My bestie was coming down to Mexico anyway. She loves Mexico. She taught for two years in Ensenada and before that spent quite a bit of time in the town where I now live. After she was done teaching this year in Portland, she got out of there as fast as she could to get down here and visit. Luckily her visit coincided with Geno's wedding. I have known Geno for 6 years now. She's one of our teachers at the daycare. She's funny and witty and a joy to be around. Basically, Geno's awesome. Mateo is a lucky, lucky man.
We all got dressed up to hit the town.
Don't ask questions.
Like good Americans, we got there on time. Like any normal Mexican function, it started 45 minutes late. So we had a bit of time to sit around and take pictures of ourselves.
Steph brought her new camera, which has the panorama feature. You can click on the picture to make it larger.
Mexican weddings have padrinos, or sponsors of sort who provide the Bible, the rings, the pillows, and the lasso. Mom and Dad were asked to be the lasso padrinos. The lasso signifies the husband and wife being yoked together.
This is a semi-awkward picture of Steph, Maribel, Isaac, and me. Isaac is Maribel's son, and well, we had been holding him there for a while.
Not too many pictures - but there's a Mexican wedding! Congratulations to Genoveva and Mateo!!
Our Kinders' last day of kindergarten was on Friday, and the school held their graduation ceremony. We decided to stop in. We had to wait a long time for it to start, it was unorganized, but it was the best decision to be there. Many of my kids ran up to me to give me a hug, and later on were telling me "I saw you there! You were there!"
They call the kids' names to receive their little diplomas, and there are songs. I didn't have a good view of the proceedings because of all the people, but I managed to get a few shots.
See Oliver Josue? He's a special kid. He decided to take off his shirt in the middle of the program. He really loves wearing his tank top.
Can't say that there's been much going on around here.
I spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday baking up some goodies. When the groups come and visit I make treats to sell in the afternoons and evenings. Another intern thought that scheme up last summer, and when she left mid-summer, I took over the business. Well, groups are rolling in again, which means the oven is hot, my hands are sticky, and everyone's gaining weight.
*Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
*Peanut Butter cookies
*My Famous Chocolate Chip cookies (I say "My Famous..." because it's true. If you haven't yet heard about my chocolate chip cookies, it's most likely because I don't know you.)
I package all of these up and sell two cookies for a dollar, or one brownie for a dollar, or one PB chocolate bar for a dollar. It's a steal considering how wonderful they all are. I've only had them out for sale for one night and my current best customer is one of our interns, Kevin.
In the coming weeks I'll be posting recipes of these goodies, along with pictures.
The rest of my weekend was pretty quiet. I watched some episodes of The Wire, re-started a manly scarf, got sucked in to watching some episodes of 24 with my parents, ate some really great strawberry shortcake, and bothered my manfriend with silly emails. Pretty relaxing!
"There will be a small scatter of boxlike dwellings somewhere near a mill, usually on a river, and a cannery on the docks, needing a new floor. The main street is a stripe of wet asphalt smeared with barroom neon. If there is a stoplight, it is more a status symbol than a safety precaution... Traffic Commissioner at the City Council: 'Those boys up there't Nehalem got two stoplights! I can't see no reason we don't even have one. The trouble with this town, by Gawd, is not enough Civic Pride.'
That's the trouble as he sees it.
There is a movie-show house, open Thurs., Fri. & Sat. Nites, located next door to a laundry, both establishments owned by the same sallow and somber businessman. The theater marquee reads: THE GUNS OF NAVARONE G PECK & THREE SHIRTS 99C THIS WEAK ONLY.
According to this bleached citizen the trouble is not enough E's."
But I do eat salsa. Occasionally. Actually, when Cande, our daycare cook, makes salsa, I put a little teeny-tiny dallop on my plate to test it out. And I'll put a teeny drop of it on a bite of a taco. Because, man, that's spicy stuff.
