Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mexico 2014-Part 7

I found a queen conch shell. Like imagine those gorgeous shells you would expect to find walking along a white sand beach somewhere tropical, that's what I found. 

We had just come back in from a brief kayaking trip and Kit jumped out of his kayak only to discover a conch shell right next to his feet. He worked to clean it off the algae a bit in the sand, so that we could see the colors more visibly. I thought it was so cool that he just happened to find one that I was a bit envious! I don't believe in taking shells from the ocean, but I have always had a dream to find one of those gorgeous shells. As I was walking around in the tide, I came across {what I thought was} a big mossy rock. As I flipped it over a adorable buggy-eyed queen conch scurried back into her nook.

I didn't get a picture of my friends' eyes, but here's a similar cutie. The way they just bug out and look at you, still melts my heart.

Kit, in seeing what I had practically dropped his find and ran over to me. A couple of people walking along the beach also took notice and came to spectate. I asked Kit to go and tell Erron I had something exciting to show him, and Kit ran off to find him.

When Erron made his way down to the beach, I'm sure he wasn't expecting anything special. In all reality, I find pretty much everything cool and exciting. But when he came over, he genuinely looked proud of my find, and wanted to hear all about it! I showed him the cute buggy creature inside and fell more in love the more I held the little guy.



While all this was going on, I was having an inner crisis. Something that I look back and feel really badly about. But I'm happy about the way it turned out. In all honesty, my first thought when I found my friend was "how can I get this home to the States?" My first thought didn't even involve the safety of this cute little creature! I remember telling Kit basically that I wanted to smuggle it home, at any cost. Looking back, this pains my heart. Here I am, professing my love for nature and telling everybody that all God's creations are magnificent, but yet when I found something I'd dreamt about finding my entire life, I threw every moral I had into the salty Mexican wind.

While we weren't sure at this point if it was legal to take these shells out of their habitat, I wanted to show the rest of the group. So Erron helped me smuggle my friend up to the condo. {Smuggle because I didn't want a bystander to somehow report me.} Everybody at the condo seemed to really enjoy the find! We took pictures, and watch my friend poke in and out. 


Kit Googled the Queen Conch and we found that it was an endangered species. It was about this time that my guilt really started to set in, I didn't want to kill this creature so that I had a shell to collect dust in my closet back home! I mean, I'm positive that's the reason they were going extinct anyways! 

After my deliberation I decided that I wanted to take my friend to my new favorite spot on Earth. Where she could live in peace, the blue lagoon.







We snorkeled around a bit, looking for the perfect place, and we eventually came to a rather deep part, with lots of sand. I dove down and placed my friend on the sand, burying her slightly. After I had surfaced, Erron went down and shook his fins back and fourth to create a huge cloud of sand to hide my friend in. When we were comfortable with her situation, we both left. I know that she is going to live a long life in the Caribbean, and ultimately I'm glad I was able to make the right choice in releasing her. Plus, maybe somebody else can now make a connection with her!

XO Q.Conch!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mexico 2014-Part 6

Kit, Bobby, Mandy, Erron and I all decided that we wanted to visit the "blue lagoon" again. Bobby and Mandy hadn't been & Mandy wanted a calm, peaceful place to snorkel. Since there were 3 kayaks, it turned out perfectly. Kit took the one person kayak, and rocked it like a boss, while the rest of us wimped up and went with our spouses. Erron and I shared an oar that Bob and Kit had re-purposed to work. {Holla duck tape!} 

The sky was beautiful as we headed out, and getting around the bend to the lagoon was a cinch.

We docked our kayaks on the sharp rocks and dove right into the water. The snorkeling there was incredible. The water was crystal clear, and {at least to me} fairly warm. Erron and I took off on our own and found a few cool places where you could literally peer over rock cliffs and watch the gentle ocean life swim right in front of your face and down into the mini gulf. 

After about an hour everybody started to get tired and we decided to head back. It didn't hurt that while we were getting our kayaks back in the ocean we realized that a storm was rapidly approaching.

Bobby and Mandy went first, then Kit, and then Erron and I paddled out to sea. The clouds were dark, and in the short amount of time that the sky had switched from blue to grey, the waves had consequently turned from soothing to scary. They were pounding on the rocks, and we paddled like there was no tomorrow to avoid being crashed into the jagged shore. Bobby and Mandy were the first ones back, followed by Kit, and then Erron and I pulled in after a good 40-45 minutes after leaving the lagoon. My arms were sore, and I was so thirsty I wanted to just dip my head in the sea and drink it all in!

We all headed inside to enjoy some sandwiches and chips.

Erron and I had a fight that day. Fights with Erron are the worst and the best. Let me explain. I don't enjoy fighting, and during the fight I always want to just go back to the normal way we were before whatever happened. But at the same time, our fights are the best because we are so good a communicating with each other. I don't say that to brag, I'm not proud of fighting with my true love, but I have never felt such a near-perfect level of communication with any other human being.

I was upset with Erron because he didn't like to stay in the water as long as I did. There was something else to our fight, but I don't remember. I felt like I couldn't really go do as many fun things without him. He was my buddy, and I wanted him to do everything I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it.

