Friday, February 29, 2008

From Bahia State

First off - a correction from my last post. We've gone northeast (not SE) of Brasilia into western Bahia state to see some of the newest farmland in Brazil. In the last 25 years, the town of Luis Eduardo Megalles has gone from a hamlet with barely more than a gas station to a bustling town of about 30,000 people. Many Brazilians and foreign investors have found farmland here by opening up the vast cerraido, an area of scrub brush and natural grasses. The Brazilian environmental laws require about 20% of the land to remain uncultivated and be held in reserve. As you get closer to the Amazon, the percentage increases. It's quite a process of dragging, tilling, adding lots of lime and gypsum to the soil to improve the productivity and improving the organic matter but when they get through the process, they have fertile land that can grow the best crops you've ever seen. This area gets about 1200mm of rain and has a dry period of about 4 months, making for ideal growing and harvesting conditions.

We've visited the largest Case IH dealership in the world, seen a cotton gin, gone to the Coffee Cooperative, hung out at one of the most productive farms ever, checked out sugarcane research, and toured the largest farm in the state(it's owned by a Brazilean Japanese family!). It's been amazing to see lush fields of soya beans, cotton, coffee, pineapple and corn. Agri-business is alive and well here in Brazil!

I will download my camera tomorrow once we are back in Brasilia and share some wonderful pictures. I've taken alot of them! Esther, you asked about temperature in the jungle. It was about +30 during the day and went down to +27 at night. We had air conditioned cabins and boating on the water created a lovely cool breeze. Well, the bus is leaving here at 6:45 a.m. in the morning and I need to be on it! We want to get back to take a city tour of Brasilia before dark tomorrow so I'll call it a night now. Love you all!

And just in case I don't get to post tomorrow - Happy Birthday, Darrin! We love you!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

From the Amazon

I only have a few minutes but here are a few glimpses of our journey so far.

Our first view of the Amazon basin

At the place where the Rio de Solineos and the Rio de Negro meet and it becomes the Amazon

Farmland along the river

Fishing boats we used to go up and down the river

The group of assistants who carried luggage, drove boats, wove crowns, cut clove bark, shot arrows, threaded fish hooks - pretty much did everything!

Piranha fishing

We are leaving Brasilia in an hour and heading 475 km southeast to see farms today. Love you all!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Plan B

Well - -- - we've had a little change of plans here in Miami!

We got to the airport 3 hours ahead of time, just as planned, checked in, cleared customs and went to the boarding gate. And that's where it all kind of fell apart - or I guess, changed would be a better word.

There was a huge group connecting via American Airlines and they already had boarding passes so their seats were guaranteed. That meant 5 people on our flight were on standby - but we weren't any of them, which was good. But 2 other couples wanted to travel together so we volunteered to give them our places and we'd go on standby. Needless to say the standby didn't come through so the 5 of us are now waiting to board for an overnight flight to Sao Paulo at 8:20 p.m.. That will put us in Sao Paulo at 6:20 in the morning (it's a 2 hour time change and an 8 hour flight) and we are connecting to Manaus at 9:30 Sunday morning. We'll catch up to the rest of the group about 12:30 p.m. and be just in time for the 2 o'clock departure to the Eco-Lodge.

The tour leader's wife has stayed behind with us and there's another couple from Leduc and Wetaskiwin (our backyard!) so we have company. The couple we exchanged places with is going to pick up our luggage and keep it safe tonight.

Unfortunately there were no travel vouchers involved with this little detour. That would have been a total bonus!! Flexibility - that's our motto here :))

Friday, February 22, 2008

365 Project at Miami Waterfront

For your viewing pleasure - - -

A little photographic tour of our day. Enjoy!!

Today we had alligator tidbits for an appetizer. They tasted alot like calamari and we've decided to try one new food each day on this trip. We'll let you know how it goes.

Dessert at lunch time was a delicious, light pineapple sorbet which came in this little frozen pineapple shell.

We took a bus to downtown this afternoon and hopped on the free People Mover (a monorail) to get to the harbour. Later we rode it and did the whole loop - about 3 times, got off, walked to the bus stop, waited for 30 minutes and figured out we missed the last bus of the day. So we got back on, rode around back to the harbour, walked to the nearest hotel and caught a cab back home. It was "The Day of the Very Long Walk and Wait" - but we made lots of memories.

