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Reading from my tower: Kindle vs paper (or rather, e-book vs paper?)

Reading from my tower: Kindle vs paper (or rather, e-book vs paper?): Recently a couple of friends and I got into a friendly (cough!) argument about the superiority of E-books vs Paper books. I've been in love ...

And a few hours later...

Ephemeral beauty, but they never fail to make me smile... Thank you, Lord!


It's rain season!

And on the first days of it, our good God gives us a plethora of beautiful things, humble things, to remind us of Him. Thank you, Lord!


Being a kid

Did you want something when you  were a kid, something you never got but also never outgrew? Not something you needed or some first necesity (I'm well aware I had a very full and happy childhood and I was one of those fortunate kids with a loving family, responsible and amorous parents who did their best to provide and educate) but rather something you liked. And I'm not refering to something super superfluous like a huge TV or anything like that? If you know what I mean, what did you yearn for?

I have two big brothers, and I loved hanging out with them. Still, me and my little brother looked up to the second oldest because he was so smart and fun and always made time for us (the eldest was dating by that time so he never hung out with us). Toño (BB2) had these super cool tennis shoes, they were red and high top. I used to think they were the coolest thing ever since cassete tapes (it was the 80's after all) and I wanted a pair for myself so.very.badly. But this was Mexico, I was 8 and you couldn't get them in my size here. So, no Converse for me.

I went to high school, then college and I could have gotten them maybe but for the fact that they were not cool, thus shoe stores here didn't carry them. Drat the 90's.

And after Y2K, way after, I was married and then we had two babies (God bless their little hearts!) And money was better used buying diapers and such.

Yesterday I went to buy a pair of sandals. The weather is hot here, and they are almost  mandatory if you don't want your toesies to boil! And lo and behold! At the shoe store. A wall. Chock full of tennis. Half of which were (can you guess?) Converse! I got my sandals and was getting ready to leave, and my husband's cousin (who works at the shoe store) saw me looking at them so she forcefully sat me down and got me a selection of them to try on. She was laughing at watching me giggling like a kid, and convinced me to take a pair home.

I'm so happy I got them! I do feel like a kid! And looking at my feet now (I'm wearing them) makes me smile. It some times takes a not so big thing to bring a smile to your adult self, from your childhood yearning! That same brother, Toño, got his wife a childhood dream of hers: a doll with hair. She only had plastic, hairless dolls -you know the kind, with plastic swirls in their head instead of hair - so  for their fourth Christmas he asked me to help him choose a doll for her. He got her the doll with the longest hair we could find, a Geli doll (similar to the American Girl dolls) and got it under the tree. When she unwrapped it, she started crying, and she didn't let go of the doll all day long. She  finally had ( at 36) her doll with hair.


Rural life

My nephews, nieces and daughters enjoying a bit of fun feeding the stock! I'm glad we live in such a small town that they can experience this. They won't milk the cows like I used to, but they can have a relaxing afternoon in the fields..


Incredibly proud!

My girls asked me to teach them how to embroider. They chose a simple shape, a heart and arrow. Lil' J (who is four years old) is doing hers in pink, and Big J (5 years old) wanted hers in blue! I wish you could hear their giggles. I think Big J will not like it as much as Lil' J since she's much more for sports, but I could be wrong!

I'm such a proud momma hen!


Stovetop cookies

Lately my family has been asking me to cook these cookies. These are traditional in México, and I don't know if it's easy to get hold of "natas" where you live, but if you can get them you should really try them, and think of your friend in México while you enjoy them with tea, coffee or a tall glass of cold milk!

You will need

1 cup of natas *, cold but not frozen
1/2 cup of sugar, brown preferably. This is the usual ammount, but I've noticed it can take less, so I taste as I go and when it's just a bit sweeter than say condensed milk I stop adding sugar. Again, it's up to you and your sweet tooth.
1 to 2 lbs flour. It depends on how fresh or moist your natas are and the amount of sugar you used. More sugar = more flour needed.

Optional (I always add this)

1 T vanilla concentrate
1 T ground cinnamon


Special equipment needed:

- a tortilla press or a rolling pin
- a plastic bag or two pieces of waxed paper

- a mixing bowl
- a flat pan
( a crêpe pan is perfect, but you can use any shallow pan that,allows you to flip the cookies without burning yourself with the pan edge in the process.
- a spoon to mix the first ingredients. Or a spatula, or whatever you prefer. Even a whisk, although it will be harder to clean. I like using a wood spatula, but whatever rocks your boat! You could always use  a stand alone mixer, from start to finish, but I love mixing my batches by hand so I can get a feeling of the texture.
- cooling racks

I'm gonna have a cup of tea while you gather all the ingredients...

Ready?

Ok, in a bowl cream the sugar and natas. No matter what you use, the mix starts to get fluffy and creamy. Now is the time to add cinnamon and vanilla.

Start adding the flour. As you mix it will be increasingly harder to mix with the spatula, by now you can start kneading by hand.

