Wednesday, December 28, 2011


As fast as Christmas came, it is now done and over with.  And, it is almost 2012!  Hard to believe!

The girls were really into the Santa thing this year.  We did our Advent candle everyday (with a few hiccups....I'm not used to lighting a candle and blowing it out almost instantly.  We might have missed burning a few days because we went through a few days in one burn.  Oops!).

That really helped eliminate the question, "How many days until Christmas?".  It was pretty much smooth sailing to get to the day.

Here are some of the pictures I took.  I didn't really get many good ones.  But, these should satisfy my mom!

The big hit item was their LeapPads.  And, above, Emily was happy with the watch she got.  Expectantly, each of them ripped through the presents like there was no tomorrow.  That is partly why I didn't get many good ones.  Next year I will probably pass on the camera and get the video recorder out. 

It was a good Christmas.  Next up, Bella's birthday on Saturday!

Friday, December 23, 2011

a little baking for Christmas

Normally, on Friday, I post about our school week.  And, since I usually take the photos on Friday, I don't have any because we took the day off school.   The girls didn't seem to mind one way or other.  And, I got some baking done.

I just realized that this is really the first Christmas that I did any sort of baking.  Weird, I know!  I spent the morning making cookies.  All classic ones.  I didn't want to try any new sort of cookie in fear that they would turn out horribly.

I made chocolate chip cookies, soft sugar cookies with buttercream icing, and brownies.  I had a recipe for the chocolate chip cookies.  I blogged about it here.  But, for the sugar cookie, I tried a recipe from....  Yes, you guessed it. Pinterest!  And, let me tell you.  SUCCESS!  I had a feeling they would be good when sour cream is one of the ingredients.  The sugar cookies are so soft and, generally, perfect!  Not too sweet either.  I can't stand an overly sweet sugar cookie.  I definitely think you should make them!  And, I found a simple brownie recipe online somewhere.  But, they aren't all that great.  Not really worth mentioning.

But, the spread looks festive and I am sure they will be eaten up quickly once they are in front of the in laws!

I hope everyone has a great Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

why I miss Kroger and a little recipe idea

I'm now used to how everything is here.  I admit that some things still frustrate me, but for the most part I have just gotten over the differences between here in my lovely grocery stores in the US.

There is one main grocery store that I go to here in Jalos.  And, for other things that I can't find there, we search elsewhere, like Costco, Sam's Club, and Wal-Mart.

The grocery store here in town, Super Jigo, is just crazy sometimes.  Last night we went there to get our groceries and I saw this in the produce section.

How in the world can they put stuff on the shelves that look like that?  If you don't go there on the right days (which I still haven't figured out what days those are), you have the worst produce to pick from.  And, the way I cook here, most of my cart is fruits and veggies.  Pathetic!

This is one thing I will never get over and makes me appreciate how great the grocery stores are in the US.

On a side note, I made another item off of Pinterest the other night.  You know, I have made tons of stuff off that website!

I have never been a fan of Taco Bell, but the few times that I went with people, I would get the Mexican Pizza, MINUS the beans!  I hate beans!

And, Mexican pizzas are such a simple idea and I'm not sure why I never thought about making them at home.  So, while I just used the idea, the recipe is still a simple one you could follow.  And, of course, I left off the beans!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

sneak peek and an unusual sight

Are you sick of me talking about my painted house, walls, wall art and such!?  I know!  I get carried away.  But, I LOVE it!  I love that the house looks like a home!

When I first moved here the house was as bare as could be.  We had the basics.  Nothing more.  Which is understandable since the only items I could bring down here are what fit in a cab of a friend's truck and in our Pacifica. 

Since then I have drove down a handful of time with the car loaded to max capacity and beyond. And, each trip I make to the States via plane, I go with one bag and come back with five.  It is a problem I have.  But, I have accepted it and moved on.  If you lived here or visited here, you might understand how hard it is to find cute, inexpensive stuff.  In any category.  So, I stock up every visit.