We didn't speak well for a couple hours, and finally I pulled him from the condo and told him we were going to talk on the beach.

We went down and sat in the sand and awkwardly sat for a few minutes, but once we began to talk, we let it all out. I am able to express to him my feelings about something so completely. And from what I can tell, he can do the same with me. We compromised, and made up and finally {finally} we were back to the lovey-dovey state that we are usually in.

As we wrapped up laughing and chatting on the beach it started to shower, so we ran through the dotted sand back to our condo. There we enjoyed the rest of the night around the pool and indoors watching movies with the family, complete with Twizzlers and popcorn, of course. (:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Healthy Cinnamon Oatmeal

A few months ago I decided that I was going to get on a healthier track of eating and living. Which lasted for less than a week, and then off and on since then. However, I can honestly say that for the most part- I've been doing a lot better with my eating habits. I try to only buy fresh foods. And I have stopped binging on sweets.

This has become my morning "go-to" recipe. If you love oatmeal, you're in for a treat. It's very natural, and I've found myself craving it's sweetness, even though there is less than a tbsp on sugar in it.

INGREDIENTS:
 1/4 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Tbsp-1 Tbsp Sugar in the Raw
1/4 tsp Maple Extract
1/4 tsp Vanilla
1/2 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
Pinch of Cloves
Pinch of Salt


INSTRUCTIONS:
Mix all ingredients into a microwave safe bowl. Mix together until everything is completely immersed.

Microwave to desired consistency. I usually set it for 2:30 but end up mixing it a couple times throughout, and then taking it out right before it hits the 2:30 mark.

Stir up, and try not to burn your tongue as you gobble it down!

That's IT!
Bon appetite! (:


Let me know what your favorite breakfast food is! Is it healthy? Or just indulgent? (:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Mexico 2014-Part 5

We woke up early the next day excited for our adventure. We were going to Playa del Carmen! We invited Bobby and Mandy to come with us, but they decided that they would spend the day with their girls and then join us in the evening. But we were determined to spend a full day there!


Decided on an "up" hairstyle....that dang humidity was melting me!


The first thing we did when we got into town was head to the Walmart. I remember walking through those streets and loving everything I saw. It was exactly the what I had made up Mexico to be in my head, before I had arrived to the country. When we got to Walmart, the blast of air conditioning almost made me cry. I swear it was heaven-sent.

We bought some medicine and food, and headed on our way. Walking out of the Walmart and being hit by the humidity was a surprise! I had almost forgot that we were in Mexico when we were strolling around the store. But in spite of the hot weather, we started finding our way to Fifth Avenue. I found it really funny that this little Mexican town had a "Fifth Avenue," since everything seemed so quaint and old.

But as we approached the street, I understood why it was the "Fifth Avenue" of Playa del Carmen. It was bustling with people, and shops lined the street in both directions. We stepped into the nearest shop, which was covered in tinkling ceramic objects. As we gingerly picked things up and made our way through the store, I swung around with our big green backpack in tow, and BAM! I broke a little ceramic dish located on the desk of the cashier. We exchanged looks in that split second, hers was sassy and mine was full of horror. I hadn't broken something in a store since I was 8 or 9 years old. {It was a glass picture frame, and I was with my Nana. Luckily the kid working told my Nana that he had a brother that could fix it. As I am typing this I realize that yes, I was a gullible little girl. There is no way he had a brother that could fix it... Anyways, Erron spoke to her in Spanish and she started to laugh, and then I pulled out the cash and we paid for it and left. Luckily it was only an $8 mistake.

The rest of the day was spent ducking in and out of little shops, looking at everything they had to offer. I didn't want to commit to anything too soon, so when we found things we liked we just practiced our haggling. Erron and I got really good at this. It was probably my favorite experience. I love talking down a "stiff price." We got an $100 sterling silver bracelet down to $20! {That was our toughest bargain, but we did it!} Of course I didn't commit that soon. Since we are on a tight budget, I didn't want to make sure that I didn't go crazy. I mean, I didn't need a souvenier. I mean, I was there in person. I had pictures. But I finally fell in love with this beautiful opal ring. It is a pink fire opal, and looks exactly like it sounds. Opals are one of my favorite gems, so I'm very happy with my little find!

As it hit dinner time, Mandy and Bobby joined up with us and we found a little place to dine. We got a great deal on tacos and drinks. I got 2 pork tacos, and 1 fish one. Erron got the same, except they failed to tell us what the green sauce was, and he dumped a monsterous amount on all 3 of his tacos. Much to his {and his stomachs} dismay, it was habanero sauce! Next thing we knew he was at the counter jumping up and down asking them if they had any honey. Poor guy...

Erron got a wonderful horchata. It was probably the best I will ever have in my life.





Lovely Mandy, posing for her, little did we know at the time, $10 picture.

