Monday, August 30, 2010

Meet me on Monday, the 12 th

Meet me on Monday, 12th edition

Time to get to know each other better, one Monday at a time. Link up to Java here to meet more bloggers and to answer her questions of the week.
We had an awesome answer to prayer last night. The spring rain came before spring even started. Whoever has been reading my blog for a while knows that we were in a drought for the last 2 years, so we are hoping that this will be the start of a wetter (do you say it that way?) spring and summer. Then maybe we can harvest a crop around Easter next year. The best sound to a Chaqueño's (person living in the dry Chaco) ears is the sound of rain on the tin roofs and the distant thunder coming closer. The second best sound to my ears is to hear the tractors in the village starting up this morning to plow the orchards. Thank you Lord!


1. What is your favorite kind of potato chip?

I never met a potato chip I didn’t like, but because we can’t get Salt & Vinegar chips here, I’m craving those the most.
My sis J brought these chips in her suitcase all the way from Canada!

2. Do you make your bed every day?

Um, do you really have to ask this? My kids or my mom might be reading… I make our bed almost every day!

3. How often do you go to the hair salon?

That reminds me to make an appointment for this week; I usually get my hair cut every 2 – 3 months.

4. What do you dip your French fries in?


5. Do you shop with coupons?

No, our stores don’t have coupons here. But I won an iron (as to iron clothes with) in a contest in our supermarket the other day!

 I hope you have all read my post from yesterday, explaining my heritage. I'm working on part 2, so check in again soon. Love, Brenda, aka the Chacogirl!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

From Prussia to Paraguay, part 1

Some of my readers have asked me about my heritage. It's such a long story, that I decided to make a little series of how a german/english speaking girl like me is living in Paraguayan Chaco in South America.
It all started in Prussia. Whoever is looking for Prussia on a current world map won't find it anywhere.
It was part of today's Germany and Poland.

So, here goes my story:
From Prussia to Paraguay, my heritage

My ancestors were dutch-german Anabaptists (following the teachings of Menno Simons) living in Prussia as early as 1530.

Catherine the Great from Russia invited farmers in 1763 to settle in the Ukraine. Many Mennonites were attracted to this offer, because they were encountering restrictions in living their faith. They also wanted to be excused from military service. In the years from 1787-1870 about 1907 families (8000 people) migrated to various parts of Russia, such as Chortitza, Molotschna, Samara and Vilna.

Map of the Russian Mennonite colonies in 1875. Source:

Most Mennonites from this group are traditionally multilingual, with Plautdietsch (low-German) and German as their first languages.

The colonists formed villages of 15 – 30 families, and this concept is still used in our colony in Paraguay. Each farm had about 70 ha (175 acres) of land to it, and some villages had a communal plot of land for funding large projects or for use by the poor in lean years. (This is also done in one of the villages in our area.) In the beginning the Mennonites raised cattle, sheep and general crops to provide for their household. But as they got to know the land better, they diversified into growing mulberries for the silk industry, they produced honey, flax and tobacco and marketed fruits and vegetables for city markets. By 1830, wheat was their main crop.

Quote by wiki:

“Expanding population and the associated pressure for more farmland became a problem by 1860. The terms of the settlement agreement prevented farms from being divided; they were required to pass intact from one generation to the next. Since agriculture was the main economic activity, an expanding class of discontented, landless poor arose. Their problems tended to be ignored by the village assembly, which consisted of voting landowners. By the early 1860s the problem became so acute that the landless organized a party that petitioned the Russian government for relief. A combination of factors relieved their plight. The Russian government permitted farms to be divided in half or quarters and ordered release of the village's communal land. The colonies themselves purchased land and formed daughter colonies on the eastern frontier extending into Siberia and Turkestan. These new colonies included Bergtal, Neu Samara Colony and the Mennonite settlements of Altai.

As wheat farming expanded, the demand for mills and farm equipment grew. The first large foundry was established in Chortitza in 1860 and other firms followed. By 1911 the eight largest Mennonite-owned factories produced 6% of the total Russian output (over 3 million rubles), shipped machinery to all parts of the empire and employed 1744 workers. The annual output of Lepp and Wallman of Schönwiese was 50,000 mowers, 3000 threshing machines, thousands of gangplows in addition to other farm equipment. Flour and feed mills were originally wind-powered, a skill transplanted from Prussia. These were eventually replaced with motor and steam driven mills. Milling and its supporting industries grew to dominate the industrial economy of the colonies and nearby communities.”

