Sunday, December 26, 2010

HLC Montezuma's Castle part 2

Opps...I forgot to put these pictures on my last entry of me and Ruth...

HLC Montezuma's Castle

After Ruth met us in Flagstaff, she and I drove towards the Valley.  As we were driving, I saw the sign for Montezuma's Castle and I mentioned that I had never been there and didn't know when ever the next time that I'd be in the area.  So Ruth decided we should stop and we did!
This isn't the only American Indian ruins in Arizona.  For as long as I can remember, when we'd go to Roosevelt Lake, we'd go to the ruins there.  They are really neat to see.  Montezuma's Castle, you can't actually go up to or walk around in...unlike the one at Roosevelt Lake.
As you can see, it's high up on the cliff face.  This was for protection from other tribes, animals, etc.  It's kind of fun to contemplate what went on here all those years ago.
Then we went to Tuzigoot which was a little further.  It is like a watch-tower in the middle of a valley on top of a hill.  There was a grain grinder there so I pretended like I was making food...hehe...
As you can see it was a cloudy day...but talk about atmospheric!  Made for some amazing pictures.  If we could've been there for the sunset, it would've been absolutely incredible!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

HLC Arizona continued...

Well…as you know it’s been a while since my last post.  And there’s a very good reason for it…I got really sick and had to get surgery. L Not fun but it happens.  Good thing is that I am feeling back to normal.  J

During my time of illness, I didn’t do tons of things, but I did get to do a few things.

One of those things was spending time with family.  It’s a tradition when I visit to paint the nieces’ fingernails.  Lexie wanted in the picture but her smile was silly.

Here is Grandpa and Chase having fun…and being silly. ;)

When Ruth came into Arizona for Christmas, Mom drove me to Flagstaff to met up with her so that we could meet some really good friends for dinner.  Cynthia, Lexie and Lance came along.

Here they are being silly like they normally are…

Monday, December 20, 2010

HLC Back to Arizona

Friday after going to the temple, we headed back to Vonda's house and had lunch.  Then, along with the kids and David, we headed to the Portland, Oregon airport.  It's so wonderful to visit with family but so sad when the time ends and we have to leave.  The kids didn't want me to leave.  They kept asking me if I could move there or if they could jump into my suitcase so they could come with me.  Family is important and its sad that sometimes we are far apart, but we try to make the most of our time together.
Then when I got back to Arizona, I had all these plans but they got interrupted because I got sick! :(  Really sick, so sick that I passed out a couple of times and had to go to the ER.  So I ended up coming up to Lakeside so mom could help take care of me.
Here I am feeling a little better and painting the girls nails which is a tradition.  Every time Ruth or I come home, we paint the nieces' nails.  I enjoy making these small memories with them.

HLC Oregon part 7

One benefit of sisters, is we help each other!  One way that the Brewer sisters help is each is...dye!  Yep, most of us have to dye our hair, and some of us just like to dye our hair.  So since I was there I was able to help Vonda.
 On Wednesday night Vonda & David and the boys went to Scouts, so Kendra and I got to spend some "girl-time" together! :)
 We made an Oreo Cheesecake for the tea-party!
 Here we are enjoying the yummy food that we have at the tea-party. :)
 I went with Vonda to her "Garden Club" Christmas meeting.  Kendra played the violin.
 Gabriel came with us and seemed to have a good time too.
Thursday night Braydon has basketball, so I went with him and took some pictures.  He is the tallest on his team.  He seemed to enjoy it and so did I.
Then Friday morning, Vonda and I got up to go to the Portland, Oregon Temple.  That's one thing that I absolutely love about traveling, getting to visit temples.

I had such a wonderful time visiting Vonda, David, Kendra, Braydon and Gabriel in Oregon.  I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful and loving family.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

HLC Oregon part 6

Getting to see some of Oregon while I visited was great.  We drove to Multnomah Falls which was really beautiful, even though it was a little misty.
 As you can see it was quite misty...but it made for some beautiful pictures! :)

All of us in front of the sign. Its wonderful to spend time with family at such a beautiful location.

HLC Oregon part 5

While Vonda and David went to the temple, Gabriel and I spent time together.
 We played lots of board games together...
Earlier I had shown Vonda how to make these delicious rolls and Gabriel helped me cook and ice the cinnamon rolls...He's such a good helper!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

HLC Oregon part 4

Monday night for FHE we went to Vonda's friends to make ginger bread houses.  As you can see by the picture, I was really focused...making a gingerbread house is serious business ;)

 The kids had a good time as well.
I love all the fun things that happen during Christmas! AND spending time with family. :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Home Leave Continued (HLC) Oregon part 3

So instead of doing one long page, I'm doing my Oregon trip in installations and here is number 3! :D
As part of my Christmas gift, Vonda surprised me and Kendra with a "girlie" day getting our nails done.  We picked Kendra up from school about 11 and drove into Estacada.  Kendra thought she was going to a dentist appointment, so imagine her surprise when Vonda told her (she kind of guessed it because Kendra had asked Vonda earlier if that was a surprise that we could do).  So Monday morning Vonda called and made appointments for us at 12.  I got a pedicure and Vonda and Kendra did a manicure.  We all picked out our colors and got ready for pampering.  I selected red (for Christmas) and Vonda and Kendra both selected different greens.  The people doing our nails were from Vietnam so they were a little hard to understand but they did a fabulous job.  Vonda asked how Kendra felt, and Kendra replied "Like a queen".
Gabriel was with us because he only goes a half-a-day to school and he took this picture, good job for a 6 year old photographer!  The technician asked Gabriel if he wanted a manicure and Gabriel said, "NO! That's girlie!"  So the technician kept teasing him.  All-in-all Gabriel was a good sport to spend an hour with the girls as we were being girlie!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oregon continued...

