Quick and Easy Cucumber Pickle

Ingredients:

½ cup white vinegar

2 teaspoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of coriander seeds

½ teaspoon of caraway seeds

¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1 garlic smashed

1 English cucumber (or any cucumber) thinly sliced

Step 1:

Mix all the ingredients except for the cucumber, in a small saucepan at medium heat.  Cook until the sugar is dissolved.

Step 2:

Let it cool for about 15 minutes (if you are in a hurry) or until it reaches room temperature

Step 3:

Mix the liquid with the thinly sliced cucumber.  Let it marinate for at least 20 minutes. Enjoy!!!

Step 4:

Refrigerate any leftover… if you have any left…

One of all time favorite quotes “Not all those who wander are lost” by J.R.R. Tolkien and how I interpret it

I constantly think of phrases or quotes that have impacts in my life, when doing my life manifesto or weekly journals, I am always looking for inspiration on these timeless phrases that can so well summarize our thoughts and feelings at any given time.

Over time, this phrase has remained constant in my thoughts, every time I read it, every time I write it, every time I think about it, I feel as if the phrase is calling me, touching my soul, making me reflect on my life, on my journey.

If I think about my life, I can believe that in its natural state, I am lost. Always and simply lost. Maybe because I was born in another country and not having my family or friends close has always made me feel that I walk with my eyes closed. It may be that sincerely reflecting, I can admit that ever so often I wonder how I can be a better wife. It may be that sometimes I am afraid to think that as a mother I can do more, listen more, learn more, give more. Or as an engineer, my career has continued but there are many moments of doubt on how to set goals, and how to pursue them, without putting my family in second place.

As you can see, Not all those who wander are lost ”gives me comfort. Comfort that although I feel that I am walking in the dark while I try to do my best in every facet of my life, feeling that I am lost is part of the journey. Having doubt is part of the solution. Knowing that I am scared, makes me grateful.

Not all those who wander are lost gives me hope that in those moments when I don’t know where I came from, nor where I am going, much less where I am going, I can focus on enjoying my now, what I have today, what I am today. Holding my husband’s hand, hugging my children, talking with my family, being kind to myself I am sure I will continue to feel lost through the wonders of my path, through the wonders of my life.

The Long Haul Flight Essential Checklist

We are three weeks away from our Mediterranean Cruise and Barcelona Trip and we have pretty much all tied down (as much as possible).  We are starting to look into packing our clothes, finishing our excursions selections, and getting to know more about Barcelona. So as I start packing our bags and getting ourselves ready, I wanted to share our packing list for both the airplane flight and our small backpack we will be using when we walk around Barcelona and during the excursions at the port.

Airplane Back Pack: We will travel with three backpacks (one for my husband and two to be shared between me and my two sons). I will focus on the one that I will be sharing with my sons since the flight will be a long one (Houston to Frankfurt and then a two-hour flight to  Barcelona). I like to make sure that we will be able to be comfortable in the airplane and therefore I will be packing:

  • Passport and Flight Tickets Holder
  • Tablets (yes we each get one)
  • 3 headphones
  • Chargers
  • Portable Chargers (just in case)
  • Hand Sanitizer 
  • Wipes
  • Small hand cream
  • 3 small books (one for each of us)
  • 2 neck pillows (I am skipping on this one)
  • My notebook (journal)
  • 2 pens (yes, I always travel with two)
  • Passport holder 
  • Wallet
  • Very small make-up bag: stick foundation, lip balm, lipstick, blush stick, sample size perfume)
  • Gum
  • (3 underwears and 3 lightweight shirts)
  • Headache and allergies medicines

We will be wearing comfortable light sweatpants (for me it will be leggins) and comfortable cotton shirts with light jackets, socks, and tennis shoes.

For our days in Barcelona and our excursion days we will be carrying:

  • Small backpack – We are getting one for the four of us.  Big enough to carry at least 2 bottles of water, but small enough that my 9-year old can easily carry it too.  
  • Portable Battery Charger
  • Passport Copies – We do not walk around with our passports, but a copy of the passports and we leave the originals in the hotel’s safety box.
  • Anti-bacterial Gel 
  • Pre-paid tickets receipt (hop off hop on the bus, or museums)
  • Camera (yes we still travel with one)
  • Phones
  • Small wipes
  • Wallets
  • 2 bottles of waters (at all time)

If it is going to be a rainy day we will be wearing our rain jackets.

