Sunday, July 26, 2009


The best part about the rainy season in Mexico is all the rainbows.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Coconut raspados

At long last, pictures of the coconut raspados. By the way, shaving the ice is a lot harder than you would think.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Firefox add-ons that will probably not change your life.

Seems like there are a billion lists of "Firefox add-ons that will CHANGE your Life." I doubt my list will change anyone's life, but here are the add-ons that I have installed in Firefox--I use them all regularly, so no fluff here:
  • Ad-block Plus: I just installed it this morning, and it took me a few minutes to realize that the ads were gone and pages really do load faster. I don't know why I didn't install it sooner. (I know, I create digital advertising for a living...what can I say?)
  • Delicious Bookmarks: Love it for bookmarking. I haven't used browser-based favorites for years.
  • Download Statusbar: Replaces the download window, which keeps my desktop tidier. Apparently has other features that I haven't tried out.
  • DownThemAll: Great when I purchase an album from GoMusic--I can start all songs downloading in one click.
  • Drag & I love and this makes it super easy to add files and manage Drops.
  • FoxTab: My new all-time favorite. It's kind of like Exposé for Firefox tabs.
  • FoxyTunes: Puts iTunes controls in the Firefox status bar. Saves switching to iTunes when Milli Vanilli comes up in shuffle.
  • Google Gears: Installed so I can use offline Gmail and sync my iCal. Had to go without for a few weeks after upgrading to Firefox 3.5, but Google caught up this morning so I'm back offline, that is.
  • GreaseMonkey: Necessary for Facebook Purity, which blocks quiz and application messages from my Facebook feed. Sorry, but I don't actually care what type of pickle represents your favorite 80's movie.
  • Read It Later: Kind of a holding area for links that I don't want to deal with now, but don't necessarily want to bookmark and tag in Delicious.
  • ScreenGrab: It's like having Snaggit integrated in my browser. Especially great since I can't remember the keystrokes to take a screen grab on a Mac.
It's amazing how useful some of these add-ons are. A big thank you to all the developers!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Squid Chunks in their Ink

A can of "Squid Chunks in their Ink" came free with my box of crackers, so I thought it was time to try it out.
I'm....not a fan.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Recipe for Snow Cones

Okay, they're not called snow cones here, they're called nieves or raspados, but they're basically the same principle as a snow cone: shaved ice and yummy syrup. Well, snow cone syrup isn't known for its yumminess in the US, but here in Mexico, raspados are made with fresh fruit and they're delicious.

I got lucky and found an ice scraper at the tionges in Tonala for $30 pesos (that's about $2.25 US), so I've been wanting to make raspados for a while. I finally got down and dirty in the kitchen today.

Only one problem, all the recipes I could find were in Spanish. Now, my day to day Spanish is getting pretty good--it should be after living in "real" Mexico for 3 months. But following a recipe in another language is a whole other kind of challenge. For example, what does deshacerla mean? Google translate helps, but it's not perfect. Factor in the difference in units of measurement and the need to substitute ingredients and reduce the quantity, and the whole process gets a little challenging. But I've always loved a good challenge.

Here's the original recipe that I found for raspados de coco:

Hierve 3 litros de agua por 5 minutos.Agrega 6 tazas de azúcar y mueve para deshacerla.Vacía 4 tazas de leche en polvo con 1 taza de fécula de maíz, mueve.Agrega 2 kg de coco rallado y 2 latas de leche condensada.Cocina 15 minutos y deja enfriar y espesar.

Here's the recipe I ended up making:
1 liter water
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered milk
1/4 cup corn starch
200 grams toasted grated coconut + 1 cup diced fresh young coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Boil the water and turn the heat to low; dissolve the sugar (I cut the original recipe's sugar in half and it's still very sweet).  Mix the powdered milk and corn starch together and add to the hot water mixture, stirring to dissolve. Add the coconut and condensed milk, and cook over low heat for approximately 15 minutes. When I was done, my mixture was very thick, so I ended up adding another cup of water just before I turned off the heat.

Tomorrow the ice will be frozen, so I'll post pictures of my raspados de coco and give an update on how they tasted.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Something old is something new.