While I can't do really spicy salsa, my tongue has become accustomed to some salsa. Yesterday, a group member was leaving, and asked Cande to write down how to make her salsa. She didn't have time before she had to leave for devotions, so she explained it to me quickly, and I wrote it down for him.
So now I know.
Ready? It's super simple.
Get a skillet pan and roast your tomatoes and peppers (jalapeños or whichever you want). You know, you roast them until the skin is kinda brownish. This makes them all soft and easily blended. It also brings out the flavors. You can also roast a little cut up garlic if you want. You do this with NOTHING else in the skillet (no butter, spray, water, nothing).
Put the peppers and tomatoes in the blender with some water. Blend. Voilá! Salsa!!
Cande says you can add the garlic, salt, cilantro, and a little bit of onion, however you like it - it's yours to experiment with.
To make green salsa, roast green tomatillos instead of tomatoes.
While we're at it, this is the simplest way to make guacamole. I don't know if it's just Baja style, or all the people I know, but this is great for putting on tacos (especially carne asada tacos!).
Ripe Avocado, water, garlic salt, blender. Make it a creamy, yet liquid-y consistency.
I love John Steinbeck. You probably know this. If not, you can read about it here and here and here and here. I've already read The Moon is Down, but I went back to read it again.
Written in 1942, The Moon is Down is essentially a social commentary on war. While nothing is too explicitly said, the occupying forces are obviously German, and the seized town lies somewhere along the upper Western coast of Europe.
It is one of his shorter books, and the characters aren't nearly developed as Steinbeck characters tend to be. But, I see that more as way to focus on the commentary instead of characters. Instead, Steinbeck aims to show the civility in war, the second guessing by occupying forces, the ability to question authority, and what happens to a people when faced with injustice. It's very simple, but the interplay between the occupying authorities and their soldiers is, I believe, the most interesting.
I loved re-reading the book, especially because at the end I came across a quote I remembered, which I believe says a lot about the theme of the book. It is stated by Mayor Orden, at the end of the book, realizing that he will be put to death by the enemy.
"You know, Doctor, I am a little man and this is a little town, but there must be a spark in little men that can burst into flame. I am afraid, I am terribly afraid, and I thought of all the things I might do to save my own life, and then that went away, and sometimes now I feel a kind of exultation, as though I were bigger and better than I am..."
I was trying to find something to read that would definitely be easy to read, engaging, and keep my mind off the fact that we didn't have internet access at home. When the internet goes out, it's time to read, but I was distracted by the upcoming vacation, and so I needed a book to really interest me. There are times to read books that take more thought and concentration, and there are times to read books that you can flip right through. At 400 pages this book is not easy to whiz through, but the writing is so easy to read, and the story so interesting that it does seem to fly by.
I've never read any other books by Jodi Picoult, though I did see the movie My Sister's Keeper so I knew what kind of stories Picoult was writing. I usually tend to avoid writers like her, but like I said, I needed something easy to read. It was easy to read, but also engaging.
Two young children grow up as neighbors and best friends. They have known each other since they were babies, and begin to date when they become teenagers. The story centers on an apparent double suicide attempt, which leaves the boyfriend as the survivor. He's accused of murder, while he pleads it was a botched suicide. Trials ensue, the parents' relationships are torn apart, etc. etc. It's almost predictable, and it's almost a little too easy to see where it's going, but Picoult does a great job at centering the story around the confusion and the emotions surrounding the young man accused of murder. There are just enough twists to make it intriguing.
We were only in Portland a couple of days. We drove down from Seattle, and Manfriend declared it our first road trip. I argued with him, saying that Seattle to Portland isn't really a road trip - you don't even need a bathroom break, a convenience store, or to fill up on gas. I really do try to keep this relationship interesting.
Manfriend's car only has a tape player, and he forgot his iPod, so we stopped at Salvation Army to pick up some tapes. YES! They were only 50 cents, and we stocked up on some classic rock. If you ever find yourself in this predicament, this is the way to go. Hint: Be sure to check the contents of the cassette container. We thought we were getting Tom Petty Live, but instead we got Tom Petty's Greatest Hits. Talk about a disappointment!
