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Readathon: Opening Meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Florida, United States

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I’m doing Whole30 so I can’t have my favorite snack but I’m looking forward to snacking on pistachios and sunflower seeds. 

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I was born in Puerto Rico, lived in Botswana for 8 years, moved to New Orleans for college and then to Florida for grad school and I’ve been here ever since. 

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I’ll be hosting a challenge right here on my blog during hour 4 as well as cheering and reading! I’m doing a bit of everything this readathon and I’m SO excited! 

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Delicious sautéed kale over brown rice

My parents own a farm back in Puerto Rico and recently my mom came for a visit and brought some of their kale with her. Their farming practices are free of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and they don’t grow any GMOs. I was excited to cook with some of their produce. I don’t particularly love kale, I have it in smoothies and soups but I don’t eat it raw. Sautéing it with a little olive oil and lots of garlic makes for a tasty meal.

Here’s how I prepared it:

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The stems are rather tough so I cut them out.

The stems are rather tough so I cut them out.

Farm fresh means dirt so it's important to rinse thoroughly. I like to wash them in a bowl and let the sediment settle on the bottom before taking the leaves out.

Farm fresh means dirt so it’s important to rinse thoroughly. I like to wash them in a bowl and let the sediment settle on the bottom before taking the leaves out.

In a cold pan I added about two tablespoons of olive oil and sliced garlic. Let the garlic and oil come up to a sizzle before adding the kale. Sautee until wilted and add a splash of chicken vegetable stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a cold pan I added about two tablespoons of olive oil and sliced garlic. Let the garlic and oil come up to a sizzle before adding the kale. Sautee until wilted and add a splash of chicken vegetable stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over brown rice (or any rice/grain of your choosing).

Serve over brown rice (or any rice/grain of your choosing).

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I’m giving up sugar for 30 days!

I am addicted to sugar. I admit it. That is why I am challenging myself to give it up for thirty days. I am not following a diet plan or anything like that. I am simply cutting out refined sugar. No more chocolate, cakes, cookies, store bought breads, etc. I will be eating fruit and if I do want to sweeten something I will use unrefined, natural sweeteners such as raw honey, maple syrup and even raw sugar. I specified about what sugars I will be eating because I’ve seen people who give up ALL forms of sugar including naturally occurring ones (like in fruit). Fortunately I tend to stick to water when it comes to drinks so I won’t have an issue with that and I don’t drink coffee or tea daily.

I have always read different things about sugar, but aside from empty calories that make me fatter I had never really paid much attention to the benefits of giving up sugar. People report clearer skin, more energy and reduced inflammation. I’m in it for a palate cleanse and healthier lifestyle but I’ll report back with any other changes I notice.

The reason I decided to give up sugar is that for the past six months or so I have really had a craving for it (more so than before). I find myself wanting to eat something sweet after dinner and it isn’t an apple. When it comes to dieting and lifestyle changes I truly believe that making changes that we can sustain forever is the key to success. I don’t like the idea of cutting things out forever unless serious medical issues are the reason.

I plan to stay on track by eating at home (which we do most of the time anyway) and baking only when I’m giving it away. I’m all stocked up with fresh fruit as well as some some frozen fruit for smoothies.

I think the first week is going to suck, haha. Stop by next Tuesday for an update!

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It’s my birthday!

I remember when my birthday was an exciting prospect. A day that couldn’t come fast enough. I looked forward to presents, and cake, and all of the things that come with birthdays. Now that I’m 31 it’s not the same. I have not reached that point where I dread getting older, or the number of said age, but I no longer feel that joyous excitement of my childhood. I joke that I am a year older and not any wiser but I don’t actually mean that.