Here are a few things we saw today:

I call this 'Avenue of the Palms'. I don't know what the locals call it :))

Waterfront condos

You've heard of 'hole in the wall' places - how about 'hole in the roof'?

I think you would smile every time you came home to these condos!

Four Seasons Hotel Garden

Bayfront Park complete with colorful chairs and white sand.

As dusk approached, we walked along the marina and discussed doing a harbour cruise another time. We'd seen this motorboat cruising the harbour a few times during the day and it was docked in the marina. And - - - it was loading for the sunset cruise so we hopped on and had a very special ending to our day! Bob was pretty apprehensive at first but ended up loving our spontaneous decision (he can be like that sometimes!!).

The front of the 890 horsepower twin hull motorboat. Our ride was fast, surprising smooth and wet as we made sharp turns!

And this is what Miami's downtown looks like from the water. It was a very good day - I'm glad I could share it with you!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

365 Project Goes to Miami

February 21

I can't limit myself to just one picture today so here's a little collection instead. I feel so lucky to be able to post 3 times today - I don't think I'm going to be able to do this very often so I'll just enjoy it while I can.

Painted mural on the side of "Catch of the Day", voted Miami's best seafood restaurant recently. The food was good, especially the Crunchy Coconut Shrimp and the Key Lime Pie!

Our home in Miami. I love the palm trees with lights wrapped around the trunks.

This one's for Kelsey, the shoe lover in our family. I know she could seriously have fun in this store!

I'm sure if Helayna could sit in one of these for her next haircut, she'd be much more cooperative! I think this Kidz Kutz salon is one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

February 20

These happy little guys greet us every time we go into the bathroom!

Look What I Found!

We've had a very quiet day here in balmy Florida, as Bob is trying to shake the cold he's got. This evening we went to the Dolphin Mall for supper and a little shopping (the things we forgot to pack!). There was a map and brochure at the hotel so I had my route all mapped out before we even got there :)).

Here's what I got at Skechers but mine are a tan color. They are so cute and I'm breaking them in right now.

I hope we can get back to this mall as there are a few more stores I'd love to check out. Never thought this would be our first day's activity but I'm not complaining!

Did I Mention

that we were going on a bit of a holiday?

We are in Miami, Florida today on our way to a little South American tour of agricultural facilities in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruquay. I'm hoping to be able to update often and I'll take LOTS of pictures, I promise.

It's supposed to +27 here today and the palm trees outside the hotel are waving in the breeze. We are off to find breakfast because the pretzels we had on the 2 flights yesterday weren't much of a meal :( It was late when we got in last night and every restaurant within miles was already closed.

Hope your day makes you smile!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

365 Project

February 18

An embossed image of Helayna's jacket hanging on our railing. Isn't photo editting a fun way to waste time?!

February 15

From Naomi - such a bright spot on the kitchen table - I love fresh flowers!

Monday, February 18, 2008

365 Project

February 17

Look who came to visit at our house today! It was a wonderful family day - except that Darrin and Kelsey both got sick overnight and were totally under the weather. And I had thought we could celebrate Darrin's birthday ( a couple of weeks early ) but that didn't really work out. Maybe next year, I guess!

February 16

I was cutting Bob's hair and he was trying to read at the same time. But he had to hold the glasses like this or else the earpieces were in my way. Now I know why Helayna puts the glasses on upside down sometimes! This made me laugh so hard when I was supposed to be concentrating!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

365 Project - Happy Valentine's Day

May you be surrounded by love and caring today and every day!
May you be an example of God's love to all those around you!

February 14

A little gift for my husband today. The movie as a reminder of our trip to Europe and the 2 organic chocolate bars because who could resist names like that?!!! And I found them at the health food store - for real!!

February 13

Who would have known it would be so hard to find pillowcases for king size pillows - at a reasonable price? So, I did it myself! And I even have enough fabric left to make matching curtains.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

An Amazing Thing

Linds at Rocking Chair Reflections posted about an amazing trip to Uganda that a group of bloggers is taking with Compassion, an organization dedicated to helping children around the world. You must go over and visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer and Sophie at Boomama to hear about this absolutely inspiring project. I spent a good part of this afternoon with tears in my eyes as I read about their trip. And I sincerely believe that God put this post on my radar today for a very good reason. So now I'm thanking God for everything that I have, promising not to take any of it for granted and praying that I might be part of making a difference for a little one and a family in another part of the world.



