Tuesday, November 9, 2010

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs....

...When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence." - Ansel Adams
Things have been happening too fast for me to keep this thing up-to-date so I'm going to do my best to share the crazy past few weeks - through pictures.

First things first, though: We found out our outreach location! We will leave in mid-December for...

South Africa! 

Our team will meet over the next few months to get ready for the trip, so please keep us in your prayers as we start thinking about what we want to do there and how we want to focus our time.

In other big news, our little village had the first big snow of the season yesterday. We've been able to see snow on the mountaintops for a while but millions of giant fluffy flakes fell here yesterday afternoon. It turned into rain after dinner, so there's no real evidence today but I'm pretty sure there it won't be the last time we see snow.

I obviously don't have a lot of experience taking pictures of snow, but here are some attempts

We've also had a lot of parties lately....which means lots of baking! Cooking here is such a challenge, since everything is in French and uses the metric system (and I'm trying to use an out-of-date industrial kitchen) but I think that is part of what makes it so much fun.

Last night we celebrated Deborah's 20th birthday, so I made raspberry-filled vanilla cupcakes with a raspberry buttercream and "The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever." by Pioneer Woman. I've never made cupcakes, filling or buttercream from scratch but I think it turned out okay for my first attempt. The icing tip I used probably wasn't the best choice but we were late getting it out. Michelle, I know you are probably embaressed by my cake-decorating skills but don't judge - there is no Michael's here :) We were in a huge time crunch to get it all done after dinner while trying to keep Deborah in the dark, so I didn't get nearly as many pictures as I wanted.

I (basically) used the Vanilla Cupcake and Buttercream recipes from the Joy of Baking, and made the filling in a saucepan out of frozen raspberries, some kind of fruit preserve I found in the refrigerator (I think it was raspberry and maybe cherry?) and cornstarch until I had a gooey consistency. I left the lemon zest out of the cupcakes and substituted part of the regular white sugar with vanilla sugar. I think I may have used margarine instead of butter for the buttercream, and I mixed some of the filling into the buttercream to make it pink and fruity. Using the convection oven made my cupcake tops a weird shape, so I cut them flat and used the "cone method" to fill them - you can see some of the filling leaking out in the picture - oops!

The local English-speaking church had a meeting last week and needed help with snacks for their intermission, so David and I helped out with our friends Dan and Carolyn to bake and serve/clean up desserts. We had  amazing no-bake lemon cheesecake, apple cobbler, triple chocolate brownies, and peach/raspberry tarts.

Our DTS class got together a few weeks ago to bond and watch a movie, Bienvenu chez les Ch'tis (a French comedy with subtitles - you can read Time Magazine's summary/review of it here) so I made "Dad's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies" from Vintage Victuals. This is hands-down my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe - they're big thick cookies and the dough isn't too sweet (the batter would be AWESOME in ice cream). The only change I made was to add more chocolate chips - we are in Switzerland, so there is no such thing as too much chocolate.

Since Halloween isn't really celebrated in Europe the same way it is in America, the entire base got together for a week of fun and ended it with "Burtigny's Got Talent" on Friday night. We had different "theme" days all week - one day we dressed up like someone else from the base, one was mustache day, and one was superhero day.

Melissa and me on Superhero Day- she is Cat Woman and I'm Super Mario

Everyone on Dress-Like-Someone-Else Day. David is dressed like Melissa (I think the picture speaks for itself - he even made hoop earrings) and I'm Nena, who is infamous for wearing shorts/leggings/socks/sandals together. 

For Burtigny's Got Talent, David, Carolyn and I supplied the snacks. We made homemade pretzels and buckeyes. I've never made pretzels before and we couldn't figure out how big to make them (or how much they would grow in the oven), so we went with sticks but probably should have made them smaller - we underestimated the amount of people in attendance and they went pretty fast. We covered half of them in salt and the other half in cinnamon/sugar. I promise that they tasted better than they look in the picture.

And buckeyes never fail. Apparently news of their amazingness hadn't reached Europe yet, so we had a lot of first-timers but everyone loves chocolate and peanut butter.

Besides baking, we've been doing a lot of exploring and walking - we are trying to get it all in before the major cold hits and we've had some beautiful days lately.

We also went to Geneva a long time ago to see Jet d'Eau, which is one of the largest fountains in the world. On a clear day, you can see it from the hill in Burtigny, even though Geneva is a good 30 minutes away by car. The fountain pumps 132 gallons of water 459 ft in the air per second.

If you don't feel like you are completely up-to-date with our lives after that, you're just going to have to come visit us :) 


  1. beautiful pictures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and all of your baking goodness is pretty inspiring...I'm gonna have to hit the kitchen!

  2. So many things:

    1) I sent you a package, but I think I sent it "ground" instead of "air"... thus it may arrive in about twelve years. Let's pray not though. I was SO excited for you to get it! There was a letter in it and everything!
    2) I wish I could bake. Or let you bake for me. Either one.
    4) I have so many friends from South Africa! Okay, well actually only two, but that's significantly more than I had three months ago!
    5) Is that dog yours?

  3. so excited for you guys, I pray that you are truly experiencing the power of the holy spirit and expecting the incredible things that God can do through you. So excited about South Africa!!!
    miss you both- prayers and hugs!