Our Thanksgiving in the Caribbean

Thanksgiving in the Caribbean is quite fun. We were able to do lots of things you can't do in Michigan! 
We went sailing! My first time ever! I was quite scared but once we were out there it was a lot of fun. Marvin was able to go 2 more times. I stayed back on the beach and read. Now I'm reading Flowers for Algernon, and I have "The Shack" on audio book, but I think I prefer paperback to audio. 
We went boogie boarding! Super fun. People were laughing at us because we would get washed up on shore like a whale and get covered in sand. 
Not Marvin or Lindsay :)

We stayed Thursday thru Sunday at Riu Bambu Palace. It is located North of Punta Cana on the East side of the Island. We took a bus to the location and it was pretty decent. About $8 per person each way. However, on our way home we needed to take a cab to the bus station. We asked the hotel to call a cab for us, they told us a 5 minute taxi ride would cost us $20 and when she say the "HOLY COW" look on my face she lowered it to $15.  I then told her we would be walking and she didn't need to call the cab. We only budgets $300 pesos which is about $9 for the taxi ride. Which mind  you would normally cost only $150 pesos or $4.50. So I thought that double the amount would be ample... right? WRONG! So we started to walk and we planned to just take a cab from the hotel gate to cut down on costs. We had a taxi drive past us and ask where we were going. He wanted $480  pesos for the ride I told him I only had $300 pesos and he said OK! So we made it safely back to Santo Domingo around 5pm Sunday. It was a great weekend- relaxing and much needed break from the city. We are already trying to save up to go somewhere over the Christmas break- maybe to the west???
Stay tuned for more adventures from the DR! 

Funny story about our roomy! So she stayed home this past weekend. Enjoyed the house to herself. However, on Thursday and Friday she was very sick and throwing up a lot. She kept going into the kitchen and smelled something horrid- like something had died. She cleaned out all the cupboards and searched everywhere but couldn't find the smell. On Saturday morning our friends came over to hang out. They took one step in the house and said "Julia we smell GAS"!  The gas on our stove had been "on" since Thursday morning and hence why she was throwing up and sick! They fixed the problem by turning the nob to the off position. To Julia's benefit she'd never lived in a house where they had a gas stove before!

Photos courtesy of



Monday- Wednesday-Friday... what in tarnation....I don't keep track of days when I'm on vacation!
We are currently at a Resort in Punta Cana- East side of the Island. I'm only updating because I got the hint from my lovely sister-in-law :) More to come about our vacation on Sunday.

1. Turkey or Ham - Turkey, however the Turkey here is fatty. Who knew turkey could be fatty, Leave it to Dominicans 

2. Favorite side dish - Michelle's rolls, or my grams fruit salad with whipped cream- I don't like it plain

3. Favorite dessert - Grams Chocolate pie, I remove the meringue for my mom to eat. I usually have 2 pieces

4. Black Friday: Are you going or not? - NO! Sadly the DR doesn't participate in anything to do with free, cheep, deal, or savings.

5. If so, what's on the top of your list? - If I were going- Mini computer, Camera to replace my stolen one

6. Going out of town or staying close to home? Going out of town actually- relaxing weekend in Punta Cana

7. Hosting or helping? neither- eating at resort- fatty turkey :( yuck

8. Name one family tradition at Thanksgiving - Gramdma's house eat at 1pm- no later or else she will be calling you! 

9. What do you do after dinner? sit on the couch, watch the Lions lose, possibly play spoons, eat chocolate pie, and go bowling in the evening. 

10. What are you most thankful for this year? My husband. I've posted about this before. He is such a great blessing to me. He is so supportive, wise, Godly, and a great best friend! 

Enjoy family this holiday season! Be thankful for the friends you have and the ones you will someday make! Enjoy the Turkey too and think of us because we think of all of you - OFTEN  :) Miss you all!


Twix Recipe

For my cousin Amanda who asked for the recipe:

Chocolate Caramel Shortbread - Tastes like Twix so that's what I call it
Makes 12

1/2 cup butter, plus extra for greasing
Generous 1 cup all purpose flour
Generous 1/4 cup superfine sugar- I used regular sugar

Filling and topping
3/4 cup butter
Generous 1/2 cup superfine sugar- Again I used regular sugar

3 tbsp dark corn syrup
14 oz/400 g canned sweetened condensed milk
7 oz/200 g semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease a 9” by 11”, shallow cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper (not necessary).

Place the butter, flour, and sugar in a food processor and process until it starts to bind together.No food processor just used a fork and some elbow grease Press into the prepared pan and level the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the butter, sugar, corn syrup, and condensed milk in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 6-8 minutes This took longer than 6-8 mins for me probably more like 20. It should be the consistency of sour cream, stirring until very thick. Pour over the shortbread and let chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until firm.