 As the night neared it's close I decided that I wanted a good Mexican churro. I love them at Costco, so they should be even better in Mexico--right?? Wrong. I think the first thing that turned me off, and may have been a warning, is the time we spent hunting for the dang thing! We walked the city 3 times over looking for them! Then, once we finally found the booth, we stood in line for 10 minutes before discovering they were nearly $4 a piece! Deciding it was worth it, we proceeded to order one filled with dulce de leche. {yuuuuuuum!}

It was short, like half the size of a Costco one. It wasn't as deep fried, and the filling was kind of strange. Not what I was craving, but it definitely was something I was glad I tried. Plus, now I know.
Mmm, churro! *But first, lemme take a selfie!*


The rest of the gang decided to stop for burritos from a food cart before we hopped on the collectivo home. As we neared the cart the man from the cart across the way started shouting at us to choose his burritos. It turned into this hilarious war between the two carts, including samples and trash talk of the opposing carts. In the end, the verdict was to stick with our original choice.

We came home around 10 at night, feet sore, and dead tired from our all day adventure in Playa.

We would definitely be going back!

Summer Job

As many of you know, I've been having difficulty finding a job lately. It seems that I had applied to a billion places, and only a handful of interviews. None of which progressed into anything further.

While I was in Mexico, I received an email from a company that I had interviewed with right before I took off. Anticipating that I would finally get the good news, I was very depressed to learn that "they had not chosen to move forward with my application at that time." I fell into a bit of depression for a day or so {yes, even in Mexico} because I was really looking forward to the opportunity to come home from vacation and throw myself into a job.

Gazing at the stars and the ocean from our patio, Erron and I talked {he talked, I bawled} for an hour or so that night. We came to the conclusion that maybe I was just applying for the wrong type of jobs. Which, in reality, I really was. Just because I was used to working in a professional setting didn't mean that I was necessarily the most qualified candidate. I got lucky with my previous jobs. Essentially, I went from lowly dry cleaning clerk to courier at a busy law firm, to an office administrator for a CPA firm! I am very glad that I had those jobs in my life, but I was definitely lucky to have been given such professional and high paying positions.

Today I got offered a job at Target. It's still growing on me, I feel like going back to just over $8 and hour is definitely going to take some adjusting to. But like I told Erron, $8 an hour is far better than $0 an hour. And it's true! I'm so happy to have something to fill my time this summer! Staying at home has been fine, but I really enjoy working.

So wish me luck, I start on the 24th of June!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mexican Haystacks

This is the latest in my healthy eating kick. I've been trying to eat fresh foods, and when I did my weekly grocery shopping on Monday I found that they had mangoes at the store. I'm not really a fan of mangoes, but I know that my husband loves them and I decided to make a dish that could incorporate it into a fiesta of flavors.

MEXICAN HAYSTACKS

Ingredients:
 1 Cup Rice (white or brown)
1 Tbsp Butter
Handful of Cilantro
Juice of 1 Lime
1 Mango
1 Avocado
2 Tomatoes
2 Cups Black Beans
Salsa (I used salsa verde, since that was in my fridge, but I would highly suggest a Peach-Mango.)

Instructions:
Add 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water. Add butter, cilantro, and lime juice, cook as normal.

Dice mangoes, avocados, and tomatoes and set aside.

Cook pre-softened black beans with salt and pepper.

When rice is done cooking, start your haystack. I started with the rice, then the beans, and then topped with veggies and drizzled salsa over to finish it off.

Voila!





Let me know what you think of this simple, but delicious dish.

XxOo

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mexico-Part 4

I don't remember the order of days anymore, so you get what you get and you don't throw a fit...

The next day {that I remember} Erron decided to spend the day indoors. He was burned all over and wanted to let it heal instead of overexerting himself and dealing with fried skin the entire trip.

So we hung out around the condo most of the day. I decided to hang out with him because A) I didn't want him to be by himself. And B) He's the most fun to play with, so what would I do without him!? We mostly just hung out with Kaila and Miah, and read books. Erron read the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. And I read My Story by Elisabeth Smart.  


Then that evening, after dinner, we decided to take a jaunt around town. They had a few little tourist shops to look at some restaurants. We decided to scope the place out to see if there was anything cool we wanted to do there. We found out that there was a pool of dolphins, and we watched them for awhile, and we also started haggling prices, even though we didn't really want to buy anything yet. It was a lovely evening.






That night, as we were walking along the shore I stepped into the water to show Erron a crab I saw. As I bent down to point it out *PLOP* my iphone fell into the water. I can still see the image in my head. It was face up, and just gently falling down towards the sand. I immediately shrieked and pulled it out. I ran to the nearby bar and placed my phone on the counter, taking it apart. I dried everything off. The SIM, the case, everything. I'm anticipating having this phone for years to come, so when I saw the foreseeable repair cost, I was horrified. We're trying to save every penny for upcoming tuition, so yes, even the $50 apple care replacement cost, was a lot of money in my mind. As I finished drying it I decided to power it up, and to my surprise it worked perfectly! I don't know if it was splash-proof or merely just a tender mercy from God, but either way I was so grateful. 

We were also so lucky to have my phone for the rest of the trip. Our cell service is with T-Mobile and happily, when we landed in Mexico I got a text from them telling me that I had unlimited text in Mexico, and calls were only 20 cents a minute. We needed both of these features to get in touch with our family and tours later in the vacation, so I was very happy we weren't paying a bundle extra to use it.