Friday, March 21, 2008


A friend's brother passed away night before last. I don't know any details but what do I need to know? She loved him and now he's no longer with us. That's all I need to know. I can't even begin to imagine what she is going through right now. I haven't been able to talk to her yet. I can't wait to see her and just give her a hug. I only met Mark once, at his father's funeral but I know about him through my friend. I know that she loved him very much and will be greatly affected by his passing. His children are young and she will be there for them to help them remember their dad. He will be missed and his memory cherished by those he leaves behind. May they take some comfort in the thought that he is in a happy place now and has a peace of mind and heart that we can only imagine. My heart and prayers go out to them all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm not nosey...I just care!

OK, maybe this in nothing and it probably isn't anything but it's getting to me. I realize I don't ask about everyone all the time. I mean I would spend half an hour asking you about everyone and we wouldn't talk about anything! I just expect to be told about whatever thing is happening to whoever I need to know about because you know who I know and well let's back up a little shall we.

When something is going on in my life or in the life of one close to me whether that thing is good or bad I tell certain people about it; my support group, if you will. I keep in touch with people, I believe in the power of positive thinking and in prayer. So, I spread the word. I don't rent a billboard but I tell a few choice people. Why? Because they care. At least I thought so. Because they are my friends. At least I thought so. Maybe we have different definitions of friends. But there are my "GoTo" people. I thought I was one of their "GoTo" people too. But I am finding out that more than one of these people recently had a parent hospitalized for testing or procedures and I didn't know about it. Maybe I'm not one of their GoTo people, I guess I don't have to be. Wow, I feel like I just told somebody I love them and they don't say it back -which has happened to me too. Maybe they don't realize I care. Maybe I need to ask. Maybe they just don't want me to know. Maybe I need to let this go.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Monday excitement!

We flipped my mattress. Since we were flipping it we washed the sheets off of their regular cycle. Woo Hoo! Can you feel the excitement in the air? Sometimes you need to slow down but I can't imagine it being any slower.
I figure it's got to pick up from here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What's cookin?

This was a food weekend!

I got another box of organic fruit and veggies from my organic food co-op. This week I had 3 fresh beets in there along with lots of other goodies. But the beets were exciting because I have never made beets. There's the whole trauma with the messiness because of the staining and how exactly does one cook beets. WELL, a good friend of mine sent me some recipes and I ended up baking them like a baked potato. I wrapped them in foil and baked them at 400 for a little over an hour. Once they were done the skins came off with a paper towel. I par boiled the leaves and sliced them up in ribbons and tossed them with the sliced beets and feta cheese and toasted walnuts and olive oil and cider vinegar. It was really yummy! The mystique is over. It was really easy- who knew!

Then on Sunday we had another Cuban cooking class. We learned how to make Cuban chicken Soup. Now, I've made chicken soup. But it didn't taste like this. It was YUMMY and easy! The whole thing didn't take more than an hour and half tops - and I think I'm stretching it. If you want to learn how, check out the other blog for the recipe and step by step instructions over here. I brought some for lunch today. It's such a nice way to spend the day. We sat around and chatted with my friend's parents, you could see how much fun they were having and how much they were enjoying teaching us and talking to us. I am enjoying these 'classes' so much.
I think next month may be Natilla. I've got to work on planning that.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tips: College

I had no idea that you could talk to the Financial Aid office and negotiate! Well, I did it. Tell everyone you know. This is the best kept secret (as far as I'm concerned) about paying for college. I got them to increase his scholarship. AMAZING!!!!
#1: Apply to anywhere you want to go even if financially is it out of your reach. If you get accepted the school will put together a package so that you can afford it.

#2: Apply to more than one school. Most applications ask you to list what other schools you are applying to. If they don't have any competition they are less likely to be in a hurry to accept you.

#3: Ask questions. I have spoken to the FinAid office of 3 very different schools and they are very nice, helpful and willing to answer questions and help educate you on the process.

#4: Fill out the FAFSA (the govt. financial aid form) which ALL the schools use early. Scholarship $ gets given away fast. It's a first come first serve type of deal.

