Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Travel Journal.

This month, for La Vuelta al Mundo, the amazing photography group I first participated with last month's search for treasures, the theme was "Diario de Viaje". The idea was to document the feelings and stories and discoveries made while travelling, and writing a short "journal" entry describing the moment and place when the picture was taken. Here are our travel snapshots and memories, in spanish, for this once.

 1. Una calle en Boulogne sur Mer (Francia). El contraste de las puertas azules con las paredes de piedra en este pequeño pueblo francés despierta la imaginación. Los faroles siempre me recuerdan la entrada a Narnia, y me hacen pensar en visitar este sitio cuando nieve.

 2. Hospital de Sant Pau. Barcelona. Hay algo mágico en ir caminando por Barcelona y encontrar edificios como este, que además es un hospital. Por dentro, parece que estuviera todo hecho de caramelos. Y hay tantos árboles y pálmeras por la ciudad. Suficiente para dejarse el corazón en Barcelona tan verde, tan llena de historia, tan cosmopolita. Siempre pasa algo en Barcelona.

3. La Catedral de Santa Clara del Cobre, en Michoacán. México. Estabamos caminando en el pueblo y fue divertido encontrar este letrero tan claro.

4. Un puesto de elotes en Istanbul, Turquia. Fue mi primera vez en las puertas de Asia. Estaba emocionada de tener la oportunidad de descubrir una cultura tan distinta. Y cual va a ser mi sorpresa y alegria, al descubrir, que igual que en México, venden elotes (mazorcas de maíz) asado en puestos en la calle. Me encanta encontrar tradiciones compartidas.

5. Sólo en México. Caminando en las calles de Guadalajara (Jalisco) vimos este letrero.  Creo que no necesita más explicación. Nos moríamos de la risa. (Sin ánimos de ofender a nadie).

6. Llegando a Manzanillo, en la costa del Pacífico mexicano. Cuando se empieza a vislumbrar ese brillo azul en el horizonte que es el mar, tras varias horas de carretera en pleno sol.

7. Rumbo al mar. Después de una rápida visita al puerto de la ciudad de Manzanillo. Ese olor a sal, el calor, la sensación de vacaciones, tan ansiada, después de horas en carretera.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The wall

I am not sure where we got the idea from, but for a long time we knew we were going to have a wall where yesterday and today would be mixed. And so we have been gathering old and new pictures, from the people in our lives. It is an ongoing project (and there is not much wall left).
This collection of moments reminds me of Faust's words to the instant, "Stay a while, you are so beautiful". I first read these words in spanish, and because it is my mother tongue, they speak to me the most ("Permanece, eres tan bello.") For the curious, here they are in german, as they were originally written "“Verweile doch, du bist so schön”. I actually bought the book in german, because back then smug me decided that all books should be read in their original language. I still believe that, but that would leave many masterpieces unread, and as for german 7 years later I still can't say more than 4 words (not that I actually did anything to learn it). I did take italian classes in the meantime, and now dutch is in the way. Oh well...  Maybe we can have some tea and talk about books. Which are your favorite authors, foreign or not?

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Ice-Cream World Tour: Geneva

This is a place where I have a lot of memories from my time in Switzerland. Café Glacier Remor is not only an ice-cream shop, but an artsy café (where they sometimes project movies) and my best friend, who studied history and I would often go and sit and talk about boys and books and the world for hours. It is located at walking distance from the main historic university buildings, that are in a beautiful park (Parc des Bastions, totally worth visiting).
 It was founded by an italian family in 1921, who to this day continue to run the place. They are always experimenting with new flavours, but my favorite is cinammon. If you are hungry, they have salads and other lunch options. It is a place with old school charm. I couldn't resist quoting this, from the history of the café-glacier in their website:
See more here
"Le glacier une nouveauté pour les dames des années 20. Enfin un lieu ou une dame seule et libérée pouvait s’y rendre avec ses amies sans subir l’atmosphère trop masculine, bruyante et avinée du café du coin." (Ice cream shops were a novelty for ladies from the 20's. Finally a place where a liberated woman could go with her friends without the masculine, noisy atmosphere of the regular coffee shops)

Their addres is Place du Cirque 1. You can easily get there from the railway station with tramway 13 (lime green), or bus line 1 (purple) to the stop "Cirque" or you can walk from the "Place Neuve". Also, it is open from 7h00 to 24h00 from Monday to Sunday, so if you crave ice-cream just before midnight, you can still get it !