I remember having chats with people that were going to be moving down here to Mexico.  They inevitably ask what they should bring with them.  Knowing that I have lived her for a while now, that wasn't unexpected for them to ask.

I always tell people that the thing that made me most feel OK here was having my house feel like a home.  I want it to feel like mine.  A place I can relax and feel comfortable.  It has taken me a while to get to that point, but I am finally here.  So I always tell them, if at all possible, bring personal items not just things that are necessary.  I know logistically, that is not always possible. 

Or, check out the *original* living room we had.   There really was nothing!

You can see we used to have only the couch.  Looks like Bella preferred a box over the couch.  The living room has come a long ways since those early days.

This might be a rental, and who knows if one day we will be asked to move.  But, for now it is mine.  And, I think it looks just like *my* place.  So, that is why I love sharing it with everyone because all the people that mean the most to me, that I want to show, can't come and see it.  I have to virtually show it to them.

Before picture -- no paint on the walls. (Our big TV was being repaired.  The small TV looks so funny there.)

And, since Jorge painted a few of the walls in the living room last night, I am beyond thrilled with it and wanted to give you a little preview.  We need to make another trip to Home Depot to get the accent wall paint color and another gallon of the color on the walls right now.

It doesn't look like a dramatic change in this picture.  But let me assure you, in person, it is a HUGE change!
And, on a completely different subject, when we were in Aguascalientes the other weekend, I was surprised to find this near the parking lot of Wal-Mart.

You just don't expect to see palm trees and an ice skating rink in the same picture.  But, that is how it is done in Mexico!  It was in the mid to upper 70's.  There was a fine layer of water on the top.  But not enough to slow down anyone.  They also had a Santa Claus sitting down the way.  I wish we would have taken the girls.  They would have loved to see Santa and tell him about all the things they want for Christmas.  Next year for sure!

Monday, December 19, 2011

no more blank walls!

The other day I was looking around the house, searching for things I could hang on my bedroom walls.  Now that it is painted, it is a shame to let the walls be bear.  They need something!

I already made the hangings from the toilet paper rolls.  I still look at those in amazement.  I can't believe that they turned out so well!

I snatched a few pictures from the living room (there are still more than enough in there) and hung a group of four on the wall over the TV.  It looks so much better.  And, surprisingly, I got them straight the first time.

I stole a picture frame out of the girls' room and put a picture in it.  It is hanging in a spot that was just right for it.

On the wall next to our bed, I placed this piece of art that we got from a beach vendor in Puerto Vallarta when we went back in 2008.  It is a bit small for the wall, but it will do for now.  Until I figure something else out.

Since I stole something from the girls' room, I felt like I need to replace it.  I had an old, already painted, canvas that I just repainted pink, added some buttons to frame a picture. 

Now, the picture can be replaced whenever I fancy.  And, it adds a splash of color to their walls.  That is until Jorge paints the room.  Once the girls saw our bedroom painted, they each yelled out that they wanted their room painted.  Just wait girls!  My living room first!

Friday, December 16, 2011

another school recap

It's Friday, again!  Time is just flying by!  It seems like yesterday was Monday.  But, Friday means another recap of school!  Sorry for those of you that this doesn't interest.

Monday was a holiday here in Mexico.  It was Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  So, Jorge was off work that day.  That kind of threw the whole week off.   But, we got back on track and got some of our school work done.

Today we were working on reviewing the letters that we have learned.  The curriculum focuses on one letter a week.  Since we are on week 4, we are at letter "D".  Writing the lower case "b" and "d" throws the girls off.  I need to find a trick to teach them so they can remember the correct way to write them.

Today we did a little craft project.  We made a reindeer!  The girls traced their hands (I had to help Emily with that part.) and I cut out their traced hands.  We used a red pom pom for the nose, a wiggly eye, a tail, a pipe cleaner for the antlers, and some construction paper and glitter to make a collar. 

