This question has been on my mind for a very long time, the reason I think this question often pops in my head is that I have vivid memories that are strongly attached to specific songs, each time I hear these songs, my soul goes time traveling back to that moment and I feel encapsulated with all the colors, people and places of that time. Which song/moment combo comes to you when you think about it? It can be a sad, happy, lonely, coming-of-age moment, or just powerful enough to find its place in your memories. My Top 3 moments and their songs are:
1.Place: Street Car in New Orleans Band: Duncan Dhu (all songs)
I studied Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at the University of New Orleans and one year into my studies I moved to an apartment in uptown New Orleans with my best friend. While living in uptown meant we were closer to our Panamanian friends and Bourbon Street with all its glory, it meant also that I was far from where the University was and had no car, so for a full year, I took the Streetcar (from beginning to end which is approx 1 hr) and then a bus that would take me across the city until reaching the University campus. I went back and forth every day while listening to Duncan Dhu, a Spanish band and one of my old-time favorite’s. I had a big collection of their records so I was always changing the CD on my CD player (oh yeah!!) and never ever getting tired.
I have one perfect memory of being in the Streetcar, passing through Audubon Park in Saint Charles Avenue while listening to A Tientas, with my head resting on the window. Its been 20 years since that time and the memory remains the same. It is one of my favorite memories because although I felt tired, lonely, and overwhelmed with the studies, and uncertain about the future, the song lyrics and melody allowed my soul to sing giving me profound hope for the next chapter in my life.
2. Place: New Orleans Song: Late in the Evening by Paul Simon (in Concert)
When I was 14 years old my dad introduced me to Simon and Garfunkel and was love at first sight. I barely spoke English but the album Bridge Over Troubled Water had a special place in my music collection. With the years I was able to slowly collect more albums and the album The Concert in Central Park became my favorite. In 2001, when I was living in New Orleans Paul Simon came to Jazz Fest and he was giving a concert and of course, I wanted to go. I could not get one person to come with me so I asked my then-boyfriend to drop me off and pick me up after the concert to which he agreed. I remember I had bought the cheapest ticket and was on the second floor, but since I was by myself I slowly moved my way down and placed myself in the center of the fourth row. It was magical. Seeing all these people singing Paul Simon’s songs was unbelievable to me. And then he played Late in the Evening and the people exploded and I was there, dancing, singing, seeing Paul Simon singing while playing his guitar was unbelievable, it was a moment of excitement, of pure joy, of pure greatness. No matter where I am, every time I hear this song, I smile… I fill myself with love and joy and happiness… Thank you, Paul Simon.
3. Place: Driving in our car Song: Everything will change
We have been fans of Gavin Degraw’s music for years. We have all his albums and we constantly listen to him in the house or while driving. My husband and kids are huge fans too which makes it super easy to ask Google to play his music at any time. He is our to-go-artist when the four of us are together. My husband always dreamed of buying a convertible and after saving money for a couple of years we were able to buy one. One beautiful morning, we went for a ride, with the top down, the wind blowing, the sun shining, and Gavin Degraw’s Everything will change playing out loud. I captured this moment in video and this moment represents fulfillment, joy, happiness, and love. I catch my husband every now and then watching the video with a big smile on his face, holding on to that moment in time in which as a family, we felt whole, we felt connected and we felt loved. The kids are much older now and although their love for Gavin Degraw and especially this song has not diminished, this moment in time will forever be ours.
I believe in the power of music, on the power of songwriting, from been a teenager and listening to Sublime, to Ruben Blades (of course best ever), to singing Regueton with my oldest son, or reaching for Pearl Jam during traffice time, music plays an important moment in my life. So what about you? Which are the songs that connect you with that special memory time and time again?