Please go and read about this trip and check out the opportunities to be involved. God Bless!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

365 Project

February 12

My weekend creative challenge project from Ali Edwards - create a new piece using a punch and repetition. I recycled an old frame, painted it white and voila! A new piece of seasonal wall decor! Go ahead and try making one - I guarantee it will make you smile!!


In the process of reloading the programs we lost on the laptop last week, I played around a bit with some photo editing software. These were my final products!

I think the framing adds a kind of soft, romantic feel to the photos. Now, I better go do some real work!

Monday, February 11, 2008

365 Project

We went to Airdrie for a little visit and some fun with Helayna. I was amazed at the changes that just one month has brought again!

February 11

I think she's seen this done a few times before!

February 10

We went swimming today and Helayna loved the waterslide!

February 9

We came to visit again and this little one was quite into modeling the new scarf that my niece made for her. Thanks, Jill - it looks even better with her ski jacket and pants.

Friday, February 08, 2008

365 Project

February 8

A little paper goodness from my studio!

Recipe Swap

Randi hosted a Recipe Box Swap yesterday(there are 60 recipes over there - go and check it out!) and I just made Jill's Granola recipe. It's very good! So here is a pasta recipe for you to try. This one is a little different but very tasty and a bit crunchy. I posted a picture of it last week along with a fillet of steelhead trout. Enjoy!

Speckled Pasta

from Company's Coming Pasta book

1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
4 cups coarsely grated cabbage
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 oz. broad noodles (I used fusilli)
2 1/2 quarts boiling water
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. poppyseeds
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Saute onion in butter until soft. Add cabbage, paprika, first amount of salt and pepper. Saute' slowly, over low heat for about 10 minutes.
Cook noodles in boiling water and second amount of salt until tender but firm (about 5 - 8 minutes). Drain noodles. Return to pot.
To cabbage mixture, add sour cream, poppyseeds and cheese. Heat. Pour over noodles. Toss well. Garnish with additional cheese, if you like.
Makes 6 cups.
I had some veggie dill dip that had been made with sour cream so I used it instead of the plain sour cream. It worked just fine.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

365 Project

February 7

The winter sun is flooding this corner of our living room today.

February 6

I am in love with my sewing machine again, especially since Fabricland had an awesome 50% off sale on many beautiful pieces of fabric!

February 5

The emotion still makes this technically challenged photo one that I love!

And it appears that the hard drive has crashed on the laptop. Nothing that a whole bunch of $$$$$$$$$$$$ won't fix! Thank goodness I had backed up all the 2007 photos at the end of December - I would be feeling very ill if that hadn't happened. In the meantime, I'm finding lots of other things to do with my time, which is a very good thing.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Happy Birthday, Melinda!

Our beautiful daughter, Melinda, is celebrating her 28th birthday today!

As a little girl

On her wedding day

We love you and wish so much that we could hug you and share this day with you! May you be surrounded with love and joy and may God bless you with His presence and guidance every day. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

365 Project - Goes to Vancouver!

February 4

The early morning sunrise as we headed home.

February 3

We had so much fun biking along the Seawall through Stanley Park, past English Bay, around False Creek (where they are building the Athletes Village for the 2010 Winter Olympics), and over to Granville Island. Darrin estimated that we did 25 km. That's what it felt like too - my legs had quite a workout!

February 2

This was the feature display in the reception area of the hotel. Last year they had a huge Chinese urn filled with many different flowers. I liked the simplicity of this one.

February 1

We've got this wonderful view from our newly renovated room at the Westin Bayshore. And the grass is green here - sure beats -35 degrees C! We've come to Vancouver for a conference and a break from Alberta's winter weather. It's marvelous!

In other news, my laptop has died so I'm back to sharing the desktop with Bob. I'm afraid we may have to rebuild mine and who knows how long that will take. I may not be around too much until then but I'll be thinking of all of you. Happy February!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

365 Project - Goes to Vancouver!

January 31

We saw 2 different flocks of mountain sheep on our way through Jasper National Park. It's always so nice to see animals instead of traffic.