Food can be so misunderstood! I did not think I really liked marmalade. The ones I had tasted were bitter from the boiling necessary to the normal jam making process.
But, a friend gave me a bag of grapefruit. Being only days away from leaving the country for a month, I wondered what I would do with all this wonderful fruit. Then I found a recipe for freezer grapefruit marmalade! It tastes like bottled sunshine! So fresh and just the nicest bit tart...delicious! I won't post the recipe here, because I don't want to infringe on anyone else's intellectual property, but I encourage everyone to take fifteen minutes and some fresh grapefruit and look it up!
We are starting all the prep work for packing for Ecuador! From the research I have done, it seems that, overall, Ecuador is a pretty safe place. However, we don't want to be naive about the situation or look too much like touristy gringos. Instead of taking a purse, which doesn't hold much and can be easily snatched, I'm taking a money belt for the important stuff and a backpack for the important, yet bulky things that I need to carry onto the plane. Here's a picture of my fairly heavy duty backpack:
But, I also don't want to be stuck in a crowded situation and have someone just be able to zip open my pack and take whatever he wants without my noticing. So, I also got a luggage lock:
That way, I can keep at least the main portion pretty secure and use the smaller areas for unimportant things like lip balm and sunscreen. I did have one person ask "What if they just cut the pack open with a knife?" Ummm....I'm pretty sure that if they have a knife, I'll just give them the whole pack to do as they please with!😳 But, hopefully, this will at least deter the opportunistic thieves who might be around!
I have been feeling guilty for not writing here as much as I had intended and I really need to get back into it regularly to prepare for doing it as we travel.
One reason I have been negligent is that I have been engrossed in the reading of a book. It is not one that will likely ever make the bestseller list; in fact, the writing is too cumbersome to ever make it easy reading for the masses. It was written by Omnath Pokharel and tells the story of several people from a culture that I'm fairly sure you have not heard of. The Lhotshampas lived for over a century in the small country of Bhutan (which, ironically, has prided itself on its "Gross National Happiness" policy). As a result of an ethnic cleansing type policy, over 100,000 were forced out of Bhutan in the late 1980's. Then, many of them spent twenty years or more in refugee camps in Nepal before being relocated around the globe.
My husband and I met a man named Nandi and his family who had come from this situation and he told us many personal stories of the hardships they endured. His brother was the one who wrote the above-mentioned book, entitled The Silhouette of Truth. The book has been published posthumously, as the author died suddenly and unexpectedly at the early age of 44.
Coming from one who, although extremely intelligent, did not speak the English language natively, the book is an amazing price of work. It seems as if the publishers did not want to over-edit the work of a man who was no longer able to give approval or dissent to their efforts. So, much of the phrasing and descriptive wording will seem strange and foreign to most American readers. But, the effort is worth it as poignant vignettes unfold and a heretofore unknown culture unfolds before one. I am still only halfway through the book, so I hope to be able to give another update soon.
But, in the meantime, look up some information about a culture that you'll never hear mentioned in the U.S. "World News"! (Have you noticed that 90% of the so-called world news here is about the U.S.? That's a topic for another discussion!)
I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. They have such wonderful ideas and people make them look so simple and cheap that I just can't resist diving in and starting a new project. (My husband does NOT like me to add new projects to my already started mound of 2739!😉)
Then, I buy all the supplies, get well under way, and then discover that I have bitten off more than I can chew!
Not this time! I had the exciting privilege of planning lunch for some friends, but, for various reasons, it couldn't be held at my home. We could have gone out to lunch, but that seemed so cold and impersonal.
Pinterest to the rescue! I looked up picnic ideas and found the cutest food items using mason jars! So, we had soup, salad, cheesecake and lemonade all served in mason jars at the park! It was so much fun!
I probably went overboard on the mason jars because, although I have about 3 dozen empty ones at home that I could have used, when I went to Target they had such an assortment of various sizes and shapes that I just couldn't resist buying some. And I think I need to go back for the purple ones....
Anyway, here are some very amateur pictures of how it turned out!
Soon, we will be leaving for Ecuador! There's so much to do to prepare. First of all, of course, is packing and more packing.
I would like to consider myself a light packer. And, in fact, I did travel for 21 days throughout France and Switzerland with only a carryon bag and a shoulder bag. But, lately, my packing has tended to take on more of a "what if" hue. What if the weather turns cold? What if it's hot? What if I find the cutest outfit to buy there and the only shoes in the world that can accompany it are the silver and rhinestone pumps that are in my closet? Obviously, I must get this tendency under control, else I will fill the entire cargo area of the plane with my junk!
