Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sisters


She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities.  She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway.  She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark.  She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink.  
  ~Barbara Alpert

Both of my sisters birthday are in the month of October. Feliz Cumpleanos, Happy Birthday! I love you both so much.

My older sister is carrying our younger sister Lily. Yes that's me with the chicken suit! the photo was taken when we still lived in Mexico. It was a school play but since it will be Halloween soon why not post the picture. Haha!

I'm blessed to have two wonderful, beautiful and intelligent sisters. So in honor of mis  hermanas, here are a few quotes about sisterhood.


Sisters annoy, interfere, criticize.  Indulge in monumental sulks, in huffs, in snide remarks.  Borrow.  Break.  Monopolize the bathroom.  Are always underfoot.  But if catastrophe should strike, sisters are there.  Defending you against all comers.  ~Pam Brown

Sisters don't need words.  They have perfected a language of snarls and smiles and frowns and winks - expressions of shocked surprise and incredulity and disbelief.  Sniffs and snorts and gasps and sighs - that can undermine any tale you're telling.  ~Pam Brown


My older sister is going to New York City next week to celebrate her birthday. Wish I wasn't so far away or I would join her. Love you Sis, have fun shopping!

Take me to New York.
Via polyvore


I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.  ~Author unknown.




Friday, October 29, 2010

Roman ruins near Split, Croatia


A few days ago before we had a wave of cold and rainy days, we took a day trip out to see the ruins in Solin (latin Salona). This view welcomed us, with the city of Split in the background. Salona was once a thriving city with 60,000 inhabitants now only ruins remain of the Emperor Diocletian's native place.
We couldn't see any signs leading to the ruins. Luckily hubby noticed the street named Salona and made a quick left turn. So if you should decide to go, look out for that house on the left and make a turn on what may look like a private alley way. (it will be unpaved)

I wonder how the people living across the ruins feel about having such a vast land of history right in their backyard. Hubby called his Dad and mentioned we were visiting the ruins in Solin and he replied that he had never been there. Also the first visit for hubby. We found a spot along the road and parked our car. We were on our own to discover the ruins, there was no one entrance fee, so we wandered around as if it was our own backyard.









Can you believe this dates back to the 3rd century?


After a couple of hours of running around Beli told hubby that this was the place to take a break, she was tired. It was all in Croatian of course so hubby translated for me, she actually said, "here we tired" but meaning 'here we take a rest." As we walked back to the car I noticed a small house on what looked like a private roadway. I told hubby I was going to investigate. And look what we found? Again, lack of road signs so I wasn't sure if it was ok to look around but then I saw a few other 'tourists' so I figured it wasn't a problem.
A nice place to have a picnic don't you think? and a place to refill your water bottle.
 I believe this was a museum but we didn't have time to go inside. Hubby mentioned that lunch was ready at his parents so we had to leave. We will be coming back another time because it seems there are more ruins to be seen.

   Getting there: it's about 5km from Split or you can hop on the City bus #1 from the city center. You can also  visit this blog Secret Dalmatia,  to read more about the history of Salona. Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween

Beli's first Halloween was in Colorado. I dressed her up as a bumble bee and she went trick o treating to hubby's workplace.


Then she came home and looked through her goodie bag. Wow, I can't believe how tiny she was. These are some photos from two years ago of my nephews.  My Mom made the boys' costumes. Pretty cool hu?

My youngest nephew born this year. Wonder what he will be wearing for this first Halloween

Beli's second Halloween was spent in Croatia and my sister offered to mail me an outfit but I declined since Halloween is not celebrated here. The closest thing resembling Halloween is Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Needless to say that the holiday passed by unnoticed. Although I think Croatia has a similar tradition to Mexico and that is El dia de los Muertos. Nov 1st/2nd  is a family occasion where you visit the graves of your loved ones and take fresh flowers.

Photo by Loren Javier via Spanglishbaby.com
I found this article and it discusses how cultures intertwine between Mexico and the States. It compares the differences between Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos. Very interesting to read.