#5: Negotiate! Call, walk thru the numbers with them. I flat out told her, look I can't afford the gap. He simply can't go because the cost is prohibitive. She worked with me and I got and additional 15% in scholarship $. My son is going to the school he wants which is waaaay out of my reach and his aid package comes out to 75% of the cost. The cost not tuition, annual cost, that includes room & board, meals, books, incidentals and a couple trips home.

I did this yesterday and I feel like I won the lottery!

Monday, March 10, 2008


I laugh in the face of balance! Who needs you?! I certainly do not!
Bought/gathered the goods to make the pañales, cut up and sewed the hems and prepped the rest for the road trip, up until midnight when 15 and his friends got picked up for his weekender (I didn't see him again until Sunday at 10:30- when I got home), forgot to make Sat's dinner. The best laid plans....
Up at 4:15 making breakfast to fuel a long distance runner, left the house in the dark at 5:45 with hubby to Sebastian thinking I'll keep sleeping in the car. The rainstorm of the century decided to come down upon us and I was wide awake with hubs trying to make sure that we stayed in our lane and not hit anything. Everyone driving with their hazards on at 20 mph with minimal visibility. Are we having fun yet!? We did that forever (read: a good hour) and then it finally started letting up. Who can sleep now? I'm wide awake so begin crocheting in the car. WE finally make it to The Meet miraculously on time, with 15 minutes to spare. It's freezing! The wind it blowing 30 mph (read: 30 mph- seriously!) Gratefully, I find a windbreaker in the trunk of the car because I'm in short sleeves and brought a broad rimmed floppy straw hat for sun shade! We find the team and settle in the bleachers, 18 is in the first race the 4x800. He runs well but the wind made a difference in the times. The team came in 6th in that event. Well, we got points for the team. I spent the entire day sitting in the stand crocheting off and on, tossing drinks down to kids on the track, handing out snacks and food in the stands, hubby made a run to the grocery store, we all got sunburned and were cold. Lots' s of good fun. The races were awesome. We placed in everything we competed in except the discus and shotput. We were in 1st or 2nd place the entire morning. After the lunch break we were in 1st but only by a few points. It was tight all afternoon. The final race, 4x400, we are up by only 6 points. Our cross-town district rivals are in second place, this is their best event. 18 was the first leg, he ran a close 2nd, we ended up in 7th place giving us 2 more points and our rivals came in 2nd place giving them the 9 points they needed to win The Meet by one point! it was very exciting. Our boys ran their hearts out. We drove back, beat just beat! Showered while dinner got delivered, ate and to bed.
Slept in till 9:30. Nice. But by the time I came out of the bathroom hubby tells me its 10:40. WHAT! I was in there for 10 minutes not an hour! He gives me some crap about Spring forward. Whatever! After breakfast, I proceeded to wash, dry and fold 637 loads of laundry (precisely that many), make a grocery list for hubby, pick up for the cleaning lady that's coming on Mon., all while watching The Bridcage. I love that movie. It's hysterical! I cooked the meat for tomorrow's dinner...yeah! and left at 5:00 to go have amazing Indian food with my girlfriends. Boy was that delish!
Not exactly the balanced weekend I planned but there ya go. Life got in the way again. But it's all good; a good time was had by all.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Weekend planning

So, as you know it's off to Sebastian, FL tomorrow for the Track Meet. I bought some crochet thread in a seafoam green to crochet a border for the baby blanket. Well, it's not a blanket I think it may be called a Receiving Blanket in English. It's made of diaper cloth. Anyway they didn't have the diaper cloth at my craft store. I will try to go after work to another one that's sort of on the way home. If not then I will embroider a design on a bib. I have a yellow bib at home a gajillions of pattern and thread. So between that and the book I need to finish I am good for the trip.

Tonight I am making Carne con Papa to leave done for tomorrow's dinner. That way we have food ready to eat when we get home for dinner. Tonight I am making fish for me and dad and Shrimp Alfredo for the runner because he needs the carbs. Plus I will do a little scrapping after I get everything ready for tomorrow.

