Monday, February 28, 2011

My hard working husband...

When Jared and I were dating, I *knew* he was the one after he spent about half a day in front of my house alone, trying to unclog the gutter that ran underneath the driveway. (okay--I'm sure I knew before this, but it just solidified it!)

His parents say he has always been this way, and it is true--If you give him an outdoor project, he will not be done until he is DONE. And he is a perfectionist:

The weeds growing over the side of our wall BEFORE:

Jared purchased some clippers, and WA-LAH! The wall AFTER:

P.S. Jared would like to clarify that these "weeds" are more like "trees", but highly annoying, because they drop weird spiky seed pods onto our driveway. They grow in the empty lot next door, and are wild. While we would be happy to keep a beautiful tree hanging over the wall, "noxious weeds," such as this, must go!

Thanks, Honey!

The freedom to earn a living...

One of the many things I love about Mexico is that you are free to make a living and feed your family. Let's say you can't find a job. Are you going to sit at home and get welfare? No--you get off your rear, and get out on the streets--and make money to feed your family that day!

You can find just about anything being sold on the street sides. At most traffic light intersections in Guadalara, you can get an assortment of goodies and services. It is very normal to stop at a red light, and have some young men (or old men) start washing your windshield with a rag and then squeegie it spotlessly clean. Even if you ask them not to, they will often do it anyways.

They must assume it is better to do the work anyways, and hope that you will find their service worthy of paying for. If they sit back and don't do anything they are guaranteed to not earn any money.

Other streetside finds might include: Candy, fruit drinks, ice cream, tupperwares, flowers, sunglasses, windshield wipers (we've literally had ours replaced while at a red light!), and the list goes on!

How about a Valentine for your honey?

Or a newspaper?

Or let's say you want to go relax on the malecon for the evening in Ajijic, but you need to make a bit of extra money? Why not pack the trampoline, set it up in the public park, and put up a sign that offers 15 minutes of jumping for $10 pesos? Now you are in business!

In Mexico, you will find many streetside setups where an entire family is contributing to the family business. Below, these ladies are weaving some fabulous tote bags that we used to purchase for our store. I just wish we still had an excuse to buy more and support all of these entrepreneurs!

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MEGA of Mexico...

How did I miss this the last time we lived in Mexico? It is scattered all across Guadalajara!

We finally had a bit of spare time in Guadlajara without child #1 and #2 (yay for school!), so we "rushed" in to see what Mega was all about. It seemed to me to be the most "American" style grocery store I have seen here--it's Mega big!

Step #1: Park underneath. Get your cart, and put it on the flat escalator to go up to the store on the 2nd floor:

Step #2: Browse the largest oil section I have ever seen in my life. Mexicans looove their oil...!

Step #3: Choose your favorite hot sauce. You are not short of choices...that is, unless you are looking for American-style salsa. Tough luck!

Step #4: Purchase a few odds and ends you have not found elsewhere in Mexico, as well as a nice fan (which we have been SO appreciate of, with temps rising up to 90 degrees lately--ahhh!). Pay, and then go DOWN the escalator with the shopping cart. Jared's not holding on this cart with the groceries, and Ethan. No, our child was not in mortal danger. This escalator is constructed with grooves that lock your cart into place, so it doesn't move during transit. Genius!
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Why NOT to shop at Super Lake in Ajijic...

The Americans frequent a grocery store called "Super Lake" in Ajijic. I have only been there once before, and decided I should check it out again, so that I can know what they have. They bring in more imported items than the other stores in the area, and therefore their prices can be a little crazy.

For example, in Mexico they have VERY limited cereal brands. But Super Lake carries MANY American cereal brands, at a whooping $99 pesos each (generally, it is safe to assume that the US equivalent is 10% of the MX Pesos...although the exchange rate is a bit better). $9 for a box of cereal? I think not...

How about $170 pesos (~$17) for a small jar of yeast? (Thank you, Marilyn--for bringing me a giant bag of yeast from Costco when you visited us last month!)

Peanut butter is no longer the rarity it used to be. However, you can only find it in small jars (except for at 1 of the 3 Costcos in Guadalajara), for $53.90 pesos (~$5.39). I'll stick to Costco (I'm also very thankful that Jared has given up his peanut butter and jelly obsession for now. He seems to just be hooked to toast with jelly right now!).

And last, but not least...Jared's past time of sneaking chocolate chips won't pass here (sorry for the "misappearing" chocolate chips this past year, Mom & Dad!). $78.90 pesos ($7.89) for a normal sized bag of chocolate chips? No chocolate chip cookies here!

I will stick to Costco, Walmart (yes, I'm ashamed), and the local markets. Oh, and my other new love...MEGA. More on that later :-)
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El Dentista

We made our way back to Ajijic Dental for a fast and delightful cleaning. Kinda cool that we can say it was "delightful"...because ultrasonic (water) cleanings REALLY ARE!