At 31 (which is neither young nor old) I feel grateful. Grateful for another year of life. Grateful for all the things I get to do, see, read, and make. I’m filled with such immense happiness about the wonderful things in my life. My friends who sustain me in ways that food and water cannot. The ones that remind me of another place and time many years ago and whose lasting friendships are a testament to the enduring power (and importance) of companionate love. The friends with whom I can be my most vulgar, perverted, and carefree. The friends with whom I discuss the issues that get me riled up such as politics, racism, sexism, and religion. The friends that ask me how I am doing and who are interested in my mental health.

Thirty-one years of life has taught my that being liked is overrated. That I cannot compromise who I am and what I believe in order to fit in. It is not worth it. Likability is a poison to me. It entails censoring myself because I fear offending those that don’t give offending me a second thought. Along with my gratitude there is a consciousness. A consciousness about my own happiness and how I am responsible for it. I choose what to care about, what to see, hear and listen to. I choose who and what to allow into my life. That is a powerful thing to realize.

I’m unlearning a lot of things currently. For instance: I no longer try to hide the fact that I menstruate by shamefully hiding my tampons in my purse and going to great lengths so that no person is ever made uncomfortable with the sight of these. I am unlearning all of the gender bullshit I grew up with. I am also learning to walk away from people that don’t know when to shut up. Social media gives us this constant exposure to wonderful and terrible things. Some people decide to express the terrible, the uneducated and the bigoted. They haven’t learned that it is okay to shut the hell up so I do it for them. Muting and un-friending people is self-care.

Basically, I am in a constant state of learning and unlearning. It’s not pleasant. It’s painful. It makes me uncomfortable but it’s worth it. So this birthday is all about feeling grateful, being unapologetically myself, and committing myself to learning, listening and making changes especially when it makes me uncomfortable.

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Volunteer rejection

When I decided to call my local library and offer to read to young library patrons in Spanish I was expecting it to go over well. I knew they already had a story-time program in place so when I called I asked if they had any reading in Spanish. I was told that they did not and I explained that I wanted to speak to somebody about volunteering in their library in order to meet this need. The lady who I initially spoke to sounded enthusiastic about it and transferred me to the children’s librarian. The gentleman who answered the phone did not initially seem to be paying me much attention as he misunderstood my query and thought I was seeking a story-time program in Spanish for my son. I repeated myself and this time he understood but responded that Spanish story-time was not needed.

Not needed. I was taken aback. This was not the response I was expecting given that I live in South Florida. He did not offer to put me in touch with anybody, or even thank me for my call. He dismissed me. There are many things about that phone call that do not sit right with me. The first and most obvious one is the fact that a children’s librarian said to me that Spanish language resources are not needed. Nothing could be further from the truth and that he believes as such worries me. Especially considering that there are over 500 Hispanic students enrolled in the two elementary schools within my city.

Something else that bothered me is that a library’s response to a volunteer is to send them away. Libraries are wonderful resources. They are often underfunded and yet the role they have in the community is an important one. Communities are strengthened when members take part in them. I wanted to get involved but I was shot down. Now what? I should have asked more questions but I was stunned and didn’t feel like arguing. I was hoping for dialog, collaboration. Instead I got an immediate knee-jerk no.

I do not feel personally slighted. He doesn’t know me and I don’t know him, but I do feel disappointed. Reading is such an important component in a child’s education and it’s been shown to be beneficial to children of all ages. I know that my community is home to a lot of Spanish speakers who by virtue of their environment are raising bilingual children just like I am. Exposing children to a different language is a good thing, so even non-Spanish speakers could benefit and enjoy story-time in Spanish. In my opinion there was no reason to reject my offer. It would have cost the library nothing to try it out and if nobody came it would have been no skin off their nose.

I wrote the library a letter. I am hoping that by reaching out to express my disappointment that somebody will in turn reach out to me. I feel very strongly that reading programs are necessary and there’s no harm in adding on Spanish language to already existing ones.

Thank you for reading. I needed to vent a little about this as I can’t stop thinking about it and replaying the conversation in my mind. If I receive any kind of response or find somewhere to volunteer I will write a follow-up post.

