Huh?

So everyday when I check on my blog, I get to see what word or phrase has been popped into the search engine before they make way to The Art of Living. I’ve had quite a range over the last year, but usually they make sense. For example, “Bathrooms in Mexico”. I wrote quite a bit about how different the bathrooms are in Mexico. This makes sense to me.

“The Art of Living” makes sense too. As does the use of any part of that quote. I never question song lyrics, or my name. In fact, someone (ahem!) finds my blog all the time with just a few words: “Jania Blakley, Chiapas, Art of Living.”

You know what doesn’t make sense:

Girls cooking in panties

No joke. I have tried my best to figure out at what point I talked about cooking and panties. It’s wasted time.

I mean, I know I’ve talked about panties, after-all, I wear panties. In fact, for the last couple months–they get changed multiple times a day due to this baby’s big head resting on my bladder. Throw-up, cough, sneeze, laugh, gag, and I need to change again. Nice, eh? (Part of me wondered if my pride was too grand to admit that–and then I came to the conclusion that if it happens to me, it must happen to a lot of women. Maybe if we start talking about it, it won’t be something to hide. Maybe…)

I cook too. In fact, I joke that I am such a better wife now that I am pregnant. I can’t go without breakfast, so Victor gets breakfast every morning! I even wear panties while I cook, but I assure you–I wear more than that! This girl is too messy to run around a stove without proper covering…

I can’t ever remember writing about girls wearing panties while cooking. Until now. So now, when I see something absurd that someone searched to find my site, it will be justified. But can you imagine how disappointed he must be? To go looking for that, and instead end up here? Hee hee…

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Shopping For Two

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In my defense, I had just been walking in the park… So, yes, not flattering.  And, yes, I’m huge.  And, no… there’s just one in there.


I have some friends who always shop at Sams and Costco.  You open their fridge and see giant containers of salad dressing.  When I moved to Virginia, my own sister (who lived alone and never cooked), for some reason, had a huge jar of sweet relish.  But most people buy logical items in bulk.  Their second fridge or freezer is full of goodies, and they have wine or gallons of cleaning supplies stashed in nooks and crannies.

Well, I think it’s a disease.

And I think we’ve acquired it.  Maybe Sams infects the store with some odorless gas–the more you go, the more it alters the function of your brain.  So when you go to “regular” stores, you make comments like, “Let’s wait and buy that at Sam’s.”  If this is describing you, we should form a club support group.  Like Alcoholics Anonymous, only it will be Bulk Shoppers Anonymous (BSA).  “Hello, my name is Jania, and I shop in bulk.” 

We hardly buy things at the regular grocery stores anymore.  Well, I take that back.  We really went to town at Wal-Mart yesterday.  But it was mostly on fruit and household items…  (For some reason, Wal-Mart is the only place I can find my contact solution here…)  I refuse to buy milk there–because it’s about 10 pesos cheaper at Sam’s.  I don’t like the way the meat looks or smells, so we buy that at Sam’s.  I can’t find good fresh spinach, so we buy that at Sam’s.  Do you see a pattern, here?

Cleaning supplies…Sam’s.  (We are the people with a three liter container of dish washing soap under our sink to refill our tiny normal sized bottle.)  Toilet Paper… Sam’s  (I think we have enough to last us until after the baby’s born.  True story.)  Cereal… Sam’s  (I can’t seem to pass up the Raisin Bran.  Thank you, Mamaw.  I do walk straight past the Cocoa Pebbles after trying so hard to choke them down for weeks.)  Bread…Sam’s (We get double fiber bread in a two pack for our toast.)

We’ve become professional shoppers, as we know where everything is located.  We have even changed our route in the store, so that by the time we get to the check out line, our frozen items are still frozen.  And somehow, we always go for just a few things and leave with items that we didn’t know we needed.  This was what we left with today:

