Saturday, May 30, 2009

Finally Finished!

Back in August to December 2006, I remodeled my kitchen. But I ran out of money before I could buy new appliances. Now 2 1/2 years later, I finally had enough money to purchase new appliances, so I guess you could say the kitchen remodel is finally finished!

I thought you might like to see some before and after pictures.
Here are the old bisque appliances. Notice the refrigerator is on the left, the stove is straight ahead. The floor is vinyl.

Here is the same view in the 'new' kitchen.  I had them switch the refrigerator and stove which opened up the kitchen making it feel much larger.  And I had hardwood floors (installed by my friend, Gramma2Many's son) which look way nicer than vinyl and are so easy to keep clean.  

Here is the 'before' view of the kitchen taken from the hallway.

Here is the 'after' picture taken from the same hallway.

Here is the sitting corner in the 'before' kitchen.

Now there is a hutch in that corner.

Here is the eating area in the 'before' kitchen.

Now we eat at the bar and the sitting area replaces the former eating area.  You'll note the old bisque refrigerator on the left. The new refrigerator is for me and the 3 students I cook for.  I love my new french door refrigerator.  It holds a lot.  But I also have another renter who cooks for himself, so the old bisque refrigerator now holds his food.

This picture is for Tatersmama.  Back at the beginning of March she posted pictures of her refrigerator and challenged the rest of us to do the same.   OK, Katie, I'm finally accepting your challenge!    

And last, but certainly not least, are the two men who did the work on my new kitchen back in 2006.  From left to right are my nephew, Josh and his wife, Bridget, and my friends Cheri and her husband, Ron who I've known for 25+ years.  I invited them all to dinner last weekend to celebrate the new appliances and also to celebrate Josh and Bridgette's first wedding anniversay.  (Pssst, Bridgette and Josh are expecting their first child this August!)  I think these two men did an outstanding job on my kitchen and now that the new appliances are finally in, I am really enjoying my new kitchen!

Graduation

This is Toshi, my homestay student from Japan in 2007, (not to be confused with Toshi, my current homestay student from Japan). Toshi arrived in September 2007, for a one-quarter cooperative course of study between the University of Washington in Seattle and Ritsumeikan University in Japan.  Toshi is an outgoing, friendly young man who was an excellent student.  He has a positive outlook and a zest for life and wasn't shy about learning and speaking in English.   Athena doesn't usually let my homestay students hold her, but she liked Toshi!   They say that when an animal likes you, it's proof positive that you're a good person!   The quarter went all too fast and before we knew it, it was December and time for Toshi's farewell party. My Korean students (brothers, Hyun Wook and Ki-Bum) cooked a special Korean meal for Toshi. And soon after Toshi was boarding the shuttle bus to the airport!
But in July 2008,  Toshi came back for a visit.
This spring Toshi sent me these pictures of his graduation from Ritsumeikan.
The other great news is that he has already landed a job in Japan!
Congratulations, Toshi!  You did well and you deserve life's best.  Your American 'mama' is very proud of you!
Love,
Homestay Mama

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Where Can I Go to Clone Myself?


If there were two of me, one of me could be blogging while the other me could be working. 

Wait! That's not enough! I need four of me! 

One of me to clean the house, cook all the meals and do the laundry;

One of me to wash my car, take it to be serviced, keep all the yard work done and take care of my cats;

One of me to work at my part time job plus take care of my personal banking, bill-paying and shopping;

And, finally one of me to stay in touch with my homestay students (past and current), to correspond with all my friends in Blogland, in Facebook and in e-mails and, to spend time visiting my face-to-face friends.

Wait! That's still not enough! 

I need another me to practice the piano, volunteer at my church and attend Sunday services. 

And another me to help my homestay students with their English assignments! 

And another me to go for my doctor, dental and eye exams and to exercise and stay healthy,

And another me to...

H...E...L...P...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chapter 8: A New Roof

From Amazing Journey, Amazing Grace

Sometimes bad things happen.  Sometimes God allows us to experience difficulties to test and strengthen our faith. One of those faith-strengthening experiences happened to me one Saturday afternoon in February, 1994.  I had just stretched out on the living room sofa to relax for a minute.  Looking up I discovered the tell-tale dirty ring on the ceiling--a ring  that could mean only one thing.  My roof had sprung a leak!  In rainy Seattle, that was not a problem to ignore!  

Roof repairs, car repairs, yard and garden maintenance—all those chores had been my ex-husband’s domain.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t bothered to learn about those things, preferring to leave them all to him.  But now I was a single mom and I could no longer ignore those 'manly' tasks.  Now everything--both inside and outside the house--was my sole responsibility.  And now I had a major problem that needed immediate attention.  

What should I do?  Climb up a ladder and crawl around my roof hunting for the leak? And if I managed to find it, then what?  Go buy some tar and smear it over the offending spot?  Maybe I could spread a plastic tarp over the general area.  But how could I secure it from the wind? Wouldn't a bunch of nail holes just make more leaks?  I am not fond of heights and my roof is two stories tall.  Just thinking about going up there makes me dizzy!  So it was easy to nix both of those less-than-desirable solutons.  "Maybe I could pray for endless sunshine," I wistfully mused.   "But in rainy Seattle?  Not a chance!"

However, I remembered how God had promised to be my 'Creator-Husband.'  My protector, my provider, my comforter and my problem solver.   So solving leaky roofs was His job.  Therefore I just needed to exercise faith and trust Him for the answer, and that's exactly what I did.

The next morning I decided to go to church early and attend the adult Sunday School class before the regular church service began.  There were about 30 people in class that morning and visitors were given the chance to introduce themselves.  I am shy by nature, so I just gave my name and said I had homestay students living with me.  