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set over a saucepan of gently simmering water and stir until melted. Let cool slightly, and then spread over the caramel. Let chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until set. Cut the shortbread into 12 pieces and serve.

This is the website that I've been using for recipies: http://www.howtoeatacupcake.net/
I like this girl. She is about my age and it makes me think if she can do it then I can too! :)

Feliz Cumpleaños a Marvin

Marvin turned 28 on Tuesday. We celebrated by going out to El Agave - it is a Mexican Restaurant. It food was great but they only had one dessert; it was a soaked crepe in dulce de leche (sweet milk). I thought it was disguesting but Marvin seemed to like it. To make up for the bad dessert I made him homemade white cake with chocolate frosting. I also found birthday candles in spanish "feliz cumpleanos".  He enjoyed his day.
This is a quote that he wrote to a friend in an email about his day:
"There is nothing like celebrating your birthday at an elementary school. Not only is everyone genuinely excited for you to the point of hysteria, but they all try to shower you with only their most precious of possessions.  I got so many stickers and bookmarks (one of which was sweet) that I am going to need an additional Jonas Brothers backpack just to get it all home"

Marvin and I are going to an all inclusive resort next weekend and we will be celebrating his birthday then too! We tend to take trips instead of buy gifts for each other! 

Plus! Marvin got a 2 birthday cards one from his friend Jason and another from a great lady at our church- Jean Porter- that one arrived ON his birthday. Which is A: shocking that it got here the day of  and B. amazing that it got here in the first place with out being opened. We've heard rumors that there are more on their way :)
Photo of the cake:



Tonight Marvin and I went to a baseball game. School had free tickets so we took advantage of the opportunity. 

It was pretty much like a minor league game in the states. The stadium was in decent shape. Marvin said it looked like old Tiger stadium only smaller. It is something that we enjoyed and will probably do again. 

Yesterday, I was back in the kitchen cooking. I have to say, I am proud of my self for doing this! For dinner I made chicken ceaser wraps (homemade ceaser dressing- GOOD) and for dessert- twix bars- homemade caramel too! 
The hardest part about cooking so far is my location. It is hard to shop for items no knowing if they exist in this country and then not knowing what they are called in Spanish. Spices give me the hardest time. The other day this happened at the store... I'm trying to make pumpkin pie next week and I needed to buy a can of pumpkin. My way of asking the supermarket worker was: "tienes la fruta, es color es naranja en el" - (then in pointed to a can)... do you have a fruit that's color is orange in a can.  Needless to say they had no idea what I was talking about, and we all kind of laughed and I slowly just walked away. Eventually Marvin came to the rescue and found it. I will post later how the pie turns out! 

photos courtesy of the internet and my new favorite baking blog: http://www.howtoeatacupcake.net/


History Lesson- Happy Veteran's Day

Veterans Day gives Americans the opportunity to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans. However, most Americans confuse this holiday with Memorial Day, reports the Department of Veterans Affairs.
What's more, some Americans don't know why we commemorate our Veterans on Nov.11. It's imperative that all Americans know the history of Veterans Day so that we can honor our former servicemembers properly.

A Brief History of Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was "dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day.'" As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.
In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress -- at the urging of the veterans service organizations -- amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

A special thank you to our service men and women who fight for our freedom daily! 

info courtesy of www.military.com


Dinner for 2

Last night I decided enough is enough and I need to learn to cook!  (my grandma's going to applaud this post)
I love to eat out just about more than any one I know- except for my dad- he's the king. However, eating out in GR and eating out in DR has a price difference of about $20. So it's time to start cooking!
Last night I made a list of what to cook for the week ( I got the idea from my cousin Amanda, Meal planning 101). On tonights agenda was, Chicken Cordon Bleu, homemade bread, and chinese spiral pastries... none of these have I ever had before except the bread but then again I've never made anything... anything from scratch. Well unless you count eatable play dough  :) hahahaha.

So 3 hours later we sat down to eat! Photo's courtesy of blogs, and recipe websites. 

Chicken Cordon Bleu- I didn't make the mashed potatoes or beans. 
Chicken Cordon Bleu by UHLMAN.

No Kneed Bread

Chocolate Spiral Pastry filled with Chocolate fudge

Cooking takes a lot out of you... It was fun though and I think I am becoming a less picky eater by just trying things. Who would have known! :)
From Marvin's perspective:
Today I was watching football in the living room when at about 2:30, Lindsay marched by me into the kitchen.   It wasn't long before I smelled some excellent aromas and heard some noises that sounded like cooking noises. Julia was out on the porch so naturally I thought "Lindsay has been kidnapped and the kidnapper is making dinner." I walked into the kitchen and almost fainted. There stood a woman cooking up a storm who looked like Lindsay and sounded like her but was obviously and impostor.  I asked her where Lindsay was and she claimed to be her. I was skeptical but I took her word for it. 2 hours later and this woman emerged from the kitchen with sweat pouring from her brow and chicken cordon bleu on a decorative platter. The food was scrumptious and I was very grateful. The woman claims that she has turned over a new leaf and that she will continue cooking delicious food. I don't know what she did with Lindsay but I don't really care, I would rather have the impostor.