  1. Milk–  I have a milk problem of ginormous proportions.  It all began when I realized that I could drink a glass while cooking breakfast and then I wouldn’t throw up.  And if I drink a glass before bed, it satisfies my hunger then too.  We wanted a gallon, but opted for two.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  2. Veggies–  Victor and I are on a diet.  Plus, we really miss good salads in this land of burritos and gorditos.  So today we bought a giant bag of frozen green beans (you can’t buy them fresh or in cans here), a giant bag of broccoli (we’ve realized that’s the best part of the mixed veggie bags), a HUGE bag of fresh spinach, a bundle of green onions, a container of tomatoes, and a bag of shredded carrots (such a disappointment–there’s really no flavor).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  3. Meat–  Today we bought ground beef and thinly sliced beef that I promptly bagged into smaller portions and froze.  The one meat that we’ve decided to keep shopping small for is chicken.  We used to buy the frozen boneless skinless breasts from Sam’s, but I discovered (at my husband’s prompting) that real chicken with bones tastes better and makes better broth.  What I will NOT buy from Sam’s ever again: chicken nuggets.  Ugh.  I don’t think I can ever eat another chicken nugget.
  4. Eggs–  Victor and I eat five eggs for breakfast (together).  At that rate, it only makes sense to buy a sixty-pack from Sam’s.  Today, I discovered brown gunk and feathers stuck to our eggs–which really made me feel like I had chosen well.  Go figure.  I’ve also decided that boiled eggs are a nice snack during the day.  Unfortunately, I am kinda lazy–so that only happens occasionally.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  5. Ice Cream–  Every time we go through the yogurt/ ice cream aisle, we debate buying ice cream.  This is actually the first time that we’ve done so.  Our Sam’s has Starbucks, Haagen Daz, and Blue Bell ice cream, but we chose the Sam’s Club brand of Neopolitin.  NOT a bad choice.  Plus, Victor got really excited about having a gallon size container when we finish to plant things in.  (Yeah, it isn’t really on our diet, but it did taste great!)

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So, after rearranging the refrigerator (the bottom freezes veggies, but it keeps my milk perfect–so I refuse to lower the temperature…), I have decided that another Sam’s trip won’t be on the agenda until next week.  Or maybe when our bag of mixed lettuce runs out…

My Big-Girl Panties

Today I put them on.

I decided that it had been long enough. I mean, twenty-eight is pretty old to still be harboring hesitation. So, I put aside my long-standing issues. I gathered my confidence. And I did it…

I ate fish.

See, this all started last weekend. I read in my Pregnancy Propaganda that my baby is drinking amniotic fluid. AND that studies show that the baby’s first introduction to different foods is now. What I eat can affect my kid’s tastes for life. Almost immediately we went to Sam’s. Victor and I stocked up on salad, frozen veggies, and tilapia. No way my baby is going to be addicted to junk food.

Since then, I’ve been figuring out how to do it. I mean, my knowledge of fish comes in two forms: tuna in a can and tuna in a pouch. I’ve been known to drown my fish in ketchup to mask the taste and not offend the cook (guessing he saw through that though…) I avoid the smell and various Mexican fishy dishes like nobody’s business. But all that changed today.

It happened today because yesterday I received my blood tests from the doctor telling me that I have some anemia. I am on this quest to have a healthy little Meximerican, and therefore–my big-girl pants are really Mama-pants. I will eat whatever necessary for my baby.

And…It wasn’t bad.

Granted, I used butter to cook it. I used garlic, salt and pepper. AND I made tartar sauce. But…it wasn’t bad.

I also scored MAJOR brownie points with my husband, who I think is getting tired of chicken, and chicken, and veggies, and chicken. “Thank you for cooking fish!” he said (too) enthusiastically. No problem, honey. After all, what I am cooking on the inside is my first concern. The fact that both members of my family seem happy (baby is doing a little dance of approval) is just an added bonus!

This girl is growing up. It has only taken twenty-eight years for that to happen…

Rainy Day Fun (Family Vacation Day Five)

Well, it’s my oldest niece’s birthday, and in preparation last night we made a cake.  A big cake.  A thirteen layer cake.  My niece is thirteen, and this was her request.  What kind of aunt would I be if I refused to attempt a 13 layer cake?  A smart one…

Actually, it looks pretty cool (and tastes delicious!).  We added food coloring to half of the layers, and the kids helped stir it in.  The cake is a simple white cake, and in between are layers of cooked strawberries and butter-cream icing.  Que rico!  How rich (or yummy)!  I had a bit of a problem assembling the cake–and had to rely on my trusty sidekick, Mama.  Mostly she tends to calm me down and offer solicited advice.

After a delicious lunch of chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and homemade rolls (Yes, I did say lunch…) the kiddos were herded outside to play.  In the rain.

