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Friday, May 31, 2013

Sewing Again!

For over two months I did not touch my sewing machine.  At first I was burned out from sewing constantly for my Etsy store from November until the end of March.  After I recovered from that, I decided to spend what would be sewing time on research and writing.  Then I realized that we are five months into the year and I need to get going on some projects.  So now my office upstairs doubles as a sewing room.

 My first project is a quilt that I want to finish in time for Christmas.  Right.  Make that Christmas of 2014 as I've never made and hand quilted a quilt in less than two years.  One can always have hope though.  This particular quilt has hundreds of pieces to sew and then iron but for some goofy reason, I don't get bored doing it.  I put on ABBA (there are some out there who make fun of my ABBA music and you know who you are) or Tim McGraw, etc. and I'm happy.

 The thing about making gifts by hand, whether is is knitting, sewing, quilting, cross stitching, etc., is that the finished product is filled with love and good throughts.  While I'm making something for a person I"m feeling content and I pour all kinds of good thoughts into the project.  And that's why handmade items are never like mass produced ones.  Handmade may look a bit funkier and not as polished as something mass produced, but you just can't beat the love part.                                                              
See that wild eyed look that Citlali is giving me?  She was possessed yesterday and was more needy than usual.  The neediness is a product of being in Mexico - she isn't like this in Chicago.  But really, she should be used to Mexico by now.

My next post will be about adding book reviews as part of my blog.  I was asked to review a book yesterday and I will try to do one review per week.  They mostly will be mysteries and thrillers but I love most fiction.  If you have any suggestions or requests, please let me know!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Flowers and San Angel

When I'm in Chicago, planting my annuals in pots and placing them throughout my back yard and porch is one of my favorite things to do.  I can sit outside on the deck and look at them for hours with a cup of coffee or wine and a book in hand. I didn't get to do that last summer, nor will I this summer as we won't be returning to Chicago until late September.  I miss those times!  You may think I'm crazy being that Mexico has year round flowers.  And the flowers and greenery here is absolutely beautiful and I love it with all my heart.  But I guess the difference here is that because we are surrounded all year with flowers, I start to take them for granted.  Something that we should never ever do, and I promise I will stop that nonsense.

These beauties are right outside my bedroom window and are climbing up the wall.

 I am so incredibly lucky to wake up to these and to see them a thousand times during the day.  I love the bright pinks, fuchsias and reds.  So while I don't have my potted annuals here, I instead have a garden all year long.

And speaking of gardens, last weekend we went to the Saturday outdoor art market in the San Angel neighborhood.  The artists set up their artwork in their designated spaces in the park every Saturday and it's such a fun place to go to.  I always find at least a dozen paintings that I would like to purchase, and I'm always telling Arturo which artists he should invite to Chicago for a gallery show.  Sometimes he listens, maybe.  Probably not.

 The artists often don't want anyone taking pictures of their artwork, so I tried to be discreet and take these from a safe distance.

Taking a break and munching on something.  The dogs love going there too!  Seriously, I think they are taking over our lives.  But in a good way.

This is another must visit place when you come to Mexico City.

Monday, May 27, 2013

La Lagunilla - Mexico City's Antiques Market

Yesterday was Arturo's birthday (Happy 58th mi amor!) and he wanted to spend it in one of his favorite places in Mexico City - La Lagunilla, a large flea market that has one large section with only vintage and antiques.That is the part of the market that we hit on many Sundays, while bypassing the rest of the stands.  We've come to know many of the vendors and have found artwork, furniture, household items and so much more.  Arturo has a great eye for what is good and what is junk and we've decorated our house here with some of his finds.  For example:

He bought two of these armoires about two years ago.  They actually are from the United States but somehow they made their way to Mexico City.

He loves paper mache horses and this is the first one he bought at La Lagunilla.  It needs some restoration work but is a really fun piece.
Continuing with the horse theme, he bought this little guy yesterday.  It also is made from paper mache and needs some work.  He bargained the vendor down to less than half the original asking price.  He's pretty good at that - unlike me who if I get them to go down by 20% I think I've won the lottery.

The piece below is one of two:  they are the pitchers that bars used in the past to serve the beverage "pulque" that is made from cactus and is an alcoholic drink.  It is becoming more popular in the U.S. lately.

The pictures that follow are all from the market. 

 If you ever are in Mexico City, and if you like vintage and antiques, you will have to visit La Lagunilla.  Let us know if you are here and we'll be happy to take you there!

