March 27, 2016

Happy Easter // ¡Feliz Pascua!

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Opening up her first Easter basket. 

(dress and bonnet patterns)

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Where my peeps at?  Estela loved her first marshmallow delicacy.

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These are my two favorite peeps!

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Easter crafting with friends.  We made bunnies out of cotton balls and crosses with matchsticks.

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Are you out of easter supplies?  Or find yourself in Nicaragua where there are not any egg dying kits?  No problem, follow this fun crayon tutorial.

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On the hunt together.

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Full basket.

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Smiles, sunlight, we have hope.

March 24, 2016

Taking Stock

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A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post called Taking Stock.  I thought it was especially interesting to reflect on the sites and sounds around me while living in Latin America.  I hope that you find it interesting to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between Nicaragua and the place that you find yourself.  I wrote this back in February and hadn’t had a chance to publish it until now.

Making: Yesterday I finished a “Mexican Quilt” for my newly born niece, Ivy.  Completing this project, motivated me to get a “Triangle Quilt” started for Estela.  My sewing skills are nothing special and I still haven’t figured out how to back and bind a quilt, luckily my mom is still willing to help me with these tasks!

Cooking:  A lot of tostones, which are twice fried green plantains.  Kevin invented a special mustard/hot sauce which makes them even more delicious!

Drinking: Ice-cold water as Managua is heating up.  I am also enjoying gin and tonics with lime and rosemary from our potted plant.

Reading: In paperback, Raising Nuestros NiƱos by Gloria Rodriguez.  On kindle, Landline by Rainbow Rowell.  I have several other books on my kindle that are going to expire soon from the library, not sure if I am going to get to them.

Wanting: To finalize our adoption.  Two to three months has now turned into six.

Looking: At our beautiful little girl and still cannot believe that I get to do life with her.

Playing: Legos, trains, babies, farm animals, baseball, the list goes on.

Wishing: We could have a little air-conditioning in our lives.

Enjoying: Visits from amazing friends and family.  It is seriously sooo special that these individuals have taken the time and resources to come and visit us.

Liking: Living next door to our friends Gretel and Pedro, we are back and forth all day long.

Loving: Dark chocolate with ginger.

Hoping: That the Zika virus does not spread rampantly in Nicaragua and that our neighboring countries can find ways to prevent this from spreading.  The following photo is taken from our bedroom window during a fumigation spray.

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Marveling: At the fact that we have been in Nicaragua since 2011.  At times I feel like I could live here forever and at other times I am ready to be back in Minnesota.

Needing: To purchase plane tickets.  If all goes as planned, Estela will ride on seven planes this year. 

Smelling: The nasty, non-functioning sewer system that seeps up in our guest bathroom.  It seriously makes me gag and there don’t seem to be any solutions.  Ick!

Wearing: A lot of yoga pants and tank-tops.

Following: The podcast Latino USA.  They recently released an episode called There and Back, which was an excellent analysis on what is happening in Central America.  It covered themes of migrants seeking asylum, the history of U.S. involvement as well as the impact of gangs on society.  I highly recommend it! 

Noticing: That I need to start getting to bed earlier.  2am is not okay.

Knowing: That time passes quickly.  I want to soak up each and every day with my amazing family in this amazing place.

Thinking: About my progress in Spanish acquisition while realizing that I still have a ways to go.  I continue to study on a regular basis as well as meet with my Spanish tutor and friend, Mayela.

Feeling: Content and grateful with life right now and excited for what is next.

Bookmarking: This essay about this woman’s experience of sexual harassment in Djibouti.  It gives me the courage to keep running despite the verbal and sometimes physical harassment.

Opening: My door and inviting friends and neighbors into our home.

Giggling: At how ugly my current haircut is.  I asked for the stylist to trim the ends and left with over six inches cut off.  It is awful, and when haircuts cost less than $2.00, I should really go and get it redone.

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March 14, 2016

El Chile’s Women's Cooperative

For several years, Kevin and I have been purchasing coin purses, wallets and bags from an Indigenous women’s cooperative in the community of El Chile.  I had made it my goal to get out to El Chile and visit the women and see their beautiful work.  Last month, my friend Ariane and I traveled out to the community of El Chile, which is north of Managua, outside of Matagalpa to see for ourselves firsthand the process of weaving.

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and found four women working at the cooperative, all participating in different parts of the process.  One woman was weaving, two were working on the sewing machine to add zippers to the pieces and one woman was hand stitching.  They warmly welcomed us in to observe them in their work.  We spent an hour admiring the gorgeous, yet tedious process.  It was a lovely afternoon out in the rural hills of Nicaragua, one that I will not forget.

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March 7, 2016

Pottery From Beginning to End

It is no secret that I (Cassie) love finding little hidden gems that one would not necessarily find in a guide book.  If you add on to that handmade artisan pieces that are fair-trade, I am all in.  For the past few years, we have been visiting our friends Dina and Felipe, who are both potters, in the community of San Juan del Oriente.

San Juan del Oriente is a community built on handmade ceramic pieces.  We love to walk up and down the streets of this community viewing the beautiful pottery pieces that the artists are making.  Our friend Liz, who is a former MCCer, introduced us to Dina and Felipe a few years ago as they were working with Ten Thousand Villages to sell their pieces.  Over the past few years, the couple has mass-produced pieces for Target and Pier One Imports.  They are now working at a slower pace, selling their pieces within Nicaragua as they lead a non-profit ministry.

Last month, we took the time to visit Dina and Felipe and see some of their latest work.  Here is the pottery process, from beginning to end.


The community of San Juan del Oriente is set on clay soil.  Dina and Felipe dig for the clay in their very own yard, mixing it with other natural elements to create the clay needed for their pottery.


Felipe is in charge of running the mixer.  The clay then sits covered for 24-48 hours.


The clay is then bagged up to be used for their own creations or to sell.  Estela enjoyed resting on the bags.


Felipe then takes his very own clay to the wheel.  He uses a foot-pedal pottery wheel.


We all look on in amazement and excitement!


Here he is shaping his piece.


Here is the finished piece off the wheel.  It will then be painted and sent to the kiln.


Here are some of the lovely pieces that Felipe and Dina have made.


Next week, I plan to post on another fair-trade artisan cooperative in the community of El Chile.  Thanks for reading!