Monday, October 31, 2011


are such an important part of dutch everyday life and culture that I was jumping up and down when I found out that they were the very subject for this month's challenge that Jackie proposed for La vuelta al Mundo. So many photographic opportunities. They have bikes in all kinds and forms here. They have them with baby seats in the back and in the front. With an attached wagon, with a basket for groceries, double bikes, family bikes... and for the tiny ones they even have some without pedals so toddlers can learn their balance. When I moved to Holland, a bike was my welcome gift from my father in law. We painted it aqua green of course. As a mexican, it is quite impressive that you can actually travel the whole country by bike. There is a "bike lane" or to use the dutch term, fietspad, all over the place. So, after this long intro, here is my contribution to the group's pool.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rosehip fairy iced tea

 A very dear friend of us lives in Turkey. Last year she and her husband came to visit and they brought us some traditional turkish spices, tea, coffee and treats.
 So far I haven't used them because I still don't know how, but one of the bags smelled very familiar. I thought it was hibiscus, with which we make the classic "Agua de Jamaica" in Mexico. A closer examination of the tag (in turkish) said it was "Kusburnu".
My friends google and wikipedia did the rest. Turns out what I had , dried, in a bag, was not Hibiscus flower, but Rosehip. And I remembered, from my love of those flower fairies illustrations by Cicely Mary Barker, that one of the prettiest was the rosehip fairy.
 So I set to make iced-rosehip tea, much in the same way that I would have prepared a traditional "Agua de Jamaica".

 If you would like to try here is a recipe, from 101 cookbooks, a favorite for vegetarian recipes. Oh and it turns out Rosehip is full of goodness and vitamins:

"Rose hips are particularly high in vitamin C content, one of the richest plant sources available. However, RP-HPLC assays of fresh rose hips and several commercially available products revealed a wide range of L-ascorbic acid content, ranging from 0.03 to 1.3%.[2] Rose hips of some species, especially Rosa canina (Dog Rose) and R. majalis, have been used as a source of vitamin C. During World War II, the people of Britain were encouraged through letters to The Times newspaper, articles in the British Medical Journal, and pamphlets produced by Claire Loewenfeld, a dietitian working for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, to gather wild-grown rose hips and to make a vitamin C syrup for children. This was because German submarines were sinking many commercial ships: citrus fruits from the tropics were very difficult to import. Rose hips contain plenty of lycopene, an important and strong antioxidant, that is an integral part of low density lipoprotein (LDL) as well as of many cellular membranes.[3] Lycopene in rosehips differs greatly in its isomer distribution than in other sources (tomatoes, pink grapefruit).Rose hips also contain some vitamin A and B, essential fatty acids and antioxidant flavonoids. A study of a rose-hip preparation for treating rheumatoid arthritis concluded that there was a benefit, apparently due to both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects.[4]Rose hips are also used to help prevent colds and influenza.[5]

I love the historic references in the above fragment, from the wiki, of course. If you want to see the whole (simple) process, step by step, click here to ... 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Black dogs

So lovely
Some Cortazar wisdom, for the day. You know how sometimes words, language, is not enough to describe reality as we experience it? He described it best*:
"Pensemos un poco más sobre todo en las formación de los conceptos: toda palabra se convierte de manera inmediata en concepto en cuanto que, justamente, no ha de servirle a la vivencia originaria, única y por completo individualizada, gracias a la cual se generó, por ejemplo, de recuerdo, sino que tiene que ser apropiada al mismo tiempo para innumerables vivencias más o menos similares, esto es, nunca idénticas hablando con rigor, así pues, ha de ser apropiada para casos claramente diferentes. Todo concepto se genera igualando lo no-igual. Del mismo modo que es cierto que una hoja nunca es totalmente igual a otra, asimismo es cierto que el concepto hoja se ha formado al prescindir arbitrariamente de esas diferencias individuales, al olvidar lo diferenciante y entonces provoca la representación, como si en la naturaleza, además de hojas, hubiese algo que fuese la “hoja” (…) A un ser humano le llamamos honrado (…) Esto de nuevo quiere decir: la hoja es causa de las hojas. Ciertamente, no sabemos nada en absoluto de una cualidad esencial que se llame la honradez, pero sí de numerosas acciones individualizadas, por lo tanto desiguales, que nosotros igualamos omitiendo lo desigual y las designamos entonces como acciones honradas; al final formulamos a partir de ellas una cualitas occulta con el nombre: la honradez. El no hacer caso de lo individual y lo real nos proporciona el concepto del mismo modo que también nos proporciona la forma, mientras que la naturaleza no conoce formas ni conceptos, ni tampoco, en consecuencia, géneros, sino solamente una X que es para nosotros inaccesible e indefinible (…) ¿Qué es la verdad? Un ejército móvil de metáforas, metonimias, antropomorfismos, en una palabra, una suma de relaciones humanas que han sido realzadas, extrapoladas, adornadas poética y retóricamente y que, después de un prolongado uso, a un pueblo le parecen fijas, canónicas, obligatorias: las verdades son ilusiones de las que se ha olvidado que lo son, metáforas que se han vuelto gastadas y sin fuerza sensible, monedas que han perdido su imagen y que ahora ya no se consideran como monedas, sino como metal."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Icebox berries and milk dessert