Friday, August 26, 2011

Learning to be nice to myself.

A while ago I wrote about how hard the job hunting has been on me. As in, making me doubt myself, or saying nasty things like I'm a waste or a social parasite. Some days the situation gives me actual physical pain (in the stomach, in the throat, in the head) and constantly thinking about it is messing up with my mental health. I am not a crazy person. I am not a crazy person. I am not a crazy person. It reached a point where I would throw stuff (my phone at the car) and cry and feel helpless and obsess about all kinds of little unimportant things like books not fitting in a bookshelf.

And don't get me wrong. I am quite happy. And I realize that we are very lucky and blessed in all kinds of different ways. Zan wrote about this a bit here. About the process of " being content with your small corner of the universe and your tiny slice of life" and about the big plans for the future. Then of course there was Adrienne, the lovely wedding graduate from 1969 (those were the days), and her ever wise words: "It is your attitude and expectations.  Resolve to be content."

Some days I feel like Joan, Julia Stile's character at the end of Mona Lisa smile when she has that final talk with their professor (Julia Roberts). Because yes, I chose to be in this situation.
And as much as I thank feminism for giving us girls the right to study, to dream wild dreams, make them come true and fly high, in real life it is not quite so easy. I can't help feeling a tiny pang of envy when I see classmates going on internships at places like the Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx zoo. Or I see opportunities to learn and make a change in India. Or, without even going so far away, there is a seal nursery and rehabilitation center in the north of the country, or some interesting job opportunites at animal health institutions all the way in the east of the country (not that I actually have any idea if they would even call me for an interview. I feel like I am walking in the dark in a forest full of monsters). But commuting for 6 to 8 hours a day is not an option for us. And now that we are married, being long distance (again, after having done it for 2 years) just seems unconceivable. So I am actively making these choices.

Image via here

Remember the day I was all confused with fashion in the office because I had an interview? Well, I got the job and I am starting next Monday. It is a simple office job, but at least we will be able to save and hopefully it will also distract me enough and give me some peace of mind. My brain up there needs to stop making theories. It broke my heart a bit to stop at the laboratory where I was working, and it makes me wonder if this is not a bad decision, since I am straying away from my field. It has become clear that I probably need to do a Master to be competitive in the job market. I am under the impression that having a dutch diploma would actually help a lot. Not that it would actually guarantee anything, there seem to be lots of highly educated people in this same horrible situation. But what I want the most right now is to STOP looking for jobs every day. Stop going through the process of writing letters and then waiting and then getting the bad news. It is slowly destroying me inside, and I can not let this go any further because I must be stronger than this. And so I decided I will give myself a break, I will not even look for openings anymore, for a month or two and see if it helps me calm down. I have to tell myself that this is not giving up, but just giving myself some needed mental rest. Of course there is a part of me saying but what if I miss THE opportunity of my life during this time. Anyway I am also going into this new job because if I really am going to start graduate school, I am going to need to somehow pay for it and this would make it possible. To think that this is just a necessary step to get where I want to gives sense to things. So I am writing this here to remind me of all these things.