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Read-a-thon: Opening Meme

The read-a-thon is FINALLY here. I haven’t yet had breakfast but that’s okay because I am trying to get as much reading/blogging done before my son wakes up. Fortunately, we put him to bed quite late last night so I am anticipating getting about two hours to myself. Yay!

Here are my answers to the opening meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

I am reading from South Florida, USA
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield because I have had this book for years and I am, at last, going to read it. Hopefully. Haha. 
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I wish I had gotten round to buying/preparing snacks but I’m looking forward to lunch which will be leftover pasta from last night. 
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I have a two and a half year old that will make things interesting for me today. I can’t remember how I managed the read-a-thon last year but I’m going to figure it out all over again!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

This is my second rea-a-thon and I’m looking forward to being a cheerleader! That is something new that I am doing this time. I’m also helping the admins keep an eye out on things. Having the opportunity to help out this commuity is a pleasure and an honor.

Happy reading to all!

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Blog hiatus

It’s been more than a week since I’ve posted anything and that feels like a very long time to me. Between my son being sick, passing it onto me and then having a pretty horrible accident here at home I haven’t had much time or inclination to write. I’m way off on everything so I have decided to take the rest of the month off and return in March.

Today, I am finally feeling better. That cold did not want to leave my body. I was congested and miserable but I had a two-year old who needed me. I don’t think I had ever felt so exhausted and run down while sick. I wanted to lay up in bed all day! So I just wanted to leave a not here explaining my absence and letting you know that I will be back next month.

 

See you in March!

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Book Fridays: The King

If you’re familiar with Tiffany Reisz’ Original Sinners series then you know all about Kingsley Edge. I have a friend that thinks he’s hers, incidentally she’s the reason I started reading these books. I guess I owe her a lot, but I’m willing to fight her for King.  This book tells his story. Now, if you’re not into sexy writing, taboo topics and kink then I can safely say you should probably read these books anyway 😉 When I first started Ms. Reisz’ books I was instantly hooked. Her characters are always complex and the writing is always clever. There’s no shortage of wit, humor and even tears.

Fast forward to The King (my most anticipated read) where we learn the origins of the Eighth Circle and Kingsley himself (as well as his Hessian boots). I read this book in a day as I couldn’t put it down. Tiffany Reisz once again delivers a book that has it all. The relationship between Søren and Kingsley kills me. Søren’s underbelly is revealed in this book and seeing his more sensitive, affectionate side felt like nothing short of a treat. It also hurt like hell, which I’m sure Søren appreciates.

Something that Ms. Reisz has nailed, in my opinion, is the ability to take the subjects of kink, BDSM, religion, relationships, and sexuality and juggle them so brilliantly so as to do them all justice.

My favorite new character from this book has to be Sam. She had some great lines and her overall personality made me want to meet her in real life and beg her to be my friend.Maybe even my lover. The fact that she plays a very important role in the establishment of King’s Kingdom entitles her to my deepest affections.

This book details the making of our favorite King of Kink and it couldn’t have been a more enjoyable read.

Vive le roi!

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Why you should keep a gratitude journal

Life can suck and I am not one to dismiss the negative feelings I have from day to day. Being perpetually optimistic and happy is unrealistic to me. Tune into current events and you will see how much work we, as a society, have ahead of us. It can be a real bummer. I believe in venting about the bad in our lives, not necessarily in public for all to see (unless you want to) but in a way that helps you get it off your chest. That being said, I also believe that “there’s something good in everyday”. Everyday we have something to be thankful for, something that we can look to and say, “That was nice.” It might be those amazing pancakes you made for breakfast and didn’t burn, the unexpected but welcome phone call from a friend, a polite smile and compliment from a stranger, or even the mere fact that you got half of one task complete for the day. Whatever it is, this little something should be acknowledged and recorded.