Sunday, I want to sew. I have some pillow forms and a pink fluffy material that I bought a while back to make pillows for my niece. I am also going to dinner with my girlfriends. We are going to try a vegetarian Indian restaurant. I also need to update my agenda with dates for other track meets and a few other things the kids have told me about. Plus I have some Thank you cards to send out.

If I actually do these things then I will have actually done like all my favorite things in one weekend! It sounds like an aggressive list to me. Let's see how it turns out.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

On the Road...

We are driving to Sebastian, FL on Saturday. I have never been there. We are going for a track meet. It's a 2 1/2 hour drive. 18's first race is at 9:30am. Lovely, I know. You realize the race lasts less than 10 minutes. You do the math. Anyway, moving on.

I have been thinking of what to do in the car on the drive up and back and during the incredible amount of down time that there will be all day. I mean yes, I will watch and root for the other racers form our school but let's face it I am going to be there ALL day.

I'm taking a book to read and I was thinking of taking a new project (since I haven't finished any others why not start a new one?) I think I'm going to make some baby things for a couple of friends who's daughter's are pregnant. I could embroider a bib or crochet a border on a 'pañal' Cuban-style baby blanket. Either of those projects are portable and can actually get done in a day if you work on it. Hmmm... I may actually already own most of these supplies. I'll have to check tonight. Because if I don't I can hit the craft store on my lunch hour tomorrow. Exciting a new project! I'll let you know if it happens and how far I get. I need to start taking pictures of this stuff and learning how to post them. But that would be another project. ;)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Morning talk.

When I got to the kitchen Hubby was checking his watch and harrumphing. I asked -nicely- do I have time for breakfast or are you in a hurry? He said I had 3 minutes. Well, microing my egg only takes 60 seconds. So, I moved ahead. In that 60 seconds, I took out a slice of bread and buttered it and stuck a banana and my bottle of vitamins in my purse. At the ding I dumped the scramble into the slice of bread and folded it in half as I grabbed a paper towel to eat it in the car. I'm ready to go. While I was doing this he was sitting on the sofa watching morning news drinking his cafe con leche and 18 came out of his room and ransacked the clothes in the dryer asking me what I did with the stuff in his pockets. I didn't DO anything, I didn't do the laundry. So, what did dad do with it, he asks. So, I translate for dad. DAD! Did you do anything with the stuff in 18's pants pockets? What was in his pockets? Mind you 18 is standing less than 2 feet from me at the dryer and doesn't answer. I translate again: What was in your pockets. Money he answers. 15 is silently standing by the door just shaking his head waiting for 18 to go to school. Hubby is now standing lets say 6 feet away coffee in hand staring at me waiting for an answer. Money, I translate. Does he need some? You realize that they are closer to each other than to me now but he is still asking me. I keep playing the game. Do you need money? I dunno whatever as he slams the dryer door and proceeds to walk out of the house to the car. I don't think so, I tell hubby. Who then chases after 18 outside. I proceed to walk out and get in the truck eating my breakfast to go. Hubby comes over to my window and taps because apparently the handle won't work for him and he can't open the door. I roll (yes, roll) down the window. I need your keys, he tells me. I hand them to him. He walks over and locks the front door and comes back to the car.
As we drive to my office, Hubby keeps looking at his watch I'm going to be late because you were talking to 18 plus I forgot to take out dinner because you interrupted me. I almost choked on the last bite of my sandwich. Apparently, I interrupted his morning when I asked if he was in a hurry and then I decided to have a leisurely chat with 18 about money. Who knew!? My people don't do well in the morning with words...ya think?!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


It's March already and I realized this weekend that I have not read one book yet. Heck, I have only read scrapbook magazines. I am in the middle of "Into Thin Air" and I've been in the middle of it since December! So, I brought it in to work today and by golly I am going to read on my lunch hour. I have to get a balance on all the things I like to do and not let any one get out of hand. Yeah right.