Mix enough flour so it does not longer stick to the sides of the bowl. Let it rest for about five minutes. In this time, get your cooling racks out and your pan hot. You will be using medium heat, and a LOT of patience,

Now, if you have ever made corn tortillas, the next steps will be a breeze! I have a very heavy wood press, but if you have a metal one, it's good too!  open two sides of your plastic bag with a knife so you have a large rectangle. Pinch a bit of the cookie dough to make a 1 inch ball, and place on one side of the rectangle, fold the other half over it and close the press.


Sort of like this. Now, there are TWO things that are crucial to this cookies. The first is that you must make the cookies VERY VERY thin. They will spring back a bit while cooking, but do your best to make them as thin as you can. (see the image above? aim for about half as thick)

If you don't have a tortilla press:

Place a one inch ball over a piece of waxed paper , cover with another piece of waxed paper (you can do this with the plastic bag, and it is very easy). Then roll it so you get a round cookie form, again, very  very thin.

Did I tell you it has to be VERY thin?. Oh, well it must be.

Now carefully peel the cookie from both pieces of plastic or waxed paper. Place carefully on the hot pan  and let it cook (it will change from shiny to matte) and turn it over. It will take some time for it to cook, since you don't want to singe it. THIS is the second very important thing. It MUST cook over medium fire, slowly. You may need to turn it once and again. If it starts to brown just lightly, it is ok. Since it takes long to cook, I suggest placing three or four cookies at the time.


Now place the cookie on the cooling rack. At this point it is sort of like a wafer, so you can shape it. You can place it inside muffin metal cups so you get a cookie cup for  icecream or you can bend it over the rolling pin and have a half crescent shape, or even fold it like a fortune cookie! me, I like them flat.




I know it doesn't look like much, but trust me, these cookies are delicious!

Let me know if you make them!


*You might know the natas as milk skin. It is formed when you boil fresh milk. If you have fresh milk, as in freshly milked from a cow oposite to pasteurized milk from the supermarket, once you boil it and let it cool, the nata is a thick layer that forms right at the surface. It is creamy, but it is very different from cream, which is extracted from raw milk.

Crafting again!

This year I'm starting my Christmas Ornaments early! I really want a home made look for this next December, and one of the things I've planned is making a lot of snowflakes for my tree. This is the first one! I also want to make

- a pinecone wreath
- a Christmas wall hanging quilt
- a felt tree skirt

I don't know if I will have the time to make it all, but I am really going to try! Have you made any plans yet for your Christmas crafts?


In which pride goes before the fall...

Lately, I've not been crafting. It's a bit hard to crochet or knit when your arms are sore, and your palms might be screaming for some TLC. It's a bit of a challenge to find time after supervising your kid's homework and packing a grown woman and two girls (and a lot of junk) so you can make it to your destination on time, and then do it all again but in the opposite direction, give the girls and hubby their dinner, have a different dinner, bathe said girls and finally have a much needed shower yourself. In spite of all this, I am really happy.

I believe I heard the collective gasp. "How can you NOT craft and be happy!?" well, I find that what I've been doing is not only a great stress reliever but it's also great for my health. Even if poor Mark Lauren gets constantly abused from a very long distance when I feel I simply cannot bring myself to follow his orders. And then gets my most heartfelt apologies after I've had a good rest and my jeans fit better.

No, dah-lings, I've not lost my mind (not much of it, anyway, and it's entirely unrelated). I've become quite the masochist thanks to this:

I got this book for my hubby's birthday, because he said he felt he was wasting time at the gym when he could be home with us (and he loves to workout), but since he doesn't read english, nor speaks it, I had to read it first to translate it to him. Mmmmh... let me tell you my interest was piqued by Mark's affirmations that his men (military) trained using only bodyweight and some items that can be found practically in every home or hotel room if it comes to that, or even a park. I could not believe that you could get THAT kind of muscle definition without pumping iron. (yeah, maybe I forgot to tell I became a weight lifting junkie lately)

Since my mom and dad (both in their sixties) got doctor's orders to excercise, I thought this would be a splendid time to test this man's theories, and I offered to help them follow the workouts. So we started with the begginers workout. Piece of cake. I would help them, show them how to do it, do it with them and then complement it with more weight lifting so I could get a "proper" workout.

Ha.

I thought I was so smart.

And then I tried it. And my arms, arms that bench pressed 90 pounds, and did standing military press with 25 pound dumbells in each hand and could help me through Romanian dead lifts with 100 pounds, did hammer curls with 25 pound dumbbells, those same arms were reduced to putty after the first "Begginers" workout.

I then remembered his opening sentence: he does not train actors, stars, celebrities, people whose livelihoods depend on their being fit. He trains those whose LIVES do.

All my poor aching muscles make sense now.

Leg/core WO today, so if come night you hear some soft complaining and maybe some not so soft groaning, that will be me.

Happy New Year!!!!


´Tis a time to start afresh, and I am making only TWO resolutions:

1.- Take REALLY good care of my health
2.- Be more charitable towards others (specially others I don't like much)


I thought about it long and hard, but I simply could  not list "Blog at least once a week" as a resolution. It didn't sound like it was Resolution worthy (not next to the other two, at least) So instead it's a promise.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
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