Ever since I saw the movie Outbreak (thanks Dustin Hoffman) I wanted to be an epidemiologist and if I can not be a clinical vet or work in research (because apparently as hard as I try I don't have control over the situation or the minds of the recruiters), then I would like to go in that direction.
In the meantime I will resolve to be content. I will enjoy, like I always do, the time with the boy. Our walks together, maybe short trips, dancing, being able to get flowers for cheap, cooking, baking, attempting to  learn photography, focusing on improving my dutch skills, playing with  our little neighbors...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A sunny day

transforms the country. If you look at the sky on a random day, I would say you have at least 65% chances of it being gray. Yes, I just made up that number, but it illustrates the point. Oh but when the sun does come out it feels like there is a party. Terraces in bars burst open like flowers on those first days of spring, everyone is outside, the sky is blue. And the contrast with so much green around makes it perfect. We had a few of those days in a row. So we went to get the  bikes at my father in laws' house and came biking, about 16 km. It was like being inside a postcard image of Holland. Complete with windmills and cows and horses in the fields. Too bad the tulips were missing, because it is not the season anymore.
Then, later that day we went to the beach. There were fireworks. And those were coming from a boat. Unfortunately we could not capture any images with our little camera. You should have seen how crowded it was. As much as we had a nice time, I have to say the latin blood in me thinks it is a bit strange. I went and touched the water of the North Sea for the first time. And it was freezing. That didn't stop children from playing with the super cold water. I guess I am just spoiled/blessed having grown up being able to go on vacation to the mexican pacific that was just (a few long) hours away by car.  And I am not even talking about the turquoise transparent waters of the caribbean.
I do love how they use poles with cartoons as signals on the beach. It is sooo long that it would be easy to get lost. That way you can just say, I'll be by the strawberry or the train.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yay (versatile blogger award)

Yesterday I got my first-ever "blogger" award. Jazmin from "Nuestras Aventuras en Casa", a mexican girl who blogs about her family life, recipes, homeschooling... honoured me by passing it along Upon receiving the award I should tell you 7 things about myself and then pass it along to 15 blogs that I have recently found. So let's start:

- I am in love with Barcelona. I lived there for 5 years in total (at first as an Erasmus exchange student, then I came back for a further 4 years). Still want to go back, it is a magical place.
-I love to bake, and I secretly always wanted to open a bakery-bookshop-ice cream shop. You know kind of like the one Meg Ryan owns in You've got mail.
-My favorite author ever is Julio Cortazar (this is not a surprise for some of you here I guess). You should read him. Start maybe with his short stories for a taste.
-When we have a baby girl, she will be named Lucia. After  not one, but several characters from favorite books. Yes,  I love reading.
-I want to travel the world as much as possible.
-When I was in high school I won the chemistry olympics for my whole state. (Then I went to nationals and that was a whole other story).
-I also wanted to be an archaeologist, marine biologist, journalist and doctor. Deciding what to study was tough.

And now the 15 blogs I pass the badge to are:
  • If... made with love. Ines, from Portugal takes beautiful pictures, and has a happy poetic view on life. 
  • The Celebration girl / Diario de una trotamundos. Marcela, born argentinian, teaches us how to bake, give us stories about her exciting life and make us marvel about the world. 
  • Casi en Serio, Jackie has a way with words, describing her life as an expat in Canada, and showing us beautiful photos, and even how to take them. Inspiring us all to take our cameras and move. And sharing every day life. 
  •  Better in real life. Lauren can write. She talks about everyday life, about her goals, about funny things that happen to her. A real inspiration. 
  • A safe mooring. Kirsty is hilarious. She writes from Scotland. I think it is the first blog I read (because she updates in the morning). 
  • I ripple I dance. Michelle from London writes about environmental issues, travel, everyday life. 
  • Grey & Shiny. Nina is very deep and also fun. She is an epidemiologist and an expat, newlywed, looking for the meaning of life. Like everyone... full of wisdom.
  • Oversized Cliches. Zan always has a story. Either from the farm or about how to leave a mark in the world. Also she is a fellow half mexican :)
  • Lilie Green. Travel, Food, general dreaminess. 
  • The wild and wily ways of a brunette bombshell. A pretty poetic and real place. Writing from New York, dreaming about Europe.
  • Bananas continued. Rachel is very funny and smart and you just want to be her friend. 
  • Bride sans tulle. The lovely Sharon is funny and wise. 
  • That in Black ink. Claire writes about being friendly to the environment, life in London, making  a difference.
  • HitchDied. It used to be Robin's approach to wedding planning in an alternative, acid, fun way. Includes movie reviews, angry replies to "The Nest's" absurdities. And now she is writing about everything, and I hope she will keep on, because she has lots to say and is funny and deep at the same time. 
  • THFM (Tot ho faig malament). Hanna. Beautiful photos, great recipes. Daily life inspiration. And quite a combination of nationalities too.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Home improvement

