Adventures,  Creative Cooking,  Wendi's Daily Blog

#70 – Freezing Christmas Adventure in Costa Rica . . . in pictures

What a week it has been around here!

A cold front has been sweeping through Costa Rica since Sunday.  It has been EXTREMELY COLD for us!  65 degrees to be exact.  Now, you might think that isn’t cold (especially those of you up North) but for us, THAT IS COLD!  Now I can see why Paul says it isn’t as easy as I think it is to go back to Utah for Christmas.  The kids and I learned that we would definitely FREEZE there because our blood has thinned out over the last 3 years.


This cold front did more than bring brisk winds, it caused power outages all over Costa Rica!  Our neighborhood was lucky enough to be one of them; although all the streets around our street still had power.  STRANGE!

We lost power at about 8 a.m. Monday morning.  Paul was our rescue angel and came home for a moment, during lunch, to hook up the generator (that he just happened to purchase a few weeks ago).  Our initial plan was that the generator would just be used to protect our refrigerators until the power came back on in a few more hours.

So I kept myself busy packaging meat for our freezer.  Isn’t that what all people do while they are waiting for their electricity to turn back on?  Re-package bulk quantities of carne?

Thankfully the kids didn’t skip a beat and kept right on working on their homeschool.  Funny Joy Boy!  He thought throwing his recording book away would get it done faster.  Silly guy!  (“I was just kidding, Mom!” – Love, Joy Boy)

Two kiddos finished their school work first, so they had the privilege of “evenly” distributing the decorating candy.  I think they made sure that any “odd” candies were taken care of swiftly and without any notice to their mother standing nearby.  (wink, wink)

But as the temporary outage turned into an all day power outage, I started to wonder how we were going to make our Family Home Evening, with company coming at 6 p.m., work out?  We invited a family in our ward over for dinner and a fun Christmas activity of decorating graham cracker houses, after our FHE lesson. How was I going to cook all the food?  I had most of the foods we needed ready but the sloppy joe meat, the fresh green beans and making royal icing that is edible for the graham cracker house candy decorations need to heat applied to them.  Where was I going to get the heat I needed?

Paul came up with a plan!

He moved the BBQ grill into the garage, opened the garage door and I used the side burner to cook the remaining food items.

Edible Royal Icing (find recipe here), over a hot water bath, complete with temperature gauge, came first.

Then Sloppy Joes (recipe here) and finally the steamed, green beans.  I stored the cooked foods in the grill, where they stayed nice and hot until dinner time.

While I cooked, the kiddos played outside, enjoying the brisk weather.

Thankfully the evening sky was just setting; it was gorgeous to view as I stood at the grill cooking the food.  Of course, it did take twice as long to cook everything on the grill but it did turn out delicious!

If only that BLAZING SUN would heat us up!  Oh how I missed Utah’s sun, right at this moment!

My next concern was how to light up the main floor, but El Gringo and GingerSnap took that task upon themselves and came up with a REALLY NICE solution.  I actually really enjoyed having laps on the dining room table.  WELL DONE you two!!

Nice Joy Boy!  He didn’t help set up the lamps but he wanted to share a bit of Christmas Cheer!  That is what he does best.  Well done to you too Joy Boy!  We sure do love you!

Paul made a quick trip to our local “Home Depot/Lowe’s” called El Lagar and picked up another extension cord (we left them ALL in Utah!  WHAT WERE WE THINKING???  Take extension cords with you when you move out of the country!) and a new LED light.  It lit up the entire ceiling, clear into the living room.  It was a bit bright but we all diverted our eyes and enjoyed the beauty of a nicely lit room.

Our guests finally arrived, after a long, FREEZING walk (bless their hearts).  Then the fun began.  We had a lovely FHE lesson on “10  Symbols of Christmas” out of the New Era.  Then we ate our yummy, HOT dinner of Sloppy Joes, watermelon, green beans, chips with Paul’s famous ranch dip.  After we cleaned up, we had a blast decorating our graham cracker houses.

After we were finished, I insisted on a picture (something I NEVER do!).  Paul was awesome and set everything up for us.  Unfortunately, we had limited lighting, so we are covered in shadows, nonetheless, the memory was made.  We even asked the family to sign this year’s Christmas ornament.

