orange crush cupcakes

This post really isn’t so much about cupcakes, as it’s about why we made them.

If you know me at all, you know how much we love Sixty Feet. If you’re new ’round here, you can read more about it here.

This week my dear friend, Shelly, led a team on a Sixty Feet mission trip. Over the last few years, every time she’s been in Uganda I’ve been there with her. I was actually supposed to help her co-lead this trip. Alas, Lucas got some crazy-fast orders to move to Belgium and the timing just turned out to be bad.

So…off she went…without me.

Oh, I’m homesick for Uganda.

Lucky for me, she is stopping off at my house for a day on her way home. At least I can rub some of the red Ugandan dirt from her Keens onto my face.

Okay, maybe that’s a tad weird. And gross. I’ll have to think of something else that needs red dirt before she gets here.

So if you’re wondering what in the world cupcakes have to do with Uganda and Sixty Feet, then you need to know about The Cupcake Kids. The Cupcake Kids is a partner organization of Sixty Feet that gets kids involved with fundraising. Kids and parents across the world give of their time and resources, bake cupcakes galore, and then hold cupcake stands at churches, parks, garage sales, and parking lots all year long. They raise massive amounts of money in support of Sixty Feet and are a crucial part of this ministry.

Today we made Orange Crush cupcakes to sell to the few neighbors we have. (We have yet to figure out how to host a cupcake sale in this foreign country, but I have no doubt we will eventually.)

And by “we made”, I mean, the “girls made.” I put them to work, and they did a great job…

…while the pirate and his scallywag watched and waited for something to be licked.

Oh thank goodness…finally something to lick.

I could post a thousand pictures of cute kids (I’m biased, alright!)…

…and pretty cupcakes…

…but like I said earlier, this post isn’t really about cupcakes. It’s why the cupcakes are made and why they’re sold.

They’re made and sold so that an imprisoned child in Uganda can receive basic medical care.
They’re made and sold so that an imprisoned child in Uganda can get counseling for suffering they’ve had to endure.
They’re made and sold so that an imprisoned child in Uganda can have their day in court.
They’re made and sold so that an imprisoned child in Uganda can go to school and get an education.
They’re made and sold so that an imprisoned child in Uganda can hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.

They’re made and sold so that an imprisoned child in Uganda can have hope.

That’s why we sell cupcakes.

Won’t you consider hosting a sale of your own? Here’s the recipe that we made today, so now you have no excuse. If my girls can make and ice these, then anyone can.

Orange Crush Cupcakes

This recipe is from I Heart Naptime’s blog, recipe found here:
Serves: 18

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding
  • 6 T. orange Jell-O powder, divided
  • 3 egg whites
  • ⅓ cup oil
  • 1 cup orange soda, room temperature
  • 1 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon orange extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

  1. Pre heat oven to 350. Combine cake mix, vanilla pudding and 5 tablespoons of orange Jell-O powder in a large bowl. Beat in egg whites, oil and orange soda. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  2. Place batter in cupcake liners and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and allow to cool.
  3. For frosting combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. With a mixer beat until smooth. Add the remaining tablespoon of orange Jell-o powder, orange extract, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Mix until fluffy and frost.



so far

For those who are interested, here’s how it’s going so far…

It’s slow-going getting settled in here, but peeps who have moved here say that they didn’t feel “back to normal” for at least 6 months. I don’t know if that’s good news or not.

It seems there’s always some paperwork to be signed, calls to be made, errands to be run and shenanigans to be shenaniganed in order to be official here. In the end, I think I’m going to have at least 4 drivers licenses and 5 different ID’s.

At tad excessive, dontcha think? Whatever…we’ll feel normal again eventually. I’m not too worried about it.

In the mean time…

The kids are all loving school. Well, all except Joseph. He went from a 3 day a week, half day preschool to a full-time Belgian kindergarten, where they only speak French. I think all the big changes are finally catching up to him. The poor guy comes home and nearly falls asleep during dinner. And then tells me that he doesn’t like school because “I don’t know what my teacher say!”

I think it gets easier every day, though. He’s learning French and doesn’t even realize it. Today we were driving over a bridge and he started exclaiming the word “water” in French. And he says a few things to his bus driver in French, when he’s getting off the bus. It’s pretty cute.

