Friday, December 17, 2010

Have you ever watched a movie that changed your life? “Presumed Guilty” changed mine

I started this blog some months ago to talk about my new life in New England. At the same time I started my blog in Spanish to discuss some of the same topics but in Spanish. The problem is that every time I start typing in Spanish and I read/see news from Mexico I feel that whatever I am saying is really silly, that I should be doing something to help my country to find its way back to a safe place where its citizens are not afraid to go out, etc. The problem is that I am far away and I am one and how can I make a difference?

Three weeks ago my husband and I went to the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. We were there because we wanted to volunteer for the Boston Latino Film Festival and a meeting was being held that day for volunteers. After that, the head of the festival mentioned that there was a Mexican documentary playing next door. So we went in and what a surprise! They were playing Presumed Guilty, not only did we watched the film, we had the honor to listen to Roberto Hernandez one of the producers of the film. Now, I do not know Roberto personally but when he spoke he didn’t introduced himself as this big wig guy, he said, I am a law student at Berkeley, Mexican and did this because things need to change in our country, if we don’t work towards change we are going to lose our country…. I finished his sentence in my mind: lose it to corruption, to drug cartels, to politicians that work in pro of their own agendas and then it hit me right in the head. 

This is what I feel every time I go to Mexico, if we don’t do something, we are going to lose our country. The best part is that I just have the feelings with no motion but Roberto and his team had done this film to put the finger on the corrupt systems we have in Mexico. Change is possible if we are all together on this. And thanks to Presunto Culpable and Roberto, my hopes for a better future have been reborn.

I am still thinking on how I can make a difference but in the meantime, a good start is promoting Presumed Guilty (Presunto Culpable). The movie has been played in many many film festivals and will be played in many theaters in Mexico this coming February. One of the objectives is to create awareness in Mexico not only about how the legal system doesn’t work (we all know that) but that change is possible. It costs $700 dollars to make a copy of the movie for a theater; the point is to educate as many Mexicans as possible. It is like, no Mexican left behind! So, since we are in a holiday season, I have no shame to ask, if you have some extra cash, please donate to this cause here, you will be giving a Christmas gift to an entire country.

Thanks for reading.

12 for 12 - I am a little bit late but here I am!

Ok, so two weeks ago I read about this 12 for 12 thing. You take 12 pictures throughout your day that represent what you did on the 12th of each month. I thought it was a great idea and I committed myself to do it. I did take the pictures and planned the blog posting but haven't had time to get to it, until now! Ok, so I am late for 5 days but it has to count that I posted, right?

Here we go:
My husband and I started the day baking. This month the 12th was on a Sunday and on Saturday we went grocery shopping and planned to do some baking on Sunday. We started with banana chocolate/peanut butter chip muffins. Here I am mixing the ingredients:
Then, we poured the mix on the muffin mold:
And see what we got:
We did a stop to have breakfast and listen to my favorite CD for this season:
Then we got to try this little guy:
My husband wanted to bake his own bread, so I got to stand by the kitchen counter and watch him do his magic:

Look at my husband's work of art (edible art):

And since we had some maple syrup butter from the day before, we had to try the fruits of Henry's baking efforts:
Then, I kept going with the Christmas tree decoration. We have it up since Black Friday but I was still working on the last touches. One of our favorite decorations...the North Pole train!
I also worked on wrapping up some of the gifts that we got at the Maple Syrup Farm that we visited in New Hampshire on Saturday:
After that, I ran to take a shower and get ready because we needed to head out to uncle Johny's house to celebrate his 60th birthday. Getting ready is always hard for me, I need to try on stuff and decide if my clothes  match my mood:
We headed out and had a great time at the party including watching the Patriots game (of course). I enjoyed a lot seeing my husband's family having such a great time, once again, I am happy to have moved closed to them. And that is the end of a day full of fun!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving - A Great American Tradition

As many people know, United States is the first country with a holiday called Thanksgiving. Me, being from Mexico didn’t grow up with this tradition but was introduced to it by my friend Laura back in Arizona. Laura and her great family loved to have international students at their home to celebrate Thanksgiving. They explained the different dishes and how the tradition was born.

