Sunday, December 31, 2006

Time to Push the Reset Button

Cool thing about New Years Eve is that little feeling of opportunity on the horizon. A chance at a fresh start. 2007 is going to be a special year for me in more ways than the adoption one - so it is about time to muster up some optimism and to brighten my outlook. I've got to get a moveon, or 2007 will whiz by as fast as 2006 did and I've got some stuff I need to do.

Time for me to push the reset button.......

Friday, December 29, 2006

Kickin' It

Ahh, the holiday let down. And I mean that in the most positive way. Time to let down my hair, recover from all of the cookin'/bakin'/sewin' and frettin'. I got to do exactly what I've been dreaming of for the past few weeks:

Snuggle in with Iris, sip a bit o' PGTips and catch up on the Real World/Denver.

Now I am ready to enjoy the weekend!!!

**Edited to add PGTips link - our favorite tea around here**

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Top Chef?

Wow, this is pretty cool....thanks LisaB!

You Are an Excellent Cook

You're a top cook, but you weren't born that way. It's taken a lot of practice, a lot of experimenting, and a lot of learning.

It's likely that you have what it takes to be a top chef, should you have the desire...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Why the AGA Rocks

Because it enabled me to cook 8 dozen cookies in an hour and 17 minutes!!

I made the dough for 3 different cookies this morning & they chilled until I got back from the market with the holiday weekend necessities. Russian teacakes are my favorite (Grandma's recipe), Tassies are Jzboy's fave -- and the chocolatey ones are a new addition this year. They are called Chocolate Mint Marvels. Funny thing is that I found the recipe on an InFlight magazine enroute to Mexico.

Take a look at the stove clock - 3:08pm.....Teacakes in the Tall Oven.

Tassies & Mint Marvels on the flip-side.....

Final batches out of the oven...4:25!! Elapsed time: 1 hour & 17 minutes. Brilliant! (Can you see the clock "through" my finger?)


The Mint Marvels taste like a lot like a Thin Mint - but with more chew. Very yum!

Getting excited, Dad??


submitted by Chris Wessling, senior editor/American Way InFlight Magazine
— from his mother Mary Ann Wessling’s recipe

¾ cup butter
1½ cups brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips (I used semisweet)
2 eggs
2½ cups flour
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
3 or 4 packages of Andes mints (you actually only need one - I also made a bunch w/o mint in case someone didn't like)

Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter and brown sugar in saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate chips and stir to melt; put mixture into a bowl and let cool. Add eggs, and then mix in flour and baking soda. Chill dough for 1 hour. Roll into balls and place on baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and place an Andes mint on each one. As the candy melts, spread it across the top of the cookie with a butter knife. Makes 3 dozen.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Seven Swans a' Swimming......

We're Seven Months in.

Yeah, we're in...and we're treading water.

DTC 5/15/06

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Yucatecan Treasures

*This is the third & final installment in what I'm calling my Mexican Vacation Series. This process has be fun. I enjoy sharing pics and the stories that go along with them. It has also been an opportunity for me to savor the memories a little longer. More pictures below in case you missed them.*

When a groovy old friend of mine heard that we were going to the Yucatan, she strongly encouraged us to check out the ruins of Ek Balam. She knew that we planned to visit Chichen Itza and suggested that this would be a good contrast to that experience. She also mentioned that there just so happens to be a unique little spot to stay closeby called the Genesis Retreat and swore we would love the place.

We did.

This is the view from the very comfortable bed we had at Genesis:

This place is idyllic. You must visit if you find yourself in the area. A cool,down to earth Canadian woman created and runs the amazing space. Amenities include: a sweatlodge, outdoor showers, beautiful mosaics all over the place, vegetarian meals and homemade fresh lime margaritas.

After a good nights sleep and an early morning wakeup call by Mr. Rooster, we had a leisurely walk around the community surrounding Genesis. We were met with friendliness by the locals - including some elementary schoolkids hanging around. One particularly confident girl helped me with a little Spanish. When I asked her "Como se dise" & pointed to one of these guys that were strutting around the place in packs:

She said "Pavo". Turkey.

These guys?

"Pavolitos". Baby turkeys. Have you ever seen a baby turkey? (Def click on the pic for a closer look).

Although it was hard to leave - and I'm not talking about how long it took the taxi guy to finally come get us - we finally made our way from the Genesis Retreat to Ek Balam.

Beautiful, blue skied day. It was warm & a bit humid - but very tolerable. I can only imagine what the temperatures are like in the summer. We were nearly the only people here on this very quiet Wednesday...definitely a contrast to the huge numbers at Chichen Itza. It was nice to be able to meander around in a quiet, contemplative space. And, it was cool to be able to climb to the top of the main pyramid (tourists are no longer able to climb to the top of El Castillo at Chichen Itza).