Mama about had a conniption fit when she found out that a resourceful group of seven grandsons had turned on the water hose to aide them in the building of a canal in her gravel driveway.  Quickly she did what any other reasonable grandmother would do:  She directed them to fill in the canal, and take their waterworks to the red clay.  She then joined them in dragging her bare-feet in the mud to make gullies  for the rainwater to gather.  Abuelita mejor!  Best Grandmother!

Soon after the kids Mom and the kids played in the mud, they began washing off.  I think it at least started that way…  Anyone who knows my mom knows that she has this thing about water fights.  This turned out to be a water fight of epic proportion.  She (of course) was armed with the water hose, and the kids were trying to get their hands on anything they could that would hold water.  My nephew, Landon, was filling up a bucket with water that he first emptied from the wagon to the pool–then from the pool to the bucket.  He was sneaking up on the porch to get Jenny.

The natural progression was a mud-fight, followed by another cleaning.  After the cleaning Mama stood at the Slip and Slide and kept the water going for the kids.  (Keep in mind that it has been sprinkling the whole time…)

The kids were dried and changed.  The clothes were collected to be washed.  The children (and adult, Mom) began to calm down…

Ahhh…another exciting day at the Blakley house.  This is way better than Dollywood could ever be!

A Taste of Home (Kinda…)

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I woke up feeling so great this morning! I had gotten up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and take my medicine. I lay there relishing in slight pain (which is so much better than the severe pain I have felt for days…), and I knew what I wanted to do. It is after all, what every good southern woman does on Saturday morning…

BISCUITS AND GRAVY!

It is interesting, for three years I have ranted about the woes of flour. I need my White Lily. Nothing works like White Lily. And for three years my biscuits turn out like hockey pucks. Turns out a little All Purpose Flour and baking powder makes a pretty good biscuit. I certainly have NOTHING on my Mama. She makes the world’s BEST biscuits. If you want to make some delcious biscuits like her, you can study her method via this Youtube video I made last Thanksgiving. (Mama’s Biscuit Video)

I used my mexican flour, the baking powder, salt, butter, and my homemade buttermilk (apple cider vinegar in regular milk). I am able to buy bacon here, but I can’t find breakfast sausage. So, today’s gravy was bacon gravy. Add some delicious tomatoes and scrambled eggs–you’ve got yourself a southern breakfast.

I was channeling my Mamaw again, so a little later I sent Victor to the store for lemons. Is there anything more delicious than lemonade on a hot day? yum!

Oh, There You Are!

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Victor eating Planter’s Honey Roasted Peanuts.

Remember when I said I needed cocoa powder? I have asked every baker in a twenty mile radius. Okay, that is a lie. I have asked a ton of people though. I always get the same answers. They tell me all about cocoa that you make hot chocolate with. I tell them, “No, cocoa sin azucar (without sugar).” They look at me like I am crazy. Why, after all, would you want something without a ton of sugar? They suggest the market.

Today, I had to head to the pharmacy. My stupid kidney is really not wanting to be my friend. I am waiting for the pain to go away, but that hasn’t happened yet. Luckily, securing another week’s worth of antibiotics wasn’t too difficult. I am also taking this pain medicine. It hasn’t been the miracle I was hoping for. So, now hugs have to be gentle, AND I walk like an old lady! Wow! How lucky you are, dear.

Since paying the water bill was also on the list of must-dos I decided to shop at the nice grocery store. Why didn’t I think of looking in an international section before? You know what they have? So many great things (that really don’t say American Food to me). I didn’t buy the Briann’s Strawberry Vinegrette that I really wanted. I have salad dressing I need to use up already. I didn’t buy the ginger paste from the Thai section. I didn’t buy the sriracha sauce either. I have some delicious habanero sauce I need to use.

I did, however, buy the following items:

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I’ve been having a fit trying to figure out something about the flour. Is it self rising? Do I need leaven? I about cried out with joy when I found baking powder I recognize. One lady told me that is what you use when you’re sick–not for bread. It helps heartburn. Okay, lady. Thanks. I’ll be making some biscuits and gravy Saturday in case you’d like to join… Tonight’s menu includes cornbread and pinto beans. Yum!

Why A Mexican Man Is A Good Accessary

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Because when you get groceries, he carries ALL the bags. All you have to do is walk along and hold his hand.

Because he sings you songs on the way home–then translates them so you know how sweet he is.

Because when you arrive home with bags of groceries (that he carried), and you forgot your keys–he will climb through the neighbor’s upstairs window onto the roof. Then he will jump down to the back yard while you shout, “Don’t die!”

