Friday, August 31, 2007

Understanding us & our pets???

What's to understand? They have been aloof creatures of habit for centuries & I doubt that we are changing them anytime soon. Do they signal something about us? Okay, so I am not the crazy cat lady (you hear about those on the 6pm news) since I only have 2 & they both live in different countries but they are like "family".

On my birthday the girls gave me a book which makes me ponder much. The title of the book?? "How to understand women through their cats." Pets mimic personalities for sure. Look at our canine buddies. I am not sure what the whole thing really says about me since I have one black & white variety who seems to rule the house & dogs back home in Texas. Her yin & yang are totally together in her bossy personality. But true to the profile creatively written by Wendy Diamond our Persian cat does jump on an opportunity to travel. At the end of our journey south of the border she will be a very well traveled kitty! Poor baby, she seems to take all the coming & going in stride.
The bigger question is, do my daughters think I am like my cats??

What does this say? Hmmm, woman & cat have too much time on their hands! Highly possible.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Summer Storm & Late Summer Veggies

Late summer storms here seem to be the most unpredictable. The locals say it almost always rains on or near September 16th, the Mexican Independence Day. Calabacitas is one of those dishes which is both comfort food & a way to use summer veggies. Got Squash?? Make Calabacitas!!

Calabacitas-Mexican Squash

3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups diced yellow summer squash
2 1/2 cups diced zucchini
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green chile, roasted, with skin removed, use Poblano or something hotter if you like. Hatch chilies are very good!
1/2 cup firmly packed coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup cream, light sour cream or grated Jack cheese (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cherry tomato halves, for garnish

1. Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet and saute the onion for about 4 min. over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute 2 min. longer.
2. Add the squash and zucchini and saute 5 min. longer, until softened. Add the remaining 1 - 2 Tbsp. of oil with the corn, green onions, & chiles and saute 1-2 min. longer.
4. Stir in cilantro, & cream (if desired) and heat through, about 5 min.
5. Season with salt & top with cherry tomato halves. Serve hot or warm.
Yield: 8-10 servings. *I almost always use frozen corn to cook with here since the corn we find in the stores & markets is a starchy field corn variety.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Shout Out to the Lady with the Talent!

Never know where I'll find my dear friend & neighbor the ever talented Nancy Durant but she took time out of her schedule one evening & re-crafted my blog giving me a wonderful banner. She made it look too easy & all I did was watch. Thanks again, Nancy!

You go girls! Keep that tiger on his toes this year!

Great finds to take back South of You Know Where!

Santoku knives, Boots No. 7 Skin Care products & Greek Seasoning. What do these products have in common?? I can't find them in Mexico! **Oh, an absolutely fun find are the Jumbo Chipboard Letters that I happened to locate when we were finishing the Delta Zeta cork board. They will be a great addition to many more projects for the youngest daughter at college. They are after all in the prerequisite Pink & Green DZ colors.

Globalization means many products from various companies around the world are offered many places....but then again, you haven't lived in Mexico. Not to say many companies don't have market presence here in 2007 as opposed to say, 20 years ago. But all in all, they have a long way to go for most Americans living abroad. (Gee, I suppose that sounds spoiled!!!!) Arriving home in Texas generally means we stock up & assess our needs for items we are either out of or can't find. I was pleased to make a few new finds & pick up a few old favorites while we were home. Greek Seasoning: I made up my own but it wasn't quite the same.
*Of note: I didn't fly back on a plane with a Santoku knife~we drove across the border. Don't want an international incident over a kitchen knife.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Oh, those Bunco Babes!

Is that Bunco, Bunko or Bonco or Bonkers???
Texas gals love games, gatherings & good times! Thanks remembering me~a fun night!! Hope to see ya'll again soon. Karen, I will remember my partner next time:) Yes, I am up for some South of the Border Bunco......

bun·co also bun·ko (bung' ko)
n. pl. bun·cos, also bun·kos

1. A swindle in which an unsuspecting person is cheated; a confidence game.(Well~I should hope not!!!)
2. A parlor game played in teams with three dice.
3. A winning throw in the above game; three of a kind of a specified number.

[Probably alteration of Spanish banca, card game, from Italian banca, bank, of Germanic origin.].
Source: The Bunco Book, First Edition

The Domain, new place in Austin.

While home in Texas we had a chance to check out Austin’s newest shopping plaza, The Domain Mall. The girls have been telling Mom & Dad that we just had to see it! The Domain features nearly 100 high-end local & national retail stores. High-end, retailers that include Barneys, Macys, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus and some equally impressive restaurants like McCormick & Schmick’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Daily Grill and many more. My favorite store there was a kitchen store called Sur la Table. After the whole lack of Williams & Sonoma or frankly any other kitchen store in Mexico of the same quality, it was a fun place to visit. They are currently featuring alot of Latin American items which I found interesting. Scale & planning of the Domain seemed to bring to mind the small town walkable shopping areas on a traditional town square. There was even a cute, smaller local tea shop called The Steeping Room. I was struck by the large scale art scattered throughout the plaza. *The one aspect I was most impressed with: pleasant weather! Fairly low humidity, temps didn't hit 100 that day as is the norm this time of the year, all in all a wonderful experience. Fancy Schmancy might be how some would discribe The Domain, but it is a breath of fresh air when you live outside the US for any length of time.