I have some self-adhesive magnets that we added to the back and now we have a couple festive magnets to hang on the refrigerator!

It seems like, at this age, doing crafts with the girls is more work for me than them!  But, they had fun and that is what is important.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

an ordinary day, when you have lemons!

Can you believe there are only 10 days left until Christmas!?  I'm kind of floored by that.  Really, where does time go?

When we went to Costco this past Sunday, I found a bag of lemons!  Twelve lemons!  For around $3!  I couldn't pass that up.  They are still hard to find, but it seems they are showing up more frequently than they used to.  Which, is great!  Bring 'em on!

I posted on Facebook that I had found the lemons and my friend, Cutzi, suggested making this Lemon Lemon Loaf! Yes, please!

So, that is what part of my day has consisted of.  Making a lovely lemon loaf.  Well, two of them to be exact!  One to eat. One to freeze and enjoy eating when I can't find lemons!  Yum! (I tried a peice without the lemon glaze....I need to make the glaze.  The loaf alone is a tiny bit sour, but still good!)

I also made this simple vinaigrette dressing today.  We are going to have jalapeno popper grilled cheese sandwiches and salad for dinner!  Thank you , Pinterest!

Also, in my domestic doings today, I used another idea from Pinterest and cleaned my washer.  Seems funny to need to clean a washer, but it did kind of need it. 

I'm off to be domestic a little more.  Some days I am better at it than others!

***Update (10 minutes later)***
I made the lemon glaze for the loaf.  It was so much better! 


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

wall decor

Yesterday I was sitting in bed, under my blanket, trying not to freeze.  I had already been domestic enough for the day and my work was pretty much finished. 

Now that my bedroom is painted, I hate that the walls are blank.  But, particularly the wall above the headboard.  I was in search of something that I could do with things around the house.  So, onward to Pinterest!

I had pinned this project a few weeks back.  And, for the past few months, I have been saving tons of these:

While sitting in bed, I turned those toilet paper rolls into these:

Add some glue and a brush to the mix and these are what I came up with.

Now, I didn't open the link to the project on Pinterest.  I should have to see how she painted the tubes.  I only bought one can of spray paint and sprayed them AFTER I glued them together.  Let me tell you, that was NOT successful!

I wasn't going to go get another can of paint, so I looked to see what I had that might work.  I had a big jar of mod podge and some paint.  I put a tad bit of blue and a squirt of green into the mod podge.  Then, I pain-stakingly painted all of these creations!  PAIN IN THE BUTT!

I think I like how they turned out.  They are a bit darker than I had wanted.  Oh well!  They will do. 

Hanging them on the wall just now was not fun.  I think they aren't exactly straight, but they will do.

It fills the space over the bed and that was the point.  This DIY stuff is really for the birds!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

bella and emily

I took these pictures last night of the girls.  They were dressed and ready to go to church.  Just wanted to share them with you.  Mostly, I am putting them on here for Mamaw and Papaw. 

I need to start taking pictures more often.  I have been bad lately.

Getting both of them to look at me and smile isn't an easy task.  Bella is right at home in a dress.  For Emily, this is something that you don't see too often.  But, I do admit, both are pretty darn cute!

Bella can strike a pose in a seconds notice.  Put her in front of a camera and she is right at home!  This girl is as girly as they come.

Emily tries to mimic what Bella does.  So, while her poses don't come naturally, she still pulls it off.

And, even though she is in a dress, she manages to let her tomboy side shine through.

These girls are definitely full of character!  Gotta love 'em!

my bedroom is painted!

We have been renting this house for the past 3 1/2 years.  So, for 3 1/2 years I have been looking at ugly, unfinished walls.  If you lean up against them, it is like leaning on a big piece of chalk.  The walls in this house have never been painted.  Not even a primer coat.  It basically looks like they *were* white walls and someone let a bus load of dirty-handed kids out and they rubbed their hands all over our walls.

