“Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us”

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 A couple of months ago, I was reading a TED blog, when I found this piece on making your life more surprising. Now, I didn’t even know that surprisologist was even a word, even less, a profession, but it is.  It’s sad that people might need an expert or a professional to tell them how to be suprised – really sad. However, I get it. It’s so easy to fall into a routine and to stop noticing the little things that make each day unique. When I was working at the schools, I never ceased to be surprised by the children and the adults with whom I worked. When we first moved here, it was also easy to be surprised because everything was new and different. But as time went by (and I mean just a few days, even), my senses became accustomed to the sights, sounds, and smells that surrounded me. Then winter came, and everything seemed gray and gloomy.

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I guess I needed that article after all! Once I read it, I dragged a friend with me to follow one of Tania Luna’s tips and collected sensations for a few days.  We chose a sense to focus on, and for a day or two, we paid special attention to our environment to find something we hadn’t stopped to notice before focusing on just one sense. Such an easy but incredibly enriching exercise!

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Some of my “Surprises”

– Snow glitters

– The feel of the sun on my skin after many days of gray skies feels like a luscious kiss

– Cauliflower looks like a brain

– Dosas are an explosion of flavor in my mouth – Yum!!!

– The crunching sound I hear when walking on the snow makes me hungry

 Lessons Learned

– It’s almost impossible to separate your senses! I tried to isolate one sense, but, somehow, that sharpened the others – helping me find even more surprises along the way.

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(Excerpt from The Woman Who Heard Color by Kelly Jones)

– There are so many things I take for granted!

– My brain registers sights, smells, sounds, textures, and I need to make a deliberate choice to acknowledge what I’m experiencing

– Go out and enjoy life! It goes by too fast, and it’s too easy to ignore the beauty that surrounds us.

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*images taken from Google images

First sewing project ever!

First sewing project ever!

Or at least since I was 5!!!
It’s not perfect, it’s not amazing, and probably the easiest thing I could do, but, I’m still super proud of the fact, I did the whole thing 🙂 My ugly laundry cart is now more stylish with just a little bit of work. Not willing to pay tens of dollars for a nicer looking cart when all I needed was to put a bit of elbow grease into the one I already had to make it look better!
Jo-Ann had nice flannels on sale for just $2.50/yard, and all I had to do was measure around the cart, measure the length up to the wheels to avoid tripping ;), and hem the edges! I wanted to make it easy to take down to wash, so, I used Velcro to attach it to the cart, and voilà!

Feliz Día de la Mujer – International Women’s Day

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He estado desempacando y organizando cajas, y en el proceso, he encontrado muchísimos recuerdos y tesoros. Entre esos, encontré esta tarjeta. Cuando estabamos en el grado 10, nuestra clase tenía 15 hombres y 5 mujeres. Para celebrar este día, nuestros compañeros escribieron un poema, nos dieron flores, y nos trataron como princesas todo el día – que buenos recuerdos!!!

I have been unpacking and organizing boxes, and in the process, I’ve unearthed a myriad of memories and treasures. When I was in the 10th grade, our class had 15 men and 5 women. To celebrate this day, our male classmates wrote us each a poem, gave us flowers, and treated us like princesses the whole day! Such great memories!

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Words

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Maybe I’m nostalgic because reading letters from 17 years ago, well, brings back many memories, but, I miss getting letters in the mail. I remember the anticipation of walking to the mailbox and hoping to receive news from my family and friends. None of us had email, and my parents didn’t even have a phone when I first moved away from home. So, the main means of communication was sitting down and writing a letter, putting it in an envelope, licking it, taking it to the post office to get the seal or a stamp, and then hoping/waiting for the mail to arrive to its intended recipient. The wait usually took a couple of weeks, but the happiness the letters brought would last much longer!
Don’t take me wrong – I love how technology has revolutionized communications! Pretty much every morning I simultaneously chat with my mom – same time zone but different continent – and with friends who live 8 time zones away! And if I’m missing any of them more than usual, I log on to Skype and we can enjoy our smiles via video chat.

