Travel Wishes

I got the coolest email from my yoga instructor.  She is an amazing woman and spent time last summer in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.  So she knows what my travels will be like from personal experience.  Here it is:

I honor you and I will think of you.  May you be kind to yourself even when there’s great confusion around you or in you; may you be generous to yourself even when there’s no toilet paper; may your choice of shoes for the journey serve you perfectly; may you find safe hiding spots for your cash; may all your flight connections connect in all the right places and in timely fashion, and may all those you meet reflect back to you your good intentions and open heart.

I leave on Tuesday.  I’ll be taking this with me.

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Field Trip

I took a field trip this week. It was very cool. My friend Margaret had read about the local University selling its food products. Students that are studying food science are busy producing a variety of tasty things. Faculty and Staff are also making products. The sales of their products helps to fund research and maintenance of the facility.

The first stop was the meat lab. I’m glad I went with Margaret because she is a very good cook and knows her prices and cuts of meat. I wanted to try some new things and it was helpful to have her educate me on what all I was seeing. Plus, she sends me recipes on how to use it all too! So here is my stash from the meat lab.

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The next stop was the dairy lab. People were actually lined up before it opened. There are limited quantities and you never quite know what flavors of ice cream are available. The main options at the dairy lab are cheese, yogurt and ice cream. I usually don’t have ice cream on hand at my house, but I just couldn’t resist…

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In order to take advantage of this, you have to have a flexible schedule. The labs are open for sales on Wednesdays. The meat lab is from 2-5pm and the dairy lab is from 3-5pm.

I have been really busy since the day of the field trip so I haven’t had a chance to taste it all yet. But I anticipate a lot of cooking over the weekend. 🙂

Oh yeah…  the ice cream flavors are Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle, Chocolate Almond Chunk and Gopher Gold (French Vanilla with Raspberry swirl).

We be jammin’ – year 2

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Yesterday was the big day. Time to make the jam. I had picked a total of 21 pounds of strawberries earlier in the summer. I had them all chopped and frozen specifically for this purpose. Last summer was when my mom taught me how to make jam. (Click on the link for a pretty detailed documentation of the process.)

Prepping the berries ahead of time definitely helped. There’s no way we would have made as much if we would have started the process from the beginning all on one day. We ended up making a total of six batches. That’s 54 jars of jam. Yikes!

We started off with plain strawberry. We figured we’d start with the basic one to make sure we remembered what we were doing. We did 2 batches of that. Next was the Strawberry Rhubarb. This was my favorite from last year. We did 2 batches of that. At this point we were only about 2 hours into our endeavor. Guess what? We need more jars and we’ve still got strawberries.

So my mom took a trip to get more jars and sugar while I melted the wax and sealed the jars that we had done so far. I have a friend that made jam with strawberries and blueberries. So my mom also got a few pints of blueberries.

So batch number five was sort of winging it. We used 4 cups of strawberries and 2 cups of blueberries. It turned out great! It is this beautiful purpley color. It still tastes like strawberries, but a deeper flavor. Thumbs up on that experiment.

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Batch number six ended up being made with what we had left over. We still had 4 cups of strawberries. But we had 1 cup each of rhubarb and blueberries. When I was telling my mom which jars were which, I mis-spoke and accidentally said, “Strawberry Bluebarb” when referring to this batch. I think it’s a perfect name. It tastes like batch #5 but has some tangy-ness from the rhubarb. Yum!

I suppose I need to get some bread now…

Tanzania Bound

I’m in the process of getting ready for this summer’s big adventure.  I’ve had round two of my shots.  I’ve gotten some special clothing.  And I’ve started to assemble the minimal amount of stuff I’m taking along.

I haven’t said much about what I’ll be doing and where I’ll be going up until this point.  I’m going with four other people from my church.  There is a companion parish that we sponsor in Irindi and we like to send a group to visit every few years.  Every year, our congregation sponsors students at the Image Secondary School.  We will be visiting Image as well as Tumaini University.  A few years ago, Sunday school students raised money to buy goats for some Maasai people.  Hopefully we’ll be able to go to the Maasai preaching point and see the goats.  We’ll also see other preaching points and have fellowship with the church members.

I’m traveling with two women that teach at a local University.  They teach Nursing and Occupational Therapy.  So because of their interests we will also be visiting Ilula Health Center and some medical dispensaries in Tungamalenga and Mbuyuni.  There is also Neema Crafts in Iringa, where people with disabilities make various art and crafts.  The link is very cool.  Much better than any explanation I can give.  We will be going to the Isimila Stone Age Site as well as sampling life in Iringa.