Not sure why we didn't do this earlier, but Sunday night and Monday Jorge painted our bedroom.  What a huge difference it made.  It looks SO nice! 

We went to Home Depot on Sunday and I was nervous about picking the paint colors.  Paint is not an easy thing to choose.  The lighting in Home Depot is much different than my house.  And, it is always hard to tell from the little swatch, what exactly it will look like.  Usually I grab loads of swatches, take them home, and look over them for a long time.  This time I winged it.  Luckily, I choose colors that I really liked once they were painted on the wall.

Jorge did a great job painting.  Now our room feels like a room in a house.  I just wish I had all my art work that is stored in my mom's house to hang on the walls.  But, you can't have it all.

I wasn't able to take very good pictures.  I need a wider angle lens.  So, I snapped a few and then I took a video.  I always love for friends and family to stop by and see how we decorated.  But, living thousands of miles away, that isn't an option.  So, this way I can show you!

Here is a before shot.  You will see how much more the headboard pops out in the after shots!

The lighting wasn't very good in the room.  I had to use my flash.  Normally I like to use natural lighting.  So, you see the colors vary slightly in each picture.  The last picture, the shot of the entire bed, is closest to the true colors of the room.  The accent wall is a dark chocolate color.

And, here is a little clip for you to see the whole room!

Jorge did the bedroom for my Christmas present.  My birthday is next month, in January.  I told him he could do the room in the video below for my birthday!

Do you like my tree?  Half of the lights went out the other day.  I'm too lazy to take all the ornaments off, take off the old lights, string new lights, and hang the ornaments again. 

Can't wait until the living room is painted!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

some more questions

Lisa, a fellow expat, from "From one Country to Another" blog posted some questions on her blog as a fun little way to get to know a little more about each other.  I thought, why not?  Let's do this.

1. Picture you life two years from now. What would you like to see?

The most obvious would for us to be living back in the US.  But, most likely that won't happen.  Other than that, I hope we are doing as well as we are now.  Just living, being comfortable and going with the flow of things.      

2. What is the worst habit you feel you have?

I'm a control freak.  Correcting that is a work in progress.
3. What is your favorite genre of movies?

The girly kind.  Is that a genre?  It is in my book.  Not romance, but girly. 
4. What are five things that you would include on your to-do list?

take another vacation to the beach (the girls talk about the beach all the time)
learn Spanish (shame on me for not knowing it)
save money
blog more often
organize all my printed out recipes
5. Are you still in contact with any childhood friends?

Definitely!  Most of my closest friends are from middle school and high school.  Just so they can feel special, here are the names of my closest/best friends.  Of course I have others that I am in contact with (technology makes that easy), but these people I talk to/keep in touch regularly.  These are the people that helped me get back to being sane after moving down here to Mexico.  I feel very fortunate to have all of them in my life still!

Amber Clark (aka Marla) --  middle school
Amber Springer-Borjas -- middle school
Colin Dullaghan -- high school
Julie Handschy -- high school 
Jenni Jorgenson -- high school
Bradley Lovett -- college
Heather Newport -- high school
Amy Bender-Strain -- high school  

6. Do you get along well with family members and relatives?

Sure!  I don't think I am on any one's hate list.  So, that is good, right!? :)

7. If you were to win 10 million dollars, what would you do with the money?

I would build a house here in Jalos (no more rental!) and build one on a beach somewhere that Jorge could live.  I would give some to family and friends, donate some of it, shop 'til I drop, and then save some of it to be able to live comfortably the rest of my life. 

8. Have you ever been in a physical fight? Any details?

No.  I pack a big bark.  But, for the most part I am a coward. :)
9. Three things you could not live without?

But, necessities aside, I rely heavily on:
 my computer with internet access
Costco/Sam's Club
because it is freezing in my house, my electric blanket
10. Have you ever met a celebrity?  If not, who would you chose to meet?

