Bright and shiny

Goodbye Redrum!

Goodbye Redrum!

I am pleased to announce my departure from the REduRuM that I once called my office. Hurrah for me! No, I am not leaving my job but rather participated in a fairly large, inter-office switcheroo today. I am over.the.moon about it.

Before I had about a large, walk-in-closet space and would have to crawl/shimmy/awkwardly decide front or back when passing over my clients to retrieve papers from the printer during enrollments. I would constantly bang into the two drawer filing cabinet behind my chair because it stuck out an average amount and I had a not-meant-for-my-desk-hutch that took up more than its fair share of my work area. Not to mention that I shared my little RedRuM with interns as needed. And clients were constantly waiting for their appointments by just sitting in my office or peering into my door over my side shoulder as I tried to work. Not ideal.

This move is great. Great for us all. The women who moved back into our old office space now have room for the new supervisor they’re hiring by taking the two main offices open and the traveling, once-a-week supervisor will re-home in the RedRuM. (And truthfully, it is a small space but if we wouldn’t have moved and I would’ve stayed, I would’ve just dealt with it because I like my job.)

Goodbye inconvenient and insufficient work space!

Goodbye inconvenient and insufficient work space!

Bright and shiny! And very messy...

Bright and shiny! And very messy…

Which brings me to my new, bright and shiny office! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! I may be teensy bit excited. 

I know it looks disastrous at the moment but my space has nearly tripled by this switch and now I have great space for paperwork and computer work (105+ application questionnaires may be the death of me) AND I have adequate space for clients to sit comfortably and work on applications, etc; AND I have comfortable space for an intern! AND, if that’s not good enough, I’ve got space to store kid supplies for little clients that aren’t in school yet. Needless to say because I’ve all but bashed your brains in about it, I’m excited. And happy. And excited.

Now it only they could get my NEW (didn’t I mention I also get a new, full-functioning) computer and phone line hooked up, we’d be golden…

Advertisements

Eat the World 19: Benin

Introducing: Benin, country #19 on our Eat the World adventure!

Benin’s Flag

Benin is a small, West African country that is landlocked by Togo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Niger. It was colonized by the French and thus you will find the French language predominately throughout. I am lucky to have a co-worker who is West African, he is officially Liberian, but was able to shed some very helpful advice on the general cuisine found throughout West Africa. The information he shared lead me to plan a light-on-meat, heavy on peanuts and starch meal of Peanut Sauce over coconut rice with Akkra Funfun (fried bean fritters). I bought peanuts to make sugared peanuts, a common street vendor food found throughout the country, but I was short on time and hungry. So I scratched that idea and will be snacking on them for the next few weeks…

Peanut Sauce
Makes enough sauce for 4 servings
3 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 -1 tsp of your favorite piment/hot pepper i.e. Cayenne pepper in our case. I only added a pinch, a fair amount less because I wanted my children to try it without hating me. Dylan and I added generous spoonfuls of sambol oelek to our helpings. Admittedly that’s not very African but Asian, but what can you do? The heat was a perfect foil to the fatty peanut butter and oil in the sauce.)
1/2 tsp salt
1 beef bullion cube
1 cup water-or more depending on the density of the peanut butter you’re using
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter (the mix before use stuff)
1/2 cup diced onion
1.) Saute tomato paste, hot pepper, salt, onion and bullion cube in oil for a few minutes to let the flavors meld.
2.) Add peanut butter and water.
3.) Mix and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Be careful to stir occasionally as you do not want the peanut butter to burn! Serve over rice.

Coconut Rice
Serves 6
1 can coconut milk
1 ½ c. water
1 ½ c. rice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1.) Bring water and coconut to a boil over medium heat.
2.) Add rice, salt and pepper. Lower heat and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Careful to keep an eye on your pot so the liquid doesn’t boil over. Makes a mess on a glass stovetop—not that I’d know…
3.) Uncover and let rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve with peanut sauce.