We went to dinner with his friends when we arrived, and we spent Friday lazing around. That means we went to breakfast, he visited a pizza restaurant to write his article, and I played Angry Birds while I waited outside. What is WITH level 20-2!!! I CANNOT GET PAST IT!!!
Angry Birds makes me a little upset.
After Manfriend rescued me from Angry Birds, we went to Mt. Tabor to laze around in the park. We are definitely getting good at this activity. I absolutely love Mt. Tabor. I went to school nearby, and I just love the view. Mt. Tabor feels like home.
It was warm both days I was there, and even hot on Saturday, as it got to about 85 degrees. I may live in Mexico, but my Mexico is temperate and windy, not hot!
That evening we went to a Guatemalan/Salvadorian/Mexico restaurant (I kid you not) in Hillsboro, and to see Bridesmaids with my bestie Stephanie. I don't like spending money on movies in the theater, but at the end, I said "That was absolutely worth the ten bucks". The comedy's not for everybody, but mannnnn, it was good.
I found this video of an interview Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph did with a French journalist. If you don't find this funny, you probably shouldn't see the movie.
On Saturday we went putt-putt golfing, and I got my hair cut.
We lazed around in another park before going grocery shopping with Steph. We had our friends over to her place for a BBQ on a hot evening, and it felt like summer.
I don't think this is a topic I would have ever brought up on my own. Pizza is good. Pizza is fine. I will eat just about any brand or style of pizza, without many complaints. You know when pizza is appropriate? On moving days. You invite your friends over to help you move, and you give them pizza for lunch. Or you order pizza on a movie night. Or you get pizza for a kid's birthday party. These have always been my pizza thoughts.
Then I met Manfriend.
Manfriend loves pizza. Not only does he love pizza, but he knows a lot about pizza. He's a pizza fiend. When visiting different cities, he gets on his computer and hunts down that city's best pizza. He writes pizza reviews. Say what? Yes. He writes pizza reviews for a very large website. He uses words like "char", "undercarriage", and "notes of..." to talk about the appearance and flavor of pizza. Where did this guy come from?
Well, I don't really care where he came from, but he's here, and all of a sudden I know more about pizza than I ever did before. In fact, just last week Manfriend was visiting a restaurant to write a story about a special kind of pizza topping. He shadowed the pizza chef (are they called chefs? I don't even know), wrote notes, took pictures. When we tasted the pizza afterward, the pizza chef (who already knew Manfriend) asked me, "So are you now along for all of the pizza adventures?" I responded that yes, I now know more about pizza than I previously did, and how I can somehow distinguish whcih restaurants I like better.
One day I may even begin to formulate a reason why I like a certain pizza better other than "Ummm, it was good."
On to the story: So Manfriend likes experimenting with homemade pizzas, and while we were at his place in Seattle, he made a very tasty Sicilian style pizza. What's Sicilian? I don't know. But it was good.
He made the dough, using this recipe. It was fairly simple, and made easier with a stand mixer and a dough hook. It had to rise for two hours. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can still make it, but it will take 9-10 hours to rise. However, we did not use the sauce listed with that dough recipe. I'm sure that one's fine, but we used another recipe.
The sauce (New York style) was also pretty simple, much simpler than I had anticipated. And yes, the onions cook like that.
We topped the pizza with parmesan, fresh mozarella, and fresh basil. It didn't need anything else because it was so delicious.
While Manfriend was preparing this scrumptious pizza, I actually thought to myself "I wish my blog had the ability to transmit smells, because this smells so amazing."
After LA, we flew up to Seattle. I've done a bit of flying in my 20s, but it's all been by my lonesome. How nice it is to fly with someone. And not just anybody - but somebody I like! I didn't see any celebrities at LAX, but Manfriend did offer to buy me a magazine, and since I love magazines, Manfriend won a special place in my heart.
I can't find too many pictures of our Seattle time. I'd like to blame this on the fact that the weather wasn't so great, or the fact that we were actually busy. Who knows.
