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I know. My posts haven’t been very regular lately. Sorry about that. I have been busy in a good way (more about that another time).

I have been hanging out with staff and spouses from AZ’s work. I seem to have more in common with the international crowd there than the mothers at the school. I went to a meeting at the school couple of weeks ago, ready to help with an end-of-year breakfast for E’s Grade 6 class. The four women there hardly said hello to me and spent the entire time “organizing” on their cell phones. Rude in any culture, I think. I was ready to participate in Spanish, but couldn’t even get anyone to make eye contact. Weird… and I guess that means I am off-the-hook with regard to volunteering at the school!

Every Friday, I meet with a few women (nice ones from AZ’s work) to have lunch and practice my Spanish and their English (there is one woman from Spain, one from Colombia and one from Mexico). We try to teach each other skills and board games in each others’ languages.  I hosted today. I cooked Jamie Oliver food and taught them how to play Blokus.

My neighbour, from Spain, recently led us through the construction of a beautiful fondant cake – with cupcakes. Designed especially for W, complete with skis, bikes and Keva planks!

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The kids thought it was the coolest thing ever. And I now know the words for icing, snowball, rolling pin and ski pole. Essential stuff, I think.


I have been trying to stay low-stress in this new life of ours, hoping that by being an anonymous, eccentric little family of expats, I can somehow steer clear of all of the things that used to overwhelm me at home.

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This week was on the busier side. I found myself running from appointments to coffee dates to projects… and yet, having fun the entire time. I think maybe it’s the language thing: conquering the day in broken Spanish is WAY more fun than slogging through a day of errands in boring-old-English. And maybe I feel like I can screw-up here: because we won’t be here forever, I can bail and embarrass myself and wear whatever I want and it won’t mean anything to anybody. I am anonymous and embracing the freedom that comes with it.

Except, at one point this week, I sat down to finally type-up a proper phone list (you know, to stick beside the phone) and found that we have built-up a whole network of dentists, doctors, friends, music teachers and Spanish tutors. It hit me that we really live here, and that after nine months we have managed to build up a bustling little life, full of people that I like and trust. Not exactly anonymous.

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AZ and I bought our first house and had E when we were both pretty young. I remember feeling like it wasn’t real. It felt like we were playing ‘house’, and was more of an adventure than a stress load.  That is the way it feels now. We aren’t exactly anonymous, or young, but we are adventuring and experimenting and completely allowed to screw-up. We are busy and loaded with expenses and responsibilities, but not taking anything too seriously.

The chickens help with that. They are freaking hilarious.


It’s almost getting old… except that now we live in a new country, we have new friends to colour! We do not have any pictures of the party, only a few marginal ones of the set up. I love that the babies are getting so big, they help. Miss E gave tying lessons:

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I think it went well. We ended-up with thirty-five people or so, for bagels, quiche and mimosas. In true Colombian style, the first guests showed up an hour and a half late, so mimosas transitioned into Happy Hour quite seamlessly!

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And I gave my turkey basters and rubber gloves to a friend in Vancouver, so I had to restock down here. The hunt for turkey basters was almost as harrowing as the hunt for a baby chicken, and we never found any… so we went with little squeeze bottles instead (FYI: turkey basters are better).

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I do love nerdy parties, but am ready for a new activity.


from scratch

02Mar13

The Internet is an amazing source for recipes. I have been missing a few things, and was able to make them from scratch here at home.

Worcestershire sauce – for Caesar salads. Chai concentrate – for shakes and lattes.

I won’t post the recipes here, because you can easily search Google and get a hundred good ones. Both are now curious brown liquids in my fridge:

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And then yesterday, I was at a friend’s house, learning to make a Mexican mole sauce. Again, brown:

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She also taught us how to make corn tortillas. Magic.

For some reason, I have this fascination with making weird stuff (L’s maple syrup and M’s bacon come to mind). And this book still haunts me, but I can never justify the purchase:

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It has recipes for graham crackers, pickles and marshmallows. All from scratch. Forget dinner and the odd (*ahem, never*) batch of cookies, I just want to bottle-up more Worcestershire… and maybe pull-off some mayo! Way cooler. Just wait until those chickens start a-layin’.

Do you think AZ would let me get a goat?


miracle fruit

27Feb13

We bought E a plant for Christmas. Not the first gift you’d think of for an eleven-year-old girl, but she was thrilled – because this plant is the coolest.

Shortly after we arrived in Colombia, a new friend came over for dinner, bearing a gift of five small red berries. He told us that these berries would alter our taste buds so that everything would taste sweet. I was skeptical, and a tad worried about poisoning my family with never-wake-up berries, but relented when he told me that they were perfectly safe and that he had tried them himself a number of times (that, and he works for a food science institute – which has to come with some extra credibility in this regard). So, halfway through dinner, we ate them, making sure to mush the pulp all over the insides of our mouths.

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Gah! I almost couldn’t finish my lime margarita. It was sickeningly sweet! Fun, but definitely worth planning our menu accordingly… or at least blending-up a sugarless margarita (no good wasting tequila on a bad margarita).

E’s Christmas plant bore fruit just in time for my sister’s visit. They look sort of sinister, don’t they? Just like the kind of berry you would warn your two-year-old about.

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It went well, but not as effective as our first attempt as we had to split two berries among six people (some of us went without). It is far better to have your own berry.

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Originally from West Africa, Miracle Plants (or Synsepalum dulcificum) are gaining popularity with diabetics and with trendy folk in New York City (who chip-in for the berries and spend an evening sampling Guinness, pickles, grapefruit and cheese). In 2008, a chef in Ottawa used miracle fruit for a New Year’s Eve party . They come in tablet form as well. This company has the best website (and ships internationally).

It looks as though we have a nice crop coming. Now I just have to source the pickles and Guinness!


progressing

22Feb13

The babies are growing nicely. They spend their days in the coop and their nights inside. We bought five because I honestly didn’t think they would all survive the first few weeks. But they have, and now we have five thriving chicks! (gulp)

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W the farm boy:

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I am getting a wee bit tired of writing about them, so I will change the subject and mention that I am making progress on the sewing front as well.

I have made a few shirts and am working on some lightweight wool pants. My trip to the silk-making place has been postponed due to civil unrest in that region. I will post about all of this again soon, but in the meantime…

A shirt AND a chicken:

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I read this funny essay the other day, written by a mother turning forty. She talks about how “poison goes where poison is welcome” and “drama goes where drama is welcome”. It was a good reminder to stay above it all.

With this in mind, because my sister and her kids were so psyched for adventure, I honestly believe that more adventurous experiences came to us. We saw and experienced more because we were open to it. Does that make sense?

Seriously. Chivas kept passing us in the street, loaded-up like a scene from Romancing the Stone. I could not have planned it.

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And my sister was always ready with her camera, grinning from ear to ear.

They were here for six and a half days.

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In addition to the chicken purchasing, we ate street food, hiked and went on a road trip… back to our happy places in the Valle de Cocora and Salento:

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We even got a shake from the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit southwestern Colombia on the 9th of February. We evacuated a coffee shop to gather in the town square. Fortunately, damage was relatively small.

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So there it is – sights, tastes, sounds and a good shake… anyone else want to come down?




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