Akkara Funfun (Fried Bean Fritters)
Makes around 16 medium-size fritters
1 small onion, finely minced
1 can of white beans (we used Northerns)
1 large egg
1/3 cup of flour
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Oil for frying (Peanut oil, palm oil or a combination of the two make for a more authentic flavor. We opted to use only peanut since I’m not crazy about palm.)
1.) Blend the beans, cayenne pepper and salt together until they form a smooth, firm paste. Dylan just whirred them together in our food processor for about a minute.
2.) Add the minced onion, egg and flour to the bean paste and stir to mix well.
3.) Add enough oil to a saucepan or wok to reach one or two centimeters up the side, and heat until hot enough to sizzle when a little batter is dropped in.
4.) Drop tablespoons of the mixture into the hot oil and fry in batches on both sides until golden. Drain cooked fritters on a paper towel. Take care to watch your oil so it doesn’t get too hot and burn your fritters before cooking them.
5.) Sprinkle with extra cayenne pepper and serve hot. The girls dipped them in the peanut sauce.

Ada was all about the akkara funfun before she learned that they were made out of mashed up beans. :-/ Dylan and I actually really liked them but MAN, are they filling! We had a lot of leftover rice (which generally never happens) because of those little fritters. Knowledge for the next time I suppose.

I’m thankful for…

Day 14: I am thankful for fresh produce. We are so incredibly blessed to have access and the means to eat fresh produce everyday. My daughters love bananas to pomegranates to tomatoes to pineapple to mangoes and the like. They will chop away on spinach salads, corn, caramelized onions, avocados, broccoli, and kale. Dylan and I love to have fresh berries with our yogurt and pears, scallions, and cucumbers. The list is truly endless and I am so, so, SO thankful that we have been blessed to eat healthy and well.

Day 15: I am thankful for other crafty, foodie, stylish, bookish mom-bloggers who are willing to share their gifts with others and unafraid to show their imperfections. Sometimes being a mom can be lonely. There may be millions of us but for whatever reason when it comes to making mom friends it instantly can transport you to another place and time where awkwardness seeped through your being. And with our world being so global now, it’s nice to peek into other moms’ lives and know that they let the laundry go, they have tantrums now and then, and get behind schedule. Life isn’t picture perfect and I appreciate and am thankful for other mom bloggers out there who simply are trying and doing their best. I’m grateful to them for their willingness to show all the messiness of life and still are able to find the beauty. It’s refreshing, and encouraging to me.

Day 16: I’m thankful for my co-workers. I know that I was thankful earlier for my job, but really, I think that they deserve more distinction. They truly are a group of people that are working to make the world a better place, even our cold, ice-bitten piece of home in North Dakota. I’m continually inspired and encouraged, challenged and supported by my peers. It makes my day interesting and so much richer.

A couple of my co-workers and I at World Refugee Day 2012.

Day 17: I’m thankful for humor. My daughters crack me up. My husband cracks me up. In fact, I think that’s a main tenant of my good relationships, humor. My family’s wit continually reminds me to not be so serious and to embrace the mishaps as graciously as I can.

Day 18: I’m thankful for movies and Netflix. As annoyed as I get by my children constantly wanting to watch something, I am grateful that they are available for sick days such as these. Charlie Brown and Dora have enabled me to finish the laundry, dishes, organize the bedroom closets, make lunch and freeze extra breakfast burritos for this week, and now, now during glorrrrrrrrrrious nap time, those very same movies have allowed me to read through the Sunday paper and catch up with the blogosphere. I am thankful for movies.

Happy 2009!

We bid 2008 adieu with Brian, Britney, Becky, Steve, Salty & Moses (Ada couldn’t man up and went to bed at 7 pm). We feasted on fondue and chocolates, all the while watching the ball drop…twice. To top off the wild night, we played a cut throat game of contemporary Yahtzee that Britney suspiciously won at the last minute.

We look forward to a new year and all the possibilities that it brings.
What does that mean? We don’t know.
But we look forward to finding out.