This is what our house looks like without normal electricity but with the lights the kids and Paul brought together.  The kids were amazed at how dark it was outside and started to play hide and seek.  I stayed outside with them while Paul ran our guests home.  I showed the kids how to play “Kick the Can.”  Boy did it bring back some fun memories when I was a kiddo, Joy Boy’s age, on Lanebrook Lane play with the Isoms, Yenchik’s, and other kiddos that lived on Lanebrook Lane or in Lanebrook circle.

We came back inside, tired and cold, from a LONG DAY and arranged our newest edible Christmas decorations.  The kids went to bed feeling very happy and excited to start eating their houses immediately the next day.

The next morning, Tuesday the 12th, we awoke to an even COLDER day!  The dishes needed to be washed from the night before but I did not have any hot water.  The kiddos were informed that they needed to use plastic goods until the power came back on.  Cereal in a plastic cup is actually pretty yummy, but the milk was TOO COLD!

I must say that I was a bit overwhelmed washing so many dirty dishes in such cold water, but I pretended I was back at Girl’s Camp and remembered that no matter how hot we got the water, it ALWAYS cooled down before we could rinse the dishes of all the soap.  I had plenty of water, and LOTS of soap, so I had to trust that the dishes were safe to store.  Still, I did let them sit all on the counters all day, just to make sure any buggies did have a chance to die.  (I guess I love HOT WATER a bit too much!)

Paul said that the generator could handle the microwave, so we could make hot water, but each time we tried to use the microwave, the generator would make a VERY LOUD grunting sound, so I would immediately turn it off.  “No hot water for YOU!” – says a joke from Seinfeld.

That day dragged on.  We ALL had a difficult time staying focused and wanting to get stuff done.  Most of us just wanted to curl up in our beds with lots of blankets and just rest.  Thankfully each time I walked past Paul’s graham cracker house, it made me smile.  He put his Santa on “correctly!”  He told Joy Boy that THIS is the way Santa goes down the chimney.

Before the kids and I dropped Paul off at the Marriott for a client’s Christmas party for their team, Paul hooked up the generator to the house’s fuse system.  Although it was SUPER COOL to be able to run the house without cords (everything but the oven and microwave could be used) the kids were sad that the house was lit up again.  It wasn’t as much fun playing “Kick the Can.” So, I told the kids to come with me, so we could go out to eat as well.

We went to Pollos Raymi and had crispy fried chicken, french fries, coleslaw (for only myself and GingerSnap), 7-up to drink, with pickled plantains in jalapeno juice on the side.  I bribed the kids with an ice cream sandwich if they would try the pickled plantains and a bite of a jalapeno pepper.  They all did it, so they had ice cream for dessert.  They are so much like my husband’s family.  No matter how cold they are, they can still eat ice cream.  Not me!

That night wasn’t as chilly as the previous nights, which brought some hope into our minds that the power might come back the next day.  Paul was incredible and kept making trips to the gas station to refill the generator.  We were all prepared for another day without electricity when our neighbor came running across the way, knocking at our front door (the door we never use).  She said, “The power is on!  You can turn off your generator.”

I had to laugh because although she may not have meant that she wanted the generator off, I sure did.  Watching El Gringo unplug and flip the breakers brought us so much joy!  Especially GingerSnap because she FINALLY got to bake her Key Lime Pie. She was just about to bake it when the power went out on Monday.  We were a bit nervous that the 2 day wait would be bad for the pie but we tried it anyway and it was SUPER yummy!!

I too tried out the oven by baking the homemade rolls I was already in the process of making for our sloppy joes.  Although they smelled a bit sour-doughy, they still tasted great!  There is nothing like HOT BUTTER dripping from a HOT ROLL!  Oh how cold I really am.  If only I could take a HOT BATH!  Sadly, the hot water didn’t turn on until dinner time, so I need to wait for the water to heat up before I can fill our ginormous tub.  Hopefully tomorrow.

Here’s to a fun end to a fun plan.  And here’s to “it’s beginning to ‘feel’ a lot like Christmas” because of the brisky, cold wind.  It actually snowed in the highest parts of Costa Rica.  It’s a nice change of pace and a good way to not feel so home sick!  It was 22 degrees in Utah today.  NO THANK YOU!!


Thanks for listening,

One Comment

  • Allison Owen

    What an adventure!!! I was just going to tell you it’s 20 degrees right now here in Utah but it sounds like you know how cold it is here! I had to laugh when you said 65 was cold! ;). It’s all perspective though! When you are used to warm 65 is cold! I’m glad it all worked out for you!

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