Learning to be organized has been a learning curve for me. When I look early on my marriage I wonder how my husband could have been so patient with my slow development into been a more organized person. As I had kids and my job became more demanding, I honestly and sadly can say that my improvement in being organized was minimal. With that said, a lot of things just did not get done and very important areas of my life were just been attended when no longer could be ignored. As I said, I and organization have come a long way… It was on my 10th wedding anniversary, when I turned 35, that a switch was turned on in me… I needed to work towards improving areas of my life that felt chaotic. But where to begin? I turned to books and magazines that were about been organized. I learned to be patient with myself as I learned that it takes time to save time and that been organized is a process that is different for all of us. We all have different priorities and therefore how we organize our lives reflects our day to day as a person, a professional, a parent, a son or daughter, a friend, a spouse, a caregiver, etc. It works differently for all of us.
So below are the areas that at some point or other can be improved by taking the time to be organized:
These are the main areas that have provided me with a rewarding feeling. They were not easy and is a daily, weekly and monthly task that I am committed to. Ever since improving my organizational skills the house is more functional, the family is working in a more efficient manner, we are saving money and time, and most importantly, I am not so overloaded with last-minute errands that could have been planned and executed in a more productive way.
When I was 16 years old my parents offered me the opportunity to go to Bournemouth, England to study English and I happily said yes. The English course would take 4 weeks and after its completion, I would fly to Rotterdam, where my cousin was currently living, and stay with her for a week or so. Once I arrived in Rotterdam, I and my cousin started planning out what I could do during the day while she and her husband were at work. She proposed for me to go to Bruges, Belgium for the day by train, my cousin would drop me off at the train station and after a 2-hour train ride, I would arrive at Bruges. I was anxious about going by myself to a new city, but I felt confident with my improved English skills and felt genuinely excited to go.
I arrived at Bruges train station around 10:00 a.m. It was February so it was cold, although not freezing. I walked from the Train Station to the City Centre to the Markt guided by the city map my cousin had given me. I walked the Historic Centre and through the channels by the lake. I remember vividly standing at Rozenhoedkaai for what it seems to be a very long time, looking at the water while seating on a bench, with my thoughts overfloating me. I felt the excitement of being in a new place, of discovering the beauty of this amazing city, the freedom to walk at my pace while taking pictures and enjoying the peace within my silence.
After having a long lunch which consisted of Belgian waffles and a Coca Cola I continued to walk along the water, looking at my map while following my instincts, buying Belgian chocolates and small souvenirs and after eating fries with mayonnaise (European style), I walked back to the train station to find myself back in Rotterdam.
During the years to come (24 years since then), I have had the opportunity to travel alone many times, Syria, Greece, London, China, among other places. Always finding the perfect moment in which amazement meets self-enjoyment and happiness shows up, but I always go back to 16-year old me, sitting on the bench looking at the bridge in Bruges, Belgium and I cannot help but smile, knowing its true that old saying… To remember is to live again.
This week I would like to share a quick, easy-peasy, uncomplicated meal that I usually cook when I need a fast meal and an even faster clean-up.
For the chicken wings:
2lbs chicken wings
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp avocado oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the chicken wings and pat them dry. In a bowl put the wings, add the oils and salt and pepper and make sure it covers the wings. In a baking sheet, place the chicken in a single line and place them in the oven for 25 minutes, after 25 minutes turn them and place them back in the oven for another 25 minutes. Enjoy!!!
For the potatoes:
1 small sack of potatoes (small ones or big potatoes cut into pieces)
1 tbsp of olive oil (or more depending on the number of potatoes)
1 tsp paprika
Boil the potatoes for 8 minutes until a knife goes through smoothly. Drain the potatoes and cut them in half or small pieces. In a non-stick pan (I use the same one I used for boiling the potatoes) heat the olive oil and once it’s hot add the potatoes, add the spices and continue to fry the potatoes until they are golden brown. Enjoy!!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the chicken wings and pat them dry. In a bowl put the wings, add the oils and salt and pepper and make sure it covers the wings. In a baking sheet, place the chicken in a single line and placed them in the oven for 25 minutes, after 25 minutes turn them and place them back in the oven for another 25 minutes. Enjoy!!!