My good deed for today was surprising my GM at the Rehab Center for breakfast. I took her a pastelito and cafe con leche on my way in to work. I have the car today because the boys have a Track meet and go on the bus. She was surprised to see me since I didn't call first. She loved the pastelito and ate that plus the breakfast they gave her. And I took her and her neighbor a couple of books. For my GM, Mario Puzo's "The Godfather" and for her neighbor one in Spanish because she doesn't read English by Isabel Allende.

It was a nice way for me to start the day too.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Cuban cooking

Not too long ago was the inaugural Cuban cooking class. It's being documented over here.

I have been wanting to do this for years. I have talked about doing this for years with family and friends and it's finally happened. I am so happy about it. It means a lot to me. I don't know if I can put it into words but here goes. I didn't grow up here in Miami. I grew up in Northern Virgina and so my sense of "being Cuban" is VERY different from that of my friends who all grew up here.

In fact, growing up my family didn't talk a lot about Cuba and their life there, their exodus etc. I caught bits and pieces because I learned early on how to sit quietly and listen. Grown ups tend to forget that you are there and you pick up on all kinds of things. In any event, the gist is that Cuba wasn't a part of my upbringing the same way it is if you grow up here in Miami. My parents and grandparents all spoke perfect English. I didn't even study Spanish in high school. I studied French and by the time I graduated high school I spoke that better than Spanish. My Spanish was negligible and I couldn't read or write it all.

My grandparents and parents actually went to school here in the states and therefore acclimated very easily to American life. They had homes in the states, in Cuba, Madrid, Miami and Tampa since the early 30's and travelled back and forth with ease. My parents were very American and brought us up that way. I didn't grow up on the Cuban-American hyphen. My mother was adamant that we were American. I know that was a sore spot between my parents. My grandparents and father were very active in politics (that was why they relocated to Northern Va.) and therefore made many friends and enemies Cubans, Cuban-Americans and Americans alike. My father always put me and my brother in the forefront of any march or protest. I don't remember all the causes but I remember all the arguments. My mother always won only allowing us to participate if we carried American flags not Cuban flags because we are American not Cuban. Period. And so with that as a background, you can understand that meals at my home were meatloaf and mashed potatoes not palomilla and frijoles. My grandmother never cooked anything, it's just not her style. My paternal grandmother was the cook and although she ended up in Elizabeth NJ, working in a factory after her jet-set life, I always thought of her as my only proof of 'being Cuban'. Since she lived so far away, I never shared those things with her but I am always told that I am a lot like her.
I didn't grow up with the Cuban smells, sounds and tastes. I only experienced that in the summers when I would come to visit in Miami. It was a whole other world. Honestly, I never thought I'd live here. I always associated Miami with vacation not life, work and real world stuff. Nevertheless, here I am. For years, I talked about learning to cook the recipes that my husband's grandmothers made for us by heart, with a pinch of this and a little of that. Sadly, it never happened and we have since said good-bye to both of those ladies. And as I am now watching his parents, aunts and uncles get older and a little more tired I am determined to learn these things because I want to be able to pass them on to my grandkids and not have these meals just be a memory that my kids talk about to them but I want to pass them on to them.
I know there are a million restaurants that we can go to and buy the food already made but it's not the same. (I'm the one who makes Thanksgiving completely from scratch-just because.) When one of my kids ends up in Timbuktu and I can make Arroz con Pollo or Carne Asada and Flan, it will bring back a flood of memories and help create new ones for others. I love when 18 walks in the house when I am making Ropa Vieja and says "It smells like abuela's house when I was little." It makes me smile.

The kitchen is the heart of the home and I don't want to loose the Cuban beats. That's why I was so excited about the lesson a few weekends ago and look forward to those to come. We were taught to make ham croquettes. When my husband bit into a freshly fried one he said "I remember these." I later fried a few to take to my GM at the rehab center and when she took the first bit she said they were just like when she was little. It brought tears to my eyes. It took her to such a happy place and that meant so much to me to be able to do that. Memories...more and more I am convinced that's what it's all about...memories. Que siga la tradicion...
Mom, I know I'm American but I think I am much more than that and I embrace it all.