 Whenever we go to a different country, a mandatory stop is the supermarket. We love walking through the aisles in search of new or different products. This weekend we went on a short day trip to Brussels, and as we were walking along in the supermarket I saw Evaporated milk, a product that we don't often find here. Oh and we found raspberries for €0.69  a box. And strawberries for €0.99. Around here the prices for berries are the triple, so I was jumping up and down with happiness. And then I went on and found authentic (spanish) Marie biscuits. So that's when inspiration came.
 There is this very traditional mexican dessert, that every mom knows how to do, except it is meant to be a simple lemon and cookies cake. Having found the berries and the rest of the ingredients I just had to do an alternative version. The best part is you don't even need an oven. And it's like ice-cream, kindof. So here's what to do:
-Take 1 can of Evaporated milk and 1 can of condensed milk and mix them together with the juice of 8 small lemons or key limes. In this case, since I was going to add the fruit, I just added 1 lemon, for the hint of flavor. Ok, let's be honest here. It was because I only had 1lemon left in the fridge. You should mix everything together a bit until it gets kind of thick and airy.
 -The next step is to assemble the dessert in a dish, by making layers of cookies - fruit - milk mix until you reach the top.
 -You should normally finish with milky mix and if you like you can decorate it with powdered Mary cookies.
-Put it in the freezer and, the hardest part, WAIT and  be ready to enjoy after a while.
 I have to say when you take it out of the freezer it is hard as a rock, but it unfreezes quite fast, so you will have trouble cutting it but once in the plates, you will be eating it while it melts to  creamy consistency that together with the cookies is very close to perfection.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I got some magic in me...

Do you already have this song in mind? If not, I suggest you click on the link. It will make you happy instantly. Magic. You know how sometimes things happen by accident. Or you are thinking about someone that you haven't seen in ages and suddenly you hear from them. Or you are looking, for say, a green short skirt, and you start seeing them everywhere. Sometimes I think there are no coincidences. That this little magic moments are not casual, that in a way, it is meant to be. But we are not always able to see it. Kind of like Steve Jobs said:  
"You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future".  

Which reminds me of the following extract from Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll, in which the White Queen says to Alice: "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards".

'The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday--but never jam to-day.'
'It MUST come sometimes to "jam to-day,"' Alice objected.
'No, it can't,' said the Queen. 'It's jam every OTHER day: to-day isn't any OTAHER day, you know.'
'I don't understand you,' said Alice. 'It's dreadfully confusing!'
'That's the effect of living backwards,' the Queen said kindly: 'it always makes one a little giddy at first--'
'Living backwards!' Alice repeated in great astonishment. 'I never heard of such a thing!'
'--but there's one great advantage in it, that one's memory works both ways.'
'I'm sure MINE only works one way,' Alice remarked. 'I can't remember things before they happen.'
'It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,' the Queen remarked.
And this brings me to Jung. It was one of his favorite phrases, and that is where I first stumbled upon it, reading his biography.  And also to the concept of synchronicity, that he described with Wolfgang Pauli. Let the wikipedia explain us:

"Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events, that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, that are observed to occur together in a meaningful manner. The idea of synchronicity is that the conceptual relationship of minds, defined as the relationship between ideas, is intricately structured in its own logical way and gives rise to relationships that are not causal in nature. These relationships can manifest themselves as simultaneous occurrences that are meaningfully related. Jung was transfixed by the idea that life was not a series of random events but rather an expression of a deeper order, which he and Pauli referred to as Unus mundus. This deeper order led to the insights that a person was both embedded in an orderly framework and was the focus of that orderly framework and that the realisation of this was more than just an intellectual exercise but also having elements of a spiritual awakening. From the religious perspective synchronicity shares similar characteristics of an "intervention of grace". Jung believed that many experiences that are coincidences due to chance in terms of causality suggested the manifestation of parallel events or circumstances in terms of meaning, reflecting this governing dynamic.[7]  He believed that synchronicity served a similar role in a person's life to dreams with the purpose of shifting a person's egocentric conscious thinking to greater wholeness."

Before I even read about this theory, I had that feeling. Perhaps that is why I love Julio Cortazar so much. His stories are all about the random magic occurring in everyday life.  This can also explain why in my field, the subjects that appeal to me the most are Ecology, Epidemiology, Public Health. In these sort of fields you can actually see the connections and its effects on tangible, real, living beings. And you can call me crazy now, but I believe everything is connected, we are all one.It is in these things where I see God.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lilac awareness

 So, you all know how October has been invaded by pink things because it is Breast Cancer Awareness month? Well, we should also be aware of Secondary breast cancer the mean little sister of the well known first one. The color is lilac. Let's not forget about it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


A very dear friend of mine sent this little shrew mouse to my inbox this morning. She said she couldn't help but think of me when she saw it.  I had to share it. Hope it makes you smile. I am still grinning. Happy sunny Sunday.


Thursday, October 20, 2011


 is one of my favorite words. As you know, it means finding things by chance. Much like Horacio and La Maga did in my favorite book:

"Andábamos sin buscarnos pero sabiendo que andábamos para encontrarnos." 
(We did not go around looking for each other, but we knew that we would meet just the same).*

 The word Serendipity was first used as a word in the English language:

<< In a letter to Horace Mann (dated January 28th 1754) where he said he formed it from the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, whose heroes "were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of". The name stems from Serendip, an old name for Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), from Arabic Sarandib, from Sanskrit Simhaladvipa which literally translates to "Dwelling-Place-of-Lions Island">> **

Well you know how I wrote about loving our bodies the way they are, about accepting their curviness yesterday? It turns out, and I swear I had no idea, that yesterday was "Love your Body" day and as part of it Say it Sister is hosting a series of posts as part of the "Love your day blog carnival". They do this as part of the celebration by the National Organization for Women Foundation, to have:

"-- a day when women of all sizes, colors, ages and abilities come together to celebrate self-acceptance and to promote positive body image. Since the launch of Love Your Body Day in 1998, NOW Foundation has used the campaign to challenge the unrealistic beauty standards and gender stereotypes promoted by the media, Hollywood and the fashion, cosmetics and diet industries."

I found out about it via Robin, who wrote for it. So go have a read, I think it is worth it. 

 *Hopscotch, Julio Cortazar, translation by Pantheon writers. (Oh translations, the words in Spanish don't say quite exactly the same). 
** Serendipity, according to the wikipedia

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Girls are meant to be curvy....

and that's ok. Perhaps we should be celebrating that. Before I start writing this, for full disclosure I will cite Robin:

 "This is a post that is going to talk about weight, specifically me worrying about my weight and body size even though I am a thin person. So you might not want to read this if you struggle with disordered eating or body image problems or even if weight talk just makes your eyes roll."

 This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival

 I just started reading this book (thanks to Marcela, who recommended it to me a short while ago), and I am so thankful I laid my hands  on it. Already on page 9 it knocked me right off my socks. You see, I am a healthy eater. I love food. I try to eat a balanced diet. But still, and I don't know if it is a girl thing, I am guilty of obsessing about my weight and about my rounded girly forms. Yes, I am a slender person. But I also have hips, a bum and well proportioned legs.