Because when you start to wash dishes he will say, “I can do that.” (Why, yes, you can, thank you.)

Because when you start fixing supper, he offers to help by cooking the chicken (which you hate cooking anyway).

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Because, when you ask him to cut the tomatoes (which you also hate doing), he won’t only cut them–he will sharpen the knife on the concrete sidewalk outside (Why did you not know this was possible?)

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Because no matter what you fix, he will eat it with gusto, and tell you how much he loves it!

Because he will let you prop your gross feet on him–and will nicely tell you they are like an Indian’s when you say you need a pedicure (obviously..)

Because, after supper, he will (again) do the dishes.

Because when you hesitantly take homemade barbecue sauce upstairs to the neighbor to say thank you, he will accompany you. He will then answer the questions asked in Spanish. He will tell the neighbor that the sauce is a delicious American sauce you prepared.

Because he will dance with you in the kitchen, and only laugh sweetly when you look a fool.

Because you will be completely at ease to talk about your family, faith, and life.

Why do you need a Mexican Man Accessory? Why not?

Stretching Four Pesos

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My last day in Tennessee before I left for Mexico. I hope to live up to the name that was given to me–what a woman!

You know how I rave about fresh tortillas? I love getting them piping hot from the guy at the counter (who now knows I want media…). If you get a whole order there are a billion tortillas in there. Today I saw a lady with four packages. There are 25 in my 1/2 order–so she was literally buying 200 tortillas… A half order of tortillas costs around four pesos–which would be around 30 cents or so.

Tortillas don’t taste so good as they get older, and the Mamaw in me has been cringing as I throw them out every other day. I keep hearing, “Do not throw upon the floor the crust you cannot eat, for there’s a mighty hungry little one who’d think it quite a treat. Willful waste makes woeful want, and oh! how you might find the day you you only wish you had that bread that you just threw away…”

So, today after eating feeding the cat, I went to the bodega. I bought fresh tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onion and cilantro. Do you see where I am going with this? I whipped up some salsa–I even puréed it with the immersion blender.

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The old tortillas were recycled (and fried) into chips. Yummo! I even had a piece of chicken on a fresh tortilla with salsa for lunch! Now, to sooth my manos from the pepper juice…

Winning (Beating Mom)

I am becoming a champion at winning (NOT Charlie Sheen style). Really the only person I’m beating is my mum.

It’s like I’m raising a child here. She’s amazing–best woman person I know, hands down. She also happens to be the pickiest person I know. Well, with the exception of my nephew who eats ONLY chicken nuggets (eww). So, since I’ve been home we’ve been playing this game called Prove-Mom-Wrong. It’s not hard. This is an example of a recent conversation:

Me: Mom do you like chowders?
Mom: Chowders?! Gross! No, Jania!
Me: Have you ever had chowder?
Mom: Jania, I don’t know anyone who eats chowder!
Me: But have you ever had it?
Mom: Where do you even get those weird foods from? They sound like Yankee foods!

And later tonight:

Mom: Hmmm… I do like that!
Me: Do you want to take it for lunch tomorrow?
Mom: Yes, I think I will!

(I suppose it’s not necessary to explain that I proceeded to make fun of her…)

It probably looks like I’m really pushing it, but the truth is… This happens ALL the time. Every time I cook supper (I know chowders aren’t typically a good choice, but for the most part, I’ve been cooking non-processed healthy meals) we go through the same scenarios. They always end with something like this:

Me: Mom, guess who I am: (In a snarky voice) “I don’t like that! That’s weird! Who eats food like that?”

Sigh Oh, South, if only you would bring a little variety to your palette–it would make my job less of a guessing game! Although, then I wouldn’t get so much pleasure from the current game…

Hangin’ in the Ol’ Hammock

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Today was such a crazy busy day. Now, I know you’re probably expecting news of a job or at least a job search. Nope.

This morning I had my list of housewife jobs to accomplish: make potato soup, look beans, whip up some cornbread, and make an apple pie. The soup is bubbling in the crockpot on low. The beans are simmering on the stovetop. The cornbread just went in the oven. The apple pie is cooling on the porch rail. Oh, and me? I’m just hanging out in the hammock, enjoying the fresh air and awaiting Mama’s arrival.

Turns out that when you close the door, it automatically locks…