Did I say cool? It actually was quite hot. We were there when the sun was high in the sky & beating down upon the stone steps. I'd love to go back in time to see how the Maya lived in these places. I'm sure that they zipped up & down the stairs like nobodys business.

View from the top:

The Mayan site of Ek Balam is so incredibly well preserved. They actually only began restoration in 1997! And, there are still mounds left to be excavated. Incredible. Absolutely incredible.

We had just enough time to ride bikes down to the Ek Balam Ceynote (pronounced Say-noh-tay). This pic does it very little justice - you know how that goes...

This is an enormous sinkhole very close to the Ek Balam site. There are over 3000 Ceynotes in the Yucatan - and only 1400 of these are actually studied and registered. Apparantly they were considered sacred places of the Maya because they were the only resource for fresh, sweet water in the Yucatecan jungle and also because they represented the entrance to the underworld. Awesome.

Our taxi was waiting for us once we biked out from the Cenote & drove us into Valladolid so we could catch our bus back to Isla Mujeres. First order of business? Dinner - we were starving and parched. The place we chose had clean toilets, cold beer and this Yucatecan delight:

Huevos Motulenos - a Yucatecan egg dish similar to Huevos Rancheros which is incredibly delicious especially after a day of walking around in the jungle and when you haven't eaten since breakfast. The Negra Leon (very similar to Negra Modelo) was cold, refreshing & a welcome treat.

After a very mellow bus ride (via ADO busline) complete with air conditioning, comfortable, reclining seats and random martial arts movie we were happy to be back to our beach. It was a relief to know that tomorrow would not require any running around, timelines or decisions harder than which beach chair to choose. It was bittersweet because it would be our last day of vacation.

And, our last Caribbean sunset.

We couldn't be bothered doing much shopping during our trip, however, I did manage to find something special for BabyZ.

I couldn't resist. The man who made this, had a card table set up close to the restaurant section on Isla. He had quite a menagerie of handmade felted animals. The armadillo was my favorite.

So, we're home now and transitioning back to reality. Holiday stuff, extended wait times with CCAA, mortgage payments, work schedules, housecleaning. Back to the good stuff, lattes made with fresh milk, fresh garden salads, our home, family/friends to reconnect with and...Iris.

Yes, Iris was very, very, very happy to have us back. We missed her, too.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Smile Like You Mean It

Yup. It was last night!! They rocked. We rocked. The concert was terrific. I can not get the Killers out of my head...I think that is a very good sign.

Highlights of the evening:

1 - Six bands & Five and 1/2 hours of music for $45.50/ticket! I learned last night that the show sold out in TWO minutes!

2 - Best band of the night: The Killers


Hottest singer of the night: Brandon Flowers/Killers (Be sure to click on the pics below to get a better look at lovely Mr. Flowers - these are actually pics from last nights show!)

He was soo smooth, sounded so great and seemed to be having so much fun. Very sexy. The band was incredibly tight. As the last band in a lineup of six, they were definitely worth the wait.

3 - The Silversun Pickups did not disappoint in the least, although I would have liked to hear more from them. They were the first group to come on after the local band contest winners & only had about 25 minutes to play.
Not enough, I tell you!

There will be a next time, for sure, as I really-truly enjoyed them!

Bass player Nikki Monninger was inspirational. I want to be her.

I only have their latest album & love the guitar, so I knew she would be great. To hear her in person & see how confident-cool she was onstage reminded me of that fantasy I've always had of being a rock & roll star! You Go Ms. Nikki!!

4 - I think that Modest Mouse should change its name to Johnny Marr (formerly of the Smiths) and the Modest Mice. The band seemed totally separated from Johnny, who is more of a guitarist than a vocalist - but they had him positioned as though he was fronting the band. It was just awkward.

5 - Jack White is taller, fuller and a lot less vacant than I'd imagined him.

He was really soulful...and pretty hot, too, come to think of it. It was interesting to hear the Raconteurs do some really old school sounding stuff. Jzboy said he thought that it sounded a lot like Alice Cooper. It was almost comical when they broke into their hit (Steady as She Goes) as the final song on their playlist. To me, it was really out of place.

6 - The Shins were good. One of the guitarists really melted my heart with how into the music he was & the way he moved. I noticed some really, huge fans in the crowd -- I'm just not that up on their stuff, I suppose.

Final Thoughts:

Getting hit on in the beer line never gets old.

Cell phone "lights" have now replaced the lighter at a concert.

Always dress in layers if you are going to a show in December.

Run, don't walk to the shop and buy the Killers new it ok to still call them albums? Track 6 - my favorite.

Kids are still overindulging and passing out in the bathrooms at concerts.

There is still anxiety around "being seen" at a show - for me, now, it is the anxiety of being seen by one of the kids I work with at the high school.

Some things don't change...including overinflated beer prices and my annoying habit of leaving concert tickets in back pockets & destroying them in the wash.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Chichen Itza - Not Chicken Pizza!