And then there is the toiletry dilemma. I don't want to pack all of the creams, serums, hair care products and makeup that lurk in my bathroom. But, there WILL be a lot of photography going on and I wouldn't want to make anyone scream in horror at my au naturale look.
Lastly, of course, is preparing for the hours of traveling, waiting, and other nonproductive occasions throughout the month there. First, I'll need my knitting and then another craft in case I tire of that (or break my hand...it could happen!). Then, an electronic gadget for recording my experiences, reading, game playing, etcetera. Then, a camera, natch. Also, actual old fashioned reading and writing materials in case the electronic ones fail me. And on and on and on.
Maybe I really can fit the kitchen sink in my baggage...
In case you have been living on an island with no available Internet lately, let me be the first to inform you: California is in the middle of a Really. Big. Drought. I've been trying to do my part by not watering my lawn....well, who am I kidding? I never water much anyway because our sprinklers have not worked for years and I hate moving the hose around.
Anywhooo... I have been thinking lately of trying to make a landscaping change to something that requires little or no watering and I found this beautiful example.
So, I am in the midst of trying to figure out how much it would cost to do something like this to my front yard. Way more than I can afford, I'm sure. And this is even with the knowledge that the City will reimburse me for some of the changes since it would be less of a water burden. But, I can dream! Also, while they are not on my street yet, I know that the dreaded water meters are coming soon, which might make this more feasible....
I'm driving behind a normal, everyday soccer mom SUV. On the back is one of the cutesy stick figure families which make my eyes roll every time. From this, I can see that the family is comprised of a single mom with a boy and a girl. The license plate surround proclaims "Proud Mom of Taylor and Tyler" (names changed to protect the innocent). And, as a cherry on top, a bumper sticker boasts "My child is an honor student at Fill-In-The-Blank Elementary School".
Before putting all of this on the back of his/her vehicle, doesn't anyone think "Hmmm.... I wonder if I should let every stranger who happens to be following me know all of this information about my family?" Everyone hears of Amber Alerts and warns their children of "stranger danger", but might it be the parents who could unwittingly be putting their children at risk?
Ok, off my soapbox now!
I love to knit. It is sooo relaxing and I feel that, when I have finished, I have accomplished something worthwhile. My current project is close to being finished, so I am looking for my next one. The problem is, I have something very specific in mind and I'm not finding the exact pattern anywhere.
So, I guess I'll have to design it myself. I'm looking to knit a short swing jacket that looks like something from the fifties along with a matching pillbox hat. It will be mostly a nice lemony yellow with black trim. I have found a couple of pictures of items close to what I want. Now it's just a question of writing the pattern.
It's really not a good thing to believe everything that is put on the Internet. I use organic chia seeds in my protein smoothies on a regular basis, and they are wonderful for that (especially when using my Blendtec blender to pulverize them). I decided to try to combine my love of chia seeds with my desire to be as frugal as possible. I looked up ways to use chia seeds topically and found a bonanza of information.
They are high in lots of great things, and recommendations were made to use them as: a hair masque, a styling gel, facial rejuvenator, and many other things.
I tried two of the suggestions. Both involved soaking the seeds in water until they had formed a viscous substance. Then, for half of it, I added lemon juice and then applied that mixture to my hair. The other half I applied directly to my face.
First, my hair. One realization I came to rather too late was that adding more water just made the seeds stickier. So, I was stuck with several tablespoons of seeds stuck to my hair which no amount of rinsing would remove. I had to resort to using a fine tooth comb to scrape every last seed from each shaft of hair (rather like lice removal...eeewww!)
If I had realized what a fiasco the first experiment would prove to be, I might have proceeded more cautiously with the second. But, I had blithely smeared the stuff all over my face, so I had to deal with the consequences. When I first applied it, it tingled a bit- a good thing, right? Within a few minutes, I realized that someone has ignited the flames of Mount Vesuvius on my face and I was scurrying to immerse it in cold water as quickly as possible. I was left with reddened, raw skin even on my eyelids (when I do a thing, I do it thoroughly!). I will note, however, that I do have extremely sensitive skin, so these results may not be the same for everyone.
I'm a Certified Massage Therapist, a book lover, a happy wife, a teacher, and a fiber arts specialist. Oh, and I may be moving to Ecuador!