You may or may not know the fabulous family behind Young House Love. They have the cutest baby girl. No, but wait, I meant to say how great they are at redecorating and making the spaces in their home prettier and functional. Seriously, I find them really inspiring. Go visit them, I will wait for you.
So, we finally decided which of our wedding pictures would go on the wall, had them printed last week and now they are nice and hanging.
 In the first picture you can see our now green kitchen. It used to be gray. And we also painted our walls light green. Here you can get an idea of how it used to be:
We redecorated and painted our used-to-be chimney as well. I had to convince the boy that a little bit of pink would look ok. So here is the before and after:
All of our doors are now aqua green. It reminds me of the south of France. They used to be just wooden. We had this problematic wall that would not take the white paint, no matter how many layers we put. So we covered it in wallpaper. It is just a small wall, so even if it is flowery, it is not overwhelming (or so we think).
And, the boy just made our little storage room very functional. I don't have a before picture with our stuff, but imagine everything laying in the floor. A complete mess.
And you? Have you been busy playing decorator, painter, refurbisher?

Monday, August 22, 2011


old clothes is important. But it can also be fun. And help people at the same time. Lately, there has been some talk about decluttering and closet culling and about learning to leave with less, for example by Kirsty, Sharon and Cara, in these posts here, here and here. When I first read about project 333  over at Peonies and Polaroids I thought it was a great idea, and knew that I had to do something like that (though I am not quite sure I can live with only 33 pieces of clothing, I think the point is to actively try to live with less for a better planet.) Except I own a lot of summery dresses that I don't exactly want to get rid of. They are in good shape. I love them. I just don't get to wear them so often. Maybe I will take them to my sister in Mexico next time I go. But that's another subject.

Anyway, about a week ago I found out that H&M was going to host this quite smart campaign to promote recycling of textiles. From the 17 to the 25 of August you can bring clothes that you don't wear anymore (clean and in good condition) to their pop-up shop at Scheveningen, the beach in Den Haag, and all the clothes collected will be delivered to KICI, an organisation that specializes in recycling textiles. All the profit obtained will then be donated to Giro 555 a charity helps all kinds of different causes (hunger in Africa, natural disaster victims, among others). But that's not all. The clothes you bring are then weighed and you get a proportional discount at H&M. And yeah, I know, you should "do good" because of it, not beacuse you are going to get some discount, but I think it is great that a big company like this is promoting recycling and helping different charities.

So off we went. We wanted to go the beach anyway.  We ended up filling three bags that weighed a total of 18 kg. If you are in The Netherlands, you can still go, until next Thursday. The pop-up shop is in the "Zwarte Pad", in Scheveningen, by the Barefoot Beach bar and they are open from 10h to 20h.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A year ago

we were on vacation. We had a week off and took the car. We went to Brugge, Dunquerque, Wimereux, Boulogne sur mer, Amiens, Arras, Valenciennes and then back home.
See in Google Maps  here

This year the boy has a project that does not end and we don't know when we will be able to go anywhere. Of course, at the beginning of the summer we were for 4 days in Italy, so I am not exactly complaining. Just longing for some travel. We were hoping for a bit more. Oh well... maybe we will figure something out. There are places in Holland that we haven't visited. I want to take a boat and go to England, but apparently the trip is not 2 hours, it's more like 6. Today we are going to the airport. Have I told you yet how much I love airports? After all that's where the boy and I met. Well, we met in the airplane, but the airplane was still on land when we started talking, so literally it was still in the airport. (Today we are just going to drop off the boy's dad, who is going back home). Have you been able to go somewhere this summer? I really feel the urge to leave and walk in an unfamiliar place. To discover.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Ice-Cream World Tour: Nice

From Fenocchio's website

Oh la France! Don't you miss it? I so wish I was there right now, walking in a little town with old streets, wearing a girly dress and running around parks and then maybe going to the beach. Imagine that life was like that Dior commercial from Sofia Coppola, the first one.

