Vacationing in Vancouver Part 1: Prep

It’s Thursday, which is almost Friday, so I’m feeling pretty peppy today!  More so because I’ll be heading to Vancouver soon for a little R&R.  I’m actually surprised it’s taken this long to get up there since it’s a mere +/- 3hr drive from Seattle.

I have heard wonderful things about Vancouver.  Someone told me it’s the Los Angeles of British Columbia (that may be a stretch).  Yes, it will be cold there at this time of year, but there’s nothing I love more than bundling up for a brisk walk in a new city**

This all being said, there is a certain amount of preparation that needs to be done when traveling to a new city/country/culture.

  1. Snacks and drinks must be procured for the duration of the drive so as to avoid hanger
  2. Appropriate clothing must be packed (but I never actually have weather-appropriate clothing, so good luck to me)
  3. Passport must be located from whatever dark recess its been hiding in
  4. Lodging and food must be researched for maximum enjoyment and relaxation

So, good people of the internet, I need advice.  Has anyone been to Vancouver?  Any recommendations on things to see, places to eat, where the best coffee is (I am a Seattleite, after all), people to meet?  Any suggestions will be highly appreciated!

Oh the places I will go …

**as I write that, I realize that this is not necessarily a true fact anymore after my weekend in Montreal this past October–but that’s a whole other post

An exploration of self: Rajas con Crema

My father was born into a poor family in a small village outside of Puebla, Mexico.  My mother was born to two immigrants who hailed from Mexico (my grandmother) and Ecuador (my grandfather).  Therefore, based on the evidence, I am Latina.

You would probably never think it by looking at me.  I just look like a regular ol’ American girl.  But I want to be so much more than that.  I want to grasp at the culture that my family left behind when they came to the states to start over.   Sure, I could paint my house brilliant shades of color, and put a Virgen de la Guadalupe statue in a small grotto in my backyard, but I think the most productive way of going about this would be to cook.  Cooking immerses you in the smells and tastes of a culture.  Spicy, bold, colorful, heated–these words can describe Mexican cooking.

I’ll start with a few recipes that I learned from my father.  When I was in college, there was nothing I looked forward to more than coming home for a break and being able to eat to my father’s famous chile verde, using the thick polenta slices to mop up the sauce so I could get every last bite.

Rajas con Crema–this dish literally means Peppers with Cream, which doesn’t sound too tasty to start.  But don’t let the name fool you.  These peppers refer specifically to poblano peppers–big, dark green peppers that you traditionally use to make chile rellenos.  The cream simply must be crema mexicana-a sort of thin cream.

The recipe I found on The Other Side of the Tortilla does a good job of keeping it simple and straightforward.  Check out my Instagram for a pic of the final product!

http://theothersideofthetortilla.com/2010/02/rajas-con-crema/

November: The Introduction to the Holiday Season!

I was simply amazed this weekend when I started to watch a show on the telly and the commercials had already begun incorporating Christmas into their advertising.  The day after Halloween and I already hear the familiar sounds of sleigh bells and ho-ho-hos leaking through consumer television.  What the what?!  Don’t get me wrong–I love the holiday season more than pretty much anything (alright, not as much as I love my dogs or hot sauce) but this is just WRONG.  How dare this precious season start earlier than necessary merely for the sake of consumer-driven greed!  Just … no.

greetingcard_8.5x6_front_vertical
On another note, please take heed of the following advice: always take care when shooting down a flaming shot of anything–you will easily singe eyelashes and/or hair (obviously this has happened to me) 

On another another note, please make sure to vote by/on Nov 4th!

Winter is here

Blurgh.  The rainy season has descended upon Seattle like a vengeful Viking god!

Not that I don’t like the rain.  Generally rain is good: rain makes things green, rain cleans the air, rain creates perfect opportunities for veg fests!

However, rain is not always so wonderful when you are stuck inside an office all day.  Suddenly any energy I had is zapped away and coffee is consumed more in an effort to stay warm than in any hope of alertness.  Coupled with a lack of sleep last night, rain makes me feel just a tiny bit crazy!

I have a feeling that this winter might be bringing in the blues along with the greens.

On another tangent–does anyone else deal with insomnia?  I honestly can’t remember the last time I slept through a whole night to wake up rested.  My tendency toward being a light sleeper, coupled with anxiety around darkness, lends to night after night of restless sleep punctuated by moments of alertness.  I would appreciate if anyone has suggestions on how to counter this issue.  What remedies do you recommend?  Is there an end to this madness??

Sigh … at least I can look forward to a happy hour pint in less than an hour (although I might get a little wet on the journey to the pub) …

A new chapter begins

It’s been so long since I last posted!  It’s amazing how fast time flies!  It seems only yesterday that I was plopped down some words/images into this blog and yet, since then, I’ve started grad school, had my family move up to Seattle, and started freaking out some more about the next few years.  I’ve also lost a boyfriend, started the never-ending struggle toward a healthier lifestyle, and started questioning my sanity.

I guess this is all normal though …

I recently met with my therapist and tried to explain to her just how bored and lackluster I am feeling nowadays.  Nothing really holds any excitement for me.  School and work take up the majority of my time and I don’t really have the energy to pursue anything worthwhile when I do have some free time.  Her advice: start using a planner to plan out my days, and make sure to include some “self-care”

The next issue for me is figuring out just what it is that can qualify as “self-care”?  What do I like to do for fun or just to relax?  I’ve decided on a few things:

1) Cooking – this is probably one of my favorite “hobbies” because it’s something you can do alone or in the company of others.  There’s nothing that quite calms me down like cutting up vegetables for a hearty soup while Frank Sinatra croons in the background

2) Reading – I was an avid reader growing up.  I mean, I devoured books left and right!  It’s gotten harder to find time to read for pleasure–rather, it’s gotten harder to find books that really captivate me into a reading frenzy.  However, I do like to mix up the classics with some contemporary fiction (historical fiction is probably my favorite)

3) Knitting – Since starting school while continuing to work full-time, I’ve sadly started to see myself becoming one of those sad hermit women who rarely come out of their house pending the need to fill up on rations.  My social life is non-existent and I have no desires to do anything other than flop on a couch and ponder the color of my living room walls.  Knitting lets me sit on that same couch while producing works of art–namely many, many scarves and potholders, although I fancy testing the waters with a tea cozy soon!

I think cooking might be the best route to not only continuing to hone my skills as a chef, but to carve out my cultural identity that currently feels non-existent.  I plan on revisiting the fatherland (Mexico, literally the land where my father is from) through food.  It’s actually an interesting story when I tell you that it takes place in a little Italian village in Mexico.  Intriguing, right?

Below is the picture of the only church in Chipilo (the center of town and the center of gossip, I’m sure)

chipilo