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Random Dozen

1. What is your favorite Mexican dish?

Are empanadas Mexican? I love them. Or else tacos, but no cumin spice in them, please.

2. When you were a kid, did you get started on your homework right away after school, or did you procrastinate?

We came back from school at noon, ate lunch, had a nap (or were supposed to anyway) then we did our homework.

3. What is your favorite store for home furnishings?

I’ll agree with Betty on this one, Feria Asuncion is amazing!

4. When you were young, did you like school lunches?

I always ate lunch at home, but I loved to eat a sandwich out of my dad’s lunch box.

5. Is religion a crutch?

No, my faith frees me from my crutches. Phil. 4:10-14

6. In your region, what is the "big" (most popular in the community or state) high school sport?

Volleyball and soccer.

7. Do you consider yourself rich?

Not in financial terms. But I have family, friends, health, home, pets, etc. So I guess I’m pretty rich, eh?

8. Which of these would you have the best chance for success in administering:


B) Heimlich Maneuver

C) Changing a flat tire, I’ve done this before

9. Which dance would you prefer to learn & why:

A) Salsa

B) Hip Hop

C) Waltz

D) Swing

I have no dance coordination, but when I see Hip Hop, I kinda want to jump up and dance along.

10. What's the worst news you've ever delivered to someone?

I was visiting with a friend at my house, and her mother called and said her dad had died. I didn’t deliver the news, but was there when she got it.

11. Name something you learned in college that had nothing to do with classes or academics.

I didn’t go to college.

12. New variation on an old question: If there's a song in your head that just won't get out, what is your favorite (or most repeated) line in that song?

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this, but this song really sticks in your head.

Shawty’s like a melody in my head

That I can’t keep out, got me singin’ like

Na, na, na, na everyday

It’s like my iPod’s stuck on replay, replay

Replay by Iyaz

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meet me on Monday for round 11.

Java wants to know more! You can also join in on her weekly bloghop when you visit this link and link to your own post with the answers to her questions


1. What is your favorite kind of doughnut?

I love to make and eat yeast doughnuts, check out the recipe here

2. How often do you pray?

Every day, a few time a day, love my quiet time in the morning with my bible and my Savior. Check out the website of "Our daily bread".

3. What is your favorite kind of music?

Christian contemporary, country, pop, soft rock, etc.

4. What do you order when you eat Chinese food?

I adore spring rolls, sweet and sour pork or chicken, love stir-fry, and even tasted shrimp stir-fry for the first time last year.

5. Would you rather snowboard in the winter or swim in the summer?

I’ve not seen snow since I was ten, so I think swimming is my thing! Love getting together with a group of ladies and kids at a pool in town in our summer (which will start any day now) (We almost skip spring here, last week we were wearing parkas and today estimate temp is almost 40 C/100 F)

Hope you got a laugh from that last picture!

Now, to get to my housecleaning again....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rodeo Trebol

or like my nephew calls it: "deo Trebol"
Every year in August the three colonies in the Chaco prepare a week-long fair/rodeo/expo thing called Rodeo Trebol. I mentioned it in earlier posts, so you know that our girls (and I) were excited to go.
We saw him:
 Then we saw him or her, I'm not sure:)

 She is so pretty!

Sorry, these weren't the only animals at the rodeo, but the only ones where I remembered to take a picture with my phone.

We also went to the stand with the pets, chickens, doves, a peacock, more chickens and finally: rabbits.:)

Brianna picked a cute little guy. His name is Skip-Bo. He's not fully grown yet, and he has the softest fur you can imagine!

And this shy girls name is Beauty. Cindy picked her out. So sweet!!


Cindy and Amy each picked out a T-shirt at the stand from our church's youth group.

Brianna is modeling this T-shirt for Amy.:)

And, last but not at all the least,... here's the surprise I was writing about on Monday. I bought this:  

I'm very, very happy and excited to finally own my very own digital camera! I can't wait to make all the wonderful pictures that were floating in my head, and wouldn't come out :) I won't go professional (like my bro-in-law, Hansi) but I don't have to borrow my parent's cam whenever I want better photos than my 2 mp phone and 4 mp second-hand polaroid.