Hopefully, these two lists help you when doing your own checklist and help you make sure that you and your family are comfortable during the flight and when doing tourism in an unknown location.  It is important to keep it short as we will be doing the same packing every day we get out of the hotel or cruise ship so it should be easy to put all together in a matter of minutes. Please take note that when doing the excursions on the Cruise we will NOT be going to beaches, but cities where we will mostly walk around or be in bus tours.

Just wondering… what am I missing???

Photos from the past… time to remember

The other day my cousin sent me a photo unexpectedly. I kept looking at the picture for a while, trying hard to recognize the place. I was so surprised when I finally recognized it! It was the beach house we use to go when we were younger when we were kids, it was our vacation spot, it was our Adventureland. What I could have remembered as a beautiful place, with very comfortable beach chalets, and a gigantic pool was nothing more than small cabins with a grill and plastic chairs in the front porch, and a small pool that certainly had to be overcrowded when we would swim and play in it. 

In those little cabins, I had created memories that are surrounded by happiness and pure joy,  encapsulating that moment in time when fun was the main driving force of my days. I could clearly remember the happiness of my parents. The happiness of my cousins ​​and friends. The happiness of freedom. The happiness of not knowing that life hits hard and takes away your loved ones. The happiness that only the innocence of youth can make us feel.

Now, seeing that picture, trying to piece together the puzzle  of my broken memory I realize that it is impossible. That beautiful beach, with its very comfortable chalets and its gigantic swimming pool, will be forever engraved on me, and cannot be reconciled with the photos of reality. 

Speaking with my cousin of those times, almost 27 years ago, we felt nostalgic for the innocence we lost over the years, we felt sad when we remember the people we lost since then.  It was painful to realize that so much time has passed. That we grew old.

I have always believed that the purpose of remembering is to relive again. And when talking to my cousin about those years, we felt the urgency to recognize that our children now have the opportunity to experience the happiness of innocence. That it is not the beauty of the place, nor the spectacular hotel, nor the giant pool what will remain in their memories … but our company, our laughter, the moments with their friends, the talks in the sand next to a campfire … those will be their memories and no picture will match it and the time will not corrupt it either.

Baked Crispy Eggplant

This weekend I cooked my baked crispy eggplant and again it was a hit with the family. It all started when my youngest one said “I don’s like eggplants” and to which I replied “Yes, you do!”, and yes, after eating this baked crispy eggplant he couldn’t deny that they were delicious.

You can eat them with a yogurt dipping sauce or with a good marinara sauce, or just by itself… Ingredients:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Eggplant
  • ½  cup of Panko
  • ½  cup of Bread Crumbs
  • ¼  cup of parmesan cheese
  • ½  tsp garlic powder
  • ¼  cup of parmesan cheese
  • ½  tsp garlic powder
  • 1  tsp dry oregano
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 eggs

Step 1:

Set your oven to 400º.  Cut the eggplant in 1-inch rounds and sprinkle with a little bit of salt. Let it sit for about 10 minutes until you can see the water that forms on top of the eggplant, pat dry and do the same with the other side.

Step 2

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.

Step 3

Dip the eggplant round in the eggs and then in the bread crumbs/panko bowl until it is totally covered.  Put them in a lightly greased baking sheet.

Step 4

Bake for 15-minutes and flip them and continue to bake for another 15-minutes. Voila. You are done. Enjoy.

Book List: February 2020

What are you reading this month? Today I wanted to show you the books on my bedside table. It’s normal for me to have more than four books at any given time … What can I do?, reading is my entertainment every night and where I give myself permission to splurge.

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama: I’m going halfway through the book and I’m totally at awe with this book. I have always felt a lot of admiration for Mrs. Michelle Obama, and this book just gave me the motivation to continue to grow my love for the Obama Family and legacy. This book is motivating, hopeful, full of nobility, love, and loyalty to this country.
  2. The New Writer’s Handbook: This is a library book. I am trying to improve my way of writing and expressing myself, additionally, I do try to get at least one book from my local library.
  3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert:  I am really very happy with this book because it tells us about the power of being creative, letting creativity take the wheel and letting go of the fear to the unknown, it is so important to me to believe that we have the power to create beautiful things.
  4. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: I have already read this book in Spanish, now I am reading it in English. With our scheduled trip to Barcelona in three weeks, ​​this book is once again making me want to make time go faster so that I can finally make it to Barcelona.
  5. The Power of Self-Coaching by Joseph J. Luciani: This book changes lives, we should all read it. I am a Life Coach and for me, this book has to be read in order to understand the true power that we all carry inside and the ability that we have to change our lives and achieve our goals.
  6. 1000 Books to Read before you Die: My Christmas gift from Barnes and Noble, gives me a guide to the books I want to read and I am putting them on a list … the first two I have already bought and will be on my March list.