They also introduced me to their very own tradition, which I loved and hope to replicate and pass along in the near future. Each person at the table will get three candy corns by their placements. Once we were all sitting, Laura and her sisters explained the significance of the candy corns. Each of them represented something that we were grateful for. So every person at the table had the opportunity to raise each of their candy corns and give thanks for whatever that candy corn meant to them. That happened in 2004, so I don’t remember exactly what I was thankful for but I am sure one was for my family and friends, one for God and one for Laura’s family.

Not only we had a great big lunch but went for a long walk around Fountain Hills where they have the tallest man-made fountain in the country and enjoyed playing games. I had a great time all together.

After that celebration, I learned that there are many other ways to spend Thanksgiving, some people do it in front of the TV watching football, and some others drag the time they will have to spend with their family or others travel long distances to sit at the table with their love ones and friends. I spent many Thanksgiving only with my husband and learned to enjoy our lunch for two. We always had a good time together.

This year, Thanksgiving will be again something very close to what I have been hoping for, surrounded by family, sharing good food and laughs. Since we moved to MA, holidays are celebrations that remind me of my own family. My husband has a family that is close to each other and makes a point to meet for the special occasions (they are also loud like my family). I am happy to be part of this family. I am definitely a social animal.

Also, Thanksgiving is a celebration that is about making a gratitude list and not about gifts or pressure. It is a great tradition if you ask me! And it is the kick off for the Holiday season, my favorite!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Good bye Fall!

Well, it seems that we are almost at the end of the Fall. Everyone over here raved about how beautiful the Fall was, the change in the leaves colors etc, etc. I had to witness it in order to understand it.

Now I think…Fall is amazing! You have to remember that I come from a country where we don’t have this extreme season changes so I never experienced Fall before. In AZ we only have summer and less hot weather, so Fall is out of the question. But here in the New England area things are different.

My husband begged me to take walks with him so we could see the leaves…I am glad I gave in, we got some amazing pictures and I was in awe to be in the presence of nature. Then I started thinking about how being able to live through the seasons makes me feel closer to nature. Going through the changes reminds me on how our own lives go through cycles; we grow, blossom and then time to rest and renewal comes to blossom again.

It is definitely getting cooler here and I hate the fact that at 5pm the sun (if it shows up) is gone and everything is so dark (I will devote a posting on this) but I am learning to take it as part of the cycle and trying to enjoy it…more time at home to spend with Luci (the dog) and my husband. Time to read and cultivate the mind again.

Here are some pictures that allow me to show you what I am talking about:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thank you Patriots Fans!

Ok, so I have said before I am a transplant from Mexico City/ Arizona to New England. As everyone knows, people from New England are sportsfanatics; they love the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Celtics. I think this is one of the only places where men AND women wear sports apparel of their favorite teams year long with no shame whatsoever.

And I am married to one of this loonies. My husband got tickets for the Patriots game against the Vikings. For a week he went back and forth with his friend about menu options, times to meet etc, etc, etc. For the whole week I cried to everyone that would listen that I would invest 8 hours of my life in a game that I didn’t care for and that I would much rather spend the money (and time) doing something else.

Sunday came along, I fought all morning with my hubby about stupid little things because I was expecting him to throw me out of the car (close to a Mall) and go to the game without me. But he is a trooper and a devoted husband so he just rolled his eyes and took me to the game.

And now I owe him a public apology. I had a GREAT time! Being there, tailgating with all the Patriotsfanatics and being part of that moment gave me a glimpse of why people love so much the game. For few hours everyone was pretty happy, eating, drinking, dancing, meeting people and smiling at each other because all of them had one thing in common, they wanted their team to win and have a good time. I think that is a reflection of the American culture.

So I had a chance to meet with very cool people that are open to share their foods and drinks with everyone, then went inside the Gillette Stadium, that is a gorgeous place, and had a great old time all together. Here are some pictures:

I don’t know if I would ever be a Patriotfanatic but I sure understand why people love the game.  And I do like the American way. When they want something, good attitude, positive thinking and a lot of hard work get them there and it seems that this coming elections will represent that culture one more time. They don’t like what they see and they are ready to go and change it.

As for me, Go Patriots! And Go Tom Brady! 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Shopping addiction anyone?

It is hard for me to write about this but I think I need to put it out there so I can stop it. I got a new job a month ago after not working for 8 months. I finally have my own money again!