Which leads me to my next subject…the kids ride the bus home from school. This is our first experience with bus-riding. Ah! Of course, these aren’t the yellow buses we ride in America…they’re more like Coach buses. And they don’t get home till nearly 4:45, which I’m not too fond of. It really shortens our day, and dog-gone it, I miss them!

Okay, on to funner topics:

A really cool thing about living here is the fresh food I’m able to get. I live within walking distance of a dairy farm. So I’m able to walk over and get raw milk for .50 Euro a liter. That equates to something like less than $3 for a gallon of raw, organic milk.

Dude. How cool is that? And yummy.

Also creamy.

I’ve been getting my butter from a dairy farm in the next village (although I think I can get butter from my new dairy-lady down the street). It comes in a big kilo block wrapped in waxed paper.

I feel so Barefoot Contessa. Now if only I had an herb garden. And a house in Connecticut.

And today I went to an outdoor market (apparently they have these all over the place, year-round) and bought some fresh chicken, a boat-load of crazy-delicious cheese, and lots of fruit.

Oh, and salami. Don’t forget the salami.

Never forget the salami.

We’ve found a church that we like, so that’s a huge load off. Solid teaching and a great body of people. (I realize that’s not a complete sentence, Mom.)

Our van should arrive next week (YAY! I can’t wait to see it), and we bought a second car, so we should be able to drive that next week, too, and STOP RENTING A STINKIN’ CAR.

Sorry. Did I sound frustrated?

When you buy a car here, it’s not like in the States where you can drive your car off the lot on dealer tags. After you buy it, the car has to be rigorously inspected. Once it passes, you then have to wait around 2 more weeks to get your license plates.

Soooo…we’ve got a car just hanging out in a parking lot waiting for us…not being driven. Whatever.

Our household goods should be here in about 2 weeks. I can’t even tell you how excited Lucas and I (and our backs) are to see our mattress. While I’m thankful for the temporary furniture that we get to use, it’ll be nice to see something familiar. And softer.

Oh, and last, but certainly not least, a baby lamb was born this week. I’ll take some picture of him. He is uh-dorable. The kids call him Sugar Socks. Three more babies are due any day. I seriously can’t stand all the cuteness.

So this is my new farm-y life…baby lambs, raw milk, vegetable markets…and forever sweeping up dirt and dead flies.

The end.

i’m not even kidding

You’d think that I’d be kidding if I posted a picture like this..

…and said that this is where I now live.

But I’m not.

Kidding, that is.

You’re looking at our new diggs.

It’s an 18th century chateau, named Chateau du Rouveroy.

But you have to say it all French-like, and start the “Rou” part down in your throat, and give it a “rwah” sort of sound at the end. I still can’t say it right.

We only occupy the right half of the 3rd and 4th floors. You would think that it would make for a tiny apartment. But the inside of our place is very spacious and open.

My friend, Kara, thinks that we should have the theme song from Downton Abbey played when we enter the gates. I told her that her idea was entirely appropriate and that she should make arrangements for this.

Around the chateau property is a moat (again, not kidding).

You can see the ice and snow from last night. Apparently when it gets good and solid, the families who live here play ice hockey on it. I haven’t heard any rumors of alligators in the moat, so I think we’d be good to play on it.

There are so many cool things about this place, and I’m blown away by the Lord’s provision. When I prayed for our new home, I asked if we could live in the country in a carriage house on an estate of sorts (I had heard that sometimes American military families did that if/when those were available). I know…it was a long-shot and a bit ridiculous to pray for something like that, but I wanted to be out of the city and suburbs, and in the country so that our kids could run and play. And I was hoping that we could have an “old” European experience on this assignment.

Not only did He provide this house to live in, but He provided community. Which is huge here (to have instant community, that is…I’ve heard that it can get lonely). There are six American families (including us) who live in the chateau and surrounding out-buildings on the property. The landlord and his wife also live in the big-house. So it’s like a commune. And all the families seem to be really wonderful, and they all have kids who love to run and play outside.

The property is gated (and moat-ed), so the kids can play in safety. And the property is immense, so there’s tons of room to explore. There are farm animals…chickens, donkeys and sheep. One of the sheep is pregnant with twins and due any day. Apparently when animals are born around here, all the kids get to watch the birth. I hope I’m there, too.

The landlord and his wife are wonderful and so helpful. They speak excellent English and love to be social. I’ve hear rumors that Catherine (the landlord’s wife) likes to grow organic gardens in the summer and will help me grown one too, if I’m so inclined.

