October 23, 2012

Creativity is the Key–Part 4

To finish up my “Home Sweet Home” series, I am going to share about creativity. Living in Nicaragua has taught me to be creative with what I have. My house doesn’t look HGTV or Young House Love ready, but it is cozy and comfortable for us and our friends. This is my main priority. Enjoy!

Awhile back I started to pin (or save ideas of) “printables” on my pinterest account. This was an easy and inexpensive way to decorate our home and I love the end result. Kevin and I searched for frames (less than $3, many second-hand) and spray-painted them.

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Also pictured above, you will see the side table/night stand that we have in our guest room – a chair. Not my first choice, but it works?! Below is another side table that we have in our guest room. It is an ugly plastic stool, but with some leftover fabric, it serves it’s purpose and looks cute. Right? And on top of it is a printable of one of Coldplay’s classic songs, Yellow. This makes a Coldplay fan very content!


Pictured below is one of my favorite boxes that my Auntie Suzie gave to me several years ago. It is our “junk” box filled with tea-light candles, checkbook (yes, we still use one) and more. I don’t think it will ever go out of style!

I also made the illumination candle jar pictured below. How? I took an old glass and tied some fabric strips around it. Easy and dainty!

Also pictured is a candle that I wrapped with cinnamon and twine. Pinterest said that it would give off a cinnamon aroma. It doesn’t, but at least we have a little feeling of fall in our house on these hot 90 degree days.

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When I came to Nicaragua, I brought along a view special pieces from home. Pictured below is one of the many green stars that we used to decorate the dance floor at our wedding. I love the memories that it brings back!

As we were in the process of transitioning to Nicaragua, I came across this amazing leaf bowl at a second-hand store. I told myself (and Kevin) that I did not need it as we were about to move. But he secretly purchased it for me and saved it for part of my birthday present when we arrived here. What a sweetie! I keep my peace rock inside when we are not using it in the classroom. It serves as a daily reminder for why we are here in Nicaragua.

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Birds. I love them and have them all over my house – wherever I live. I am even wearing some fun bird earrings today. The bird decorations were Christmas presents from Kevin and the leaf looking print was a free printable.  For all of you who haven’t yet, put a bird on it!


Gold is the look here in Nicaragua. I don’t mind gold, but for some reason I wasn’t too excited about this this mirror. I fixed this frame by spray-painting it and I love the end result.

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Lastly, I will brag a bit about our friend Miriam who made us this awesome note banner as a good-bye gift. She sewed pieces of scrap paper together for friends to sign at a goodbye party. It hangs in our bedroom and we love having all of your love in our home!

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That is it, my creative juices have ran out. I hope that you enjoyed this little series and we would love for you to come and see it all in person. If you missed out on the others, check them out here:

Home Sweet Home – Part 1

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Part 2

Our Nicaraguan Finds – Part 3

Creativity is the Key – Part 4

October 17, 2012


A month ago, we went on a last-minute trip to the beautiful country of Panama. We had a couple of vacation days that we needed to use up, so we took advantage of them along with Nicaragua's Independence Holiday. We bussed it down to Panama, which meant almost four full days on a bus for the round-trip. It was long, but we were prepared with books and Spanish activities and caught up on our sleep.


Panama City was a bit of "culture shock" for us. It has a beautiful skyline and is very "developed" in comparison to Managua. Each day we were there, we took advantage of the running/walking path which laid along the Pacific Ocean. I felt like I was running in Chicago next to Lake Michigan.  We even got to bike for the first time in a year!


Panama is famous for their seafood, as well as ceviche. We ate our lunches for $1.00.  Fresh ceviche each day!  We also enjoyed many different international cuisines while we were in Panama City - Indian, Thai, Chinese, and even found the only bubble tea shop in the city. Yeah for bubble tea! We also had some delicious gelato, a scoop of lavender and a scoop of basil. Yum!


We spent a day at the Panama Canal which is an incredible work of art. We watched ships pass in and out and learned about the processes for this.


Towards the end of our trip, we headed to the quaint town of Boquette which is in the northern part of Panama. In Boquette we enjoyed hiking, coffee and the hot springs.