However, on Memorial Day we went to lunch, and walked around Seward Park, and the weather was pretty perfect. Seward Park is a nice walk, and there were a lot of people out running, biking, and walking.
After the park, we headed to get groceries so that Manfriend could make me homemade pizza. Considering that Manfriend reviews pizza for a well known pizza site, and knows really fancy words to describe crusts and flavors, I trust him when he says "I'm going to make pizza". I'll write about the pizza in another entry. Suffice to say, it was delicious.
Manfriend bought the Seattle Citypass for the both of us, knowing that we'd want to go do things. It was a great deal. Considering that the pass was $54, and one trip up to the top of the Space Needle costs $18.90 (yeah, right), we were really pleased with the deal.
We also visited Discovery Park and Kerry Park. We're getting pretty good at this park visiting thing. Discovery Park had some really great trails and benches, and in the middle of the park are some old historic buildings. The houses were occupied, but there were a few unused buildings.
And let's just say that I won't even attempt to write about all of the great food we ate. Manfriend has a special gift for finding great restaurants. It's not even possible for me to write them up as I should.
We abandoned my family after Disneyland, and Manfriend and I rented a car and spent a few days in LA. We met with some friends, but also managed to see a few sights.
We went to the Natural History Museum in LA, which was really fun for me because I'd never been to a Natural History museum before. The exhibits were pretty cool, and we enjoyed the butterfly pavilion outside.
We also went up to the Griffith Observatory. It was incredibly busy, but we found a parking spot, and looked around the exhibits. We watched a short film about the history of the place (which I enjoyed), and then a planetarium show. I'll admit it - I don't really know anything about space or stars, but some of the things were interesting.
(Rebel Without a Cause was filmed here!)
We also had time for some self portraits. Of course.
We rented bikes and rode around Venice Beach. And rode the ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier. I didn't take pictures of either of those things. But they look like this.
Whew! I went on vacation for a couple of weeks, and right after I got back to Mexico, our internet went out for a few days. My Google Reader is backed up to 103 unread blog entries (even though I read a few things over the two weeks), and I've got some major catching up to do in the blogging department.
I'm going to just do highlights of the trips. What this actually means is that I'm going to write about the things I have pictures for. That's right - the only things that matter are the things that can be shown with pictures.
My brother, sister in law, and (smart, beautiful, wonderful) nieces, my parents, and I all drove up to Anaheim a couple weeks ago. We stopped in San Diego to pick up a very important person: Manfriend. That's right. Let's all stop and give a round of applause to Manfriend for saying "yes!" to meeting my brother and his family and "yes!" to hanging out with all of us at Disneyland. He is a good manfriend.
So we went to Disneyland! We all went for one whole day together, but my brother's family stayed for a couple more days. We had a nice, relaxed day doing whatever we wanted. A few big rides were closed down, but we didn't let that dampen our day.... especially because Splash Mountain was closed (ba-da-ching!)
On the tram to Disneyland!
Me, my brother, Mom, Dad (in front of the Haunted Mansion)
Manfriend, Rinda, Joel, Dad, Mom, Dana, Hannah
She likes it when my double chin attacks her head.
Two bad chicks await their Riverboat Cruise
I guess we are just this cool.
At one point Manfriend and I ran over to Space Mountain to see if they had opened it yet (they hadn't). Instead of going straight back to wait for the kids to get off a ride, we ran into watch Captain EO. Yeah. Michael Jackson in 3D? With weird side characters, an evil witch woman, and choreographed dance? Yes, please!
Have I mentioned how wonderful my nieces are? Their parents are doing something right because they are the most well-behaved kids I know, along with being incredibly smart and hilarious. While we waited in a very long line I invented a game for Hannah (8) to play with me. "What's a 5 letter word for a piece of clothing?" "Shirt!". "What's a four letter name of a President?" And yes - she got it.
The weather was great, the company was even better, and we were all exhausted by the end of the day.