Watching Movies Online

I love to watch movies... most of my friends and family know that quite well. I love to fall asleep during movies, watch movies over and over, and sometimes I even forget that I've seen the movie and Marvin has to convince me that we've rented it before.
When moving to the DR, I was a little sad because I had to cancel my blockbuster online subscription- they don't play here. However since living here I have found 2 great websites to watch movies online. I can even watch movies that are still in the theater! They might be out on video in the states... DR is a little slow with the cinemas. 
Here are two links that I have used and have found great success. Please let me know if you are able to use them in the states! They have been a life saver for me here!
http://www.watch-movies-online.tv/    This one is great for watching movies
http://www.free-tv-video-online.info/    This one has movies but focuses more on tv shows.

I've just finished watching Julie and Julia- I'm going to go make dinner now because I've been inspired...
I hope you enjoy!


Cards and Letters

See full size image

Today I received a package sent via USPS in the states and then the local Dominican post office handled it once it reached the island. Minus the fact that it was mailed on October 22 and I just got it today, November 6th (which is actually very fast) it was torn to shreds. The package didn't contain anything of "value" but still! The package was torn open, riffled through, the envelope inside was torn open (I assume they were looking for money), then it was all taped back up and sent on its way!
CRAZY! and the the worst part is that this is acceptable - not just done to foreign packages!

Moral of the story... don't send valuable packages to us!
Cards and letters have been great getting here but don't include anything that would make it feel like there is more inside. Packages for the most part have gotten here fine too but don't include anything that would be considered valuable if it was stole! Sad story but a way of life while we live here.


Simple Women's Daybook


FOR TODAY...November 3rd 
Outside my window...my cat runs with MiniMe, motorcyclers drive by at high speeds, and the guards music plays

I am thinking...I wish I were better and that my throat did not hurt

I am thankful for... my husband! He is fabulous and such a great friend - my best friend

I am wearing... my limited jeans, a tommy hilfiger tank top and flip flops

I am remembering...how cold it is in Michigan and how I would love to cuddle under a blanket.

I am going...to Bavaro for Thanksgiving, all inclusive resort. To spend some time away from the city. 

I am reading... actually looking for a new book, just finished today actually- Pay it Forward and Anthem. Suggestions- leave them below. 

I am hoping... it gets cool quickly and that it rains like crazy so the river floods and school is cancelled

On my mind... what am I going to teach tomorrow

Noticing that... taxi cabs all smell the same

Pondering these words... Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the
    Lord his hope and confidence.
 - Jeremiah 17:7

From the kitchen... comes utter silence... we went out for dinner tonight :) German Bakery

Around the house... students shuffled in and out. Marvin taught, Julia taught, I taught... many many students

One of my favorite things- clean sheets, fresh bread, and a dead mosquito

From my photo journal...

Taken Last Christmas outside of our apartment... that's Marvin's car under the snow


Di Me!

Tell ME!

This past week we had model UN (united nations) in Bravaro. I accompanied 14 students 2 teachers, and 2 parents to the conference. We left Wednesday morning and returned shortly after 3pm on Sunday. It was a chance for students to participate in UN diplomacy. They have to prepare speeches, learn how to pass motions, become a real model UN delegate.

I worked closely with 2 girls, Luisa and Ana. They chose to compete in English- Fifth Committee- Administrative and Budgetary. The rest of the conference was in Spanish.

Once they got in to the Conference they we set up kind of like a real UN. They represented their country "Burundi" and had to answer the questions they had prepared. Luisa and Ana were both able to give their speeches at the Conference!

We had multiple Group Sessions- which again all in Spanish :) So I didn't really know what was going on but it was interesting for the girls!

Then Luisa got a chance to read her position paper to the entire group, all 1,500 students plus chaperones. She did GREAT!

For the closing ceremony the President of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Antonio Fernández Reyna, gave a speech. 

Here are a few more photos of the group that we took!

Our delegates did fabulous. I'm excited to start this program up at the next school I work at in the US. It's crazy I'd never heard of Model UN until coming to Dominican Republic. We stayed at an all inclusive resort. However because we were part of the conference we were unable to use any of the ammenities.... no beach, no pool, no fun restaurants. That part really stunk. Especially for me since I didn't attend a few of the teacher conferences because they were in Spanish. I started reading a book. Most of you know I'm not a reader but I hope I've turned a new leaf.  I'm almost finished with Pay it Forward and half way through Anthem By Ayn Rand. Marvin has been strongly encouraging me to read it since he finished most of her novels last year. If you have good book suggestions send them my way. If you can get the text online that is even better-hard to get English print here!

Photos courtesy of Luisa - Delegate from Burundi