I asked my Mom why I don't remember celebrating that holiday and she told me its more of a tradition in the central part of Mexico. Here in Croatia, On November 1st or 2nd (not sure which day) all the shops are closed, workplaces are shut and it's a time for families to be together. My  Mother-in-law will be traveling about 5 hours across the border to visit the cemetery where her parents are buried and offer fresh flowers on their graves. It amazes me how our cultures (Mexico and Croatia) are similar in so many ways. Sometimes the world is quite small isn't it?
 I'm trying to remember the last time I dressed up for Halloween and I think it was during my college years but I can't remember what costume I wore. Hmmmm maybe a call to my sisters will jog my memory. For those of you that do celebrate Halloween, happy trick-o-treating and be sure to check out the following links for more posts about the subject.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Family time at the farm

I was indoors washing dishes when I heard a bell ringing. I looked outside and saw a group (herd) of sheep feeding on the front yard of Grandma's home. I noticed one black sheep and I quickly grabbed my camera and ran outside. 

Even Beli came out with Great-Grandma to look at them.
I tried to be as quiet as possible,but one sheep was always keeping an eye on me.


Seeing the one black sheep reminded me of my genetics class back in college. Remembering something about..."the recessive  gene and if a white ram and a white ewe are parents of a black lamb, both must be heterozygous for black, so there is a 25% chance that the lamb will be black."  I always had fun working with the Punnett square.




I took a few more photos then went back inside to resume my household chores. One of them was making sure the stove always had wood to keep the house warm. 


Beli loves to color and draw and she convinced Great-Grandma to join her. It was more of a demand, because Great-Grandma insisted she didn't know how and Beli screamed in Croatian, "BAKA, ZNAM!"(Grandma, you know how!) I even got it on video.

video


Monday, October 25, 2010

Thoughts of a 30-something woman about Motherhood

Motherhood has changed me in so many ways, of course for the better don't get me wrong. But sometimes I feel dumb and dumber. I can vividly see my brain shrinking to the size of a pea. I'm too busy preparing breakfast, doing laundry, planning play dates for Beli, wondering what to prepare for dinner that I don't have the time nor energy to 'strengthen' my brain. Since the brain is a muscle, if you don't use it it shrinks right? Ahh I feel really ignorant when it comes to the matters of daily life. Let's just say that if you ask me what the square root of 64 is, I would have to think about the answer.

Ser Madre me a cambiado de muchas maneras, por supuesto para lo mejor, no me malinterpreten. Pero en veces me siento mas tonta puedo ver la imagen de mi cerebro encojiendose del  tamaño de un chicharo. Estoy demasiada ocupada preparando el desayuno, lavando la ropa, preparando citas para Beli, preguntándome qué  voy a preparar para la cena que no tengo el tiempo ni la energía para mantener a mi cerebro. Ya que el cerebro es un músculo, si no lo uso se encoje verdad? Ahh me siento muy ignorante en las cuestiones de la vida cotidiana. Digamos que si usted me pregunta cuál es la raíz cuadrada de 64, habría que pensar en la respuesta.


 I began to take notice when I was pregnant, as I began forgetting where I left the car keys, or if I turned the lights off in the hallway.  There are days when I feel frustrated that I can't do it all. I can't organize my time. Right now I'm feeling rather frustrated about my Croatian lessons to the point I just want to throw my arms in the air and say I give up. But I can't. I'm a fighter. This I learned from my parents. I'm not a quitter. It seems my college education is down the drain. I need motivation to stay current on my field of study but I can't. I'm lazy. I'm tired. I'm sleep deprived. I'm full of excuses aren't I? Tomorrow will be a better day!

Me empece a dar cuenta cuando estaba embarazada, empece a olvidar donde dejaba las llaves del coche, o si apague las luces en el pasillo. Hay dias cuando me siento frustrada porque no puedo hacerlo todo. No puedo organizar mi tiempo.  Tambien me siento frustrada por mis clases de croata hasta el punto de levantar  mis brazos en el aire y decir me doy por vencida. Pero no puedo. Soy una luchadora. Eso lo aprendi de mis Padres. Yo no soy  cobarde. Parece que mi educación universitaria esta por los  suelos. Necesito motivación para mantenerme al día en mi campo de estudio, pero no puedo. Soy una floja. Estoy cansada. Me falta dormir.Hoy estoy llena de excusas verdad? Manana tendre un mejor dia!

From my Kitchen: Mexican rice and Chicken Fajitas


Living in Croatia I don't prepare Mexican food as often as I would like to, mostly because I can't find all the ingredients needed and my belief that if I substitute the ingredients it won't have the same sabor 'taste'. Instead I have learned to prepare some of the local cuisine such as grilled fish and spinach with potatoes. So once in a while I will prepare one of my recipes and chicken fajitas is one of hubby's favorites.  I can find most of the ingredients at the grocery store. You can add as many veggies as you like. Beli had the same as hubby minus the jalapenos. For myself I prepared veggie fajitas with lots of jalapenos. 

