Cumberless Cucumber Salad

A cheesy name, huh? I thought it up all myself too. Jeff and I went to a new restaurant a few months ago and they served a cucumber side dish that I just had to recreate at home. It was so easy that I’ve made it every week since.

I am going to share a formula with you that isn’t a recipe. Don’t worry; that’s because you cannot mess it up. I know a lot of people who will not try to make something without explicit directions, but you don’t need that with this formula and that’s part of why I love it so much.


The core is simple: Cucumbers, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.

To it you may also add sliced onion, cherry tomatoes, diced tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, feta, Parmesan, a variety of seasonings, and I bet even squash and zucchini would be great. I think I will try roasted sunflower seeds next time.

I typically use cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, a thinly sliced onion, and Italian dressing seasoning packets. They don’t sell the packets here in South Africa, so I premix it and use a tablespoon of that. Seasoning salt is great on it and saves time. I add about two tablespoons of each oil and vinegar (any liquid oil will do avocado oil is cheaper so I use that most, apple cider vinegar is also good but I prefer balsamic) to four cups of diced cukes and about 1/2 cup of tomato. Refrigerating it for an hour before serving is nice and soaks the seasoning well, but its also good to serve right away.

Mozzarella cheese brings the price up a bit, but it also doesn’t keep as well the next day. So I don’t use it unless we have company over. Otherwise I make this salad enough to last four or five days and we eat it all the time now. Its a good fit for us because we are not a salad eating family, but we love vegetables.

If you try it and add anything I haven’t mentioned let me know!

Bring and Braai

Our family has been in South Africa for almost a year now. To be honest the transition so far has been pretty easy. Traveling in the States and mission trips to other places helped us be a bit prepared for ‘different.’ Much of the time we think South Africa isn’t so foreign, and other times we are very aware of the differences.

Barbecues are a bit of a universal gathering that differs from place to place. In South Africa and Namibia they are called a braai.  We have only been to a few, but they must be common here because homes often have built in braai areas.

At a braai, sometimes you bring your own meats, throw them on the grill and bring side dishes or salads to share, then it would be called a bring and braai. I think this is great because it takes a lot of the stress of hosting off the host family. You don’t have to spend a lot of time prepping food, or be responsible for feeding a dozen people. It also fits the causal atmosphere of the Durban area well.

One new food item to us in South Africa is also a staple to a braai, the boerewors. It is a long spiraled sausage. It comes seasoned with a blend of spices and is made predominantly with beef. It is different from a bratwurst in size, texture, taste and composition so it was a shock to us at first. Boerewors have really grown on us, but we do miss bratwursts sometimes. I try to make it once a week or so because they are pretty affordable. Just like any other sausage, they go great with potatoes, a family favorite.


Here we were also experiencing lights out, but we had boerewors for dinner that night. The kids love it when we eat by candlelight.

We recently went to a home-school family bring and braai. The kids had so much fun and I think they are finally making some friends. I am glad they ask about grandparents and friends back in the States, but having local friends will also help them feel at home.

So there you have it, the definition of a braai. It is a wonderful way to spend time with people that is not so different.


David’s Open Door

Its interesting to me how many times you can read the same Scriptures year after year and every time you read it its new. For those who do not regularly read the Bible, let me assure you, it truly is a living Book. The story of David and Goliath is one of the most told stories in Scriptures, but I read it last night and something jumped off the page to me.

Jesse, David’s father, sent David with provisions and orders to check on his brothers at battle. When David saw a Philistine Giant blaspheming God, he was appalled. David wasn’t afraid to speak out against him and show his disgust that they let Goliath carry on like he did. And then this happened in I Samuel 17:31:

31 And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him.

Saul sent for David.

Guess I missed that over and over again. I always envisioned David chasing after the opportunity to fight the giant and go stomping to the king’s tent. In reality, all David did was stand for what was right, and speak about what he believed. God provided the opportunity.

David did not push any doors open. But, when God opened the door, he went through it. He either had no fear or did not let his fears get between him and his open door. David is a wonderful example to us of bravery, faith, wisdom and even patience. It’s always great to learn new things in old stories!

A Writer’s Fear

My sister and I two sides of the same coin. We are very different in the things that make us similar. Complementary kindred spirits is another fitting description; and we both write. I have been writing since my first school projects. I never could say enough on reports. In high school I wrote fiction and poetry aside from classwork. Honestly, I haven’t written much since then with college, and work, and now marriage and family there just isn’t enough time. But its always on my heart.

Sis and I were talking today and she said that she does not like letting people read her work because it is part of her. I responded something to the effect of, “Well, that’s crazy. But I don’t like letting people read what I write because I never really know what about myself I am revealing.”

“That’s what I said.”

It really is quite the thought. I feel like I can glean a little about a person by reading their work. I have read books by joint authors and can sometimes recognize who wrote certain sentences or contributed a certain thought or even tone. Personality, hope, fears, belief systems, prejudices, heartaches and desires all bleed through the lines, revealing how we see the world and what we believe makes people tick.