Which I am.

This is the church across the street.

And I took this picture a few days ago from my bedroom window on a rare sunny day.

(That van in the church parking lot was one of my movers, waiting for the big truck to bring me my first shipment of stuff. Hi, mover! Thanks for my stuff!)

I took this one from my bedroom window, too, but looking off to the left.

The moat flows into that bigger pond, and across the pond is one of the out-buildings I was talking about earlier where one of the American families live.

And over to the left of this pond is what’s called The Magic Tree.

And it truly is magic.

But that’s a post all it’s own…in the spring…when it’s greener.

We are so thankful for our little corner of this big ol’ place, and can’t wait to start making memories.

My camera is gonna be happy.

i have no title for this post

I really don’t have a stupid title. I can’t think of anything that doesn’t sound obvious. And lame…like, “We’re Here!”

However, that actually is the case. We arrived in Belgium this morning…12 bags/trunks, 6 carry-ons, an obstreperous amount of pillows, blankets and Pillow Pets, 2 stomach aches and 1 fever. Yep. Some of us were blessed with some sort of stomach bug the night before we left. And Joseph seemed to think it would be a good idea to add a fever on top of it all.

Nevertheless, we are all feeling much better now. Both flights were extremely smooth and uneventful, and there wasn’t even a single person in the security line when we went through, which means there wasn’t anyone standing behind us to give us the stink-eye while my children acted like going through security was more complicated than a Tom Clancy novel.

And now we’re all checked into our hotel/apartment thingy. And we’re sleeeeepy. And my ankles are swollen.

Is it just me, or does anyone else out there get thankles (thick-ankles) from long flights? I need to know this.

Besides being sleepy and swollen, we are saaad…sad to have left our families, our friends, our home, our sweet little town, and our too-wonderful-for-words church. Since I’ve made this trek to Europe several times in the last few years (on my way to Uganda), it feels like I’m on just another trip, and that I’ll be back home in a few weeks. One day it will actually occur to me that we’re not going back to our community. That we actually moved. But until then, I’ll just live in ignorant bliss.

This is the view from our room…

Gloomy, is it not?

It feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere, looking out on some little houses in Nowhereville.

And it’s probably going to feel really lonely pretty soon, being the newbie, and all.

But the good news is that I knew to expect the yucky winter weather (having lived in Germany before) and the loneliness that comes with being new, and know that it will only get better from here.

So don’t feel sorry for me (in case you were about to).

I get to live in Europe.

waffles and chocolate

Know how to lose all your readers?

Abruptly stop posting to your blog for 6 months, without leaving a clue as to why.

(btw – these pictures are completely irrelevant to this post. they’re just some of my favorites since my camera was released from its repair-shop-hostage-crisis.)

Life had become overwhelmingly busy, and something had to give. And this little blog had become a beast…and a time-sucker…always trying to come up with a clever, picture-laden post, answering all the emails/questions that came as a result of what I had written, editing pictures…and on and on. So I was more than happy to just walk away and take care of my kids, my husband, our home and all the hoo-ha that comes with that.

Ah…sweet relief…

Like a lot of blogs, this just started out as a way for me to chronicle our adoption journey and keep our friends and family updated. Blogging almost seems like a requirement when you announce to the world that you’re adopting.

Homestudy visits scheduled?

Birth and marriage certificates ordered?

USCIS forms submitted?

Blog started?

See? I told you.

And you know that I have a terrible short-term memory. I only have two penguins on my iceberg dedicated to short-term memory. This little corner of mine on the internet has been a wonderful way to remember the past few years.

It’s also good for me to have a catalog of the recipes that I make up. On occasion I might be seen in the grocery store, referencing my own blog for recipe ingredients on my smart phone. I can never remember what kind of tomatoes go in Chicken-n-Rice Delicioso, people!

This break from ignoring my blog has been wonderful…and needed. But now our family is moving to Belgium, the land of waffles and chocolate. (insert picture of me gaining weight here…I can already feel it)

And we’re moving soon. As in, reaaaally soon.

And I certainly don’t want to miss jotting down our misadventures over there! So back to blogging, it is.

It may not be twice a week, or even twice a month, but I’ll get to it when I can. Don’t over-expect.

Random fact: Did you know that Belgium has more castles per square mile than any other country in the world? I plan to live in one.

Also, the biggest baby in the world was born in Belgium in 2006. Are you enlightened, or what?