Happy Monday!

Citlali had to wear a sock because she has an infection in her paw.  Here she is milking it for all it's worth.

This isn't one of ours but I thought she .looked kind of cute.  In a weird way.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Snapshots of daily life in Mexico

I have discovered that where ever you live, you will establish daily routines and life moves forward on a more or less well carved out path.  So it is with our life in Mexico.  Many may think "how boring", but to me it is often a comfort.  That isn't to say that I'm constantly at home doing the same old things though - we do go out all the time.  It's just that there are certain things that I can count on happening everyday and I like that.  Things like walking the dogs at more or less established times, eating our main meal at 3 p.m., watching TV while knitting or sewing at night with the dogs snoozing with us, and then reading until late at night as I don't have to get up at 5:30 a.m. anymore.

And I love the time I spend up in my little hideaway office.  Usually the dogs are with me, each one napping in his or her appointed spot.  Dogs sleep a lot.

Poukie's spot
 I work on my book - or what I hope will one day be a book - and I keep up with emails, news, etc.  I feel connected to my old life but at the same time, I'm very aware that my life today is nothing like it was two years ago.  Last night I dreamt that it was my last week at work and I had so much to pack up and to finish.  I woke up and I've been awake since 4 a.m.
Citlali's perch
One of our jaunts yesterday was to Polanco.  We didn't take the dogs this time because Citlali has an infection on her front paw and she can't walk much.  Poukie had the same thing just a month ago.  Strange.  Then, since Wednesdays are half price movie days, we went to see the Mexican movie "Nostros los Nobles."  It's a comedy about an extremely wealthy widower trying to raise three kids who have turned out to be lazy, spoiled, young adults.  He comes up with a plan to turn them into decent human beings.  I recommend this movie!

To finish up, Arturo has finished burying what was left of the tree trunk, including all the roots, in the back yard.  Now he is going to fill it in with stones I think.
 This final picture is from our upstairs balcony.  There has been a lot of pollution in Mexico City these last few days so it is hazy.  You can barely make out one of the mountains in the background.  We had heavy rains last night but we need a lot more to disperse the pollution.  I'm not sure where it is "dispersed" to but I'm sure it doesn't just disappear.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


My thoughts and prayers go out to those in Oklahoma who have been affected by the terrible storms.  For all the families who have lost loved ones - and for those who have lost possessions, homes, businesses - we are keeping you in our hearts.  I can only imagine what they are going through, but I'm so proud of all the people who are responding and helping out in whatever way they can.  The simple act of providing hope and a gentle hand to someone who is grieving and in need means more than the person giving realizes.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Makes Me Smile

Happy people lift the spirits of just about everyone whom they touch - whether you see them in person, read about them, look at something they have created or just hear stories about them.  While I have never met her, Ree Drummond, aka  the Pioneer Woman, seems to be one of those happy people.  Her life, at least the parts she shares with the world through her blog and books, reads like a fairy tale.  But I don't think that is why she is happy.  Instead, I think she naturally is a well adjusted, fun person who has been lucky, but who also has worked hard for what she has achieved and knows how to appreciate what she has.

So, as I said above, because happy people make me happy, I have her cookbooks propped up against the wall in my kitchen.  Every time I look over at the covers, I smile.  Simple things, yet so important.

Feeling inspired, I mentioned to Arturo that maybe I could start a blog about restaurants in Mexico City.  I thought that we could go around the town eating, taking photos of the food and restaurants, and then blog about it.  He said that if I could come up with the funding to do that, then he would go along with it.  This was right after I had an idea to create a new type of coffee table that would have built in coasters that I would design out of mosaic tile.  I think that he is getting tired of my ideas.  But he knows that they won't stop coming so he is resigned.

I want to point out that while I have a lot of projects that I have started, and while it does take me a long time to finish them since I have a short attention span, I did manage to complete this shawl for my mother in law.  It was supposed to be a gift for Mothers Day so I wasn't too late.  It feels good to finish something!  Happy Wednesday!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday in Mexico, Volcanos, Cars and Holes

Mondays for Arturo and I are different from most days of the week for a rather simple reason.  We don't have a car on Mondays and we live out in a suburb that doesn't have much in the way of public transportation.  We don't have a car on Mondays because in Mexico City, part of the plan to reduce air pollution involves prohibiting cars that are seven years old (I think) from being used one day per week.  The day depends on your license plate number (I think).  Should get my facts right but truthfully, they don't matter that much since our car is a VW '87 bug.
I should note that Arturo really loves this car. Because of my constant complaints though we are looking for a used car that can COMFORTABLY transport us if we want to take a day trip somewhere.  Which we do.   So he is busy looking.