Negative stuff, thoughts, interactions, feelings can take center stage in our consciousness to the point we don’t see all of the stuff that is right in our lives. We tend to block out the mountain of good with a freckle of bad. I know that I am guilty of this. If say, I get feedback from ten different people I will give much more weight (emotionally) to the one negative response. I try not to do this but it’s difficult not to dwell on that one person. Similarly, whenever I’ve had a bad anxiety day I feel negative inside and look at all things through this darkened lens.

By taking the time to process our day in a manner that looks for something good we will be inclined to find it. It gives us a different way in which to frame our day. Small pleasures, and seemingly inconsequential happenings take on new life when we view them through the lens of gratitude.

A gratitude journal can take many forms. Each entry can be a simple sentence, a short paragraph, a picture or photograph, a quote or even a memento. I’ve even seen it in the form of a large jar into which you drop small scraps of paper on which you write something you’re grateful for and on December 31st you pick them out and read them. It’s a great way to look back on the year. I have a small notebook and I am trying to scribble something in it each night before I go to bed. I find that keeping this journal is even more important to me when I’ve had a crappy day.

Today is Sunday and I am going to share what I am grateful for right here in this blog post. We spent the day at home today. It was raining and it just felt like the sort of day to spend home. Nothing about today sticks out except that we finally purged the outdoor closet. It was such a mess and we had things we didn’t even know we had. I had mentioned to my husband that we really needed to sort that closet out but we just never got around to it. Today we finally did. It was warm and humid out there so it wasn’t comfortable to haul all of that junk into the porch where we sorted through it. The end result is a closet that is now usable and an item checked off my list. Looking at our junk in another way, I am grateful to have accumulated it all with my husband. In the mess I saw remnants of repairs and remodels we’ve done to our house and I know that I am lucky to have a place of our own.

I can’t really commit to a daily journal per se but a gratitude journal is something I believe is good for me and my mental health, and it could be good for you, too.

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Happy New Year!

The holidays are almost over but the New Year is already here. As usual, I’m feeling full of possibility and optimism. What do I want to do this year? Well, blogwise I have seen how it’s evolved. I started this blog to document my life as a mother but it didn’t take long for it to veer off course. My blog has evolved, it is currently a veritable hodgepodge of topics, much like my life. I cannot commit to talking about only one thing. That’s just not who I am right now. I like to dabble in various things and now that I have a blog I have a platform on which to explore various parts of who I am.

Out of all the series I have done on my blog Book Fridays is my favorite. I have always loved reading but I didn’t really have a space on which to collect my thoughts about specific books and reading in general. Blogging about what I’m reading helps me organize my thoughts and feelings better. It also provides me with notes I can refer back to later when I can’t remember what a book was about. Also, I find that when I write about something I force myself to really think about it and recall it better later. There’s also the added bonus of meeting fellow readers and hopefully turning them onto a book they hadn’t heard of/hadn’t considered before.I’m setting myself the goal of reading more in 2015.

I still love cooking and sharing recipes so I will definitely be sharing more of those this year. In particular, I want to explore gluten free and vegan cuisine. For no particular reason other than culinary curiosity. I have no plans to stop baking cookies and the like but I want to vary the recipes I share.

On January 6th we will be celebrating Epiphany/Three Kings Day. For me, it’s a cultural celebration. I want Diego to know about this tradition. This year, he made out like a bandit on Christmas so I’m actually hesitant to give him the gifts I have set aside for him. He has more toys I am comfortable with but what can you do? My own gift giving plans went out the window this year and the results are so laughable that I am almost ashamed to link you to the post I wrote about gift giving last year.

Like most people I have a laundry list of things I want to do but I want to keep my goals simple for this coming year, so I’m sticking to doing more of what makes me happy. You can never go wrong with that. I will plan things as the year goes on but I’m not setting myself up with a long list of lofty ideas that will probably not get done.

I wish you all a wonderful year ahead. I hope to see you around 😉

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