For the potatoes:
1 small sack of potatoes (small ones or big potatoes cut into pieces)
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp paprika
Boil the potatoes for 8 minutes until a knife goes through smoothly. Drain the potatoes and cut them in half or small pieces. In a non-stick pan heat the olive oil and once it’s hot add the potatoes, add the spices and continue to fry until they are golden brown. Enjoy!!
This duo is always welcome when served in my home. I add a simple salad (spinach and avocadoes) to add freshness to the meal. Clean-up is easy and fast and takes minimum effort and is budget-friendly.
I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe.
I picked this book from my dad’s library in one of my visits to Panama. Actually, I picked book number 3 without knowing it is a 4-book series and started reading it. Soon enough I realized that I needed to stop and get books 1 and 2 immediately. I remember I was on a weekend getaway in Austin with my family and insisted I needed to go to the bookstore to get the books right away, I could not wait until we got back to Houston the next day. I got the book number 1 at the bookstore and bought 2 and 4 online. I was one happy girl.
I must disclose that I read them in Spanish which is my native language. I do read both in English and Spanish, but for this particular series, since I started in Spanish I decided to continue in Spanish.
The book was mesmerizing. I submerged myself in the Barcelona of 1945 following the end of the Civil War, and at the beginning of the first chapter, I was captivated. As I imagined myself inside the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books”, a secret library hosting millions of forgotten books and where you have to choose one book out of all the books to take with you, I was hooked in the storytelling and drawn to the main character Daniel after he chooses the book “ The Shadow of the Wind” by Julian Carax.
The book is a fictional gothic drama, beautifully written, filled with mystery, intrigue, and characters that you simply can’t put down. The characters are so well defined, and bring the story alive as each of their past is revealed. The city of Barcelona is described with great detail, and with a tangible love for the city, its restaurants, its streets, its avenues, and its people.
The author’s storytelling draws you inside the narrative, as a witness of the unraveling storyline, making you complicit of every discovery, every new clue, and every new plan. Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a unique writer with a capacity to make you witness the emotional rollercoaster that each character goes through the story.
Additional Information as found in Goodreads
Paperback, 487 pages
Published: January 25th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 2001)
Original Title: La sombra del viento
ISBN0143034901 (ISBN13: 9780143034902)
Series: El cementerio de los libros olvidados #1
Literary Awards :Barry Award for Best First Novel (2005), Gumshoe Award Nominee for Best European Crime Novel (2005), Borders Original Voices Award for Fiction (2004), Dilys Award Nominee (2005), Humo’s Gouden Bladwijzer (2006) Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger for Roman (2004), Prix des libraires du Québec for Lauréats hors Québec (2005), One Book One San Diego (2015), Premi Llibreter de narrativa Nominee (2002)
I have been thinking about ways to engage with you, the reader, and have decided to do, every Thursday, a “Question of the Week” segment, in which I will ask a fun, insightful, interesting and hopefully smart question that will challenge you to answer it. You can answer it out loud on the spot, use it for your journal entry, or just reflect on it for the next couple of hours or days.
The intention is to invite you to reflect and make you aware of your thoughts and feelings while you answer the question… creating a mini mindful moment.
The question of this week is: If you had an extra hour every day, how would you spend it?
When we ask ourselves this question, we tend to gravitate towards those actions or activities that we “keep putting off” mostly because of the “lack of time”. Some of the most common answers are:
This question, when we answer it honestly, can reveal things that are sincerely important to us since we are no longer blaming the “lack of time” as the culprit for not doing them.
Think about that extra time and what you would do with it. Maybe you will realize what is truly important to you, and rearranging your schedule to make it happen can be something worth looking into. All is possible within our reach and our time schedule. Yes, we do need to rearrange and prioritize, but we can do it.
With years of trying to perfect multitasking (and never really accomplishing), I have come to the conclusion that following a routine makes it easier for me to accomplish all that is needed to be done. I have a morning routine, a working routine, an afternoon routine, and a bedtime routine. I have already shared with you morning routine tips and now want to share tips for making a bedtime routine that can work for you as it works for me.
