we had a little reunion for those children. It was a beautiful day. We took most of our children with us. We studied with the teens the greatest command: “Love God with all your heart.” There were some good discussions and I am so glad that those young people are getting a little easier to work with. Our children played on the camp grounds (the oldest babysitting them, she was a real help today). But during one session, while hubby had the bible study, I took all of them for a walk in the woods. They loved it. In the afternoon we played lots of games and sports until it got dark and cold. Then we finished our Bible lessons inside. I am glad God helped us to organize things and gave us such great weather. The oldest two girls and hubby went for a Christian concert in town, but I stayed home with the little ones, gave them bath and tucked them in. It has been a long day. But it also was a blessed day.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
My children are still not home until this afternoon, so I was thinking this morning what would be one thing I is the most urgent and would be easier to do while they are away? Well, I quickly found my job. Their closets! Now, normally I do this with them every few weeks and I teach them how to do it. But once in a while (about once a year) I just like to do it quickly myself. Also, we have had a long period of very in-between changing weather, so although we had already taken out the really summer stuff, there were still much of the thinner things in there, thus making the closets very full. Now, this is house where we are living has no build-in closets (our new house will, hurray!), so we do the best we can with clothing storage. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s not that easy. But I went through their closets very quickly today, taking out all summer stuff and taking it to the attic. Then I checked the clothes for holes (and of course I found a few lost socks and things that needed to be washed) and folded them nicely for them. I also straightened the hung up things. Then I took the extra hangers into the living room, which has our spare closet. I am so pleased with how quickly I was able to do it. I also decluttered a nice large bag of clothes that are to be given away! Yeah! I took pictures of the inside of the closets. I am going to print them out and tape to the closet doors, so that the children would have a better idea of what is considered a “straightened closet” when I ask them to do it as part of their chores, LOL. This is a wardrobe, which my 12y and 7y girls share for their clothes. They actually have the nicest space. The left upper two shelves belong to the older girl, the two lower to the younger. They share the high shelf and the hanging space. They still each have a little antique nighstand for sock, underwear and sleepwear. My 5y girl only has this small dresser, but it’s enough for her folded clothes. The top drawer is for her toys and in the bottom we keep grandma’s clothes for when she sleeps over. Her few dresses and skirts are hung up in the living room closet. The 10 year old girl has a build-in tiny closet as part of the room decoration. It’s really not much space, but we do fit her clothes in. Underneath are three tiny drawers, where she keeps underwear, socks and sleepwear. Her dresses and longer skirts are also in the living room closet. Our 2 year old boy has a little dresser in our bedroom. That’s enough for him so far. I wish I could slowly move him out of our bedroom, but as long as we are in this house, that’s probably not going to be possible. He will soon be 3 and we have had any of our children that long in our bedroom (but then there always was another baby here by that age =). Now, one of these days I have to go to the attic, pack away all the summer stuff into boxes (probably get rid of more clothes in the process). I am so thankful to God that although we hardly buy any clothes, our children have more than enough all the time! We only need to buy a few winter jackets and some shoes. God has been faithful all these years and taken good care of our needs!