Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dog's Life

Biscuit and his good friend Junior.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What I CRaVe.

Just a little something I picked up today...


What BIG eyes you have!
Biscuit has to give it the sniff test.

It's been a long time since I bought anything over $100, so this was pretty exciting. I'm sure I'm going to love it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Not him again.

Two more calls for Carlos today. Please stop. Please.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fuera de las bocas de los babes

So I guess I can say I speak Spanish, at this point. I understand a LOT, almost all of what I hear in daily life. And I can ask for what I need, get my point across, have a conversation, tell a story, talk about the weather and the news and what we're going to do next week. I speak like a two-year-old, but I'm getting better, and people understand me. It's really cool to learn a new language this way--total immersion. In fact, based on my previous attempts at learning a language, this is probably the only way I can learn. Unless I NEED something, I don't retain it. Living in Mexico, transacting all of my daily life in Spanish, I retain a lot.

But even if I do sometimes say silly things, you still can't beat an authentic two-year-old's way with words. Playing in the yard with the dog the other day, my friend's daughter shouted "¡Corre con tu vida!" Translated directly, it means "Run with your life!"

And then there's my goddaughter, who's 14, and tried to teach me F language. No, it's not a language that uses the F-word every other sentence. It's similar to Ineg lanuage, where you insert "Ineg" into every syllable. InegI cInegan dInego iInegit iInegin EInginglInegish prInigettInegey wInegell. But it's another thing entirely to try to do it in another language. That you don't speak very well. With F. CreFeoFo queFe eFes aFalgFoo coFomoFo eFestoFo. But that took me 10 minutes with Google Translate and cut and paste to work out.

I think I'll stick to speaking "regular" Spanish, and hope I can catch up to the two-year-old's vocabulary soon.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Chilis Rellenos

The other day, my friend whipped up a batch of authentic chilis rellenos, starting with fresh poblano chilis.

We wanted to cook outside on the plancha because it's hot and messy business making chilis rellenos.

First you coat the chilis lightly with oil and roast them on the grill.

For the sauce, you need a half kilo or so of tomatoes.

When the chilis are nice and toasty all over, remove them from the heat and let them rest in a plastic bag or other airtight container for a few minutes to soften the skin and make it easier to remove.

The skins peel off easily.

We were all set up with the oil outside, but it started to get windy and threatened to rain, so we moved everything inside.

The tomatoes are done when they're wrinkly and the skins start to peel off (but you don't remove them).

The chilis are sliced open, veins and seeds removed, filled with queso fresco, and pinned shut with a toothpick before being dipped in a very frothy batter of egg whites beaten with a little cornstarch. Then gently lay the chilis in hot oil.

It's better to cook one at a time, because you can ensure the form is perfect and browns evenly.

You can fry the extra batter to make medallions.

Back to the salsa, chop and saute half a white onion.

Blend the tomatoes, their water, and a small clove of garlic.

Strain the the salsa through a colander into the frying pan with the onion.

Stir gently and add...

a handful of fresh cilantro.

When the salsa has simmered a bit, gently place the chilis rellenos into the sauce.

Serve piping hot with fresh corn tortillas, frijoles, and a salad of nopal (prickly pear cactus).  Use deep bowls and cover the chilis with plenty of salsa. Pair with una cerveca bien helada. Buen provecho!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Shiny copper and delft blue ceramic.

Instant Customer Service: just add Twitter

It's happened to me twice now. I've Tweeted about a product or service and gotten an almost instant response from the company in question. Clearly, companies are setting up monitors to watch for anything being said about them. A month ago or so I asked for recommendations for a program to clean up iTunes because my experience with TuneUp was "meh." And a few days ago, I tweeted that Boingo was down in JFK Terminal 1 when I was in the airport and wasn't able to connect to WiFi. In both cases, someone monitoring Twitter replied to my Tweet with an apology and a request for more information.

I think this is one of the coolest things about the Twitter platform. I wouldn't have contacted either company. I didn't have any complaints or problems, I was just mentioning, to my followers and the world in general, what my experience had been. It's like I mentioned to someone at a cocktail party that my shoes were a little uncomfortable and someone from Steve Madden walked up and said "Sorry to hear that, can you tell me more?"

Yes, he actually DID get cuter.

Biscuit went to the vet for a long overdue grooming session: teeth cleaned, nails trimmed, and his wild fur cut. I decided to have him puppy cut again, because it's too hot for a fur coat here.

Here are some before and after pics.



My leoncito.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How Much?

I am lucky. I have dual citizenship, US and UK. I was born in London, so I got UK citizenship at birth. Fortunately I was born before 1984--if you're born in London after 1984 you have to also have at least one British grandparent (I think) to get citizenship. So I lucked out on that count. I applied for and received my British passport in 1999. It's been great to have both passports. When entering the UK I can use the short line, and it's (slightly) easier to travel in the EU. And going to Brazil on my UK passport was great because I didn't have to pay the $100 American penalty.

So it's been 10 years and I need to renew my British passport. I have been putting it off because I need to mail in all the paperwork and I'm in Mexico now and (this is kind of embarrassing) I haven't yet quite figured out where the Post Office is. (Note to self: seriously, look it up.) So today I decided to get down to business. I downloaded the forms and filled them out with an online tool. Then I started trying to figure out how to pay the fee and that's when I realized it costs $199 to renew my passport!! I think when I got the original it was MAYBE $75.

What happened?

According to what I read when searching for info on the increase, it's all because the British government needs more money to help travellers in distress. I mean, yeah, I get it, kind of, but $199? I don't know. Don't they know there's an economic crisis happening?

And the kicker is that it only costs $119 to do it if you're inside the UK. I'm thinking of flying to London just to renew my passport. Yes, I know that will cost more than $199, but I'll get to see my friends too.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Who is Carlos?

I have a new phone number, which I have given to almost no one. But my phone rings ALL the time. At first it was kind of exciting...who could be calling? But everyone who calls asks for Carlos. I don't know any Carlos. No hay Carlos aqui. Dejame en paz por favor.
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