My bedtime routine starts right after the kids go to bed and my “mom role” is turned off, here are my tips:
No matter what your bedtime routine consists of, having one will create a sense of accomplishment at the end of your day. It will also allow you to make sure that the last part of your day are dedicated, in part, to your self-care. These tips are meant to inspire you to create your own, from adding a time to watch TV to going for a run or doing yoga, create a routine that works for your interests and passions. And if for any reason, we have to deviate from our routine, it’s fine… there is always tomorrow’s bedtime.
We have been making Avocado Toast for a while. We usually make it for Sunday’s Brunch at home. I like it because it allows me to customize it to everyone’s tastes and likes… For example, my husband likes it with Onion/Jalapeno Relish (pictured above) and a fried egg, my younger son likes it with boiled eggs (also pictured) and my oldest son likes simple with just a touch of cayenne pepper.
Below is the recipe we use to make Avocado Toast:
We spread the toast with Hummus before adding the avocado mix, below is the recipe of the Hummus we use:
Finally, add the relish on top, below is the recipe I use for the relish:
Putting it together: Toast the bread, spread the hummus and put the avocado mix, at the end add the jalapeno/onion relish. Enjoy with a 7-minute boiled egg (pictured). Sunday just got better!
It is usual for us parents to have high expectations for our kids at school. I have always said to my kids over and over that their main responsibility is to study and do their best at school. I, as a parent, expect my kids to help around the house and clean their rooms, and for the most part, they do, but schoolwork is important and is prioritized when planning my family schedule.
A few days ago my oldest son received the news that he could take an exam, provided by his school district, that if he passes this exam he will be eligible to get credits that will allow him to learn 9th Grade Math next year when he goes to 7th Grade. He is already in Advanced Math and thriving in his class. So when I brought this opportunity to him, and I left it to him to take it or not, he immediately accepted the challenge.
After reviewing all the information, he said he wanted to take the test, and my only two conditions were that he needs to prepare himself for it, and whatever he does with the exam he does it with 100%. He would need to practice and read and practice some more, of course, I will help him and support him. I said that if he doesn’t pass the test, it’ll be ok as long as he gave 100% and gave all his effort. He, of course, agreed enthusiastically.
So, that made me think… how can us parents support our kids with their studies? Here are my tips for you. It is what we do as a family and has worked for us so far.
These are my top 6 tips for helping your kids with their studies. We do all 6 of those tips with our sons, and so far it has helped them tremendously. They are thriving at their academics and after school activities (soccer and running). It also provides an avenue to make you feel like you are a part of their journey. Remember, their success is your success.
(Above are my two sons, at this time 11 and 8, last summer, and right behind is my Dad)
I was born in Panama, and my kids have been able to go back every vacation for a few weeks. They stay with my parents, in the countryside, where my parents live. The little town is called El Barrero and my parents have lived there for over 10 years now. There is a much bigger town right next to it, its call Penonome and many family members live, and it is also about 25 minutes from about three different beaches. My kids love going back every summer and feel the freedom that only small towns in the countryside can give you.
I know times change and their time in El Barrero and Penonome, will not be as it was for me when I was a child and would go there every vacation I had, but in regards to the feeling that nature, freedom, fresh air, and relaxation can give you is pretty close. They always come back to us more humbled, less demanding, more appreciative, less connected to the electronics that they left behind and more connected to just be present and relax. They come back having discovered new foods that they like, remembering moments they spent with my family, telling stories of hiking trips, horse riding in the mountains, beach walks in the sunset and eating dinners outside with my parents.
I fear sometimes that there will be a moment in which they will choose to stay here and not to go back to Panama, maybe because of friends or girlfriends, summer school, or sports activities, but at least I know that they will always treasure their time surrounded by the memories I made while growing up. They had the chance of running wild…