After class one of the men came over and introduced himself to me.  His name was George; his wife’s name was Karen. He owned an auto-repair shop.  Then he asked me a question that seemed so out of context that it gave me goose-bumps!   George’s exact question was: “So, how is the roof on your house?”  

Now if George had asked how my car was running, I wouldn't have been so surprised.  But how likely was it for him, or anyone else for that matter, to ask a first-time visitor about the roof on their house?  The odds of that happening must be at least one in a million and that’s why I got goose-bumps.  I knew immediately this was a ‘God thing!’  So, I answered truthfully.  “My roof is leaking!” 

“It is?  Well, then let me introduce you to our Sunday School teacher, Dee-Jay.  He owns his own construction business and has put roofs on many homes,” George stated.   Obviously God was orchestrating the solution to my problem.

Dee-Jay came over the next day and while walking around the roof, he found spongy spots--sure signs of rotting wood.  My roof definitely had issues.  I was going to need a new one.  But how could I afford it?  Within the week Dee-Jay brought his crew to tear off the old roof, replace the sections of plywood that were rotting, and put on a new, 20-year roof.  He donated his time, and charged me only for the materials at his cost.

There have been many more miracles like this in my amazing journey and through them all I've learned that when we belong to God and live in obedience to Him, we can trust Him through good times and bad.  The good man does not escape all troubles--he has them too! But the Lord helps him in each and every one.  Psalms 34:19 (Living Bible) 

Another miracle happened the time I needed to buy groceries so I could feed my homestay students, but I only had $1.00 left to my name and pay day was one week away!

To be continued.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Emerald City Salad

This salad is a real favorite with my current homestay students.   It is named after Seattle--the Emerald City.  Both Seattle and the salad are 'dark leafy green.' (Must be from all that 'liquid sunshine' we get--especially this time of year!)

I first tasted Emerald City Salad at the deli in my favorite organic food store in Seattle--PCC (Puget Consumers Coop).  To see the original recipe, go here.

When I make this salad, I cut back on the wild rice and olive oil/lemon juice amounts, but I stick pretty close to the amounts for the other ingredients.

Here's how I do it:

I gently boil 1/2 cup of wild rice in plenty of water for about an hour.  While the rice is cooking I prepare the salad dressing and greens.


Squeeze the juice of one lemon (about 1/3 cup) and add to 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste.
Add two cloves of garlic squeezed in a garlic press.

Whisk together and set aside.
When the rice is cooked, drain, then add it to the salad dressing.
Meanwhile, wash 1/2 bunch of swiss chard and remove the center rib.
Stack the leaves on top of each other and chiffonade.
Wash 1/2 bunch of kale and remove the center rib.
Stack the leaves on top of each other and chiffonade.
Wash about 1/3 bunch of parsley (1/2 cup) and cut off the stems.
Chop the parsley until fine.
Slice 1 bunch of green onions.
Thinly slice 1/2 of a fennel bulb.
Thinly slice 1/2 red pepper and 1/2 yellow (or orange) pepper.
Put all vegetables into a bowl.  
Add the rice/salad dressing and toss until thoroughly mixed.
What a beautiful salad--and it's super healthy as well!  Did you know that kale, fennel and swiss chard are high in calcium, potassium and vitamin A?
Tonight, I served this salad alongside swiss steak over rice.  It was delicious and filling!
I think Emerald City Salad tastes even better the second day, after the greens have marinated in the dressing overnight.  

If you try making this salad, let me know how you liked it.

Love,

Homestay Mama

Monday, May 18, 2009

Awards Night


Tonight, Tae Woong, my homestay student from Korea, was one of six students (two from each grade level) to win a "History Scholar Award."   King's High is a private school--and a tough one at that!  They demand excellence from their students.  Tae Woong has maintained an A- all year long in World History, which is amazing when you realize that English is his 'second' language, and this is only his second year of studying in the USA.  It just goes to show how smart he really is!  
Tae Woong with his World History teacher, Mr. Fretz.   

In the following video, Mrs. Stubbs, another history teacher at King's, is announcing the winners of the History Scholar Awards.  
About Tae Woong, (at school they call him "William") she said this:

"William loves, lives and talks history!"

(I'm sorry this video isn't better, but I include it so Tae Woong's parents can see a little bit of the ceremony.
video

A desert social followed the ceremony.  Here Tae Woong talks with his choir teacher, Mr. Pumphrey.


For the social, the students in the culinary arts class made these sinfully rich desserts.  (Unfortunately I sampled too many of these tempting delicacies and it will likely be Thanksgiving before I come down from my 'sugar high.')

Congratulations on your award tonight, Tae Woong. Your Homestay Mama is proud of you, and I'm sure your parent's are too!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Friendly Challenge

Homestay Mama loves a friendly challenge!  So at the dinner table when Tae Woong asked if I'd ever arm wrestled, I remembered wrestling with Ali about 15 years ago.  Could I still do it? The proof is in these videos.

video
Ezra and Tae Woong were equally strong!

video
Tae Woong was kind--at first. Then...

video
No contest with Ezra!

Oh the pain of defeat!

video

Gotta start lifting weights immediately!

Love,

Homestay Mama

MY Excuse!

Well, I didn't get much done in my garden last weekend, or anytime this week for that matter. What's my excuse?


Yah, it's been raining again--and not the usual drizzle. It's been raining 'cats and dogs!' And, the wind has been whipping tree branches around like cheerleader's pom poms at a football game! I see several have landed in my yard.

Ah, I think you have to be born here to enjoy springtime in Seattle. I'm afraid non-natives would wrinkle up and die.

Taking the good along with the bad,

Love,

Homestay Mama