After Iringa, we are heading to Ruaha National Park.  There are a few cool informational videos on the link.  It’s in central Tanzania.  We’re staying at Mwagusi Safari Lodge.  This will be the most upscale accommodation on the entire trip.  But if you’re going to Africa, you better do some sort of safari!

After the safari, we go back to Iringa for a night and then we’ll travel back to Dar es Saalam.  We’ll spend a night in Dar and see what there is to see there before taking a short flight to Zanzibar.

So at the end of the trip, we’re going to get a little beach time.  When I found out where we were staying in Zanzibar, I thought to myself, “Hmm… could we stay here the whole time?”  There seems to be a lot to do on that island.  We’ll be staying at a guest house near the northern tip of the island.  On their site, it lists lots of activities to do while you are there.  I want to do the Spice tour and check out Stone Town.  Checking out the sea turtles and monkeys looks cool too.  Heck!  I want to do it all.  And I’m for sure coming back with a henna tattoo.  I won’t do the real thing, but henna should be fun.

I hadn’t actually looked up many of these places online until writing this post.  I must say, it’s making me even more excited to go.

Feelin’ my Core

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When do you ever really feel your core?  Lately, I’ve been feeling it a lot.  I recently took up kettlebells.  This one little piece of equipment completely kicks my ass.  As you can see, it’s 26 pounds.  There are a variety of things you can do with it.  But the beauty of it is that you don’t have to do much to see/feel a difference.

I started doing kettlebells because I was feeling like I had lost muscle strength over the last few years.  My massage therapist recommended kettlebells and there just happens to be a class every Tuesday and Thursday morning at that location.  I was only able to go to four classes in June.  But I signed up for all of July.  I have another teacher friend that is doing it.  We basically figured that if we signed up for the month we’d actually do it.

The first time I did kettlebells I was so sore that I could hardly move.  I haven’t been that sore since I hiked the Inca trail!  (~30 miles and 6000 steps over the course of 4 days).  I was so sore that I had to put my hands on the toilet seat and lower myself down. Sorry for that visual, but you have no idea how much of a workout you’re going to get.

The main thing that you do are swings.  You are in a squatting position and you hold the bell with both hands and swing it between your legs.  You stand on the upswing and tighten your butt.  On the downswing, you bend your knees and then do it all over again.  You keep doing it until you’re fatigued.  It doesn’t take long.

There’s also a lift where you start with the bell on the ground and do sort of a “clean and jerk” up to your shoulder.  After you get it into that position, you use your other hand for stability and squat down all the way.  Then as you stand you bring the bell up so your arm is extended over your head.  We do this several times.  Last week I accidentally bonked myself in the cheek on the way up.  At least it was with my hand and not the bell!  You can also do curls with it (when you hold it with both hands).

Another thing we’ve done to work our core is to be in a push up position.  Your back is parallel with the ground, so there’s a slight bend at your waist.  (It’s different from plank position in yoga.)  Pick up your right hand and bring it to your waist without shifting your weight.  Then do it with the left.  It’s amazing how much this works your core.

It’s not like we do a gazillion reps of any of this.  Just a little goes a long way.  And the beauty of it, is once you learn the different things to do, you can easily do them on your own.  Have I done that yet?  Not exactly.  I’ve done some swings at home, but that’s about it.  But I do have the knowledge.  And that’s a start.

$11.62?

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I went to pick up my travel prescriptions today. I was a bit surprised to find out that my insurance would only cover 30 days of the malaria prescription. The travel nurse, prescribed 31 pills. So they filled it as two prescriptions. One for 30 days and the other for 1 day. How much did that one extra pill cost? Yep. $11.62. The calculation for 31 pills was giving me a few extra. In reality, I should need a minimum of 28. Because of the time difference, they give you more than needed.

Did I get the extra pill? Nope. It’s a good thing I’m not going on a longer trip.

Travel Attire

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In Tanzania, I’m going to need to wear long skirts. Long skirts are not exactly a part of my wardrobe. So I needed to go find some. Last spring, I asked a student where the Somali girls go to get theirs. She gave me the addresses of a few shops near downtown.  I went to two places.

The first place had a few things.  The brown and the green one came from there.  They had many skirts, but I’m not exactly tall, so I had limited choices.  The second place had a very helpful person in the shop.  She was Indian.  She recommended cotton for travel and showed me some of those crinkle skirts.  I was trying to decide on which two to get.  I had made my decision, but she knew that I really liked the pink one too.  So when I came to pay, she gave me a deal and discounted the three so they were all a nice price.

The skirts are also easy to travel with.  You can basically roll them up in a funky little ball and you’re set.  You certainly don’t want to fold them.  I probably won’t take all five.  But they’re fun skirts and they didn’t cost much.