Even though it is annoying to not have use of our car one day per week, the air pollution in Mexico City has decreased substantially since the 1980's and 1990's even though the City is even larger now than it was then.   Proves that things can change for the better if people work to come up with solutions.

So, since we are housebound today, it has become cleaning day.  I like to have my house clean but I'm not a big fan of actually doing that, so I'm happy to say that I have finished cleaning for the day!  For some reason though, the cleaning made Citlali extremely nervous (it's not like we don't do this every week) and she is pretty much glued to me and won't stop shaking.  I wish they could talk sometimes so that I could fix whatever problem she seems to think she has.

Arturo is out in the backyard and has been there for hours.  I know he's digging a hole but I don't want to go ask him what exactly he's doing because then he may ask me to help.  Which I would do, but if I can avoid it even better.  I think he wants to lay stones down in the bottom level of the garden and he is going to bury the root of a tree he cut down last year.  He's made pretty good progress on his own so I will just stay up in my little office.

In other news today, el Popo, the very active volcano that sits on the outskirts of Mexico City, is once again very active.  El Popocatepetl has been active for as long as I can remember and through the years there have been a number of high alerts.  Thousands of people live on its base so the government has an evacuation plan in place in case he really decides to explode this time.  I think it is a "he".  I do know it means "Smoking Mountain".  It's beautiful and frightening.  Volcanos and earthquakes.  Can't say that Mexico City doesn't offer excitement.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


I have a long list of projects that I'm working on here in Mexico with the goal of completing some of them by the time we return to Chicago sometime during the fall.  Others I won't finish while we are here in Mexico but I want to get a good start.  For those who are interested, here is a partial list:

I'm working on writing two books:  one is what I hope will be the first in a series for children and the other is hopefully the first in a mystery series.  I have never written a book before and I have no idea if either one will be any good, but it's something I've wanted to do for such a long time and now is the perfect time to work on both.  In between working on the books, I'm studying all kinds of books dealing with the craft of writing.  Next on that writing list is to join an online group of writers and to start participating in critiques, getting tips, etc.

Volunteer work is on my list and there are two organizations that I have started to work with.  The first is a home for girls aged 4 through 18 who either don't have a family or whose family can no longer take care of them.  Providence Home is located in Patzcuaro, Michoacan and it is the home for at present, 47 girls.  Arturo and I visited the home about a week ago and spoke with the director - actually Arturo spoke with her while I played with a group of girls.  We brought the dogs, Citlali and Poukie, with us and the girls were fascinated with them.  Besides volunteering our time there, I want to make quilts or blankets for the girls, and I want to get them a truck load of books.  Part of my time there would involve simply reading to them.  There are such young girls there and they love and need the attention.  If anyone would like to help me with the books or with making blankets, please let me know!

The other volunteer project involves fundraising for an organization in Chicago that helps to rescue pit bulls and place them in foster and permanent homes.  Pittie Rescue has been in the news lately due to the high profile, and sad, case of Petunia.  I wrote a post on her a couple of weeks ago.  Unfortunately, since I wrote that post another two of her puppies have also died.  My daughters and I are planning to use Arturo's art gallery next spring for a fundraiser.  It will be a silent auction and will have some kind of entertainment.

Besides working on a ton of cross stitch, knitting and quilting projects, that I won't bore you with, I'm trying to finish the shawl that I blogged about last year.  In that post I predicted it would take me about a year and that was a pretty close estimate.

I had to rip out the first try that was in a different pattern because I kept messing it up.  So this is a very easy pattern that even I can't screw up too much.

Next, I'm working on planning a trip to Norway for the summer of 2014.  This will be a trip for the whole family so I want it to be really special.  If anyone has suggestions about places that can't be missed, let me know please.

Finally, for today anyway, I'm working on our will.  Yes, that's correct.  I'm an attorney and have been one for the past 23 years and we do not have a will.  Shame on me!  But it's getting there.

And here is my last request for today.  If anyone living in Mexico is reading this post, where can I find Reese's peanut butter cups?  I'm almost finished with the bag I brought with me and life will be hard without them.