Texas Artist' certainly adds whimsical beauty to The Domain, keeping things from being too serious. This cute Armadillo totally caught my eye!

Coach is for the dogs. Some dogs have all the luck!

If people like Coach then why not do the same for your pets?

Jack the dog graduated to a big boy collar finally!! He has been trying really hard to get over his puppy ways...still some developing to do in that area. He has had the same little blue nylon type collar since he was a few months old. His old Valhoma collar grew & grew with him until there was no more room for his lengthy neck.
So, long story short: he is finally trusted to wear a "big dog" Coach collar just like his Doggie Mom~ Molly! I am sure now he will walk with pride through Oakbluff on his evening jaunts with Molly & Lauren. Jack does after all have a sense of fashion & is quite style worthy these days. I think it was a good purchase at that RRNN silent auction!
I think most would agree he really looks so handsome in his new red collar. Going to far for a pet~I think not.
"Good Boy, Jack, Good Boy!"

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Family the ties that bind!

When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses. ~Joyce Brothers

Mom & Dad are proud of of those Texas daughters!

All those "Honey Do~Mom Do" projects!

As Marilyn said: "I'm very definitely a woman and I enjoy it." If Marilyn had gone to college today she would have loved all of the ultra girlie choices of decorating items.

Getting "younger daughter" into her apartment this trip home meant we had some little "Honey Do" projects to whip together once Mom arrived in town. (besides it is hard to say no to "please Mom" & the look!) With a some sand paper, glue, glossy enamel Hot Pink Delta Zeta paint colors, we had most of our little finishing touches done in time to add to the haul going down to Campus. The better part of that move is the fact that the boyfriend came along & helped haul, put together & keep us from making a million trips up & down the stairs with all of her "stuff". Our baby girl seemed happy with the very girlie touches. Most notable was the shelf we decoupaged with the ultra girlie classic Marilyn Monroe photos which looked tres chic with her Marilyn posters. Thank goodness we were shopping for her apartment necessities in Austin rather than Mexico!!

Jaimes Spanish Village~wonderful Tex-Mex!

Jaime's a great place to meet, eat & relax with the Jaime's special Margarita~mmmmm! While my own Compuesta recipe is not Jaime's own recipe, it'll do South of the Border. Compuesta=Queso+Guacamole!! Don't knock it if you haven't yet tried it.

Some places have memories connected that defy words. Jaime's~an Austin Texas institution since 1937. Good Tex-Mex, Great company & awesome frozen Margarita with just the perfect combo of Sangria swirled in...ah! And if we are with good friends, then all the better!

Mother & daughter at the end of "move-in" day for college, still all smiles!

Chile Con Queso Compuesto

Basic Texas Chile con Queso
Easiest recipe in the Lone Star State. If you've got a microwave or double boiler you can make this for a few or a crowd. You’ll need one can of Rotel Tomatoes and a pound of Velveeta. (Save liquid but drain Rotels, if the Queso needs to be thinned out later) to get the consistency you like. Chunk the Velveeta, pour in the rotel & micro til everything is melted. *I use my own salsa but use what you like best!

Guacamole~ the green half of the Compuesta
2 avacados
a scant 1/4 c of YOUR favorite salsa
1/2 clove of FRESH garlic, smashed, minced & diced
* salt to taste
Smash everything together with a fork to the consistency you like.

Spread the Guacamole in the bottom of a medium sized bowl, spoon about 1 cup Queso over the top. Serve steaming hot surrounded with chips with the Compuesto & enjoy an awesome frozen Margarita. Buen Provecho!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Good Read!

Whether reading the book club books in Texas or Mexico, the books are always compelling.

I had the wonderful opportunity to drop in & visit my friends with the Round Rock New Neighbor Book Club this afternoon. They were discussing the David Liss novel: The Coffee Trader. Some may be familiar with the author's award winning book: A Conspiracy of Paper. I just haven't read the novel yet~being English language book deprived in Mexico. However this is certain to change as I now have a copy to read the earliest opportunity. The Coffee Trader does sound like an engrossing read with many twists & turns. I also have the September book: The Devil's Highway, true story by Luis Alberto Urrea. It was great to see so many of the women today although our fearless moderator Frank Campbell was not in attendance. He was on a much needed vacation in Hot Springs~reading something good I am sure... Okay, Frank. Could it be a mystery perhaps??

No photo for Frank was available so I had to improvise & use my favorite Frank....old blue eyes himself. Sorry Frank C, you weren't there & I had to make do!!! Missed seeing you but it was a good discussion (& the coffee, of course was outstanding).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Now that's what I call work!! Parent's Day~Delta Zeta House

DZ House in San Marcos. Beautiful house, pretty/perky Texas girls & in a wonderful town.