 I once saw the rapper Too Short in a mall in Indy.  A girl I was working with, Jamilah, and I pulled some money out of our pockets and had him sign the bills.  For the longest time I had the $10 bill framed!  LOL!

11. Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
I do have a tattoo.  I have a "tramp stamp" on my lower back.  I don't think they had branded that area of the back being tattooed as a "tramp stamp" when I got it done.  It is so classy!  It is a Celtic knot.  Most of the time, with it being out of sight, I don't even think about having it.  And, as most girls do, I have my ears pierced.  Although I am still waiting for the diamond earrings to go in them.

Friday, December 09, 2011

week 3 and some cupcakes

(Warning, lots of pictures!)

For the last two weeks I have posted about school on Friday.  So, why stop now.  I am mostly doing this so Mamaw and Papaw can see the girls' progress.  Being so far away, I know how hard it is on them to not be around the girls.

This was our third week of school.  So far, so good.  What I am finding that I like most about homeschooling, other than the fact that I get to teach my children, is the flexibility.  We are on our own schedule.  Which, when the bed is toasty warm in the morning, we don't necessarily have to get out of bed at any particular time.  I love that!

Today we just forged on in the workbooks.  Usually we do a page or two in each workbook each day.  The girls each have 9 workbooks and there are a handful of other books that we discuss together.  And, we have the learning games and toys that we use, as well as the science experiments.

Here the girls are working in one of their workbooks.  Coloring in the different items and practicing number recognition and writing the numbers.  I've been surprised how well Emily is hanging with Bella.  They are 14 months apart but there isn't much lag as far as Emily keeping up.  And, Bella does struggle with that bit of perfectionism that she has. Overall, they are both doing well.

Here is a interesting learning tool.  It is called a Purpllinker.  It came with the insert that shows how to form all the capital and lower case letters and some shapes and numbers.  Right now the girls are figuring out the more simple letters and numbers.  I told them as long as they try, they are doing great!

This is one of our science experiments.  We were taking two colors and mixing them to see what new color they make.  The kit also included these growing crystals.  You mix them with water and they grow.  We put in some different color crystals to see how that affected the color.  The science experiments are always the big hit.

And, just for fun, to celebrate how well they are doing in school, we made cupcakes today!  I was brave and let the girls do most of the mixing and such.

I had to be quick with the pictures because these girls don't sit still very long. 

Here is Bella pouring the mix into the bowl.  I cheated and used box mix and icing from the store.

Emily, on her first try, cracked an egg.  She didn't even get any shells in with it.  I was impressed!

The same for Bella.  This was her first try and she got it right off the bat.  No shells either!

Bella is adding the oil to the mix.

Emily added the water.

Emily is taking her turn mixing everything together.  I reminded this wild one to do it gently several times.  She was pretty good.  No mess at all!

Miss Perfection was nice and slow with the mixing.  I didn't expect any mess from her and I was right.

Here they each got their own liners.  Emily got snowman ones and Bella got Santa ones.  I stocked up at K-Mart a few years back.  Still got plenty of these liners left.

I let them pour batter into one of the liners.  It was going to be too much work letting them do them all.

Emily proved me right.  After I snapped this picture, she dumped the remaining batter from the measuring cup right onto the cupcake pan.  After cleaning that up, I finished pouring them all.

After putting icing on one cupcake, they asked if they could eat it.  I wasn't going to make them wait.  You can see Emily's empty liner.  I think I saw Emily put a sprinkle on the cupcake then one in her mouth.  She did that the entire time she was decorating.  She probably ended up eating more of the sprinkles than she used to decorate. 

Bella was very careful with her decorations.  She wanted them to look perfect. She said, "When daddy comes home he is going to say 'Those look beautiful''. 

Here are some of the cupcakes that were decorated.

They said they had a fun day!  That is all that matters.  Plus, there wasn't any arguing.  Bonus!