So this time, I am bringing you to a very very famous ice-cream shop in Nice. Yes we are talking about Fenocchio. A family run ice cream shop that has all kinds of unusual flavors like basil, but also the classic, and there is Ferrero Rocher ice cream, Chocolate Orange, Lemon (yes made with real lemon, not artificial flavored syrup). I was there some years ago with friends on a 3 day trip that we planned just like that and I remember going there 3 or 4 times because we wanted to keep on trying new flavours. It is located in the main square in the old town. Somewhere near there is also a homemade cookie shop but I digress. Their Ice cream is delicious. And a bonus tip, for the kids, they have all kinds of candy flavored ice cream. You should really put this one on your list. If it's really crowded, stay. Make that line. It is totally worth it. I did not make these photos, because my old albums are in Mexico, but here are some that I found so you will be able to recognize the place.

 The address is : 2 place Rossetti, in the old center of Nice.But just go to the main square, and you won't miss it. You can even ask around. People will know.

*This posts are based on my own personal experience and love for ice-cream, no one is sponsoring for writing this .

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Some deep thoughts

though not mine this once. Remember that book I got this weekend? L'elegance de l'herisson (The elegance of the hedgehog, La elegancia del erizo) by Muriel Barbery.

From here
Well I am here to report that I am very happy with it. I am not even halfway and I can not stop reading. I love reading so much that I tend to "suck" books in really fast, but I want to enjoy this gem  little by little so I am only reading it in the train. Believe me I have to force myself. It is some kind of masterpiece. Maybe, very probably, you read the book already, it was a big hit when it came out and has been translated and reprinted many times already. When it first came out, I thought the title was catchy and was very curious about it but for some reason I never picked it. I don't want to spoil it for you (not that I can, because I am in the first third or something) but you can go in the brains and lifes of a 54 year old "concierge" and a 12 year old girl that both live in the same elegant building in Paris. So here's a taste (from the english translation, if you like I can copy the original french lines, so let me know):

Says Paloma, our 12 year old in her "Deep thought number 1":

"All our family acquaintances have followed the same path: their youth spent trying to make the most of their intelligence, squeezing their studies like a lemon to make sure they’d secure a spot among the elite, then the rest of their lives wondering with a flabbergasted look on their faces why all that hopefulness has led to such a vain existence.

People aim for the stars, and they end up like goldfish in a bowl.* Even for someone like me who is super smart and gifted in her studies and different from everyone else, in fact superior to the vast majority-even for me life is already all plotted out and so dismal you could cry; no one seems to have thought of the fact that life is absurd (...)  But one thing is sure-there’s no way I’m going to end up in the goldfish bowl. "
And now from Renee, our 54-year-old concierge:

“Like Okakura, I know that tea is no minor beverage. When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?

That's quite some food for thought isn't it ?

* Oh, but this phrase does seem to say much more french, there is a subtility that is lost in the translation process, so here goes: 

"Les gens croient poursuivre les étoiles et ils finissent comme de poissons rouges dans un bocal"

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A bird dress

I hope you were not expecting deep thoughts, because today I am planning to be silly. The boy was watching some kind of rapping video with Taylor Swift, and then I saw. She was dressed like me,  haha. Or more like, I have the same dress. It was so funny, mostly beacause I want her hair... I didn't think of myself as being fashionable or a trendsetter. When I chose the dress, I thought I would look like a grandma, but I didn't care, it was different and cute.

Here is the video, if you have nothing to do are curious :

Oh and while I was researching the net for writing this, I found out that Rachel's character in Glee wore it as well. But I find her character so extremely annoying. 

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