 I am lucky enough that even when as a teenager I would feel self conscious because my legs were not as thin as most of the other girls' in junior high school were, my parents would always compliment me on my legs, say they were nice, and so I grew up to learn to love them. Thing is, I am quite certain that with age come changes in metabolism, and in body form. When I was 19 I weighed around 8 kg less than I do now, and the first big weight change came a year after I started university. I am pretty sure this shift can be attributed to the fact that I was living by myself for the first time in my life. I was in charge of cooking and taking care of my diet and that involved lots of pasta, cereal, cookies and ice-cream eaten directly from the 1 L pots that my friends and I would just eat while studying. Yeah, we also ate salads, but I am guessing not enough. Those first 2 years I put on some 12 kg (!!!) and I was at my heaviest.

 In the meantime, without any real plan I lost some of that weight, but I had been obsessing about losing these 4 kg that just won't go away, that are maybe part of me, but that I didn't want to acknowledge because they didn't use to be there in the first place, you know, when I was 17. And yes, also about that muffin top that you can see when I am wearing bad jeans or a bikini. I don't know if all of this has to do with the images that the media constantly bombards us with, that end up creeping in into the minds of girls, but I don't like the blame game. I think this thing we do of "feeling" fat comes with periods, menstrual cramps, swelling, and the general bloaedtness of  those days. And so I wanted to lose those 4 kg, in order to lower my Body Mass Index back to 18.5, to force myself to be healthy, but in the limit of thin.  Yes, crazy, idiotic me. (Not that I was actually doing anything about it, because I am super lazy when it comes to exercise and I am conscious enough to not stop eating).  Anyway, back to page 9 of the book:

"As a result of extensive research, fertility expert and Harvard professor Rose Frisch maintains that only 10 percent of women are fertile with a body mass index of 18. She says: 'Many women who maintain body shape made popular on the catwalks throughout the world are completely infertile '. Even if you are underweight and still have periods, your diet can affect your fertility. This is because your body needs a sufficient intake of fat (albeit the right kind) to produce the hormones required for ovulation". 

Do you realize? That means that 90 % of girls with a BMI of 18, which is supposed to be healthy, who are having regular periods could be sub-fertile. Wow. Yay for the "happy weight". I don't want to lose the extra kg. anymore. I should have known better. But IT has to stop. The pressure on girls to be thin. To believe that if you don't look like Kate Moss you are not as pretty, as valuable, worth it. And I thought I was smarter than all of that. With my silly "I want to be as thin as possible within the healthy standard" reasoning I fell right into that trap. The cultural messages have to change. Girls have to learn, to be taught to embrace their naturally curvy bodies, because they are like that for a reason. For a good, healthy reason. If you want to read more about the subject here is an article about Dr. Frisch (mentioned above) or you can read what these smart girls have written on the subject: Robin, and Lauren. It is up to us girls to break and fight these damaging, toxic stereotypes that drive us crazy for no good reason.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Once upon a time, we were walking in Amsterdam, after dinner with friends, and we found these. As usual, when we spot cool grafittis we take pictures. And these ones looked like stencils and reminded me of Banksy the great. We found them in one of the streets that borders  Museumsplein.

Oh the metadata says date taken is March 26 2011
 But then, a few weeks? months? later we were again walking Amsterdam and when looking up I saw this. Smart people. I would also have liked some street-made decoration in my home :p

And this was on September 16.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blue skies

and sunlight came (again) as a surprise. Don't be fooled, though, the temperatures have definitely gone down, and yesterday we must have been somewhere between 8º and 10º C. I am beginning to think I am finally turning a tiny bit dutch, you know, since they are often mocked for giving you a full weather report as soon as they see you. It is like the standard ice breaker to get the conversation started. But I was sooo happy to wake up to this:
 And so we decided to go outside and just walk and see where we would end up like we do. Actually, I had to work on my never ending dutch homework and the boy is also trying to focus on his spanish, so we took the books and went to a new park that we had already spotted in one of our walks through the city.
 Of course I should have known better. After all, I have already fallen in the "let's-study-at-the-beach/park" trap many times during my student days. I know how that ends. And of course, that ends in: "Ummm it's windy here, the intense sun is reflecting on the paper and I can't read anything, oh and look, that little girl is sooo cute."
 So we set to find a calmer place to chill continue our attempts to study and this is how we discovered a small trendy café, Cafe Pan.
 We will definitely be back, because all we had was tea and a Crème Brûlée au Grand Marnier, and all the food there really looked delicious.
 If you are in the area, I would definitely recommend this place, and that's only based on how good the crème brûlée was. What were you up to this weekend?
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