What are you reading? How many books at a time? What is your favorite subject? Your favorite Author? Do you also read many books at the same time or one by one?

How can we be a better friend?

We are all unique in our essence, in our abilities and in our personal qualities that allow us to contribute positively to the lives of the people we love most and the people around us.  Many times, although we are aware of these wonderful people who are part of our lives, we tend to spend our time being able to fulfill our responsibilities and obligations and we do not do enough to show our love and our appreciation to these people.

I have been very lucky to have seen friendships that lasts a lifetime and through my own experiences, I have been a witness of the importance that a solid friendship can have in our lives.  After thinking for a while, I have come up with a list of the actions we can do for our friends. These actions do not have to be large or elaborated, but they have to be initiated by the love and gratitude we feel.

  • If you know of someone close to you who is recovering from an illness or struggling with a disease, make a casserole or lasagna and take them home, without asking if they want it or not, just knock on the door and hand them the plate so they have a meal (or two).
  • If you know of someone close to you who is recovering from an illness or struggling with a disease, make a casserole or lasagna and take them home, without asking if they want it or not, just knock on the door and hand them the plate so they have a meal (or two).
  • Participate in those activities that your friends are coordinating and need help or participants.
  • Go to the soccer, baseball, or dance recital of one of your nephews, especially if it is an important championship. Your friends will appreciate your sharing such a special moment in their lives with them.
  • Help a friend who has just started working on a new job, either with new unknown software, or by offering advice on his / her new line of work.
  •  If your friends are trying to make a change in their health and are taking actions to be healthier, support them and encourage them.
  • If your friends are asking for volunteers to help them in moving to a new house or painting their house or setting up a new office and you can, sign up and help them.
  •  Give a compliment if they got a new haircut or are trying to eat healthier.
  • Give thanks for something they have done for you, no matter if time has passed, take the time to say thank you and express appreciation

We all have high expectations of our friends, but at times is good to ask ourselves, are we doing all we can to make sure our friends feel loved and appreciated by us.  Next time you have the opportunity to show it, take it. You are cultivating a lifetime of great moments and experiences shared.

Barcelona Day 1… airplane trip, arrival, and walking Las Ramblas

Vacation planning… airplane trip, arrival in Barcelona and walking Las Ramblas!

Every time I travel I  like to visualize the voyage, the process of “getting there” and for me, this is even more important when you are traveling with family and friends.   We are traveling to Barcelona to take a 8-day Mediterranean Cruise with my kids and my parents (I know God Bless my husband). We are flying to Barcelona via Frankfurt and it will be FUN!.  Having been in long flights throughout my traveling time I am looking forward to “cross the pond” with my kids for the first time 😉)

TIP#1:  Book a transatlantic flight that flights through the night so you force yourself to sleep during the flight and helps you handle the jet lag a bit better

We are departing from Houston at 4:30 pm.  The kids will go to school as usual and we will go from their school to the airport.  I will give them a light snack at the airport and wait until dinner on the plane. The intention is for them to sleep as much as possible and “wake up” in Frankfurt. From Frankfurt, we take a 2-hour flight to Barcelona and arrive in Barcelona at 1:30 pm.

We meet my parents at the Hotel which is located by Plaza Catalunya and the Rambla.  We take some time to rest and we go for walk by the Ramblas. My intention is to walk hitting the following places:

Casa Batllo – 3-minute walk

Plaza Catalunya – 9-minute walk

Rambla del Raval – 15-minute walk

Palau Guell – 7-minute walk

Colon Monument – 7-minute walk

We will have dinner when hungry and I have spotted three different “Tapas” places along the way.  

We will walk back to the hotel while expressing our gratitude for been in Barcelona altogether and I hope we can spot a good place to have a dessert with coffee on our way back to the hotel.