I don’t even know what it is about me that I am too afraid to reveal. I’m not really concerned about being liked or rejected. But, when I write what is on my heart, it feels intimate. I am not sure that is for everyone, and certainly not everything I write is, but I have learned one thing lately: publishing takes courage.

I don’t know if I have much of that courage, but I have a seedling. Wish me luck.

Our New Home

I am so relieved to be back in the blogging world! My family has changed so much since I was last a regular blogger. I have posted several times since the birth of my third child, Josephine but having a third child turned my tiny world upside down and I had a hard time keeping up with necessities so hobbies like writing and sewing were put on hold.

It took about a year to feel like I was getting a handle on life with my three darlings, but other aspects of life kept me from my hobbies. Until now! I am finally living in the big, absolutely stunning continent of Africa! We are in the country of South Africa, not Namibia just yet, but we are trying to find our place in the ministry here and it has been such a wonderful time for our family.

We flew to South Africa in the beginning of October 2015. We only planned on living in this country for two years, so I was praying desperately for a furnished house with a yard safe for the children to play. We had a particular budget for rent, and once we landed and were looking for rentals we found almost nothing open to us in that price range. We were able to find two houses to tour and one was small and needed a lot of work (and was full of spiders), and the other was also small but on a shared property with free ranging dogs, cats, birds and an uncovered pool. The landlady of the latter decided she was not comfortable renting to a family with small children.

And then I found one house online. It was absolutely perfect from the pictures. It was about 1500 square feet, large grassy yard, three bedrooms and completely furnished. Jeff wasn’t interested because it was a little over our allotted rent budget and and would include our small portion for furnishing a house. After a continued empty search he finally agreed to look! My youngest daughter had a stomach virus, so he went without me. I was so anxious but he came back with a glowing report. The house was not just furnished, it was so equipped it was as if the man living there just walked out with his clothes.

The house was more than I even prayed for, the yard bigger and absolutely safe for the children to roam freely, the house was furnished from spoons and knives to beds, drapes and towels. We only had to pay the down payment and unload our clothes and the kids toys (which aside from our laptop and sewing machine is about all we packed). There is a master bedroom, a girl room, and a boy room and a large dining room table. Absolutely fitting for our needs.

I was pretty amazed at how amazing God was in answering our prayer. The home we rent fulfills all of our needs, and is also comfortable and beautiful, something I was not expecting. So, with such a wonderful yard and home, we went crazy and decided to also get a puppy!



Crispy Crepes

I have to share an amazing recipe with you! It is as easy as pancakes but the texture is divine! Jeff and I have had crepes before, but during our weekly trips to the market we have been indulging more often than we probably should. We tried to abstain for a while but I missed them so much I experimented with healthier versions of them. This is the recipe we have polished and love!

Crispy Crepes

  • 2 Cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 TBSP butter
  1. Mix the flour and eggs
  2. Add the vanilla and salt and alternate adding liquid and stirring
  3. Mix in butter and let rest 5 minutes
  4. Heat a pan with a little oil or butter
  5. Use 1/3 cup measuring cup and pour into hot pan, rotating pan to evenly distribute batter
  6. Flip crepe halfway through
  7. Top as you see fit!

I used a food processor, but hand mixing will do, I have also subbed the water and milk with rice milk, any milk sub would work. We top ours with a drizzle of honey, sprinkle of cinnamon and roll them up. Others prefer with nut or seed butters stuffed with fruit. Butter, oil, cinnamon and sugar are a favorite.


I’m Learning to Let Her Go

My daughter has been helping me cook since she could stand, she loves helping. All my kids do really, but she has a patience for it that is unwavering. Adelle is 6 and is pretty capable at prepping fruits and vegetables, frying eggs, cleaning up, mixing batter, coating meats and the like. Lately that hasn’t been quite enough though. She wants to make her own recipes!

The crazy lady who wants everything to be perfect really screams inside at this idea. I know, cause that’s me! I have developed a parenting philosophy that sometimes clashes with my nature, and that’s where its really handy to have a philosophy. So against my ‘better’ judgment I have let her go!

I know her training, experience and capabilities and yet it was hard to let her do something as minor as sprinkling salt on our dinner. But I smiled as she seasoned our pan grilled chicken dinner, designed her own slushy, breakfast smoothies, pancakes and sandwiches. It is such a beauty to behold! I offer a little guidance here and there, but I let her pick and prep her own ingredients, and run with it.

I monitor closely, she needs to stay safe handling meats and I handle the blender for her and the stove isn’t something she is allowed near without me standing shoulder to shoulder with her (she’s on a stool Montessori style inspired), but I let go a little and gave her room to grow.

She is flourishing, and it hurts my heart a little. She is my oldest, and everything she does is new territory for me. I am growing as a parent as she is growing into an adult. So often I hold her and wish I could have my baby Adelle back. But there is no greater satisfaction than the age she is right now; remembering all the patience and hard work that brought us here and seeing the light in her eyes as she is discovering all the things she can do.