1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil on a large pan and cook chicken strips until you see a golden brown color then


2. Add 2 large onions (cut in thin slices) and 2 large peppers diced and 2 cloves of garlic (jalapenos optional).


3. Continue cooking and stirring until the vegetables are brown around the edges.  


4. Then you need a side dish so I made some Mexican rice. I'm sure there are many versions but this is how I learned to prepare it growing up.



Ingredients to make the rice:
3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 medium chopped onion
2 tomatoes chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1-2 tomato bouillon cubes (Personally I prefer Knorr brand) but you can use any brand/flavor
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
2 cups of water (since I'm using the bouillon cubes I don't use vegetable broth)
some cilantro but I used parsley

Directions:
1.Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat and add the rice. Cook, stirring constantly until the grains turn light brown color.

2.Add onion, tomato and garlic and cook for a few minutes 

3.Add tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil, add the bouillon cubes but today I didn't have any so I used what had in my pantry,2 teaspoonful of vegeta ( the croatian version of Knorr in powder form)  and the parsley.

4.Reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes. (Note: I usually  let the water evaporate completely but the picture below shows how it was when I opened the lid and grabbed some for Beli.) Then I turned the heat off and I tasted the rice for flavor (sometimes it's not 'salty' or flavorful enough so I add more vegeta and a dash of pepper then I place the cover and allow the rice to "fluff"  for about 10 minutes so the water is completely evaporated. 

If you like you can always add more cilantro /parsley at the end for garnish. You can also add 1/2 cup of peas or corn during the last ten minutes of cooking. 


  • Enjoy with flour tortillas and guacamole or sour cream.

I know my recipes are not very specific because I learned to cook by watching my Mom. She never followed any recipes, instead she added a little of this, a pinch of that and her food was always delicious.  I always  wonder why my recipes are never as good as hers. Hmmm... I hope  Beli can say that about my food when she grows up. So what's your favorite side dish for fajitas?    For me it's guacamole. YUM



Friday, October 22, 2010

A Castle.........

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We said farewell to our friends and headed north to the nearby town of Krapina. This small town north of Zagreb and not very far from the Slovenian border is known for its archaeological discovery of over eight hundred fossil remains depicting Neanderthal individuals. The discovery was made in1899 by Dragutin Gorjanovic-Kramberger, a geologist and paleontologist. We arrived and found it was closed. Something about being Monday. I was disappointed and only hoped that our next destination, the Trakoscan castle, would greet us with open arms. So we took a few pictures in the rain, the scenery was beautiful.

I see the castle in the distance!!


And many thanks to Jimy for the link to this great photo of the lake and the castle.

You see that winding and narrow gravel  road below? Well, we soon learned it's only meant for pedestrians.  It was raining and we had Beli plus we thought the castle was not open since it was Monday, so hubby drove the car all the way up to the hilltop and through the castle gates.




We parked the car and we took a few photographs and then we noticed a security guard and he did not look happy! We gathered our coats and camera and walked under the castle's arch and into the office.


 There were security cameras everywhere and the guy behind the counter had been watching our every move! He reprimanded us that driving our car was not allowed and hubby explained that he thought it was closed since the information desk and souvenir shop at the bottom of the road were closed despite having working hours of 9-4 posted on the door and there where no indications of anybody working. We offered to go back but the guard told hubby it didn't matter since we were here already plus we had a small child. Whew, thank you Beli! for a moment I thought we would get arrested for trespassing!

Can you see the guard by the stairs?


And just so you know, the castle is open every single day, year round. Unfortunately no photos were allowed inside the castle and I was NOT about to disobey that nice guy behind the counter, plus I did notice more security cameras. But you can click here and here for some photos some visitors took inside the castle.





Afterwards we were hungry and since the coffee shop on the premises was closed, we followed a sign along the highway for a restaurant nearby. Look at the amazing countryside, breathtaking! 
Following directions to the restaurant and we arrived and guess what? It was CLOSED. Hmmmmm starting to notice a pattern.

So we turned around and stopped at a small grocery store  but not before taking a few more photos, this view reminds me of  our road trip to the Tuscany region.

 I will have to admit that despite the rain, despite being Monday and the museum and restaurant being closed, I had a wonderful time on our road trip. Visiting friends, making new friends, discovering that butter-cream Castle and driving along the countryside, well it was the perfect way to spend the weekend. 
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