Before we exchanged gifts, the kids played the piano and Kendra played the violin. They are all so talented!  It's great that they are developing these kind of talents because they will help them a lot latter in life...AND I got to hear some beautiful music! :)

Home leave continued...

So after going to Utah, I still decided that I didn't do enough traveling, so I got on ANOTHER airplane and went to Oregon to visit Vonda and her family.  It had been almost a year since I had seen them.  I've talked to them on Skype, but physically being with them, it'd been almost a year.  It also turned out that we each drew each others name for our Christmas gift exchange.  So we exchanged gifts the first day.  The kids were really excited to open gifts! :)

Home leave continued...Visiting Ruth and Utah!

THEN I decided that I hadn't flown enough, I needed to get on another plane and fly to Utah to visit Ruth and go to three temples that I hadn't been to.  Oquirrah, Jordan River and Drapper.  It was quite humorous because Ruth, when she picked me up, was out of gas, so we had to find a gas station and then go to the temple.  We went the "long way around"...haha...
The gas station was actually on the same road that would've taken us RIGHT to the temple, but we went in a big round circle around and were late to the session.  My friend JoAnn, who served a mission in Latvia, meet us there and afterwards we went to dinner.  It was so wonderful to see Ruth and JoAnn.
Then I stayed at Ruth's house.  I showed her how to make my cheesecake the following day after going to the temple.  Then Cory came over so I could meet him and we went to dinner.  It was very fortuitous because there was a jewelry store and I said that we were going to go in and look.

Home leave...

At the end of every tour, State Department employees are supposed to take "home leave" to become "re-Americanized".  This goes back years ago when State Department employees would live outside of the States so long that they forgot what it was to be "American".  I think it's great because I get to spend time with family! :)
When I flew in from Latvia, my darling mother picked me up from the airport.  Then we spent the next two days together, shopping, and having a good time.  My lovely mother even brought me Venezia pizza to eat at midnight!  Isn't she the best?!?!  I love her SO much!  So lucky to have her as my mother!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Something I was hoping to avoid...

In my travels and time in Latvia, I was hoping to avoid a visit to the hospital...but alas, that did not happen.  Just so everyone knows, I'm all right.  When you hear that they may have to put you under anesthesia you worry a little, at least I did because of all that I've heard about Latvian medicine practices.  I was sick all weekend long, so first thing this morning, I went in to see the embassy nurse.  After taking a look and hearing my symptoms, she recommended that we go see a specialist.  Without going TOO much into detail, I had an abscess that got infected in an area that made it difficult to walk. 
The way that they do their medical here is definitely different than in the States.  You have to pay first, then go here, go there, get the medicine from the pharmacy then go to the's just bizarre!  Anyway, I had to get an ultrasound and man, did it HURT!  Ouch!  Any way, after getting the ultrasound, the specialist said that I'd have to go to the hospital and get it taken care of right away.  That's when they thought they were going to have to put me I was a little nervous so the nurse came with me which was really nice.  I went to the University Hospital where they have a whole bunch of buildings but everything is in Latvian which didn't help us.  We finally found where we needed to go and they got me registered in and then they took me back.  They wouldn't let the nurse come with me but one of the doctors spoke English so it was ok. 
It was interesting inside, you could tell it was an old building and instead of private or semi-private rooms like one would get in the States, patients lined the hallways on gurneys.  I felt so bad for the people, they were just laying there all by themselves (families could not come back).  It just made me thankful and appreciate the medical care in the States.  
They numbed me and then drained the area, band-aided me up, I paid and then we took a taxi back to my apartment.  Anna, the embassy nurse was great!  She went the whole way with me and went and got my antibiotics.  Wendy offered to bring me dinner and my bosses were great. 
I didn't get out of Latvia without seeing the inside of a hospital but I am grateful that it was a simple and easy thing.

Monday, November 8, 2010


So I figured I should take some pictures from and of my office since I'm leaving soon.  Above is the flag that flies above the embassy and right outside my office window.

Looking towards the Freedom Monument.

Me at my desk.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

White chocolate raspberry cheesecake

I made another cheesecake for break-the-fast and this time took pictures...

Then after it's cooked, you let it cool for an hour and then you put it in the fridge.  I then make a whip-cream frosting and edge the cake, then I shave a little bit of white chocolate on top.  Then I made a raspberry syrup that I put underneath when I serve.  I got SO many complements on it!  Everyone loved it!  
If you want the recipe, here it is:
Crust: 1 c toasted almonds 2/3 c graham cracker crumbs 3 tbsp sugar 3 tbsp melted butter  1 bar dark chocolate melted
Filling: 2 8 oz cream cheese room temperature 2 8 oz packages mascarpone cheese room temperature 1 1/4 c sugar 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice or vinegar 1 tsp vanilla 4 eggs room temperature 100 grams white chocolate melted 1/4 c raspberry puree
Preheat oven temp 350 degrees  Wrap a spring foam pan with triple layer aluminin foil.  Grind almonds, graham cracker and sugar.  Add melted butter and melted chocolate.  Press into bottom of pan and bake12-15 minutes.  Cool while mixing the filling.
Beat cream cheese, mascarpone and sugar until smooth.  Add lemon juice/vinegar and vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time until blended.  Add melted white chocolate and pour into pan and bake until cheesecake moves slightly when shaken about 1 hour 5 minutes.  Cool for one hour.  Refrigerate until cold at least 8 hours up to 2 days.  Edge with whip cream frosting and shavings of white chocolate.  Make a raspberry syrup (1/4 c raspberry and 2 tbsp sugar) and drizzle over each piece when serving.