So what is a girl to do with her recent acquired income? Go shopping!! So first I bought myself two pair of glasses…from an exclusive boutique that is located in a very expensive area over here called Lexington Center. (The place is call Eye Look of Lexington).
Then I wanted to take advantage of a coupon I had from Ann Taylor but I knew that a trip to the mall was needed for that so I tried the second best option; went online. I usually don’t shop online because I want to try things on but I know the size scale for this particular brand pretty well so I went ahead and shopped away...this and then this one too!

 Then I wanted new boots and didn’t find anything in the stores that I liked. Coincidentally some days ago I read a great article about the Zappos culture of being happy. I have always liked their business model and they are indeed a GREAT online store…so I went there and found a lovely pair of purple boots for the fall…obviously it is impossible not to get anything since their selection is just amazing.

As many of you know, Massachusetts is the home of TJ Maxx…I really wanted a leather jacket and last week I found it in Marshalls! It was made for me…so I gave her a new home at my closet that night.

After that, a friend that loves upscale brands sent me this website and I have been checking their sale events but nothing caught my eye until I saw it…a beautiful dress/coat for the holidays…so I had to have it.

Yesterday, I was taking a break and ended up getting two beautiful purses from Zappos…so I know I am developing an addiction and it has to end, right now, right here.

So I promise to the universe (cyber universe) that I will stop shopping on impulse. I know myself better than that and even though I did deserve to get some great stuff as a celebration for my new position I also know that it is time for saving money and grow out from the thought that I deserve EVERYTHING I want, because as a girly girl…I will never have enough shoes, purses, clothes, cosmetics…you get the drift.

It is so hard to draw the line between spoiling yourself rotten and get a little something for a job well done!

If you have a shopping addiction like mine, kick yourself in the butt, make a list with your last 10 purchases (including prices), make a conscious decision to stop, forgive yourself and move on! (At least you will be moving forward wearing a great outfit!)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Honey!!

Today is my husband’s birthday! Not any birthday, it is his 40th birthday and we are going to have a weekend full of fun. It already started with a nice dinner at his parents’ house on Friday night where part of his extended family showed up to congratulate him.

It was a special little get-together since he was the first grandchild born on his mom’ side of the family. That means that for some time he was the most beloved child of two uncles and two aunts and the adoration of two full sets of grandparents, how cool is that?

We got to see some of his childhood pictures and it is so nice to see how much love was around my husband when he was a baby. Then we got to see some of the same faces 40 years after still showing the same love they showed on those pictures.

Being part of that moment just confirmed that we made the right decision coming to live to MA closer to his family.

Now, my wishes for my husband on this special date is that he keeps having his health, his lovely reaction to newly discovered things and that we can spend many more of these birthdays together. I love you honey!

Birthdays are special because you are celebrating the fact that a special person in your life was born and ergo part of your life. So birthday celebrations ARE important.

And I don’t care if my husband doesn’t like cards…I got him one together with some little gifts…more on that on the next post. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Little things in life!

I still remember when my now husband taught me that expression. We just started dating and he mentioned something that made him happy. Back then, he just had moved to AZ and was finding his way around. I do not remember what exactly he was referring to but I do remember his explanation on how little things in life are the things that make you happy on daily basis.

Since I moved to MA I have found more of those things in my everyday life. I was thinking about that yesterday. We were at –what it seems lately - our second home “Home Depot” and I remembered that I wanted a second set of house keys so when I walk Luci (our dog and only child) I don’t have to carry with all my keys (car and house keys are attached). So I got the new set and got one of those key chains that you can wrap around your wrist so you actually don’t have to carry anything on your hands. PERFECT for walking your dog. So I was and still am very happy with my new key set.
They look so healthy

Today we had a great dinner. My husband is a chef by profession and since his schedule allows him to arrive home like 2 hours before me, his job is cooking dinner for both. He stopped at the Farmers’ Market in Belmont and got some great produce: cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and fresh eggs. Yes, real eggs not the computer eggs you buy at the store. He made a pizza with veggies, basil and two types of cheese (feta & fresh mozzarella) and the result was a delicious and healthy dinner for two. That made me pretty happy. Hee are some pictures:

This is the veggie pizza
Beautiful tomatoe

Then we walked to get an ice cream, the fact that now we can just step out from our apartment building and have so many options at our tip toes makes me pretty happy.