DZ, Turtles, Pink & Green Accents!

Whoa! That basement is overloaded with DZ memorabilia~yep, there are a few basements in Texas!

"Youngest Daughter's Go Greek~German Auto!"

"Youngest daughter" moved into her apartment down near campus ~ busy week. Saturday morning was equally busy as it was parent work day at the sorority house. The old turn of the century sorority home took on a new look as all of the parents worked to give the DZ house a fresh face for the upcoming Rush week. At times in the humidity & heat our frenzied work seemed more like a Reality TV makeover show. By late afternoon the house looked great & just in time for the parents to see a preview of the girls Rush week skits. Loved the Spice Girl's ala DZ. Going Greek looked pretty good!

The DZ girls will certainly make an impression during Rush Week.

Friday, August 17, 2007

San Antonio~rain & more rain! Soggy visit in Texas.

Ultra Soggy day in San Antonio.
Tropical Storm Erin was no lady when it drove north into Texas yesterday from the Gulf of Mexico. We traveled to San Antonio for a quick visit with my Mom & Nana. Soaking, blinding, driving, flooding rains just about swamped the Western half of Bexar County by early afternoon. My mother took about 5 hours to arrive back at her home in Uvalde County. We were fine driving back to Austin once we were north of New Braunfels. Crazy, crazy weather; it is feast or famine with the moisture in this state. Texas can be in a hard drought cycle & be hit by the 100 year flood at any given time or so it would seem this year! As evidence we watched people being plucked from cars & trees on CNN last night. Poor San Antonians, what a day!

Before we could leave town completely....
*As we were driving in heavy rain on loop 410 I heard the warning bell for the gas tank sound so I searched for a gas station that wasn't near a flooded exit ramp. Mind you, by this time we were listening to local radio & knew this flooding was a dangerous situation & we needed to be alert & have a full tank of gas. Finally we spotted one, thank goodness for Chevron! When I was trying to get gas & having trouble.... the station attendant told me that the satellite was out because of the storm system. Hmmm, I wasn't aware that that was an issue with service stations now~but I guess it is. (guess I have been in Mexico too long! Technology is passing me up) I had to get cash to pay for my gas while the electricity was still on so I could get the heck out of Dodge!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Yucatan Chicken~not the same old chicken!

Yucatan Tacos de Pollo

6 Lg. Flour Tortillas
10 oz. boneless, skinless Chicken Breast
14 oz. can Black Beans, drained
6 oz. Mango, (ripe & firm) diced
1 cup White Rice cooked
3 cups Salsa medium hot
1/2 c. shredded, mild white cheese
1 bunch Cilantro
4 Tbsps. Vegetable Oil
1 tsp. Garlic, diced
1/4 tsp. Cumin, ground
1/4 tsp. Salt
Vegetable Oil


1. Heat 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil in nonstick skillet; cook chicken until golden brown. Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Let cook for five minutes. Dice chicken into small pieces. Add rest of ingredients, except tortillas, 2 cups salsa and the cilantro. Set aside.
2. Place 6-7 oz. (3/4 cup) of mixture into middle of one flour tortilla. Roll and secure tortilla with a toothpick. Roll remaining tortillas and set aside.
3. Heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in skillet. Lightly fry rolled tortillas until brown on both sides. This can be done in very little oil or spray. (If you choose not to fry this is similar in tast to Chipolte's Chicken Burrito)
4. Puree rest of salsa in a blender & season with salt to taste. Heat salsa and pour over tortillas or serve on side if you do not fry the tacos. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

On a Clear Day{:~)

On a clear day in Mexico it feels like I can see all the way into Texas...not an easy task! We have had so many rainy, foggy days here in Nuevo Leon this summer I am thankful for sunny days. It can make me feel like I am living in a vacation land South of the Border somewhere. It also makes up for those days when we were socked in with fog so heavy it felt like we are cut off & at the edge of the universe down here; albeit a Spanish speaking universe! On a day as clear as today I can relax & sit with my feet up for a bit & even ignore the Thermal inversion drifting in from Monterrey. Not too bad today...I can almost hear Jimmy Buffet music playing~

Total repose & relaxation, somewhere in Mexico~

Margarita on the Rocks, the balcony or by the pool!

• 4 steps in making a Margarita on the rocks: 1. Gather everything you need. 2. Prepare your glass by rimming with kosher salt then filling with ice. 3. Pour 2 ounces Tequila (Reposado 1800, Don Julio or down here I like Don Ramon Tequila~ are all good) into a shaker tin half filled with ice, then 1 ounce triple sec/orange liqueur, and 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice. If you want it a tiny sweeter to balance the sour then just add a spoon of sugar or simple syrup. If you are making it with Sweet-n-Sour then use a couple of ounces in place of simple syrup. 4. Shake and strain into the glass. Garnish with a lime.

Salute! Mi Amigos