Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What to do with it all?

A few months back when I was saying goodbye to my aunt after visiting, she asked if I wanted a fairly decent stack of scrap booking paper. I used a little for packaging my stuff, but really I have no idea what to do with all this colorful paper.

Since photography's my thing, being "crafty" or "artist" in other ways is out of my comfort zone. I tried googling ideas on what to use the paper for, but I'm fairly low level when it comes to, well being creative with paper.

So I'd love some ideas! Especially from those of you who love paper projects. It's going to be raining for part of this coming weekend so something to keep me occupied would be fun.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is it payday yet?

Ever have those days where payday seems so faraway?

I have film and prints to pick up from the photo lab. I can't wait. New cards are a comin'! Plus I love the funny guy at the photo lab. He reminds me of what's his face from Napoleon Dynamite. Oh, Napoleon. That's who he reminds me of. It's totally weird, he just has a longer blond curly hair in the shape of a fohawk. So funny.

I'm also in the process of thinking about Christmas shopping. Need some money for that, right? I don't have a bunch of gifts to buy, but I want to get a little more thoughtful this time instead of buying last minute or buying whatever because I can't figure what to get. I was thinking of trying to buy local, that is buy from little boutiques or check out Urban Bazaar over in the Inner Sunset to help support local artists. Maybe everyone will get a succulent plant from their succulent bar because those are kinda hard to kill. Everyone likes a little greenery, right? Mine haven't died yet. They also haven't burned in the kitchen window so that's a good sign that they're healthy plants. Either way, need to start making a list soon!

I'm helping plan my office's annual Hanukkah party next month. We do an elephant gift exchange every year and since I didn't participate last year for it, I figured this year I would. I was thinking of using a box of cereal as the gift. Maybe something like Fruity Pebbles or something. I may have something hanging around that would be better. I'd be happy getting a box of cereal!

How are things in your neck of the woods? Getting ready for the holidays yet?

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's almost tamale time!

The end of the year is quickly approaching and usually it means shopping, running around and eating lots of food!

In my family, every single year except for 1 year, we always make homemade tamales. Well, to be specific, my mom makes everything and some of us help assemble. If my mom wasn't around, we wouldn't have any homemade tamales. God bless her!

My mom told my siblings and I "You kids need to learn how to make these tamales because there will be a point when your dad and I won't be able to do it anymore." And since I'm the one kid who actually cooks and bakes, I figured I'll give it a try.

Here's a pic of last year's batch. I think we used about 90 lbs of masa. We always mean to count how many we make each year, but we get too overwhelmed and lose count. Maybe I'll try this year.

I remember my mom telling me that the very first time she made tamales (masa from scratch), they had a big gathering with family and friends. She recalls how horrible they tasted and everyone was so sweet and ate them anyway. No one said they tasted bad, but they didn't have the heart to tell her they weren't very good. It's the thought that counts, right? I wonder how bad they really were!

I don't recall ever making the masa with lard which is traditional. Granted lard makes it tastier, but you can use other substitutes instead like shortening. So my mom made them with Crisco. She'd take out the big metal container and mix up the masa by hand. She never used a hand mixer because the amount we made required to do it by hand. It seriously is a workout. The test that the masa was "done" was if you put a little blob of it in a glass of water that it floated. If it fell to the bottom of the glass, it isn't ready.

The corn husks soak in hot water until you are ready to making the tamales. We used to make only 3 types of tamales: beef, pork and picadillo (ground beef). But then my best friend went vegetarian so my mom didn't want her left out so tried to make a cheese tamale. This was back in the late 90s. Both the picadillo and cheese have slivers of chili in it to add some spice to it.

So my mom makes the fillings and then we start a tamale assembly line. We start spreading the masa over the corn husks and then my mom starts grabbing them and filling them with yummy goodness. After we finish one filling, my mom fills a pot and cooks them. We pretty much work like little piggies to get them all done. We can't cook them all at once, so we box them up and put them in the fridge while my mom cooks them in shifts over a few days. Once they're cooked, they freeze well for several months (if they last that long).

To cut down the labor, we now buy prepared masa from a local grocery store. Either way, it is a labor of love and a lot of work, but well worth it. This time around, I'll be visiting my folks in early December to make the ones we give away so folks have them for Christmas.

This year is the year of big changes in our family and it's time to start learning the traditions so my generation can keep them going. Because it doesn't quite feel like Christmas in our family like tamales cookin' on the stove.

For more fun holiday traditions, check out the EtsyGreetings Team Holiday Blog Hop below by clicking on either arrow!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Finding the path to ...

Over the last couple weeks, I've been really trying to put forth the effort to take care of myself. Whether it be getting a massage, working out, doing a quick session of yoga, volunteering at a local garden or taking time out for myself to just relax. And in a way, it's been hard but I'm slowly getting used to it. It's really, really nice I must say.

I'm not a big Oprah fan. I watched episodes of her show here and there when it was on. She launched her own network OWN and a few weeks ago started a show called Lifeclass. I found out about it because inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant was going to be on. The basic concept of this show is to work towards making your life better and to be happier. She touches on a lot of different topics, most which everyone at some point in life has dealt with (anger, resentment, loss, etc.).

The one thing that really struck me is was the episode that talked about finding your calling or purpose. So many people I know are stuck in their life. Or feeling like they're starting over but not sure what to do about their jobs, finance, relationships, etc. Wondering, "What am I supposed to be doing?"

I sometimes think that. What am I going to be doing in 10 years. Am I still going to be working at my current job? If not, what am I going to be doing? Will my Etsy shop take off if I keep working at it or will it fail?

I don't know. But it's ok. Not knowing isn't the end of the world. All I know is to keep doing what brings me happiness or joy and that's enough. Things will fall into place when they are supposed to. It may happen as I like it, or it may not. And to not give up if something isn't happening as I see it or as quickly as I want it.

I even started a Gratitude Journal to start focusing on the positive stuff that's going on rather than the negative stuff. Boy it's easy to see the bad stuff when it seems like that's all that's going on.

In short, it's time to start looking on the bright side and focusing on the things that bring you happiness and joy. Life is too short to focus on the "I can't" and time to look at life as "I can." The sky's the limit, don't limit yourself because of what you think you can't do. It's all in your mind!!