So here it is, my gratitude list for little things in life that made me happy today. This is a great way to go to sleep…making an inventory of things that make me smile on daily basis. If you haven’t done a gratitude list before, I strongly encourage you to try it! You won’t regret it!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The beauty of Yard Sales

I remember that 10 years ago I used to come to USA to visit friends and they used to take me to yard sales and antique stores (Pennsylvania and New Hampshire area) and I used to hate it. Just couldn’t understand why I would want to buy something old and used.

Ten years forward and I am shopping in the Yard Sales circuit. Moving to Massachusetts has put me in a premium area for yard sales. People that have lived in these cities all their lives have passed on their possessions for generations and are always trying to clean up their houses. And we, people that just moved into their apartments and don’t have a full furnished place are taking full advantage of it.

Now, I LOVE yard sales! So last weekend my hubby and I spent some hours working the circuit and we made out great. My favorite finds: a nice desk that is almost 80 years old for my beading room ($5), a nice desk with wheels that can be used everywhere in the house ($15) - it is currently working as a kitchen table - and two purses that I bought at an Estate Sale. Here are the pictures of the two tables.

Just by a fluke, we came across with the last one, and it was awesome! I mean, I do not know the circumstances that lead to that particular sale and my respects to the family if someone passed away there…but wow, it was like being at a movie set, the house was a mansion and all the items they had available where of great taste. Obviously a little bit (just a tiny bit) way out of our price range but I couldn’t resist the purses. Great bargains. One is $150 in a regular store and I paid $25, the other one is a designer piece with retail value of $600 and I paid $35.

I am so excited that I want to start mapping out my weekends around these events! Haha! No seriously, what a great opportunity for us, a couple that is starting a new life in this city.

So, if you are planning a yard sale, go ahead and do it! Just remember to clean up the items that you put out there and be reasonable with the prices, you never know who you will be helping out with your house cleaning project. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Are we being fair to Obama? and What is the American Dream anyway?

Being this my first post for this blog I feel I should introduce myself. My name is Ale and I was born and raised in Mexico City. In 2002 I decided that the time to explore the world had arrived and left to Spain to get a masters degree. During that time I applied to Arizona State University (ASU) and got accepted to continue my masters. This is the reason why I moved to USA. Lived in Arizona for about 7 year and moved to Massachusetts in January 2010.

Since I moved right in the middle of the winter, my husband and in-laws were kind enough to give me time to find my way in my new city. I didn’t look for a job until July 2010. What a great experience! I read a ton of books, felt in love with the area, enjoyed the summer and had time to think about what to do next my professional life.

August came along and got a job, an apartment and now I am definitely on my way to build some memories on this place. So far I LOVE to live here. The intellectual stimulation you get from living in a city with so much culture and history is amazing.

Now, coming back to the title of this post.  I was recently watching TV and caught a piece on some people asking Obama if the American Dream was over for them. It was follow by the list of complaints on lack of jobs and investment on projects, the economy is not moving forward and etcetera.

The thoughts that came to my mind were…Are we being fair to Obama? This reminds me a lot about the time that Mexico changed ruling parties after more than 70 years! Yes, Vicente Fox was the first President in Mexico that belonged to the opposition (this happened in 2000). Anyway, obviously the party that lost the elections did everything on their power to boycott whatever Fox was trying to do at that time, plus the lack of experience and solid team behind him. It was obvious! No one that belonged to another party had held that position in the last 70 + years. But Fox had a ton of good intentions that made him pursue his dream of being the President of his country and change it for the best.

Obama makes me feel the same way. He has good intentions and represents the dreams of many people in this country. But my feeling is that Americans had forgotten that they gave the power to Bush for 8 years and he made many decisions that lead this country to its current state. It wasn’t Obama! Now it is his job to fix it and fix it fast. I am not saying that all his decisions have been right so far…but Are Americans really expecting Obama to shake his magic wand and fix everything that is not working? Just like that? It is not magic! It will take time and work, hard work from everybody.

That brings me to my other question. What is the American Dream anyway? If we are expecting to go back to 4 or 6 years ago where you could get credit and go and buy a house even if you didn’t have a steady job then, no, we are not going back to that. If we want to live on credit all the time without savings for emergencies…no, we are not going back to that either. But if the American Dream is the possibility of buying a home, walking on the streets feeling safe, choosing to go to school or not and still have a decent way of living, then we can make it happen again, with time and effort.

I will leave it at that for now…