I wish that everyone has a super weekend and I'll see you again for Meet-me-on-Monday!

P.S. You might want to know what Marv bought? He treated us to ice cream at the rodeo and supper at my fav restaurant in town later on!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Meet me on Monday, the tenth!

I've had a really wild week so far, so now I want to relax and let you get to know me better. Java's got some juicy questions for us today, and I'm starting to think she has a sweet tooth! (So do I!) Check out Java's blog here, link up to her over there and come and meet some more bloggers! I'd like to know someday how many bloggers are from the US and how many are from the rest of the world:)


1. What is your favorite dessert?
I really like floating island, but any old ice cream or cake will do sometimes:)
(I think you can click on the picture for the recipe:)

2. What do you wear to bed?
An over-sized T-Shirt kind of nighty! Super comfortable!

3. Do you get regular manicures/pedicures?
I treat myself to a mani/pedi every few months.

4. Did you play any sports in high school?
I hated sports, but we did have to play volleyball.


5. Do you have an iPod?
No, but my sister brought me a new mp3 player from Canada in May. I love it and use it every day!


Our garage sale was a huge success! The stuff we didn't sell, we are sending to a Mission store in Asuncion. We had a lot of laughs along the way! My sister, my Mom and my friend Rosella are all great fun to be with:)

This coming week is our yearly rodeo and the kids can't wait to go. They each sold some of their stuffed animals and were allowed to keep the money from the sale of them. They were saving their money to buy rabbits at the rodeo, so we better get the cage cleaned and set up.

I might have a bit of news for you all this week, but I'm not telling yet! (No, Dani and Andrea, I'm not pregnant!)

Oh, I got a care package from my sister in Winnipeg today! THANK YOU, thank you, thank you. My tongue is all wrinkled already from the sweet tarts! Love them!

Have a great week!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meet me on Monday, for the ninth time

Good Monday, everyone! I'll have to start "Meet me on Monday" on Sunday next time. When I checked in on Java's blog this morning, there were already 27 entries!:) So lets get right to it!


1. Do you watch any Soap Operas?

Nope, we get Brazilian TV here, and it’s not worth watching. I am somewhat addicted to American sitcoms. Can’t wait for the fall season to begin; I can download some of them. (I love Castle!)

2. What appliance is used the most in your house?

My stove, every day, 3-5 times. And my washing machine, almost every day. (Um, do you count a laptop as an appliance?)

3. Do you wear make-up every day?

No, only if I leave the house to go into town or to visit a friend.

4. What is your worst pet-peeve?

I have a few:

I can’t stand someone (or myself) being late.

I can’t stand not being prepared (band-aids, hand lotion, safety pin in my handbag at all times) (Water bottle, picnic quilt and toilet paper in the car at all times) (written notes, if I have to speak in front of a bunch of people) you get the point.

I can’t stand it when the radio announcers pronounce the words wrong. (We have a German radio station, but when they can’t even say New York the right way, it gives me the heebie-jeebies){Heebie-jeebies (idiom), used to describe a feeling of anxiety, apprehension, depression or illness.}

I’ll stop now…. No, just wait; I have another one, just one word: CORNSTARCH!

5. What is your favorite lunch meat?

Smoked ham!

I went to a concert in town last night with two of my friends and my oldest daughter, Amy. Anja Lehmann is in Paraguay and was giving concerts in the churches in our area. She has a beautiful voice, face and personality. I really enjoyed it! You can check out her website here.
This week is dedicated to cleaning up big bags full of clothing, stuffed animals and a mish-mash of dishes/cutlery/pots and pans, to sell at a garage/yard sale on Friday and Saturday. So, if you are in our area, your welcome to drop in at my parents house in Filadelfia. If you want more info, just call me or write a comment. Thanks for meeting me again this week, wish you all a good one and God bless each one of you!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday fragments, the first time!

I'm joining Mrs. 4444 for the first time today, to post something known as Friday Fragments. Let’s see if I'm doing this right.