When my dad came to visit, he brought two laptop computers, in addition to one he sent me a month ago. These computers were donated by clients of a friend of my dad's. I want to say THANK YOU to everyone involved and show you where the computers ended up.

The laptops are a few years old, but still function perfectly well. They came with clean installationss of Windows XP, AVG Free antivirus software, and Microsoft Office. I added iTunes, Firefox, Microsoft Encarta (which is a lot cooler than I ever imagined), TypeFaster, and Rosetta Stone with American English Levels 1, 2 and 3. All the program interfaces, except for the operating system and Microsoft Word, are in Spanish. Two of the computers have WiFi cards and can be connected with my "high" speed DSL. (Broadband service here is not exactly universal; I have DSL rated at 1MB/second, which is effectively about 100kb/second. But it's internet, and it's fairly reliable for browsing. I can even stream some videos and download a 100MB file in about 20 minutes.)

The first computer went to my goddaughter. She's been using it for about a month and it's great. She has computer access in school, so she was already comfortable with using the operating system and a few programs. She was less experienced with downloading programs and organizing files, which makes sense, since they're probably not allowed to do that on school computers. The real biggie is internet access at home. One day while doing homework, she asked if I knew what a "ho-ule" was. After a brief discussion about what subject she was working on (Science), and after I figured out that something pronounced "ho-ule" in Spanish would be spelled "joule" I told her (in my toddler Spanish) that a joule is a unit of measurement of energy. Correct, yes, but not a terribly complete answer. Then I said, "why don't you look it up on the internet?" That was a very cool moment.

The second computer is going to stay here for the rest of the family to use. I'm going to start giving my friend, who's never really used a computer, some basic lessons so she can use the web (by "web," of course, I mean Google). She's already been asking me to "look it up on the internet" so I think she'll have a lot of fun doing it herself.

The family decided to give the third computer (the one without WiFi) to a 12-year-old cousin. She just finished primary school and had her confirmation, so the computer was a gift to celebrate her accomplishments and acknowledge her entry to secondary school in the fall. Her family (my friend's sister and her three kids) lives way out in the country at the top of a mountain about an hour past the other side of Guadalajara (about two hours from where I live). Their village is teeny-tiny and a lot of the houses don't have running water or telephones. There's definitely not a cyber-cafe in town. The family doesn't have a home phone (mom and the oldest brother have pay-as-you-go cell phones), so they don't have internet access, but we stocked the computer with some downloaded desktop backgrounds, a little music from our collections, and the programs mentioned above. This is where Microsoft Encarta is really cool--you don't need internet access to use the encyclopedia. I added a headset with microphone so they can use Rosetta Stone, and my dad brought a carrying bag.

Here are some pics of opening the present during a family outing to the nearby state forest. You can tell by the look on her face that even after she sees the computer bag and feels how heavy it is, she's not quite ready to believe it's really going to be a computer.

Yesterday at home, we installed the rest of the programs, and my goddaughter showed her cousin how to navigate the English operating system. We practiced opening and using all the programs, learned how to make folders and organize files, and surfed the web for desktop background pictures of cute boys. (They appreciated the teddy bears that I downloaded, but those were rapidly replaced.)

In the States, how quickly does a computer go from state-of-the-art to out of date? From where a lot of us sit, including me with my two-year-old 15-inch MacBook Pro Deluxe Edition which I've been thinking is due for an upgrade (although I'm starting to rethink that), these three computers might seem archaic. But in Mexico it's different. Yes, there are plenty of people who have the latest computers, but there are other people for whom technology is completely out of reach. Thanks to the generosity of those who donated their old computers and others who pointed those computers in this direction, these families have access to a luxury that most of us consider indispensable.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Here are some pics of the new mama and foal. The baby was born about two weeks ago.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

That should do the trick.

I don't think our little Houdini will be escaping again.

Tequila Before

This is agave on its way to the tequila factory to be distilled. Each piece weighs about 25 Kilos.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


This is Junior. He's a master escape artist. Tuesday he ran away and we thought he was gone for good, which would be awful, because he's such a love. I taught him a few tricks: he knows "sit," "paw," and "other paw," and we're working on "lie down." His "paw" comes down like a sledgehammer. I'm going to buy him a new collar and a longer, stronger lead so he can't get loose again.
Blog Template by