We LOVED our time on the beach in Mexico - but truly wanted to experience the history of the ruins inland. So we traveled westward to the Yucatan. It may seem cliche to some - but our primary destination was Chichen Itza. What an amazing spot. Spiritual, historical, international - inspirational.


The day was perfect - warm, but not too hot, incredible blue skies. We were awestruck. What a sight - a photo on a random blog just does not do it justice.

I hope that you'll click on the pictures to enlarge the images to get a closer look.

I accept the fact that I'm a lamebrain in the history department, but...c' did I graduate high school without an understanding of the history in this part of the world? It makes me angry...really. Really!! We hooked up with this great Spanish speaking docent who walked us through a small part of the ruins. This guy gave us a great, albeit cursory history lesson about Chichen Itza and its rise to power - I want to know more, though. It is all so interesting & complex.

This stone carving references the "games" played at Chichen Itza that precluded the sacrifices made to the Gods.

This is an etching that alludes to the activities surrounding the beheadings that became a part of the sacrificial aspect of life in Chichen Itza back in the day. Our guide told us that the Maya people were not "into" sacrifice until they were infiltrated by another group of people (sorry, I can't remember the name of that group). Interesting how they embraced the practice.

Love the skull pic, BTW.

Here are a couple other pics of the amazing stone etchings - It is amazing to me to think of how old this art is. Incredible. And, so damn beautiful.

One thing about Chichen Itza - it is a very huge tourist attaction. I will not call it a tourist trap, though. The "artisan marketplace" outside the area is more of a trap. Once you are inside, and this place is huge, you are in a sacred sort of place. Yes, there are loads of folk trying to sell you stuff that has likely been made in China...but, well, you move on from that. It is not like there is a McDonalds onsite. There is some sense of reverence in spite of the capitalization of the thousands of people visiting the spot daily.

Final, shadowy pic of the amazing spot:

Proof that we were here together:

A very cool, very well traveled friend of ours recommended a retreat close to Chichen Itza - well off the beaten path. This included a trip to Ek Balam, a ruins site that has only recently been excavated. That was our planned resting place...and we did end up there....eventually.

More pics of that spot and a funny culture collision story to come...........

Until then....adios muchachas/muchachos.

Does Yoni Mean What I Think It Means??

You are the World

Completion, Good Reward.

The World is the final card of the Major Arcana, and as such represents saturnian energies, time, and completion.

The World card pictures a dancer in a Yoni (sometimes made of laurel leaves). The Yoni symbolizes the great Mother, the cervix through which everything is born, and also the doorway to the next life after death. It is indicative of a complete circle. Everything is finally coming together, successfully and at last. You will get that Ph.D. you've been working for years to complete, graduate at long last, marry after a long engagement, or finish that huge project. This card is not for little ends, but for big ones, important ones, ones that come with well earned cheers and acknowledgements. Your hard work, knowledge, wisdom, patience, etc, will absolutely pay-off; you've done everything right.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

I love the theme of completion in this card....and things coming full circle.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Life's a Beach

This is me in full vacation mode at one of the many beachside restaurants on Isla Mujeres. Yup, this pic pretty much sums it up.

Isla Mujeres is a teeny, tiny island very close to Cancun in the Mexican State called Quintana Roo. Yes, it is close to Cancun - a 20 minute ferry ride - but couldn't have been further from the flashy, Vegas-esque vibe that seems to exhist there. Here's a pic of the beach a few footsteps from our hotel - we liked to call it "our" beach.

Vacation is a very, very good thing. Mexico was amazing. It was warm, romantic, beautiful, friendly, accessible and incredibly kick-back. Did I mention warm? Very warm. The water & the sun. It was great being in the ocean again - well, I guess it is the sea - I've never experienced water so perfect in temerperature & clarity. And the white sand?? Gorgeous.

We rented a golf cart one day to explore the island. Very fun. Here is jzboy at Punta Sur which is on the Southern end of Isla Mujeres. Gorgeous views of the Caribbean!! It was here that we saw the "Cliff of the Dawn" - the easternmost point in the country & therefore the first part of Mexico to be touched by the sun's rays every dawn.

Best part about our golf cart tourism was the stop at the Tortugranja - the Turtle Farm.

This federally supported program is located on ancient nesting grounds of the giant sea turtle. Turtles come back to the same place they were born to lay their eggs deep in the beach sand. The farm protects the eggs and collects and protects the young, rearing them in large tanks until they can be released into the sea at an age and size where they can take care of themselves. Here are some pics of the protected little (or big) guys:

These guys are 5 days old!!

I'm in love.......

Every day of our vacation ended with an amazing sunset. For me, it was an ideal way to say goodbye to the sun. I felt so incredibly thankful each evening watching the sun sink below the horizon and basking in its glow. I felt comforted, peaceful and so very, very thankful.

I'll have to post a little later on our trip inland - to the Yucatan. That was an entirely different experience & deserves its own space.

Until then ~ Adios.