Last weekend the volleyball tournament from our area started in the village next to ours. I spent all Saturday night in a little wooden “Cantina” selling enpanadas, doughnuts, popcorn, etc to little kids, sweaty men and lovely ladies:)


On Monday I was at the doctor’s office with Brianna, to fill her prescription. In January we get to start to wean her off the meds, I hope for a more normal life then!


Tuesday morning, my friend Carola and I went to a ladies meeting at a church in town. We had a “book presentation” of our new recipe book there and sold some copies too!


Wednesday started with ladies breakfast at the church in our village! Scrumptious, yet healthy food; and a great talk from a lady about marriage.


Thursday, nothing much.


Friday, today I started to price and sort the used clothing that I want to get rid of at a garage/yard sale next Friday. I really need a break from that. I also baked some homemade Pop-Tarts, because you can’t buy them here, and memories told me that they tasted really good growing up. (They weren’t lying, they are good!) Recipe here!


I’m also baking some chocolate cake for a country fair kind of thing at the campgrounds close to our village. (Flor del Chaco) I was thinking of a 4-layer dark chocolate cake filled and topped with ganache and chocolate shavings. What do you think of that?


That's all for today! Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Meet me on Monday, the eighth

I'm linking to Java's with the answers to her cool questions for this monday. I'm trying to post this while washing dishes from our party last night. Everything turned out well! Almost everyone came, except for my 19 year-old nephew, wonder if he has a new girlfriend? :) (21 people in total)


1. What is your favorite holiday?

Christmas, hands down. I love that we can celebrate Jesus's birthday, I love the sunday school's programm on Christmas eve, I love that our first child was born a week before Christmas. It gives me a little understanding of Mary's firstborn baby so many years ago! The picture shows my daughters' programm a few years ago. The wise man with the turquoise dress is my youngest, Brianna. The dark haired singer with the green dress on the right is Cindy.

2. What color clothing do you wear the most?
Blue (as in jeans), sage green, dusty rose and brown.

I would totally wear something like this, but i'd close the front opening a little. No need to show everyone everything:)

3. What is your heritage?

My grandparents were german descendents living in Russia 80 years ago. They immegrated to Paraguay in 1930. My parents moved to Canada after they married. I was born in Winnepeg, Man. Canada. We moved back to Paraguay when I was 10 years, and have been here ever since. I am Mennonite by faith. This is the Heritage Park in my town.

4. What is your middle name?
Susan, after my Grandma Susa.

5. What is your favorite cookie?

Right now it would be Alfajores. But that could change:) I love all cookies!

Alfajores are two white cookies stuck together in the middle with Dulce de Leche and rolled in coconut.

Here's the recipe from

Alfajores, a favorite South American pastry, are cookies filled with delicious caramel, dulce de leche, and rolled in coconut to make a buttery-rich for an afternoon tea, a special dessert or an anytime snack.

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

•12 tablespoons butter
•1 cup granulated sugar
•1 egg
•2 egg yolks
•2 tablespoons cognac
•2 1/2 cups cornstarch (corn flour)
•1 cup all-purpose flour
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/2 teaspoon baking powder
•Zest of 1/2 lemon
•Dulce de Leche
•Grated coconut

To make cookie dough:
Cream the butter and sugar together, then mix in the remaining ingredients except the dulce de leche and coconut until well blended. Knead on a floured work surface until the dough is smooth and let rest for 15 minutes.

Make the cookies:
Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch and cut into 2-inch rounds. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 300°F oven for 20 minutes. When cool, spread some dulce de leche on the bottom of half the cookies and press another cookie on top, allowing some of the dulce de leche to squeeze from the sides. Roll the sides in the coconut until the sides are covered.

Makes about 12 delicious, definitely non low calorie cookies!

To make dulce de leche:
Method 1: Pour 1 can sweetened condensed milk into 9-inch pie plate. Cover with aluminum foil. Place the pie plate in a in larger shallow pan filled with hot water. Do not allow the water to cover the smaller pan. Bake at 425 degrees F for 1 hour or until thick and caramel-colored. Beat until smooth.
Method 2: Place unopened can sweetened condensed milk in a pot with enough water to cover the can. Bring slowly to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and let cook for 4-5 hours until the milk is caramelized. Be careful! Keep the can covered and simmering slowly to avoid the risk of the can exploding. Cool the can before opening.