Ella was excited that she got her teeth officially cleaned for the first time. We all passed the cleaning with flying colors, and no recommendations! Whew!

Cost per cleaning? $300 pesos (about $25)

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Remember when I said I would share with you some of my tried-and-true favorite vegan recipes? Chances are no one cares, and the people who have asked for this in the past no longer read the blog...but, oh well! I have found it helpful to look up my recipes online when I am out and about, and can't find it!

Do you want to know how many photos I've taken of vegan recipes in the past 9 months? A lot! But I haven't posted that many. Maybe I'll reform myself? Or maybe not...

This one is from 1,000 Vegan Recipes, a cookbook I dream about, but don't actually own! Why? I don't know...

Coconut-Peanut Chickpeas and Vegetables

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp hot or mild curry powder
2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 (13.5 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
3 cups cooked or 2 (15.5 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
3 cups fresh baby spinach
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crushed unsalted roasted peanuts, for garnish. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, cover, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and curry powder, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the peanut butter and gradually stir in the coconut milk until well blended. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, and spinach, stirring to wilt the spinach, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until how and the flavors are well blended, about 7 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the peanuts.

My changes? I like to add a lot more peanut butter. Seriously--who doesn't like more peanut butter?
Also, Jared won't eat food with crunchy nuts in it. I absolutely LOVE nuts in things. Darn.

And for those of you who can't buy or handle cooking too many fresh things (::clearing throat:: You know which sister you are....), I'd like you to know that a package of frozen spinach works just as well. (However, fresh is amazing--so you can buy a pre-washed bag of it to throw in, if you must)!! This is a seriously delicious recipe that I happily enjoy as leftovers for several days!
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Garbage Day...

You may have to enlarge this photo (by clicking on it) to see the detail. But this is how the garbage pickup works in Mexico...

The garbage men pick up the bags and heave them into the open door on the side of the truck. No fancy-schmancy garbage can picker-upper like you get in the States. When labor is cheap...they don't find ways around it!
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Drunk Driving?

How's this for encouraging drinking while on the road...?

Check out this DRIVE THROUGH liquor store!

:::shaking head:::
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A Brother to Sisters...

Poor kid! Little does he know this is just the beginning of the torturing...

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When I don't make it to the markets...

1st Choice? Jocotepec Market
2nd Choice? Chapala Market
3rd Choice? Ajijic Market
But I can't make it to one of the 3 major weekly open markets, a shop like this is the next best option...

So many little time...!
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Ajijic Pier

When we were in Ajijic the winter of 2008/2009, we visited the Ajijic pier...and discovered that there wasn't much worth talking about.

The remains of whatever used to be there were under water (the lake has been at a record high level in recent years), and we noticed park benches peaking out from the flooded areas.

Sandbags lined the waterside.

When were returned this year, we were so pleased to discover that they had turned this pathetic water-drowned park into a BEAUTIFUL pier for walking!
Smooth stroller paths are always to be appreciated (especially when compared to the cobblestone streets which aren't worth the stroller effort)!
I thought it was a hoot to see the young men playing soccer on the basketball court...
But then it occurred to me that the court is built to double as both a soccer field and basketball court. Enlarge the photo and you will see how the goal/post is built to function as both!
The trouble with being right next to the lake, however, is that the players seem to spend a good deal of time trying to fish their stray balls out of the water. They have a long pole with a net attached...but when the ball is still out of their reach they resort to throwing rocks just past the ball to make waves, and bring it back to shore. It works!

This place makes me at peace...
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The Chapala Pier...

We love to take walks along the Chapala pier. They have great smooth paths for pushing strollers, and it is always bustling with people who are also just out to enjoy the view and good weather!

They have some playgrounds, which the girls enjoy. You would never see a slide like this in the US (metal with short sides), or a metal swing such as these! We have started to see some plastic slides, but these metal slides are the norm, and go up even in new parks!

I love seeing the men pushing around their handcarts of helados (ice creams), or just relaxing while they people-watch.
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A day at the Cine!

Last month the school had a field trip to the movie theater! Imagine a theatre full of children ages pre-K through 3rd was a bit of a zoo! Children Maiya's age were required to have a parent attend with them...and it was my pleasure!

Here's the crowd getting situated. Everyone received a cup of popcorn and a fruit drink. Guess what they put on their popcorn in Mexico?

You guessed it...CHILI!!!!

::Shaking head:::

Children's movies are dubbed over in Spanish (and adult movies are left in English, with Spanish subtitles).

After enjoying "Megamente" in Spanish ("Megamind"), Maiya was totally and completely pooped.

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