But today, when I sat down to unpack one more box, I time traveled to a different era – an era where a love letter was actually a letter, something tangible you could put under your pillow to feel close to the one you were missing. An era where letters from siblings included drawings and sketches and not smileys and emoticons. An era where the words not only transmitted thoughts but also smells transferred from the hands that wrote it.

Friend, don’t be surprised then, if you walk to your mailbox and find a letter from me – I’m just a bit nostalgic.

First food blog

Before we moved to Arabia, Nathan did most of the cooking and I cleaned up after him! But once we were in Arabia, I decided to overcome my fear of cooking and my aversion to it, and quickly realized how much I enjoyed it! Of course, all the nice compliments I received from Nathan and friends who served as willing guinea pigs to try my new recipes encouraged me to keep cooking! I did burn some things, and made recipes I’ll never make again, but overall, food was edible, and even delicious, most of the time!

I am not incredibly creative, yet, when it comes to creating new recipes, but my love for food – good food – has aided the process of choosing good recipes. That, plus my innate need for change and alterations, motivates me to modify the instructions and adjust ingredients and measurements.  Since one of my goals for 2014 is to write more, you’re now reading my first entry about food and cooking! I prefer recipes that come with pictures and detailed steps, so, we’ll see how this goes 🙂 I hope you enjoy it!

On Wednesday, most places were closed due to the Winter storm we had, and I really didn’t want to go out to the store to get anything, so I searched for a recipe for chicken and squash, since I had those things in my fridge.  I finally settled on this one – Italian Chicken and Squash – and after reading the reviews, this is what I did :

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken strips
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic or more! It’s an Italian recipe – you can’t have enough garlic!!!
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 small yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 8 ounces uncooked wheat angel hair pasta
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Take the cherry tomatoes and marinate them in the balsamic vinegar

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2. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning

3. In a large skillet, heat up 3 tbsp of olive oil and the minced garlic over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink.

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4. Add yellow squash and zucchini and cook till tender.Image

5. In the meantime, boil water with salt and 1 tbsp of olive oil and cook pasta according to package directions

6. Mix broth and lemon juice, stir into chicken mixture. Image

7. Bring to a boil – reduce heat and simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally.

8. Drain pasta, toss with chicken mixture and tomatoes. Image

9. Serve and sprinkle cheese on top.

10. Luckily, I had some cheese toast in the freezer, some green juice, and dinner was perfect!

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Flash forwards

There are times in life, when everything that could be, flashes before your eyes.  It might be an incredibly happy moment that triggers the flash-forward, but more than likely, it’s a terrifying moment when all of your fears come true, if only for a fraction of a second. When that happened to me last night, I realized, that even if the worst took place, I was going to be OK.  I wasn’t going to allow my fears to win and keep me down. I knew, that above all, God wasn’t going anywhere and that everything happens for a reason. I knew that I have family members who would drop whatever they were doing to come and be with me, and I knew that I could call on friends, who were willing to stay up with me, and listen to me, and ride my adrenaline-rush-roller-coaster alongside me, even if they were hundreds of miles away. I knew I wasn’t alone.

The worst didn’t happen, my heart finally slowed down, and the sun rose again. And, that’s life. The ups and downs, the planned events and the surprises. The tests and the rewards, the causes and the effects. It’s not a salad bar where I get to choose what I want and don’t want on my plate. And that’s alright, because as long as I still have faith that nothing that comes my way will keep me down because I have God, and family and friends on my side, then, bring along whatever might come!

14 Years and Counting!

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One of my greatest blessings! It’s hard to believe that our new life started already 14 years ago. Our wedding day was one of the craziest days ever! In spite of everything that went wrong on that day, the most important part took place, and if our story ended today, the books could accurately write, “…and they lived happily ever after!”

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