Here are some highlights from the past week.
Have I mentioned I’m back to cloth diapers? Well, I am and it’s going great.
On Thursday I went with a friend and her driver to the Muslim Quarter. She wanted to buy a lamb leg for Easter and I wanted to check out the fabric. It was good we had her driver with us because as soon as we got out of the car we were confronted by immigration police asking us for our ID cards. He only spoke French so the driver translated for us. We were able to convince him we were there with the US State Department even though we didn’t have our ID’s. I still haven’t been issued mine because they needed more pictures of us. (I’ve since taken care of that) After we were cleared to shop I bought some really nice fabric. Shopping was a good experience and I can’t wait to think of more projects so I can go back and buy more fabric.
Easter weekend was good. Good Friday is a national holiday here so we had a three day weekend! We had some friends and their boys over for egg decorating on Friday. It went really well and was super fun! The embassy had a little BBQ and egg hunt for the kids on Saturday. Aydan knew just what to do. She found the eggs and put them right into her basket. Then she shared them with her friends. She loves putting things into containers right now. She can spend all day putting her toys into and out of her purse or boxes. So the egg hunt was right up her alley. Sunday we went to church at a local international church. They have different people leading the music each week and a different speaker, they don’t have a pastor. This Sunday they had an older pastor speak. His sermon was from 2Chronicles. He didn’t talk about Easter or Jesus at all. It wasn’t the best Easter service we’d been to but we were glad we went anyway. Then we went to the pool for an afternoon of swimming and wine drinking with friends. I had an entire Easter dinner planned but due to a few problems we didn’t get to eat our great meal. We couldn’t find the cheeses we needed or the half and half and whipping cream. So… we ate rice and tomatoes… seriously. It was actually pretty good.
Cameroon is cash only. This is a problem for us. We are not used to carrying cash around. So the past three weeks have been us finding we didn’t have money that we needed for certain things like food. We can go to the embassy and cash checks there or exchange money but each day we’d forget to get the money so over the weekend we didn’t have a lot of cash. So had we found the cheeses and things we needed we probably wouldn’t have had the cash we needed to buy them anyway. Oh well. On Monday I went and cashed a check at the embassy. We now have some cash. I just don’t want to have too much laying around though. It is what it is.
We have a nice screened in front porch. Our living room has two french doors that open out onto this porch. On days when it isn’t hot I open the doors. Aydan and I were out there this week playing and reading. It was perfect except that our guard kept hocking loogies and spitting them over the wall. Over and over and over. It was gross and now that I’ve noticed it I can even hear it when the doors are closed and I’m sitting in the living room or dining room eating. Awesome.
Mondays are Christmas here. The mail is delivered on Mondays which means all the things I’ve ordered two week ago arrive! This Monday brought us two packages from family and friends (some books and some extra of Aydan’s lovies), slipcovers for our two couches, three swim suits for me (all of which fit!), yogurt melts for Aydan, a book we ordered for some friends here, a swing for Aydan, diapers, and some clothes. So imagine poor Patrick picking up all these things from the embassy basement, carrying them all the way to the parking lot then loading them into the motor pool car then into our house. Poor guy. But we were so excited to have all these things! Thanks Shins and Connallys for the lovies and books!
A word about driving: crazy. Ok more words: I was worried that everyone would be driving fast and really crazy. That is not true. Everyone drives surprisingly slow. The craziness comes from the taxis that just pull over in the middle of the road and then don’t check their blind spot when heading back to driving. So as we pass the taxis that are stopped in the middle of the road we honk so that they know we are there and they don’t run into us. There are really three lanes, one on the outside going each way and the middle lane is a passing lane that you can use going either way. Um, that gets a bit crazy as people are trying to pass the sea of taxis. Also, there are no stop signs, I haven’t seen one. Granted, we haven’t traveled or driven far at all, but from what we’ve seen no stop signs or traffic signs at all. I have seen some stop lights. They are really big on roundabouts and just pulling out in front of cars to turn left. I wish I could better explain this chaos.
Yesterday I started my very first batch of sourdough starter! I’m using the book, The River Cottage Bread Handbook. I love this book! Maybe I’ve already talked about it… if not just know everything you will ever want to know or need to know is laid out perfectly in this small, picture laden book. Here is what it says about sourdough starter:
A starter is a fermenting dough or batter, all or part of which is used to raise a batch of bread. the term sourdough broadly applies to bread raised with wild yeastes. Defining chracteristics of such breads are a slower fermntation and a distincly sour (but by no meands unpleasant) flavor. Both are the result of high acidity caused by the presence of certain bacteria, among them lactic acid bacteria (the same bacteria used to make yogurt), which colonize the starter along witht he yeasts.”
Then it goes on to explain how to make the starter. Basically you add one cup water to one cup flour and mix on high in the Kitchen Aid for 10 mins, put in a bowl with a lid in a warm area. The book goes into details about why you use a plastic bowl with a lid and why you need a warm place and what is happening while you mix it for 10 mins and it has two pictures to show you what it should look like in the first stage of fermentation and then what the vigorous fermentation looks like. But, I’ll let you buy the book and read it yourself if you want. Here is what mine looks like right now:
In 15 hours it should be at the vigorous fermentation stage. Then it will be time to feed the starter. I will put half back in the mixer and throw out the other half. I will add one cup of cold water and one cup of flour and mix for 1o mins. Then I’ll cover it and wait 24 hours. I will feed it every day for the next week until it is ready to use in baking. I’ll keep you updated on the process.
I started French class this week at the embassy. It’s three days a week in the mornings. We found a housekeeper/nanny and she is great! Aydan stays with her in the mornings while I go to class and work out at the embassy gym. It works well because class is at 9 and Aydan goes down for her morning nap at 10 so I’m not missing too much time with her.
I’m not going to reread this post and edit it so sorry for the errors and poor grammar. : )
I miss seeing Patrick on Google chat once in a while. It is great to see your photos. The colorful clothing and even your lawn remind me of Nigeria. I’m glad you’re able to stay busy and are easily receiving packages.
Godspeed to everyone!
I love reading through your blog; it is great to hear what you are doing and thinking. I want to start a sourdough started as well. I failed last summer. I missed a step and it just didn’t work out; I know you will do much better. Great to have fresh bread, rolls, and pizza crust. Love the hat for Aydan! And so glad that you are getting out to take classes and work out. The benefits of having a diplomat for a husband. Yeah! Love you!
Kim, I am so glad you are posting! Please forgive my misspelling of Aydan’s name earlier. I think I have it now. Your life is fascinating, and your outlook and creativity impressive. So glad you are making friends…though from what I know of you through Annie, that is no surprise at all. Years ago, when I was your age, I did a lot of baking with sour dough. It was fun and actually gave me many gifts to share with neighbors and friends. I wish you much success with that project. Blessings to you and your little family!