TIP#2: When you are jet lag and its time to sleep take melatonin. It helps to regulate your new time zones.  Also if you can sleep with the curtains open so that the sunlight can help to wake you up and will be easier for your internal clock to self-regulate.

I will take note of the first day and see how close we are to the above itinerary. I am always curious to see how much of the planning becomes a reality and even more important how much it helps when we deviate from the plan itself.

And now lets get to Day#2

10 perfect gifts ideas for the special man in your life

It has always been very difficult to gift my husband, first because it really seems that he has everything he wants and deeds, and second because “I don’t want any gift” is his favorite phrase. So every Christmas, every anniversary, every birthday and every St Valentin represents a puzzle that I have to solve. Over the years I have scored as many goals as I have failed. But every time that special date approaches, I always start looking … hoping to narrow my search for something that “he will like even though he doesn’t need”, or that “he will use even though he doesn’t want”.

I would like to share the 10 gifts that after a long search is in my list to give to my husband, or (or my dad) and hopefully, they can serve as inspiration for that special gift for that even more special person and all thanks to Amazon.

YETI Rambler 14 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Mug with Lid$ 24.99

TRUNKCRATEPRO Collapsible Portable Multi Compartments Heavy Duty Non-Slip Cargo Trunk Organizer Storage, Blue – $39.98

Thoughtfully Gifts, The Good Hurt Fire: A Hot Sauce Gift Set for Hot Sauce Lover’s, Sampler Pack of 7 Different Hot Sauces Inspired by Exotic Flavors and Peppers from Around the World$ 34.99

Double Old Fashioned Whiskey Glass (Set of 4) with Granite Chilling Stones – 10 oz Heavy Base Rocks Barware Glasses for Scotch, Bourbon and Cocktail Drinks$ 23.86

Large Sphere Ice Mold Tray – Whiskey Ice Sphere Maker – Makes 2.5 Inch Ice Balls (Gray)$ 13.99

Linkvisions Sisal/Bristle Dartboard with Staple-Free Bullseye, 18g Steel Tip Darts Set, Mounting Kits Included$39.99

Kettle Gryp – Kettlebell Adjustable Portable Weight Grip Travel Workout Equipment Gear for Gym Bag, Crossfit WOD, Weightlifting, Bodybuilding, Lose Weight | Clamps to Dumbells | Made in U.S.A.$34.95

Storm Glass Weather Stations Water Drop Weather Predictor Creative Forecast Nordic style Decorative Weather Glass

Storm Glass Weather Stations Water Drop Weather Predictor Creative Forecast Nordic style Decorative Weather Glass – 28.99

SEALIGHT 9005/HB3 High Beam 9006/HB4 Low Beam LED Headlight Bulbs Combo Package CSP Chips 6000K

HOJ Co. CARRYALL Mens Leather Money Clip Wallet-Strong Magnetic Front Pocket Wallet-Exterior ID Window$35.00

All these products are found in Amazon and are budget-friendly and hope can provide you with more ideas on what you can get to that significant man in your life.

Ingredients to add to your Morning Breakfast Shake

For the past three years, our breakfast has been a Nutritious Shake, which we have reinvented more than 10 times thanks to our relentless search to find the best ingredients. After so many changes we have chosen the following ingredients for their nutritional value.

Bananas are a healthy source of fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and various antioxidants and phytonutrients. 

Apples are high in fiber, vitamin C, and various antioxidants.

Blueberries are low in calories and fat yet provide decent amounts of healthy fiber and are a good source of manganese and vitamins C and K1. They also provide small amounts of copper, as well as vitamins E and B6.

Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. They are also a good source of several B-vitamins, vitamin K and potassium

Beets are good sources of vitamins and minerals, such as folate, manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.

Parsley contains several important nutrients, such as vitamins A, K, and C. It’s also a good source of the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

Kale is very high in nutrients and has many powerful antioxidants, including quercetin and kaempferol, which have numerous beneficial effects on health.  Kale is also extremely high in vitamin C.

Ginger is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Ginger has so many health benefits, from helping with digestion to brain functions and properties that can help fight infection.

Turmeric has been in use since antiquity for its anti-inflammatory (painkiller), carminative, anti-flatulent and anti-microbial properties. 

In addition to the above, the following are also the other ingredients which contribute good fat content and probiotics:  peanut butter, plant-based protein, coconut oil, olive oil, kefir, cayenne pepper, and granola.