We would highly recommend a trip to Panama. If you ever get a chance, you won't be disappointed!


October 11, 2012

True Poverty

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”  -Nelson Mandela

“A child without a family is the greatest form of poverty.”  -Kristen Howerton

Class Update

We thought we would give you a report after five weeks of class.  Overall we are pleased with how it is progressing.  The first few weeks we focused on developing a foundational base for conflict, peace building and conflict transformation and now we are headed into the actual strategies and tools for conflict transformation.  This is what our students are asking for and we hope that it will be helpful and practical for their day to day lives.

We also realize that many of our students have never been provided with the opportunity to learn about conflict transformation. Many of these theories, ideas and tangible skills are new for them. That is what makes this exciting! Every week we receive positive comments about what they are learning and how this information is so helpful and critical to their own daily lives, as well as their families, churches and communities.

We often feel inadequate with our language abilities as well as the fact that all of our students lived through the armed conflict and revolution here in Nicaragua.  We recognize that they are really the experts and are learning from them as much as they are learning from us.

A couple of weeks ago we asked our students to draw a picture of conflict.  We asked them what came to mind when they heard this word.  And this is what the majority of pictures looked like:


(Guerra means war)

This is their reality, and that is okay!

But we are trying to impress upon them the idea that conflict is a place for opportunity, growth, change and hope.  Conflict can lead to positive places, if we allow it to. 

We look forward to our next couple of months in the classroom as we work together to find resolution, healing and even better, transformation in our own lives and the lives around us!

Here are a few pictures of our students Manuela, Jerry and Manuel.  They gave us permission to post their pretty/handsome faces on the great world wide web.

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Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers, keep them coming!

October 6, 2012

Our Love for Coconut Oil

Our food tastes better, our skin feels smoother, we feel healthier, why?  A few months ago we were put into contact with a European lady who is working with farmers on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua.  For those of you who don’t know, we are on the western side of Nicaragua which is about 200 miles away (yet it can be a full day bus trip).  The Atlantic coast is famous for their coconut oil production.  Much of the oil is exported around the world, but the farmers are looking for alternative ways to sell their oil for fair prices.  We decided to help them out!


We bought a few bottles of oil, which creatively come in recycled water bottles and result in no packaging costs.  We quickly went through our supply and decided to buy a gallon the next time.  We absolutely love our coconut oil and are using it for cooking, hair care, shaving and baking replacements/substitutes.  We also love that the prices are relatively low for us and the money goes right into the pockets of the farmers.

In case you are interested in picking up some coconut oil (preferably fair trade), listed below are a few more uses of coconut oil.  Oh, and if you would like a bottle for Christmas, let us know!

{Hair care, stress relief, skin care and/or moisturizer (cradle cap, diaper rash, anti-aging, wrinkles, stretch marks and skin problems such as acne and eczema), maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength}

And just in case you are up for reading a bit more.  October is fair-trade month.  Check out this article at Fair Trade USA to learn what you can do:

10 Easy Ways to Celebrate Fair Trade Month

October 1, 2012

water (a reality in our neighborhood)

So after twelve hours of not having water I started to get a bit annoyed.  I mean, I had dirty dishes in the sink that needed to be washed (ants are crazy here which means that dishes can’t go unwashed), I hadn’t showered for a day (or two), I had to brush my teeth with a dry brush (eew), we couldn’t flush our toilet (enough said!) and the list goes on. 

I started complaining a bit to Kevin wondering why our reserve water tanks weren’t working.  We have two water tanks which store extra water for when the neighborhood water goes off.

I guess I hadn’t talked to my neighbors in a couple of days because Kevin kindly informed me that the water has been off in our neighborhood for four days.  Four whole days!

I didn’t notice it until yesterday because we were using our "reserve water.”  The majority of our neighbors don’t have water tanks, which means when the water is out, it is out.

That is four days with no water. 


Take a minute to think how this might impact you.  Take a minute to thank the One above for the blessings that go unnoticed.  For real, when was the last time you thought about how fortunate you were for having a steady flow from your sink?  I know I don’t think about it often.  And take a minute to think about those around the world who don’t have access to the same basic resources that you do.